Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making tumors glow to improve cancer

Photo courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania
CANCER DIGEST – July 29, 2014 – Between 20 and 50 percent of cancer patients who undergo surgery end up with recurrence of their cancer, indicating that the surgeon missed some of the diseased tissue from the site. Identifying the edges of a tumor can be difficult to do during a procedure, and typically surgeons have to rely on visual examination of the tumor and feeling for differences with their fingers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

One third of cancer patients are killed by a 'fat-burning' process

Video courtesy – CNIO
CANCER DIGEST – July 28, 2014 – Transforming “bad” fat into “good” fat is currently one of the most researched processes of the body, thanks to the obesity epidemic. The bad fat is white and stored throughout the body, but in a process not fully understood, that stored fat is turned into good fat or brown fat that is burned for energy. While spurring that process is sought as a means to reduce obesity and diabetes, researchers in Spain

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Incidence of head and neck cancer higher for those with diabetes

YouTube – courtesy Orange County Cyberknife
Oncology Center in Orange County
CANCER DIGEST – July 24, 2014 – A database analysis of 89,089 patients appears to show that diabetes increases the risk of head and neck cancer, according to a study in today’s JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.

The researchers at the Tainan University of Technology, Taiwan, used their country’s Longitudinal Health Insurance Research Database to examine the risk of head and neck cancers in patients with diabetes. While they did not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 in the study, all of the patients were newly diagnosed and the highest incidence of head and neck cancer was among those 40 to 65 years old. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Parasite in cats shows promise for a potent cancer vaccine

A single nonreplicating cps parasite
inside a tumor cell – 
Norris Cotton
Cancer Center
CANCER DIGEST – July 22, 2014 – A parasite that is only able to reproduce and complete its lifecycle in cats’ intestines has been adapted to make a potent anti-cancer vaccine. Using the parasite commonly found in cat feces, researchers at Norris Cotton Cancer Center have developed a vaccine that uniquely spurs the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a single-celled parasite

Monday, July 21, 2014

Advances in chemo have lengthened non-small cell lung cancer survival

YouTube courtesy The Oncology Channel spon-
sored by Boehringer Ingelheim
CANCER DIGEST – July 21, 2014 – Patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer survived significantly longer when treated with second and third line chemotherapy compared to patients who did not receive any chemotherapy, a new analysis of patient survival shows.

The researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, Canada analyzed

Friday, July 18, 2014

Robot-assisted prostate surgery controls cancer for 10 years

YouTube courtesy
CANCER DIGEST – July 18, 2014 – Robot-assisted surgery to remove cancerous prostate glands is effective in controlling the disease for 10 years, according to a new study in European Urology. The Henry Ford Health System research study followed 483 consecutive men who had cancer that had not spread outside the prostate. All underwent robot-assisted radical prostectomy as their first treatment between 2001 to 2003, the earliest years of Henry Ford's robot-assisted prostate surgery program.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Breast cancer screening costs up, early detection unchanged

CANCER DIGEST – July 16, 2014 – Medicare spending on breast cancer screening increased by nearly $300 million a year between 2001 and 2009 but the detection rates of early stage tumors were unchanged, according to a new study published July 16 in the JNCI: Journalof the National Cancer Institute. Using data from the SEER-Medicare linked database, researchers at the Yale Cancer Center created two groups of women 65 and over and compared them.

Double mastectomy to prevent cancer may result in small survival benefit

CANCER DIGEST – July 16, 2014 – Women without BRCA genetic mutations who have breast cancer in one breast and choose to have both breasts removed to prevent cancer in the opposite breast have an average increase in life expectancy ranging from 1 to 7 months depending on type and stage of cancer, according to a study published July 16 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Study shows no survival benefit for hormone therapy

Top shows the prostate and 
nearby organs. Bottom shows 
prostate surrounding the 
urethra. (courtesy NCI)
CANCER DIGEST – July 14, 2014 – A common treatment for prostate cancer makes little difference in the 15-year survival of men diagnosed with early stage disease. The study is not the first to question the use of the treatment, called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or hormone blockade, in men with cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate, but it is one of the largest to date.

Led by Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH cancer epidemiologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Rutgers University researchers analyzed information from 66,717 Medicare patients aged 66 and older diagnosed with stage T1 or T2 prostate cancer. They found that when ADT was administered as the primary treatment for cancer confined to the prostate in the first six months after diagnosis, there was no difference in overall survival or in prostate cancer survival. 

Lu-Yao noted in a press release that ADT is appropriate for advanced stage disease and for high-risk patients. “Because of the potential side effects of osteoporosis, diabetes and decreased muscle tone, clinicians must carefully consider the rationale behind ADT treatment if used as the primary therapy for older patients,” she said. The study was published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vasectomy poses small increased risk of prostate cancer

CANCER DIGEST – July 10, 2014 – Men who undergo vasectomy have a small increased risk of prostate cancer, and stronger risk of a more aggressive form of the disease, results of a 24-year public health study show. The researchers from Harvard updated the results of the ongoing study of 49,405 U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which began in 1986. The study appeared online July 7, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. During that time there were 6,023 cases of prostate cancer  including 181 fatal cases. About 25 percent of the participants reported having had a vasectomy, and the results showed those men had a 10 percent higher risk of prostate cancer and about a 20 percent higher risk of the aggressive or lethal form of the disease. The effect appeared to be greatest among men who had their vasectomies at a younger age. While the increased risk should be discussed with men considering the procedure, the researchers noted that the while the relative increase in risk is significant, it translates into a relatively small increase overall risk, noting that in the study 16 in 1,000 men developed lethal prostate cancer over 24 years.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

FDA to scrutinize cancer risks of uterine surgical device

YouTube courtesy:Smith & Nephew Digital Communications
CANCER DIGEST – July 9, 2014 – Sale and use of a device used in a minimally invasive surgery to remove uterine fibroids, called myomectomy, and to perform hysterectomies has been suspended pending a FDA advisory committee meeting July 10 and 11. The committee will examine recent cases linking the device to the spread of a rare cancer. The device is a laparoscopic morcellator, which is used to cut fibroid and uterine tissue into small pieces that can be removed through a small incision. The device has been used since the early 1990s to perform more than 50,000 hysterectomies or myomectomies each year. In an alert issued in April, the FDA estimated that 1 in 350 women undergoing such procedures is found to have unsuspected uterine cancer. “If laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in women with unsuspected uterine sarcoma,” the alert stated, “there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s likelihood of long-term survival.” Some hospitals have suspended the use of the device and Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of the device, has halted sales, distribution and promotion of the device until FDA’s investigation is completed and the role of the device in these procedures is redefined.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

AMGEN drug for ALL receives FDA’s breakthrough designation video
CANCER DIGEST – July 8, 2014 – The FDA granted breakthrough therapy status to blinatumomab for the most common form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The cancer results from too many immature white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. To get breakthrough designation, a drug must show preliminary clinical evidence indicating the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies. A total of 82 of 189 (43 percent) patients treated with blinatumomab achieved a complete remission or a partial hematological recovery. The results were presented at the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting in June. Blinatumomab is an engineered antibody that directs T-cells in the immune system to attack cells that produce certain molecules found on the surface of the abnormal ALL white blood cells. Sean E. Harper, MD, executive vice president, Research and Development at Amgen, which makes the drug, said in a press release that the company is currently recruiting for a large clinical trial that will compare blinatumomab to standard chemotherapy, and plans to enroll 400 patients over the next two to three years.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cell discovery could lead to blocking cancer spread

Migrating embryonic neural crest
cells (credit: Prof. Roberto Mayor)
CANCER DIGEST – July 7, 2014 – Cancer that spreads, or metastasizes, to other parts of the body is often deadly. How tumors spread, however, or more specifically, how cancer cells enter the blood or lymph systems to be transported elsewhere has long been a mystery. Researchers at the University College London (UCL) reported today in the Journal of Cell Biology that they have discovered that cells can change into a liquid-like state to easily move through blood and lymph vessels. 

The researchers say a molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) changes cells from a solid to a liquid-like state, allowing cells to flow between tissues in the body. Lead author of the study, Professor Roberto Mayor, of UCL, called the discovery a milestone in understanding cell development and cancer biology. 

“We have found a way to stop the movement of embryonic cells by blocking LPA signals,” he said in a press release. “It is likely that a similar mechanism operates during cancer invasion, which suggests a promising alternative in which cancer treatments might work in the future, if therapies can be targeted to limit the tissue fluidity of tumors.”

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tool adapted to surgery may improve brain cancer surgery

The Purdue-designed
mass spectrometer to
help guide brain surgery.
(Photo courtesy of
Brigham and Women’s
CANCER DIGEST – July 6, 2014 – A new tool that sprays a microscopic stream of charged solvent onto a brain tumor and surrounding tissue may help brain surgeons more precisely remove cancerous tissue during surgery, say researchers developing the tool at Purdue University and surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The tool uses a technique called mass spectrometry that can identify molecules based on mass, and produces a color-coded image that reveals the location, type and concentration of tumor cells. The tool had previously been shown to accurately identify the cancer type, grade and tumor margins of specimens removed during surgery based on an evaluation of the distribution and amounts of fatty substances called lipids within the tissue.

R. Graham Cooks, the Purdue professor who co-led the project said in a press release, that brain tumor tissue looks very similar to healthy brain tissue, making it is very difficult to determine where the tumor ends and the normal tissue begins. The molecular information provided by the tool can help surgeons precisely and more thoroughly remove the cancer.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is published online.