General Cancer News: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.'

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.



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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the General Cancer News category from November 2006.

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