Posts tagged ‘early detection’

Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. According to a study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, positron emission tomography and computed tomography can be used as useful tools to predict lung cancer at an early stage. The lung cancer patients who were at the center of this study were being treated by radiofrequency ablation (RFA). RFA uses thermal energy to kill cancer cells and is useful for those patients who cannot undergo surgery or other therapies.

This was a five year old study which followed 68 cancer patients. Several indicators of local recurrence were predicted by reviewing PET/CT scans performed before and after RFA. The factors determining potential local reference in pre RFA scans were lesion size and type of tumor. However, after RFA, the factors that could predict the likelihood of recurrence were size of ablation margins, standardized uptake value and so on. The outcome of the above study was that pre and post PET/CT scans can help tremendously in the early diagnosis of lung cancer.

Other important recent study on cancer has claimed that a small dose of Aspirin everyday can lower the risk of different types of cancers. This research was conducted at Oxford University and found that the cancer deaths were reduced by one-fifths after taking aspirin. The study covered over 25,000 people, mostly from the UK. Aspirin is already known to be good for heart and now its positive effect on cancer patients or those who might have cancer is incredible. Experts believe that the potential benefits of Aspirin are far more than its after-effects.

Source: SNM Press Release – Dec 6, 2010;

BBC News Health – Dec 7, 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.