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July 23, 2010, 7:06 AM CT

African ancestry linked to high-risk breast cancer

African ancestry linked to high-risk breast cancer
Lisa A. Newman, M.D., M.P.H.
A newly released study finds that African ancestry is associated with triple-negative breast cancer, a more aggressive type of cancer that has fewer therapy options.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center observed that, among women with breast cancer, 82 percent of African women were triple negative, 26 percent of African-Americans were and 16 percent of white Americans were.

Triple negative breast cancer is negative for three specific markers that are used to determine therapy: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu.

"The most significant recent advances in breast cancer therapy have involved targeting these three receptors. But these therapys do not help women with triple-negative breast cancer. Outcome disparities are therefore likely to increase, because fewer African-American women are candidates for these newer therapys," says study author Lisa A. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Breast Care Center at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer, looked at 581 African American women and 1,008 white women diagnosed with breast cancer at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, plus 75 African women diagnosed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 23, 2010, 7:03 AM CT

Abnormal cells in blood and lung cancer

Abnormal cells in blood and lung cancer
A novel approach detects genetically abnormal cells in the blood of non-small cell patients with lung cancer that match abnormalities found in tumor cells and increase in number with the severity of the disease, a research team led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research

Patients with lung cancer in the study also had a number of times the number of these circulating abnormal cells than study volunteers in a closely matched control group.

"We suspect additional research will show that these circulating abnormal cells are circulating non-small cell lung cancer cells," said study corresponding author Ruth Katz, M.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Pathology. "Blood tests for these circulating tumor cells could be used to diagnose lung cancer earlier, monitor response to treatment and detect residual disease in patients after therapy".

Katz and his colleagues conducted what they believe to be the first study to use a technique called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to detect abnormal circulating cells that have aberrations found in non-small cell lung cancer. FISH detects and quantifies abnormal cells by using dye-labeled DNA probes of cell chromosomes that cause cells with the targeted genetic abnormalities to light up when viewed under a fluorescent microscope.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 21, 2010, 6:11 AM CT

Key pathway in end-stage prostate cancer blocked

Key pathway in end-stage prostate cancer blocked
Prostate cancer advances when tumors become resistant to hormone treatment, which is the standard therapy for patients, and begin producing their own androgens.

Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have observed that blocking one of the enzymatic steps that allow the tumor to produce androgens could be the key in halting a tumor's growth.

The findings, appearing online and in the recent issue of Endocrinology, suggest that this step might one day provide a new avenue of treatment for patients with end-stage prostate cancer. Health care experts estimate that more than 2 million men in the U.S. have prostate cancer, with more than 27,000 deaths correlation to the disease in 2009.

"We were able to block the androgen response, which is a central pathway for tumor progression," said Dr. Nima Sharifi, assistant professor of internal medicine and the study's senior author.

End-stage prostate tumors typically are treated with hormones that suppress the levels of the androgens, or male hormones like testosterone, that cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Eventually, however, the tumors become resistant to this treatment and resume their growth.

Using prostate cancer cell lines, Dr. Sharifi and colleagues observed that the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is converted by the tumors into androgens. By blocking the enzyme 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD), which is responsible for the first enzymatic step that is mandatory to convert DHEA to androgens, scientists were able to shut down the tumors' lifeline.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 14, 2010, 7:13 AM CT

Smoking influences gene function

Smoking influences gene function
In the largest study of its kind, scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) have observed that exposure to cigarette smoke can alter gene expression -- the process by which a gene's information is converted into the structures and functions of a cell. These alterations in response to smoking appear to have a wide-ranging negative influence on the immune system, and a strong involvement in processes correlation to cancer, cell death and metabolism.

The researchers indentified 323 unique genes whose expression levels were significantly correlated with smoking behavior in their study of 1,240 people. The changes were detected by studying the activity of genes within white blood cells of study participants.

"Our results indicate that not only individual genes but entire networks of gene interaction are influenced by cigarette smoking," wrote main author Jac Charlesworth, Ph.D., in the July 15 issue of the open access journal BMC Medical Genomics Charlesworth, formerly at SFBR, is now a research fellow at the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Azar and Shepperd families of San Antonio, ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals and the AT&T Foundation. The study is part of SFBR's San Antonio Family Heart Study (SAFHS) which includes 40 families in the Mexican American community.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 13, 2010, 7:23 AM CT

How prostate cancer packs a punch

How prostate cancer packs a punch
Some types of prostate tumors are more aggressive and more likely to metastasize than others. Nearly one-third of these aggressive tumors contain a small nest of particularly dangerous cells known as neuroendocrine-type cells. More rarely, some aggressive prostate tumors are made up entirely of neuroendocrine-type cells. The presence of neuroendocrine-type cancer cells is linked to a poor prognosis, but spotting these rare cells can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Now, as per a research findings reported in the July 13 issue of Cancer Cell, a team of researchers led by Ze'ev Ronai, Ph.D. at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has identified a series of proteins that might make it easier for doctors to better diagnose the more metastatic forms of prostate cancer.

"In identifying this protein pathway, which determines the formation of neuroendocrine tumors, we've identified new markers that can be used to distinguish the dangerous cells and find new targets for treatment," said Dr. Ronai, associate director of Sanford-Burnham's National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.

This study uncovers a protein named Siah2, which initiates a cascade of molecular events that turns a non-cancerous tumor into a metastatic neuroendocrine tumor. In collaboration with four other medical centers across the United States, Dr. Ronai and colleagues analyzed human prostate cancer samples and observed that Siah2 and the other proteins it triggers is detected more often in the aggressive neuroendocrine forms of prostate tumors than in other types. By acting as markers for especially aggressive prostate cancers, Siah2 and its partners could provide doctors with an early warning sign for tumors that are likely to metastasize.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 9, 2010, 7:28 AM CT

How to slow growth of malignant melanoma?

How to slow growth of malignant melanoma?
New Queen's University research has shown that the growth of melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer, can be slowed when a little known gene called MicroRNA 193b is added.

Victor Tron, head of pathology and molecular medicine, focused on miR-193b when he discovered that it was deficient in melanoma tumors and because there were very few studies done about the gene. The miRNA-193b gene is found in people's DNA and was unknown until 10 years ago.

"Our experiment was a bit of a fishing expedition in the beginning. We thought 193b might be important but the fact we got such a tremendous reaction the melanoma really slowed down when we added 193b was really startling," says Dr. Tron, who worked with eight other Queen's researchers. "It's a totally new discovery".

In experiments, increased levels of miR-193b increased in melanoma cells led to lower levels of a well-known protein called cyclin D1, and decreased melanoma cell growth.

Lab experiments with tissue samples proved that miR-193b plays a role in the melanoma process. Further studies will be needed to find out what causes miR-193b levels to go up and down.

"This is the first step in a long road towards finding a melanoma cure," says Professor Tron.

Melanoma is one of the least common forms of skin cancer, yet causes 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 9, 2010, 6:57 AM CT

What's your baseline PSA?

What's your baseline PSA?
Normal prostate anatomy
Men who have a baseline PSA value of 10 or higher the first time they are tested are up to 11 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than are men with lower initial values, as per Duke University Medical Center researchers.

Researchers say the finding, appearing early online in the journal Cancer, supports routine, early prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening among healthy men with normal life expectancy a practice several studies have recently questioned.

"There has been some controversy over the value of PSA screening beginning at age 40, but the data from this study strongly suggests that early screening can help us stratify patients' risk and identify those who need to be followed most closely from this younger age group. That, in turn, may help save lives," says Judd W. Moul, MD, Professor of Urologic Surgery and Director of the Duke Prostate Center and senior author of the paper.

Scientists used the Duke Prostate Center database to identify 4,568 men who had PSA tests during the past 20 years and who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Investigators tracked the patients' age and race and analyzed each variable to assess any association with risk of death from prostate cancer or other causes.

The median age of the men at baseline was 65. The median baseline PSA was 4.5, and the average follow-up period was over nine years. Scientists observed that 3.5 percent of the men died from prostate cancer during the study period, while more than 20 percent died from other causes.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 9, 2010, 6:55 AM CT

Changing the cancer cell to respond to tamoxifen

Changing the cancer cell to respond to tamoxifen
Tamoxifen is a drug, taken orally as a tablet, which interferes with the activity of estrogen, a female hormone.

Using a small molecule decoy, researchers funded by the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation have managed to block protein interactions and induce epigenetic reprogramming in human and mouse breast cancer cells, essentially changing the gene expression of breast cancer cells to behave in a more normal manner. The research illustrates what may perhaps become an effective targeted epigenetic treatment in breast cancer. Interestingly, the targeted therapy showed exciting results in triple-negative breast cancer cells, reverting their function and appearance, and sensitizing them to tamoxifen and retinoids.

By introducing a small peptide, called the SID decoy, to interfere with protein binding in the Sin 3 PAH2 domain, researchers reduced the growth of triple-negative cancer cells by 80 percent. The decoy also blocked cancer cell invasion, which may shed light on preventing metastasis. The study was reported in the June 29 print edition of the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer more usually diagnosed in young women, African-American women and women with BRCA-1 mutated cancers, said medical oncologist Samuel Waxman, M.D., the study's senior author. Currently, the only therapy options that women with triple-negative breast cancer have are radiation treatment, surgery and chemotherapy. Women with triple-negative breast cancer do not respond to hormonal treatment or Herceptin and have a higher recurrence rate after chemotherapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2010, 6:43 AM CT

Fish oil may reduce risk of breast cancer

Fish oil may reduce risk of breast cancer
Emily White, Ph.D., is a member of the public health sciences division.

Credit: Emily White, Ph.D.

A recent report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, adds to the growing evidence that fish oil supplements may play a role in preventing chronic disease.

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., led by Emily White, Ph.D., a member of the public health sciences division, asked 35,016 postmenopausal women who did not have a history of breast cancer to complete a 24-page questionnaire about their use of non-vitamin, non-mineral "specialty" supplements in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study.

After six years of follow-up, 880 cases of breast cancer were identified using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry.

Regular use of fish oil supplements, which contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, was linked with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. The reduction in risk appeared to be restricted to invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type of the disease.

The use of other specialty supplements, a number of of which are usually taken by women to treat symptoms of menopause, was not linked to breast cancer risk.

This research is the first to demonstrate a link between the use of fish oil supplements and a reduction in breast cancer. Studies of dietary intake of fish or omega-3 fatty acids have not been consistent.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

Revolutionary therapy slows advanced breast cancer

Revolutionary therapy slows advanced breast cancer
A novel treatment designed to attack tumors in patients with a genetic mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, slowed tumor growth in 85 percent of advanced patients with breast cancer treated in a small study, scientists report in the July 6 issue of the Lancet

"That is really an enormous response rate in a population of patients who have received a median of three previous therapies," says co-author of study Susan M. Domchek, MD, associate professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and director of the Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

"This is the first time that we have been able to take the genetic reason a person has developed cancer and make it a target," Domchek says. "Most of the time we look at what is going on in the tumor itself and then figure out how to target it. But in this situation, the women all had an inherited mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and we could exploit that weakness in the tumor. It is a strategy that may cause fewer side effects for patients".

The new agent, called olaparib, inhibits a protein called poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Both PARP and the BRCA proteins are involved in DNA repair. And while cells seem to be able to do without one or the other, inhibiting PARP in a tumor that lacks a BRCA gene is too much for the cells, and causes them to die.........

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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