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January 26, 2009, 11:31 PM CT

Not all breast cancers are the same

Not all breast cancers are the same
Dr. Ilan Tsarfaty
Not all breast cancers are the same, and not all will have fatal consequences. But because clinicians find it difficult to accurately determine which tumors will metastasize, a number of patients do not receive the treatment fits their disease.

Tel Aviv University has now refined breast cancer identification so that each course of therapy is as individual as the woman being treated.

The new approach -- based on a combination of MRI and ultrasound -- is able to measure the metabolism rates of cancer cells. The approach helps determine at an earlier stage than ever before which cells are metastasizing, and how they should be treated.

The method, expected to start clinical trials in 2010, is currently being researched in Israel hospitals.

Leading the Way to a New Field of Medicine.

"We have developed a non-intrusive way of studying the metabolism of breast cancer in real time," says Dr. Ilan Tsarfaty, a lead researcher from TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine. "It's an invaluable tool. By the time results are in from a traditional biopsy, the cancer can already be radically different. But using our technique, we can map the tumor and its borders and determine with high levels of certainty - right away - which patients should be treated aggressively".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:19 AM CT

Reducing risk of childhood leukemia

Reducing risk of childhood leukemia
A study led by Dr Marcus Cooke at the University of Leicester and funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) UK is looking at whether consuming caffeine during pregnancy might affect the unborn baby's risk of developing leukaemia in childhood.

Dr Cooke sees the study as a unique opportunity to determine the sources of chromosomal alterations during pregnancy, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk of childhood leukaemias.

Leukaemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and white blood cells. It can affect people of all ages and around 7,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK. While it is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for 35 per cent of cases, it is still rare. Only 1 in 10 of leukaemia patients are children, accounting for 500 child diagnoses a year in the UK.

"We want to find out whether consuming caffeine could lead to the sort of DNA changes in the baby that are associated with risk of leukaemia," said Dr Cooke. "This is an important area of research because it is vital that mothers are given the best advice possible".

While childhood leukaemia could be initiated by DNA alterations in the unborn child, it is thought that leukaemia would only develop if there was another secondary trigger. There is currently no single proven cause of childhood leukaemia, though exposure to radiation and/or a rare response to a common infection are thought likely to play a part.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 26, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

What causes breast cancer on the other side?

What causes breast cancer on the other side?
HOUSTON - A preventive procedure to remove the unaffected breast in patients with breast cancer with disease in one breast may only be necessary in patients who have high-risk features as assessed by examining the patient's medical history and pathology of the breast cancer, as per scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Their findings, reported in the March 1, 2009 issue of Cancer, may help physicians predict the likelihood of patients developing breast cancer in the opposite breast (contralateral breast cancer), stratify risk and counsel patients on their therapy options.

"Women often consider contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) not because of medical recommendation, but because they fear having their breast cancer return," said Kelly Hunt, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at M. D. Anderson and main author on the study. "Currently it is very difficult to identify which patients are at enough risk to benefit from this aggressive and irreversible procedure. Our goal was to determine what characteristics defined these high-risk patients to better inform future decisions regarding CPM".

As per the researchers, approximately 2.7 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer choose to have CPM. Recent statistics have shown that the rate of CPM in women with stage I-III breast cancer increased by 150 percent from 1998 to 2003 in the United States. Potential reasons patients with breast cancer choose to undergo CPM include risk reduction, difficult surveillance and reconstructive issues such as symmetry and/or balance.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:17 AM CT

How some chemotherapy drugs block growth of blood vessels

How some chemotherapy drugs block growth of blood vessels
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered how a whole class of usually used chemotherapy drugs can block cancer growth. Their findings, reported online this week at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition, suggest that a subgroup of cancer patients might especially benefit from these drugs.

The anthracycline class of chemotherapeutics doxorubicin (Adriamycin), daunorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin have been used for four decades to treat a number of types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, sarcomas and carcinomas, The standard method of administration had been to use the highest tolerable dose every few weeks to kill all rapidly growing cells by preventing them from accurately copying their genetic material.

"But the late Judah Folkman discovered in 2000 that so-called metronomic therapy, giving patients lower doses of these drugs more frequently, can keep cancer growth at bay by blocking blood vessel formation, but the exact mechanism by which this occurred wasn't known," says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. "Now we've shown how it happens and what players are involved, which could help shape future clinical trials for patients with certain types of cancers".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 21, 2009, 11:06 PM CT

Smoking with most male cancer deaths

Smoking with most male cancer deaths
The association between tobacco smoke and cancer deaths beyond lung cancer deaths has been strengthened by a recent study from a UC Davis researcher, suggesting that increased tobacco control efforts could save more lives than previously estimated.

The epidemiological analysis, published online in BMC Cancer, linked smoking to more than 70 percent of the cancer death burden among Massachusetts men in 2003. This percentage is much higher than the prior estimate of 34 percent in 2001.

"This study provides support for the growing understanding among scientists that smoking is a cause of a number of more cancer deaths besides lung cancer," said main author Bruce Leistikow, a UC Davis associate adjunct professor of public health sciences. "The full impacts of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, have been overlooked in the rush to examine such potential cancer factors as diet and environmental contaminants. As it turns out, much of the answer was probably smoking all along".

Leistikow used National Center for Health Statistics data to compare death rates from lung cancer to death rates from all other cancers among Massachusetts males. The assessment revealed that the two rates changed in tandem year-by-year from 1979 to 2003, with the strongest association among males aged 30-to-74 years.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 20, 2009, 6:14 AM CT

Turning those tumor suppressor genes on

Turning those tumor suppressor genes on
Scientists at Mayo Clinic have observed that the experimental drug they are testing to treat a deadly form of thyroid cancer turns on a powerful tumor suppressor capable of halting cell growth. Few other cancer drugs have this property, they say.

In the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research (available online Jan. 20), they report that RS5444, being tested in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to treat anaplastic thyroid cancer, might be useful for treating other cancers. The agent is also known as CS-7017.

From prior research, the researchers knew that RS5444 binds to a protein known as PPAR-gamma, a transcriptional factor that increases the expression of a number of genes. They had observed that human anaplastic thyroid tumor cells treated with RS5444 expressed a protein known as p21, which inhibited cell replication and tumor growth. But they did not understand how. They have now discovered that the agent actually forces PPAR-gamma to turn on the RhoB tumor suppressor gene, which in turn induces p21 expression.

"This is very unusual," says the study's lead investigator, John Copland, Ph.D., a cancer biologist at the Mayo Clinic campus at Jacksonville. "Drugs typically target genes and proteins that are over-expressed and turn them off. We observed that RS5444 turns on a valuable tumor suppressor gene. We rarely find a drug that can take a suppressed gene and cause it to be re-expressed."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 19, 2009, 6:13 AM CT

Progress in cancer treatment

Progress in cancer treatment
Dr. Andr Veillette, a researcher at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montral (IRCM), and his team led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Mario-Ernesto Cruz-Munoz, will publish in the upcoming issue of the prestigious journal Nature Immunology of Nature Publishing Group. This discovery could have a significant impact on the therapy of cancers and infectious diseases. Current therapys frequently achieve only limited results with these types of diseases, which affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Dr. Veillette's team identified one of the basic mechanisms controlling NK ("natural killer") cell activity. Produced by the immune system, NK cells are responsible for recognizing and killing cancer cells and cells infected by viruses, such as viruses causing hepatitis and herpes. NK cell deficiency is linked to a higher occurence rate of cancers and serious infections. "Our breakthrough, comments Dr. Veillette, demonstrates that a molecule known as CRACC, which is present at the surface of NK cells, increases their killer function." Using mice, the scientists have shown that CRACC greatly improves the animals' ability to eliminate cancer cells such as melanoma (a skin cancer) and lymphoma (a blood cancer). Mice lacking the CRACC gene, generated in Dr. Veillette's laboratory, were found to be more susceptible to cancer persistence. On the other hand, stimulation of CRACC function was found to improve cancer cell elimination. Thus, stimulating CRACC could boost NK cell activity, helping to fight cancers. In addition, it could improve the ability to fight infections, which are also handled by NK cells.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 15, 2009, 7:16 PM CT

Genes and pancreatic cancer

Genes and pancreatic cancer
Abnormalities in genes that repair mistakes in DNA replication may help identify people who are at high risk of developing pancreas cancer, a research team from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports in the Jan. 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research

Defects in these critical DNA repair genes may act alone or in combination with traditional risk factors known to increase an individual's likelihood of being diagnosed with this very aggressive type of cancer.

"We consider DNA repair to be the guardian of the genome," said main author Donghui Li, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at M. D. Anderson. "If something is wrong with the guard, the genes are more readily attacked by tobacco carcinogens and other damaging agents".

With this in mind, Li and her colleagues set out to identify DNA repair genes that could act as susceptibility markers to predict pancreas cancer risk. In a case-control study of 734 patients with pancreas cancer and 780 healthy individuals, they examined nine variants of seven DNA repair genes. The repair genes under investigation were: LIG3, LIG4, OGG1, ATM, POLB, RAD54L and RECQL.

The scientists looked for direct effects of the gene variants (also called single nucleotide polymorphisms) on pancreas cancer risk as well as potential interactions between the gene variants and known risk factors for the disease, including family history of cancer, diabetes, heavy smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and being overweight.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


January 15, 2009, 6:55 PM CT

Exercise in post-menopausal women reduces breast cancer risk

Exercise in post-menopausal women reduces breast cancer risk
Several studies had previously suggested that regular physical exercise reduces the breast cancer risk of women. However, it had been unknowned just how much exercise women should take in which period in life in order to benefit from this protective effect. Moreover, little was known about which particular type of breast cancer is influenced by physical activity.

Answers to these questions are now provided by the results of the MARIE study, in which 3,464 patients with breast cancer and 6,657 healthy women between the ages of 50 and 74 years were questioned in order to explore the connections between life style and breast cancer risk. Participants of the study, which was headed by Professor Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude and conducted at the German Cancer Research Center and the University Hospitals of Hamburg-Eppendorf, were questioned about their physical activity during two periods in life: from 30 to 49 years of age and after 50.

A comparison between control subjects and patients with breast cancer showed that women in the control group had been physically more active than patients. The researchers calculated the relative breast cancer risks taking account of the effect of other risk factors. Results show that the risk of developing breast cancer after menopause was lower by about one third in the physically most active MARIE participants in comparison to women who had generally taken little physical exercise.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 15, 2009, 6:41 PM CT

Old compound, new use

Old compound, new use
The compound, α-difluoromethylornithine or DFMO, targets the activity of a specific enzyme and, even in very limited doses, is effective in protecting against the malignancy in animal models.

The study was reported in the January 15, 2009 issue of the journal, Cancer Research (Volume 69, Issue 2).

"The drug, which was developed as a cancer treatment and later shelved because of toxicity concerns, has been around since the 1970s," said John Cleveland, Ph.D., chair of the Scripps Florida Department of Cancer Biology whose laboratory conducted the study. "But over the past five years, it has undergone a rebirth as a chemoprevention agent, first showing efficacy in animal models of human cancer and more recently in human prostate and colon cancer. Our study shows that it likely works in a large cast of tumors, even those having poor prognosis, like high-risk neuroblastoma".

Neuroblastoma is a childhood malignancy of the sympathetic nervous system (part of the nervous system that serves to accelerate the heart rate, constrict blood vessels, and raise blood pressure) that accounts for nearly eight percent of all childhood cancers and 15 percent of pediatric cancer-related deaths. Its solid tumors arise from developing nerve cells, most usually in the adrenal gland, but also in the abdomen, neck, and chest. Neuroblastoma commonly occurs in infants and young children, appearing twice as frequently during the first year of life than in the second.........

Posted by: Janet      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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