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Mayo technique for prostate testing getting attention

Rethinking breast cancer definitions; defense wants Schaffhausen tape suppressed; fans brawl after Vikings game; innovative Hennepin health plan; and more.

Lorna Benson of MPR has a story saying: “[A] new Mayo Clinic scanning technique that helps doctors detect recurring prostate cancers months or even years earlier than before is receiving considerable attention. The test searches for a common nutrient that all cells, including cancer cells, need to grow. This fall, Mayo Clinic received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use the new imaging agent. It is the only health care provider in the United States that is offering the scan to patients. The scan allows men with cancer to receive treatment that is both faster and potentially more effective than current tests. As a result, patients from around North America have flooded the clinic with requests to use the scan because it’s much more sensitive than other available techniques. The Mayo Clinic books approximately 22,000 prostate cancer visits each year — most of them for men whose cancer has returned. The problem for doctors and patients is that PSA levels alone don’t reveal much, said [Dr. Eugeene] Kwon, a professor of urology and immunology at Mayo Clinic. Follow-up scans are necessary to actually see where the cancer might be located. But conventional scans aren’t sensitive enough to detect early relapse of prostate cancer.”

In another medical story, MPR’s Tom Crann had a chat with the station’s medical analyst, Dr. Jon Hallberg, on the value of mammograms.
Tom Crann: Let’s get the basics first of this study. What did it show?
Dr. Jon Hallberg: The authors looked at mammograms that had been taken from 1976 to 2008, and during that time they found that on average we’re detecting a lot more breast cancers, really early breast cancers, which is great. I mean that’s one of the points of screening for cancer, especially cancer that might be fatal. But it didn’t seem to find a correlation with detecting severe cancers and therefore saving lives in that respect … They think that we’re catching a lot of early stuff really early, and frankly, cancers that may not have been fatal.
Crann: You’re saying severe cancers, cancers that may not have been fatal — it sounds like you’re making a distinction. Is it possible that when it comes to breast cancer and other cancers that all cancers aren’t equal?
Hallberg: I think a few years ago we really weren’t talking along these lines, but this is something that’s becoming more and more obvious: that things like breast cancer, things like prostate cancer, there’s probably a sub-set that maybe we shouldn’t even be calling cancer because it doesn’t behave the same way that cancers that can take our lives do.”

The defense for the father who killed his three daughters last summer would like a lot of what he told police rendered inadmissible. For the Strib, Pam Louwagie writes: “One central question in the hearing … was whether a 3 1/2-hour tape of Aaron Schaffhausen’s interrogation by police would be admissible at trial. The tape will not be reviewed at the hearing, attorneys said, and the defense attorney is still trying to get it suppressed at the trial, which is scheduled for April. … During a recent hearing, Schaffhausen’s attorney hinted that his client might enter an insanity plea, but today is all about procedural questions. ‘I’m not too sure they can convict him of anything,’ defense attorney John Kucinski said outside the courtroom during the noon break in response to reporters’ questions.”

We’re assuming alcohol was involved. WTAQ radio reports: “On the heels of a brawl outside of Lambeau Field following the Packers-Vikings game, a Minnesota man has been charged with battery and disorderly conduct for his role in the melee. Up to 30 fans were involved in a fight outside of Sidelines Sports Bar in Ashwaubenon, when authorities were called around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. A 50-year-old man, who was apparently trying to break up the fight, was knocked out and sent to the hospital. According to the criminal complaint, a group of Packers and Vikings fans were exchanging words outside of the bar when a man tried to calm the two groups down.  That’s when police say 40-year-old Mark Swanson of Lakeland, Minnesota, hit the man in the parking lot. Swanson is due back in court December 21st. … Court documents say after Paul Hrubesky was hit, Swanson took off. He was arrested behind K-Mart a short time later.” Now see, that is just an all-around classy story.

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On the national Governing website, Dylan Scott explains Hennepin County’s strategy for handling Medicaid expansion under Obamacare: “Earlier this year, officials in Hennepin County, Minnesota, became aware of a transient adult man who had visited a local emergency room 11 times over a 30-day period for minor aches and pains. He was a living, breathing manifestation of what often happens when low-income adults don’t have health coverage: they head to the hospital because they don’t know where else to go, using the most expensive type of care for what are really non-emergency health issues. … here’s how Hennepin Health motivates everyone to keep costs down. Childless adults with incomes below 75 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible to participate. The program started with 5,000 participants and has grown to 10,000. Once they are enrolled, the Minnesota Medicaid office pays the county a per-member, per-month flat rate between $800 and $1,000, depending on age and health conditions. The county is then responsible for coordinating with health-care providers and social services programs (housing, mental health, etc.) to care for each person’s needs. If the patient’s care for the month costs less than the state paid for it, the county and providers share in those savings. If the care costs more, the county and providers both have to absorb those costs. That way, everybody is motivated.”

Shocker … Windows 8 has not driven buyers into Acquisition Delirium. Thomas Lee of the Strib says: “Best Buy Co. had hoped the recent launch of Windows 8 would spark holiday sales. So far, though, Windows 8 sales have largely fizzled. Since Microsoft Corp. debuted its latest operating system on Oct. 26, Windows device sales have fallen 21 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to market research firm NPD Group. Windows 8 has captured only 58 percent of total Windows unit device sales, far less than the 83 percent that Windows 7 posted right after its release. Windows 8 tablet sales have been ‘nonexistent,’ accounting for less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 device sales, NPD said. … Windows 8 weakness might portend trouble for Best Buy. The consumer electronics retailer, the country’s largest seller of PCs, typically gets a big lift in sales from the release of a next-generation Windows operating system.”

Sens. Klobuchar and Franken are in a group pushing the White House to sustain a weatherization program. Kevin Diaz writes in the Strib: “Amid the big fiscal cliff stare-down, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are asking the Obama administration to increase funding to help low income folks in places like Minnesota make their homes more energy efficient. In a letter to President Obama, the two Minnesota Democrats pressed for the Weatherization Assistance and State Energy Programs, arguing that they help low-income families save money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. … The total amount involved, some $260 million for both programs in the 2014 budget, amounts to nibbling at the edges in terms of big Washington budget battles.”

Ex-Viking Carl Eller has dropped his price. Curtis Gilbert of MPR reports: “Eller sued the city after a 2008 DWI arrest. He was convicted of assaulting one of the arresting officers and refusing to take a drug test. Eller claimed police used excessive force to subdue him, including shooting him with Taser stun guns. Eller originally sought more than $75,000 in damages. He and the city’s attorney have agreed to settle the matter for just $2,000, pending council approval.” At this rate, he may settle for validated parking.

We’re sorta very religious … City Pages’ Aaron Rupar digs out some factoids, saying: “New data compiled and released by the Association of Religious Data Archives indicates that Minnesota is one of the most religious states in the country, with 56.3 percent of residents claiming some sort of religious affiliation. … That percentage is ninth-highest in the nation. The most religious state is Utah, with 79.1 percent of residents claiming affiliation, followed by second-place North Dakota at 67.1 percent. Maine, with only 27.6 percent of residents claiming an affiliation, is the least-religious state.  In 2010, 22 percent of Minnesotans identified as Catholic, compared to 19 percent nationally. But our state is less evangelical Protestant than the norm — 14 percent here compared to 16 percent across all 50 states.” Where does the line  “Can you help an old altah boy, Fadda?” come from?