The Rundown | Women’s History Month Edition

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Women Diagnosed Later Than Men, Study Finds

A Danish study found, for many diseases, women are diagnosed later in life than men. However, researchers were unable to isolate whether the delayed diagnoses were due to genetics, social determinants of health, or bias in the healthcare delivery system. The populate-wide, longitudinal study analyzed nearly 7 million Danes over 21 years using the ICD-10 and Global Burden of Disease. “The results point towards the need for an increased focus on sex-stratified medicine to elucidate the origins of the socio-economic and ethological differences,” researchers concluded. An unrelated study in Gynecologic Oncology found unconscious biases surrounding cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine may harm patient care.
>> Read More: Population-Wide Analysis of Differences in Disease Progression Patterns in Men and Women

Gender Diversity Defines the 116th Congress

On January 3, the 116th Congress ushered in a new group of female legislators. A record 127 women currently serve, representing nearly a quarter of the 535 members of Congress. The group of women includes many firsts, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the youngest congresswoman in history, Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts, and Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Deb Haaland (D-NM), the first Native American congresswomen. Despite the advances, women remain disproportionately underrepresented in politics. Furthermore, the influx of female lawmakers is predominantly liberal with five Democrats to every one Republican. Experts speculate this shift could advance healthcare as women make 80 percent of household healthcare decisions and female legislators co-sponsor twice as many bills related to women’s health as their male counterparts.
>> Read More: The Changing Face of Congress in 6 Charts

Gag Rule Creates Controversy for Title X

The Title X Family Planning Program, which provides family-planning and preventive health services to 4 million low-income and uninsured Americans, is under fire by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The agency’s mandate, which goes into effect May 3, strips funding from organizations that administer abortions. However, the funding covers STD prevention, cancer screenings, and contraception — not abortive procedures, in accordance with the Hyde Amendment. The American Medical Association (AMA) filed a lawsuit against this gag rule and penned a letter stating the mandate is “a clear violation of patients’ rights, not to mention physicians’ First Amendment protections.” Twenty-one state attorneys general have signed a lawsuit while 19 health organizations, representing 4.3 million providers, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, signed a letter opposing the revisions.
>> Read More: Trump Administration Announces Sweeping Changes To Federal Family Planning Program

Immunotherapy, Mammography Revisions Advance Breast Cancer Research

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved atezolizumab, the first immunotherapy approved for breast cancer. Marketed as Tecentriq, the drug is a first-line treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. However, the approval comes with a caveat: the drug must be combined with Abraxane, a chemotherapy treatment. In a study, patients who received the combined regimen experienced longer median and progression-free survival than the control group. In related news, the agency will modernize mammography services to “empower patients with more information.” Departing FDA Commissioner Gottlieb advocated for 3D screening tools and “more uniform breast density reporting” as part of the update.
>> Read More: FDA Advances Landmark Policy Changes to Modernize Mammography Services and Improve Their Quality

Wage Gap Shrinking, Still Persists in Medicine

A recent report found male physicians earn 25 percent more than female physicians on average. The third annual “2019 Physician Compensation Report” by Doximity noted that, for the first time in three years, the wage gap between male and female physicians narrowed by 14 percent. Researchers analyzed 90,000 doctors to draw their conclusions. However, while male wages stalled in 2018, female wages increased by two percent. Doximyt’s Director of Medical Content Mandy Huggins, MD, said: “If we continue to empower physicians with data, we can let them make their own conclusions and advocate for themselves.”
>> Read More: 2019 Physician Compensation Report

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