News in Brief: Week of Jan. 7-11

January 09, 2013 05:30 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Rise in HPV-associated Cancers Points to Need for Better Vaccine Coverage

Athough the overall incidence of cancer decreased in men and remained stable in women from 2000-2009, an increase in the incidence of certain cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection indicates that more efforts are needed to increase HPV vaccination coverage levels. That's according to a Jan. 7 article(jnci.oxfordjournals.org) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

[News in Brief]

A report from the American Cancer Society, the CDC, the National Cancer Institute and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries highlighted trends in incidence rates for HPV-associated cancers and HPV vaccination coverage levels. Specifically, the report noted increases in the incidence of two HPV-related cancers: cancers of the oropharynx and anus.

Both the bivalent and quadrivalent (HPV4) HPV vaccines have been shown to protect against most cervical cancers in women, and HPV4 also protects against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva.

However, only 32 percent of U.S. girls ages 13-17 years had received three doses of the HPV vaccine in 2010, and coverage was statistically significantly lower among the uninsured and in some Southern states, where cervical cancer rates were highest and recent Pap testing prevalence was the lowest.

"Primary prevention of HPV-associated cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers is achieved through childhood vaccination of girls and boys, although vaccine coverage remains low compared with the Healthy People 2020 target of 80 percent, and strategies are needed to increase coverage among adolescents," the authors wrote. "Educating health care workers about the importance of provider recommendation as an influential factor in a parent's decision to allow HPV vaccination of their child may be the single-most important way to increase coverage levels.

"Also, programs to educate parents about the importance of HPV vaccination as an anticancer vaccine and system changes, such as the implementation of automatic electronic reminders (for series completion) are also likely to be important in increasing coverage."

CMS Announces 90-Day Period of Enforcement Discretion

CMS' Office of E-Health Standards and Services recently announced(caqh.org) that it would wait until March 31 to initiate enforcement action against physicians, health plans and certain health care clearinghouses that are not in compliance with health plan eligibility and health care claim status operating rules(www.caqh.org) as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable care Act.

According to CMS, its decision to offer the 90-day enforcement discretion period was made was after industry feedback suggested that a majority of physicians and other entities would be unable to comply with the new operating rules by the original Jan. 1, 2013, deadline. The 90-day reprieve should reduce the potential of significant disruption to the health care industry.

A timeline listing activities and resources related to operating rules required by the Affordable Care Act is available online(www.caqh.org).

New Report Highlights Prevalence, Dangers of Binge Drinking in Women

About one in eight women and one in five high school girls engage in binge drinking, according to a report released Jan. 8 by the CDC(www.cdc.gov). According to the agency, binge drinking causes about 23,000 deaths a year in the United States.

Based on the drinking behavior of about 278,000 women in the United States ages 18 and older for a recent 30 day-period, the report found that nearly 14 million U.S. women engage in binge drinking (defined as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) about three times a month and consume an average of nearly six drinks per episode. According to the report, binge drinking was most prevalent among women ages 18-34 and among those from households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.

Among the 7,500-plus high-school girls included in the analysis, the prevalence of current alcohol use was nearly 38 percent, the prevalence of binge drinking was almost 20 percent, and the prevalence of binge drinking among girls who reported current alcohol use was nearly 55 percent.

The report's authors stressed the dangers of binge drinking by pointing out, for example, that binge drinking puts women at greater risk for breast cancer, heart disease, STDs and unintended pregnancies.


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