Brief summary of matters which could affect your health

27 July, 2010

A brief summary of health issues which could affect you.


Australian-led research has found that getting radiotherapy just right is far more effective than adding more drugs to cancer treatment.

The landmark study, which experts claim will revolutionise perspectives on cancer treatment, found many patients were not being treated to current guidelines.

The trial examined the impact of a chemotherapy drug, tirapazamine, on radiotherapy when combined for treating patients with head and neck cancer.

The researchers concluded that the benefit of doing radiotherapy properly had a far greater impact on curing a patient than adding any new drug to the mix.

It is expected the results will lead to an examination of how small cancer-treatment centres deliver radiotherapy to their patients.


Women undergoing a hysterectomy via keyhole surgery are half as likely to suffer complications than those that opt for open abdominal surgery, a study has shown.

The worldwide surgical trial results, which were published in Lancet Oncology recently, hopes to provide women with a quicker and less traumatic recovery from uterine cancer treatment.

The trial assessed 759 patients who were enrolled through 20 gynaecological cancer centres worldwide.

Another discovery from the trial was that patients undergoing keyhole surgery also benefited from a greater quality of life up to six months following their surgery in terms of physical, functional and overall wellbeing.


Final blood tests have cleared all 12 people who came into close contact with a Hendra-infected horse on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Among them were Rebecca Day and her 12-year-old daughter Mollie, who were given an infusion of an experimental antiserum, not yet proven in humans, in May.

Twelve people underwent three rounds of tests since mid-May after being exposed to Mollie's infected horse.

It remains unclear whether the antiserum administered to the pair had any effect because they might not have contracted the virus in the first place.

Last week the Queensland government awarded a $300,000 grant to the University of Queensland to locally produce the monoclonal antibody for use as an experimental Hendra virus treatment for humans.


If the popularity of cigarettes in Asia Pacific nations doesn't change, the number of people dying in the region from lung cancer caused by smoking could more than double in the next 20 years, new research has found.

Sydney based researchers have spent the last decade analysing smoking amongst adults in 31 Asia Pacific nations and found of half of all lung cancer deaths in males are caused by smoking.

In women, about 40 per cent of lung cancer fatalities can be linked to smoking, the Sydney University study released on Tuesday found.

Pacific nations had more balanced rates of smoking in men and women - with Papua New Guinea at the top of the list - 46 per cent of men smoke and 28 per cent of women.

According to the Sydney University study, amongst Australians, 22 per cent of men smoke and 16 per cent of women and in New Zealand rates are a little higher, 24 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women smoke.

The report's lead author, Alexandra Martiniuk, this was because of "cultural reasons".

"In many (South Pacific) countries it's advertised by tobacco companies to be either cool or manly or a sign of high socio-economic status or perhaps hierarchical stance in the workplace, to be a smoker," Martiniuk said.


Ecstasy can help the tortured victims of post traumatic stress overcome their demons, research has shown.

In tests, the illegal dance drug had a dramatic effect on previously untreatable patients who had suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for more than 19 years.

Doctors in the US held two eight-hour psychotherapy sessions three to five weeks apart for the patients during which they administered the ecstasy chemical MDMA.

Two months later, 80 per cent of those treated no longer had symptoms that met the medical definition of PTSD.

The scientists have now had the go-head from the US Food and Drug Administration to carry out a bigger study of US war veterans.

MDMA, which induces feelings of euphoria, well-being, sociability and self-confidence, appears to reduce the effects of PTSD, giving the therapy a chance to work.


Most people with heart conditions can fly safely, experts have said, following years of confusion over the issue.

New guidelines from the British Cardiac Society (BCS) said only a few conditions are likely to warrant restrictions.

Fears have been raised in the past over whether people with heart conditions should fly, particularly those who may be affected by reduced levels of oxygen in the plane's cabin.

But the new guidance says there is "no significant threat" to heart patients from air travel - and certainly not for medium or short-haul flights.

Even those with the most severe conditions can still fly if they follow the guidelines closely.

Some patients are advised they may need in-flight oxygen while those at high risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are told to take extra precautions, including wearing pressure stockings and taking a blood thinner other than aspirin.

Source: AAP NewsWire