Posts tagged ‘lung cancer’

Radon is a toxic gas that is present in atmosphere in free state in trace amounts. You may be living in a posh home in a suburban area but ignore radon at your own peril! Radon can heavily affect your lungs and may make you a patient of lung cancer.

Hence, it is important to know a thing or two about radon’s presence in your house. Iowa is a small state located in the heart of America and it is trying to spread awareness for radon testing. The Iowa Department of Public Health is endeavoring to make people realize the significance of home testing for radon.

Reportedly, Iowa is a region most heavily affected by radon gas. Hence, the citizens of the state are being told to get their houses tested. Gail Orcutt, a lung cancer survivor, is playing a vital role in this endeavor.

Resident of Pleasant Hill, Gail Orcutt was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and had to have her left lung surgically removed. Later she learned about radon poisoning from an article and got her 18-year home tested. The test showed that she was exposed to a higher-than-normal level of radon.

Health officials have suggested that 7 out of 10 houses in Iowa may have higher radon levels. Rick Welke, the state’s Radon Manager Program, says that radon can collect inside any type structure and hence, some states legally require any new construction to be radon resistant.

Gail Orcutt is now working towards (with the aid of the Iowa Radon Coalition) establishing a similar law in the state. As far as radon testing is concerned, the experts recommend that one must get his/her house checked every 2 years. The test kits are available in most hardware stores.


If you are a tuberculosis patient, then beware! For you have 11 times higher chance of falling prey to lung cancer than your non-tuberculosis counterparts. A new study conducted by China Medical University suggests that tuberculosis patients run a greater risk of getting afflicted with lung cancer.

Though, the researchers are still at a loss to clearly associate cancer with tuberculosis, the latest study does furnish evidence of enhanced lung cancer risk among people with tuberculosis. This study has been published in the January issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

Nearly 1 million patients were selected by Hospital in Taiwan and the researchers at China Medical University to carry out a study. These patients were covered under the country’s National Health Insurance program. The patients of age 20 or above were categorised into two groups:

1.     Exposed cohort (those with a fresh diagnosis of tuberculosis between 1998 and 2000)

2.     And non-exposed cohort (those without any tuberculosis history).

They excluded patients who were already suffering from cancer. Thus, 716,872 adults were selected of which 4480 were the exposed cohorts and 712,392 were the non-exposed cohorts.

Both the groups were kept under observation from 2001 to 2007. Later, the study showed that the death rate was higher in the exposed cohort group who were 10.9 times more likely to develop lung cancer.

Dr. Chih-Yi Chen, one of the researchers, stated that this study directs attention to the lesser-known fact that tuberculosis patients need to be evaluated from time to time as they are much more susceptible (11 times more) to lung cancer. Furthermore, if any tuberculosis patient also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease then the vulnerability increased to as high as 16 times.


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

We have known since a considerable span of time that cancer could be barred by eating five portions of  fruits and vegetables. According to a latest European Epic (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer) study conducted by researchers from 10 different nations, a greater emphasis is being laid on eating a variety of fruits rather than the mere quantity, which further helps to reduce the risk of cancer by 23%.

Maria Jose Sanchez Perez, the co-author of the study and the director of the Granada Cancer Registry at the Andalusian School of Public Health , tells SINC, ‘Aside from the amount consumed, its also important to take into account the variety. A varied diet reduces the risk of developing this cancer, above all in smokers’.

A significant finding from this study is definitely good news to smokers all over the globe. The results of the study brings forward the fact that ‘For every two additional units of different kinds of fruits and vegetables in the diet, the risk of lung cancer falls significantly by 3%. So if smokers increase the variety of fruits they eat they could have a lower risk of developing this kind of cancer’.

The research finds out that the risk of developing epidermoid carcinoma of the lung is greatly reduced by consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, thus cutting down the risk of lung cancer amongst smokers by 9%.  Despite the sense of respite in the findings, Maria strongly reinstates the fact that the best way of evading lung cancer is to abstain from smoking completely.


A new research study has thrown up startling possibilities as far as lung cancer is concerned. The carcinoma which invades cigarette smokers seems to be quite different from the cancer that affects people who refrain from the intake of nicotine.

The nature of the tumors in lung cancers which develop in smokers and non smokers vary widely discovered the scientists. The non smoker type of lung cancer occurs more commonly in women particularly those hailing from Asia. The tumors that develop within the lungs of the smokers have been found to carry a particular type of mutation while the ones in non smokers carry a completely different type altogether.

The study results also show that the process of developing lung cancer in non smokers is a long drawn path which becomes considerably shorter for the ones habituated to smoking. Researchers also feel that the path for the smokers may deviate considerably from the known way and follow an entirely different route altogether.

The study got underway with Kelsie L. Thu associated with the BC Cancer Research Center, Vancouver, Canada and his colleagues analyzing the genetic  features of people diagnosed with lung cancers. There were 30 participants in the study who had never smoked in their lives while 39 were smokers with 14 other participants belonging to the group of former smokers.

The researchers confirmed that while there had been a number of similarities in the nature of the lung cancers, the genetic  changes differed quite a bit for the two prominent groups comprising of smokers and non smokers.  Thu and associates also discovered the fact that the non smokers had many more genetic changes accumulated in their lungs than the smokers. The ones who had never smoked should be considered as a separate group altogether stated Thu in the news release. The most interesting aspect of the study proved to be the similarity between the lung cancer tumors of non smokers and the tumors of those who had given up smoking.

The results of the study were presented by Kelsie L. Thu at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers during the Cancer Prevention Research Conference held between Nov. 7-10 at Philadelphia.


Constantine Gatsonis, the biostatistics professional attached to the Brown University along with his colleagues reported the results of their study on the 4th of November 2010. The results were disclosed by the National Cancer Institute.

The study reveals that scanning the patients diagnosed with lung cancer by means of a helical scan can actually help to reduce the death rate by almost 20% as opposed to those that are subjected to chest X-rays.

The results were announced after the first definite evidences of the effectiveness of helical scans started to come in while screening smokers for lung cancers. Gatsonis, who also serves as the director of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) stated that this was indeed a breakthrough for formulating further screening procedures which would be more appropriate in combating the deadly disease.

The lung screening study and the ACRIN conducted a consortium jointly which enrolled around 53,000 heavy smokers both current as well as former. The study was conducted across 33 different sites in America. The ages of the participants varied from 55 to 74. All the participants were observed for a period of 20 months when they underwent three random screening procedures either with the aid of low dose helical CTs ( spiral CT) or a normal form of chest X-ray. The design of the study has also been published in the Radiology journal.

Helical CT scans can be used to obtain multiple images of the chest whereas the standard chest X-rays are limited to a single image of the entire chest.

The study also revealed that the death rate for patients screened with a low dose helical CT was at least 7% less than those who had been screened by regular chest X-Rays. The cause of deaths in the NLST was lung cancer for 25% while the other deaths could be attributed to various other factors including cardio vascular disease.


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.


The official American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology, Physics carried a study report in its October issue which stated that proton beam therapy is  much more effective apart from being a safer method for treating  the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients diagnosed with the inoperable Stage I of the disease.

Lung cancer remains the primary cause of cancer related deaths according to the American Cancer Society.  The commonest mode of treatment is to simply remove a part or whole of the affected lung. Radiation therapy usually serves the same purpose in cases of inoperable incidences of lung cancer.

Medical researchers of Japan tried to find out the advantages of treating NSCLC with the aid of proton beams as opposed to the more conventional treatment with external beam radiation. Stereotactic body radiation therapy which involves targeting a cancerous tumor with focused radiation beams are also used to remove the affected cells of NSCLC patients.

The patients diagnosed with NSCLC were treated with proton beams for over seven years from November 2001-July 2008. The doses differed according to the location of the tumors. The survival rates improved appreciably without any further progression of the disease. The rates were 88.7% and 97% respectively for patients receiving proton beams for peripheral and central tumors over a period of two years. Statistics for the conventional radiation therapy varies between 6% to 31.4% in five years whereas it is 54.7% in two years time for the Stereotactic body radiation.

Hidetsugu Nakayama, the leader of the study, associated with the Proton Medical Research Center in Tennoudai, Tsukuba, Ikbaraki, Japan concluded that proton beam therapy was indeed a much safer and superior means of treatment for inoperable Stage I NSCLC.  However, clinical trials for comparison of the method with Stereotactic body radiation is still required in order shed light on the survival benefits.

Source: News Release By Astro on 19th October 2010.

A completely new method for detecting lung cancer has been developed by the researchers belonging to the NorthShore University Health System (NorthShore) and the Northwestern University. The technique is unique as it involves using optical technology to examine the cells of the human cheek.

Examination of the cheek lining with the aid of biophotonics technology helps in screening the high risk patients for lung cancer, especially from  those who are habitual smokers. It is also possible to identity the individuals who would need more detailed and expensive tests and those who do not require any further tests at all.  The information was shared by the MD and director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore, Hemant K. Roy.

The technique based on optics is known as PWS or partial wave spectroscopic microscopy. It had been developed by Vadim Backman, a professor of biomedical engineering at the ‘Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’. Backman, along with Roy, had also assessed the risks of colon and pancreatic cancers successfully with the aid of PWS.

Using PWS helps in detecting minute features of the cells which can be as small as 20 nanometers. These differences are not obvious by the more usual method of standard microscopy. The PWS test, on the other hand, utilizes the biological phenomenon of ‘field effect’ in which the cells situated in the vicinity of malignant or pre-malignant tumors undergo a number of molecular and other changes.

Hariharan Subramanian, a key researcher attached to Backman’s laboratory, reveals that the PWS has made it possible to detect cancer without having to examine the actual tumor first.

After conducting the tests on a small scale, Roy and Backman focused solely on the smokers. Almost 90% of all lung cancers are known to be aggravated due to smoking placing the group at the highest risk for developing carcinoma of the lung.

The study included a group of people with lung cancer as well as a number of other obstructive pulmonary diseases. It also took into consideration all the stages of cancer including the early ones which were curable as well.

Backman said that the PWS is akin to other cancer screening techniques namely the PAP smear. He added that their goal was to detect the disease early enough for improving the survival rate.

PWS now needs more validation tests before it can be used as a fool proof prescreening method for detection of cancer.

Source: Public release by Northwestern University on 5-Oct-2010

Published Online : Cancer Research Journal (5th October 2010)