March 2007 Archives

Hi-tech breast cancer weapon

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breast cancerCUTTING-edge technology to improve breast cancer detection rates by 30 per cent will be rolled out across the state under a package announced yesterday.

The $26 million hi-tech breast screening process will boost cancer discovery rates by introducing digital intelligence to replace standard X-ray films.

The 21st-century system is particularly useful for picking up breast cancers in younger women, whose breast tissue is usually too dense to be filmed accurately by the old machines.

Breast cancer expert Dr Wendy Vincent said the new equipment would provide instant images for both patient and doctor and would be invaluable in regional NSW.

cancer researchScientists surveying the human genome have found that many more gene mutations drive the development of cancer than previously thought.

The survey is reported in the journal Nature.

In the largest survey of its kind, an international team comprising over 60 scientists from the UK, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Belgium, USA and Australia, working for the Cancer Genome Project, examined more than 500 genes and 200 cancers and sequenced more than 250 million letters of DNA code.

They found about 120 new genes that drive the development of cancer cells.

sunlightA gene that prevents cancer also controls the skin's suntanning machinery, researchers report in the March 9, 2007 issue of the journal Cell.

"The p53 tumor suppressor is commonly mutated in human cancer," explained David Fisher, director of the Melanoma Program in Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Now, we've found that it plays a role in the skin's tanning response."

The researchers also linked the p53-driven process to other instances of skin darkening not associated with the sun

Radiation for breast cancer ups heart disease risk

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breast cancerAs a treatment for breast cancer, radiation, even modern regimens, appears to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute for March 7.

Earlier reports have indicated that radiotherapy regimens used in the 1970s elevate heart disease risk, but it has been less clear if more recent regimens also increase the risk.

Apart from the "clear benefits" of radiotherapy, doctors should still be aware of the potentially increased risk of cardiovascular disease following specific radiotherapy regimens in long-term breast cancer survivors, Dr. Flora E. van Leeuwen, from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, and colleagues note in the report.

Panel nixes aspirin as cancer preventive

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aspirinPeople at average risk for colon cancer shouldn't take aspirin or painkillers like ibuprofen to try to prevent the disease, a federal task force advises, because of the risk of bleeding and other potential health problems.

The recommendation for the first time by the US Preventive Services Task Force includes those with a family history of colorectal cancer.

The panel said that potential risks of taking more than 300 milligrams a day of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen - brand names include Motrin, Advil and Aleve - include a higher risk for stroke, intestinal bleeding or kidney failure.

breast cancerBreast cancer treatment trials supported by the pharmaceutical industry are more likely to report positive results than non-sponsored studies, according to a study to be published in the April 1, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. In addition, there are significant differences in the design of trials and types of questions addressed by pharmaceutical industry sponsored trials compared to non-sponsored trials. The study is the first to examine the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on breast cancer research.

Research and development (R&D) is critical to developing new therapies. The drug industry is a significant contributor to this effort, now with far greater spending than the United States' National Institutes of Health. As collaboration between the for-profit drug industry and academic medical centers has increased, so too have concerns over the potential impact of for-profit sponsorship on the nature and quality of the research and the potential for conflicts of interest. Several studies in other areas of medicine have suggested that pharmaceutical sponsorship leads to a greater chance that a clinical trial will yield positive results. The importance of this association for patients and researchers and the prevalence of this finding in cancer research are not yet clear.

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