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July 14, 2008, 9:48 PM CT

Colorectal cancer screening rates still too low

Colorectal cancer screening rates still too low
Eventhough colorectal cancer screening tests are proven to reduce colorectal cancer mortality, only about half of U.S. men and women 50 and older receive the recommended tests, as per a report in the July 2008 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a National Health Interview Survey and found only 50 percent of men and women 50 and older had received screening in 2005. Eventhough this was an improvement over the 43 percent of screened individuals reported in 2000, it is still far from optimal, researchers say.

"Colorectal cancer is one of the leading cancer killers in the United States, behind only lung cancer. Screening has been shown to significantly reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, but a lot of people are not yet getting screened," said Jean A. Shapiro, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Shapiro says a major problem appears to be insurance coverage. Among people without health insurance, scientists found the rate of colorectal cancer screening was 24.1 percent in comparison to over 50 percent of insured Americans, depending on the type of insurance. Among patients without a usual source of health care, the screening rate was 24.7 percent in comparison to 51.9 percent of patients with a usual source of health care.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


July 10, 2008, 9:43 PM CT

Prostate cancer vaccines more effective with hormone therapy

Prostate cancer vaccines more effective with hormone therapy
Among patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer, the addition of hormone treatment following vaccine therapy improved overall survival compared with either therapy alone or when the vaccine followed hormone therapy, as per recent data reported in the July 15 Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Philip M. Arlen, M.D., director of the Clinical Research Group for the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, at the National Cancer Institute, said the findings have important implications for guiding therapy decisions for patients with prostate cancer.

"Vaccines, if and when they are approved, can be safely and effectively combined with other therapies, including hormones," said Arlen. "There appears to be an advantage in overall survival".

Arlen and his colleagues enrolled 42 patients who had castration-resistant prostate cancer. These patients were randomly assigned to receive either a poxvirus-based prostate-specific antigen vaccine or hormone treatment with nilutamide. At progression, patients received the other treatment and continued to receive their original treatment.

For all the patients enrolled in the study, the three-year survival probability was 71 percent and the median overall survival was 4.4 years. Patients randomized to the vaccine had a three-year survival probability of 81 percent and an overall survival of 5.1 years, while patients taking nilutamide had a three-year survival probability of 62 percent and an overall survival of 3.4 years.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 9:16 PM CT

How food affects the brain

How food affects the brain
In addition to helping protect us from heart disease and cancer, a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gmez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging." .

Gmez-Pinilla analyzed more than 160 studies about food's affect on the brain; the results of his analysis appear in the recent issue of the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience and are available online at www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n7/abs/nrn2421.html.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit provide a number of benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, said Gmez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 9:13 PM CT

A short and sweet diagnosis for cancer?

A short and sweet diagnosis for cancer?
A high-resolution structure of a prostate-specific protein with a tumor associated sugar linkage. The sugar molecule is shown in green.
In order to provide the most effective therapys for cancer patients, it is essential to develop methods of sensitive and specific early detection of the disease. A team of researchers from the NIBRT Dublin-Oxford Glycobiology Laboratory at UCD has developed a system which aims to pinpoint potential "biomarkers" of early forms of the disease. They do this by looking at the structures of specific sugar molecules which are attached either to proteins made by malignant cells or to proteins involved in the host response. It is hoped that the availability of such cancer biomarkers would also allow disease progression and response to treatment to be monitored more accurately than is currently possible. Professor Pauline Rudd, who is leading the team, will be presenting some of their results on Thursday 10th July at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Marseille [Session C4].

It is known that cancer cells not only have different sets of proteins from normal human cells, but that their proteins have changes in the types and numbers of sugar molecules that are attached to them. Dr Rudd and her colleagues think that being able to detect these changes holds the key to developing a new approach for diagnosing cancer. "We have observed that there are alterations in sugars attached to proteins in blood serum from all cancers we have looked at, and some of these appear to be early markers of the disease processes. What is more, we have been able to isolate several sugar-linked variants of particular proteins which are linked to different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic and ovarian and breast cancers," she reveals. "In the long term, we envisage that by finding more specific sugar variants, we will be able to use combinations of these as biomarkers to allow very accurate early diagnosis of particular cancers". These techniques could act alongside or even replace physical methods, such as scanning, which are less dependable for early diagnosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 9, 2008, 7:28 PM CT

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells
Her2
A gene that is overexpressed in 20 percent of breast cancers increases the number of cancer stem cells, the cells that fuel a tumor's growth and spread, as per a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The gene, HER2, causes cancer stem cells to multiply and spread, explaining why HER2 has been associated with a more aggressive type of breast cancer and to metastatic disease, in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, the scientists say.

Further, the drug Herceptin, which is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, was found to target and destroy the cancer stem cells. Results of the study appear online in the journal Oncogene.

"This work suggests that the reason drugs that target HER2, such as Herceptin and Lapatanib, are so effective in breast cancer is that they target the cancer stem cell population. This finding provides further evidence for the cancer stem cell hypothesis," says study author Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The cancer stem cell hypothesis says that tumors originate in a small number of cells, called cancer stem cells, and that these cells are responsible for fueling a tumor's growth. These cells represent fewer than 5 percent of the cells in a tumor. Wicha's lab was part of the team that first identified stem cells in human breast cancer in 2003.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 8:49 PM CT

Young women's breast cancers have more aggressive genes

Young women's breast cancers have more aggressive genes
Young women's breast cancers tend to be more aggressive and less responsive to therapy than the cancers that arise in older women, and scientists at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy may have discovered part of the reason why: young women's breast cancers share unique genomic traits that the cancers in older women do not exhibit.

"Clinicians have long noted that the breast cancers we see in women under the age of 45 tend to respond less well to therapy and have higher recurrence rates than the disease we see in older women, especially those over the age of 65," said Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., a breast oncologist at Duke and senior investigator on the study. "Now we're really understanding why this is the case, and by understanding this, we may be able to develop better and more targeted therapies to treat these younger women".

The results appear in the July 10 Journal of Clinical Oncology The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Duke scientists looked at samples of nearly 800 breast tumors from women in five countries on three continents, and divided them into age-specific cohorts. The researchers found more than 350 sets of genes that were active only in the tumors from women under age 45. On the other hand, tumors arising in women over age 65 did not share these activated gene sets.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 8:44 PM CT

Higher education and mortality reduction from cancers

Higher education and mortality reduction from cancers
Deaths due to the four most common cancerslung, colorectal, prostate, and breasthave dropped substantially in the United States from 1993 to 2001 in working-aged individuals. However, not all Americans are equally likely to benefit from those gains. A study reported in the July 8 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that more highly educated individuals had mortality reductions in nearly all of these cancers, while less educated individuals had a mortality reduction in only one of the cancer types.

In prior studies, scientists examined the impact of area-level socioeconomic status (SES) on cancer mortality trends and found an association between higher SES and bigger gains in mortality reduction. Investigators have not previously examined the association of individual SES components, such as education level, with cancer mortality.

In the current study, Ahmedin Jemal, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society and his colleagues obtained individual education and mortality data from death certificates for non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks between the ages of 25 and 64 who died from one of the four major cancers between 1993 and 2001. The data are from the National Center for Health Statistics and cover approximately 86 percent of the U.S. population.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2008, 6:38 PM CT

Insect warning colors aid cancer drug discovery

Insect warning colors aid cancer drug discovery
Colorful beetle may indicate useful plant chemicals.

Credit: Don Windsor, STRI
Brightly colored beetles or butterfly larvae nibbling on a plant may signal the presence of chemical compounds active against cancer cell lines and tropical parasitic diseases, as per scientists at Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Such clues could speed drug discovery and provide insight into the ecological relationships between tropical-forest plants and insects that feed on them. The report is reported in the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

"These findings are incredibly exciting and important," said Todd Capson, STRI research chemist, who directed the project. "The results of this study could have direct and positive impacts on the future of medical therapy for a number of diseases around the world".

For this research researchers used plants already known to have anti-cancer compounds; those proven to be active against certain disease-carrying parasites; and plants without such activity. The study showed that beetles and butterfly larvae with bright warning coloration were significantly more common on plants that contained compounds active against certain diseases, such as breast cancer and malaria. There was no significant difference in the number of plain-colored insects between plants with and without activity, as per the study by the Smithsonian's Panama International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 7, 2008, 9:56 PM CT

Can recycling be used to treat cancer?

Can recycling be used to treat cancer?
We already know that recycling benefits our planet; and now new research suggests that the cellular version might be useful for battling cancer. Researchers at Stanford University have identified a molecule that uses this unexpected pathway to selectively kill cancer cells. The research, published by Cell Press in the July 8th issue of the journal Cancer Cell, may drive therapy strategies for cancer in an entirely new direction.

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer, is nearly always caused by mutation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene and often does not respond well to therapy.

"Since RCCs have a poor prognosis and are refractory to standard chemotherapies, there is a need to develop new therapies for kidney cancer," says senior author Dr. Amato J. Giaccia. Dr. Giaccia and his colleagues used a sophisticated screening procedure to search for molecules that could selectively destroy VHL-deficient kidney cancer.

"Specifically identifying and targeting the cancer cells, while leaving normal cells intact should have great therapeutic impact. Most side effects people associate with chemotherapy, such as nausea and hair loss, are due to toxic effects of drugs on normal tissues. Exploiting a feature of cancer cells should spare the normal tissue and decrease these awful side effects," explains Dr. Giaccia.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 2, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Computers to hone cancer-fighting strategies

Computers to hone cancer-fighting strategies
A graphic representation of a vascular tumor model viewed in different scales is shown.

Credit: Florida State University
A Florida State University faculty member who uses computational techniques to evaluate a new class of cancer-killing drugs is attracting worldwide attention from other researchers.

Kevin C. Chen, an assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering, is using high-powered computers to determine how substances known as recombinant immunotoxins can best be modified in order to attack and kill cancerous tumors while doing minimal harm to a patient's healthy cells.

"Cancer is a disease of tremendous complexity, so the analysis and interpretation of data demands sophisticated, specialized computational methods," Chen said of his research.

Recombinant immunotoxins, Chen explained, are new drugs that are being tested in clinical trials for certain types of cancer treatment. They consist of tiny fragments of antibody proteins that are fused at the genetic level to toxins produced by certain types of bacteria, fungi or plants.

"Once injected into the body, the antibody portion of the immunotoxin targets specific proteins, called antigens, that are massively expressed on the surface of cancer cells," Chen said. "These cells are subsequently killed by the accompanying toxins. Normal, healthy cells, meanwhile, are not recognized and thus are spared".........

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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