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August 13, 2008, 0:39 AM CT

Targeted radiation therapy can control limited cancer spread

Targeted radiation therapy can control limited cancer spread
Precisely targeted radiation treatment can eradicate all evidence of disease in selected patients with cancer that has spread to only a few sites, suggests the first published report from an ongoing clinical trial.

In the August 15, 2008, issue of Clinical Cancer Research, (published online August 12) scientists from the University of Chicago Medical Center report that targeted radiation treatment had completely controlled all signs of cancer in 21 percent of patients who had five or fewer sites of metastatic disease.

"This was proof of principle in patients who had failed the standard therapies and had few, if any, remaining options," said the study's senior author, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, professor and chairman of radiation and cellular oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "We had encouraging results, including several long-term survivors, in patients with stage-IV cancers that had spread to distant sites".

In 1994, Weichselbaum and colleague Samuel Hellman proposed that there was an intermediate state between cancer that had not spread at all and cancer that had spread extensively. They named this phenomenon "oligometastases," meaning cancer that had spread to a few distant sites.

In some cases, surgeons have successfully treated such limited cancer spread, producing long-term survival by removing the primary cancer and one or two distant tumors, off-shoots of the original cancer--commonly in the lung or liver. However, some patients are not fit for surgery or have cancer that is inoperable.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 23, 2008, 4:55 PM CT

Over-the-counter anesthetic for mammogram pain

Over-the-counter anesthetic for mammogram pain
The simple application of a pain-relieving gel may reduce the breast discomfort some women experience during mammography exams, as per the results of a clinical trial reported in the online edition of Radiology

"We now have something that we know reduces discomfort with screening mammography in women who expect higher discomfortlidocaine gel," said the trial's principal investigator, Colleen Lambertz, F.N.P., a nurse practitioner at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, Idaho. "With a more positive experience, we hope women will undergo more regular mammography screening".

Breast cancer affects more women than any other non-skin cancer and, as per the American Cancer Society, accounts for more than 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Most experts agree that the best way to decrease breast cancer mortality is through early detection using mammography and clinical breast exam.

"Mammography is the only screening tool proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer in women over 40," said co-author of study James R. Maxwell, M.D., medical director of St. Luke's Breast Care Services. "Annual screening is the most important option available to a woman to best ensure early detection and decrease the chance of being diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 22, 2008, 8:03 PM CT

No need for gene screens in breast cancer families

No need for gene screens in breast cancer families
Research reported today should provide relief to women who are worried after a relative's breast cancer diagnosis. The study in the open access journal BMC Cancer shows that a family history of breast cancer does not give a useful indication of the likelihood that a woman will develop it herself at an early age.

An increased risk of breast cancer for relatives of patients with breast cancer has been demonstrated in a number of studies. As physicians and the general population have become more aware of this increased risk, the demand for referring healthy women with a family history of breast cancer for intensive screening or genetic testing has risen. Geertruida H. de Bock led a team from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands who investigated whether the increased risk was significant enough to accurately predict breast cancer.

As per de Bock, "Due to the low prevalence of early breast cancer in the population, the predictive value of a family history of breast cancer was 13% before the age of 70, 11% before the age of 50, and 1% before the age of 30." These numbers are much lower than most women would probably expect. As the authors explain, "Applying family history related criteria results in the screening of a number of women who will not develop breast cancer at an early age".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 22, 2008, 7:57 PM CT

Has Cancer Spread?

Has Cancer Spread?
Michael Odell, M.D.
For patients with head and neck cancer, accurately determining how advanced the cancer is and detecting secondary cancers commonly means undergoing numerous tests - until now. New Saint Louis University research has observed that the PET-Computerized axial tomography scanner can be used as a stand-alone tool to detect secondary cancers, which occur in 5 to 10 percent of head and neck cancer patients.

The study findings, which were presented on Tuesday, July 22, at the 7th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer in San Francisco, Calif., will streamline care for head and neck cancer patients allowing them to begin therapy earlier, says Michael Odell, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

"There has been a lot of confusion about the best ways to evaluate head and neck cancer patients to see if their cancer has spread," said Odell, the study's primary author.

"Traditionally, doctors used a number of different tests, such as chest X-rays, Computerized axial tomography scans, ultrasounds, bone scans and blood work. Patients went through too a number of unnecessary procedures because there was no real consensus on the best way to evaluate them."

As per Odell, when choosing the appropriate therapy plan for head and neck cancer patients, it is critical to accurately stage the primary cancer and detect secondary cancers. Odell's research shows PET-Computerized axial tomography scanning can replace all the other traditional tests.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 22, 2008, 7:55 PM CT

Does too much sun cause melanoma?

Does too much sun cause melanoma?
We are continuously bombarded with messages about the dangers of too much sun and the increased risk of melanoma (the less common and deadliest form of skin cancer), but are these dangers real, or is staying out of the sun causing us more harm than good?

Two experts debate the issue on BMJ.com today.

Sam Shuster, a consultant dermatologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, says that sun exposure is the major cause of the common forms of skin cancer, which are all virtually benign, but not the rarer, truly cancerous melanoma.

Shuster says that the common skin cancers develop in pale, sun exposed skin and are less frequent in people who avoid the sun and use protection. In contrast, melanoma is correlation to ethnicity rather than pigmentation and in 75% of cases occurs on relatively unexposed sites, particularly on the feet of Africans. Melanoma occurrence decreases with greater sun exposure and can be increased by sunscreens, while sun bed exposure has a small inconsistent effect. Therefore, he concludes, any causative effect of ultraviolet light on melanoma can only be minimal.

There is strong evidence that the reported increase in melanoma incidence is an artefact caused by the incorrect classification of non-malignant naevi as cancerous melanomas, this, he argues, explains why melanoma mortality has changed little despite the great increase in alleged incidence.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


July 22, 2008, 7:53 PM CT

More lymph nodes linked to cancer survival

More lymph nodes linked to cancer survival
Why do patients with gastric or pancreas cancer live longer when they are treated at cancer centers or high-volume hospitals than patients treated at low-volume or community hospitals?.

New research from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine observed that cancer patients have more lymph nodes examined for the spread of their disease if they are treated at hospitals performing more cancer surgeries or those designated as comprehensive cancer centers.

Lymph node metastases (indicating the spread of cancer) have been shown to predict patients' prognosis after cancer tissue is removed from the stomach or pancreas. If too few lymph nodes are examined for cancerous cells, a patient's cancer may be incorrectly classified, which alters the prognosis, therapy decisions and eligibility for clinical trials.

"The differences in nodal evaluation may contribute to improved long-term outcomes at cancer centers and high-volume hospitals for patients with gastric and pancreas cancer," said Karl Bilimoria, M.D., lead author of the paper and a surgical resident at the Feinberg School. The study was reported in the recent issue of Archives of Surgery

Current guidelines recommend evaluating at least 15 regional lymph nodes for gastric and pancreas cancer, as per the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 22, 2008, 7:48 PM CT

New breast cancer test under study

New breast cancer test under study
Whether a painless, portable device that uses electrical current rather than X-ray to look for breast cancer could be an alternative to traditional mammograms is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is one of 20 centers internationally and the only place in Georgia studying new technology developed by Z-Tech Inc., to compare traditional mammograms with impedence scanning, a technique based on evidence that electrical current passes through malignant tissue differently than through normal tissue.

This phase of the study will focus on women age 40-50. Older women have less dense breast tissue so cancer is easier to find, says Dr. James Craft, MCG radiologist and principal investigator on the study. Mammograms, also performed in the study, are more accurate in this population, so this phase will be a tougher test of the new technology, he says. The first phase of the study, which began in 2005, was open to women of all ages.

"Normal breast tissue is very dense, particularly in younger women, and can hide tumors," Dr. Craft says. "While we've known for a while that water flows more freely through malignant cells, we also know that electrical current flows easier through malignant and tumor tissue".

The Z-Tech scan works by placing a flower-shaped grouping of electrodes over each breast and sending a small, painless amount of electricity through them. Unlike traditional mammography, the scan does not involve breast compression or radiation.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 20, 2008, 4:58 PM CT

Enzyme expression levels and chemotherapy drug response

Enzyme expression levels and chemotherapy drug response
Why do cancer patients develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, sometimes abruptly, after a period in which the drugs seem to be working well to reduce tumors or hold them in check? Eventhough largely a mystery to scientists, the result when this occurs is all too familiar: patients relapse and in a number of cases die when their cancers become resistant.

A team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), seeking to understand the genetic underpinnings of cancer treatment response, have identified what they regard a "significant contributor to resistance." Using a novel screening technique involving "pools" of gene-regulating short RNA molecules, they were able to determine how resistance to a drug called doxorubicin arises in lymphomas occurring in a particular strain of mice.



Toward a "global view" of factors influencing treatment response


"The method we developed is notable," said CSHL Professor Scott W. Lowe, Ph.D., a leader of the research team, "because it gives us a view of how resistance works at the level of individual molecules in living animals, and also because it can be easily extended to other chemotherapy drugs and tumor systems to give a potentially global view of factors that mediate response to cancer treatment".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 16, 2008, 8:33 PM CT

Magnetic Nanoparticles to Combat Cancer

Magnetic Nanoparticles to Combat Cancer
Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a potential new therapy against cancer that attaches magnetic nanoparticles to cancer cells, allowing them to be captured and carried out of the body. The therapy, which has been tested in the laboratory and will now be looked at in survival studies, is detailed online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"We've been able to use magnetic nanoparticles to capture free-floating cancer cells and then take them out of the body," said John McDonald, chair of the School of Biology at Georgia Tech and chief research scientist at the Ovarian Cancer Institute. "This technology may be of special importance in the therapy of ovary cancer where the malignancy is typically spread by free-floating cancer cells released from the primary tumor into the abdominal cavity."

The idea came to the research team from the work of Ken Scarberry, a Ph.D. student in Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Scarberry originally conceived of the idea as a means of extracting viruses and virally infected cells when his advisor, Chemistry professor John Zhang, had another idea. He asked if the technology could be applied to cancer. Scarberry suggested it might be an effective means of preventing cancer cells from spreading.

They began by testing the treatment on mice. After giving the cancer cells in the mice a fluorescent green tag and staining the magnetic nanoparticles red, they were able to apply a magnet and move the green cancer cells to the abdominal region.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 15, 2008, 9:18 PM CT

Vitamin A pushes breast cancer to form blood vessel cells

Vitamin A pushes breast cancer to form blood vessel cells
Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have discovered that vitamin A, when applied to breast cancer cells, turns on genes that can push stem cells embedded in a tumor to morph into endothelial cells. These cells can then build blood vessels to link up to the body's blood supply, promoting further tumor growth.

They say their findings, reported in the July 16 online issue of PLoS ONE, is a proof of principle of the new and controversial "vasculogenic mimicry" theory, proposing that, as needed, tumors build their own blood pipelines. This is very different from the well-accepted role of tumor angiogenesis, when tumors send signals to blood vessels to grow toward the cancer.

The study's senior author, Stephen W. Byers, Ph.D., a professor of oncology and cell biology at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, also says that this study helps explain why retinoids-- natural or synthetic vitamin A agents--have had mixed results in treating cancer. "Finding that vitamin A may cause some breast cancer cells to form blood vessels brings up the rather disturbing notion that therapy with these drugs may actually stimulate tumor growth," says Byers.

For example, use of beta-carotene, the most important dietary precursor of vitamin A and the chemical that makes carrots orange, has been found to increase lung cancer progression in a large clinical trial. Additionally, fenretinide, a synthetic retinoid, appears to reduce the risk of second breast cancers in premenopausal women, but increase the risk in postmenopausal women, Byers says.........

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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