Making aspirin work; standing up to lung cancer

November 30, 2008 7:06:47 AM PST
Plus, how to get the most out of aspirin therapy; and new guidelines for getting the right antidepressant

"AspirinWorks"

There's a new way for doctors to test the effectiveness of aspirin in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

The "AspirinWorks" test measures a chemical that causes platelets to stick together.

If platelets clump, that means the aspirin isn't working well.

The new FDA-approved test could help doctors tailor aspirin doses for patients.

They know it doesn't work as well in all people. This test could help prevent needless medicine for those who are "aspirin-resistant."

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When depression strikes, finding the right medication

New guidelines from the College of Physicians say all anti-depressant drugs are pretty much the same when it comes to effectiveness.

But their side effects vary widely.

So doctors should play close attention to those, to determine which one is best for their patients.

After reviewing 200 studies, researchers say patients should be evaluated a week or 2 after they start treatment, to take stock of any adverse reactions.

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Breaking down the stigma about lung cancer

A cancer diagnosis usually evokes sympathy - except when the diagnosis is lung cancer

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Then, more often than not, people blame the patient for his or her condition!

That's the word from a survey by the Lung Cancer Alliance.

The Alliance says patients feel stigmatized, not just by neighbors, friends, and family, but by doctors and nurses as well. The organization is trying to tear down the stigma with some frank talk.

One point - lung cancer isn't just about tobacco.

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president of the Alliance, says, "Tobacco is such an undercurrent, but let's face it - smoking is an addiction. And most of those being diagnosed with lung cancer now are former smokers - people who quit years ago...or they are people who never smoked at all."

The Alliance says it's time for serious research on diagnosis and treatment.

Lung cancer kills more Americans than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and skin cancers combined.

Ambrose says, "We've got to step back, to take a more constructive approach, to respect, relate to, and support those stricken with lung cancer, if we ever hope to improve outcomes."


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