Medical Notes this week…

Cancer and Covid are vying for the number two spot on the list of the nation’s leading causes of death. But on the cancer front, there’s very good news. New statistics from the American Cancer Society show that cancer deaths are continuing to drop—down nearly two-and-a-half percent between 2017 and 2018. The biggest reason? A nearly 50 percent drop in lung cancer deaths in the last five years. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell cancer, now has a two year survival rate of more than 40 percent, thanks to much better treatments.

Schools around the country are wrestling with whether they can reopen in person. Now a study from Tulane University finds that reopening schools doesn’t increase hospitalizations for Covid-19… at least not in areas where hospitalizations are low. The data’s inconclusive on the effects of school openings where the virus is rampaging. experts say how schools reopen, with face masks and social distancing, is more important than whether they reopen at all.

Testing for Covid-19 is cumbersome, and requires a trained health professional to do nose swabs properly. But two new studies in the journals JAMA Internal Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine show that saliva tests are just as accurate and much more convenient. Researchers say neither the nose swab nor spit test is perfect… but using saliva testing could prompt more people to get tested in the first place.

And finally… if you’ve received cosmetic facial fillers, there’s a slight chance the Covid-19 vaccine may cause a reaction to them. The FDA reports a handful of cases where the Moderna Covid vaccine apparently prompted inflammation around the eyes or lips of women who’d had filler injections there. In some cases, the injections had taken place more than two years earlier. Doctors say reactions to the vaccine have all been successfully treated with antihistamines or steroids.

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