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November 8, 2010, 7:52 AM CT

Joint pain linked to breast cancer drug

Joint pain linked to breast cancer drug
A newly released study suggests joint complaints attributed to aromatase inhibitors (AI), popular breast cancer drugs, are not linked to inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune disease. Because of that, scientists say women who were primarily concerned about the threat of arthritis should be encouraged to continue taking the medication. The findings of the study will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the 74th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, Georgia.

For a number of post-menopausal women with breast cancer promoted by the hormone estrogen, AIs can dramatically reduce the risk of their cancer coming back. Doctors say the AIs must be taken for five years to gain the full benefit, however the development of joint complaints in up to 35 percent of women forces a number of of them to stop early.

"It's not clear why these joint symptoms occur, but we wondered if they could be correlation to inflammation or an autoimmune disease," says Victoria K Shanmugam, MBBS, MRCP, assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Georgetown University Medical Center, who led the study. "Our research ruled out both".

The case-controlled study included 25 postmenopausal patients with breast cancer with hand pain and no known autoimmune disease who were treated for their cancer at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Another 23 participants who were not receiving the drugs enrolled as a control group.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:58 AM CT

Gene linked to the spread of eye melanoma.

Gene linked to the spread of eye melanoma.
A cancerous melanoma tumor (dark area, upper right) is seen below the retina.

Harbour laboratory
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a gene associated with the spread of eye melanoma.

Eventhough more studies are needed, the scientists say the discovery is an important step in understanding why some tumors spread (metastasize) and others don't. They believe the findings could lead to more effective therapys.

Reporting online in the journal Science Express, the team found mutations in a gene called BAP1 in 84 percent of the metastatic eye tumors they studied. In contrast, the mutation was rare in tumors that did not metastasize.

Metastasis is the most common cause of death in cancer patients, yet little is known about how cancer cells evolve the ability to spread to other parts of the body. There is growing evidence that mutations in so-called metastasis suppressor genes may promote the spread of cancer, while having little to do with earlier stages in the life of a tumor. Very few such genes have been identified, but this finding strongly implicates BAP1 as a new member of that small group.

"Researchers and physicians have been waiting for a rational, therapeutic target that we could use to treat high-risk patients," says first author and Washington University ophthalmologist J. William Harbour, MD. "We believe this discovery may provide insights needed to hasten the development of therapies for these patients".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:36 AM CT

Helical CT scans reduce lung cancer mortality

Helical CT scans reduce lung cancer mortality
In a major newly released study announced recently by the National Cancer Institute, scientists including Brown University biostatistian Constantine Gatsonis and colleagues observed that screening for lung cancer using helical Computerized axial tomography scanning reduced lung cancer deaths by 20 percent in comparison to using chest X-rays.

"The findings we're announcing today offer the first definitive evidence for the effectiveness of helical CT screening smokers for lung cancer " said Gatsonis, a lead biostatistician in the study and director of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network's (ACRIN) Biostatistics and Data Management Center, based at Brown's Center for Statistical Sciences. "This is a major step in the formulation of appropriate screening strategies for this deadly disease".

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) was conducted by a consortium consisting of ACRIN and the Lung Screening Study (LSS). The consortium enrolled more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 into the NLST at 33 sites across the United States. Starting in August 2002, participants were enrolled during a 20-month period and randomly assigned to receive three annual screens with either low-dose helical CT (often referred to as spiral CT) or standard chest X-ray. A manuscript reporting on the design of the study appeared yesterday on the Web site of the journal Radiology.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:27 AM CT

Promise against severe side effects

Promise against severe side effects
A team of researchers has found a way to eliminate a debilitating side effect linked to one of the main chemotherapy drugs used for treating colon cancer. The strategy used in their preclinical researchinhibiting an enzyme in bacteria of the digestive tractcould allow patients to receive higher and more effective doses of the drug, known as CPT-11 or Irinotecan.

The study, spearheaded by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and involving collaborators at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and North Carolina Central University in Durham, is described in the November 5 issue of Science

While the chemotherapy agent CPT-11 has proven useful in attacking colorectal tumors, it can also cause severe diarrhea - limiting the dosage that patients can tolerate and curbing the drug's potential effectiveness. The primary cause of the diarrhea is thought to bebeta glucuronidase, an enzyme found in bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract. After the liver has rendered CPT-11 inert, the drug enters the intestine where it's reactivated by the beta glucuronidase of the gut bacteria. The revived CPT-11 irritates the intestine and causes severe diarrhea in up to 30 percent of patients who receive it.

To overcome this crippling side effect, the UNC scientists decided to look for compounds that would block the action of beta glucuronidase without eliminating the gut bacteria, which are important for human health.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 28, 2010, 7:10 AM CT

Missing out on sperm banking

Missing out on sperm banking
A number of men whose fertility appears to be at risk from cancer therapy are not being offered the chance to store their sperm as per new research published recently in the Annals of Oncology (Thursday).

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that any men or adolescent boys who are receiving therapy that may leave them infertile should be offered the opportunity to store their sperm.

But in a study funded by Cancer Research UK, scientists at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust observed that only half of oncologists and haematologists across the UK agreed that information on sperm banking is readily available to patients, despite national guidelines which state sperm banking should be offered.

In a survey of nearly 500 clinicians, the scientists also observed that 21 per cent were unaware of any local policies on sperm banking.

And only a quarter (26 per cent) of oncologists and 38 per cent of haematologists reported that discussions about sperm banking with male cancer patients are being documented systematically, yet nearly all doctors believed it was an integral part of their role to raise this topic.

Dr Ann Adams, study author from Warwick Medical School, said: "Our findings are very concerning and show that doctors in the UK aren't following sperm banking guidance, meaning a number of men are missing the opportunity to store their sperm for the future. Instead it appears that clinicians are deciding who is offered the chance to bank sperm based on their own personal beliefs, attitudes and assumptions about their patients' likelihood of starting a family in the future.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 22, 2010, 7:31 AM CT

Boosting broccolis cancer-fighting power

Boosting broccolis cancer-fighting power
University of Illinois study has demonstrated for the first time that sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-fighting agent in broccoli, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria in the lower gut and absorbed into the body.

"This discovery raises the possibility that we will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli's cancer-preventive power," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of human nutrition.

"It's also comforting because a number of people overcook their broccoli, unwittingly destroying the plant enzyme that gives us sulforaphane. Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens," she said.

Eventhough researchers had long theorized that the intestinal microbiota could perform this trick, no one knew it for certain.

Now Jeffery and U of I colleagues Michael Miller and Ren-Hau Lai have proved it by injecting glucoraphanin, the parent compound for sulforaphane, into the ligated lower gut of rats and demonstrating that sulforaphane is present in blood from the mesenteric vein, which flows from the gut to the liver.

"The presence of sulforaphane in measurable amounts shows that it's being converted in the lower intestine and is available for absorption in the body," Jeffery said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 20, 2010, 7:40 AM CT

Vitamin D in preventing esophageal cancer

Vitamin D in preventing esophageal cancer
In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physicians at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center who are Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientists are exploring the role of Vitamin D in preventing esophageal cancer. Principal Investigator Linda Cummings, MD, along with Amitabh Chak, MD, and Gregory Cooper, MD, from the UH Digestive Health Institute, is recruiting patients with Barrett's esophagus to measure the effects of Vitamin D on protein levels that may influence the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

"Vitamin D is being studied for its role in possibly reducing the risk of developing several types of cancer, such as colon, breast and prostate," says Dr. Cummings, a gastroenterologist with the UH Digestive Health Institute and Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "This novel study is the first-of-its-kind looking at Vitamin D's potential role in helping to prevent esophageal cancer." As per co-investigator Sanford Markowitz, MD, Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and oncologist with UH Case Medical Center, the study "has the potential to make a highly important contribution to the medical management of Barrett's esophagus, which is becoming an ever increasing challenge".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 19, 2010, 8:50 AM CT

Bioelectrical signals turn cells cancerous

Bioelectrical signals turn cells cancerous
An electrical switch for melanoma: biologists at Tufts University have discovered that a change in membrane voltage in newly identified "instructor cells" can cause stem cells' descendants to trigger melanoma-like growth in pigment cells (melanocytes). Hyperpigmentation can be seen in the treated tadpole embryo (B, red arrows), but not in the control embryo (A). The pigment cells not only grew in greater numbers but also formed long, branch-like shapes and invaded neural tissues, blood vessels and gut in a pattern typical of metastasis. Discovery of this novel bioelectric signal and cell type could aid in the prevention and treatment of diseases like cancer and vitiligo as well as birth defects. Tufts biologists manipulated the electrical properties of a special, sparse cell population present throughout the embryo by using the common anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to open the glycine gated chloride channel (GlyCl). The GlyCl channel is one of the many ion channels that control cellular membrane voltage and is a marker of this unique "instructor cell" population. Changing the chloride ion level to hyperpolarize or depolarize the cells in turn triggered abnormal growth in distant pigment cells derived from the neural crest stem cells.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Michael Levin-Tufts University

Biologists at Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences have discovered that a change in membrane voltage in newly identified "instructor cells" can cause stem cells' descendants to trigger melanoma-like growth in pigment cells. The Tufts team also observed that this metastatic transformation is due to changes in serotonin transport. The discovery could aid in the prevention and therapy of diseases like cancer and vitiligo as well as birth defects.

The research is published in the October 19, 2010, issue of Disease Models and Mechanisms

"Discovering this novel bioelectric signal and new cell type could be very important in efforts to understand the mechanisms that coordinate stem cell function within the host organism and prevent tumor growth. Ultimately it could enable us to guide cell behaviors toward regenerative medicine applications," said research leader and senior author Michael Levin, Ph.D., professor of biology and director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts.

Co-authors on the paper were Tufts Postdoctoral Associate Douglas Blackiston, Research Associate Professor Dany S. Adams, Research Associate Joan M. Lemire and doctoral student Maria Lobikin.

Misregulation of stem cells is a known factor in cancers and birth defects. Recent studies have shown that stem cells exhibit unique electrophysiological profiles and that ionic currents controlled by ion channel proteins play important roles during stem cell differentiation. However, while a number of genetic and biochemical signaling pathways play a part in regulating the interplay between cells and the host organism, the role of bioelectric signals remains poorly understood, especially when looking beyond artificial cultures to entire living organisms.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:44 AM CT

Erlotinib improves survival as first-line therapy

Erlotinib improves survival as first-line therapy
For patients with advanced lung cancer whose tumors carry EGFR activating mutations, first-line therapy with erlotinib nearly tripled progression-free survival in comparison to a standard chemotherapy combination, show results from the first prospective Phase-III study to report findings in this setting.

The new results from the OPTIMAL trial were reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy.

"Erlotinib is very effective and well tolerated in advanced NSCLC patients who harbor EGFR activating mutations. It is 2 to 3 times more effective than doublet chemotherapy," said study leader Professor Caicun Zhou of Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Tongji University, China.

The OPTIMAL study included 165 patients whose lung cancer carried mutations activating the Epithelial Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). Participants had not received systemic therapy for their cancer.

Of these patients, 83 were randomly assigned to receive erlotinib 150 mg/day, and 82 patients were assigned to receive a 'doublet' combination chemotherapy of gemcitabine and carboplatin. The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival.

In his presentation at the ESMO Congress, Prof Zhou reported that the median progression-free survival in the erlotinib arm was 13.1 months, in comparison to 4.6 months for the chemotherapy arm of the study. The objective response rate with erlotinib was 83%, in comparison to 36% for gemcitabine plus carboplatin. 31 patients in the erlotinib arm are still under study and progression free in comparison to only 1 in the chemotherapy arm.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:42 AM CT

Cancer-linked epigenetic effects of smoking

Cancer-linked epigenetic effects of smoking
For the first time, UK researchers have reported direct evidence that taking up smoking results in epigenetic changes linked to the development of cancer.

The results were reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy.

The link between smoking and cancer has been established for decades, explained Dr Yuk Ting Ma from the Cancer Research UK Institute of Cancer Studies, Birmingham, who presented the results. Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world, and years of research have confirmed that carcinogenic substances in tobacco smoke can damage DNA.

Researchers have also suspected that smoking causes so-called epigenetic changes, such as methylation, which alter gene expression without causing changes to the actual DNA sequence.

"Until now, however, there has been no direct evidence that smoking induces DNA methylation in humans," Dr Ma said. "Cross-sectional surveys restricted to patients with cancer have revealed that aberrant methylation of several tumor suppressor genes is linked to smoking. But such surveys cannot distinguish those epigenetic changes that are a consequence of the disease process from those which are directly attributable to smoking."

In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, the British team set out to clarify the link between smoking and methylation in a cohort of 2,011 healthy young women aged 15-19 who were originally recruited as part of a study of pre-malignant changes to cells of the cervix.........

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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