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July 14, 2009, 7:44 AM CT

Reminder program dramatically increases mammography rates

Reminder program dramatically increases mammography rates
A reminder program aimed at screening for breast cancer when it is most treatable boosted mammography rates by more than 17 percentage points, as per a newly released study by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine The program used electronic health records to identify women who would soon be due for a mammogram and reached out to them via postcards, automated voice messages and personal phone calls.

The study of 35,000 Kaiser Permanente members is the largest to test a reminder program involving this three-pronged approach. By the second year of the program in 2008, mammography rates jumped from 63 to more than 80 percent among women aged 50-69.

"We know mammograms are effective, but too a number of women put them off, even when they have health insurance," said main author Adrianne Feldstein, MD, MS, an investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and a practicing physician. "This study is the first to show that these reminder programs can be effective in such a large group of women. If we could improve the country's mammography rate by the same amount, we could detect as a number of as 25,000 additional cases of breast cancer each year".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 2, 2009, 10:01 PM CT

How tamoxifen stimulates uterine cell growth and cancer

How tamoxifen stimulates uterine cell growth and cancer
UCSF scientists have identified a new "feed-forward" pathway linking estrogen receptors in the membrane of the uterus to a process that increases local estrogen levels and promotes cell growth.

The research is significant in helping determine why tamoxifen and other synthetic estrogens are associated with increased rates of endometriosis and uterine cancer, and identifies a pathway that could be targeted in drug therapies for those diseases, scientists say.

Findings are reported in the July 1, 2009 issue of "Cancer Research," the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The paper also can be found online at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/current.shtml.

The research observed that when activated by estrogens, endometrial cells obtained from patients suffering from endometriosis or human uterine cancer cells initiate a previously unknown cascade of signals that leads to cellular replication and further estrogen production, the paper says.

The ensuing cycle leads to abnormal growth of the cells lining the uterus, or endometrium, which occurs in endometriosis and uterine cancer, as per senior author Holly A. Ingraham, PhD, a professor in the UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 25, 2009, 6:49 PM CT

Big Tobacco dead by 2047

Big Tobacco dead by 2047
President Barack Obama's signature on a bill this week to grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over tobacco was historic, and represents a step in the march to eliminate tobacco use in this country by 2047, two national tobacco experts said today (June 25).

The pair published "Stealing a March in the 21st Century: Accelerating Progress in the 100-Year War Against Tobacco Addiction in the United States" in the recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health Michael Fiore and Timothy Baker, director and associate director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), respectively, chart milestones in beating tobacco addiction and map a battle plan to eradicate tobacco use in the next few decades. The scientists analyzed data from the 1960s, when the first systemic tracking of smoking rates began, until the present.

"Numerous observers have claimed over time that tobacco use has plateaued and progress against its use has stalled," the authors write. "However, the remarkable decline in rates of tobacco use since the 1960s belies this claim and underscores the remarkable success of tobacco control efforts to date."

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show adults smoking between 1965 and 2007 dropped by an average of one half of one percentage point per year, from 42 percent to the current rate of about 20 percent rate. While this rate of decline hasn't occurred each year, the overall decrease has been quite steady.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


June 25, 2009, 6:06 PM CT

Selenium intake may worsen prostate cancer

Selenium intake may worsen prostate cancer
Higher selenium levels in the blood may worsen prostate cancer in some men who already have the disease, as per a research studyby scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute the University of California, San Francisco.

A higher risk of more-aggressive prostate cancer was seen in men with a certain genetic variant found in about 75 percent of the patients with prostate cancer in the study. In those subjects, having a high level of selenium in the blood was linked to a two hundred percent greater risk of poorer outcomes than men with the lowest amounts of selenium. By contrast, the 25 percent of men with a different variant of the same gene and who had high selenium levels were at 40 percent lower risk of aggressive disease. The variants are slightly different forms of a gene that instructs cells to make manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD2), an enzyme that protects the body against harmful oxygen compounds.

The research findings suggest that "if you already have prostate cancer, it appears to be a bad thing to take selenium," says Philip Kantoff, MD, director of Dana-Farber's Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology and senior author of the study that is published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology on its website now and later will be in a print journal. The main author is June Chan, ScD, of the University of California, San Francisco.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 25, 2009, 5:54 PM CT

MRI for imaging breast cancer?

MRI for imaging breast cancer?
Reviewing the records of 577 patients with breast cancer, Fox Chase Cancer Center scientists observed that women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who receive a breast MRI are more likely to receive a mastectomy after their diagnosis and may face delays in starting therapy. The study demonstrates that, despite the lack of evidence of their benefit, routine use of MRI scans in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer increased significantly between 2004 and 2005, and again in 2006.

The study is online now and will be appearing in the August edition of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons

"We have yet to see any evidence that MRI improves outcomes when used routinely to evaluate breast cancer, and yet more and more women are getting these scans with almost no discernable pattern," said Richard J. Bleicher, M.D., F.A.C.S., a specialist in breast cancer surgery at Fox Chase. "For most women, a breast MRI previous to therapy is unnecessary. MRI can be of benefit because it's more sensitive, but with the high number of false positives and costs linked to the test, more research is needed to determine whether MRI can improve outcomes in women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer".

Bleicher and colleagues evaluated the records of 577 patients with breast cancer seen in a multidisciplinary breast clinic where they were reviewed by a radiologist, pathologist, and a surgical, radiation, and medical oncologist. Of these patients, 130 had MRIs previous to therapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 21, 2009, 9:28 PM CT

Dramatic outcomes in prostate cancer study

Dramatic outcomes in prostate cancer study
Two Mayo Clinic patients whose prostate cancer had been considered inoperable are now cancer free thanks in part to an experimental drug treatment that was used in combination with standardized hormone therapy and radiation treatment. The men were participating in a clinical trial of an immunotherapeutic agent called MDX-010 or ipilimumab. In these two cases, physicians say the approach initiated the death of a majority of cancer cells and caused the tumors to shrink dramatically, allowing surgery. In both cases, the aggressive tumors had grown well beyond the prostate into the abdominal areas.

"The goal of the study was to see if we could modestly improve upon current therapys for advanced prostate cancer," says Eugene Kwon, M.D., Mayo Clinic urologist and leader of the clinical trial. "The candidates for this study were people who didn't have a lot of other options. However, we were startled to see responses that far exceeded any of our expectations".

The patients first received a type of hormone treatment called androgen ablation, which removes testosterone and commonly causes some initial reduction in tumor size. Scientists then introduced a single dose of ipilimumab, an antibody, which builds on the anti-tumor action of the hormone and causes a much larger immune response, resulting in massive death of the tumor cells. Both men experienced consistent drops in their prostate specific antigen (PSA) counts over the following weeks until both were deemed eligible for surgery. Then, during surgery, came a greater surprise.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 16, 2009, 5:03 AM CT

RNA snippet suppresses spread of aggressive breast cancer

RNA snippet suppresses spread of aggressive breast cancer
Image courtesy of University of Illinois
A low cellular level of a tiny fragment of RNA appears to increase the spread of breast cancer in mouse models of the disease, as per scientists at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Measuring levels of this so-called microRNA, which is also linked to metastatic breast cancer in humans, may more accurately predict the likelihood of metastasis (which accounts for 90% of cancer-related deaths) and ultimately help determine patient prognoses.

In the study, whose results are published in the June 12 issue of Cell, Scott Valastyan, a graduate student in Whitehead Member Robert Weinberg's laboratory, screened patient breast cancer samples for microRNAs with potential roles in metastasis. MicroRNAs are single strands of RNA about 21-23 nucleotides long. Within a cell, a single microRNA can fine-tune the expression of dozens of genes simultaneously. This capability could be especially important in metastasis, a multi-step process that could be influenced by a single microRNA at several points.

The screened samples were classified as either metastatic cancer or non-metastatic cancer. After analysis, the microRNA miR-31 stood out because of its inverse correlation with metastasis. In samples where a patient's original tumor had not metastasized, the cancer cells retained high levels of the microRNA. But where the tumor had metastasized, the cancer cells came to possess lower levels of miR-31.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 12, 2009, 5:22 AM CT

Gene therapy technique for cancer by cutting off blood supply

Gene therapy technique for cancer by cutting off blood supply
University of Florida scientists have come up with a new gene treatment method to disrupt cancer growth by using a synthetic protein to induce blood clotting that cuts off a tumor's blood and nutrient supply.

In mice implanted with human colorectal cancer cells, tumor volume decreased 53 percent and cancer cell growth slowed by 49 percent in those treated with a gene that encodes for the artificial protein, compared with those that were untreated.

The research team, led by Dr. Bradley S. Fletcher, an assistant professor of pharmacology and therapeutics in the College of Medicine, created the so-called fusion protein to target another protein called tumor endothelial marker 8, or TEM8, which was recently found to be preferentially expressed in the inner lining of tumor vessels. Such differences in protein expression enable delivery of drug molecules to the cells that harbor these proteins.

"The protein we created did a very good job of homing to the tumor and binding," said Stephen Fernando, who recently completed his doctoral studies. "By targeting TEM8, we can potentially create a treatment against cancer".

The Fletcher group is the first to target cancer cells through protein binding to TEM8. The findings, now available online, are featured on the cover of the June 15 edition of Cancer Research........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 10, 2009, 9:46 PM CT

Four new targets for breast cancer

Four new targets for breast cancer
Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor and chair of M. D. Anderson's department of systems biology.

Credit: M. D. Anderson
Four suspects often found at the scene of the crime in cancer are guilty of the initiation and progression of breast cancer in mice that are resistant to the disease, a team led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports in the June edition of Cancer Cell

"We have a smoking gun" that shows it's no coincidence the three protein receptors and the enzyme that makes them are abnormally expressed in a number of types of cancer, said Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of M. D. Anderson's Department of Systems Biology and senior author of the paper.

"We've compiled lots of evidence that they are linked to cancer, what's been missing is proof that they could cause cancer," Mills said. "There are no questions left, they should be targeted."

The four are three lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) receptors (LPA1, LPA2, and LPA3) and the LPA-producing enzyme, autotaxin. "Lysophosphatidic acid", Mills said, "is the single most potent known cellular survival factor." LPA binds to a series of G protein-coupled receptors to spark normal cell proliferation, viability, production of growth factors and survival. The Cancer Cell paper shows this powerful network is hijacked to initiate breast cancer and fuel tumor growth, invasion and metastasis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


June 10, 2009, 9:02 PM CT

Now you can buy a kit to test for prostate cancer

Now you can buy a kit to test for prostate cancer
Photo: Jacque Brund

Dr. Qun "Treen" Quo works with gold nanoparticles in her lab.
An over-the-counter prostate cancer test kit could be coming to a pharmacy near you, thanks to the collaborative work of a University of Central Florida chemist and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando researchers.

UCF's Qun "Treen" Huo and M.D. Anderson-Orlando's Dr. Cheryl Baker and Jimmie Colon teamed up about 18 months ago with a very ambitious plan. Huo wanted to develop an effective, inexpensive test to screen for prostate cancer that would be easy enough to use at home or a local pharmacy.

"Now cancer tests are so inconvenient and expensive, and a lot of people don't have insurance, so they are not likely to test if they have no symptoms," Huo said. "Cancer is really scary because there aren't a lot of symptoms in the early stages. So I said, 'Why not create a test that is easy and inexpensive? Then more people can test and catch cancer early so it can be treated early.'".

Prostate cancer affects one of every six men and is the second-most common cancer among men in the United States, as per the American Cancer Society. It is estimated that more than 2 million American men are currently living with prostate cancer and that one new case occurs every 2.7 minutes. More than 27,000 men die from the disease each year, as per the American Cancer Society.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         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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