first spray-on contraceptive
contraceptive will be trialled in Australia next year, the latest development
in birth control alternatives which include the Pill, Mini-Pill, injections
and implantable devices.
Developed by Melbourne medical company, Acrux, the prototype for spray-on
contraception uses a hormone called Nestorone. "This is innovative
technology. If, as we hope, this will develop into a good contraceptive
then it will certainly be the first skin spray that will transfer hormones
into the blood stream," said Professor Ian Fraser.
The spray delivers a pre-set dose, which is a smaller potentially safer
dose than a pill because a pill needs higher doses to get past the gut
wall and liver. "[With a pill] the blood levels go up very rapidly,
they stay high for a few hours, and then go down very rapidly, "said
Professor Fraser. "If you give something through the skin you get
much more constant blood levels."
It will be a daily spray but won't need to be taken strictly at the
same time every day and it's that flexibility and safety which is appealing
to many women like Linda Kristian-Lambert. "Nobody likes having
to take huge amounts of drugs and hormones every day so if this spray
promises a break-away from this then I'm all for it," she said.
The first trials will get underway next year initially involving only
a small group of Australian women. The aim is to regularly test blood
levels of the hormone, which are expected to take effect very quickly.
"It works in 30 seconds and we hope that we would be using doses
that are perhaps half of what we do with a pill by mouth," said
A special thank you to National 9 News for this article
hope for women with advanced breast cancer
on a breast cancer trial will give hope to thousands of women with an
advanced form of breast cancer. According to researchers, the treatment,
which is a combination of anti-cancer therapy Herceptin [trastuzumab]
plus docetaxel, has been found to double the rate of tumour shrinkage
and improve survival rates with virtually no side-effects.
This international study involved a number of hospitals in Australia
including St Vincent's Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Andrew
Love Cancer Centre in Victoria, Wesley Medical Centre in Brisbane and
Liverpool Hospital in Sydney.
For patients like Ethne Anderson, the therapy has given her a new lease
She was first treated for breast cancer 13 years ago and for 10 years
she was in the clear. But then it returned, to her other breast, bones
and lungs. "The lung was very bad, I could hardly climb the stairs,"
Ethne is among one in five women with what's called HER2 cancer - it's
aggressive, and a year ago she says she wasn't expected to live. But
doctors at Royal North Shore Hospital added to her standard chemotherapy
of taxotere, another drug, Herceptin, and the difference is significant.
"So much more stamina, and apart from no hair, no eyelashes and
no eyebrows, everyone can't get over just how well I am," she said.
Herceptin is cleverly targeted to attach itself to the killer HER2 protein
- blocking off supply lines which feed the tumour. "What it gives
them in extra benefit is greater survival, a greater chance of the tumour
shrinking compared to using chemotherapy alone, and that's going to
have benefits in terms of quality of life," explained Dr Fran Boyle,
Royal North Shore Hospital.
Doctors say these trial results mean it's critical for women where breast
cancer has spread to be tested to see if Herceptin is an option for
them. But there is a barrier - there is no medical rebate for the test.
"So we believe there are women missing out on having this information
available to their doctors," said Dr Boyle.
· Combination treatment with Herceptin plus docetaxel improves
median life expectancy - about half the patients treated with the combination
therapy survived, on average, 27.7 months, compared to 18.3 months for
patients treated with docetaxel alone.
· The overall response rate for patients treated with Herceptin
plus docetaxel was 61 percent, compared to 36 percent for patients treated
with docetaxel alone.
· Median time to disease progression was 11 months for patients
treated with the combination therapy, compared to six months following
treatment with docetaxel alone.
· Preliminary safety data indicate that Herceptin plus docetaxel
had similar tolerability to docetaxel alone, with no unexpected toxicities
seen to date.
· Herceptin consumer medicine information is available by clicking
A special thank you to National 9 News for this article
back to top
study aims for early detection
When an aneurysm
strikes there are rarely any warning signs but a world-first study is
hoping to change that by developing a test for early detection for those
at most risk.
Two thousand Australians are either killed or left severely disabled
every year with a high percentage of aneurysms, or brain bleeds, affecting
people before they're 50.
"Half of all patients who have a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage die
suddenly and don't even get to hospital," said Professor Michael
Besser, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
When Shona Loutfy's sister in Scotland was diagnosed with an aneurysm
after complaining of dizziness, and their grandfather had died from
a burst aneurysm, Shona feared she may be at risk so decided to have
MRI scans at RPA. What doctors found was not just one but two bulging
arteries in her brain. "They said you were lucky you didn't have
a bleed because the aneurysms are quite large," said Shona, aneurysm
Shona's family history is all too common and now the focus of new genetic
research, according to Dr Victoria Dunne, RPA Hospital. "This study
is hoping to not only isolate which particular genes, and it will be
more than one, but also to look at some of the environmental influences
that we have under our microscope of suspicion," she said.
Triggers could include smoking, high blood pressure and caffeine. This
world first-study involves 11 Australian and New Zealand hospitals.
The goal is to develop a genetic screening test, which would enable
doctors to treat more aneurysms as they did with Shona and prevent the
thousand lives lost each year in Australia - more than national road
"The burden on the community is very high because these people
are young and the loss to the community of their working life is great,"
said Professor Besser.
Here's a list of the participating hospitals:
· Royal Perth Hospital
Ph: (08) 9224 2598
Contact: Dr Graeme Hankey or Ms Anne Claxon.
· Sir Charles Grirdner Hospital, Perth
Ph: (08) 9346 2865
Contact: Dr Neville Knuckey or Ms Anne Claxon.
· Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia
Ph: (08) 8204 4355
Contact: Dr Brian Brophy.
· Royal Adelaide
Ph: (08) 8222 5232
Contact: Dr Peter Reilly or Ms Sharon Ewen.
· Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria
Ph: (03) 9347 1533
Contact: Dr John Laidlaw.
· The Alfred Hospital, Victoria
Ph: (03) 9276 3716
Contact: Dr Paul D'Uroso.
· Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW Ph: (02) 9223 6500
Contact: Dr Michael Morgan or Ms Elizabeth Ritson.
· Westmead Hospital
Ph: (02) 9845 6022
Contact: Dr Nicholas Dorsch.
· Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Ph: (02) 9515 6266
Contact Ms Victoria Dunne.
Department of Neurosurgery at each hospital.
A special thank you to National 9 News for this article
A natural way to prevent heart attack
has been found to be as effective as many expensive heart medications
in preventing heart attack, according to new Australian research.
Scientists tell us cholesterol can be lowered with fish oils known as
omega-3 but now there's even better news. Associate Professor Peter
McLennan, Director of the Smart Foods Centre at the University of Wollongong,
has discovered how an omega-3 oil called DHA can be lifesaving if there's
enough in our heart muscle.
"It's less prone to going out of rhythm, which is the cause of
sudden heart attack deaths," said Associate Professor Peter McLennan.
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart, stroke and blood vessel
disease, is the leading cause of death and disability in Australia claiming
the lives of 49,741 people each year or a life every 10 minutes.
Heart attack survivors are at high risk of a second fatal attack but
a study of 11,000 such patients shows DHA dramatically reduces the risk
of a second heart attack by 45 percent. It not only makes a healthy
heart work better, experimental work also shows it can improve the functioning
of a diseased heart.
Building on Professor McLennan's work, one leading Melbourne heart specialist
gives fish oil to his surgical patients, which has been found to significantly
"Fish oils improve the energy production in the heart and they
particularly have an effect in elderly people," said Professor
Franklin Rosenfeldt, Melbourne Heart Transplant Unit.
Specialists say fish oil is vastly under utilised because it's natural
and not patented.
"It's a therapy that's cheap, it's without side-effects and is
almost as effective in lots of ways as these expensive drugs, and yet
because there isn't a profit margin in them that's why they don't get
as much emphasis as they should," said Professor Franklin Rosenfeldt.
Research shows one to three meals a week of fish rich in omega-3 such
as salmon, tuna and trout will help protect against heart disease.
Fish oils are also being introduced into many foods such as bread, juices
cold meats and baby formulas.
A special thank you to National 9 News for this article
it's Important to Act in Time - Heart Attack
This article is as a result of the US National Heart and Lung Institute
campaign to help people recognise heart attack symptoms. They so kindly
have made the results available for use on health sites for which they
are to be congratulated.
Summarized by Robert W. Griffith, MD
October 29, 2001
The US National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has initiated a campaign
to help people recognize if they are at risk of having a heart attack,
what the early symptoms of an attack are, what to do, and so on. They
have generously made their material available for use on health websites.
We give below a slightly edited version of some of the sections. You
can read the full version at their website, which is given at the end
of the article, under Source. (Robert Griffith, Editor)
What is a heart attack?
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by a narrowing of the coronary
arteries that supply blood to the heart, and often results in a heart
attack. Each year, about 1.1 million Americans suffer a heart attack,
and about half of those attacks are fatal. About half of those deaths
occur within 1 hour of the start of symptoms, and before the person
reaches the hospital.
Fortunately, everyone can take steps to protect their heart -- and their
life. The key is seeking medical care as soon as possible. A fast response
to the signs of a heart attack is crucial to save lives and limit heart
Who's At Risk?
Heart attacks strike both men and women. However, some persons are more
likely than others to have one because of their "risk factors."
Risk factors are behaviors or conditions that increase the chance of
a disease. Some of them are beyond your control, but most can be modified
to help you lower your risk of having a first -- or repeat -- heart
Risk factors for heart attack are:
1. Factors you cannot control:
· Pre-existing coronary heart diseases, including a previous
heart attack, a prior angioplasty or bypass surgery, or angina.
· Age-In men, the risk increases after age 45; in women, the
risk increases after age 55.
· Family history of early heart disease - a father or brother
diagnosed before age 55, or a mother or sister diagnosed before age
2. Factors you can control:
· High blood pressure
· High blood cholesterol
· Overweight and obesity
· Physical inactivity
Risk factors do not add their effects in a simple way. Rather, they
multiply each other's effects. So, it's very important to prevent or
control the risk factors that can be modified.
Limiting the damage
Treatments for a heart attack work to open the blocked artery to restore
blood flow as fast as possible, in order to prevent or limit damage
to the heart muscle, and to lessen the chance of a repeat attack. The
main treatments are thrombolytic ("clot-busting") therapy,
other medications, and special procedures, such as angioplasty and coronary
artery bypass surgery. To be most effective, these treatments must be
given fast -- within 1 hour of the start of heart attack symptoms. Acting
fast can save your life and limit damage to your heart.
If you learn the signs of a heart attack and what steps to take, you
can save a life -- maybe your own. Women may not think they're at risk
of having a heart attack -- but they are.
What are the signs of a heart attack? Many people think a heart attack
is sudden and intense, like a "movie" heart attack, where
a person clutches his chest and keels over. The truth is that many heart
attacks start slowly, as a mild pain or discomfort. If you feel such
a symptom, you may not be sure what's wrong. Your symptoms may even
come and go. Even those who have already had one heart attack may not
recognize their symptoms, because the next attack can have entirely
It's vital that everyone learn the warning signs of a heart attack.
· Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in
the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes
away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing,
fullness, or pain.
· Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include
pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
· Shortness of breath. This often accompanies chest discomfort.
But it also can occur before chest discomfort.
· Other symptoms. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat,
nausea, or light-headedness.
Learn the signs -- but also remember: Even if you're not sure it's a
heart attack, you should still have it checked out. Fast action can
save lives -- maybe your own.
If you're a woman, you may believe you're not as vulnerable to a heart
attack as a man -- but you are. Women account for nearly half of all
heart attack deaths. Heart disease is the number one killer of both
women and men. Women, too, should learn the heart attack warning signs.
There are differences in how women and men respond to a heart attack.
Women are less likely than men to believe they're having a heart attack
and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment. Further, women
tend to be about 10 years older than men when they have a heart attack.
They are more likely to have other conditions, such as diabetes, high
blood pressure, and congestive heart failure -- making it all the more
vital that they get proper treatment fast.
As with men, the most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But
women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common
symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back
or jaw pain.
If you feel heart attack symptoms, do not delay. Remember, minutes matter!
Don't wait for more than a few minutes -- 5 minutes at most -- before
calling 911. In Australia 000.
How do you survive a heart attack? Fast action is your best weapon.
Clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments can stop a heart
attack in its tracks. They can prevent or limit damage to the heart
-- but they need to be given immediately after symptoms begin. To be
most effective, they need to be given ideally within 1 hour of the start
of heart attack symptoms.
Once you get help, you will undergo tests to see if a heart attack has
actually occurred. Some are done at the hospital, while emergency medical
personnel who come in the ambulance will do others.
Key heart attack tests are:
· Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). This is a graphic record of
the electrical activity of the heart as it beats. The ECG can detect
abnormal heartbeats, some areas of damage, inadequate blood flow, and
· Blood test. A blood test will be done routinely to check for
enzymes or other substances that are released when heart muscle cells
begin to die. These are "markers" of the amount of damage
to your heart.
· Nuclear scan. This test shows any areas of the heart that lack
blood flow and are damaged. It can also reveal problems with the heart's
pumping action. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into
an arm vein. A scanning camera positioned over the heart records whether
the material is taken up by the heart muscle (healthy areas) or not
(damaged areas). This test can be done at rest and during exercise,
enhancing the usefulness of its results.
· Coronary angiography (or arteriography). This test is used
to check blockages and narrowed areas inside coronary arteries. A fine
tube (catheter) is threaded through an artery of an arm or leg up into
the heart. A dye that shows up on X-ray is then injected into the blood
vessel, and the vessels and heart are filmed as the heart pumps. The
picture is called an angiogram or arteriogram.
Reduce your risk
You can reduce your risk of having a heart attack - even if you already
have CHD or have had a previous heart attack. The key is to take steps
to prevent or control your heart disease risk factors. The six key steps
are those necessary to counteract the risks we listed above:
· Stop smoking
· Lower your blood pressure, if it's high.
· Reduce your blood cholesterol
· Aim for a healthy weight
· Be physically active each day
· Mange diabetes, if you have it.
Heart disease and medications
Sometimes, medications may be needed to help prevent or control CHD
and so reduce the risk of a first or repeat heart attack. But, if medications
are needed, lifestyle changes still must be undertaken. Remember, always
take medications as directed by your physician.
Drugs used to treat CHD include:
· Aspirin -- helps to lower the risk of a heart attack for those
who have already had one. It also helps to keep arteries open in those
who have had a previous heart bypass or other artery-opening procedure
such as coronary angioplasty. Because of its risks, the US Food and
Drug Administration has not approved aspirin for preventing heart attacks
in healthy individuals. Talk to your doctor about whether taking aspirin
is right for you.
· Digitalis -- makes the heart contract harder and is used when
the heart's pumping function has been weakened; it also slows some fast
· ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor -- stops the
production of a chemical that makes blood vessels narrow and is used
to help control high blood pressure and for damaged heart muscle. It
may be prescribed after a heart attack to help the heart pump blood
better, and in persons with heart failure.
· Beta blocker -- slows the heart and makes it beat with less
force, so blood pressure drops and the heart works less hard. It is
used for high blood pressure, chest pain, and to prevent a repeat heart
· Nitrate (including nitroglycerine) -- relaxes blood vessels
and stops chest pain.
· Calcium channel blocker -- relaxes blood vessels and is used
for high blood pressure and chest pain.
· Diuretic -- decreases fluid in the body and is used for high
blood pressure. Diuretics are sometimes referred to as "water pills."
· Blood cholesterol-lowering agents -- decrease LDL cholesterol
levels in the blood.
· Thrombolytic agents -- also called "clot busting drugs,"
they are given during a heart attack to break up a blood clot in a coronary
artery in order to restore blood flow.
Drugs can cause side effects. If side effects occur, report them to
your doctor. Often, a change in the dose or type of a medication, or
the use of a combination of drugs can stop the side effect.
· "Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs". US National,
Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Website accessed September 30, 2001.
Ventolin inhalers recalled
A batch of
Ventolin inhalers is being voluntarily recalled because of a potential
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced that drug company
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had recalled the remainder of a batch of 63,000
inhalers still in circulation.
Ventolin is used to treat people with asthma and other chest illnesses.
The chances of consumers receiving a faulty inhaler are low because
only a small number are affected by the problem, according to the company.
The TGA said the batch affected had been on the Australian market since
May and it was likely that most of the stock had already been bought
If someone believes they may have a faulty inhaler they are urged to
check the batch number on their inhaler. The number is located at the
bottom of the canister inside the inhaler tube.
If the batch number is KN6261 consumers are advised to take their inhaler
back to where it was bought and it will be exchanged at no cost.
A Ventolin Customer Line is available on 1800 009 395.
A special thank you to AAP & Nine news for this important
THE FACE OF SURGERY -
Australia's first robotic-assisted surgery
Australia's first robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery, a radical prostatectomy,
has been performed at Epworth Hospital, Melbourne.
The surgery was undertaken using the $3 million da Vinci Surgical System
- a totally intuitive system of laparoscopic surgery. Epworth Hospital
surgeons say the robotic assisted surgery dramatically improves patient
Patient benefits include shorter hospital stays, less post-operative
pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss and transfusions, less
scarring, faster recovery and less post-operative complications.
The US experience using the da Vinci Surgical System has shown that
the percentage of post-operative complications drops from 15% to 5%.
In Australia the average length of hospital stay after an open surgery
radical prostatectomy is 5-7 days, whereas after a robotic-assisted
laparoscopic radical prostatectomy patients can go home in 24-36 hours.
"The benefits of minimally invasive surgery have led to a new era
in surgical technology," said Epworth Hospital Chief Executive,
Mr Denis Hogg, "and Epworth is proud to be leading this field in
Australia. The da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to perform
surgery in a manner never before experienced. It increases surgical
capability by delivering unparalleled surgical precision, control and
The da Vinci Surgical System is a totally intuitive laparoscopic surgical
robot. By placing robotic technology between the surgeon and the patient,
the da Vinci Surgical System increases surgical capability while reducing
patient trauma and complication rates.
In effect, the system allows the surgeon to have the flexibility of
open surgery, but utilising the concept of minimally invasive techniques.
The major components of the system are a surgeon console, a vision cart
system, robotic arms and specialised fully articulated instruments.
The surgeon operates the robotic arms and instruments by means of hand
controls, while seated at the console.
The surgeon has a full colour, 3-D image of the operating site, magnified
up to 10 times. The major difference from normal laparoscopic surgery
is the intuitive nature of the surgeon's hand movements compared with
the counter-intuitive movements required with normal laparoscopic surgery
i.e. the surgeon is doing the operation with his hands moving in the
same way as they would in open surgery.
Additionally, conventional laparoscopy is only two dimensional whereas
the robotic nature of the da Vinci means surgeons are operating at the
site of the prostate, rather than at the end of laparoscopic instruments.
Two of Epworth's most prominent urologists, Prof. Anthony Costello (who
is also a director of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia),
and Mr. Justin Peters, have been to the United States for extensive
training with the equipment.
"The robot assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy performed
at Epworth is an outstanding example of the benefits of the da Vinci
system," said Professor Costello. The use of fully articulated
instruments that mimic the movements of the surgeon's hands allows very
precise and complex surgery to be performed with only a few puncture
holes in the body.
The fact that the surgeon is able to view the site in 3D colour images
with a 10x magnification, coupled with the precise control of the instruments,
means that very delicate surgery can be performed.
This is particularly important for instance in a radical prostatectomy,
where nerve preservation is a key objective.
"It takes surgery beyond the limits of the human hand," Professor
Costello said. There are more than 170 da Vinci Surgical Systems in
use across the United States, Europe and Japan. Epworth's will be the
first in Australia. Epworth has an initial target of 300 procedures
(This article appeared in Prostate News Issue 17 - February 2004.
For a copy please contact the Foundation on 1800 22 00 99 or 02 9418
Our sincere thanks to Prostate News for this article.
HIV vaccine gains international attention
clinical trial conducted in Australia has identified an Australian-developed
HIV treatment vaccine as one of the most promising of its kind, a pre-eminent
international conference of HIV/AIDS researchers was told today.
The trial tested both the safety of the treatment and its ability to
control the amount of virus in the blood of 35 HIV-positive patients.
Three injections within three months were followed up a year later with
a booster dose, resulting in a significant drop in HIV levels.
AIDS specialist Dr Cassy Workman says "it's dramatically different
to anything we have available ... controlling the level of virus is
critical". Professor David Cooper AO, director of the Australian
National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University
of NSW, which conducted the trial, today presented the test results
of the potential HIV treatment vaccine, VIR201, to medical and scientific
"Controlling the level of virus is fundamental for the management
of HIV. If we are able to keep the viral load low, patients will not
develop AIDS and can live long and relatively healthy, normal lives,"
Professor Cooper told the prestigious 11th Conference on Retroviruses
and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco.
Dr Workman, a key co-investigator in the trial, reports "a number
of my patients have been able to return to work and are feeling much
better". This is a treatment vaccine, not a preventative vaccine.
VIR201 boosts the immune system to produce a specific response in HIV-infected
people, and its four shots make treatment very easy compared with existing
"All the treatments we currently have are costly and have considerable
side effects. Several tablets must be taken without fail once or twice
a day, every day. A lapse in this routine can lead to the development
of resistance to the therapy," said Dr Workman. "Toxicity
problems associated with these drugs also mean that current therapies
do not offer a long-term solution or cure - VIR201 is looking very promising
and offers hope for people living with HIV/AIDS around the world."
Professor Cooper said: "On the clinical evidence now available,
VIR201 is one of the most promising treatment vaccines currently under
development and further trials are warranted." "Twenty weeks
after a booster injection, patients on VIR201 had a lower HIV level,
compared to the participants who received placebo."
VIR201 is a treatment vaccine developed and manufactured by the Melbourne-based
biotechnology company Virax Holdings Limited. It could be five years
before it is approved for general use.
· HIV/AIDS remains a serious epidemic - it is the world's fourth-largest
· HIV/AIDS killed more than three million people in 2003.
· An estimated five million people acquired HIV in the same year,
bringing to 40 million the number of people living with the virus around
· More than 13,000 people have HIV/AIDS in Australia.
· Approximately 850,000 to 950,000 US residents are living with
Nine News - Thank you to National Nine News for this article.Feb 2004.
ADHD medication: reducing the 'ups and downs'
A new slow-release
medication for the treatment of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) has been welcomed by Australian psychiatrists and paediatricians.
The medication's extended duration means it can save children who suffer
the condition taking tablets up to three times a day.
For 10-year-old Matthew Coyte, his impulsive behaviour and inability
to pay attention in class became a major problem last year. And, according
to his father, Adrain, the more Matthew was pulled into line the more
he fought, even with his twin brother.
"His [Mathew's] attention span would have been 20 seconds,"
said Mr Coyte. "You had to amuse him all the time; he was just
bad, he was naughty all the time."
Diagnosed with ADHA, Matthew was put on a new slow-release medication,
called Concerta, and it's had a positive impact on him as well as his
"He's a totally different child. It takes a lot of the stress off.
Now, you can actually take him out to places now where we couldn't before,"
said Mr Coyte.
Despite 300,000 children having some type of Attention Deficit Disorder
in Australia, it is still one of the most misunderstood and stigmatised
conditions. But doctors say, with brain scans, it's been proven as a
very real condition affecting a child's ability to learn if they are
not treated and managed.
New technology allows Concerta to release over 10-12 hours making it
the longest-acting medication for ADHD. The main benefit is that children
don't have the hassle with existing shorter-action medications during
school and attention is sustained through the day.
This new medication has boosted Matthew's self-esteem and he no longer
feels like a failure.
"It helps me think so I can do my homework," Matthew said.
For more information:
Source: National Nine News
Mon 9 Feb 2004
First Steps to test
for Bipolar Disorder
Australian researchers have taken the first step in establishing a diagnostic
test for one of our worsening health issues, bipolar disorder, also
commonly known as manic depression. The scientists have discovered,
in a world-first study, people suffering the illness process information
differently in their brain, which affects their ability to function
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are individuals displaying exaggerated
mood swings. Both males and females are equally affected but it now
appears to be more common in people in their 20s, even younger.
For 16-year-old Yvette Cotton, the symptoms of bipolar disorder first
hit on a school excursion. "I couldn't sleep at all, I knew something
was wrong," she said. "I was talking non-stop to friends and
spending probably more money than I should."
Early treatment saved her from a fate suffered by many of the estimated
200,000 Australians with bipolar. It's often 10 years into the disease
before it's finally recognised through debilitating patterns of highs,
depression and paranoia.
According to Dr Gin Malhi from the Black Dog Institute, the initial
study has been ground-breaking. "What's surprising is that despite
the fact that bipolar is reaching epidemic proportions and affecting
so many people we are not any nearer diagnosis," he said.
Now, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, researchers from
Sydney's Black Dog Institute are on the threshold of developing the
world's first diagnostic test - after discovering people with this condition
process information differently in their brain, when up or depressed.
"This is the first time we've been able to identify a different
pattern in these two states, allowing us to make a diagnosis,"
Dr Malhi said. It's also the first study to explain why sufferers struggle
to maintain relationships, jobs, even life. "Currently, one in
eight suicides in Australia is because of bipolar disorder," Dr
In an effort to finalise the diagnostic test, more volunteers with bipolar
disorder are needed, along with another $500,000 dollars in research
funding. But specialists say it's an investment that will have major
benefits for people like Yvette.
"Getting on to the right treatment can make a huge difference to
people lives," said Yvette.
For more information about the trial:
Phone (02) 9382 3767 or (02) 9399 1212
Nine News. A Special thank you to National Nine News.
One in five Australians suffers debilitating, chronic
lower back pain.
The Blomberg treatment available through Medicare!
REPORTER: Karryn Cooper
BROADCAST DATE: May 18, 2004
pain debilitates approximately 20 per cent of the Australian population,
but a series of injections known as the Blomberg Technique offers hope
for sufferers and it's available through Medicare
one in five Australians, Maureen Kojine suffers debilitating, chronic
lower back pain."Your life is just a complete misery, all you want
to do is just roll up and die," Maureen said. "You would just
seize up, it would take all of your time to put one foot in front of
on seven.com.au/todaytonight is made available for information purposes
only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical
advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Also, the accuracy, currency and completeness
of the information is not guaranteed. The Seven Network and Primus AOL
do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by
use of or reliance on the information. Always seek the advice of your
doctor or other qualified health professional.
For years the 74-year-old has been restricted when it comes to walking,
sitting down and even just moving. A back operation did nothing to stem
the pain, which then overtook her entire body."My neck went, everything
was going," Maureen said. "I couldn't turn my neck or my head
around."John is a paraplegic. He has to put up with aching in his
back, caused by his immobile limbs."You get a burning sensation
from your bum down your legs. It's just an annoying pain, you can't
get comfortable," John said.But now there's a new technique bringing
Dr Breck McKay is one of 30 GPs in Australia revolutionising the way
back pain is treated."This is an incredible breakthrough and I
challenge anyone out there to look at the papers and prove us wrong,"
Dr McKay said. "Patients have gone six to eight years with no further
pain, not seeing a doctor, back at work, off their pensions, off their
disabilities."Originating in Europe, it's called the Blomberg Technique
- treating the aching spine not with an operation, not with a chiropractor,
but with a series of injections."We inject into the ligaments down
the side of the spine and those that attach to the pelvis," Dr
McKay said. "We inject into the ligaments attaching to the bone
of the pelvis we do not go into the spinal canal."
It works by relaxing the ligaments with anaesthetic and minimising the
swelling with steroids. It relieves the aching muscles that Dr McKay
and his colleagues believe are the cause of most sore backs."In
my opinion these injections should be used prior to any surgery on the
back [and then] if the injections don't work surgery can still be done,"
Dr McKay said.
The results speak for themselves. "Of our 560-plus patients, 89
per cent have had 50 per cent improvement in pain, range of movement
and quality of life. When we look for an 80 per cent or better, we've
had 75 per cent of patients that have had that improvement," Dr
After her injections, Maureen Kojine is a new woman. "It really
is like a miracle," Maureen said. "It fixed everything. I
got the numbness out of my fingers, everything works and I can work
like a normal person, I think I do more work than my daughters do now."
Now for the first time Maureen will be able to pick up her grandchild
and the good news is, it's a procedure that is affordable for everyone
and is covered by Medicare."It's basically the cost of the injections,
the total cost shouldn't be any more than about $200-$250 for a total
set of injections,"
Dr McKay said.Dr Scott Masters from the Australasian Association of
Musculoskeletal Medicine endorses the technique, and believes more doctors
should learn the procedure."These injections are very safe, it's
extremely rare to have problems with them," Dr Scott said. "There
are people out there who are missing out because they don't know about
For further information on Blomberg Technique, call Dr Breck McKay on
(07) 3395 1000 or consult your family doctor.
We thank Channel 7 and Today Tonight most sincerely for this very informative
Also check this
site for Doctors in your area - Editor
examination made easy - The self examination pad!
examination made easy
BROADCAST DATE: May 21, 2004
Early detection of breast cancer saves lives and now there is a
product that helps women with self-examination of their breasts in an
effort to detect lumps early.
Breast self-examination has always been a difficult thing, with women
often wondering whether they're doing it the right way.Some experts are
saying its better to get a GP to carry out the breast check, but now there's
a new product on the market - the breast self-examination pad - that might
just help women do all the early checks at home.
The breast self-examination pad hit the Australian market two weeks ago.
It's made of two plastic sheets with lubricant inside. Because of the
fluid nature of the pad it helps to increase a woman's sense of touch
by reducing friction between her fingers and breast.
A Japanese study of more than 800 women found that if used properly patients
were able to use the pad as effectively as trained nurses. Another study
found women using the pad had higher tactile awareness than when using
their bare hand.
Anne Brazel from Breastcheck NSW is adamant that the only way for women
to detect lumps is through a proper mammography and ultrasound at a doctor's
surgery."We say to women know the look and feel of your breasts check
for any changes and if you've got a problem see a doctor," Anne said.
"We don't advocate systematic use of any strategy for breast self
examination, we just say know what your breasts look like and check for
Anne believes an independent study should be carried out, testing the
effectiveness of the pads with tens of thousands of Australian women."I'd
like to see something like a formal randomised control trial of its use
and effectiveness in detecting breast cancer," Anne said.
Dr John's opinion:
One in 12 women will suffer breast cancer at some time in their lives.
Just about everyone knows someone under the age of 50 who has had breast
cancer, but statistics show the condition is far more common as women
Nonetheless, it's true that breast cancer can occur in women who are much
younger. Just about every woman fears the concept of suffering from it.In
the past, breast self-examination was encouraged for all women. Once a
month after their period.
The trouble is statistics show all this encouragement did was make women
feel more anxious. Lumps are very common in young women because of the
ebb and flow of their hormones.Anxious women have often undergone mammography,
ultrasound, biopsy and even lump removal and the lumps have not been malignant
but are hormonal in origin. That's why the experts say breast awareness,
rather than examination is the way to go.
Women should report any change in their breast to their family doctor.
The breast self-examination pad is currently being assessed by experts
at Westmead hospital in Sydney and in days to come statements will be
made as to their effectiveness.
For more information about the new breast self-examination pads, visit
this website - www.healthsolutionsaustralasia.com.au
The information on seven.com.au/todaytonight is made available
for information purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute
for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Also, the accuracy,
currency and completeness of the information is not guaranteed. The Seven
Network and Primus AOL do not accept any liability for any injury, loss
or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information. Always seek
the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional.
thank you to Channel 7 and Today Tonight for this article.