November 2006 Archives

Nova Scotia rejects pricey cancer drug

avastinCANADA - Nova Scotia will not pay for a drug that prolongs the lives of some cancer patients, saying the cost is too much for taxpayers.

Avastin extends the lives of late-stage colorectal cancer by about five months. It works by stopping the blood supply to cancerous tumours.

But the drug costs about $3,000 a month per patient, and the Department of Health has decided not to fund it under the provincial health plan.

Sugar-packed diet may boost pancreatic cancer risk


pancreatic cancer NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Eating lots of sugar and sugar-sweetened foods could increase a person's likelihood of developing cancer of the pancreas, by far one of the deadliest types of cancer, Swedish researchers report.

Dr. Susanna C. Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and her colleagues found that pancreatic cancer was significantly more likely to strike men and women who added the most sugar to their food and consumed the greatest quantities of soft drinks.

The researchers followed 77,797 men and women aged 45 to 83 for an average of about seven years. Those who reported eating five or more servings of added sugar daily, for example sugar added to tea, coffee or cereal, were 69 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who never added sugar to their food or drink.

Cancer drugs 'kill brain cells'


chemotherapyCOMMON cancer drugs may be more harmful to the brain than the tumour cells they are meant to destroy, a study suggests.

Laboratory tests showed that brain cells are highly vulnerable to the drugs. Dose levels typically used when treating patients killed 70 to 100 per cent of neural cells but just 40 to 80 per cent of cancer cells.

Several types of healthy brain cell continued to die for at least six weeks after exposure.

The findings, published today in the Journal of Biology, may help explain the little understood cancer therapy side-effect of "chemo brain". Patients can suffer symptoms ranging from memory loss to seizures, loss of vision and even dementia.

Study looks at 2nd opinions in breast cancer


breast cancerWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Breast cancer patients were urged to change their treatment plans more than half the time when they received a second opinion from a team of specialists, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

Overall, 52 percent of patients whose original diagnosis and treatment recommendations were taken to a multidisciplinary team were advised to make one or more changes in their treatment, the researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found.

The changes were a result of breast imaging specialists reading a mammogram differently or breast pathologists interpreting biopsy results differently, the researchers reported in this week's issue of the journal Cancer.

Meharry/Vanderbilt get $14M grant for cancer research

grantThe National Cancer Institute has awarded $14 million to the Meharry/Vanderbit-Ingram Cancer Center Partnership.

The renewal grant gives $10 million to Meharry Medical College and $4 million to Vanderbilt-Ingram for research aimed at reducing cancer mortality among African Americans and other minorities.

Grant money will provide opportunities for cancer research projects, recruitment of cancer research scientists, epidemiologists and oncologists, as well as fund underwriting for training in cancer research for minority students in several Meharry and Vanderbilt graduate programs.

Gene blocks prostate cancer growth


SIRT1PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. cancer scientists say they've demonstrated a gene involved in regulating aging also blocks prostate cancer cell growth.

Dr. Richard Pestell and colleagues at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University say they hope the newly found connection will aid in better understanding the development of prostate cancer and lead to new drugs against the disease.

The gene, SIRT1, is a member of a family of enzymes called sirtuins that have far-reaching influence in all organisms, including roles in metabolism, gene expression and aging.

AMA warns against cervical cancer complacency


gardasil The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed a decision to put the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil on the national immunisation program, but says screening for older women must be stepped up.

The Federal Government has given the go ahead for the $436 million immunisation program which will be carried out through schools from April next year.

It will also be available through GPs for the next two years for women aged 18 to 26.

The AMA's national president, Doctor Mukesh Haikerwal, says the move will reduce cervical cancer rates into the future, but it does not reduce the need for normal screening.

New Urine Test ID's Prostate Cancer

prostate cancerA new urine test can tell prostate cancer from an enlarged prostate -- but can't tell whether the cancer is deadly.

The test, from San Diego-based Gen-Probe, is approved in some European countries but not in the U.S. It detects genetic material -- RNA -- from prostate cancer gene 3 or PCA3.

PCA3 (previously known as the DD3 gene) is found only in the prostate. When prostate cells become cancerous, their PCA3 genes go wild. Prostate cancer cells express 60 to 100 times more PCA3 RNA than normal cells.

NJ trails nation in cancer survival rate

NJTRENTON, N.J. - More New Jerseyans are surviving cancer, but the state survival rate still trails the national rate, according to a state report issued Tuesday.

Some 61 percent of New Jersey residents diagnosed with cancer from 1994 to 1997 lived at least five years afterward, compared with 47 percent for 1979 to 1983, the state Department of Health and Senior Service found. The national rate is 64 percent.

Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, state deputy health commissioner, said the difference between the state and national rates was not large.

Big Tobacco Downplays Smoking-Cancer Link When Sued

smokingTUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette makers may publicly admit that their products cause cancer, but when sued by sick smokers, they deny or minimize the link, according to a new analysis of lawsuits.

Researchers at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Detroit reviewed 34 personal injury claims brought against major tobacco manufacturers in the United States between 1986 and 2003.

The defense arguments used by the tobacco companies included: a lack of scientific proof that smoking causes cancer; denials that a plaintiff had lung cancer; or acknowledging that a plaintiff had lung cancer, but a kind of lung cancer not caused by smoking.

Tobacco-related diseases to take high toll


heavy smoking GENEVA (Reuters) - Tobacco-related diseases including cancers and heart disease will kill 6.4 million people a year by 2015, 50 percent more than AIDS, a study said on Tuesday.

But the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be the leading cause of illness and disability in low- and middle-income countries by then and take an increasing number of lives worldwide, it said.

The study by World Health Organization (WHO) researchers projects global figures for mortality and the burden of 10 major disease groups in both 2015 and 2030. 

"According to our baseline projection, smoking will kill 50 percent more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS and will be responsible for 10 percent of all deaths globally," said their study in the Public Library of Science Medicine (PLoS Medicine).

MannKind Gets OK to Begin Cancer Study


mannkind corp VALENCIA, Calif. — MannKind Corp. said Monday the Food and Drug Administration will allow the drug developer to begin human testing of one of its cancer treatments.

The company said it can now begin early-stage clinical trials on its experimental cancer drug, MKC1106-PP.

Enrollment of the trial's first patient is expected by the end of the year. The study will test the safety and tolerability of the drug in patients with solid tumors.

source - AP 

New Clues On How Cancer Spreads

researchNew clues about how tumors prepare for cancer's deadly spread may open up new avenues for cancer prevention and treatment.

A Japanese study suggests that early in lung cancer's progression, cells within a tumor may pave the way for cancer's invasion by triggering processes that allow for the spread of disease. By interrupting these signals, researchers were able to block the development of cancer's spread to lungs in mice.

Cancer advances through a process of metastasis in which the cancer spreads from the initial site to other areas of the body, making it more deadly and difficult to treat. By learning more about the processes that trigger this spread, researchers say they may be able to develop new cancer treatment strategies.

State offers free cancer tests


digestive systemAUSTRALIA - Queensland is the first state to provide its citizens with free bowel cancer tests, the state Government says.


The Queensland Government says the tests will be provided under a new National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, which will be rolled out across the country over the next few years.

State Health Minister Stephen Robertson said today that people over the age of 50 were most at risk, and that more than 200,000 Queenslanders in that age group would be invited to have a free test before June 2008.

"Not only is Queensland the first state to kick off the new program but we're also the only state to have committed funds specifically dedicated to support the statewide roll-out of the program," Mr Robertson said.

New ultrasound may help spot breast cancers


breast cancer CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of ultrasound was highly effective at determining whether lumps in the female breast were cancerous or harmless, U.S. researchers who conducted a small study said on Monday.

The finding, if confirmed in a larger trial, could reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies and reassure women that their tumors are harmless, said Richard Barr, a radiologist at Southwoods X-Ray and Open MRI in Youngstown, Ohio, who conducted the study.

"If we can document that the technique is extremely accurate, I think it will give women the assurance that (a tumor) is benign and they don't have to worry," Barr said. "With the existing technology, that is not there."

Explore alternatives to surgery to prevent skin cancer


skin cancerAccording to a report in the Archives of Dermatology, 3.7-million doctor visits occur each year in the United States for the management of actinic keratoses. Actinic keratosis results from sun damage of the skin and is considered precancerous for nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Among patients older than 40 years old, 331 squamous cell cancers will evolve for every 100,000 lesions of actinic keratoses.

For those who have multiple lesions, nearly 60 percent of these lesions will progress into squamous cell cancer.

ACCC sues over cancer cure claims


ACCCA MELBOURNE businessman and his two sons are being sued in the federal court for allegedly selling vitamins, massage and "energy zappers" as a cure for cancer.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also filed proceedings against several companies which sold the $35,000 alternative therapy to the terminally ill.

The ACCC alleges that five NuEra companies were involved in "misleading and deceptive conduct" while promoting the so-called RANA System.

Ovarian cancer hope

phenoxodiolWomen with ovarian cancer are being recruited for a world wide drug trial, to boost their chances of survival when chemotherapy has failed.

Nearly 15-hundred Australians this year will be diagnosed with the disease, described as the 'silent killer'.

Phenoxodiol has proved in clinical trials that it is capable of slowing cancer growth by interfering with the mechanisms that allow ovarian cancer cells to stay alive.

Toward Reducing The Toxic Side Effects Of Cancer Chemotherapy

prodrug moleculeAn advance that may speed the use of "prodrug chemotherapy" -- one of the most promising new strategies for reducing the side effects of anti-cancer drugs -- is being reported by scientists from Johns Hopkins University's In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC).

This two-part chemotherapy involves giving patients the inactive form of an anti-cancer drug (the "prodrug") and an enzyme that changes the prodrug into an active, cancer fighting form. Patients first get the enzyme, which is gradually eliminated from normal tissue but builds up and remains in the tumor. Then patients get the prodrug, which changes into its active and toxic form only upon encountering the enzyme in the tumor.

Cancer patients still left waiting

despairCANCER patients are still having to wait almost a year to see a specialist because health boards have failed to cut waiting times, according to official figures to be released this week, writes Kathleen Nutt.

Around a fifth of cancer sufferers are not being seen within two months of an urgent referral, the target set by ministers. Currently only 79% of cancer patients are seen by a consultant within eight weeks of being referred to hospital by their GP, well below the Scottish executive’s 95% target.

Earlier this year health boards were criticised after figures revealed wide variations in the waits faced in different parts of the country.

Cancer patients at Waterford clinic will not get VHI cover

VHIIRELAND - Health insurer VHI does not cover its members for radiotherapy treatment in the south-east, despite the recent opening of a cancer centre in Waterford.

Health insurer VHI does not cover its members for radiotherapy treatment in the south-east, despite the recent opening of a cancer centre in Waterford.

The VHI has confirmed that it does not cover its members for radiotherapy treatment at the Whitfield Cancer Centre.

It said it was adhering to new guidelines used by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Patients to 'bear cancer drug cost'


herceptinThe true cost of making the new breast cancer drug Herceptin widely available on the NHS will be borne by patients who are denied other treatments, according to a team of doctors.

Hospitals in England and Wales have been told they should offer Herceptin to all suitable patients with early breast cancer.

But the new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) presents a financial headache for those holding the NHS purse strings.

Cancer-fight advocates welcome $260M federal strategy


Brent Schacter (c) CBCA new $260-million federal strategy to fight cancer will help patients get the best care, the research chair of a new agency overseeing the plan said Friday.

Cancer researcher Philip Branton spoke after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in Montreal that the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer will be a "clearinghouse" for the latest information on care.

The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control Research Action Group will work on access to cancer prevention and treatment.

Cervical cancer vaccine in immunisation plan sought


cervical cancerDUBAI - A controversial cervical cancer vaccine, which was recently approved in the UAE, may be included in the immunisation programmes of the various health authorities, says a senior official at the pharmaceutical company.

The vaccine protects against certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that causes cervical cancer in women.

About half a million women worldwide die of cervical cancer each year. It is controversial as some have argued it may encourage promiscuity.

"My cancer appointment was cancelled 48 times"


cancerANGRY cancer patient Dennis Burke yesterday branded the NHS a shambles after a hospital cancelled his appointment 48 times in a row.

Dennis, 68, who is in remission from bowel cancer, spent 14 months trying to get a consultation after his GP referred him to hospital. He said: "I am absolutely fed-up with them messing me around.

"What's the point in my GP telling me to go to hospital if I can't get an appointment?

"I have had to put up with 48 appointments with an NHS doctor being cancelled in a row. It is a disgrace."

New cancer cases up 10 per cent

CT simulator (c) Jason BorgMALTA - The incidence of new cancer cases has increased by about 10 per cent over the past decade with a staggering 1,400-odd cases being registered annually.

As high as this figure might sound, the incidence of cancer in Malta is not higher than in other Western countries, Stephen Brincat, the chairman of the Radiotherapy and Oncology Department at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, said.

Although he believes that information about the importance of early detection is widely available in Malta, he highlighted the importance of concentrating on reducing the incidence of cancer, especially those that could be prevented through a healthy lifestyle.

Vitamin E may protect against cancer, heart ills

vitamin e pillNEW YORK - A large study suggests vitamin E may help prevent death from cancer and heart disease in middle-aged men who smoke, contradicting the findings of some previous studies on the subject.

In a study of 29,092 Finnish men in their 50s and 60s who were smokers, those with the highest concentrations of vitamin E in their blood at the study’s outset were the least likely to die during the follow-up period, which lasted up to 19 years, Dr. Margaret E. Wright of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. and colleagues report.

There are a number of mechanisms by which vitamin E, also known as alpha tocopherol, might promote health, Wright and her team note in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For example, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, while it also boosts immune system function and prevents tumor blood vessel growth.

Cancer drug that works


arimidexA woman who has benefited from a new breast cancer drug has welcomed news the treatment will be made available to everyone.

Margaret Coulton, 60, of Chapel Road, Hesketh Bank, had breast cancer and now takes Arimidex, which blocks production of oestrogen, which fuels hormone sensitive breast cancer.

Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago after a routine mammogram.

"Checklist" aims to improve colon cancer care

colon cancerNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Researchers have developed a checklist of measures they say could improve the quality of care for people undergoing colon cancer surgery.

It's becoming increasingly important to measure the quality of surgical care for colon cancer, as the population continues to age and more people are treated for the disease, according to researchers from the University of California Los Angeles.

Of the 148,000 Americans diagnosed with colon cancer this year, up to 95 percent will have surgery to remove their tumors -- at facilities ranging from major medical centers to community hospitals and local surgery centers.

Cancer trials and tribulations


canadaFor the first time, Canada is unable to participate in a key clinical cancer trial because patients are not getting the best known treatment.

Since most provinces don't fund Avastin, a crucial drug in the fight against colorectal cancer, Canadian patients could not join a trial run by the National Cancer Institute in the United States, which is studying what drug is most effective with chemotherapy -- Avastin or Erbitux -- or if they work best given together.

If effect, if you don't pay, you can't play.

The upside of cancer: A new outlook on life

cancer survivorThough cancer can be a harrowing experience, a growing body of research suggests that the disease also changes many people's lives for the better.

Nearly two out of three cancer survivors and their families say something good has come out of their experience, according to a new poll from USA TODAY/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health. This part of the telephone survey, part of a larger study in August and September, included 751 adults who had cancer in the past five years or who have shared a household with a cancer patient who is still living. The margin of error for this part of the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

About half of respondents say cancer fundamentally changed their outlook on life — almost always in a positive way, the survey shows.

Women to get 'gold standard' breast cancer drugs on NHS


femaraThousands of women with early stage breast cancer will have access to new "gold standard" treatments on the NHS from next week.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government's rationing watchdog, will publish guidance on Wednesday instructing local health care trusts to fund provision of three drugs called aromatase inhibitors.

Anastrozole (sold as Arimidex), letrozole (Femara) and exemestane (Aromasin) have been shown significantly to reduce the risk of the disease returning and improve survival in post-menopausal women whose cancers are fuelled by the female hormone oestrogen.

Cancer by the Numbers: Liver Cancer


liver cancerby Kristina Collins, The Cancer Blog

Almost 19,000 cases of primary liver cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year according to The American Cancer Society. This type of cancer is twice as common in men as in women. Over 16,000 patients will die of their liver cancer by the end of 2006.

The liver is responsible for many vital roles in our body. It plays an important role in removing toxic waste, stores many nutrients absorbed from the intestines and can also make some of the clotting factors needed to stop bleeding from an injury. The liver is made up of several different types of cells. The tumors that develop in the liver can either be benign or cancerous. Benign tumors of the liver include hemangioma, hepatic adenomas and focal nodular hyperplasia.

Reflexology offers relief for chemotherapy side effects


reflexologyby Jacki Donaldson, The Cancer Blog

I heard a man interviewed on the news the other night who said the side effects of chemotherapy make him feel so poorly, so unlike he once felt. Recently, however, he discovered a remedy that makes him feel better, more like he did before chemotherapy took its toll on his well-being. His remedy -- reflexology.

Reflexology does not erase the side effects of chemotherapy, but it can provide relief for patients whose lives are altered by chemotherapy-induced nausea, pain, fatigue, and anxiety.

Cancer stem cells start tumors in mice


lab tests WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stem cells -- the master cells that give rise to all the blood and tissue in the body -- may also be responsible for tumors, according to two separate studies published on Sunday.

Canadian and Italian researchers both found that specialized colon cancer stem cells appeared to be the sources of colon cancer tumors in mice.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature, support the idea that future cancer treatments will have to home in on cancer stem cells.

Similar findings have been seen for leukemia, breast and brain cancers, but the two studies are the first to show cancer stem cells are also responsible for colon tumors.

Using Nicotine Patch Before Quit Date Ups Success

nicotine patchHealthDay News -- Giving nicotine patches a two-week "head start" more than doubles the chances they'll help smokers kick the habit, research finds.

A U.S. team found that by applying the patch 14 days before that last cigarette, users greatly boosted their long-term success rate.

The initial study was published earlier this year in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, and a second trial has now replicated those findings, according to Jed E. Rose, medical research professor and director of Duke University's Center for Nicotine Cessation Research. He led the original study and is co-inventor of the nicotine patch.

Delta cancer alarm


leukemia cellsAN unknown genetic and environmental cocktail has sparked a mysterious rise in blood cancers in Australia with rates almost doubling over the past two decades.

While most cancers have declined or stabilised, the incidence of blood cancers such as lymphoma is on the rise.

New cases of blood cancers have spiked from nearly 4000 cases in 1983 to more than 7500 diagnosed in 2001.

Blood cancers include leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma, the condition from which singer Delta Goodrem suffered.

Breast cancer protein link


breast cancerA MELBOURNE researcher has uncovered a protein that controls the spread of breast cancer.

The discovery could lead to a new treatment to stop breast cancer from affecting other parts of the body.

Bones, lymph nodes, lungs and liver are common areas that breast cancer can spread to.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre post-doctoral fellow Dr Bedrich Eckhardt found a protein called BMP4, which controls the spread of breast cancer.

Cancer by the Numbers: Rhabdomyosarcoma


rhabdomyosarcomaby Kristina Collins, The Cancer Blog

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of soft tissue cancer that is most often found in children. This cancer will usually present itself as a noticeable lump. Since this is a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles, the lump can appear in different locations of the body. Although most of our skeletal muscles are in our limbs and truck, it is usually found elsewhere.

The most common sites that rhabdomyosarcoma tumors are found:

  • Head and Neck (30%-40%)
  • Urinary and Reproductive Organs (20%-25%)
  • Arms and Legs (18%-20%)
  • Truck (7%)

New Drug Boosts Breast Cancer Survival

arimidexHealthDay News -- Certain breast cancer patients who switch to the aromatase inhibitor drug anastrozole (Arimidex) after two to three years of treatment with tamoxifen live longer and are more likely to remain cancer-free, German researchers report.

"A lot of people have been waiting to see whether aromatase inhibitors will show a survival advantage, and I think these data will assure them that 5 years of tamoxifen is no longer the standard of care; the best treatment for women with hormone-sensitive early-stage breast cancer should include an aromatase inhibitor," lead author and professor Walter Jonat, University of Kiel, said in a prepared statement.

His team published the findings online Friday in The Lancet medical journal.

Results of Tas tanning survey alarming


skin cancerAUSTRALIA - The Cancer Council is alarmed by a survey showing Tasmanian students are ignoring sun smart messages and becoming complacent about skin cancer.

The 2005 survey found most students suffered sunburn the previous summer and were resistant to protective measures such as wearing hats, clothes which cover the body, sunscreen and sunglasses.

It also found 80 per cent of young Tasmanians desire a light tan and increasing numbers of girls wear less clothing to expose their skin to the sun.

Ovarian cancer rates lower in sunny latitudes

ovarian cancerNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women in the sunnier regions of the world have a much lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who dwell in colder climates, a new study has found.

The findings, say researchers, suggest that sun exposure -- and, more precisely, vitamin D production in the body -- help prevent this cancer.

The study, which appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is the latest to tie latitude to cancer risk. Others have found that rates of breast cancer and colon cancer, for example, are higher among people living in higher latitudes, where annual sun exposure is limited.

Cuba patents new treatment for cervical cancer

cervical cancerHAVANA (AFP) - Cuba has patented a new treatment for cervical cancer with less harmful side effects than conventional therapies, a group of researchers said.

The treatment involves a peptide that inhibits and kills the CK2 enzime found in high concentration in malignant tumors, said Silvio Perera, who leads the Molecular Oncology project of Cuba's Biological and Genetical Engineering Center.

"The idea behind this new product is to develop it for use in related tumors of the anus and genital area and, in future, for lung cancer," Perera told 600 researchers from 40 countries gathered at the 2006 Havana Biotechnology Congress.

Drug Might Squeeze Out Bone Cancer

bone cancerTHURSDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug prevented bone tumors in 50 percent of mice in a preclinical study, researchers report.

The results suggest this treatment may be able to prevent or treat metastatic tumors in bone, say scientists at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

They determined the drug, known as VEGF121/rGel, stopped specialized cells within the bone from destroying material to make room for embedded prostate tumors. The drug may also inhibit the growth of blood vessels that feed bone tumors.

The findings appear in the current issue of Cancer Research.

Test determines aggressive eye cancer


eyeLOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- A new procedure could tell ocular melanoma patients and their physicians if the eye cancer is the aggressive type that can be fatal, says a U.S. researcher.

"For the first time, we have demonstrated that it's safe and feasible to perform a biopsy in the living eye to obtain clear results about whether a tumor has metastatic potential or not," says Dr. Tara Young of the University of California at Los Angeles' Jules Stein Eye Institute and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Identifying patients at high risk for metastasis is an important first step toward reducing the death rate of this cancer, which kills nearly half of its patients."

High radon levels 'causing lung cancer'

lungsUp to 200 people a year die from lung cancer caused by high levels of radon gas in Ireland – way above the global average, health organisations revealed today.

Between 6% and 15% of annual lung cancer deaths across the world are caused by exposure to the gas, which equates to up to 170,000 deaths, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In Ireland, up to 13% of lung cancer deaths are caused by exposure to radon, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) said today.

New discovery paves way for thyroid cancer drug treatment

thyroid cancerA discovery made by scientists has pointed to a brighter future in the development of drugs to more effectively target, treat and possibly even prevent inherited and non-inherited thyroid cancers.

Thyroid cancer remains a rare disease in children less than age 10, with an annual incidence of less than one per million. It is more common in older children and adolescents, with 15.4 cases per million per year in 15-19 year olds. It has a peak incidence at age 50 and beyond.

Researchers at Queen's University have uncovered the actions of a mutated protein in cells linked to thyroid cancer.

New light on cancer cases

cancer figuersAUSTRALIA - More than half of all breast cancers are diagnosed before the tumour has spread beyond the breast tissue, compared with only 30 per cent of bowel cancers, NSW statistics show.

They highlight the growing importance of early detection as the number of new cancer cases increases.

The figures from 1995 to 2004, published yesterday by the Cancer Institute NSW, demonstrate a wide variation in the degree of spread between different forms of cancer, which in turn affects survival rates.

Ovarian tumours, which have no specific symptoms in their early stage, have spread to bones or other organs by the time they are diagnosed in more than 50 per cent of new cases, while only 18 per cent are fully contained within the ovary.

Surgery may suffice for some prostate cancers

prostatectomyNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Removal of the prostate, a procedure known as radical prostatectomy, and the surrounding lymph nodes may be adequate treatment for advanced prostate cancer, new research suggests. While adding radiation therapy may reduce the risk that the cancer will return, it does not seem to improve overall survival.

In approximately one third to one half of men treated surgically for advanced prostate cancer, some cancer remains outside the gland. How best to treat these men is a continuing subject of debate, Dr. Ian M. Thompson, Jr., and his associates point out in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study questions radiation after prostate removal

prostate cancerCHICAGO (Reuters) - Using radiation to try to halt the spread of advanced prostate cancer after the gland itself has been surgically removed does not appear to add much to overall survival rates, a study said on Tuesday.

About a third of the 230,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the United States each year result in removal of the gland, and of those the cancer has spread in 38 to 52 percent of patients, said the report from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

For the past four decades, radiation treatments have often been used in cases where the cancer has spread but the effect of such therapy on survival has not been tracked, said the report published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Survey: Most Women Don't Know Virus Causes Cervical Cancer


hpv virus Americans are in the dark about a virus linked to cervical cancer that can kill them, two new studies suggest.

A vaccine exists to protect against types of the virus, called human papillomaviruses (HPV).

But when the vaccine is presented under the umbrella of sexually-transmitted-disease protection, women are less likely to get inoculated.

Every year in the United States, about 6.2 million people get HPV.

Anyone who has ever had genital contact with another person can get HPV. Both men and women can get it — and pass it on to their sex partners — without even realizing it.

The studies were presented Sunday at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Boston.

Watchdog rules against new treatment for lung cancer

tarcevaThousands of lung cancer sufferers are set to be denied the potentially life-extending drug Tarceva, under draft guidance from the government's health watchdog.

Tarceva, which costs £6,796 for the average 125-day course of treatment, is considered one of the few significant advances against non-small cell lung cancer to have occurred for a decade, and is designed for patients who have failed at one chemotherapy regime.

The drug is seen as particularly crucial because it could be effective for 80% of lung cancer sufferers, accounting for 30,000 new cases a year.

While it does not offer a cure, it increases the chances of being alive after a year by 42%, according to the drug manufacturers Roche.

Lung cancer top killer among malignant tumors in Beijing


lung cancerLung cancer has claimed the title of most deadly cancer in the Chinese capital, sources with the Beijing Research Institute of Tumor Prevention and Control said on Monday.

Zhi Xiuyi , a professor with Capital Medical University, said Beijingers are increasingly familiar with lung cancer. One out of every four cancer sufferers in the city is a lung cancer patient.

With incidence of the disease on rise, the average age at which a patient contracts lung cancer goes down by 12 months every five years, Zhi added.

The youngest lung cancer sufferer diagnosed by the Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Center of Beijing's Xuanwu Hospital was only 21 years old.

Australian cancer treatment option 'up to DHBs'


cancer radiotherapy It is up to district health boards whether they offer cancer patients radiotherapy treatment in Australia, Health Minister Pete Hodgson has said.

National health spokesman Tony Ryall today said the list of cancer patients waiting more than eight weeks to receive radiation treatment was the longest it had been since the 2004 cancer treatment "crisis".

Mr Ryall said some were waiting up to three months to begin their radiation treatment.

He questioned Mr Hodgson in Parliament on whether patients facing a wait of more than eight weeks for treatment should get the opportunity to be treated in Australia.

pancreatic cancerGum disease may increase the risk of developing deadly pancreatic cancer, even among those who have never smoked, according to research reported today in Boston at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting.

Two previous studies found positive associations between tooth loss or periodontitis (inflammation of the gums around the teeth) and pancreatic cancer. However, “residual confounding” by smoking and other known risk factors may have accounted for the findings.

To investigate further, Dr. Dominique S. Michaud of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and colleagues analyzed 16 years of health data on nearly 52,000 male doctors in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. This ongoing study, initiated in 1986, is looking at lifestyle factors related to cancer and other chronic diseases.

Castro has terminal cancer, say U.S. experts


Fidel CastroWASHINGTON -- The U.S. government believes Fidel Castro's health is deteriorating and that the Cuban leader is unlikely to live through 2007.

That dire view was reinforced last week when Cuba's foreign minister backed away from his prediction that the ailing Castro would return to power by early December. "It's a subject on which I don't want to speculate," Felipe Perez Roque said in Havana.

U.S. government officials say there is still some mystery about Castro's diagnosis, his treatment and how he is responding. But these officials believe the 80-year-old president has terminal cancer of the stomach, colon or pancreas.

He was seen weakened and thinner in official state photos released late last month, and it is considered unlikely he will return to power or survive through the end of next year, said the U.S. government and defence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the politically sensitive topic.

Link between shyness and cancer?


shy womanCHICAGO -- Being shy and reluctant to take chances may keep you from meeting new people or changing careers, but could it also give you cancer?

That seemingly farfetched link is one focus of a University of Chicago research group that is trying to understand how temperament may affect a wide range of health yardsticks. Some experts refer to the discipline by the unwieldy name of psychoneuroimmunology.

The University of Chicago group's most recent results, published last month in the journal Hormones and Behavior, suggest the relationship between shyness and cancer is real, though the study could not draw firm conclusions about why that is.

In this case, the medical payoff may have to await details that no one has yet nailed down. It's a commonly accepted idea that many bad health effects can stem from everyday stress. For chronically shy people, stress may arise simply from having to deal with unfamiliar situations.

Cancer patients test theory at the gym


gymCHAPEL HILL -- Six months ago you couldn't have paid Gretchen Hoag to go to a gym. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer had robbed her of her hair, and the idea of being seen in public like that was repellent.

"I would not have felt comfortable," said Hoag, 46, who lives in Chapel Hill.

But today, Hoag is an eager participant in a new program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that hopes to more firmly establish regular exercise as an effective treatment for common and debilitating side effects of breast cancer therapy, including pain, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

Garlic compound may help treat cancer


garlic Bhubaneswar (IANS) - Two Indian scientists have developed a new method that advocates the use of a garlic component to treat cancer-causing tumours.

D. Karunagaran, a professor at the department of biotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras, and Suby Oommen, a PhD student at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Kerala, have been working on garlic-based components and their effects on cancer cells from 1998.

The researchers said the novel treatment involves a synergistic composition comprising a garlic organosulphur compound Diallyl trisulfide (DATS) and an anti-cancer agent.

DATS, a constituent of garlic, is one of a group of substances that contain sulphur and anti-cancer agent is a substance that prevents, kills or blocks the growth or spread of cancer cells.

Ovarian cancer symptoms can be vague


ovarian cancer"Ovarian cancer is insidious. It has no real symptoms," says Dr. Henry Sprance, a gynecologic oncologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Nor is there a reliable test for ovarian cancer, he says.

"CA-125 (a blood test) is not a screening test for ovarian cancer. There's a lot of bad information on the Internet about that," he says. "We're looking at other proteins in blood serum levels that may give us information, but that's all experimental now."

Symptoms that point to the cancer are vague, he says.

Benefits of youth in ovarian cancer


ovarian cancerYounger women with ovarian cancer have better survival rates than older patients, even if they have surgery to conserve their fertility, scientists say.

A new study shows that 59% of women diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60 were still alive five years later, compared with only 35% of older women with the illness.

Although the improved survival of young women could be due in part to an earlier diagnosis and a lower grade of tumor, the researchers believe there may be other underlying factors. The study was published online ahead of print in the British Journal of Cancer.

source - Times Wire reports 

Cancer scheme aims to save lives

irelandA foundation to promote high standards of cancer care for the whole of Ireland aims to save up to 1,000 lives a year.

The All-Ireland Cancer Foundation, which brings together business leaders and clinicians, will be launched in Belfast on Monday.

It aims for excellence in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Foundation chairman Dr Art Cosgrove said: "The burden of cancer in Ireland is too great to leave to governments and health services alone."

Scientists Developing Lung Cancer Breath Test

lung cancerHealthDay News -- A simple breath test could someday help predict who's at highest risk of getting lung cancer.

In preliminary research, the breath test was successful in finding cancer "markers," said senior researcher Dr. Simon D. Spivack, a pulmonologist at the Wadsworth Center, the public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health.

That's important, he added, because "lung cancer [typically] exists for a decade or two before it is diagnosed."

Boozy Britons face mouth cancer risk


drining in britainBritain's increasing drinking culture could cause the number of mouth cancer cases to spiral to new levels, The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has said.

The oral health charity issued the warning after government statistics revealed the number of alcohol-related deaths in the UK has almost doubled since 1991.

A total of 8,386 people died in 2005 from an alcohol-related illness, compared with just 4,144 in 1991, the Office for National Statistics said.

The figures also discovered alcohol death rates were much higher for men than for women.

FBI Agents Raid Offices Of Cancer Physician

fbi(CBS) FOUNTAIN VALLEY - The lawyer for a prominent cancer doctor whose Fountain Valley offices were searched by federal agents said Friday his client will cooperate fully in the investigation and expects "full vindication."

Attorney Robert Lauchlan Jr. said he does not know why the offices of Dr. Glen Justice were searched by agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday.

Justice is director of Pacific Coast Hematology/Oncology Medical Group. The search warrant affidavit is sealed, the lawyer said.

Federal offices were closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day. The doctor, who has been president of the American Cancer Society's Orange County Regional Council since 2000, is medical director of the cancer center at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

Geron presents encouraging data on cancer inhibitor


GRN163L moleculeGeron has presented encouraging clinical trial data for its telomerase inhibitor cancer drug, GRN163L.

The data demonstrated the safety, tolerability and predicted pharmacokinetics in low-dose cohorts from a phase I/II trial in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and a phase I trial in patients with solid tumors.

"This is the first time telomerase inhibition has been tested in cancer patients. The excellent tolerability and pharmacokinetics observed so far enable us to advance to the therapeutic dose cohorts, where we hope to demonstrate safe, sustained telomerase inhibition in the targeted tumor cells," said Alan Colowick, Geron's president, oncology.

Breast cancer prevention


think pink (c) The Sunday TelegraphMore than 11,000 Australian woman are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making knowledge of how to prevent and survive the disease vital.

Here The Sunday Telegraph's body+soul section presents the bare facts about breast cancer: more than 11,000 women are diagnosed with it each year and, if all Australian women lived to the age of 75 years, one in 11 women would develop breast cancer before this age.

But having a healthy lifestyle and getting regular breast check-ups can save your life. So find out how to be a survivor. You're not too young to be at risk . Age is a risk factor for breast cancer - the older you get, the more your risk increases.

According to the government-funded National Breast Cancer Centre (NBCC), the average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 58. However, one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 50.

For that reason it's important for all women to be disease-savvy.

Firefighters Face Increased Risk For Certain Cancers


firefightersUniversity of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health researchers have determined that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop four different types of cancer than workers in other fields.

Their findings suggest that the protective equipment firefighters have used in the past didn't do a good job in protecting them against cancer-causing agents they encounter in their profession, the researchers say.

The researchers found, for example, that firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and have significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer than non-firefighters. The researchers also confirmed previous findings that firefighters are at greater risk for multiple myeloma.

Cancer Capitalists


US OncologyUS Oncology's doctors treat one in seven new cancer patients -- and enrage the rest of medicine.

Cancer treatment is one of the few bright spots on Dr. Dale Fell's income statement. His nonprofit Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. loses money on its emergency room, its pediatric division and its care for indigents. But not on radiation used to zap tumors at a cost of up to $50,000 per patient. Oncologists send 1,700 patients a year to Fell's hospital, one of two in western North Carolina with a radiation department.

Then last fall US Oncology, the giant cancer care services company, received approval from state regulators to buy a linear accelerator and launch its own radiation department three miles away from Mission. "This could cripple us," Fell says. He has sued state regulators, alleging us Oncology's radiation license violates state law.

'Muscle' protein drives prostate cancer


myosin protein This press release issued by Eurekalert says that researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have for the first time implicated the muscle protein myosin VI in the development of prostate cancer and its spread.

In a series of lab studies with human prostate cancer cells, the Hopkins scientists were surprised to find overproduction of myosin VI in both prostate tumor cells and precancerous lesions. When the scientists genetically altered the cells to "silence" myosin VI, they discovered the cells were less able to invade in a test tube.

"Our results suggest that myosin VI may be critical in starting and maintaining the malignant properties of the majority of human prostate cancers diagnosed today," says Angelo M. De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., a study coauthor and associate professor of pathology, urology and oncology.

Is the lung cancer test worth the cost?


CT scanST. LOUIS, Mo. - Jim Boyd smoked for 40 years before quitting this summer. Both of his parents died of smoking-related illnesses.

Boyd, 61 and a resident of Wentzville, Mo., hopes to avoid their fate by participating in a multinational research study through St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, part of the SSM Health Care System. The study aims to catch lung cancer early by using spiral CT scans to find tiny cancerous lesions in patients' lungs.

Early results, published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the process was able to detect lung cancer in its earliest stage, when surgery could be most successful.

However, Boyd's insurance company will not cover the $300 cost of the test.

Strategy to tackle cancer unveiled

Nathional Cancer InstituteNorthern Ireland - Ulster health chiefs today unveiled a variety of ways to dramatically improve cancer prevention in Northern Ireland.

Ahead of next week's three-day All-Ireland Cancer Conference at Belfast's Waterfront Hall, Paul Goggins unveiled a new Cancer Control Programme for Northern Ireland.

The Programme highlights the importance of lifestyle factors in preventing cancer and the need for the public to be more pro-active in reporting possible cancer symptoms at an early stage.

The report's recommendations span every aspect of cancer care and aim to improve the quality of cancer services across Northern Ireland.

Underage Smoke Exposure Raises Bladder Cancer Risk

passive smoking baby (c)A child is more likely to develop bladder cancer later in life if he/she is exposed to second-hand smoke or smokes, say European researchers. A child who starts smoking before the age of 15 is three times as likely to suffer from bladder cancer later in life than a child who doesn't smoke.

You can read about this study in the International Journal of Cancer.

The researchers found that adults who do not smoke, but are exposed to someone else's smoke at home, have no raised risk of bladder cancer. Children, on the other hand, who are exposed to second hand smoke in the home have a 40% higher risk, compared to children who are not exposed to passive smoking in the home.

In the UK bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men.
normal skinLONDON - The body’s own immune system can fight the deadly cancer melanoma if scientists can flip the system’s “off” switch to “on,” two preliminary studies suggest.

Scientists have long sought to rev up the disease-fighting cells of the immune system to fight melanoma. The new work addresses the other side of the coin, the regulatory cells that normally keep disease-fighting cells in check.

By shutting those inhibiting cells off, scientists hope to enable the disease-fighting cells to mount a continuous attack on the cancer. Two new studies of that strategy were reported this week in Prague at a European cancer research meeting.

Cancer by the Numbers: Cervical Cancer


cervical cancerby Jacki Donaldson, The Cancer Blog

Cervical cancer was once the most common cancer in women. But between 1955 and 1992, the number of cervical cancer deaths dropped by 74 percent -- thanks to increased use of the Pap test, a screening tool that can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops and can also detect cancer in its most curable stage. The Pap test is still widely used. And the cervical cancer death rate continues to drop four percent every year.

In 2006, about 9,700 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. About 3,700 women will die from the disease. Non-invasive cervical cancer is believed to be four times more common than the invasive form of the disease. Nearly all of these cases can be cured.

Drug combo effective for kidney cancer

kidney cancerLONDON - Treating patients with advanced kidney cancer before surgery with a combination of targeted therapies is safe, effective and may prolong their lives, researchers said on Thursday.

Scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, who presented their findings at a conference in Prague, studied the effect of giving the drugs bevacizumab and erlotinib to patients before their tumour was removed.

“The main aim of this study was to look at the efficacy and safety of using these targeted therapies before surgery, and our results have shown that there were few side effects and that it prolonged the survival of our patients,” said Eric Jonasch, a professor of medicine at the university.

Pancreatic cancer tied to fizzy drinks and sugar

pancreatic cancerSTOCKHOLM - People who drink large quantities of fizzy drinks or add sugar to coffee or tea run a higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, Swedish research showed on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute studied the diets of almost 80,000 men and women between 1997 and 2005. A total of 131 developed pancreatic cancer, a deadly form of the disease that is difficult to treat.

“The researchers have now been able to show that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is related to the amount of sugar in the diet,” the institute said in a statement.

Eye could reveal serious health disorder

retina Our eyes could reveal the status of our health and help doctors predict if we have any life threatening disease.

Conventional vision tests reveal eyesight abnormalities, such as macular degeneration.

But according to professor Emanuel Rosen, of Rosen Eye Associates, Manchester, a test of retina can identify early signs of conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, thanks to its superior image, reported online edition of Daily Mail.

The new eye test by an upgraded 'ophthalmoscope' a traditional instrument used to examine the retina and vitreous takes only three minutes and can help doctors diagnose life-threatening disease, it said.

University of Louisville touts cancer breakthrough

Robert Mitchell and John W. Eaton (c) The Courrier-JournalTwo University of Louisville researchers have developed a vaccine that prevents lung cancer in mice, a treatment they say could lead to a vaccine for humans against lung and other forms of cancer. 

John W. Eaton, one of the researchers, presented the findings today at an international cancer conference in Prague, Czech Republic.

Eaton, deputy director of UofL's James Graham Brown Cancer Center, said that the results in mice are promising but that much more research is needed — particularly into whether the results will translate to humans.

Light bulbs could help fight tumors

commercial light bulbJERUSALEM - Scientists in Israel say they hope to use highly concentrated light from commercial light bulbs to fight tumors, providing an effective and cheap replacement for laser surgery.

“We used off-the-shelf technology as an alternative to laser beams,” said Jeffrey Gordon of Ben-Gurion University in southern Israel, lead researcher in a new study on the subject.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, showed that light from an ultra-bright commercial bulb, similar to that used in movie projectors, could be concentrated by a special optical system to burn away healthy tissue in rats.

Bladder cancer: Home screening can save lives


bladderby Kristina Collins, The Cancer Blog

At home screening may reduce deaths from bladder cancer in men over fifty years of age. Bladder cancer is diagnosed in as many as 60,000 individuals annually in the United States and is much more common in the elderly.

Cancer of the bladder has a high cure rate if detected early enough, however, the cure rate gets much lower if the cancer spreads and metastasizes to other parts of the body. One way to diagnose the disease is to detect microscopic amounts of blood in the urine.

Amgen says cancer drug prices under scrutiny

colorectal cancer and polypNEW YORK (Reuters) - Amgen Inc., which last month launched its new cancer drug Vectibix at a 20 percent discount to rival product Erbitux, said on Monday cancer companies were under mounting pressure to prove the value of their medicines.

Cancer care has recently seen real advances with the approval of targeted therapies that extend lives with far fewer toxic side effects than standard chemotherapy, but price tags running into tens of thousands of dollars a years means a spiraling bill for payers.

"There is a lot of scrutiny on the cost of cancer therapeutics right now," Cynthia Schwalm, vice president and general manager of oncology, told the Reuters Health Summit in New York.

"If you look at all the oncology research going forward, companies are going to have to show more value, they are going to show how they work well with other products or they don't, and there will be more choice for oncologists and payers. That's just a natural occurrence."

Top cancer doctor deserts Wales

cancer scannerA former clinical director of cancer services at a Welsh hospital says he took up a post in England because he was frustrated with the NHS in Wales.

Professor Robert Leonard said cancer services in Swansea have been left under-resourced.

Swansea NHS Trust said it understood the points he had made and agreed its cancer services needed investment.

The assembly government said tackling cancer remained one of its "top health priorities".

Prof Leonard was the clinical director of cancer services at Swansea NHS Trust, as well as the director of the South West Wales Cancer Institute.

He left his job in August to join a hospital trust in London.

Blood group and cancer


cancer risk and blood type (c) telegraph indiaResearch by a Barasat-based institute, which has won a pat from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has nailed blood group O as most susceptible, and AB as least, to malignant cell disorders resulting in cancer.

Cancer Research and Welfare Centre, on the northern fringes of the city, has been involved in research for over two years on the correlation between malignant disorder of body cells and blood groups.

Phase I of the project is over and the findings — yet to be subjected to peer review — have been published in the institute’s house journal.

The President had visited the centre in 2004, soon after the research started, and encouraged the scientists to complete the study at the earliest.

australian aboriginalsAUSTRALIA - The number of Aboriginal women dying of cervical cancer in the Northern Territory has been reduced by half in the past 10 years because of increased screening.

Figures from the Menzies School of Health Research show that in the mid 1990s only 34 per cent of Indigenous women were being screened for cervical cancer.

Researchers say that over the past 10 years a cancer prevention program has increased the proportion of Aboriginal women having pap tests to 44 per cent.

Regulating estrogen hormone in men shows promise

prostate cancerLONDON - Drugs that regulate the hormone estrogen may help to prevent enlargement of the prostate gland in older men, Australian scientists said on Monday.

Early results from animal studies presented at a medical conference in London showed that an experimental estrogen-regulating drug prevented the swelling of the prostate gland which occurs as men age.

“We still have to try the drugs in humans, but so far these are very promising results,” said Professor Gail Risbridger, of Monash University in Melbourne.

breast cancerPhiladelphia -- Women who undergo surgery for breast cancer may soon be able to use a Web-based tool to find out whether they will benefit from radiation treatment, researchers report.

The user-friendly tool predicts the risk of cancer coming back in the same breast over the next 10 years in women who undergo breast-conserving surgery, or lumpectomy, says researcher Mona Sanghani, MD. She is a cancer doctor at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.

For women with early-stage breast cancer, standard treatment involves breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy to the breast over a six- to eight-week period to kill any remaining cancer cells.

prostate cancerNegative perceptions about radiation therapy can strongly influence a prostate cancer patient's choice to avoid external beam radiation therapy, even though studies have proven the treatment to be as safe and effective as other treatments for the disease, including surgery, according to a study presented November 5, 2006, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 48th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

"The study shows that patients base their treatment choice not only on technical information, but also on cultural and personal prejudices," said Riccardo Valdagni, M.D., an author of the study and head of the Prostate Programme at the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, Italy. "It's important for patients to express their fears about radiation treatment to their doctors and for doctors to consider these worries and address any misconceptions about this therapy so that patients can make the best, most informed decision about their treatment."

Smokers Suffer More Side Effects From Cancer Treatment


(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Radiation treatment for prostate cancer can go a lot smoother if the patient doesn't smoke.

According to researchers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, smokers end up with significantly worse side effects from the treatment than nonsmokers.

The study was conducted among nearly 1,200 men being treated with 3-D conformal radiation therapy. Investigators collected information on smoking habits and history and then monitored the men for gastrointestinal and genitourinary side effects.

"Our patients who smoked during treatment reported having more acute gastrointestinal side-effects such as diarrhea," reports lead study author Niraj Pahlajani, M.D.

Hi-tech treatment for cancer patients

Southampton Research CentreThe number of cancer patients getting radiotherapy treatment in Southampton will double with introduction of new equipment.

Currently 100 patients a day receive radiotherapy in the new £20m oncology centre at Southampton General Hospital.

This number of patients is due to double with a new machine unveiled by Southampton Itchen MP John Denham to mark the completion of phase two of the multi-million pound centre.

Dr Carol Davis, lead cancer consultant at Southampton General Hospital, said: "By April, we will have six fully operational linear accelerators, allowing us to perform more sophisticated treatments with reduced waiting times, at the same time as potentially reducing side effects for patients."

Union calls for action over cancer risks in chip industry


computer industryThe Amicus manufacturing trade union has called for an inquiry into cancer risks in the computer and semiconductor manufacturing industries following new evidence from the US.

The US study by Dr Richard Clapp of Boston University found what it called “'significantly greater” cancer deaths amongst workers in the computer and semiconductor manufacturing industry than expected based on the national average

Amicus has called on the health and safety agencies in the UK as well as companies to act to reduce the risks for workers.

“Government health and safety agencies and employers must act urgently to reduce this risk to stop more people dying in years to come,” said Peter Skyte, Amicus National Officer.

Cancer by the Numbers: Pancreatic Cancer


pancreatic cancerby Jacki Donaldson, The Cancer Blog

My mom's best friend died from pancreatic cancer just three months after her diagnosis with the disease. One of my co-workers lost her mother to the same disease just weeks after diagnosis. Another co-worker's husband lost his battle with pancreatic cancer after a 15-month all-out fight. And a family friend has somehow been surviving this deadly disease for years now. He's the exception, defying the odds rarely in favor of long-term survival.

About 33,730 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. Many of them -- 32,300 -- will die from the disease that is rarely caught early. Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

By the time a person exhibits symptoms of pancreatic cancer, the cancer has typically reached an unmanageable size and has spread to other organs. And because the pancreas is deep inside the body, doctors cannot see or feel tumors during routine exams. There are no blood tests that detect this cancer, and tumor marker tests often do not show indications of the disease until the cancer is advanced.

Cancer patients turn to internet for cheap drugs

cancer drugsCancer patients who cannot get the modern drugs they need on the NHS are ordering them directly from international 'internet pharmacies', often without their doctors' knowledge.

Patients are beginning to self-prescribe cancer treatments by ordering them online, after learning about the newer therapies, such as Avastin for bowel cancer and Tarceva for lung cancer. Many treatments have not yet been licensed by the government's watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), but are widely promoted on the internet.

One of Britain's leading cancer specialists, Karol Sikora, told a meeting of politicians and doctors last week that he had a number of private patients who had begun to order drugs from one of the largest internet pharmacies in Canada, 'These patients are well informed, and they shop around for the cheapest prices,' he said. 'I had one patient, a very well educated young woman who wanted Tarceva for lung cancer. She couldn't get the drug on the NHS. The price from a Harley Street clinic worked out at around £75 a tablet - but ordering from Canada would bring it down to £35 a tablet.'

Progress against lung cancer


lung cancerThe New England Journal of Medicine reported recently that early detection of lung tumors by using advanced CT imaging yields an estimated 10-year survival rate of more than 90 percent, and smokers and others at high risk should be routinely screened.

Researchers said the study of more than 30,000 patients in seven countries indicates that the scans, which allow physicians to detect much smaller objects than can be seen on a conventional chest X-ray, are as cost-effective and beneficial as mammography for breast cancer.

Still, some cancer experts said the study does not prove that screening reduces deaths from lung cancer and that it is too soon to recommend widespread use. While there may be some validity to that argument and further study is needed, it would seem to make sense for smokers and former smokers to have scans for early lung cancer detection.

Those scans are very important, especially when it is estimated that 162,460 people will die of lung cancer this year.


New Guidelines for Preventing Cancer


american cancer societyThere's a new list out with guidelines for how you can prevent cancer. At the top of this list, according to the American Cancer Society, is to maintain a healthy weight.

The organization says eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is critical, so is exercising at least five days a week. Doing so can't guarantee good health, but it can make you far less at risk for cancer. 

Colleen Doyle, American Cancer Society: "The good news is that a lot of people think they don't have any control over their risk of cancer, and we're here to tell people that absolutely you do have some control."

According to these new cancer guidelines, more than one third of all cancer deaths are now the result of poor nutrition and a lack of exercise.



Women in Sunnier Countries Have Lower Ovarian Cancer Rates

sunny beach The risk of developing ovarian cancer is 60 percent lower among women living in areas of the world with high ultraviolet B radiation exposure than those who live in areas with less UVB, concludes a study encompassing 175 countries.

“The main reason for this advantage is that women living in sunny areas have higher circulating (vitamin D2) levels that protect them from ovarian cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California in San Diego.

Exposure to UVB from sunlight allows skin to photosynthesize vitamin D, which enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body. 

Whole wheat may prevent breast cancer in offspring


whole wheatNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The daughters of rats that feast on whole wheat during pregnancy are less likely to develop breast cancer, a new study shows.

Based on the findings, "it might be beneficial to include whole wheat in the diet when one is expecting," Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

Hilakivi-Clarke and her colleagues have used rodents to evaluate a number of dietary factors in pregnancy on offspring's health risks, she added, for example showing that daughters of mothers fed a high-fat diet were at greater risk of breast cancer. "The model we're using should be relatively valid to make assumptions about what's going on in humans," she added.

Heated chemo after colon cancer


colon cancerPITTSBURGH, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A consensus statement by 72 leading oncology surgeons from 14 countries, including the United States, calls for surgery and heated chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy, delivered through the lower abdomen of the patient before leaving the operating room, may significantly increase the life expectancy for patients with Stage IV colorectal cancer, according to the Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Group, which includes doctors from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas; H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla.; Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington; and St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore.

The heated chemotherapy is designed to help reliably attack any residual cancer cells remaining after surgery. The consensus statement: "Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy in the Management of Peritoneal Surface Malignancies of Colonic Origin" appears on the Web site for the Annals of Surgical Oncology.


proton therapy installationThe M.D. Anderson Proton Therapy Center at the University of Texas is one of 25 institutions in the world that use proton therapy.

Traditional radiation therapy uses x-ray beams to shrink cancerous tumors. Large portions of the body are subject to radiation because X-rays cannot be delivered more accurately, so physicians limit the amount of radiation a patient undergoes to spare healthy tissue.

Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that is more precise. Protons are positively charged particles, which are accelerated to specific speeds in beams that penetrate the body, pinpointing tumorous growths to shrink them.

Cutting edge technology emerges for skin cancer diagnosis


skin cancer cellby Jacki Donaldson, The Cancer Blog

In the not-too-distant future, dermatologists will be able to diagnose skin cancer without ever cutting the skin.

Right now, doctors cut out all suspicious lesions in order to examine them, to determine if they are cancerous or not. But with the development of a new microscope, cells can be examined right on the body -- without cutting.

Moles matter, reported Matt Lauer on Thursday's TODAY show during an interview with a skin cancer expert. Moles are highly associated with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. So it is critical that each mole is investigated. With this new high resolution technology -- essentially a video biopsy -- a camera will allow doctors to view cells, zero in on the area of concern, and pinpoint the exact cells that make up a mole. If the cells are similar in shape and size and have equal distribution, the mole is normal. If the individual cells are irregular and have no uniform pattern, the mole is abnormal and probably cancerous.

Long-Term Cardiac Tolerability of Herceptin (Trastuzumab)


herceptinTrastuzumab (Herceptin), a humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, is highly effective for treating HER2-overexpressing invasive breast cancer. In patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, trastuzumab plus chemotherapy improved objective response rate, time-to-disease progression, and overall survival, compared with chemotherapy alone.

In the pivotal randomized trial, 28% of patients who received trastuzumab plus chemotherapy (predominantly those who received concurrent trastuzumab and anthracycline-based chemotherapy) experienced adverse cardiac events. More recently, in several large randomized clinical trials, trastuzumab in combination with adjuvant chemotherapy has significantly lowered risk for recurrence in patients with early-stage breast cancer; however, the collective experience from adjuvant therapy trials suggests that ~5% of patients who receive trastuzumab will show some evidence of systolic cardiac dysfunction.

Follow-up reports suggest that most patients who develop trastuzumab-induced cardiac dysfunction will recover normal cardiac function when trastuzumab is discontinued, with or without subsequent medical management.

Journal Retracts Fraudulent Oral Cancer Studies

oral cancerHealthDay News -- The editors of the New England Journal of Medicine this week added another chapter to the story of disgraced Norwegian researcher Dr. Jon Sudbo, as they formally retracted two reports on oral cancer his team published in the journal in 2001 and 2004.

By his own admission -- issued through his lawyer earlier this year -- much of Sudbo's published data was fabricated. A recent report from an investigative commission formed by Sudbo's former employers, the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center and the University of Oslo, has since confirmed the fraud. The NEJM editors based their retraction largely on the report's findings.

"Given the weight of evidence offered in the commission's report and the requests of most of the authors of the articles, we retract both articles," NEJM editors Dr. Gregory Curfman, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen and Stephen Morrissey wrote in the Nov. 2 issue of the journal.

Fruits and Veggies Cut Breast Cancer Risk


fruitsA study by Oregon Health and Science University researchers found women who eat at least four servings of fruits and vegetables have a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who consume no more than two such servings each day.

They reached that conclusion after examining the diets of 378 women with breast cancer and the diets of 1,070 cancer-free women. All the women, living in Shanghai, China, filled out questionnaires that asked about their intake of 108 individual food items, fried and restaurant food, dietary changes, and the use of nutrient supplements and Chinese herbal medicines.

Omega-3-rich fish linked to lower prostate cancer risk

salmon steakThe study, published on-line ahead of print in the International Journal of Cancer (doi: 10.1002/ijc.22319), adds to an ever growing body of science linking omega-3 fatty acids to a wide-range of health benefits, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), good development of a baby during pregnancy, joint health, behaviour and mood, and certain cancers.

The researchers, led by Maria Hedelin from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, also found that genetics play a part in the development of the cancer, and also in the potential benefits of the fish oil.

“This study shows that there is an interaction between dietary factors and our genes, but it's always hard to say what role the genes play,” she said. “Omega-3 fatty acids can still be good for men who don't carry this gene variant in completely different ways.”

Anger at ‘brain cancer’ verdict on girl’s death


Lisa NorrisLisa Norris, the Scots teenager who was given a massive overdose of radiation treatment, died of brain cancer, it was revealed yesterday.

Post-mortem examination results released to the family of the 16-year-old, whose funeral is due to take place today, made no mention of the possible effects of the radiation.

Her parents said they were "surprised" after the report revealed the cause of death as recurrent pinealblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

However, Professor Anthony Busuttil, a leading independent pathologist at Edinburgh University, said there would likely be further investigations following the post-mortem examination, and that the teenager's death certificate may need to be altered.

HPV testFor more than 60 years the Pap smear has been the screening method of choice for cervical cancer, but it is not the best approach for assessing risk in older women, new research suggests.

Findings from a large, Danish study provide compelling evidence that testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) is more effective for identifying older women with a high risk of developing cervical cancercancer.

Cervical cancer is caused by HPV infection, which is spread through sexual contact. Two specific types -- HPV 16 and HPV 18 -- are believed to be responsible for up to 70% of cases worldwide.

HPV is fairly common among younger women, but in most cases infection is transient and does not pose a health risk.

Cancer by the Numbers: Lung Cancer


lung cancerby Jacki Donaldson, The Cancer Blog

In 2006, 174,470 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States. About 92,700 men and 81,770 women will develop the disease -- the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

An estimated 162,460 men and women will die of lung cancer this year, accounting for 28 percent of all cancer deaths and taking more lives than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. While most people diagnosed with lung cancer will die within the first two years of diagnosis -- this has not changed in 10 years -- some people are cured. There are currently about 333,000 long-term survivors.

Lung cancer -- the most preventable of all cancers -- typically occurs in the elderly. Nearly 70 percent of people diagnosed with the disease are older than 65. Fewer than three percent are under the age of 45.
no smoking in restaurantsTRENTON, N.J. - State-of-the-art ventilation systems used to clear cigarette smoke from bars and restaurants don't eliminate dangerous soot and carcinogens and can even push their levels higher in nonsmoking sections than in smoking areas, researchers concluded.

Their findings from three restaurants in a little-studied field come just a week before voters in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio consider dueling smoking-related initiatives. Ballots in each state include a tough ban on smoking in public places and a more lenient proposal — with exemptions for bars and casinos — backed by industry groups.

Two of the restaurants studied were Mesa, Ariz., establishments that had claimed their ventilation systems would comply with that city's smoke-free restaurant law.

Low awareness of lung cancer

lung cancerSeventy per cent of patients with lung cancer had never regarded the disease as a threat prior to learning of their condition, according to the results from a major European public and patient survey.

The survey found that close to half of lung cancer patients admitted that their diagnosis was discovered by chance during a visit to the doctor for another reason.

It also revealed that of the lung cancer patients polled, 83% of those receiving chemotherapy endured difficult side effects and a compromised quality of life from their treatments.

According to consultant medical oncologist Prof Desmond Carney, Lung Cancer Awareness Month this month offers a great opportunity to improve the general public's knowledge of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, particularly in at-risk groups.

Men Face Higher Colon Cancer Risk

colon cancerA new study finds that polyps linked to colon cancer are 73 percent more common in men than in women, leading researchers to suggest that colorectal cancer screening guidelines be changed.

For example, perhaps women might want to start their screening at a later age, suggested the Polish authors of a paper published in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Other experts objected to the idea, however.

" Everybody needs to get screened," said Dr. Jerald Wishner, director of the colorectal cancer program and colorectal surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, New York. "The worst thing that could happen is for people to interpret that we don't have to worry about women."

chemotherapy Doctors have announced that a chemotherapy "super-cocktail" given to women with breast cancer reduced deaths by more than 30 per cent, compared with standard treatment.

The improvement in survival was described as "dramatic" and exceeded the expectations of researchers from the University of Birmingham, who conducted separate studies in England and Scotland. It confirms earlier results, reported in 2003.

But the specialist who led the studies said many women with breast cancer in the UK were not being treated with the right dose of chemotherapy in the right schedule to maximise their chances of survival.

Appeals court blocks ruling against tobacco companies


no smokingWASHINGTON - A federal appeals court in Washington has blocked a judgment against tobacco companies, clearing the way for them to continue selling "light" and "low tar" cigarettes.

In August, Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the companies violated racketeering laws and conspired for decades to mislead the public about the health hazards of smoking. She ordered the companies to publish "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes with terms such as "low tar," "light," or "mild," because those cigarettes were no safer than others.Tobacco companies argued that the marketing ban would cost them (m) millions of dollars and lead to a loss of customers. Today's decision, issued without comment, puts Kessler's ruling on hold.


Contraceptive pills may be associated with breast cancer

contraceptive pillsA US review of past research has confirmed that the oral contraceptive pill is associated with a slight increased risk of breast cancer among some women.

The finding echoes most previous research, but lead author Dr Chris Kahlenbom said that he revisited the research due to a lack of public awareness of the issues.

The risk is largest among pre-menopausal women who have not had children, who would normally be at a lower risk of the disease, he added.

Hazel Nunn, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK said "This study reinforces what we already know.

New treatment for brain cancer


brain cancerResearchers at the University of Calgary say they’ve fine-tuned a death sentence for brain cancer cells.

The new treatment virus that’s been tested on mice is able to hunt down elusive cancer cells that have spread from the mother tumour while sparing surrounding healthy cells, say the scientists who’ve developed the process.

The approach also pioneers an intravenous delivery rather than injecting the curative virus directly into the tumour, said the U of C’s Dr. Peter Forsyth, a medical oncologist.

Predicting Prostate Cancer Death

prostate cancerMen with prostate cancer don't always need treatment, but there is no reliable way to tell which cancers are deadly and which are not.

Now, new research suggests a blood test widely used to screen for the disease can identify which patients are more likely to die from it -- and do so more than a decade before the cancercancer is even diagnosed.

In the study, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers report that the rate at which prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels change over time is an accurate predictor of prostate cancer survival 25 years later.

stop smokingWhat's the best way to convince a teenager that smoking is a great idea? Tell him his parents want him to stop.

That's the rather disturbing suggestion of a study of teens who had watched tobacco-industry-funded television ads urging parents to talk to their children about smoking. The study shows that these teens were more likely to have smoked in the past month and more likely to say that they planned to smoke in the future.

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