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June 27, 2007, 6:37 PM CT

Closer To Predicting Survivability For Cancer Patients

Closer To Predicting Survivability For Cancer Patients
Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute scientists have developed a Web-based software program that can help head and neck cancer patients better predict their survivability.

"This new tool can help us make personalized predictions of conditional survival for an individual patient depending on his or her specific situation," said Sam Wang, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator, Holman Pathway Resident in the Department of Radiation Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Conditional survival is a statistical system that takes into account the age when the patient was diagnosed with cancer and the time elapsed since diagnosis. The new Web-browser software tool, called the regression model, can calculate a patient's conditional survival based on the patient's age, gender, race and tumor site, stage and aggressiveness.

The study was recently presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

In a prior study researchers, including Wang, demonstrated the concept of conditional survival for head and neck cancer. They showed the longer patients survive after diagnosis and therapy, their better their prognosis.

"This is the first time we have the ability to make a customized prediction of conditional survival probability for an individual head and neck cancer survivor, based on his or her specific characteristics," said Wang.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 25, 2007, 8:06 PM CT

Tree Bark For New Lung-cancer Treatment

Tree Bark For New Lung-cancer Treatment
Lapacho rosado (Tabebuia impetiginosa)
Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have determined how a substance derived from the bark of the South American lapacho tree kills certain kinds of cancer cells, findings that also suggest a novel therapy for the most common type of lung cancer.

The compound, called beta-lapachone, has shown promising anti-cancer properties and is currently being used in a clinical trial to examine its effectiveness against pancreas cancer in humans. Until now, however, scientists didn't know the mechanism of how the compound killed cancer cells.

Dr. David Boothman, a professor in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of a study appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has been researching the compound and how it causes cell death in malignant cells for 15 years.

In the new study, Dr. Boothman and colleagues in the Simmons Cancer Center observed that beta-lapachone interacts with an enzyme called NQO1, which is present at high levels in non-small cell lung cancer and other solid tumors. In tumors, the compound is metabolized by NQO1 and produces cell death without damaging nonmalignant tissues that do not express this enzyme.

"Basically, we have worked out the mechanism of action of beta-lapachone and devised a way of using that drug for individualized treatment," said Dr. Boothman, who is also a professor of pharmacology and radiation oncology.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

June 22, 2007, 4:37 AM CT

Smoking rate has plummeted in New York City

Smoking rate has plummeted in New York City
New York Citys smoking rate has plummeted since a comprehensive program against smoking was launched in 2002, as per findings issued today in the national Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The 2006 rate was nearly 20% lower than the 2002 rate -- a decline that represents 240,000 fewer smokers. The Citys rate for 2006 is the lowest on record (17.5%), and lower than all but five U.S. states (California, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Connecticut). Over the past year, smoking decreased among men (from 22.5% to 19.9%) and among Hispanics (from 20.2% to 17.1%). These large declines followed a year-long ad campaign aimed at prompting more smokers to quit. The new report is available online at

Beginning in 2002, and after a decade with no progress, New York City increased the tobacco tax, eliminated smoking in virtually all workplaces, and launched hard-hitting anti-tobacco ads. By all indications, the interventions have made a difference. Hard-hitting ads work, said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden -- particularly when theyre paired with a tobacco tax and smoke-free air legislation. With nearly a quarter of a million fewer smokers, New York City is leading the way on tobacco control. There arent a number of programs that can prevent 80,000 premature deaths this quickly.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 20, 2007, 10:00 AM CT

A cure for Liver Cancer?

A cure for Liver Cancer?
Adding more good news to last week's announcement that Nexavar® (sorafenib) may be the first effective therapy for advanced liver cancer, scientists at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University have uncovered a new molecular mechanism that may "spontaneously" cause liver cancer.

Part of the well-known TGF-ß tumor suppressor pathway, the molecule disappears in the cells of nearly 90 percent of human hepatocellular cancers, the most common type of liver cancer. Lopa Mishra, MD, professor and vice chair in the department of surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center, showed that loss of only one copy of the embryonic liver fodrin, or ELF gene, can result in spontaneous development of liver cancer in human cell cultures and in vivo models.

In a paper published online by Oncogene on June 4, Mishra and her team also reported that by reintroducing ELF to the cancer cells, the proteins driving cell division and growth were kept in check. To the research team, this implies that ELF or another inhibitor of downstream cell division and growth proteins could be developed into an effective new treatment.

"We're looking for ways of treating untreatable cancers," explained Mishra. "Pancreatic and liver cancers are the third- and fourth-leading causes of cancer death in the world".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 13, 2007, 1:33 PM CT

Mechanism Of Action Used By Sorafenib

Mechanism Of Action Used By Sorafenib
Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center scientists have uncovered a new mechanism of action of the anti-cancer drug sorafenib, which could stimulate the development of novel regimens in which it is combined with other molecularly targeted agents for patients with blood cancers and solid tumors.

In the new study, led by Steven Grant, M.D., Massey's associate director for translational research and co-leader of the cancer center's cancer cell biology program, VCU scientists identified a mechanism by which sorafenib inhibits protein translation, and which may be involved in reducing expression of pro-survival factors, such as Mcl-1, and other proteins. The findings were published online in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology on June 4.

As per Grant, sorafenib, or Nexavar which is manufactured by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, has recently been approved for the therapy of patients with renal cell cancer, the most common form of kidney cancer in adults. It was originally developed as an inhibitor of the oncogene, Raf, which is frequently mutated in numerous cancers, including leukemia. Oncogenes are typically responsible for promoting tumor growth.

Prior findings by Grant's team, published in the Journal of Biologic Chemistry, showed that in human leukemia cells, sorafenib lethality was less a consequence of Raf inhibition, but rather reflected interference with the synthesis of Mcl-1. They observed that sorafenib interfered with Mcl-1 translation, a process in which proteins are synthesized from their constituent amino acids. However, the mechanism by which protein translation was inhibited by sorafenib remained largely unknown.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 13, 2007, 1:30 PM CT

Lung and bladder cancer after arsenic exposure

Lung and bladder cancer after arsenic exposure
Image courtesy of Liver pool Middle School
Arsenic exposure appears to continue causing lung and bladder cancer deaths years after exposure ends, as per a research studypublished online June 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Arsenic is a known cause of lung and bladder cancer, but scientists dont yet know how long cancer risk remains elevated after arsenic exposure. The drinking water in a region of northern Chile became contaminated with very high amounts of arsenic beginning in 1958. In the 1970s, construction of water therapy plants in the region led to a decline in arsenic concentration. This sudden rise and fall of arsenic levels gave scientists the opportunity to investigate the period between first and last exposure to high levels of arsenic and subsequent mortality due arsenic-related cancers, such as bladder and lung cancer.

Guillermo Marshall, Ph.D., of Pontificia Universidad Catlica de Chile in Santiago and his colleagues including collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley, investigated bladder and lung cancer death rates in the region between 1950 and 2000 and compared them with data from a similar region farther south, where the water was not contaminated.

Lung and bladder cancer mortality rates in the area with arsenic-contaminated drinking water began to rise about 10 years after arsenic levels rose. They then continued to climb, peaking between 10 and 20 years after the arsenic levels dropped. At the peak, lung cancer deaths among men and women in the contaminated region were about three times higher than in the control region, while bladder cancer deaths were six times higher in men and 14 times higher in women. The lag time between exposure to a carcinogen and the peak of cancer deaths is commonly difficult to determine, but the size of the study and the record of arsenic exposure aided the researchers.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

June 13, 2007, 1:05 PM CT

Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer

Warning Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
Cancer experts have identified a set of health problems that may be symptoms of ovary cancer, and they are urging women who have the symptoms for more than a few weeks to see their doctors.

The new advice is the first official recognition that the disease, long believed to give no warning until it was far advanced, does cause symptoms at earlier stages in a number of women.

The symptoms to watch out for are bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate. A woman who has any of those problems nearly every day for more than two or three weeks is advised to see a gynecologist, particularly if the symptoms are new and quite different from her usual state of health.

Doctors say they hope that the recommendations will make patients and doctors aware of early symptoms, lead to earlier diagnosis and, perhaps, save lives, or at least prolong survival.

But it is too soon to tell whether the new measures will work or whether they will lead to a flood of diagnostic tests or even unnecessary operations.

Cancer experts say it is worth trying a more aggressive approach to finding ovary cancer early. It is among the more deadly types of cancer, because most cases are diagnosed late, after the disease has begun to spread.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

June 13, 2007, 12:43 AM CT

Women well informed about breast cancer

Women well informed about breast cancer
As per a new GfK Roper Public Affairs survey sponsored by CancerCare, a national nonprofit cancer support organization, while the majority (76 percent) of women surveyed said they know at least a fair amount about breast cancer, a number of remain unaware of the important recent progress made in therapy. Fewer than one out of four (23 percent) women ages 50-65 have heard of new therapies for breast cancer, revealing a gap between awareness and information that women can use toward better therapy.

"These survey results suggest that a number of women still lack essential disease therapy information, which reinforces the need for women to educate themselves to help get the best therapy," said Diane Blum, MSW, executive director of CancerCare. "While great progress has been made in breast cancer awareness through public education and increased media coverage, women with breast cancer would benefit from more information about advances in therapys after surgery".

As per the survey, nearly all respondents were aware of chemotherapy and radiation. However, fewer than one out of four had heard of newer therapies such as aromatase inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies, nor were they informed about their benefits.

Doctor-patient dialogue is vital

If diagnosed, the majority of respondents said they would actively work with their doctor to identify the proper therapy. The survey also observed that 71 percent of women would research the condition on their own in addition to discussing therapy options with their doctor. However, 86 percent were not certain they would know what questions to ask.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 13, 2007, 12:32 AM CT

Simple steps make breast cancer survivors eager to exercise

Simple steps make breast cancer survivors eager to exercise
Simple steps, like giving breast cancer survivors an exercise workbook or step pedometer, can improve their quality of life and fatigue levels.

In research published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, University of Alberta scientists observed that those simple steps, along with a recommendation to exercise, helped breast cancer survivors exercise more than survivors who were only given a recommendation to exercise. More activity led to improvements in quality of life and energy levels.

Finding ways to help cancer patients and survivors be more physically active is important because the evidence is growing that exercise can improve quality of life both during and after therapy and may reduce the risk of the disease coming back. Translating these findings into action is the challenge.

"People want to help themselves, but we need to find practical ways to support them beyond telling them what to do. In this study, offering these women simple, low cost tools helped them get active and led to important benefits," said Jeffrey Vallance, Ph.D., a researcher with the Alberta Cancer Board, and lead author of the paper. The work was conducted while Vallance was a doctoral student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

The study followed 377 breast cancer survivors for 12 weeks. All study participants received a recommendation to perform 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least five days a week. In addition, some women received a step pedometer, a printed exercise guidebook designed to promote physical activity in breast cancer survivors, or both the pedometer and the guide.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 12, 2007, 5:03 AM CT

Sensitivity to diverse range of chemotherapeutic drugs

Sensitivity to diverse range of chemotherapeutic drugs
Using a functional genomic screen, researchers have defined elements that impact the responsiveness of cancer cells to drugs usually used as anticancer therapeutics. The research, reported in the recent issue of the journal Cancer Cell, published by Cell Press, identifies individual genes that are linked to resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs and sets the stage for future studies that may significantly enhance the ability to predict whether or not a particular tumor will respond to therapy.

Resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs is the primary cause of therapy failure in patients with metastatic cancer. Dr. Julian Downward from the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute and his colleagues used RNA interference to directly examine the contribution of over 800 candidate proteins to the sensitivity or resistance of cancer cells to several drugs that are usually used to treat cancer.

Using this technique, the scientists observed that resistance to the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel, a member of the taxane family, as expected, involves genes that impair drug-induced mitotic arrest following knockdown. Silencing of these genes in a number of cases also induces polyploidy and multinucleation in the absence of drug therapy. The scientists conclude that specific disruption of the mitotic checkpoint promotes paclitaxel resistance and that chromosomal numerical heterogeneity may be a useful predictor of paclitaxel resistance in some cancers.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

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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. Archives of cancer-blog

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