Digestive cancers

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Stomach ulcer bacteria might also be linked to colorectal cancer

Electron micrograph of H. pylori - copy-
right free image from Wikipedia 
CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 13, 2018 – Could a round of antibiotics prevent colorectal cancer? That’s the intriguing question coming out a new Duke University study that links the bacterium H. pylorito an increased risk of of colorectal cancers. 

The study analyzed 4,000 colorectal cancer cases and found a significant correlation between colorectal cancer and those infected with a particularly virulent strain of H. pylori that is especially common among African Americans and Asians.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Treatment for severe heartburn prevents cancer

Illustration Cancer Research UK / Wikimedia Commons 
CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 25, 2018 – Medication or surgery to treat severe heartburn prevents cancer of the esophagus, say Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 940,000 patients treated for acid reflux between 1964 and 2014 in five Scandinavian countries. Of the those with reflux in the study, about 895,000 received medical treatment. A total of 2,370 of those treated (0.3 per cent) developed cancer of the esophagus during the follow-up period. The study findings are published online Aug. 23, 2018 by the journal JAMA Oncology.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cyanide drug cuts hearing loss in half in children treated for liver cancer

Photo courtesy of CDC Early Hearing Detection and
Intervention program
CANCER DIGEST – June 21, 2018 – A drug used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning reduces hearing loss by nearly 50 percent in children treated with chemotherapy for liver cancer, researchers say.

The drug is sodium thiosulphate (STS) and has been used for decades primarily as an antidote to cyanide poisoning, and is also used as a chemical to reduce excess chlorine levels in swimming pools. In the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, British researchers led by Dr. Penelope Brock for Cancer Research UK treated children with a rare type of childhood liver cancer called hepatoblastoma.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Could fasting help people treated for gastrointestinal cancer?

Intestinal stem cells from mice that fasted for 24 hours,
at right, produced much more substantial intestinal
organoids than stem cells from mice that did not fast,
at left. Photo courtesy MIT taken by 
Maria Mihaylova
and Chia-Wei Cheng
CANCER DIGEST – May 12, 2018 – In a study in mice, researchers at MIT in Boston have found that fasting caused stem cells in the animals become more regenerative. The researchers also found that they could boost regeneration with a molecule that activates the same metabolic switch.

The study published in the May 3, 2018 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell, showed that fasting causes cells in the intestine to switch from their usual metabolism, which burns carbohydrates such as sugars, to metabolizing fatty acids. This switch occurs through activation of genetic switches called transcription factors.

Friday, December 22, 2017

New drug breaks down chemo resistance for some pancreatic tumors

Dr. Sunil Hingorani led a clinical trial of the drug PEGPH
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 22, 2017 – A new drug that breaks down resistance to chemo in pancreatic cancer tumors has shown promise in making progress in the the highly fatal cancer.

In a phase 2 clinical trial aimed at determining effectiveness, researchers led by Dr. Sunil Hingornai of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, showed the drug PEGPH20 added to treatment with a combination chemotherapy regimen of paclitaxel and gemcitabine increased overall survival by 3 months. The study was published online Dec. 12, 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ACA increased colorectal cancer screening

The study’s coauthors are Brett Lissenden, a fifth-year
student in UVA’s economics Ph.D. program, and Aaron
Yao, an assistant professor in the Department of Public
Health Sciences. (Photo by Dan Addison, University
CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 21, 2017 – The Affordable Care Act increased cancer screenings, and especially increased colorectal cancer screenings between 2011 and 2013, say researchers at the University of Virginia.

One of the main goals of the law that came to be known as Obamacare was to reduce healthcare costs in part by increasing coverage for prevention care on the theory that treating certain diseases such as cancer is less expensive when caught early when the disease is more treatable.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

New viral therapy shows promise in treating primary liver cancer

Image courtesy Wikipedia
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 19, 2016 – A virus that causes childhood coughs and colds could help in the fight against primary liver cancer, according to a study published in the journal Gut.

The research team, at Leeds University, Leeds, UK,  found that Reovirus was successful in treating both liver cancer cells grown in the laboratory and those taken directly from patients undergoing surgery for primary liver cancer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

8 more cancers linked to excess weight

Copyright: Kurhan 
CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 31, 2016 – An international team of researchers has identified eight additional types of cancer linked to excess weight and obesity: stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, meningioma (a type of brain tumor), thyroid cancer and the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

The findings are based on a review of more than 1,000 studies of excess weight and cancer risk analyzed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer on Research (IARC), based in France.  The results of the analysis were published Aug. 25 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Blocking glutamine may starve colorectal cancer cells

A molecular model of L-glutamine. Image courtesy Jynto
via Wikimedia Commons
CANCER DIGEST – July 31, 2016 – A new clinical trial set to get under way later this summer will try to determine if denying certain types of colorectal cancer cells a specific nutrient will starve them to death.

The Case Western Reserve University trial is based on laboratory and mouse studies showing that colorectal cancer cells with a genetic mutation called PIK3CA died when deprived of the nutrient glutamine, which is an amino acid used by cells to make proteins. This mutation is located in a gene critical for cell division and movement, and is found in approximately one third of all colorectal cancers.Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in human blood and is mostly made in muscle tissue.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Radiation plus chemo reduces recurrence in some pancreatic cancer

Image provided by Mayo Clinic

CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 5, 2016 – Pancreatic cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation after surgery were less likely to have the cancer recur within the five years following treatment than patients who only received chemotherapy after surgery.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New technology uses sound to kill pancreatic tumors

Ulster University's Professor John Callan
led the team of researchers who made the
pancreatic cancer breakthrough.
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 22, 2015 – A new approach using sound waves to destroy cancer cells is showing promise for treating pancreatic cancer.

The treatment, called sonodynamic therapy (SDT) is the latest in a long line of approaches for delivering a toxic blow to cancer tumors without harming healthy tissues. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

FDA approves new drug for advanced pancreatic cancer

CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 26, 2015 –  Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer now have a new FDA approved drug, Onivyde, that increased overall survival rates by two months in an international clinical study conducted in part by researchers at HonorHealth Research Institute and theTranslational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pancreatic cancer stem cells could be 'suffocated' by diabetes drug

CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 21, 2015 – A new study shows that pancreatic cancer stem cells (PancSCs) are virtually addicted to oxygen–based metabolism, and could be “suffocated” with a drug already used to treat diabetes. 

Cancer cells commonly rely on glycolysis, a type of metabolism that does not use molecular oxygen to generate energy. PancSCs can make use of an even more efficient form of metabolism, called oxidative phosphorylation or OXPHOS, which occurs in a part of the cell called mitochondria. Metformin blocks PancSCs from using OXPHOS triggering cell death, or apoptosis. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Drinking coffee may prevent colon cancer recurring after treatment

CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 20, 2015 – Drinking three to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day may help prevent the return of colon cancer after treatment and improve the chances of a cure, according to a new, large study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quality of colonoscopy exam matters

CANCER DIGEST – June 18, 2015 – Patients whose doctors tend to detect more adenomas, or abnormalities in the intestines had a 50 to 60 percent lower lifetime risk of dying of colorectal cancer, a new analysis shows.

The researchers led by Reinier G.S. Meester, M.Sc., of Erasmus Medical Center University Rotterdam, the Netherlands analyzed data from 57,000 patients in the Kaiser Permanente health system who underwent colonoscopies administered by 136 different gastrointestinal specialists. The study was published in the June 16Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yogurt bacteria developed into urine test for liver tumors

CANCER DIGEST – June 10, 2015 – Researchers have found a new use for bacteria, identifying liver tumors much earlier so treatment can be more effective.

Researchers have long been pursuing the use of bacteria to develop anti-cancer vaccines, engineering bacteria to specifically target and kill cancer cells. Now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of California at San Diego have engineered a strain of the E. coli

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Drug combination extends survival in advanced colorectal cancer

CANCER DIGEST – May 13, 2015 – A drug developed 50 years ago and abandoned because it was considered to be too toxic, extended survival for colorectal cancer patients whose standard treatments were no longer working. 

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston led the clinical trial involving 800 patients worldwide. Results showed the drug in combination with another agent lengthened the lives of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer by an average of almost two months. All participants had metastatic colorectal cancer that was progressing despite previous treatment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chemo nearly doubles survival rate for advanced colorectal cancer

CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 14, 2015 – The survival rate of people with advanced colorectal cancer has nearly doubled since newer chemotherapies were introduced in 2001, a new study shows.

Researchers led by Chung-Yuan Hu, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the University of Texas MD Anderson Center, Houston, examined patterns of primary tumor resection (surgery) and survival in stage IV colorectal cancer in the United States. Their study appears today in the journal JAMA Surgery. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Arming anti-cancer virus with immunity protein boosts effectiveness

CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 28, 2014 – A new anti-cancer virus combined with an immune system protein is showing promise as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, a new study shows.

The study done in mice engineered to have form of pancreatic cancer similar to humans uses the relatively new treatment approach, called oncolytic viral therapy, and combines it with the long studied immunotherapy in an effort to make the cancer treatment last longer. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Malaria drug may be effective treatment for colorectal cancer

Artemisinin comes from the plant 
Artemisia annua - Image courtesy
University of St George's London 
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 20, 2014 – A common malaria drug could reduce recurrence of colorectal cancer providing a inexpensive alternative to current expensive chemotherapy given before surgery.

In an early pilot study, the drug, artesunaten, was given in 14 daily doses to 12 patients prior to surgery for colon cancer. Eleven similar patients were given a placebo before surgery. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Colorectal cancer increasing in young adults

Colorectal cancer 
rates are lower for 
most people, but up 
for young adults –
photo: NIH archives
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 7, 2011 – The number of people aged 20-34 with colorectal cancer increased by nearly 2 percent from 1975 to 2010, but declined overall by a little less than 1 percent.

Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) colorectal cancer registry, researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center analyzed trends in four age ranges of 393,241 patients diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer from 1975 through 2010. The study was published in the current issue of JAMA Surgery.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hormone loss could trigger colon cancer

Guanylin plays a role in replenishing
skin cells lining the gut. (Illustration
from Wikipedia) 
CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 10, 2014 – Lack of a hormone may be linked to colon cancer, a laboratory study has shown. If confirmed, it would be the first time a cancer has been linked to hormone loss, which could lead to hormone replacement therapy to prevent colon cancer.

The hormone guanlyn is produced by normal colon cells and activates a receptor called GUCY2C (pronounced "goosy toosy" by researchers). The activation of GUC2YC signaling is critical to helping replenish the skin cells lining the gut and maintaining their overall function. People over 50 years old tend to produce much less of the hormone in their normal colon cells, which could help explain the increase in colon cancer risk in older individuals. The study was published online Oct. 10 in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Engineered vitamin D may be key to effective pancreatic cancer treatment

Click for Salk Institute video
CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 25, 2014 – A modified form of vitamin D appears to make pancreatic cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy, say researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Ca., which could open the door to this hard-to-treat cancer.

The researcher led by Dr. Ron Evans, director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory, developed a synthetic form of vitamin D that deactivates inflamed cells surrounding the cancer cells that form a kind of “shield” that keeps immune cells and chemotherapy from reaching the tumor. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lilly drug improves survival in colorectal and gastric cancers, not breast cancer

CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 19, 2014 – Mixed results for Eli Lilly’s targeted drug CYRAMZA™ (ramucirumab) were published this week in a pair of studies, one showing a significant increase in overall survival for people with gastric (stomach) and colorectal cancers but no significant increase for patients with breast cancer.

Ramucirumab blocks VEGFR-2 (vascular endothelial growth factor) a protein important for the formation of blood vessels needed to support tumor growth. A number of these agents are being tested in a variety of solid tumor cancers.

In the unpublished RAISE study of over 1,000 patients with colorectal cancer a Lilly press release reported that adding CYRAMZA to a chemotherapy regimen improved overall survival to 5.2 months compared to 3.8 months for those given the chemo regimen alone. 

In the RAINBOW trial of 665 people with stomach cancers, patients receiving CYRAMZA and paclitaxel had an overall survival of 9.6 months compared to 7.4 months in the standard chemo group. It was published online in The Lancet Oncology.

Results in the ROSE/TRIO-12 trial of 1,144 patients with HER2 negative breast cancer published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed no significant improvement in overall or progression free survival. Overall survival was 27.3 months with ramucirumab compared to 27.2 months without it. Progression-free survival for the ramucirumab group was 9.5 months compared to 8.2 months without.

The FDA approved Cyramza™ for advanced or metastatic stomach cancers in April 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wild berry extract may boost effect of pancreatic cancer drug

CANCER DIGEST – Sept. 18, 2014 – In a laboratory study, extract of chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) appeared to increase the number of cancer cells killed following an application of a common chemotherapy drug used for a number of cancers.

The study used a well-known line of pancreatic cancer cells (AsPC-1) in the laboratory and tested how well the cells grew when treated with either the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar®) or different levels of commercially available chokeberry extract alone, and when treated with a combination of gemcitabine and chokeberry extract.

The researchers at King's College Hospital and the University of Southampton, UK, found that a dose as little as 1 ug/ml (microgram per milliliter) over 48 hours was effective in increasing the cancer cell-killing effectiveness of the gemcitabine. At the same time, the berry extract had no effect on the normal cells lining the blood vessels indicating that, however the extract was spurring cancer cell death, it was not by preventing new blood vessel formation. The researchers published their findings in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

"These are very exciting results. The low doses of the extract greatly boosted the effectiveness of gemcitabine when the two were combined,” Lead Researcher Bashir Lwaleed said in press release. “In addition, we found that lower doses of the conventional drug were needed, suggesting either that the compounds work together synergistically, or that the extract exerts a ‘supra-additive’ effect. This could change the way we deal with hard to treat cancers in the future. "

The team believes that clinical trials are now needed to explore the potential of naturally occurring micronutrients in plants, such as those found in chokeberry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FDA approves first DNA screening test for colorectal cancer

YouTube by Exact Sciences
CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 12, 2014 –The U.S. FDA today approved Cologuard, the first stool-based DNA colorectal screening test that detects genetic mutations that may indicate colon cancer or precursors to cancer.

Using a stool sample, Cologuard detects blood components and certain mutations associated with colorectal cancer in the DNA of cells shed by advanced adenomas as stool moves through the large intestine and rectum. Patients with positive test results are advised to undergo a diagnostic colonoscopy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Case for daily aspirin grows stronger

copyright  Sauligno via Creative Commons
CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 7, 2014 – In the first review of all the available evidence from many studies and clinical trials of preventive aspirin use, researchers found that taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by around 35 percent and deaths by 40 percent. 

Led by Jack Cuzick, head of Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for Cancer Prevention, the researchers also found the rates of esophageal and stomach cancers were cut by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers by 35-50 percent. The study was published today in the journal Annals of Oncology.

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 ofClinical 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, 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 increased detection of possible tumors 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 or polyps 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.  

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. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Smoking and drinking triples esophageal cancer risk

YouTube video
CHEMOTHERAPY ADVISOR – April 22, 2014 – People who smoke and drink alcohol have three times the risk of cancer of the esophagus as those who do neither. The risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma for people who only smoke or drink alcohol is 20 percent to 30 percent higher than those who refrain, suggesting that the combination of the two has a synergistic affect on cancer risk. The esophagus is the tube connecting the stomach to the throat. Researchers analyzed data from five studies that involved studies comparing the affects of tobacco and or alcohol. The results were published in the April 22, 2014 American Journal of Gastroenterology.   Read more …

Monday, April 21, 2014

FDA approves Cyramza for stomach cancer

Photo courtesy Eli Lilly & Co.
FDA NEWS RELEASE – April 21, 2014 – The FDA announced today approval of Cyramza (ramucirumab) for treatment of advanced cancers of the stomach and  esophagus that continue to progress despite treatment with other chemotherapy.  The drug developed by Eli Lilly and Company was granted Orphan Drug Designation, and targets a growth factor involved in tumor blood vessel formation needed to sustain tumor growth. The approval was based on a trial of 355 patients with gastric (stomach) cancers including those that start at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach neck. Two-thirds of the patients received standard chemotherapy and Cyramza and the remaining third received standard chemotherapy and placebo.Those in the Cyramza group had a median overall survival of 5.2 months compared to 3.8 months in participants receiving placebo. Common side effects experienced by Cyramza-treated participants during clinical testing include diarrhea and high blood pressure.

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