Health Highlights: July 18, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

First Blood Test for Melanoma

The first blood test to detect melanoma skin cancer in its early stages has been created by Australian researchers.

The most deadly form of skin cancer can spread quickly, so early detection is crucial. Doctors currently rely on skin examinations and biopsies to detect the cancer. The researchers said their blood test could save many lives, BBC News reported.

The blood test was assessed in a trial with about 200 people, half of whom had melanoma. The test proved 81.5 percent successful. The study was published in the journal Oncotarget.

Clinical trials of the blood test will be conducted within three years in an effort to improve its accuracy to 90 percent, and the researchers hope it could be available for use within five years, BBC News reported.

The blood test does not detect other types of skin cancers and people will still have to keep checking their skin for signs of melanoma, experts say.

Melanoma is the cause of most skin cancer-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.


Bill Gates Pushes Effort to Improve Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

A coalition of philanthropists that includes Bill Gates have pledged $30 million to create a venture fund to improve diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We need a better way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s — like a simple blood test or eye exam — before we’re able to slow the progression of the disease,” Gates wrote in a statement announcing the Diagnostics Accelerator project, CNN reported.

“Imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical,” he said.

A “reliable, affordable, and accessible” diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s is critical because research shows that the disease can start more than a decade before the first noticeable signs, according to Gates.

He noted that currently, people undergo tests only when their Alzheimer’s symptoms affect daily life, a point at which much of the damage is done, CNN reported.


States Find Workaround to Health Insurance Subsidy Cuts

States that launched a lawsuit against Trump administration cuts to Affordable Care Act subsidies have asked a judge to put the lawsuit on hold because a workaround they developed has protected many consumers from higher costs.

In a court filing Monday, the 18 states and District of Columbia say they’ve mostly protected subsidized consumers by permitting insurers to increase premiums on some plans offered on health care exchanges, the Associated Press reported.

Those increases triggered additional tax credits for users who qualify for subsidies on copays and deductibles, according to the filing.

The states say the Trump administration wants the lawsuit dismissed, but they want to put the lawsuit on hold and to remain alive in case the Trump administration tries to ban the workaround, the AP reported.

The lawsuit was launched by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.

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