Medicare to Cover Lung Cancer Screenings, Eye Infections Increase, Smartphones Linked to Toddler Accidents & Other News

Medicare to Cover Lung Cancer Screenings for Those at High-Risk

Medicare will soon start paying for annual lung cancer screenings for people at high risk, age 55-74 years, in a decision that could save thousands of lives through early detection of the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed paying for low-dose CT scans to detect lung tumors for people at highest risk.

The screenings would cover people ages 55-74, who have smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years, or the equivalent. Current smokers or those who have quit smoking within the last 15 years would qualify. The proposal is now open for a 30-day comment period, after which the coverage will be implemented.

Using low-dose spiral CT (computed tomography) screenings for cancer delivers about the same radiation as a mammogram. Sometimes, CT scan images aren’t very clear. A blur on a CT scan might be a tumor, but it could also be an infection or even nothing. This uncertainty sometimes requires that people get a second scan.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women in the United States.

“There is now evidence-based scientific data that has shown that screening with low-dose CT scans in those at high risk can detect more early operable cancers and reduce deaths by 20 percent,” said Paul Kaywin, M.D., assistant chairman of Miami Cancer Institute thoracic tumor site team

Read related articles:

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  •                                                                                               –John Fernandez

    Eye Infections Increase

    The eyes can see clearly – as long as they’re healthy and not infected, that is. If you are one of the 25-million-plus people in the U.S. who wear contact lenses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some important information to share.

    The agency Thursday released its study of visits to outpatient and emergency centers in 2010 that found nearly 1 million of them a year result in a diagnosis of keratitis –an eye infection. The most common culprit – unclean contact lenses.

    In an earlier blog posted here, William Trattler, M.D., an ophthalmologist affiliated with Baptist Health, warned about the dangers of sleeping in contact lenses. “Sleeping in contacts is associated with a higher risk of infection,” he said. “And an infection in the center of the cornea can lead to permanent vision loss.”

    Indeed, the consequences can be serious. If an eye infection isn’t treated with antibiotics in a timely manner, the contamination can cause serious complications, including inflammation, pain and even blindness, he said.

    In addition to maintaining proper contact lense hygiene, read about other eye conditions and how to treat them in this post:

  • A Look at Common Eye Injuries

                                                                                                 –Tanya Walton

     Smartphones Linked to Toddler Injuries

    Are smartphones contributing to childhood injuries? A researcher from Yale University links expanding cell phone networks to a documented 10 percent spike in nonfatal injuries suffered by children ages 5 and under. The growth in accidents to younger children occurred from 2006 to 2012 and corresponds to major expansion of cell phone networks and mobile applications. Distracted by phones, parents are less involved in supervising the activities of young children, said Craig Palsson, the Department of Economics at Yale and lead researcher on the story.

    “I am interested in how smartphones — cell phones with the ability to browse the Internet, stream videos, send and receive emails, and run various software applications — lead parents to make decisions that increase the risk of child injury. ”

    The study used accident data from hospitals tracked by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a program created by the Consumer Product Safety Commission .

    Childhood injuries—causes and treatments—have been covered on this blog.

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  •                                                                                             –Sharon Harvey Rosenberg


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