Sunday, March 09, 2008

No to cookie cutter care for the elderly (or anyone, for that matter)

Today the NYT reviewed a book about altering our approach to care for the elderly. This issues doesn’t end with the “Living Will”, and each one of us will need to accept the burden of determining for ourselves and our loved ones what constitutes health care and quality of life. Our profit and cure driven system has many strengths but clarifying the nuances of quality of life isn’t one of them.

Colon cancer screening in the news

Always a topic in a preventive health examination is cancer screening. Typically at age 50, colon cancer screening is recommended. This involves the direct visualization of the colon - that part of the intestinal tract that starts at about the level of the appendix in the lower right part of the abdomen, and ends at the anus. There are a number of means of screening for colon cancer, the most common being the insertion of a flexible tube with a camera on the tip into the anus, which is then snaked up over and down to see the entire length of the colon. Trouble is that, like many cancers, colon cancer usually causes no symptoms until it has spread to a fairly advanced state. Recently the American Cancer Society added to other tests to those recommended for screening. Here is a review of these recommendations, as well as other information about colon cancer screening. There was also this recent article about some precancerous lesions in the colon which are more common, and more difficult to detect, than previously thought.


One of the (many) difficult areas of medicine is the identification of rashes and bites. Recently there’s been a resurgence of bed bugs, and now this is not an uncommon concern of people after traveling. Here’s some information from the Harvard School of Public Health that covers the topic fairly well.