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HEALTHLINE

MINI-MED SCHOOL is back. This is the eighth year for the program, designed to let the public learn from the same professors who teach medical students at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Class will meet 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 9, 16 and 23. This year's topics will include how to manage health-care needs in a changing system, preventing disease and aging well.

The series is free. Classes meet at Ferguson Hall at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

For more information, phone (813) 974-3300.

MORE CANCER PATIENTS are receiving aggressive treatment when they are near death, according to a recently released study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

Researchers reviewed the records of 28,777 patients ages 65 and older who died within one year of being diagnosed with lung, breast, colorectal and other tumors. Between 1993 and 1996, the period studied, the use of chemotherapy for terminal patients increased from 27.9 to 29.5 percent. The proportion of patients receiving chemotherapy within two weeks of dying increased from 13.8 to 18.5 percent.

Author Dr. Craig Earle called the treatment "increasingly aggressive" at a time when patients need end-of-life care. The study did find fewer patients dying in acute-care hospitals and more under hospice care. Those receiving hospice assistance increased from 29.3 to 38.8 percent.

ABOUT 15,000 WOMEN in the United States will learn they have cervical cancer this year. About 4,000 will die from the disease.

Abnormal changes in cells on the cervix, the lower part of the uterus, are precursors to cancer and can be detected in an annual Pap test. A pelvic examination is also recommended, both beginning at 18.

Women with certain risk factors need to be particularly attentive. Those factors are smoking, multiple sex partners, having sex early in life, multiple full-term pregnancies or a history of sexually transmitted disease or human papilloma virus.

Women of color also have a higher incidence.

For more information, visit the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org.

_ Staff writer SUSAN ASCHOFF and Times wires

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