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NIHR Signal Early suppression of male hormones is better than delayed therapy for advanced prostate cancer on balance
Offering early hormone suppression therapy to men with advanced prostate cancer that is causing no symptoms improves outcomes compared with waiting until symptoms of cancer spread arise. Early treatment is associated with 23 to 57 fewer deaths per 1,000 men over five years, depending on the men’s baseline risk. However, this comes with an increased chance of some non-serious side effects. Hormone suppression works by lowering levels of the male sex hormones that fuel the cancer’s gr...
NIHR Signal Diet and physical activity interventions targeting children and youth have different, yet small, effects on preventing obesity
Obesity prevention interventions which include both diet and physical activity may reduce the risk of obesity in pre-school children. Once at school, physical activity appears to be more effective for weight loss than diet alone. Resulting weight loss form any intervention, if any, has been very small with unclear benefits to the individual or population. This NIHR-supported Cochrane systematic review pooled the results of 153 global randomised-control trials (sevenfrom the UK) aiming to preven...
NIHR Signal Exercise training improves physical capacity after lung cancer surgery
People who receive exercise training following surgery for lung cancer can walk about 57 metres further in six minutes than controls who did not exercise. After surgery like thisto remove all or part of a lung, people typically manage about 500 metres in six minutes on the test, and anything above 20 metres is considered a worthwhile improvement. Exercise also increases leg strength and quality of life. A decline in physical fitness is a common and debilitating effect of lung resection. Exerci...
NIHR Signal Adding behavioural support to drug treatment helps more people quit smoking
Among people using drug treatment to stop smoking, adding telephone or face-to-face behavioural support boosts their chances of success. Adding support increases the proportion of people quitting from around 17% on average to about 20%. This is a small but worthwhile increase given the health risks associated with smoking. These were the findings of an updated Cochrane review, which included 83 studies. All 29,536 participants were using nicotine replacement therapy or another drug to help them...
NIHR Signal Mucus-thinning drugs slightly reduce COPD symptom flare-ups
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a slightly reduced risk of having a flare-up of symptoms if they take mucolytic drugs. The number of days on which they are too ill to perform their normal activities is also slightly reduced, from 1.57 days to 1.14 days per month. A review of placebo-controlled trials, including 10,377 people taking a variety of mucolytic drugs, for between two months to three years, found improvements in exacerbations, days of disability, and hospi...
NIHR Signal Providing pressurised air through a mask may improve outcomes for people with deteriorating heart failure
Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation may help people with rapidly deteriorating heart failure who become short of breath due to fluid build-up in the lungs. For people not requiring immediate mechanical ventilation using an endotracheal tube, this approach may reduce the risk of death in hospital and the need for intubation. This review evaluated 24 trials of 2,664 adults comparing a group who received air under pressure through a mask, to a group receiving standard medical care. These ty...
NIHR Signal Psychological therapies may improve parenting skills in parents of children with chronic illness
Psychological therapies appear to show promise in helping improve self-reported parenting behaviour of parents of children and adolescents with cancer, chronic pain, diabetes or traumatic brain injury. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and problem-solving therapy (PST) appear particularly valuable in supporting this. Psychological therapies also seemed beneficial in improving the mental health of parents who have children with cancer and chronic pain, but not in studies of children with diabe...
NIHR Signal Iron deficiency in people with chronic kidney disease can be managed with either oral or IV therapy
For people with chronic kidney disease who are also iron deficient, intravenous iron improves haemoglobin levels and iron stores faster than oral iron. However, the evidence is inconclusive about whether it influences survival, cardiovascular death, or quality of life. Adverse effects and such as allergic reactions or gastrointestinal side effects and other practicalities are likely to determine the choice of a route of administration. Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition categorised...
NIHR Signal C-reactive protein is not useful in diagnosing late-onset infection in newborns
The blood level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker indicating inflammation in the body, is not accurate enough alone to diagnose late-onset infection in newborn infants. Late-onset neonatal infection, occurring more than three days after birth, is potentially serious and is relatively common. Tests measuring the blood level of CRP are widely used by physicians to guide their decision on whether or not to start antibiotic treatment for suspected infection. This NIHR-funded review found 20 st...
NIHR Signal Dermoscopy plus visual inspection aids melanoma diagnosis
Dermoscopy, using a relatively cheap handheld magnifying device alongside naked eye observation, is more accurate in the diagnosis of melanoma than visual inspection alone. It can also provide a photographic record which can be used for reference during follow-up. This NIHR-funded review included 104 studies of skin lesions in the dermatology clinic that looked suspicious or were present in those at high risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer. Inspection of the lesi...
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