In her memoir, “Healing,” Theresa Brown recalls what she learned from her own treatment for breast cancer.
A reader calls for stronger action; another urges that China impose sanctions. Also: Dr. Paul Farmer; breast cancer; funeral expenses; the Trump G.O.P.
The free health care system was known for delays, caused in part by whittled-down funding. But Covid made waits for transplants, cancer treatments and other essential care even longer.
Getting diagnosed with a breast cancer gene mutation at 32 was a gift, but left room for disappointment too.
People with markers for cancer often need more screenings. But health insurers are not required to fully cover them.
More than 46,000 cancers in America each year, or about 3 percent of cases, could be prevented by meeting physical activity guidelines.
A decade after scientists identified a link between certain implants and cancer, the agency ordered “black box” warnings and a new checklist of risks for patients to review.
Pink ribbons can be a tough reminder for many breast cancer survivors. Here’s how to make it easier.
If protective measures were widely adopted, they could significantly reduce women’s chances of ever getting breast cancer.
The actress, 50, who has Stage 4 cancer, said she posted the photos to help raise awareness about breast cancer prevention.
Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer who stayed physically active had fewer problems with memory and thinking.
A growing number of cancer patients, especially those with breast and lung cancers, are being spared the dreaded treatment in favor of other options.
You’ve just sat down to dinner, and your wearable device reminds you to get up and get in your steps for the day. Maybe the app has a point, but odds are, you’ll push the notification to the side. The founders of Sweetch, an Israeli company creating its own AI-driven behavior change app, are betting that if you got that notification in a different way, you’ll be more likely to take its advice.
Yossi Bahagon, the founder of Sweetch, describes the company’s approach to digital reminders as a mixture of artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence. The app will use AI to analyse “lifeprint” data picked up through a smartphone. Then it delivers messages to when you might be more likely to respond to them and in a “tone of voice” that encourages compliance.
For instance if you have meetings on Mondays between 12 and 3, but still want to get in some exercise, Sweetch won’t suggest getting a workout in during those times, or shame you for sitting through a meeting rather than getting a run in.
“It’s about ongoing hyper-personalized engagement that increases the likelihood of the patient doing what he or she needs to do,” says Bahagon.
On Monday, Sweetch announced a $20 million Series A round led by Entreé Capital. Other investors include Noaber, Kortex Ventures, Insurtech VC, Fin TLV Ventures, and existing investors Philips, OurCrowd, and Qure Ventures.
Bahagon is a family physician by training, but he’s spent the majority of his career in the digital health arena. In 2008 Bagahon founded the digital health division of Clalit Health Services, a non-profit insurance and medical services provider that currently insures 60 percent of the Israeli population. His previous company, Luminox Health, was acquired by Israeli investor platform OurCrowd in 2016, and Bahagon stayed on to manage the fund’s digital health arm.
Sweetch, which was founded in 2013, is yet another digital health venture for Bahagon – this time aimed at increased patient compliance. The app has already generated some interest, and was one of five apps selected from over 400 to participate in the Bayer G4A program, something like an accelerator developed by the pharmaceutical giant.
So far, Sweetch CEO Yoni Nevo says the app has “tens of thousands of users,” (the company would not provide a specific number).
It’s currently being used in patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and, in a bit of a departure from the rest: breast cancer treatment.
Sweetch isn’t designed for users to download at will on the app store (you can download it, but won’t get far without an access code); their go-to market strategy is instead to partner with healthcare organizations, pharma companies, payers or providers. Then providers might prescribe Sweetch alongside the actual treatment to encourage them to stick with it.
There is evidence that people don’t always follow doctors’ orders – particularly when it comes to chronic conditions. One 2017 report from the CDC notes that one in five prescriptions written in the United States are never filled, and up to 50 percent of medicines were taken incorrectly (at the wrong time, wrong dose, etc).
Improving patient compliance, though, is a more complicated problem. The CDC report outlined a few solutions – some of which have more to do with the healthcare system than they do with health tech. Those include lowering economic barriers to medication, increasing team-based healthcare (your pharmacist and doctor coordinating prescription refills, for instance), and increasing access to healthcare in the first place.
The report does highlight an avenue for health information technology to help address the non-compliance problem (it specifically mentions e-prescribing software).
Tech, like Sweetch, can only address the non-compliance problem in medicine if it doesn’t have a non-compliance problem of its own. To that end, Bahagon says the app has a record of user retention. “Even after 24 months, we still see around 45% of the patients that started using the system continue to use it,” he says.
User retention is a good sign for any app developer. But in the health space, it’s more complicated. Some studies suggest that consumer ratings are poor markers of how well these apps work to improve outcomes (you might like an app and use it, but it doesn’t make you any healthier).
In that regard, Sweetch does have a trial under its belt, conducted at two sites in the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network.
The app was tested on 55 adults with prediabetes over the course of three months. Forty-seven of the participants finished the trial, and on average, they increased their physical activity by an average of 2.8 MET-hours (they may have actually exercised for shorter periods, but their intensity was the equivalent of 2.8 hours of work), and lost about 1.6 kilograms.
The users also lowered their A1c levels, a key measure of average blood sugar. Prediabetic adults usually have an A1c between 5.7 and 6.5 percent, and those in this trial reduced their A1c levels by about .1 percent (the study refers to that reduction as “clinically meaningful.”)
This study didn’t specifically compare Sweetch to any other prediabetes interventions. However, a study on that is upcoming. In a December 2020 interview, Bahagon noted that Sweetch had received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue testing Sweetch against other “gold standard” interventions for diabetes.
Nevo and Bahagon didn’t provide concrete updates on the project, but noted that “in a month or so” the company may announce updates on the NIH funding and upcoming randomized controlled trials.
In the meantime, the company plans to use the Series A funding to expand into markets in the US and Brazil, grow the user base, and enhance the platform to provide specific and tailored recommendations for even more conditions.
Doomsday headlines are nothing new. But over time they can damage your mental health if you’re not careful.
Much of the marketing suggests that they’re safer than more traditional underarm products, but that hype is not based on science.
Most people will roll up their sleeves for the injection, but some may want to consider an alternate body part.
When Lisa Maksym tested positive for the coronavirus, she was forced to stop cancer treatments, threatening a long-planned return to Rome. Her sister hatched a plan.
A panel recommends biennial screenings, starting at 50, but a new study took issue with the way hundreds of centers are telling women 40 and up to come in yearly. Some experts contend that frequent mammograms can “do more harm than good.”
He was a top executive at Memorial Sloan Kettering before resigning over payments from health care companies. He went on to lead cancer research at AstraZeneca.
People have skipped their cancer screenings and ignored possible symptoms as a result of the pandemic. In some cases, the delay has come at a great cost.
In this year of sorrow, plunging into the water has been essential for me and for my friend with cancer.
As pandemic disruptions lead many of us to drink more, experts underscore the link between alcohol and disease.
The condition is becoming more common as immunization rates increase. Experts are suggesting ways to ease patients’ fears and avoid needless testing.
All this year, patients stayed away from doctors’ offices in droves, postponing tests and treatments. Maybe there’s a silver lining.
The danger of delayed screenings is greatest for people with known risk factors for cancer.
“Honesty is linear.” Relationships require work and redefining, year after year.
Does a pharmaceutical company have a moral obligation to acknowledge my participation with an ongoing supply of the product that I helped test?
Statin drugs, commonly prescribed for heart health, may prolong survival in some cancer patients.
Looking after two small kids while going through chemotherapy is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Because much cancer research and clinical trials have been based on white populations, efforts to explore the ways race and ethnicity influence disease are underway.
Some might be better off not knowing they have breast cancer because they are likely to die of other causes long before breast cancer would threaten their health.
The Cusp, a newly launched startup offering telemedicine services for women in perimenopause and menopause, is launching an at-home hormone test service that slashes the cost of in-office visits and lab tests.
Women in California can order the test at a cost of $159 for a telemedical consultation and test, versus roughly $500 for having the same test and lab work administered in a clinic, according to the company.
Unlike other, commonly-prescribed hormone tests The Cusp bases its still-to-be-clinically-validated test on new research that a key hormone measurement can help predict the time to menopause. The company is currently working with researchers to help the broader medical community validate these findings.
Although the test may not be clinically validated, the company said that its use of “menopause specialists” with specific training in issues surrounding perimenopause and menopause can provide a more complete diagnosis of a woman’s current state and what is likely to come next based on both clinical and laboratory data.
“Menopause is very stigmatized and midlife care is a highly underserved market. We launched The Cusp to provide women with a new model of care during this stage of life so women can optimize their health,” said The Cusp, chief executive, Taylor Sittler. “Our focus begins with perimenopause treatment as early care can lead to healthier outcomes.”
The company said that the test is best for women experiencing early signs of perimenopause, typically between the ages of 42 and 50.
“Throughout my career I’ve been focused on the intersection of women’s health, menopause, and breast cancer. It was shocking to me how little information is out there for women, so I worked with national committees helping establish guidelines for managing menopause symptoms and sexual functioning in cancer survivors,” said Dr. Mindy Goldman, Director of the Gynecology Center for Cancer Survivors and At-Risk Women Program at UCSF, and a physician working with The Cusp. “I’m thrilled to be a part of The Cusp, as we are on the front lines providing women with comprehensive diagnostic tools and personalized care so that menopause can be faced head-on and managed with a multi-pronged approach that can include medical interventions, naturopathic solutions, and/or hormone replacement therapies.”
The company is already providing care to roughly 75 patients already and is growing its membership rapidly. With its recent launch, The Cusp has joined startups like CurieMD, Elektra Health, and Geneve, which are all focused on providing medical services to women in perimenopause and menopause.
To date, the company has raised $4 million from investors including HomeBrew, Village Global and individual investors like Katie Stanton and Megan Pai.
Sittler, a co-founder of Color Genomics, sees an opportunity in applying new diagnostics tests and technology to treating women as they enter menopause.
The Cusp charges an initial $210 for tests and the first three months of care and then an additional monthly fee of $72 per month.
“Being able to provide these personalized solutions that involve proprietary technologies. We would love to get into newer treatments… once we get a few zeros to our member number… there’s an initial advantage that we have in terms of the integration we’ve already done and the advantages that we have,” said Sittler.
Ms. Preston was known for her role as a hardhearted fiancée of the Tom Cruise character in the 1996 film.
Being targeted by those who traffic in false promises feels like a “slap in the face” to patients like me.
As the coronavirus overwhelms the health care system, people with other illnesses struggle to find treatment.
The “Ordinary Love” actress reads an essay about breast cancer and the unexpected need for community.
More research is done on the therapeutic benefits of dogs than on cats and other animals. But there are signs of change.
Some experts recommend telling minors about genetic risk so they have time to come to terms with it.