Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 29, 1997

In Brief
Medical News

Engineered substance aids in thyroid cancer testing

A study, published in the Sept. 25 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, reports that a genetically engineered thyroid-stimulating compound may be used safely and effectively to screen for recurrence of thyroid cancer after surgery. It adds that it also may cause fewer side effects than the traditional test.

"This could revolutionize the way we manage the health care of patients with thyroid cancer," says Paul W. Ladenson, director of endocrinology and metabolism at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study along with Bruce D. Weintraub of the University of Maryland Medical Center. "In most patients, the test quality with the synthetic compound is the same or better than with traditional hormone withdrawal and with a markedly higher quality of life for patients."

About 200,000 people in the United States have thyroid cancer, with evidence that the incidence is increasing. About 1,000 Americans die from thyroid cancer each year.
--Karen Infeld

Global consensus yields new family planning guide

A new handbook published by the School of Public Health's Population Information Program answers the questions family planning providers in developing countries face every day. Built on the consensus of experts from around the world, the book, The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology, may well become a standard reference in clinics throughout the developing world.

Robert A. Hatcher, of the Emory University School of Medicine, and JHU/PIP staff members Ward Rinehart, Richard Blackburn and Judith S. Geller prepared the handbook.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund and the United States Agency for International Development have endorsed the new handbook. In a foreword, WHO's Tomris Turmen calls the book "a significant contribution to the reproductive health field." More than 70 experts and staff of WHO and USAID helped prepare and review the book.

With support from USAID, JHU/PIP is distributing more than 100,000 copies of the new handbook and wall chart, free of charge, to family planning programs in English-speaking developing countries. Spanish-language and possibly other editions will follow.

The handbook includes a chapter on each major family planning method, from combined oral contraceptives to the lactational amenorrhea method (based on breastfeeding). Each chapter organizes information in standard sections for easy reference. Other chapters cover family planning counseling and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.

With the new handbook, family planning providers can answer questions like: Is a pelvic exam necessary before starting pill use? Can a breastfeeding woman use injectables? Can a woman who has never had children use an IUD? Is there a right way to put on a condom? How soon do Norplant implants start working?

JHU/PIP also publishes the quarterly journal Population Reports, covering important topics in family planning, population, and related issues.
--Stephen Goldstein

Other News

Holiday schedule amended to create 4-day weekends

With Christmas and New Year's day falling on Thursdays this year, President William R. Brody has approved a change in the university's winter holiday schedule that will create back-to-back four-day weekends.

Instead of employees taking off half-days on Christmas eve and New Year's eve (both of which fall on Wednesdays this year), employees will have off all day Friday, Dec. 26, and Friday, Jan. 2.

Employees will retain the half-day shopping day, which can be taken any day before Christmas.

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