Thursday, May 29, 2014

FDA requires warnings on sun tanning devices

CANCER DIGEST – May 29, 2014 – The FDA today announced that it has reclassified tanning beds and sunlamps as posing a “moderate-risk” for skin cancer, up from the previous classification of “low-risk.” The order also requires that sunlamp products carry a visible black-box warning on the device that explicitly states that the sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning experience a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. This risk increases each time they use a sunlamp product. In addition, certain marketing materials for sunlamp products and UV lamps must include additional and specific warning statements and contraindications.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Promising target for treating leukemia

Courtesy – Institute for Research in Immunology and
Cancer of Université de Montréal
CANCER DIGEST – May 28, 2014 – A group of researchers at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer of Université de Montréal have identified a gene responsible for tumor progression in leukemia. The gene, known as Brg1, plays a key role in leukemia stem cells that are the root cause of the disease, and lead to treatment resistance and relapse. The researchers led by Julie Lessard say that when the gene is removed from the leukemic cells they no longer divide, thus effectively shutting down the disease progression. If drugs can be developed that block the drug, it might lead to effective treatment for leukemia and other cancers. Their study was published in the journal Blood.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Phase 2 results in CPXcitement for AML

YouTube courtesy Leukemia and
Lymphoma Society of Canada
CANCER DIGEST – May 27, 2014 – Results from a small phase 2 clinical trial of a new chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) were favorable enough that researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, are now recruiting for a larger comparison clinical trial to determine effectiveness. AML is an aggressive blood cancer with very low rates of treatment success. The new drug called CPX-351 “encapsulates” two chemotherapy drugs, cytarabine and daunorubici, in a lipid shell that maintains the effective ratio of the two drugs until delivery to the tumor. In the early trial of 126 newly diagnosed AML patients those who received CPX-351 and whose AML arose out of a previously diagnosed hematologic disorder, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, had higher rates of remission and survived longer, although the objective of the trial was to determine the safest, most effective dose, not survival. The phase 3 CPX-351 clinical trial is currently open and recruiting patients and is designed to measure survival. Those interested in learning more about study should contact Clinical Research Coordinator Nancy Hillgruber at The results from the phase 2 study appeared in the May 22, 2014 journal Blood. An accompanying editorial explains why researchers are optimistic about CPX-351.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New FDA-approved drugs offer hope for melanoma

YouTube courtesy of Hashem
CANCER DIGEST – May 22, 2014 – Since 2011 the FDA has approved two  melanoma drugs, Zelboraf (vemurafenib) and Tafinlar (dabrafenib), and a combination treatment using Mekinist (trametinib) and Tafinlar, which have shown in clinical trials to shrink tumors in about half of melanoma patients. In another clinical trial using Zelboraf and Yervoy (ipilimumab) patients lived longer than if they had received conventional chemotherapy.  Yervoy is a new class of immunotherapy approved for melanoma that cannot be treated with surgery. It blocks a normal protein that thwarts certain immune system cells, called T cells. Yervoy helps the T cells recognize the cancer cells and attack them. All of these drugs appear to work in people whose tumors have a specific gene mutation, called BRAF V600E. By blocking the mutated gene the tumor stops growing and the T cells are able to kill the cancer cells.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MRI and anxiety linked to double mastectomy choice

CANCER DIGEST – May 21, 2014 – Many women who have breast cancer in one breast may be opting for double mastectomy for reasons other than a genetic or family history of the disease indicating a high risk of cancer in the other breast. Researchers who analyzed data from 1447 women with breast cancer who were followed and surveyed twice over a five year period found that 32.2 percent considered having both breasts removed, 45.8 percent received single mastectomy and 22.8 percent received breast conserving surgery, or lumpectomy. Among the  the 7.6 percent who actually underwent double mastectomy most had an MRI and were more likely to fear recurrence. Few had a clinically significant risk of developing cancer in the other breast. The study published today in the journal JAMA Surgery concluded that more research is needed to understand the factors driving the use of double mastectomy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Better biopsy method improves prostate cancer detection

Urology Centre YouTube by
Dr. Nadar Awad, explaining
standard TRUS biopsy.
CANCER DIGEST – May 20, 2014 – Using a combination of MRI and ultrasound researchers significantly improved the detection of moderate- and high-risk prostate cancer compared to current biopsy methods. In a study of 153 men averaging nearly 66 years of age the researchers detected moderate to high-risk tumors in 47 of 65 men (72.3 percent) and low-risk tumors in 19 of 40 men (47.5 percent). They also detected cancer in 15 of 105 of the men (14.3 percent) that had been missed by conventional biopsy, 13 of which were clinically significant. Tumors detected by standard biopsy were upgraded in 23.5 percent of tumors with the targeted MRI.  The technique fuses the images obtained by MRI and ultrasound and uses MRI technology to analyze multiple parameters to differentiate between suspicious lesions and the densely packed cells that indicate a tumor. The study was published today in the June 2014, Journal of Urology.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Oral bacteria may indicate pancreatic cancer

ASM video from press release
Cancer Digest – May 19, 2014 – Researchers have been looking for decades for a way to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage when it might be treatable. Pancreatic cancer kills 40,000 people a year in the U.S. largely because symptoms don't appear until it is too advanced for effective treatment. The catch has been knowing what to look for. Researchers at the University of California San Diego have found that ratios of particular types of bacteria in saliva may be indicative of pancreatic cancer. In an analysis of 131 patients, 14 with pancreatic cancer, 13 with pancreatic disease other than cancer, and 22 with other forms of cancer, they found that only the pancreatic cancer patients had two particular oral bacteria, and they had lower levels of three other bacteria than other people. The study was presented at the 2014 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mayo Clinic early trial uses measles virus to treat blood cancer

Mayo Clinic YouTube
CANCER DIGEST – May 15, 2015 – In a first in class clinical trial, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated a new approach to treating blood cancer using an engineered dose of the measles virus.  Two patients in the early stage trial with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells,  were given doses of the virus and both have responded with reductions of cancer in the bone marrow. One patient, a 49-year-old woman, experienced complete remission of myeloma and has been clear of the disease for over six months. The findings appear in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Question about lung cancer screening decision answered

Joshua Roth, PhD, MHA
CANCER DIGEST – May 14, 2014 – Two weeks ago lung cancer experts were left with more questions than answers when a Medicare advisory panel recommended against using CT scanning for lung cancer screening, citing not enough evidence. That  ran contrary to evidence of a large study showing such screening resulted in a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths for people at high risk of the disease. Today a mathematical model of the screening program pegged the increased cost to Medicare at $9.3 billion over the next five years with approximately $5.6 billion more spent on low-dose CT imaging, $1.1 billion for diagnostic workups, and $2.6 billion more in cancer care expenditures.The study led by Dr. Joshua Roth of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, was summarized in a press release ahead of presentation at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago at the end of May.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Researchers ID key to aggressive prostate cancer

TIME – May 13, 2014 – Knowing which prostate cancers will produce aggressive, fast-growing tumors would give doctors the key to choosing the optimal treatment. Until now, that hasn’t been possible, but researchers at Columbia University, New York think they have found the answer. They report in the May journal Cancer Cell that when two known genes linked to prostate cancer are both active, or turned on, the cancer will progress rapidly. Led by Andrea Califano, director of Columbia’s Genome Center, the researchers are working to develop a test that will allow doctors to know whether a man’s prostate cancer has both genes activated.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Red wine compound may not prevent heart disease, cancer afterall

CANCER DIGEST – May 12, 2014 – An antioxidant found in red wine, chocolate and grapes may not prevent inflammation, heart disease and cancer as has been thought. An eleven-year Italian study of 783 men and women 65 years or older living in Tuscany, Italy found no difference in the levels of digested resveratrol in the urine of those who developed cardiovascular disease or cancer compared to those who didn’t. During the nine years of collecting and analyzing urine samples from 639 participants who had no cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, 174 (27.2 percent) developed cardiovascular disease. Of the 734 free of cancer at the start of the study, 34 (4.6 percent) developed cancer during the follow-up. “This study suggests that dietary resveratrol from Western diets in community-dwelling older adults does not have a substantial influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or longevity,” the researchers concluded.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Immune cell therapy reaches milestone

NY TIMES – May 8, 2014 – Researchers at the National Cancer Institute reported a first successful use of a long-sought adoptive cell therapy for solid tissue cancer. A 43-year-old Billings, Mont. woman has been given a reprieve from her rare bile duct cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs. The researchers led by Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the NCI reported the case in the journal Science today. They used genomic techniques to identify cells in her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in her tumor cells. They grew billions of them in the laboratory and infused them back into her blood resulting in significant shrinking of her tumors. Doctors emphasize that she is not cured, but her cancer has remained in check for two years. As this is just one case, it is too early to tell if it will work in others, however it marks a milestone. Immunotherapy has produced similar long-lasting remissions in blood cancers, such as leukemia, and in melanoma, but this is a first for solid tumors.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Menthol boosts detection of suspicious polyps with colonoscopy

YouTube courtesy National Cancer
MEDPAGE TODAY – May 7, 2014 – Spraying the colon with menthol to reduce the waves of contractions, called gastric peristalsisincreased detection of suspicious polyps by nearly 20 percent according to Japanese researchers. The study of 226 patients who underwent colonoscopies was presented at Digestive Disease Week 2014, the annual meeting of gastroenterologists in Chicago this week. They compared the number of adenomas, a type of polyp, detected in 118 people who underwent administration of menthol before colonoscopy and 108 people treated with a placebo before the procedure. There were 161 low-grade adenomas found in the menthol group for a detection rate of 60.2 percent, compared to 108 in the placebo group for a detection rate of 42.6 percent.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Faster, gentler treatment leaves breast cancer out in the cold

YouTube by St. Johns
CANCER DIGEST – May 6, 2014 – Freezing tumors may be a promising, less-invasive technique for treating small early-stage breast cancers according to a results of a study presented in Las Vegas last week at the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS) Annual Meeting. Lead author Dr. Rache Simmons says the procedure does not need an operating room and can take as little as 20 minutes. The study involved 86 patients from 19 treatment centers with 87 small breast cancers. For the procedure, a cryoprobe was inserted and guided by ultrasound into the targeted lump. Then alternating freezing and thawing with the probe, the tumor is ablated or eradicated. The ablated tissue was then removed surgically and examined by a pathologist. The pathology results found that 100% of patients’ tumors less than 1 cm in size had no remaining invasive cancer. Overall 69 percent of all tumors were successfully ablated with no residual cancer. “Compared to surgery, cryoablation is far less invasive and provides better cosmetic results, shorter procedure time and faster recovery,” Simmons said in a press release.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Overall survival for microwave treatment comparable to surgery for liver cancer

YouTube by American Heart Institute
JGH – May 5, 2014 – More liver cancer patients treated with surgery to remove tumors survived 5 years compared to patient treated with microwaves to ablate or eradicate tumors. The study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology compared overall survival and disease-free survival of 117 patients treated with microwave ablation to 107 patient treated with surgery for liver cancer. Among the microwave group 61 (52 percent) survived 5 years compared to 64 (60 percent) of those treated with surgery, which were considered comparable rates of overall survival. For the microwave group 18 percent had 5-year disease-free survival compared to 31 percent of those in the surgery group. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Medicare panel shocks lung cancer experts by CT screening decision

YouTube comment on USPTF from MD
Anderson – Aug. 2, 2013
MEDPAGE TODAY – May 1, 2014 – An advisory panel has recommended against Medicare coverage of CT scans to screen for lung cancer. The vote caught specialists in heart and lung disease who had made presentations before the panel by surprise. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid panel apparently did not find the evidence of the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial compelling enough to recommend coverage. That runs contrary to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which endorsed annual screening with low-dose CT scans for people at high-risk for lung cancer last December based on the trial’s data showing a 20 percent reduction in lung cancer deaths and 7 percent boost in survival overall for high-risk patients.