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Health lines

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 16, 2002

ALL ADULTS OVER 50 should be screened for colorectal cancer, according to a recommendation Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

About 143,000 American adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2002, and nearly 57,000 will die from it. The disease is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Screening options include at-home fecal occult blood test or FOBT; flexible sigmoidoscopy; a combination of home FOBT and flexible sigmoidoscopy; colonoscopy; and double-contrast barium enema.

The statistics on testing are encouraging. In the year since Medicare began paying for anyone over the age of 50 to have a colonoscopy, the number of people having the test has greatly increased.

Effective July 1, 2001, Congress told Medicare to pay for colonoscopy screening for everyone over 50. According to the most recent data, 46,599 Medicare beneficiaries of average risk -- that is, those who are 50 or older -- had colonoscopies by the end of 2001.

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LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and don't even know it, according to recent reports. Now it turns out that people who do get tested for sexually transmitted diseases are not having themselves screened for genital herpes, which is not life-threatening but affects more than 50-million Americans.

A survey conducted in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and San Diego found that only 26 percent of men who get tested for STDs have the herpes test. The study also found that respondents greatly underestimated how common the illness is.

The research was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the herpes drug Valtrex. The company is distributing The Guy's Guide to Genital Herpes, available at or toll-free 1-866-437-7372. An independent Web site,, may also be of interest.

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A NEW BOOK about teenagers urges parents to suspend judgment and make sure teenagers get good information about their health.

In The Teen Health Book: A Parents' Guide to Adolescent Health and Well-Being (W.W. Norton & Co., $26.95), Dr. Ralph I. Lopez advises parents on a broad range of teenage ailments, from eating disorders and depression to headaches, stomachaches and fatigue.

"Talk less and listen more," he counsels parents in this book. "It gets easier each time and soon you are having a dialogue and not a haranguing yelling session about how you, the parent, know best."

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