Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


National task force proposes updated breast cancer screening recommendations

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released updated draft guidelines in May 2023 proposing that women at average risk of breast cancer be screened every other year starting at age 40.

Older men continue to have excessive PSA testing

Guidelines recommend against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in men ages 70 and older. Still, two 2023 studies found that men in this age group are having too many PSA tests.

The kidney-heart connection

More than one in seven adults has chronic kidney disease, yet many of them aren't aware of the problem. Early-stage kidney disease often has no symptoms, but the condition slowly and silently worsens over time. The two most common causes of chronic kidney disease—high blood pressure and diabetes—are also leading risk factors for heart disease, which means the two diseases often overlap. Most people know their blood pressure and cholesterol values, but few are familiar with the tests used to assess kidney health. They include serum creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and urine protein tests.

Older women disproportionately diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer

A 2023 study indicates that women 65 and older are diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer more often than younger women, and they have a worse prognosis.

Good intentions, perilous results

Some supplements can interfere with lab tests to diagnose or monitor health conditions, which can lead to life-threatening misdiagnoses or unnecessary additional testing. Biotin (vitamin B7) can skew results from a blood test to diagnose heart attack. Other problematic supplements include vitamin C, which can interfere with blood sugar readings and stool tests; calcium, which can make bones appear denser than they are on bone density scans; and creatine, which can lead to falsely high readings of creatinine, a marker for kidney disease.

Advances in varicose vein treatment

Unlike a few decades ago, there are now a number of minimally invasive ways to treat varicose veins. Doctors can shut down problem veins with injections of various substances or certain catheter procedures. A treatment currently in clinical trials in the United States promises to simply "zap" away varicose veins from outside the body. Called high-intensity focused ultrasound, it converts sound waves into a focused beam of heat that seals a malfunctioning vein.

Lead poisoning: What parents should know and do

Lead poisoning is a serious health risk for children. And yet, they may be exposed to lead in their daily lives. Learn the dangers of lead exposure and what you can do to keep your child safe.

Aortic valve replacement options

People younger than 65 with a bicuspid aortic valve who develop aortic stenosis may need open heart surgery to replace the valve. A less invasive procedure isn't possible for several reasons, including challenges related to the valve anatomy.

Prediabetes: A window of opportunity

About 96 million Americans have prediabetes, defined by elevated blood sugar levels that are not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Risk factors include overweight or obesity, family history, and inactivity. People with prediabetes may have more infections and frequent urination or blurry vision after big meals. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating healthy foods, drinking alcohol moderately, and not smoking may prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes.

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