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July 28, 2006, 10:41 PM CT

Radiation Cocktail For Breast Cancer

Radiation Cocktail For Breast Cancer
A carefully determined mixture of electron and x-ray beams precisely treated breast tumors while significantly reducing collateral skin damage in 78 patients, scientists will report on August 1 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in Orlando. The key to choosing the right mixture of beams, as well as their individual properties, was a sophisticated computer approach developed by medical physicists Jinsheng Li, Ph.D. (Jinsheng.Li@fccc.edu) and Chang-Ming Ma, Ph.D. of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

In treating shallow tumors such as those that occur in the breast, physicians have been turning to mixed-beam radiation treatment (MBRT), which employs separate beams of electrons and photons (x-rays). The two types of radiation complement one another, as electrons generally travel to shallow depths while the x-rays can penetrate to deeper parts of the tumor as needed.

However, each beam interacts in complex ways with its environment, making their exact path to the tumor region hard to predict. Nonetheless, physicists can calculate the probability for a given beam to follow a desired trajectory.

Therefore, Li and Ma use computers to simulate billions of trips of each beam to the unique landscape of each tumor. Gathering the statistics from these billions of trials, they determine the best beam properties and mixtures.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 6:21 AM CT

Family history of breast cancer may be missed

Family history of breast cancer may be missed
Using survey data from April 2003 to March 2005 for Women's Health Clinic patients without breast cancer, scientists observed that while 16% of the participants reported a maternal relative with breast cancer, only 10% reported a paternal relative. Because mothers are much more likely to develop breast cancer than fathers, participants who reported a mother with breast cancer were excluded from the study.

There may be multiple explanations for this unexpected discrepancy. For this particular study, the family histories might be accurate. This would lead to a conflict with current thinking about the inheritance of breast cancer risk. Alternatively, excessive reporting of maternal cancers could have affected the data, but earlier studies of family history indicate that breast cancer reporting tends to be accurate. Finally, men may not be aware of familial breast cancer risk and may not communicate this information to their relatives. This factor could be important where fathers are not present in the home or are unknown to the child. This would contribute to inaccuracy of family history, eventhough misinformation (as opposed to lack of information) about paternity should not affect the maternal paternal ratio.

Writing in the article, John M. Quillin, PhD, suggests, "The most likely explanation for these findings may be under-reporting of breast cancer on the paternal side. Future studies are needed to look for modifiable explanations (e.g., genetics education, family communication specifically for maternal and paternal relatives, or medical documentation) of the discrepancy in the reporting of family history of breast cancer to improve the sensitivity of the family history screen".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 0:20 AM CT

Risk Of Estrogen Plus Testosterone Therapy

Risk Of Estrogen Plus Testosterone Therapy
Women who take a combination of estrogen and testosterone to treat the symptoms of menopause may have an increased risk of breast cancer, as per an article in the July 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

As women age, their natural levels of the hormone testosterone tend to decrease, as per background information in the article. Some evidence suggests that a number of of the symptoms of menopause--including decreased sex drive, worse moods and poorer quality of life--are correlation to this decline in testosterone. Clinical trials have shown that taking testosterone in combination with estrogen may reduce these symptoms and also promote bone health. Only one estrogen plus testosterone treatment is currently available to U.S. women, but the number and prevalence of such therapys are expected to increase in coming years, the authors write.

Rulla M. Tamimi, Sc.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and his colleagues studied the long-term effects of estrogen plus testosterone treatment in 121,700 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study. The study enrolled female nurses between the ages of 30 and 55 years beginning in 1976. The women completed an initial questionnaire and follow-up surveys every two years that included questions about menopausal status, medical conditions and the use of postmenopausal hormone treatment. For those who reported a diagnosis of breast cancer, medical records were evaluated for verification.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 23, 2006, 11:06 PM CT

Gleevec can be toxic to the heart

Gleevec can be toxic to the heart
A team of researchers led by Thomas Force, M.D., James C. Wilson Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, has shown in studies in both mice and in heart cells in culture that Gleevec can cause heart failure. The results of the study, prompted by 10 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who developed severe congestive heart failure while taking Gleevec, appear.

July 23, 2006, in an advanced online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

"We observed that the molecular target of the drug, the Abelson tyrosine kinase (ABL) protein, serves a maintenance function in cardiac muscle cells and is necessary for their health," Dr. Force explains. "While the cancer is treated effectively, there will be some percentage of patients who could experience significant left ventricular dysfunction and even heart failure from this".

"Gleevec is a wonderful drug and patients with these diseases need to be on it," he says. "We're trying to call attention to the fact that Gleevec and other similar drugs coming along could have significant side effects on the heart and clinicians need to be aware of this. It's a potential problem because the number of targeted agents is growing rapidly".

Gleevec is a new type of cancer drug the first of its kind developed to fight cancer by turning off an enzyme that causes cells to become malignant and multiply. In CML, an enzyme called ABL goes in overdrive because of a chromosomal mix-up that occurs during blood cell development. The genes ABL and BCR become fused and produce a hybrid BCR-ABL enzyme that is always active. The overactive BCR-ABL, in turn, drives the excessive proliferation of white blood cells that is the hallmark of CML.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 23, 2006, 10:56 PM CT

Prescription pain killer overdose

Prescription pain killer overdose
Trends analysis of drug poisoning deaths has helped explain a national epidemic of overdose deaths in the USA that began in the 1990s, concludes Leonard Paulozzi and his colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA. The contribution of prescription pain killers to the epidemic has only become clear recently. This research is published this week in the journal, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety.

Drugs called "opioids" are frequently prescribed to relieve pain, but if abused they can kill. Over the past 15 years, sales of opioid pain killers, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl, have increased, and deaths from these drugs have increased in parallel.

In 2002, over 16,000 people died in the USA as a result of drug overdoses, with most deaths correlation to opioids, heroin, and cocaine. Opioids surpassed both cocaine and heroin in extent of involvement in these drug overdoses between 1999 and 2002.

The situation appears to be accelerating. Between 1979 and 1990 the rate of deaths attributed to unintentional drug poisoning increased by an average of 5.3% each year. Between 1990 and 2002, the rate increased by 18.1% per year. The contribution played by opioids is also increasing. Between 1999 and 2002 the number of overdose death certificates that mention poisoning by opioid pain killers went up by 91.2%. While the pain killer category showed the greatest increase, death certificates pointing a finger of blame at heroin and cocaine also increased by 12.4% and 22.8% respectively.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 23, 2006, 10:21 PM CT

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer
When mice with ovary cancer are stressed, their tumors grow and spread more quickly, but that effect can be blocked using a medicine usually prescribed for heart disease, as per a preclinical study by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The finding, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, now available on-line, provides the first measurable link between psychological stress and the biological processes that make ovarian tumors grow and spread. Specifically, the scientists showed that stress hormones bind to receptors directly on tumor cells and, in turn, stimulate new blood vessel growth and other factors that lead to faster and more aggressive tumors.

"This study provides a new understanding of how chronic stress and stress factors drive tumor growth," says Anil Sood, M.D., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and cancer biology and director of ovary cancer research.

In fact, when the scientists blocked the stress hormone receptors in their experimental system using a heart disease drug called propranolol, also known as a "beta blocker," they were able to stop the negative effects of stress on tumor growth. The scientists used the beta blocker because the same hormone receptors, called beta adrenergic receptors, are found in the heart and normally work to maintain blood flow.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


July 22, 2006, 10:38 PM CT

Watching Real-time Chemical Activity In Cells

Watching Real-time Chemical Activity In Cells
Attempts to identify potential drugs that interfere with the action of one particular enzyme associated with heart disease and similar health problems led researchers at Johns Hopkins to create a new tool and new experimental approach that allow them to see multiple, real-time chemical reactions in living cells. Their report on the work is published July 21 in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

Most current drug development operations test chemicals on enzymes isolated from their normal environs and then take further steps to see if the chemical can get into the cell to do its work, and figure out how poisonous the chemical is to a cell.

"Living cells are critical to our work because they show us how and what is actually happening in a normal context and time span when a chemical is added," says Jin Zhang, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences in Hopkins' Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Testing chemicals on enzymes in living cells provides the opportunity to find potential drugs that work in new ways. For example, using living cells allows scientists to "see" where in the cell chemicals do their work. Researchers could then design new drugs to go to specific places within cells to work more efficiently. Also, streamlining the one-at-a-time approach offers the chance to study - and rule out or in - a number of potentially useful chemicals at once.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


July 22, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

Finding Potential Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells

Finding Potential Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) scientists have identified potential ovary cancer stem cells, which may be behind the difficulty of treating these tumors with standard chemotherapy. Understanding more about the stem-like characteristics of these cells could lead to new approaches to treating ovary cancer, which kills more than 16,000 U.S. women annually and is their fifth most common cause of cancer death. The report will appear in the July 25 Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and has received early online release.

"We feel these stem-like cancer cells may be resistant to traditional chemotherapy and could be responsible for the ultimately fatal drug-resistant recurrence that is characteristic of ovary cancer," says Paul Szotek, MD, of the MGH Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, first author of the PNAS report. "We believe this likely is the first time stem-like cells have been found in models of ovary cancer and in cells linked to human ovary cancer".

Several recent studies have identified tiny populations of tumor cells that appear to act like stem cells, driving the tumor's ability to grow and spread. If some of these specialized cells escaped destruction by chemotherapy or radiation, the tumor would be able to recur quickly, often in a form resistant to chemotherapy. Similar cancer stem cells have been previously identified in leukemia and breast cancer and in cell lines of central nervous system and gastrointestinal tumors.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


July 20, 2006, 8:27 PM CT

Best Online Learning Experience

Best Online Learning Experience
Breast cancer patients who use online information services in combination with computer support groups and other interactive services are the most likely to feel they have the information they need to cope with their illness, as per new research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research.

"Prior research indicated that women with breast cancer can learn as a result of having access to online health education resources, but this is among the first studies to explain how such learning actually occurs," says Bret Shaw, lead author of the study. The results are published as an advance issue of the journal Health Education Research.

To examine the most effective ways that cancer patients learn online, the scientists provided free computers and Internet access to 286 lower income women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Participants were also provided access to an integrated computer-based health education and support system called the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS) "Living with Breast Cancer" program offering four distinct types of services.

The first type was information services - static Web pages containing a broad range of breast cancer-related information. The system also offered support groups enabling peer-to-peer communication and an expert service allowing patients to ask a question and receive a response within 48 hours. The other service type was interactive in which the computer played an active role in guiding the user, making suggestions, offering feedback and influencing the user's behavior. A browser automatically collected use data on an individual key stoke level as participants used the system, allowing the scientists to measure what types of services were used. Additionally, women were also surveyed before the study began and four months after receiving the system to determine how certain patterns of use behavior contributed to improved learning outcomes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 19, 2006, 10:47 PM CT

Heart Damage From Some Cancer Drugs

Heart Damage From Some Cancer Drugs
It is well documented that some anti-cancer drugs can damage the heart, but a long-term follow-up of children and young adults who had doxorubicin[1] treatment for bone tumours suggests that the damage gets progressively worse as the years go on.

According to a research findings published on-line (Thursday 20 July) in Annals of Oncology[2] researchers from the University Medical Centre at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, say that all patients treated with drugs known as anthracyclines should have life-long cardiac monitoring.

Their study followed 22 patients, who had been treated with moderate or high doses of doxorubicin for osteogenic sarcomas or malignant fibrous histiocytomas, for a median time of 22 years (between 15 and 27.5 years). It is believed to be the longest prospective follow-up to evaluate heart function in children, adolescents and young adults treated with anthracylines.

The researchers found over a quarter had systolic dysfunction and nearly half had diastolic dysfunction and that this was a further deterioration in heart function compared to an earlier follow-up when fewer than one in ten had systolic dysfunction and less than a fifth had diastolic dysfunction.

Lead researcher Dr Inge Brouwer, from the subdivision of paediatric oncology at the centre, said: "We undertook this long-term study because - since it's known that overt heart failure has been found in up to 5% of cancer survivors treated with anthracyclines - it was possible that subclinical abnormalities might be even more frequent. The natural course of subclinical abnormalities was largely unknown and it was unclear whether we could expect progressive cardiac deterioration".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source



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Cancer
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.

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