January 2007 Archives

Too Young for This: Facing Cancer Under 40

cancerIn July 2005, Jeff Carenza and his girlfriend were enjoying a getaway weekend in Miami when food poisoning landed them both in the hospital. Blood tests showed that Dr. Carenza, then 29, had iron-deficiency anemia.

“It’s probably nothing,” the doctor told him. “But have it checked when you get home.”

This type of anemia can be caused by blood loss from the intestinal tract. So back in St. Louis, where Dr. Carenza was a radiology resident at Barnes Jewish Hospital, his doctor sent him to a gastroenterologist.

Merck lobbies states over cancer vaccine


gardasilMerck & Co. is helping bankroll efforts to pass state laws requiring girls as young as 11 or 12 to receive the drugmaker's new vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus.

Some conservatives and parents'-rights groups say such a requirement would encourage premarital sex and interfere with the way they raise their children, and they say Merck's push for such laws is underhanded. But the company said its lobbying efforts have been above-board.

With at least 18 states debating whether to require Merck's Gardasil vaccine for schoolgirls, Merck has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

A top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on Women in Government's business council, and many of the bills around the country have been introduced by members of Women in Government.

Hot chili pepper compound kills cancer without side effects

hot chili peppersCapsaicin -- the compound that makes chili peppers spicy -- can kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells, with no side effects, according to a new study by researchers at Nottingham University in the UK.

The study, led by Dr. Timothy Bates, found that capsaicin killed laboratory-grown lung and pancreatic cancer cells by attacking tumor cells' source of energy and triggering cell-suicide.

"This is incredibly exciting and may explain why people living in countries like Mexico and India, who traditionally eat a diet which is very spicy, tend to have lower incidences of many cancers that are prevalent in the Western world," Bates said.

Sunbed Cancer Risk Trebles In Just 10 Years


sunbedThe risk of sunbed users developing skin cancer may have trebled over the last decade as sunbeds get stronger, claims a new report.

Sunbeds emit stronger radiation than ever before, and 83 per cent of them exceed the recommended limits. It is estimated that cancer caused by sunbeds could be killing up to 100 people a year.

In the UK, 5,990 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and there are 1,600 deaths from the disease.

Chlorinated water found to increase risk of bladder cancer

bladder cancerDrinking, or even immersing yourself in, chlorinated water may increase your risk of bladder cancer, says a new study.

The new study is the first to suggest that chlorine is harmful to humans when ingested or absorbed through the skin, according to study leader Cristina M. Villanueva of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona and her colleagues.

Chlorine itself is not harmful, but its byproducts increase the risk of cancer. Trihalomethanes are the most prevalent by-product, and they can be absorbed into the body through the skin or by inhalation. When THM is absorbed through the skin or into the lungs, they hold stronger carcinogenic properties because they aren’t detoxified through the liver, Villanueva and her team found in their research.

GSKStudy to compare immunogencity of GSK’s cervical cancer candidate vaccine, CERVARIX® , to Merck’s Gardasil® 

Issued — Thursday 18 January 2007, London, UK & Philadelphia, PA - GlaxoSmithKline announced today the initiation of the first study of its kind designed to compare the immunogenicity of its cervical cancer candidate vaccine, CERVARIX®, versus Gardasil®. The primary objective of the head-to-head trial is to compare the immune responses to HPV types 16 and 18 in U.S. women 18 to 26-years-old. Secondary objectives include evaluating the immune responses to HPV 16 and 18 in women 27 to 35-years-old and 36 to 45-years-old. In addition, the study will compare immune responses to other cancer-causing HPV types. Initial study results are anticipated 12 months after studyenrollmentis completed, and extended follow up will continue for another 17 months.

Many Genetic-Based Cancer Studies Flawed


cancer researchTHURSDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Many cancer studies that rely on what scientists call genetic microarrays have critical flaws in their analyses or their conclusions.

This means doctors are taking this flawed research and using it as the basis of treatment for cancer patients -- treatments that may adversely affect patient outcomes.

That's the surprising conclusion of a new study by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute that's published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Cancer deaths decline for 2nd straight year


US cancer rates (courtesy AP)ATLANTA - Cancer deaths in the United States have dropped for a second straight year, confirming that a corner has been turned in the war on cancer.

After a decline of 369 deaths from 2002 to 2003, the decrease from 2003 to 2004 was 3,014 — or more than eight times greater, according to a review of U.S. death certificates by the American Cancer Society.

The drop from 2002 to 2003 was the first annual decrease in total cancer deaths since 1930. But the decline was slight, and experts were hesitant to say whether it was a cause for celebration or just a statistical fluke.

President Bush Wednesday hailed the downward trend in cancer deaths in the United States, a signal that medicine is making strides in the battling a disease that kills nearly 1,500 Americans a day.

Genetic 'Signature' Predicts Breast Cancer Recurrence


breast cancerWEDNESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic "signature" that consists of 186 genes combined together can predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence in women with the disease, a new study found.

And the same set of genes also predicts the recurrence of prostate cancer, lung cancer and medulloblastoma, the most common form of childhood brain cancer, the researchers said.

"This is very impressive data that will hopefully be able to predict which patients can benefit or not benefit from certain types of treatment," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La., who was not involved with the study. "Whether this can be taken into the direct clinical arena will remain to be seen."

URBANA - A new University of Illinois study shows that tomatoes and broccoli--two vegetables known for their cancer-fighting qualities--are better at shrinking prostate tumors when both are part of the daily diet than when they're eaten alone.

"When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect. We think it's because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways," said University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor John Erdman.

In a study published in the January 15 issue of Cancer Research, Erdman and doctoral candidate Kirstie Canene-Adams fed a diet containing 10 percent tomato powder and 10 percent broccoli powder to laboratory rats that had been implanted with prostate cancer cells. The powders were made from whole foods so the effects of eating the entire vegetable could be compared with consuming individual parts of them as a nutritional supplement.

leukemia cellsAccording to results presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, treatment with Sprycel® (dasatinib) provides superior outcomes compared to escalated doses of Gleevec® (imatinib) in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who have stopped responding to previous treatment with standard doses of Gleevec.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer that originates in the immune cells. It affects approximately 4,600 people annually in the U.S. In the case of CML, large numbers of young immune cells do not mature, resulting in an excess accumulation of these cells. These leukemia cells then crowd the bone marrow and blood, suppressing formation and function of other blood cells normally present in these areas. In addition, the leukemia cells cannot perform their function properly, leaving patients susceptible to infection.

Gonorrhea linked to male bladder cancer risk


bladder cancerGonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted infection, can double the risk of bladder cancer in men, researchers said on Tuesday.

Earlier studies had already suggested a link and scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health in Massachusetts who monitored the health of 51,529 American men found 286 cases of bladder cancer in men who had had the infection.

"We observed a two-fold increase in bladder cancer risk among men with a history of Gonorrhea," said Dr Dominique Michaud, the lead author of the research reported in the British Journal of Cancer.

The link was stronger for invasive and advanced bladder cancer, which is more serious and difficult to treat, and among smokers.

Prostate cancer treatment may shorten penis


prostate cancerMen who receive combination treatment with hormone therapy plus radiation for local or locally advanced prostate cancer may experience a significant reduction in penile length, according to a report in the January issue of the Journal of Urology.

There has been anecdotal evidence that radiation therapy can reduce penile length but, to the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first to determine if penile length changes following combination treatment with hormone therapy plus radiation.

Dr. Ahmet Haliloglu and colleagues at the University of Ankara in Turkey enrolled 47 men with local or locally advanced prostate cancer. The patients, who were followed from 2000 to 2005, received leuprolide or goserelin injections every 3 months, for a total of three doses. At month 7, radiotherapy, using a 70-Gy dose, was initiated and continued for 7 weeks.

Clinical Trial Evaluating Myocet® in Breast Cancer Enrolling Patients

A Phase III clinical trial (last phase prior to FDA review) evaluating the investigative chemotherapy agent Myocet® (liposomal encapsulated doxorubicin) in addition to standard therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer is now enrolling patients.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from its site of origin to distant sites in the body. Standard therapy for metastatic breast cancer often includes chemotherapy, with or without hormone therapy or targeted therapy. Doxorubicin is a commonly used chemotherapy agent in the treatment of breast cancer. However, side effects from doxorubicin can be severe, including irreversible damage to the heart.

Prostate Cancer: Combo Treatment Works


Radioactive 'Seeds' and Conventional Radiation Treatment Are Effective

One of the longest ever follow-up studies of radioactive "seed" implants for prostate cancer shows the treatment to be highly effective in combination with conventional external radiation.

Three out of four patients in the study remained disease free at least 15 years after treatment ended, with intermediate-risk patients faring almost as well as those considered to have a low risk of dying from their cancer. The outcomes compared favorably to the best results reported among surgically treated patients, says John E. Sylvester, MD, of the Seattle Prostate Institute.

New study supports a stem cell origin of cancer


cancer research Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) recently made significant strides toward settling a decades-old debate centering on the role played by stem cells in cancer development.

According to the study's findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Genetics and now available online, genes that are reversibly repressed in embryonic stem cells are over-represented among genes that are permanently silenced in cancers; this link lends support to the increasingly discussed theory that cancer is rooted in small populations of stem cells.

USC researchers uncovered this link after observing that of 177 genes repressed by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins, fully 77 showed evidence of cancer-associated enzymatic modification of DNA (known as methylation). "Finding that a Polycomb target in an embryonic stem cell is 12 times more likely to become abnormally methylated in cancer is highly significant," says Peter Laird, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers and associate professor of surgery, biochemistry and molecular biology, and director of basic research for surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

spread of cancer cellsLiverpool, UK - 8 January 2007: Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found how two molecules fight in the blood to control the spread of cancer cells.


Researchers discovered that a large protein, which forms a protective shield around cancer cells and prevents them from causing secondary tumours, is attacked by a small protein that exists in the blood.

In diseases such as breast, lung and colorectal cancer, infected cells lose growth control and eventually form tumours at these sites.  If caught early these tumours can be effectively removed surgically. However, when the cancer cells have invaded the blood, the effectiveness of surgery is reduced.

Renegade RNA: Clues To Cancer And Normal Growth

cancer researchResearchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that a tiny piece of genetic code apparently goes where no bit of it has gone before, and it gets there under its own internal code.

A report on the renegade ribonucleic acid, and the code that directs its movement, will be published Jan. 5 in Science.

MicroRNAs, already implicated in cancer and normal development, latch on to and gum up larger strands of RNA that carry instructions for making the proteins that do all the cell’s work. They are, says Joshua Mendell, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins, like "molecular rheostats that fine-tune how much protein is being made from each gene."

Speeding Development Of Novel Tracer For Prostate Cancer

prostate cancerThe collaborative work being performed by professionals across medical disciplines in the promising area of molecular imaging - from research scientists to nuclear medicine physicians, urologists, radiochemists and even veterinarians - provides encouraging news in fighting prostate cancer. This type of progressive - or translational - research can be seen in two papers published in the January issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and at Nihon Medi-Physics’ research center in Chiba, Japan, collaborated closely in examining the potential of using the radiotracer FACBC to better stage or determine prostate cancer spread, said David M. Schuster, an assistant professor and director of the division of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging in Emory’s radiology department.

Radiation therapy combo cures prostate cancer long-term


prostate cancerSeventy-four percent of men treated with a combination of radiation seed implants and external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer are cured of their disease 15 years following their treatment, according to a study released in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics, the official journal of ASTRO.

This study was conducted by the physicians at the Seattle Prostate Institute. Doctors wanted to look at the combination of seed implants and external beam radiation therapy, two different types of radiation therapy, to prolong the long-term disease cure rates for prostate cancer. Over the course of 15 years, doctors followed 232 men with early-stage prostate cancer who received a course of external beam radiation therapy followed by permanent seed implants a few weeks later. Sixty-five percent of these patients had T2b-T3 disease and the entire group had an average pre-treatment PSA of 15 ng/ml.

Parents' refusal of cancer therapy raises issues


children and parentsUnder U.S. laws, parents have wide discretionary authority in raising their children. However, when a child has cancer, and parents and cancer specialists disagree about how to treat it, a number of ethical and legal concerns come into play.

In the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Jeffrey J. Hord and colleagues explore the fallout from such decisions, made in six children over the last 30 years.

Hord, of Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Ohio, told Reuters Health that in these cases "standard treatment for a favorable prognosis cancer was stopped prematurely at the request of parents who wished to pursue alternative interventions such as Bible readings, chelation, dietary changes, and medications not approved in this country such as amygdalin, Laetrile."

Gene linked to childhood kidney cancer identified


kidney cancerScientists have identified a gene linked to the most common type of kidney cancer in children, and expressed hope this might help doctors determine which young patients are most at risk of dying.

Writing on Thursday in the journal Science, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers said about 30 percent of cases of the cancer called Wilms tumor involve mutations in a gene called WTX located on the sex-determining X chromosome.

About 90 percent of childhood kidney cancer cases are Wilms tumor. It occurs in roughly one in 10,000 children worldwide. It is treated with surgery and chemotherapy, with about 80 percent of patients surviving. It usually appears by age 5.

The disease also is called nephroblastoma.

Fast growing melanomas have distinct traits


skin cancerMelanoma skin cancers that are growing rapidly exhibit a number of identifying characteristics. According to Australian researchers, rapidly growing melanomas are thicker, symmetrical, or elevated, have regular borders, and often itch or bleed. They do not fit the ABCD rule for melanoma, which stands for asymmetry, border irregularity, color irregularity, large diameter, the team notes.

"Because of their rapid growth," lead investigator Dr. Wendy Liu told Reuters Health, "there is only a small window of opportunity to capture these melanomas in their early stage of development."

"Rapidly growing melanomas can occur in anyone," she added, "not necessarily those with large numbers of moles and freckles. In fact, they more often occur in those without large numbers of moles and freckles, and elderly men. Morphologically, they are more often red -- rather than brown and black -- symmetrical, elevated and symptomatic."

Rogue Gene Linked To Breast And Childhood Cancer Risk

DNAWomen who inherit one damaged copy of a gene called PALB2 have double the risk of developing breast cancer. And children who inherit two damaged copies have a newly identified serious disorder linked to childhood tumours, according to the findings from two papers published by scientists in Nature Genetics*.

A Cancer Research UK funded team at The Institute of Cancer Research looked for faults in the PALB2 gene in 923 women with breast cancer and a family history of the disease, not caused by the known breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2. The team also looked for faults in the PALB2 gene in 1084 healthy control women. Their discovery could eventually help identify women at greater risk of developing breast cancer. Understanding more about the specific genetic faults that lead to the disease will hopefully help with improving prevention, diagnosis and "tailor-made" treatment in the future.

Remotely Activated Nanoparticles Destroy Cancer

Targeted nanotech-based treatments will enter clinical trials in 2007.

Author: Kevin Bullis

The first in a new generation of nanotechnology-based cancer treatments will likely begin clinical trials in 2007, and if the promise of animal trials carries through to human trials, these treatments will transform cancer therapy. By replacing surgery and conventional chemotherapy with noninvasive treatments targeted at cancerous tumors, this nanotech approach could reduce or eliminate side effects by avoiding damage to healthy tissue. It could also make it possible to destroy tumors that are inoperable or won't respond to current treatment.

One of these new approaches places gold-coated nanoparticles, called nanoshells, inside tumors and then heats them with infrared light until the cancer cells die. Because the nanoparticles also scatter light, they could be used to image tumors as well. Mauro Ferrari, a leader in the field of nanomedicine and professor of bioengineering at the University of Texas Health Science Center, says this is "very exciting" technology.

Gene test may help lung cancer patients


lung cancerScientists in Taiwan have developed a simple, five-gene test aimed at showing which lung cancer patients most need chemotherapy, as similar tests now do for people with breast cancer and lymphoma.

The experimental test needs to be validated in larger groups of patients, so widespread use is perhaps a few years away. However, it's already winning praise for its possible use in everyday hospital settings instead of in limited situations by people with special genetics training.

"This has the potential to be extremely helpful," said Dr. David Johnson, a lung cancer expert at Vanderbilt University and former president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world's largest group of cancer specialists.

Lung cancer cases could hit 1m


lung cancerChina will have the world's highest number of lung cancer patients 1 million a year by 2025 if smoking and pollution are not effectively curbed, experts have warned, citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

According to the national tumor prevention and cure research office affiliated to the Ministry of Health, the country had 120,000 new lung cancer patients during the past five years.

Lung cancer killed more people than any other disease one out of every four, sources said.

Hybrid molecule causes cancer cells to self-destruct


cancer research By joining a sugar to a short-chain fatty acid compound, Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a two-pronged molecular weapon that kills cancer cells in lab tests. The researchers cautioned that their double-punch molecule, described in the December issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology, has not yet been tested on animals or humans. Nevertheless, they believe it represents a promising new strategy for fighting the deadly disease.

"For a long time, cancer researchers did not pay much attention to the use of sugars in fighting cancer," said Gopalan Sampathkumar, a postdoctoral fellow in the university's Department of Biomedical Engineering and lead author of the journal article. "But we found that when the right sugar is matched with the right chemical partner, it can deliver a powerful double-whammy against cancer cells."

Nutritionist says too much milk can promote cancer


casein micelleby Jerome Douglas, NewsTarget

Drinking an excess of cow's milk can promote cancer growth, according to Dr. T. Collin Campbell, Emeritus professor from Cornell University. After 27 years of animal research, Dr. Campbell came to that rather surprising conclusion which he revealed in his book, "China Study."

Dr. Campbell wrote a book on diet and cancer in 1982 that shocked U.S. medical authorities, as he organized an epidemiological study in China seeking associations between diets and diseases. The New York Times called the study the "greatest in the world" of epidemiological studies.

In Dr. Campbell's experiments, two groups of rats were exposed to equally high doses of highly carcinogenic aflatoxin to induce cancer. The rats were then fed a diet either with 20 percent glutencasein from animals. After a certain period, cancer cells did not increase in rats on the gluten diet, while the number of cancer cells in the rats on the casein diet drastically increased. from plants, or 20 percent.

Fighting cancer costs $2.3 billion in lost time

cancer time lost (courtesy of AP)WASHINGTON - The hours spent sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, in line for the CT scan, watching chemotherapy drip into veins: Battling cancer steals a lot of time — at least $2.3 billion worth in the first year of treatment alone.

So says the first study to try to put a price tag to the time that people spend being treated for 11 of the most common cancers.

Even more sobering than the economic toll are the tallies, by government researchers, of the sheer hours lost to cancer care: 368 hours in that first year after diagnosis with ovarian cancer; 272 hours being treated for lung cancer, 193 hours for kidney cancer.

One in three think cancer is fate

survey A third of adults in Wales believe getting cancer is down to fate and are unaware many cases could be prevented, researchers have found.

Cancer Research UK, which surveyed 4,000 people, said more than half of all cases of cancer could be prevented.

But researchers found 33% of Welsh adults thought it was down to destiny, compared with the UK average of 27%.

The charity said it was alarming many people were not aware making lifestyle changes could help reduce their risk.

New Canadian technology tracks cancer's spread


cancer researchWhen it comes to cancer, it often isn't the initial tumour that kills. It's the cancer cells that migrate and spawn new tumours. Now scientists at the Robarts Research Centre in London, Ontario, have devised a new way of following cancer cells as they spread that may help them learn how to stop them.

Researchers have long tried to understand the process of cancer spread -- called metastasis -- hoping to find a way of stopping this destructive process. They know that many of the most common cancers, including breast and lung cancer and melanoma, can metastasize to the brain and spawn new and potentially fatal tumours. In fact, it's estimated that as many as 22 to 30 per cent of breast cancer patients will have their breast tumours spread to their brain.

Now Robarts researchers have created a powerful new technology that allows them to watch for the first time how single breast cancer cells migrate from the body into the brain.

prostate cancerCancer treatment in Scotland appears to favour women over men, who face longer waits and delays in treatment, a leading doctor has warned.

Figures on cancer waiting times show that 88.2 per cent of breast-cancer patients are starting treatment within the two-month target from urgent referral by their doctor. But waiting-time for targets in urological cancers, including prostate and testicular cancers, hit only 67.5 per cent.

Dr David Love, joint chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said men might be the unintended victims of high-profile campaigns which have lobbied successfully to improve breast-cancer care.

The gender "bias" is most marked in the Borders. Up to 100 per cent of breast-cancer patients start treatment within two months, but for urological cancers, achievement of the target falls to a low of 54.5 per cent.

Simple cancer risk test 'two years away'


blood testA simple blood test that would predict a person's likelihood of developing different types of cancer could be in use within two years, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers have found evidence supporting the theory that mutations in stem cells, the body's basic building blocks that can change into other types of cell, are fundamental to the development of cancers.

Stem cells are kept in an immature state by proteins called the Polycomb group which suppress critical genes that would otherwise cause them to develop. When the body functions normally, it can transform stem cells into different types of cell by allowing different combinations of genes to be switched on.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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