Posts tagged ‘cancer treatment’

Early detection of Breast Cancer is good and subsequently results in better treatment with better results and total cure. However, there are huge drawbacks and pitfalls when the mammogram makes false positive diagnosis.

A study published in British Journal of Surgery suggests that wrongly diagnosed women suffer from depression and anxiety and have to lead a reduced quality of life for as much as one year. Though breast cancer screening has its benefits, women who receive false-positive results tend to go under a shell and lead a low quality of life.

At times, the mammogram may show a positive result (even if cancerous cells are absent) which makes the person concerned enter a depressive phase of life. Hence, the physicians the world over are endeavoring to caution womanhood of this pitfall of breast screening.

Researchers from Netherlands had a brief interaction with 385 women who were detected with abnormal mammogram. Out of them, 152 later got diagnosed with cancer but the remaining 233 had false-positive results and were not home to cancerous cells.

Women with abnormal mammograms had their Quality of Life (QoL) assessed with the major factors being their physical health, psychological health, level of independence, social relationships, environment and spirituality.

Women with false-positive were found to be having a low QoL . These women suffered intense anguish, anxiety and depression until further diagnosis showed that they don’t have cancer. At times, this phase of anxiety may go up to a span of 1 year and significantly alter the life style of the victims.

Dr Dr Lideke van der Steeg from the Department of Surgery, St Elisabeth Hospital, Tilburg, and the Centre of Research and Psychology in Somatic Diseases, Tilburg University says that often, women overestimate the risk of breast cancer. They need to be furnished with more balanced information that would give them the choice of whether or not to accept a breast screening invitation.


An exhilarating development in cancer research in the last 10 years now consists of trials occurring at four cancer cure centers in America. The centers are utilizing an extremely responsive and new blood test developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. The test may transform the means for cancer healing. As tumors develop, they discharge cancerous cells into the blood stream. This fresh test pledges to identify the tiniest vestiges of cancer cells disseminating in the blood.

Dr. Dennis Haber, who is one of the researchers, has stated that, for every malignant cell in the blood, there are in excess of a billion blood cells in movement. In the latest test, a blood sample is moved across a microchip that is dealt with exceptional glue. Subsequently, Dr. Mehmet Toner explains that all these cells run through the chip, but only cancerous cells are detected by the chip and they bond with it, with the nontoxic cells being forwarded. The expectation is that, by appraising the amount and sorts of cancerous cells in the blood, physicians can ascertain whether a patient’s treatment is effective or not.

Dr. Elmer Huerta is a former President associated with the American Cancer Society (ACA). He has remarked that, in the treatment given by him, he observes if the tumor is lessening and vanishing in an X-ray and CT scan as well as an MRI. However, on occasions, only months later, a biopsy or X-ray illustrates if the treatment is effectual or not. During that period, crucial time is lost if the cancer lengthens. With this fresh test, physicians will be able to discern instantaneously if the patient still experiences cancer. This test, as per Dr. Pearson, will ensure that the follow-up of cancer sufferers will be more accurate and helpful. Pearson has stated that prudent usage of this technology will enable the detection of repetitive cancer cases earlier and fresh pills can then be supplied to neutralize that cancer.

All this research, however, is still in nascent stages and will take about five years to be comprehensive. Nevertheless, if it is successful, the researchers intend to popularize this test and make it broadly accessible.


According to a new UCSF study, men who are older are offered fewer and low-effective treatment choices than their younger counterparts. This leads to earlier deaths than if they had been given better treatments.

Scientists have discovered that 75-plus men who are suffering from prostate cancer are seldom offered sound and better treatments like surgery or radiation therapies. Instead they are given under-treatment through hormone therapy or watchful waiting.

Senior Investigator Matthew Cooperberg, MD, MPH cites that the age of the patient is playing a crucial role in the treatment of prostate cancer. He remarks that older men with high-risk disease are given under-treatment and on the other hand younger men with low-risk disease are offered over-treatment. He explains that this perhaps explains the cause behind high death rate and suggests that selection of treatment should be risk-based rather than age-based.

Prostate cancer has affected an estimated 217,730 men in 2010 alone and as per American Cancer Society, 32,050 men are likely to die from this disease. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst men and interestingly, 64% of fresh cases in US in 2010 were related to men above 65 of which 23% were above the age of 75.

The researchers studied men in the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) and studied 13,805 patients. The findings revealed that older and high-risk patients had a 46% lower mortality rate if provided with aggressive treatments.

Peter Carroll of UCSF Department of Urology states that the findings support the decision that treatment should be decided based on the disease-risk and life expectancy rather than on chronological age.

Cooperberg concludes by suggesting that there needs to be a better balance between risk and benefit. Even though the risk of surgery and radiation is higher in older patients yet they must be offered a chance of aggressive therapy.


Latest data available from the University of Colorado Cancer Center may, in future, change the way cancer drugs are evaluated. Researchers at the famed University have demonstrated that a class of drugs that was thought to destroy cancer cells may in fact not kill them but merely block ‘cross talk’ between the cancer cell and normal immune cells. This, in turn, curtails the growth of cancer and checks its spread.

The researchers have demonstrated this discovery in bladder cancer which is responsible for around 14,000 American deaths in 2010 alone. It is the fifth most common form of cancer in USA and most people die due to spreading of cancerous cells to other organs in a process known as metastasis.

The study that was published on 22nd December in the Journal of Clinical Investigation proves that Endothelin-A (one of the significant drugs for cancer) does not kill the tumours but merely blocks the spread of cancer to other organs by blocking ‘tumour host interactions’. Since they don’t kill the cancer, they are rendered nearly useless unless they are used at an early stage.

A protein known as Endothelin 1 (ET-1) is supposedly responsible for the growth and spread of cancer cells. Researchers in Colorado University discovered that ET-1 attracts macrophages (immune cells) towards cancerous cells in the lungs and then the cancer grows by a process called metastatic colonization. Endothelin-A receptor antagonist drug blocks the action of ET-1 and thus prevents cancer spread.

But since Endothelin-A is thought to be of use only when given at an initial stage perhaps that’s the reason why it failed to treat a number of patients in phase 3 clinical trials. The new information has significant implications as now the physicians can better test the drug for effectiveness before trying them out on a patient.


A new study from the ‘University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center’ finds that Patients who have complications after colorectal cancer surgery are less likely to get chemotherapy, even when it is undoubtedly recommended for their diagnosis.

“Surgical complications are typically thought to be short-term problems, but our study suggests there is a clear link between downstream cancer care and complications that occur during surgery. This is critical because chemotherapy in this subset of colorectal cancer patients has clear lifesaving benefit,” says lead study author Samantha Hendren, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.

The December issue of the journal ‘Diseases of the Colon & Rectum’ published the study report of 17,108 patients, who had surgery for stage three colorectal cancer. The researchers analyzed the ‘Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare database’. The study recommends Chemotherapy for all stage three colorectal cancer patients as it improves the chances of survival as much as 16 percent after five years.

But oncologists are typically reluctant to give chemotherapy to frail patients as chemotherapy stresses the body and slows the process of healing. The researchers have urged hospitals to adopt quality measures to reduce complications in surgery.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 142,570 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and 51,370 will die from the disease.

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Amgen, the giant biotech drug manufacturers disclosed that the federal health regulators have approved the use of its bone strengthening drug for treating patients with advanced cancer. The frequency of fractures along with other skeletal problems can be relieved by using the bone enhancing agents say the FDA.

The federal body has also cleared the use of the drug denosumab for patients with solid tumors which are cancerous in nature. The FDA was satisfied by its efficacy only after observing the results from three different studies. The authorities are now convinced that denosumab functions well in ridding the body of bone related complications and is almost akin to Novartis’ Zometa as far its effectiveness is concerned. The clinical program took into account almost 50 different types of tumor in 5,700 patients with bone metastases.

The drug denosumab is already being marketed by Amgen as Prolia. However, it is sold as a drug for reducing the effects of menopause induced osteoporosis now. The company has decided to sell the same drug under the name Xgeva for cancer related bone complications.

Company studies indicate that at least 50% of all cancer patients experience a weakening of their bones once the disease advances beyond the primary affected organ and reaches the skeletal system. The procedure of treatment by the drug will be in the form of monthly injections administered by a registered medical professional. Xgeva will work by blocking the activity of a particular protein which is known to break down the bone cells.


Arsenic, which is known as a toxic compound may have some life giving properties as well. This startling fact was brought to light by the researchers working at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  The study results revealed a positive effect on the survival rates of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients. However, the arsenic needs to be administered after the initial part of the standard treatment for APL.

The effect of Arsenic trioxide on the patients with relapsed APL has been known to be beneficial even before.  But the positive effect in the earlier stages particularly after the first remission had been undiscovered until now.

A group comprising of researchers engaged in studying cancer and leukemia found that administering of arsenic trioxide just after the patient was done with the initial standard treatment could dramatically enhance the rate of survival. Bayard L. Powell, the leader of the study as well as the lead author stated that while it is possible to achieve remission with the aid of the standard treatment of chemotherapy and ATRA along with the intake of a Vitamin A like compound, the condition often reoccurs which can then be treated effectively with arsenic trioxide followed by a bone marrow transplant. Instances of the leukemia recurring have been rare in case studies who had improved survival rates as well.

The study results have been published in the journal ‘Blood’ dated 11th November.

The study known as ‘North American Leukemia Intergroup trial C9710’ followed 487 patients with leukemia that remained untreated. The patients were all older than 15 years of age and were divided into two groups. Both the groups received the standard treatment along with the consolidation therapy. However, one of the groups also received 2 additional intravenous courses of arsenic trioxide for 25 days.  The arsenic was given before the standard consolidation therapy for the selected group.

Powell reiterated that people who received arsenic trioxide after the standard therapy are the ones most likely to recover. The results show no instances of relapse even after 36 months which goes on to prove that the early administration of arsenic helps in curing as well as improving the survival rate without showing any additional toxic effect within the body.

Source: Public Release by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center on 11th November 2010

A new study conducted under Peter Mazzone associated with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio found evidences which indicate that the intake of anti diabetic drugs can help to control and even prevent lung cancer. The commonly used drug Metformin has been found to be more effective than the newer drugs like Glitazones and Thiazolidinediones (TZDs).  The scientists found out that the people who were regularly on Metformin were not likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer. Even people who had already contracted the disease could hope to control its spread with the help of diabetes drugs.

The study took into account the records of 157 patients who were on anti diabetic drugs such as Metformin and Thiazolidinedione.  All 157 of the patients had been survivors of lung cancer also suffering from diabetes.  The scientists then discovered that the patients had remote possibilities of developing the advanced form of lung cancer as the drugs happened to halt the spread of the disease.

Mazzone further elaborated on the uniqueness of their study saying that there has been less frequency of squamous cells and small cell carcinomas associated with lung cancer patients put on diabetes drugs like Metformin and TZD. This resulted in an increased survival rate for patients suffering from lung cancer, Mazzone concluded.

The researchers involved in the study now hope to use Metformin as a preventive drug by giving it to smokers who face an additional risk for developing various forms of lung carcinomas. Although the beneficial effects of the diabetes drugs and their role in preventing and controlling lung cancer have been substantiated by the results of this study, further work needs to be done before it can be used conclusively as a preventive drug.


Researchers have now been able to find a way of decreasing pediatric bone cancer by blocking a particular signaling pathway.

The pre clinical studies carried out on mice by the researchers of the University of Texas, MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, Houston showed that the blocked Notch pathways help in limiting the metastases of the lung by fifteen times. The results of the research were presented verbally at the 42nd Congress of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology, last Sunday.

The results further revealed that the metastases of osteosarcoma, the commonest type of bone cancer in young children, can actually be controlled by tweaking the Notch pathway and the Hes1 gene.

Almost 400 children and teenagers below 20 years of age are diagnosed with osteosarcoma every year and most of them already have metastases formed before being diagnosed. The cancer usually spreads to the lungs which is the predominant reason for at least 35% of the pediatric patients dying due to bone cancer.

Dennis Hughes, the leader of the research team and assistant professor associated with MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital said that the results from blocking the Notch in mice have indeed been encouraging making them interested in finding out more about the process of metastasis. He hopes that this will enable them to discover additional therapies for preventing the spread of cancer.

The prognosis of the patient can also depend on the expression of Hes1 genes. He conducted a small study wherein he found that 39% of the patients with higher expression levels of Hes1 survived for a decade whereas the percentage was much higher constituting almost 60% for
patients with a lower level.

The research results also show that the HDAC inhibitors increase the Notch pathway in osteosarcoma cells with low Hes1 expression. For cells with high Hes1 expression and
maximized Notch, HDAC inhibitors cause death.

Source: Public Release By University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center on 25th October 2010.

Carcinoma of the pancreas is considered to be one of the most lethal forms of the disease. However, the researchers explained that the disease killed swiftly simply because its slow progression caused the most obvious symptoms to remain undetected until it was too late.

Dr. Bert Vogelstein the leader of the study and associated with the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore said that the detection of the cancer within the first 20 years will provide the doctors a chance of curing it completely by means of surgery.

Vogelstein’s team conducted a joint research with the British researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Cambridge University. They dug through various pancreatic tumors by collecting the tissue samples as soon as the autopsies were conducted on patients who had succumbed to the carcinoma of the pancreas.  Tissues from the surgically removed cancerous tumors were also studied. These samples had been taken from three patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The researchers published their findings in two papers of the ‘Nature’ journal. They tried to clock the evolution of the tumor at the molecular level by utilizing the various mutations of the tumors. The DNA mutations can be calculated perfectly and the researchers could easily identify the mutations due to pancreatic cancer. The DNA from
the primary tumors were then compared to the secondary ones that had developed in the liver or elsewhere in the body.

Vogelstein formulated a plan of creating a family tree noting the mutations of the genes in successive generations.  However, the most difficult part appears to be screening for pancreatic cancer.  The tumors can hardly be spotted before they get to be too big and even then the process for removing them is complicated indeed.