Sep 23, 2009 | 6
BALTIMORE—In the decades-long war on cancer, as of late, researchers had been making little progress in comparison to colleagues treating other conditions, such as cardiac or infectious diseases. "Cancer research has really plateaued out," William Matsui, an associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine, said at the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit here on Tuesday. But pushing cancer stem cell research "gives us a novel way to study cancer," said Matsui, who also runs a lab at the university's Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Cancer and stem cells have had a fraught relationship—not in the least because of early concern that stem cell treatments could in fact spur on cancer through their encouragement of undifferentiated cell growth. But cancer stem cells themselves have gained a more solid toe-hold in the past several years as a potential new target for cancer research.
Jun 30, 2009 | 3
How much are cancer drugs worth that may only prolong a patient’s life by a few weeks? It’s a pressing question given the rising cost of medicines, and one that a pair of National Institutes of Health researchers is urging cancer specialists to tackle now.
NIH’s Tito Fojo, who works on experimental cancer therapies, and Christine Grady, a bioethicist, call upon oncologists and the government to figure out when a costly cancer drug is worth prescribing and when it is not, saying, “We cannot ignore the cumulative costs of the tests and treatments we recommend and prescribe.”
The pair’s recent commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute takes a look at drugs like Erbitux, a supplemental drug for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Erbitux costs about $80,000 for 18 weeks of treatment, they write, while only prolonging life by an average of 1.2 months. The drug also carries side effects.
Jun 24, 2009
Cancer's assault on humans and pets is well known. But how often does the disease prey on animals in the wild? Nobody knows for sure, but the evidence of trouble is growing.
In a broad review of the literature, a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests cancer risks should be considered, in addition to the more common concerns like habitat loss, in conservation efforts for wild animals.
“Most people probably don’t recognize how similar animals are to humans, that they are affected by the same processes,” says Denise McAloose, the chief pathologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and lead author of the paper published today in Nature Reviews Cancer. “We have much to learn about wildlife diseases, their impacts on populations, and how all that is connected to the health of people and the planet.”
Jun 23, 2009 | 5
Let’s be honest: nobody really wants to get a colonoscopy, even if the procedure is crucial in finding nascent tumors. So, here’s hoping researchers working on less uncomfortable alternatives succeed.
One possibility comes from a group at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands , which reports in the latest Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JCNI) on a potential biomarker for colorectal cancer from cells contained in stool samples.
Headed by Manon von Engeland, the research group compared stool samples taken from subjects who had colorectal cancer with those from subjects who did not and found a significant difference in a gene called NDRG4.
Jun 10, 2009
Until now, cancer treatments prescribed by veterinarians were human-friendly formulas that hadn't yet been tested for canine companions. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the first cancer drug for dogs.
The new dog-only drug, Palladia (toceranib phosphate), will be made by international pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and is slated to hit shelves some time next year. It's been approved to treat canine cutaneous cancer—which accounts for about 20 percent of doggie skin tumors and, if left alone, can spread to other parts of the body.
The drug stops new blood vessels from being created—a process called angiogenesis—thereby halting the nutrient and oxygen supply that the tumors need to grow. Angiogenesis inhibitors, such as Avastin (bevacizumab)—approved in 2004 for people—were big news in the late 1990s, when they showed great promise for targeting tumors in early clinical human trials.
Jun 8, 2009 | 1
Although women get most kinds of cancer just about as much as men do, they're still not participating in clinical studies as often, reports a new study published online today in the journal Cancer.
The study analyzed participants in 661 papers published in eight "high impact journals" (including Cancer, Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Medicine) and found that women made up an average of 38 percent of non–sex specific cancer study participants. For example, although women contract just a bit less than 50 percent of gastrointestinal cancers, they made up less than 40 percent of the trials for those cancers.
May 4, 2009 | 10
We all know what Cialis (tadalafil) does for the phallus, but what if it fought cancer? A team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine just started enrolling patients in a clinical trial on Cialis for treating head and neck cancer.
The irony, perhaps, is that the tumors Cialis may help treat are more and more likely to be due to oral sex—one thing Cialis certainly makes more likely. A growing number of such cancers appear to be driven by infections with the human papilloma virus (HPV), which appear to be spreading via oral-genital sex, Maura Gillison, an Ohio State cancer researcher said last week at the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Clinical Investigator Symposium in New York City.
Apr 22, 2009 | 4
If you needed another reason to eat nuts, mice that eat an abundance of walnuts may be less likely to develop breast cancer, according to new study presented Tuesday at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver.
Earlier research had suggested that daily doses of walnuts slowed down breast cancer once the rodents had it, but now researchers are saying the nuts might also lower the odds of developing the disease in the first place.
Mar 18, 2009 | 11
Terminally ill cancer patients who lean heavily on religion to deal with their disease are about three times more likely than others in their shoes to receive aggressive treatment during their final days, according to a new study.
"Patients who rely more heavily on religion to cope are more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care at the end of life," says Andrea Phelps, a senior internal medicine resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass. and co-author of the study published online yesterday in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Phelps and her colleagues based their finding on interviews of more than 300 terminally ill patients being treated at cancer centers (in Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire) about their use of religion as a coping mechanism. Among their queries: whether the patients were "seeking God's love and care" or were "looking for a stronger connection with God."
Mar 18, 2009 | 2
Getting screened for prostate cancer won't save men 75 and older from dying of the disease, according to doctors reporting today on a massive federal study of the usefulness of a popular blood test to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
"If the man sitting in front of me was an elderly man with medical conditions and seemed to have a limited life expectancy — a seven-to-10-year time frame — in good conscience I could tell that man I don't think a PSA test is absolutely necessary for him," study co-author Gerald Andriole, chief urological surgeon at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said during a press telebriefing yesterday.
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