Thursday, June 26, 2014

Low-dose aspirin may lower risk of pancreatic cancer

VOA YouTube report on 2011 Oxford Study
of aspirin and cancer risk
CANCER DIGEST – June 26, 2014 – Men and women who took low-dose aspirin regularly had a 48 percent reduction in risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to a Yale study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The longer a person took low-dose aspirin, the lower his or her risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Protection against pancreatic cancer ranged from 39 percent reduction in risk for those who took low-dose aspirin for six years or less, to 60 percent reduction in risk for those who took low-dose aspirin for more than 10 years

Study subjects were recruited from the 30 general hospitals in Connecticut between 2005 and 2009. They were interviewed in person to determine when they started using aspirin, the number of years they used aspirin, and the type of aspirin they used. A dose of 75 to 325 mg of aspirin per day was considered as low-dose aspirin. The results confirm earlier studies showing a protective effect from aspirin for a variety of cancers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MRI-PET imaging combination could cut unnecessary breast biopsies by half

CANCER DIGEST – June 24, 2014 – A new technique using four imaging approaches, was 96 percent accurate in distinguishing malignant breast tumors from those that were benign, and provided better results than combinations of two or three imaging approaches. The researchers at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria reported their study results in the June 2014 Clinical Cancer Research. They estimated that this technique could reduce unnecessary breast biopsies recommended by the commonly used imaging method, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI), by 50 percent. Pinker and colleagues recruited 76 patients to the study who had suspicious or inconclusive findings from a mammography or a breast ultrasonography. They performed a multi-parameter imaging using MRI and contrast dye that shows tumor activity along with a PET scan on all the patients. In addition, they used three other methods. All results were compared with microscopic exam of the tumors to evaluate which imaging combination was most efficient in making an accurate diagnosis. Of the 76 tumors, 53 were malignant and 23 were benign, based on histopathology. The method called  MP 18FDG PET-MRI was the most accurate.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New drug shows promise for recurrent ovarian cancer

Garland Science YouTube channel
CANCER DIGEST – June 22, 2014 – Women treated with a new type of drug halted their recurrent ovarian cancer significantly longer than women treated with a standard chemotherapy treatment, according to a new report in the June 19, Lancet Oncology. The doctors at the University of Arizona Cancer Center published data from 919 women with recurrent ovarian cancer treated at 179 cancer centers in 32 countries. The drug, called Trebananib is a first-in-class agent that prevents two proteins from binding to a tumor cell receptor that triggers the process of angiogenesis, or growing blood vessels needed for  tumor growth. Women in the trial who received the drug plus paclitaxel had disease progression halt for an average of 7.2 months compared to 5.4 months for women treated with paclitaxel. Previous anti-angiogenesis drugs, like bevacizumab (Avastin®), block a growth factor (VEGF) needed for blood vessel growth.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vaccine makes pancreatic cancers susceptible to immunotherapy

Pancreatic cancer YouTube 
CANCER DIGEST – June 18, 2014 – Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed and tested a vaccine that triggered the growth of immune cell nodules within pancreatic tumors, potentially making them vulnerable to immune-based therapies. 

In their study described in the June 18 issue of Cancer Immunology Research, the researchers tested the vaccine in 39 people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC), the most common form of pancreatic cancer. The vaccine, called GVAX, created structures called tertiary lymphoid aggregates within the patients' tumor; structures that help regulate immune cell activation and movement. The aggregates appeared in 33 of the 39 patients treated with the vaccine. The aggregates could shift the immunologic balance within a tumor, setting up an environment to activate good T cells to fight the cancer. The disease becomes resistant to standard chemotherapies and is particularly lethal, with fewer than 5 percent of patients surviving five years after their diagnosis.

Bacteria boosts survival in pancreatic cancer immunotherapy

Smitha Krishnamurthi, MD, Case Western Reserve
University, describes the CRS-270/GVAX trial
YouTube by Targeted Oncology
Cancer Digest — June 12, 2014 — Researchers at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Health care is one of 11 centers studying a new pancreatic cancer immunotherapy that uses modified bacteria to boost the immune response to advanced pancreatic cancer.

In a recently completed early phase trial of 93 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, those who received the combination regimen of CRS-207, GVAX and cyclophosphamide survived an average of 6.1 months compared to 3.9 months for those who received only cyclophosphamide and GVAX. CRS-207 is a modified bacteria, called Listeria that has the effect of increasing the immune response to the cancer. The GVAX is vaccine that causes the tumor to grow nodules that make the cancer susceptible to the immune system’s cancer-killing cells. The immunotherapies were well-tolerated, with no serious treatment-related adverse side effects.

Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials is among the first 11 centers in the United States participating in the study. The drug was developed by Aduro BioTech, Inc., a clinical-stage immunotherapy company located in Berkeley, Calif. A total of 240 patients are expected to be treated at more than 20 clinical trial sites in North America.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cancer drug may boost cancer-killing virus

Balveen Kaur, PhD, conducted
the study combining bortezomib
and viral therapy
CANCER DIGEST – June 16, 2014 – Adding a low-dose of a targeted drug used to treat a type of bone marrow cancer to a cancer-killing virus therapy might increase the effectiveness of such viral therapy, an early laboratory and animal study shows. Researchers at Ohio State University tested the combination of a herpes virus engineered to kill cancer cells and boretezomib (Velcade®) an FDA-approved drug that targets cell complexes that breakdown proteins in cells. They published their findings in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. The study is a long way from human trials, but is a first step needed to show that a treatment strategy is worth pursuing. In the series of experiments in laboratory cultures of cancer cells, and in animal models of human tumors, the combination treatment suppressed brain tumor growth by 92 percent relative to comparison tumors, with six of eight tumors completely eradicated 23 days after treatment. Similar outcomes were seen in models of head and neck cancers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New molecular ‘truck’ can deliver imaging or cancer-killing agents to tumors

A new class of imaging agents is taken
up readily by nearly all human cancers. 
– YouTube courtesy University of
CANCER DIGEST – June 11, 2014 – Scientists at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) report that a new class of tumor-targeting agents can seek out and find dozens of solid tumors, including brain cancer stem cells that currently resist treatments. Cancer cells that lack the enzymes needed to absorb a certain cell membrane component, which is easily processed by normal cells, preferentially take up the agent, called alkylphosphocholine, or APC for short. Like a molecular truck, APC can be ‘loaded’ with either radioactive or chemical agents used to image tissues, or it can be loaded with a cancer-killing radioisotope. The results showed APC was taken up by 55 of 57 different cancers, in both animal and human subjects. The researchers reported their findings in today's issue of the journal ScienceTranslational Medicine.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Killing two birds with one anti-viral stone

Click to visit the Hepatitis B Foundation
CANCER DIGEST – June 9, 2014 – An anti-viral treatment for hepatitis B may turn out to prevent liver cancer according to a new study of 2600 patients treated for the disease. In a first-of-its-kind analysis those treated with antiviral therapy had a significantly lower occurrence of liver cancer during a five-year follow up period. Overall, 3 percent of the patients developed liver cancer during the study period. But patients who received antiviral therapy were 60 percent less likely to develop liver cancer than untreated patients. “The results of this study allow us to reassure our patients that we are not just treating their viral levels, but that antiviral therapy may actually lessen their chance of developing liver cancer,” said the study’s lead investigator, Henry Ford Health System’s Stuart C. Gordon, M.D. The finding was published in the May issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Promising device may detect pancreatic cancer earlier

YouTube courtesy Mayo Clinic Florida
press release
CANCER DIGEST – June 8, 2014 – Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida have developed a promising tool for detecting pancreatic cancer, which could lead to earlier treatment. In a feasibility study published in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the researchers showed that an optical blood oxygen sensor attached to an endoscope is able to correctly identify pancreatic cancer 92 percent of the time and correctly rule out cancer 86 percent of the time. The device measures changes in blood flow in the tissues close to the pancreas. Tumors tend to increase blood flow in nearby tissues in order to extract oxygen needed to grow. The researchers tested the device in a group of 14 patients already diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 10 patients without cancer. They are now conducting larger studies in the U.S. and Europe to see if their findings are confirmed. Currently 90 percent of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage when there is no effective treatment. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New guidelines call for extending tamoxifen for 10 years

Joanne Mortimer, MD, Director of the Women's
Cancers Program at City of Hope Comprehensive
Cancer Center, Duarte, California
    CANCER DIGEST – June 5, 2014 – An expert panel at the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) meeting last week announced new guidelines for adding endocrine (hormone) therapies such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors for post menopausal women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) include Exemestane (Aromasin®), Letrozole (Femara®), and Anastrozole (Arimidex®)

    Following breast cancer treatment, the panel recommends that:
    • Postmenopausal patients should be offered continued tamoxifen for a total duration of 10 years or an AI for a total duration of up to 10 years of adjuvant endocrine therapy.
    • Postmenopausal women should be offered added endocrine therapy with one of the following options: tamoxifen for 10 years; or an AI for 5 years; tamoxifen for 5 years, then switching to an AI for up to 5 years; or tamoxifen for 2-3 years and switching to an AI for up to 5 years.
    • Women who are postmenopausal and are intolerant of either tamoxifen or an AI should be offered the alternative type of adjuvant endocrine therapy.

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Colorectal cancer screening saves lives

    Courtesy American Cancer Society YouTube
    CANCER DIGEST – June 4, 2014 – Screening for colorectal cancer is working, according to a massive analysis of data from National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. SEER logs information from all cancer cases in the U.S. The analysis looked at screening for colorectal cancer over three decades from 1986 to 2010 and cancer colorectal cancer incidence between 1976 and 2009. They found that from 1987 to 2010 the percentage of adults 50 and older who underwent colorectal cancer screening increased from 34.8 percent to 66.1 percent. During that time the incidence of late-stage colorectal cancer declined from 118 cases per 100,000 people to 74 cases per 100,000 people. The incidence of early-stage colorectal cancer also decreased from 77 cases per 100,000 to 67 cases per 100,000. After adjusting for trends in cancer incidence, the researchers calculated that colorectal cancer screening could be linked to a 550,000 reduction in the number of cases. They published their results online in the June 3, 2014 journal Cancer.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Combination therapy boosts overall survival of deadly melanoma

    CANCER DIGEST – June 3, 2014 – A new combination immunotherapy for melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body put up some impressive survival numbers in an early stage study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago. The drugs ipilimumamb and nivolumab nearly doubled the overall survival rates seen with the best of current treatments. In the study of 53 patients 85 percent survived one year, and 79 percent were still alive after two years. The median overall survival was 40 months. That compares to a median overall survival of about 24 month for current therapies according to lead author of the study Dr. Mario Sznol of Yale University School of Medicine. The drugs target tumor proteins that allow cancer cells to evade the immune system, thus allowing the immune system to attack the cancer. 

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Combination therapy halts disease progression nine months more in recurrent ovarian cancer

    Jane Robertson, MD, Global Product Vice 
    President for olaparib at AstraZeneca, 
    describes the mechanism of action of 
    olaparib. YouTube

    CANCER DIGEST – June 2, 2014 – Advances in treating recurrent ovarian cancer are usually marked in weeks or a month or two. So a study showing disease progression halted by an additional nine months is capturing attention at this week’s annual meeting of the Association of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago. In a Dana Farber Cancer Cancer Institute study, 90 women with recurrent ovarian cancer received a targeted therapy, called olaparib, or olaparib with another targeted therapy called cediranib. Almost half (48 percent) of those who received the single drug treatment had their tumors shrink and had the cancer held in check for an average of nine months. By comparison 80 percent of those in the combination treatment group had their tumors shrink and it took an average of 18 months before the cancer resumed progression. Targeted therapies act on specific proteins or genes of the tumor resulting in milder side effects than typically occurs with chemotherapy. 

    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    Early chemo extended survival by a year in advanced prostate cancer

    YouTube courtesy Dana Farber 
    CANCER DIGEST – June 1, 2014 – Men newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body survived a year longer when treated with chemotherapy before undergoing hormone therapy, compared to men who received the chemotherapy after their cancer became resistant to hormone therapy. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute clinical trial is the first to prolong survival in men newly diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer according to lead investigator  Dr. Christopher Sweeney. In the study, 790 men were randomly assigned to receive standard hormone blockade therapy or chemotherapy (Taxotere®) and hormone blockade therapy. After 29 months the median overall survival in the hormone therapy only group was 44 months compared to 57.6 months for the men who received early chemotherapy plus hormone therapy. The study was presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.