Respiratory disease deaths associated with seasonal influenza are estimated to be 290,000 to 650,000 per year globally. In Japan, seasonal influenza affects more than 10 million people per year, and especially children, the elderly, and patients with underlying medical conditions, and seasonal influenza can cause severe illness. As SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread, the combined risk of concurrent influenza epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic are a concern. When the status of influenza virus infections during the 2020-2021 flu season was compared to the 2011 to 2020 flu seasons, data indicated the absence of seasonal influenza outbreaks in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of flu patients was roughly estimated to be 14,000 nationwide from September 2020 to March 2021, which marks the first sharp decrease since national influenza surveillance started in 1987 in conjunction with National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases (NESID). Moreover, approximately 500 sentinel sites (designated medical facilities) nationwide reported only 112 patients with severe influenza who required hospitalization. Since prevention and control measures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic have become the "new normal", one can reasonably assume that the absence of a seasonal influenza outbreak is related to prevention and control measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Basic infection prevention measures were thoroughly implemented, such as wearing masks, handwashing, and avoiding confined spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings. More importantly, the behavioral changes adopted to constrain COVID-19 during three declared states of emergency reduced population density and contact with people, including closing schools, asking restaurants to reduce their business hours, teleworking, curbing the flow of people during vacation week, etc. These behavioral changes will serve as a valuable reference to reduce the spread of seasonal influenza in the future.
COVID-19 vaccination using mRNA technology began at the end of 2020 in several countries, approximately 9 months after the WHO declared the new coronavirus a pandemic, and began in Japan at the end of February 2021. Several studies have reported FDG avidity in enlarged axillary lymph nodes as a specific feature of FDG-PET/CT imaging after COVID-19 vaccination. A major concern is that this finding could lead to a misdiagnosis in patients with various types of malignancy. We review the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on the management of patients scheduled for FDG-PET/CT in the setting of nationwide mass vaccination.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and a major contributor to disability worldwide. Currently, Korea is among countries with the lowest CVD mortality rates, and the age-adjusted CVD mortality rate is still decreasing. However, depending on the CVD type, the mortality and incidence trends vary. Without age-standardization, cerebrovascular disease mortality peaked in 1994 (82.1 per 100K) and continued to decline until 2018 (44.7 per 100K), while heart disease mortality recorded the lowest level in 2001 (44.9 per 100K) then increased again until 2018 (74.5 per 100K). Age-standardized mortality rates showed different trends: both cerebrovascular disease and heart disease mortality rates have declined over the past few decades, although the rate of decline varies. Based on the National Health Insurance claim database, the numbers of hospitalization for cerebrovascular disease and ischemic heart disease are increasing, but the age-standardized hospitalization rates are decreasing. Unlike other types of CVDs, heart failure is rapidly increasing in both mortality and hospitalization rates regardless of age-standardization. Seventy percent of Korean adults have at least one risk factor, 41% have ≥ 2 risk factors, and 19% have ≥ 3 risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and smoking. Exposure to multiple risk factors increases with age, with 65% of senior citizens over 70 having ≥ 2 risk factors and 34% having ≥ 3 risk factors. As the elderly population, especially those with multiple risk factors and chronic disorders, is increasing, the management of this high-risk group will be an important challenge to prevent CVD in Korea.
This study aims to evaluate the current status and perspectives on the use of Japanese long-term care (LTC) claims databases for research. We conducted a comprehensive literature search of PubMed and the Japan Medical Abstracts Society (Ichushi-Web), focusing on LTC claims data analyses published between 2000 and 2020. We summarized the study characteristics, database characteristics, and the research areas related to health services that were studied. In total, 86 journal articles (12 in Japanese and 74 in English) were included in our review. A particularly remarkable increase in the number of publications from 2016 to 2020 was observed. We extracted more publications with combined databases (n = 64) than those that only used a single source of the LTC claims databases (n = 22). More than half of the studies analyzed healthcare expenditure, healthcare utilization, and quality of care which were relevant to health services research. The most frequently mentioned limitation was the lack of validation in variables stored in the LTC claims databases. In conclusion, the LTC claims databases could serve as important sources of information for the evaluation of healthcare delivery, quality of care, and LTC policy.
After the second war, Wilson who participated in development of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos studied peaceful use of atomic energy and proposed a property of proton beam that has potential to treat cancer. According to his proposal, the first patient was treated with proton beam therapy at the University of California Berkley in 1954. The first series of proton beam therapy for patients with esophageal cancer was reported from Japan in 1993. After that many proton facilities in Japan reported the clinical outcome of patients with esophageal cancer. Many dosimetric and clinical studies showed proton beam therapy for esophageal cancer was less toxic than photon beam therapy, however there is a paucity of randomized trials and evidence that proton beam therapy has clearly superior survival compared to photon therapy. Only one randomized trial has been conducted to study less toxicity for proton beam compared with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which was stopped early because toxicities of IMRT were higher. A phase III study comparing overall survival between proton beam therapy and IMRT is now activated. A cost reduction for proton therapy is necessary to facilitate patient care and establishment of clinical evidence.
The incidence of oral cancer in Japan accounts for 1% of all cancers, with oral tongue cancer accounting for 60% of oral cancers based on the subsite. The most common histologic type is squamous cell carcinoma. This study aimed to evaluate the series of surgical treatments for 432 patients with oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC). Initial surgical treatments for the primary site included partial glossectomy, hemiglossectomy, and total or subtotal glossectomy in 348, 58, and 26 patients, respectively. Therapeutic neck dissection, elective neck dissection, and subsequent neck dissection were performed in 74, 53, and 37 patients, respectively. Patients with advanced cases had level IIb, IV, and V metastasis and outside regional lymph node metastases. The cumulative 5-year disease-specific survival rate for OTSCC was 92.8%, and the rates for each stage were 96.6%, 93.9%, 84.1%, and 79.0% in stages I, II, III, and IV, respectively. The recurrence rate, overall salvage rate for recurrent cases, and rate for the additional surgical group were 10.4%, 46.7%, and 78.6%, respectively. Patients with multiple cervical lymph node metastases, extranodal extension, metastases to multiple levels, and lower neck metastases had poor prognosis. In conclusion, careful follow-up is necessary to detect recurrence of primary tumors at a stage when surgical treatment can be performed, and cervical lymph node status is one of the most important prognostic factors in OTSCC.
This study aimed to evaluate the desire to live among patients with advanced hepatobiliary-pancreatic cancer who were excluded from radical treatment and to examine the ideal nursing support for them. We recruited 18 patients in a department specializing in the treatment of hepatobiliary-pancreatic cancer at a university hospital in the metropolitan area of Japan. We included those with advanced hepatobiliary-pancreatic cancer who received a treatment other than definitive treatment. We conducted semi-structured interviews, and the responses were analyzed qualitatively and descriptively. Events experienced by patients with advanced hepatobiliary-pancreatic cancer and out of indication for radical treatment were divided into five major phases, while desire to live was divided into 11 categories. Two of these categories were represented by the word "death". The desire to live was present in all phases, and the expressions of these desires were diverse. Patients suppressed expressing their desire to live because they understood that their situation was challenging. In addition, there was a tendency to avoid expressing their desire to live to medical staff and their families. We found that nurses need to establish a medical relationship in which patients can express their desire to live and become connected to nursing support.
Immigration policies in Japan and elsewhere have been toughened in recent years. To investigate the potential effects of parental detention on migrant children, psychosocial wellbeing of children from migrant families with and without parental detention was compared. In this cross-sectional study, adult asylum seekers and migrant workers with children staying in Japan were invited through non-governmental organizations to answer a self-administered anonymous questionnaire in June and July 2020. Children's psychosocial wellbeing was assessed based on the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. In the 49 participating families, including 28 where either parent had ever been detained in Japan, there were 85 children aged 4-17 years who were subject to the analyses. Psychosocial wellbeing of children in families with parental detention appeared to be worse than that of their counterparts, especially on the dimension of emotional problems. More attention should be paid to the wellbeing of migrant children in Japan’s immigration policy.
The Japan Drug Information Institute in Pregnancy (JDIIP) was established with the aims of providing information on drug safety to women who are worried about drug use during pregnancy and creating evidence through epidemiological studies based on counseling cases. Since being established, JDIIP has made many contributions to the wellness of mothers and children by promoting the proper use of drugs during pregnancy. A network consisting of Core hospitals in 47 prefectures plays an important role in providing information for women living anywhere in Japan. Because cases of exposure to drugs whose safety we want to analyze are usually rare, networks of domestic and foreign teratology information services are necessary in order to produce high-quality evidence. JDIIP has been contributing to the education of pharmacists and doctors and to the creation of clinical practice guidelines in various medical societies by using keywords such as "pregnancy" and "medication". Future issues include creating an environment that is easily accessible for those seeking consultation, building a mechanism that makes it easy to create a basis for safety, and aiming for the continuing development of the organization.
The Japanese Government has implemented quarantine measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals testing positive at the airport's quarantine office were lodged either in a designated hotel or hospital under the Quarantine Act. The aim of this study is to describe the management of patients with COVID-19 admitted under the Quarantine Act and to evaluate its impact on medical resources. Data were retrospectively collected, including demographics, comorbidities, status at admission, clinical condition, treatment, outcomes, status at discharge, duration of hospitalization, and the cost of hospitalization for all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at this facility under the Quarantine Act between January 2020 and April 2021. A total of 48 patients (39 males, 9 females; median age: 38.5 years) with COVID-19, half (52.1%) of which were Japanese, were hospitalized under the Quarantine Act. The majority (87.5%) of the patients lived or planned to stay outside of Chiba Prefecture. The most frequent time of admission was 9 PM–1 AM. Hypoxia on admission was observed in 10 (20.8%) patients and oxygen therapy was provided to 8 (16.7%). One patient died due to respiratory failure. The median duration of hospitalization was 11 days. The total cost of hospitalization was 82,705,289 yen (approximately $760,000), which was covered by public funds. Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 under the Quarantine Act were younger and less severely ill than inpatients with COVID-19 from among the general population in Japan (according to a COVID-19 registry), but consumed a significant amount of medical resources at this hospital. An efficient system to manage patients with COVID-19 in designated hotels should be created and indications for hospitalization should be determined.