Welcome to this week’s medical news round up! In our latest edition, we bring you the healthcare topics that have been under the microscope over the past week, just in time for your med school applications.
Joining us this week: NHS funding, a new type of dementia and new cervical screening.
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Dementia is an umbrella term for many conditions, the most common of which being Alzheimer’s disease.
New research shows that up to a third of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may actually be living with limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (Late).
Late is linked to an accumulation of the TDP-43 protein in the brain and appears to affect 20% of those over 80.
The identification of this new type of dementia is groundbreaking for the field and could partly explain why current treatments are not effective.
There is hope that this new discovery will lead to more precise diagnosis and effective treatments in the future.
What can we learn from this?
With Late affecting 20% of those over 80, this is likely to be a huge issue for public health, the NHS and pharmaceutical companies. Many trials of dementia drugs aim to reduce proteins in the brain, but so far have not been successful.
Alzheimer’s disease is linked to the buildup of two other proteins, amyloid and tau. The fact that Late has probably been present for many years but mistaken for Alzheimer’s adds another important dimension to the hunt for effective dementia treatments.
Question to think about: describe your understanding of the issues dementia presents to the health service.
The news hit headlines this week after trials found urine testing was as good at detecting HPV as smear tests. HPV is a virus and a big risk factor for cervical cancer.
The trials are hugely topical, as recent news has highlighted that attendance rates for smear tests are now down to 71%, meaning millions of women in England have not attended a screening for at least three and half years.
There is hope that the potential of non-invasive cervical screening will encourage women to attend and increase participation rates.
Larger trials are required before recommendation to the NHS.
What can we learn from this?
Medical news reports that cervical screening prevents 75% of all cervical cancers. With this in mind, it is extremely worrying that millions of women are currently overdue their test.
Many factors can influence attendance to screening appointments. The most prevalent factor appears to be embarrassment or fear. However, it is also important to consider the challenge of cervical screening for women living with the impact of FGM or sexual abuse.
Therefore, the potential of a non-invasive screening method could be the answer for overcoming these barriers and increasing uptake rates for screening.
Question to think about: why do you feel less women in the UK are attending cervical screening?