Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Benefits of mammogram oversold?

That is what one new study finds. The Boston Globe reports that: Doctors may have oversold the benefits of mammography and underplayed its risks, which has left many women unable to make an informed decision about whether or not to have regular breast cancer screenings beginning at age 40. That troubling finding is based on […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer Tidal Wave

People are living longer. That is good news. The bad news is that when you decrease the mortality rates for some diseases, you increase the likelihood that you die from other ones. For instance, if someone previously would have died of a heart attack at 50 year old in 1950, if that same person turned […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Trends in Cancer Care Near the End of Life

The Dartmouth Atlas released a new report describing how end-of-life cancer care is changing over time. Their analysis uses data from a 20 percent sample of all Medicare beneficiaries who died between the ages of 66 and 99 years during 2010, who had cancer diagnosis with a poor prognosis. The authors find that: Deaths in […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts on IOM’s ‘Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care’ Report

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) makes a number of recommendations on how to improve cancer care in their 2013 report.  I have listed them all here.  For some of these recommendations, I have comments below. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other payers should design, implement, and evaluate innovative payment models that incentivize […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Access to Oncology Care

Oftentimes, health services research measure access as the distance between a patient and the nearest provider of a given type (e.g., hospital, physician).  This issue of access is particularly relevant for individuals with cancer, since cancer care typically requires supervisions from specialist oncologists.  In most cases, health services researchers assume that individuals located far from […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cost of Cancer in Europe

In 2008, 2.45 million people were diagnosed with cancer and 1.23 million died because of cancer in the European Union (EU). What is the economic burden of cancer?  A paper by Luengo-Fernandez (2013) aims to estimate just this quantity.  They find that: Cancer cost the EU €126 billion in 2009…Across the EU, the health-care costs […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer screening rates

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) publishes screeening rates for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers over the past 25 years.  I have reproduced the charts below.  I wonder how the USPSTF recommendation in November 2009 that women ages 40 to 49 should not undergo screening unless they are in a high-risk group will affect mammography rates in the most recent […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer Incidence and Deaths in Europe

Which cancers have the highest incidence rates in Europe?  Which ones cause the most deaths?  According to an article by Karim-Kos et al. (2008), here is the answer:

Read the rest of this entry »

Reducing Cancer Treatment Costs

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Reducing mortality and morbidity from many types of cancer would be an enormous breakthrough. Although the benefits from high-quality cancer care are clear, cancer care is expensive. GoozNews reports that a UnitedHealthcare official stated that reimbursement for cancer care now accounts for 12 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Variation in End-of-Life Cancer Treatments

According to a recent Dartmouth Atlas study: “The nation’s most elite cancer care centers performed only modestly better than community hospitals at meeting recognized quality standards for treating dying cancer patients, displaying similar patterns of relatively aggressive, high-intensity treatments in the final weeks of these patients’ lives… The Dartmouth researchers also found that even among […]

Read the rest of this entry »