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December 23, 2009, 8:05 AM CT

Improving mammogram accuracy

Improving mammogram accuracy
Members of a Syracuse University research team have shown that an obscure phenomenon called stochastic resonance (SR) can improve the clarity of signals in systems such as radar, sonar and even radiography, used in medical clinics to detect signs of breast cancer. It does this by adding carefully selected noise to the system.

The result has been a distinct improvement in the system's ability to correctly identify premalignant lesions, plus a 36 percent reduction in false positives. The inventors have developed a novel method of calculating precisely the correct type and level of noise to add to existing noise in radiography or a similar system.

"We see a broad spectrum of applications for this technology," says research assistant professor Hao Chen. "If a system's performance is unsatisfactory, we add noise to the system based on a specific algorithm that can significantly improve system performance".

A patent covering the technology has been issued to Chen, Distinguished Professor Pramod K. Varshney and research professor James Michels. All are linked to SU's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science.

In mammography studies carried out by doctoral candidate Renbin Peng, the challenge was to identify clusters of micro-calcifications in breast tissue. These early signs of premalignant conditions average only 0.3 mm in size and offer only subtle contrast with surrounding tissue. In addition to improving detection of these lesions, the group has reduced false positives by more than a third.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:58 AM CT

Success with new anti-cancer drug

Success with new anti-cancer drug
A study conducted at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, observed that a new drug stopped the growth of breast tumors in mice. This drug is unique in that it works both by stopping the cancer cells from growing and metastasizing to other organs, and by stimulating the immune system to destroy breast cancer cells and keeps them from coming back. This is the only drug that's able to work in both ways, while all other therapys work in one way or another. And, this research initiative not only involves physicians and biologists working together to bring therapys from the laboratory to the bedside, but a unique third component agriculturalists.

Researcher Alexzander Asea, Ph.D., the Effie and Wofford Cain Endowed Chair in Clinical Pathology, and division chief of investigative pathology at Scott & White Healthcare and the Texas A&M Health Science Center, said "we observed that some of the mice were essentially cured".

"All anti-cancer drugs broadly fall into two categories; either directly killing cancer cells (often healthy cells as well), or vaccines that help sick patients by boosting the immune system to better fight off cancer. This new drug works both ways, as a vaccine by taking away the cancer cell ability to grow, multiply and spread to distant organs, and by educating the immune system to recognize the breast cancer cells as 'foreign invaders' that need to be attacked and destroyed and to continue that process over time," Dr. Asea said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 21, 2009, 8:10 AM CT

Metastasis formation in real time

Metastasis formation in real time
Up to 25% of cancer patients develop metastases in the brain often long after successful therapy of the primary tumor. In almost all such cases, the prognosis is poor. The mechanisms responsible for the appearance of brain metastases have long been mysterious. Now a research team led by neurologist Dr. Frank Winkler of LMU Munich has followed, in real time, the steps that lead some tumor cells to establish metastases, while others fail to form new tumors. The team also discovered that, by blocking formation of new blood vessels, the anti-cancer drug Avastin can suppress the emergence of metastases. "We hope that our results will help to optimize existing therapies and allow us to develop new agents that can be targeted against specific stages in the process of metastasis", says Winkler.

(Nature Medicine online, 20. Dezember 2009).

It is not the primary tumor that kills most cancer patients, but the metastases which arise from it. Metastases in the brain are linked to a especially dismal prognosis. These secondary tumors frequently appear in patients who have, or have had, lung, breast or skin cancers. They are very difficult to treat, as existing therapies can only slow, not cure, the disease. Brain metastases are also very distressing for patients, often causing headaches and nausea, but also serious neurological symptoms such as paralysis and loss of the ability to speak. "Unfortunately, brain metastases are now being seen more often than in the past", says Dr. Frank Winkler, who leads the Neurooncology Research Group at the LMU's Neurological Clinic in Munich. "Improvements in the therapy of malignancy have enhanced survival times. But this also means that more patients are at risk of developing brain metastases".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 15, 2009, 11:37 PM CT

Terminal cancer patients' spiritual needs

Terminal cancer patients' spiritual needs
In a newly released study of terminally ill cancer patients, scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found support of patients' spiritual needs by the medical team is linked to greater use of hospice, less aggressive care, and greater quality of life near death. The study is published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology on its web site and later will be published in a print edition.

"Recent research has shown that religion and spirituality are major sources of comfort and support for patients confronting advanced disease," says the study's senior author, Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber. "Our findings indicate that patients whose spiritual needs are supported by their medical team, including doctors, nurses and chaplains, have better quality of life near death and receive less aggressive medical care at the end of life".

The study involved 343 incurable cancer patients at hospital and cancer centers around the country. Participants were interviewed about their means of coping with their illness, the degree to which their spiritual needs were met by the medical team and their preferences regarding end-of-life therapy. Investigators then tracked each patient's course of care during the remainder of his or her life.

The scientists observed that patients whose spiritual needs were largely or completely supported by the medical team were likely to transition to hospice care at the end of life. Additionally, among patients relying on their religious beliefs to cope with their illness, spiritual support reduced their risk of receiving aggressive medical interventions at the end of life. Support of patients' spiritual needs by the medical team was also linked to better patient well-being at the end of life, with scores on average being 28 percent higher among those receiving spiritual support.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 10, 2009, 11:12 PM CT

A Novel Model of Skin Cancer

A Novel Model of Skin Cancer
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have developed a new model of skin cancer based on the knowledge that a common cancer-related molecule called Src kinase is activated in human skin-cancer samples.

"Our prior work demonstrated that Src kinases are activated in human squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. We modeled these observations by increasing the expression of the gene Fyn, a member of Src family of proteins, in mouse skin," explains senior author John T. Seykora MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology. In addition, previous work by the Seykora lab on a related protein called Srcasm, discovered by him in 2002, suggested that Srcasm may function as an anti-oncogene, a molecule that keeps others in check in order to control cell growth.

In this proof-of-principle study, published this month in Cancer Research, the authors observed that genetically engineered mice expressing a K14-Fyn transgene develop premalignant lesions and invasive squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) spontaneously in 5 to 8 weeks. Skin SCCs are the second most common form of cancer, with greater than 250,000 cases annually in the US, leading to approximately 2,500 deaths.

This study demonstrates that Fyn is a potent oncogene in skin. When Srcasm levels are raised in the mouse skin cancer model, tumor formation is dramatically inhibited showing that Srcasm functions as an anti-oncogene.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


December 8, 2009, 8:39 AM CT

Genetic variations and risk of recurrence

Genetic variations and risk of recurrence
Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

Eighteen single-point genetic variations indicate risk of recurrence for early-stage head and neck cancer patients and their likelihood of developing a second type of cancer, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference.

The team examined 241 single nucleotide polymorphisms - variations of a single DNA building block in a gene - in eight genes involved in the creation of micro RNA (miRNA), small bits of RNA that regulate genes, and 130 miRNA binding sites on host genes where miRNAs exert their effects on regulating gene expression.

"We focus on miRNA pathways because these small molecules regulate between one third and half of genes," said senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

"Genetic variations in miRNA biogenesis genes and miRNA binding sites have been linked to the risk of having multiple solid tumors, so we hypothesized that these variations might be linked to the risk of recurrence or secondary primary tumors in these patients," Wu said.

About 10 percent of patients have a recurrence, and 15-25 percent go on to develop secondary primary tumors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 7, 2009, 9:32 PM CT

Spices halt growth of breast cancer stem cells

Spices halt growth of breast cancer stem cells
A newly released study finds that compounds derived from the spices turmeric and pepper could help prevent breast cancer by limiting the growth of stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor's growth.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have observed that when the dietary compounds curcumin, which is derived from the Indian spice turmeric, and piperine, derived from black peppers, were applied to breast cells in culture, they decreased the number of stem cells while having no effect on normal differentiated cells.

"If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors," says main author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D., clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Cancer stem cells are the small number of cells within a tumor that fuel the tumor's growth. Current chemotherapies do not work against these cells, which is why cancer recurs and spreads. Scientists think that eliminating the cancer stem cells is key to controlling cancer. In addition, decreasing the number of normal stem cells - unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of cell in that organ - can decrease the risk of cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 11:33 PM CT

Soy peptide lunasin has anti-cancer properties

Soy peptide lunasin has anti-cancer  properties
Two new University of Illinois studies report that lunasin, a soy peptide often discarded in the waste streams of soy-processing plants, may have important health benefits that include fighting leukemia and blocking the inflammation that accompanies such chronic health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

"We confirmed lunasin's bioavailability in the human body by doing a third study in which men consumed 50 grams of soy protein--one soy milk shake and a serving of soy chili daily--for five days. Significant levels of the peptide in the participants' blood give us confidence that lunasin-rich soy foods can be important in providing these health benefits," said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition.

In the cancer study, de Mejia's group identified a key sequence of amino acids--arginine, glycine, and aspartic acid, (the RGD motif)--that triggered the death of leukemia cells by activating a protein called caspase-3.

"Other researchers have noted the cancer-preventive effects of the RGD sequence of amino acids so it's important to find proteins that have this sequence," she said.

The researchers also verified lunasin's ability to inhibit topoisomerase 2, an enzyme that marks the development of cancer, and they were able to quantify the number of leukemia cells that were killed after therapy with lunasin in laboratory experiments.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 8:21 AM CT

CT imaging taken post avastin

CT imaging taken post avastin
Using routine computed tomography (CT) imaging to analyze form and structural changes to colorectal liver metastasis after bevacizumab and chemotherapy may predict overall survival, as per research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings appear in the Dec. 2 issue of JAMA

When combined with chemotherapy, the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab, also known as Avastin, is linked to both improved survival in those with metastatic colorectal cancer and higher rates of pathologic response in patients undergoing surgical resection of colorectal liver metastases. The monoclonal antibody was approved for use in the front line setting of metastatic colorectal cancer in 2004.

However, the treatment presents a unique set of challenges, explains Jean-Nicolas Vauthey, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology.

"We've known for years that tumor shrinkage is not necessarily a strong indicator of survival in this patient population, and this has been an area of much controversy and study within the cancer community," explained Vauthey, the study's corresponding author. "Some of these tumors are so aggressive and may immediately start to grow when a patient goes off bevacizumab-containing chemotherapy".........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 2, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

Annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI

Annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI
Results of a large-scale clinical trial presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) provide the first good evidence of the benefit of annual screening ultrasound for women with dense breasts who are at elevated risk for breast cancer. In addition, the study confirmed that MRI is highly sensitive in depicting early breast cancer.

"We observed that annual screening with ultrasound in addition to mammography significantly improves the detection of early breast cancer," said lead researcher Wendie A. Berg, M.D., Ph.D., breast imaging specialist at American Radiology Services, Johns Hopkins Green Spring Station in Lutherville, Md., "and that significantly more early breast cancer can be found when MRI is performed, even after combined screening with both ultrasound and mammography. However, both ultrasound and MRI increase the risk of false-positive findings".

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer need to begin screening at a younger age, because they often develop cancer earlier than women at average risk. However, women below age 50 are more likely to have dense breast tissue, which can limit the effectiveness of mammography as a screening tool.

Multicenter trials have shown that MRI enables radiologists to accurately identify tumors missed by mammography and ultrasound. The American Cancer Society recommends that some groups of women with a high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened with MRI in addition to their yearly mammogram beginning at age 30. However, MRI is not for everyone.........

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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