Onc Daily: Mammography Benefits Confirmed, Hospital Revenues Slashed

Sharon Worcester

May 12, 2020

Here are the most important stories that Medscape Oncology's editors picked for you to read today.

Swedish Study Confirms Mammography Benefits

A new study from Sweden shows that mammography screening reduces the rates of both advanced and fatal breast cancers. 

In a cohort of nearly 550,000 women, mammography screening was associated with a 41% reduction in the risk of death from breast cancer within 10 years and a 25% reduction in the incidence of advanced disease, compared with women who didn't undergo screening.

Although one expert approached by Medscape Medical News expressed some concern about the study methodology, three other experts agreed that the findings provide further evidence of the benefits of regular screening.

COVID-19 Slashes US Hospital Volume, Revenues

Hospitals have taken a major financial hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by the Chicago-based financial analytics firm Strata Decision Technology suggests.

Strata researchers analyzed more than 2 million patient visits and encounters from 228 hospitals in 40 states and found a 54.5% decrease in the number of unique patients who sought care in a hospital setting during a 2-week period in March and April.

Patients with life-threatening illnesses were among those unable to access care because of COVID-19–related restrictions. In the context of clinical service lines, there was a 57% drop in cardiology volume, a 55% decline in breast health volume, and a 37% decline in cancer care.

Splenectomy Role Shifting in Immune Thrombocytopenia 

Fewer patients with immune thrombocytopenia are undergoing splenectomy, according to a study of more than 3800 patients.

About a third of patients with immune thrombocytopenia underwent splenectomy during the 1990s, compared with less than 4% since 2009; the decline corresponded with an increase in the use of medical therapies and use of splenectomy later in the treatment course. That, in turn, has resulted in a drop in the median duration of response from 10 years in the 1990s to less than 2 years today.

The findings were reported in an abstract from the British Society for Haematology's 60th Annual Scientific Meeting, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Quentin Hill, MD, of St James University Hospital, Leeds, UK, discussed several reasons for the shift, including patient choice and changes in consensus recommendations.

Rare Cancer Mutations: New Options

In this era of precision cancer medicine, basket trials and the emerging use of "just-in-time" trials could play an important role in improving treatment for rare cancers, according to Maurie Markman, MD, president of medicine and science at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In a commentary for Medscape Medical News, Markman describes how these types of trials can be of benefit and he encourages those interested to read more about and participate in such trials, given the opportunity.

Disgraced Cancer Network Gets $67M in COVID-19 Aid

Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, which last week was fined $100 million by the Department of Justice for criminal conspiracy, has been granted $67 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, according to news reports.

The Fort Myers-based oncology network said in a statement it would not use the coronavirus money to pay their conspiracy fine.

Florida Cancer Specialists admitted to an anticompetitive, illegal agreement to divide up cancer treatment services with another provider in southwest Florida. Revenues totaled nearly $1 billion for treatments delivered by way of the conspiracy.

The organization, which has about 200 physicians, is the largest recipient of money from the initial round of CARES Act funding among all cancer-specific healthcare entities in the United States, according to a Miami Herald analysis.

Florida Cancer Specialists, which operates nearly 100 centers, was awarded $3 million more than Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The group also received more coronavirus money than all of Miami-Dade County, despite that region having the highest COVID-19 infection and death rates of any large county in Florida.

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