Post-Surgery Chemo Boosts

Colon Cancer Survival Rate

More than a decade after national treatment guidelines for advanced colon cancer were issued, many patients with the disease are not receiving chemotherapy after surgery, despite clear-cut evidence that it increases survival.

A new study found that blacks, women and elderly patients are less likely to receive chemo, even though such treatment was shown to improve survival in all groups.

About two-thirds of the patients who had chemotherapy in addition to surgery were alive after five years, as opposed to about half of those who had surgery alone, reported the study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. On average, chemotherapy improved the five-year survival rate by about 16 percent.

"It gives you quite a lot of edge," said co-author J. Milburn Jessup of the National Cancer Institute and Georgetown University Medical Center.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 86,000 patients at 560 U.S. hospitals, and found that the share of those who had surgery plus chemo increased from 39 percent in 1991 to 64 percent in 2002.

Pneumonia Is Sending

More Seniors to the Hospital

More elderly Americans are being hospitalized with pneumonia, the seventh leading cause of death in the nation, as chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes raise their vulnerability, a study found.

Hospital stays for pneumonia rose 20 percent among people age 65 to 84 from the late 1980s through 2002, the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded. About 80 percent of older adults hospitalized for pneumonia also have a chronic disease, the study found.

Pneumonia, a lung infection that can be caused by viruses, bacteria or other organisms, hits older adults particularly hard, said the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Elderly people with pneumonia are 50 percent more likely to die than those hospitalized with other ailments.

The study, led by Alicia M. Fry, a CDC epidemiologist, found that one in 83 people age 65 to 74 is hospitalized each year because of pneumonia, and the number increases with age. One in 38 people age 74 to 84 are hospitalized, as are one in 20 age 85 and older.

Predicted Date of Recovery

Of Ozone Hole Pushed Back

The recovery of the large ozone hole over Antarctica may take years longer than previously predicted, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers suspect that is because of all the older refrigerators and car air conditioners in the United States and Canada that are still releasing ozone-killing chemicals. Both countries curbed those in newer products.

If scientists are right, that means longer-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which raises the risk of skin cancer and is bad for the biodiversity of the planet.

Computer models suggest the ozone depletion should recover globally by 2040 or 2050, but yesterday's analysis suggests the hole will not heal until about 2065. The less-damaged layer over the Arctic is expected to recover by about 2040, according to new modeling by John Austin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

-- From News Services