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December 18, 2006, 7:38 PM CT

Characteristics Of Fast-growing Skin Cancers

Characteristics Of Fast-growing Skin Cancers
Melanomas (skin cancers) are more likely to grow rapidly if they are thicker, symmetrical, elevated, have regular borders or have symptoms, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, rapidly progressing melanoma is more likely to occur in elderly men and individuals with fewer moles and freckles, and its cells tend to divide more quickly and have fewer pigments than those of slower-growing cancers.

"Anecdotal experience suggests that there is a form of rapidly growing melanoma, but little is known about its frequency, rate of growth, or associations," the authors write as background information in the article. One prior study suggested that how quickly a melanoma grew predicted how likely the patient was to relapse at one year or to survive without relapsing. Other research indicates that different types of melanoma grow at different rates; for instance, an aggressive type known as nodular melanoma grows more quickly than any other kind.

Wendy Liu, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, East Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues investigated melanoma growth rate in 404 consecutive patients (222 male, 182 female, average age 54.2) with invasive melanoma. Participants' skin was examined by a dermatologist and information about such characteristics as the number of typical and atypical moles was recorded. In addition, the patients were interviewed as soon as possible after diagnosis and preferably with a friend or family present. The scientists gathered information about demographics, skin cancer risk factors, the characteristics of the tumor and who first detected the cancer-the patient, a family member or friend, or a physician.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 18, 2006, 7:33 PM CT

Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Estrogen Use May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
A new study from the Dana-Farber cancer institute shows that postmenopausal women with colon cancer lives longer if they have been taking estrogen supplements within five years of their diagnosis. This becomes an interesting finding given the fact that postmenopausal estrogen usage has been on decline recently because of reports of increased risk of breast cancer linked to its use.

In this new study, which is reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers examined the effect of estrogen use on the survival of older women already diagnosed with the disease.

The scientists are not suggesting that women should be taking postmenopausal hormone therapy to prevent colon cancer risk. With estrogen use has dropped sharply among postmenopausal women in recent years, due to concerns about its role in heart disease and breast cancer, numerous studies have shown it significantly lowers the chances of developing colorectal cancer considering the other health risks linked to its use. Scientists are hoping that this finding would lead to development of new drugs from the clues obtained.

"This study provides a rationale to further study the basic mechanism by which estrogen influences the development and progression of colon cancer," states lead author Jennifer Chan, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber. "By understanding how estrogen offers potentially beneficial effects in some types of cells yet deleterious effects in others, it may be possible to design therapies that are effective against colon cancer without posing a significant risk of other problems".........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


December 17, 2006, 9:50 PM CT

Advances In Breast Imaging

Advances In Breast Imaging
A diagnostic device that resembles a mammography unit can detect breast tumors as tiny as one-fifth of an inch in diameter, which may make it a valuable complementary imaging technique to mammography, say researchers at Mayo Clinic, who helped develop the technology along with industry collaborators Gamma Medica and GE Healthcare.

This new technique, Molecular Breast Imaging, uses a new dual-head gamma camera system and is sensitive enough to detect tumors less than 10 millimeters (about two-fifths of an inch) in diameter in 88 percent of cases where it is used. Early findings from an ongoing comparison of the device with mammography show that it can detect small cancers that were not found with mammography, say the investigators. Mayo Clinic physicist Michael O'Connor, Ph.D., will present these results Saturday, Dec. 16, at the 2006 meeting of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

"Our ultimate goal is to detect small cancers that may be inconspicuous or invisible on a mammogram for high-risk women with dense breasts," says Dr. O'Connor.

The scientists also say their device will likely be only slightly more expensive to use than mammography, and will be much more comfortable for women because much less pressure is needed to image a breast.

"We hope that our studies will eventually show our device to be almost as sensitive as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is probably the best diagnostic test available to date, but is not widely used because of its expense," says Stephen Phillips, M.D., a Mayo radiologist and a study co-author. An MRI scan costs as much as ten times more than a traditional mammogram and involves injection of a contrast agent.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 17, 2006, 9:42 PM CT

Breast Cancer Patients May Not Follow Hormonal Therapy

Breast Cancer Patients May Not Follow Hormonal Therapy
Postmenopausal women with early-stage, hormone-sensitive breast cancer have a lower risk of disease recurrence when their therapy includes a new class of hormone treatment drugs, yet one out five women prescribed the drugs may not take them regularly, as per a research studyconducted by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Their findings will be presented at the 29th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on Saturday, Dec. 16 (Abstract 4044).

"These data are very concerning because hormonal treatment for breast cancer is one of the most effective therapys in all of oncology," said Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, the study's lead author and a breast cancer specialist at Dana-Farber. "Women may be compromising their care, and ultimately their survival, if they do not take these medications as recommended."

Partridge and her colleagues analyzed claims data from three large commercial health plan systems to gauge therapy compliance of more than 7,000 women with early stage-breast cancer who, in addition to their regular therapy, began taking anastrozole.

Anastrozole is part of a new class of drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, that reduces the production of the hormone estrogen by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that converts the hormone androgen into estrogen. Studies have shown that lowering estrogen levels in post-menopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer can reduce their risk of disease recurrence.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 17, 2006, 9:39 PM CT

Divorce does not spell doom at Christmas

Divorce does not spell doom at Christmas
While it may be assumed that 'Peace and goodwill' are out of the question for divorced or separated parents at Christmas, new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) suggests that parents should not despair.

The study shows that, over time, festivities replace hostilities for the vast majority of families. Researcher, Dr Jennifer Flowerdew commented "Despite the difficulties that arise in the immediate aftermath of relationship break-down, our study shows that Christmas is still seen as the time when families focus on what unites them rather than what divides them".

Findings show that in divorced families, similar to other families, Christmas is a time when people are acutely aware of the emotional significance of 'family' and will seek to forge, renew or strengthen those ties that they value.

As Dr Flowerdew explains: 'For all our families, Christmas continues to symbolise 'time out' from the pressures linked to paid work and life outside the domestic sphere, and 'time in' with children, parents, wider kin and friends. As such, it is seen as a time to prioritise family connections and relegate its divisions.'.

These findings result from a re-analysis of data from prior research which followed a sample of divorced or separated parents and their children over a nine year period. The research is based on the view that family change is a process rather than a one off event, and that one of the best ways to understand this is to track family members over time, exploring their changing experiences and the changing nature of their relationships.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 17, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Brain Can Recover From Alcoholic Damage

Brain Can Recover From Alcoholic Damage
The findings, published recently (18 December 2006) in the online edition of the journal Brain [1], used sophisticated scanning technology and computer software to measure how brain volume, form and function changed over six to seven weeks of abstinence from alcohol in 15 alcohol dependent patients (ten men, five women).

The scientists from Gera number of, the UK, Switzerland and Italy measured the patients' brain volume at the beginning of the study and again after about 38 days of sobriety, and they observed that it had increased by an average of nearly two per cent during this time. In addition, levels of two chemicals, which are indicators for how well the brain's nerve cells and nerve sheaths are constituted, rose significantly. The increase of the nerve cell marker correlated with the patients performing better in a test of attention and concentration. Only one patient seemed to continue to lose some brain volume, and this was also the patient who had been an alcoholic for the longest time.

The leader of the research, Dr Andreas Bartsch from the University of Wuerzburg, Gera number of, said: "The core message from this study is that, for alcoholics, abstinence pays off and enables the brain to regain some substance and to perform better. However, our research also provides evidence that the longer you drink excessively, the more you risk losing this capacity for regeneration. Therefore, alcoholics must not put off the time when they decide to seek help and stop drinking; the sooner they do it, the better".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


December 16, 2006, 12:04 AM CT

Reduced Fat Intake Decreases Breast Cancer Recurrence

Reduced Fat Intake Decreases Breast Cancer Recurrence
Reducing dietary fat intake may decrease the chance of a breast cancer recurrence in women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer, as per a randomized, phase III trial in the December 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The relationship between dietary fat intake and breast cancer is unclear, both for primary breast cancer development and breast cancer recurrence. Rowan T. Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., and colleagues set out to determine whether a low-fat diet could prolong relapse-free survival in women with early-stage breast cancer.

Between February 1994 and January 2001, 2,437 women who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer were recruited from the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS). They were randomly assigned to a dietary intervention group (40%), or a control group (60%). The new study reports an analysis of all information collected as of October 31, 2003 with an average of 5 years of follow-up, when funding for the intervention ceased.

The goal of the dietary intervention was to reduce dietary fat to 15% of total calories. Women in the intervention group attended eight biweekly, 1-hour counseling sessions to learn about a low-fat eating plan, and they kept written records of their daily fat gram intake. Dieticians contacted or met with the women every 3 months, and participants could attend optional monthly dietary group sessions. Women in the control group met with a dietician when they started the trial and were contacted by dieticians every 3 months.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 15, 2006, 5:13 AM CT

Learning During Sleep?

Learning During Sleep? Image of a hippocampal interneuron with associated electrical readings
The question of how the brain stores or discards memories still remains largely unexplained. A number of brain scientists regard the consolidation theory as the best approach so far. This states that fresh impressions are first stored as short-term memories in the hippocampus. They are then said to move within hours or a few days - commonly during deep sleep - into the cerebral cortex where they enter long-term memory. Investigations by Thomas Hahn, Mayank Mehta and the Nobel Prize winner Bert Sakmann from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg have now shed new light on the mechanisms that create memory. As per their findings, the areas of the brain work together, but possibly in a different way from that previously assumed. "This is a technically sophisticated study which could have considerable influence on our understanding of how nerve cells interact during sleep consolidation," confirmed Edvard Moser, Director of the Centre for the Biology of Memory in Trondheim, Norway.

It has been difficult up to now to use experiments to examine the brain processes that create memory. The researchers in Heidelberg developed an innovative experimental approach particularly for this purpose. They succeeded in measuring the membrane potential of individual interneurones (neurones that suppress the activity of the hippocampus) in anaethetised mice. At the same time, they recorded the field potential of thousands of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex. This allowed them to link the behaviour of the individual nerve cells with that of the cerebral cortex. The scientists discovered that the interneurones they examined are active at almost the same time as the field potential of the cerebral cortex. There was just a slight delay, like an echo.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 15, 2006, 4:40 AM CT

Software Automates Access to Brain Atlases

Software Automates Access to Brain Atlases
USC computer researchers have found a cheap, quick and copyright- respecting way to turn existing print brain atlases into multimedia resources. The software, now available in an experimental beta version for free download, is a robust and user-friendly interface that works on all the most popular computer operating systems.

"Brain atlases are basic tools for scientists in neural science," says Gully A.P.C. Burns, a specialist in neuroinformatics who works as a research scientist at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute, part of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. "Our NeuARt II system will make them much more user-friendly.

The same viewing system, Burns believes, can help neuroresearchers store, organize and use data from ongoing experiments.

Burns was part of a team of computer experts and neuroresearchers that worked with Larry W. Swanson of the USC Neuroscience Institute, author of the standard printed rat brain atlas, Brain Maps, Structure of the Rat Brain, (Elsevier Academic Press, 1992-2004) to produce the NeuroARt II viewer, following up on years of earlier development. "The entire design of our approach arose from practical methods" from Swanson's lab, as per a paper on the project Burns co-authored, published this month in the online journal BMC Bioinformatics.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


December 15, 2006, 4:30 AM CT

How NSAIDs Halt Cancer Growth

How NSAIDs Halt Cancer Growth
Researchers have discovered that induction of a gene known as MDA-7/IL-24 is the molecular mechanism that enables nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to halt the growth of cancer cells, a finding that could eventually lead to the development of targeted cancer therapys.

Led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), in collaboration with researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, the new findings provide the answer to the long-puzzling question: How does this popular class of pain killers protect people from developing this deadly disease" The study appears in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

"Eventhough findings based on observation had previously demonstrated that NSAIDs [such as aspirin, ibuprofen and sulindac] might be effective in the prevention and therapy of several common cancers, it wasn't at all clear how this was happening," explains the study's senior author Towia Libermann, PhD, Director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "Now, after treating many different types of cancer cells in culture with a whole set of NSAIDs, we can point to this single gene which, when upregulated, kills cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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