Cancer Blog: From Medicineworld.org
Do you read all of the blogs published by medicineworld.org? Many of our bloggers are busy keeping you updated on the various health related topics. We publish the following blogs at this time.
Cancer blog: I manage the cancer blog with lots of help and support form other bloggers. Through this cancer blog my friends and I try to bring stories of hope for patients with cancer. The cancer blog often republishes important blog posts from other cancer related blogs at Medicineworld.org. If you are searching for a blog that covers wide variety of cancer topics, this may be the one for you.
Breast cancer blog: Breast cancer blog is run by Emily and other bloggers and they bring you the latest stories, news and events that are related to breast cancer. Increasing awareness about breast cancer among women and in the general population is the main goal of this breast cancer blog.
Lung cancer blog: Lung cancer blog is managed by Scott with the help of other bloggers. Through this blog Scott and his friends constantly remind the readers about the dangers of smoking. It's a never-ending struggle against this miserable disease with which a social stigma of smoking is associated.
Colon cancer blog: Colon cancer blog is run by Sue and other bloggers. Sue brings a personal touch to the colon cancer blog since her mother died of colon cancer few years ago. She writes about stories, research news and advances in treatment related to colon cancer.
Prostate cancer blog: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. American Cancer Society estimates that over 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer occur in the United state every year. This important blog about prostate cancer is run by Mark and other bloggers. This blog brings news, stories, and other personal observations related to prostate cancer.
Medicineworld.org publishes a diabetes watch blog and this blog is run by JoAnn other bloggers. This diabetes watch blog brings you the latest in the field of diabetes. This includes personal stories, advances in diagnosis and treatment, and other observations about diabetes. Improving awareness about diabetes is an important mission of this group.
This newly developed DNA chip for lung cancer carries about 1,300 genes related to lung cancer. Results of a recent study indicate that this chip can predict lymph node involvement in patients with lung cancer with accuracy about 85 percent of the time. Chiba University plans to evaluate the prototype by cooperating with medical institutions.
DNA chips come in three basic forms. The first type, which is also, the oldest type is called sequencing chips. With sequencing chips, short segments of are placed in a microarray. Target samples are then introduced to the chip and the segment that the sample hybridizes with determines the result.
The second variety of DNA chips is known as the expression chip. These are designed to determine the degree of expression of a certain genetic sequence by measuring the rate or amount of messenger ribonucleic acid being produced by the target gene.
The third type of chip is devoted to comparative genomic hybridization. It is designed to help clinicians determine the relative amount of a given genetic sequence in a particular patient.
It is not surprising tow watch the DNA-chip development process proceeding at a pace that it surprises even the most optimistic members of this fast-emerging industry. The only real questions are how they will develop and how quickly.
A little while ago some smart researchers like Larry Norton from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and his colleagues developed a strategy to reduce the frequency of treatment from once in three weeks to once in two weeks. They thought, if the patient is subjected to chemotherapy once in two weeks this would probably mean hitting the cancer cells harder when they are more vulnerable. These researchers developed a clinical trial in which the chemotherapy was administered once every two weeks instead of three weeks. They used white cell growth factor known as neupogen (filgrastim) to stimulate the white cells so that they recover in two weeks leaving the cancer cells susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy. What a smart idea?
These researchers used three drugs for the treatment (adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, and taxol) and this regimen is now known as dose dense chemotherapy. After all, the gut feeling of these researchers proved to be right. The dose dense regimen showed improved survival. More surprising was the finding that once in two weeks chemotherapy caused fewer side effects compared to once in three weeks chemotherapy. Do you know why? Use of the white cell growth factor decreased the risks associated with low white cell count. The rest is history, dose dense chemotherapy has become a standard practice in the United States for patients with node positive breast cancer.
This is past story, now a group of Italian researchers were trying to duplicate the results of this study, and found no improvement in survival for dose dense regimen. However they found that once in two weeks chemotherapy was associated with minimal side effects.
There were some limitations in direct comparison of these two studies. The Italian researches used a different chemotherapy combination. The study was designed to look for 32 percent or more improvement in survival, and trial did not attain its planned enrolment and was stopped prematurely. These factors make the direct comparison of these two studies difficult, but I would agree that more studies are needed to resolve the issue.
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I have a friend, who is an oncologist, and we were talking yesterday over dinner about the advances in the treatment of colorectal cancer in the last 5 years or so. Prior to this period there was only one chemotherapy drug, Flurouracil (5-FU), was available for treatment of patients with colorectal cancer. Then came a string of new drugs and this has changed the outlook on the management of colorectal cancer forever. With the introduction of these new drugs survival in colorectal cancer patients have doubled.
Metastatic colorectal cancer is considered to be an incurable disease, and the doctors had a negative approach to the treatment of colorectal cancer due to lack of effective chemotherapy drugs. Now it has changed and they are talking about curing some of these patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
Patients who have one or three metastatic lesions limited to organs like liver or lung are generally considered to be eligible curative approach. The first step is surgical removal of the metastatic lesions. Surgery is followed by combination therapy using some of the newer chemotherapy drugs like oxaliplatin and targeted therapies like avastin.
It is interesting to note that use of avastin in Israel is approved only for those who are potentially eligible for this curative approach.
Treatment options are expanding at a fast pace in the field of cancer treatment and I would not be surprised if this beast is tamed and shackled before the end of next decade or so.
Image of MRI courtesy of UC San FranciscoThis morning I was reading a news story from the Duke Medical center. The writer was talking about a 56-year-old woman. She had a mammogram and passed with flying colors. Just two weeks later she noticed a lump in her breast and undergone an MRI of the breast, which demonstrated glaring mass the size of a walnut and it was cancer.
Then naturally we all may think, why don't everyone get screening with MRI of the breast rather than with mammogram. There are several reasons why this is not a good idea.
Both mammogram and MRI may have its strengths and weakness. Where one fail the other prevails. Thinking about the cost involved, MRI is ten times more costly compared to the regular mammogram. Even with this high price tag it may fail to show those tiny specs of calcifications, which may be the harbingers of breast cancer.
Mammogram may fail in some women, especially in cases where the woman have dense breasts. Dense breasts with tightly packed cells can block the X-rays from distinguishing a cancer mass from other packed cells.
Given the pluses and minuses associated with these two modalities of breast cancer screening, the task is to determine who will benefit from mammogram and who will need an MRI of the breast. It is best to use these techniques complimenting each other.
African American women tend to have denser breasts and may be best screened using MRI, but doctors say there is not much information available from clinical trials to prove this fact. All African American women who have high risk factors for breast cancer should have access to MRI of the breast. Given this fact, insurance companies may not be willing to pay for an MRI citing lack of evidence to the added benefit of MRI screening.
Image of MRI courtesy of UC San FranciscoIf you were diagnosed with prostate cancer, have been treated with surgery and is in remission, better watch your diet. A new study suggests that prostate cancer more likely to recur among obese men after surgery.
Two recent look-back studies found recurrence of the disease was more common among obese men. To evaluate this issue further Dr. Christopher J. Kane of the University of California and colleagues evaluated data from 2,131 men who had undergone surgical removal of the prostate for prostate cancer. Twelve percent of men developed recurrent disease during follow-up over an average of 23 months.
There was a significant association between body mass index (BMI) and disease recurrence after factoring in the effect of ethnicity, age and other conditions, the researchers found.
Men with BMIs of 35 or greater were 69 percent more likely to have recurrence of prostate cancer than men whose BMIs were 25 or less (normal weight). Men with BMIs greater than 30 had a 31 percent increased risk of recurrence than men with lower BMIs.
As per the researchers the increased risk of recurrence associated with obesity may be related to excess hormone and difficulty in performing surgery in more obese people. They suggest closer follow up of obese patients who had undergone surgical removal of prostate.
Now researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center In Philadelphia say that the same estrogen, which may be responsible for initiation of breast cancer, can be used to kill the breast cancer cells. These researchers uncovered new details about how estrogen can activate natural pathways. that kill certain breast cancer cells or tumors. The results raise the possibility that estrogen therapy may overcome resistance to certain breast cancer hormonal therapies. The study appears in the December 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Many breast cancer cells require estrogen for survival, and death of such cells can be induced with treatments that block estrogen, such as tamoxifen, fulvestrant, or aromatase inhibitors. When such treatments drain even the last drop of estrogen some of the breast cancer cells adapt to survival in an environment that is lacking estrogen. To best adapt to the environment these cells may lose its ability to live in the presence of estrogen. Paradoxically these cells may undergo rapid death when exposed to estrogen.
This new finding has important implications to breast cancer patients. When a woman who is using aromatase inhibitors like arimidex or femara fail on these drugs due to development of resistance, a strategy of treatment with estrogen may be developed to overcome the resistance and to kill these resistant breast cancer cells.
Image of MRI courtesy of UC San FranciscoYou may be aware that an important meeting for breast cancer is due to begin this week in San Antonio. It's called the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). This is perhaps the most important breast cancer conference in the world. About 5000 national and international researchers, basic scientists and clinicians attend this conference each year.
Many of the important developments in the breast cancer are first presented in this meeting. Superiority of arimidex over tamoxifen was first presented in this meeting about five years ago. This meeting continues to attract national and international breast cancer researchers.
I do not know what's the breaking news in breast cancer from this conference this year. More information would be available in the next few days as we move along the meeting and the plenary session.
I was reading about this gene therapy related study that would be presented in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and it discusses the benefits of a new gene based drug called Advexin. Researchers say that this drug reduces the breast cancer tumor size by 80 percent. The drug was used prior to surgery in combination with chemotherapy. This treatment has given the option of lumpectomy for many patients with large tumors, for whom lumpectomy was not possible prior to the treatment with the drug Advexin. Patients who had large tumors with an average size of 8 centimeters showed shrinkage to an average size of 1.78 centimeters. The tumor in the lymph nodes also decreased with the treatment.
Advexin uses a viral agent to supply p53 genes in very high concentrations to kill cancer cells. These exciting findings will be presented by Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
"We have a clear evidence of a double-acting mechanism of gene therapy, something that has not been seen before in patients treated with only chemotherapy," Cristofanilli comments.
Patients with colorectal cancer undergoing surgery with the intention of cure often undergo removal of the lymph nodes from the adjacent area. Some surgeons remove number lymph nodes and some others remove less number of lymph nodes. Well, it looks like the number of lymph nodes removed at the time of surgery has an inverse relationship to survival; meaning that, the more lymph nodes were remover better is the survival.
The study analyzed data from previous clinical trial of adjuvant chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. Researchers found that on the average the patients were 64 years old and on an average 11 lymph nodes were removed at surgery. For patients who had more than 15 lymph nodes removed had a better survival compared to patients who had less than 10 lymph nodes removed.
Photo credit: Bruce Fritz from University of WisconsinIn olden days we used cobalt radiation therapy machines, which were imprecise caused more side effects for patients with prostate cancer. Now many radiation centers have IMRT units, which are much-advanced machines and uses computer technology to calculate the direction and depth of hundreds of radiation beams emitter by the machine. Technological advances also mean decreasing size of the radiation implants. In olden day radiation seeds were bulky and was imprecise due to its larger size. With all these advances radiation therapy for prostate cancer is getting better.
Two scientists Douglass Henderson, professor of engineering physics, and Bruce Thomadsen, professor of medical physics, have developed a trio of technologies to effectively treat prostate cancer. Central to their innovations are tiny radioactive seeds. Believe it or not! They are just few millimeters in diameter, but when they are properly placed, they can deliver radiation more accurately and effectively than the conventional radiation therapy seeds.
Directionally emitting radioactive sources, a device for placing needles and seeds was developed by Henderson and Thomadsen.
When taken together, this suite of inventions could mean on-the-spot delivery of the most optimal treatment for prostate cancer. Physician may strategically place up to 100 of such radioactive seeds in the prostate. Like a tiny grain of rice, each seed is cylindrically shaped and emits radiation in all directions. When properly arranged this can cause maximum damage to the cancer cells while sparing most of the normal tissue. Because of the smaller size of these implants they can be placed at the borders of the tumor with normal tissue causing only minimal damage to the normal tissues.
Now a group of researchers from Germany says that regimen of high-dose chemotherapy may be effective in treatment of advanced stage breast cancer.
"Standard treatment may not be appropriate for women with breast cancer who are at a very high risk of recurrence," said Dr. Ulrike Nitz, lead author of the study, which appears in the Dec. 3 issue of The Lancet. "In this context, our trial really offers some hope for this subgroup of patients."
Experts are urging caution in this regard because of the obvious contradiction to previous studies, which showed no benefit for high dose chemotherapy.
"It's an interesting study but it's still too early to make a definitive answer," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in Baton Rouge, La.
The researchers claim that recurrence free survival was 60 percent in the high-dose chemotherapy group compared to 44 percent in the conventional chemotherapy group.
The researchers claim that this is the first study that provides evidence for connection between the biological activity and development of cancer in humans. Researcher David Blask and colleagues from Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown collected blood samples from female medical students and testing and tested in breast cancer growing in rats.
Researchers say that the increase in breast cancer cell growth is related to melatonin production. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, which is a pea-size structure located at the center of the brain. Melatonin is produced at night during a normal sleep and this helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles. This hormone production is responsible for the biological clock inside you.
Blask says that breast cancer tumors are suppressed when exposed to melatonin levels during the normal night sleep. A woman who work night shifts and sleep during the day doesn't make enough melatonin to inhibit breast cancer.
So if you are sleeping with lights on, then try to sleep without lights, and if you are sleeping with lights off try to completely darken your bedroom to preserve your share of melatonin.
Blask said that he focused this research on breast cancer because breast cancer cells like prostate cancer cells are known to be sensitive to melatonin. Blake's findings are due to be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Cancer Research, one of the top cancer publications in the world.
Saint Joseph's Hospital and Lung Cancer Caring Ambassadors Program organized this run for lung cancer awareness at the Concourse in Sandy Springs, Georgia. About 300 people participated in the lung cancer awareness run and walk.
The organizers say that it was a huge success and they were thrilled with the public's response to the first event to raise awareness, provide education and to champion advocacy for lung cancer.
Maggie Riley, Director of Saint Joseph's Hospital Center for Cancer Care and Research says, "November is Lung Cancer Awareness month which is why we chose this time of year."
I always hated the smell of smoke and get really irritated if someone smokes near me. I just cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke. I hate going to public places where smoking is allowed and the whole place stinks with the smell of tobacco.
I was little lazy this morning and was late to get up from that most pleasant part of my sleep, which is in the early hours of the day. I can afford the luxury of little pleasures like this because of the weekend. I stayed in the bed watching the leafless trees outside my bedroom still studded with the honey drops of due and snow.
Finally I forced myself up, had a brunch and started on my computer. I was thinking what I am going to write today and saw this article on the dangers of passive smoking. I thought I would share the news with you.
You don't have to be smoking to be exposed to the dangers of smoking. If your husband, boyfriend, roommate or anyone close to you smoke, then you may be exposing yourself to the dangers of smoking including risk of development of breast cancer and lung cancer.
This is not just my opinion. Dr. Kenneth C. Johnson, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, examined the association between breast cancer risk and passive and active smoking in an analysis of 19 published studies. His findings are published in the International Journal of Cancer.
In short the researchers found that long-term regular exposure to passive smoking was associated with an overall 27-percent increased risk of breast cancer among women who had never smoked.
Next time someone smokes near you, you have one more reason to move away from that person.
Researchers combed through the data from1993 to 2004 data from the IMPAC Medical Registry Services Cancer Information Resource file, a large database from more than 350 teaching and community hospitals and came up with this conclusion. Investigators from Evanston Northwestern Health Care in Chicago, Illinoise, conducted this retrospective analysis. The total database consisted of a huge 166,172 patients.
In men and women who did not smoke or drink, the ages of disease onset were 69.1 and 72.5 years, respectively. Men and women who currently smoked had a markedly earlier age of onset (66 and 65.1 years, respectively). Similarly, alcohol use was associated with an earlier age of cancer diagnosis in men and women (67.9 and 64.4 years, respectively).
This finding shows that there is genetic difference in cancer susceptibility between males and females and women were more sensitive to tobacco but not alcohol compared with men.
"Understanding interactions between genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking and alcohol, is critical for colorectal cancer risk stratifications, and will help us design effective screening strategies" says the lead author of the study Dr. Anna Zisman.
Their list of the most important breakthroughs includes:
The study names Nassau and Suffolk counties, in New York, as the healthiest places for women (I am moving there!).
"Certainly no one factor is going to make an area the least healthy," SELF's editor Sara Austin said. "We do look at nearly 50 different criteria. (Cincinnati) really is across the board, below average in a number of categories."
The study took into account pollution, smoking, cancer, body mass and heart disease rates, as well as FBI crime statistics. "Cincinnati has some great resources, hospitals, good access to doctors," Austin said. "Unfortunately, it fell on our list because of the high risk of rape, depression rate, cancer rates and very high smoking rates among women."
"If you smoke, don't. If you're thinking about it don't start. If you're going to fast-food places all the time don't go often," Dr. Keith Melvin. Working on all of the factors is the only way to get some self respect in the rankings, Hamrick reported.
That's interesting and may be something to think about. Researchers sometime say the micronutrients are good and sometimes say they are bad. They now say that iron, zinc, and calcium are micronutrients that participate in the metabolism of damaging forms of oxygen, known as reactive oxygen species. Intake of these micronutrients has been associated with higher risks of certain cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.
Many tend to take lots of multivitamins thinking that they are good for health. This study suggests that this may not be the case.
"Some recent literature has associated these micronutrients with disease including cancer, but nobody had looked into it in the lung," Dr. David C. Christiani from Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School says.
"The message here for smokers and for former smokers is, don't take large amounts of supplements, particularly those with iron or calcium, unless you have a medical indication for them," warned Christiani.
Iron and calcium were associated with a higher risk of lung cancer but zinc was associated with a lower risk of lung cancer. However, the associations were stronger when all 3 micronutrients were analyzed in the same model.
"The associations hold true, no matter the source of the micronutrients," Christiani said. "Iron and calcium in particular, both dietary and in supplements, are associated with increased risk of lung cancer."
The investigators also found differences related to smoking history, with the effects being particularly strong in current smokers, and less so in former smokers.
Hormonal therapy involves androgen deprivation, which means lowering levels of male hormones, such as testosterone, in the body in an effort to block or slow the growth of prostate cancer. Androgen deprivation therapy is most commonly achieved with medications, but sometimes doctors may opt to have the testes removed to completely eliminate the male hormone.
The results that I am discussing came out of a study, which involved 307 patients who received hormonal therapy after radiation therapy. About half of the patients received short-term androgen deprivation therapy, defined as less than 12 months, and half received therapy for longer durations. The patients were followed for around 47 months. The typical duration of treatment in the short-term group was 6 months, whereas the duration in the long-term group was 26 months.
On follow-up, 63 percent of long-term therapy patients had no apparent disease compared with just 37 percent of short-term therapy patients. Moreover, the 5-year survival rate in the long-term group was 88 percent, significantly higher than the 75 percent rate seen in the short-term group.
The study shows that long-term androgen deprivation therapy used along with radiation treatment improves survival rates for high-risk patients, regardless of the cancer's aggressiveness or disease stage, researchers concludes.
Cancer is a very common disease, approximately one out of every two American men and one out of every three American women will have some type of cancer at some point during the course of their life. Cancer is more common in the elderly and 77 percent of cancers occur in people above age 55 or older. Cancer is also common in children. Cancer incidence is said to have two peaks once during early childhood and then during late years in life. No age period is completely exempted from development of cancers. Some cancers occur predominantly in the elderly, other types occur in children, Cancer occurs in all ethnic races, however the cancer rates and rates of specific cancer types may vary from group to group. Late stages of cancer may be incurable in most cases, but with the advancement of medicine, more and more cancers are becoming curable.
Cancer Blog: From Medicineworld.org
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