Cancer News Network

Cancer Awareness , Developments in Cancer Research and News on Cancer

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Damage to ‘insula’ in the brain can make people quit smoking

The Current Are you a smoker? What if you woke up one day and forgot to smoke?

The dream of every smoker who is trying to quit is to have the desire to smoke suddenly vanish. Quitting smoking is a common New Year's resolution. We all know it is bad for us, it is getting harder to be a smoker in a non-smoking world and they are expensive too.
But it is so darned hard to quit. Smokers get no sympathy, even from ex-smokers it sometimes seems, who should know exactly how hard it is. Numerous quitting-smoking programs and drugs exist, yet people who know better and want to quit still smoke.
So the recent study in the journal Science came as a lightning bolt. A patient who suffered a stroke that injured a particular area of his brain, quit smoking with apparent ease, even without a conscious effort to quit. He just forgot to smoke, as he put it to researcher Antoine Bechara.

The study came from the University of Southern California's year-old Brain and Creativity Institute, published in the Jan. 26 issue of Science. Authors on the paper were faculty members Antoine Bechara and Hanna Damasio, and graduate students Nasir Naqvi and David Rudrauf. They used information from the University of Iowa brain-damage registry database.No one was even looking at this area of the brain for smoking or other addictions.
The patient had suffered damage to a small area deep in the cerebral cortex called the insula, which is linked to the development of emotional feeling, positive or negative, about physical sensations.

Read more of this story….

Monday, January 29, 2007

New device for detecting oral cancer

A new device called ‘Vizilite Plus’ is now helping doctors in the early detection of oral abnormalities that could lead to cancer. Since early detection is a key in the treatment of oral cancer, this device is helping the medical community to address oral cancer at its most-easily treatable stage. This news story from FOX5 NEWS explains how ‘Vizilite Plus’ is helping doctors to save the lives of many people.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Does soda cause cancer?

Does soda cause cancer? Well, this news story from abc7 claims that it does. Watch this news story, which throws more light on the carcinogenic content of sodas.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Scientists develop new tool to help cancer patients in coping with their disease

Innovations Report: A tool to detect depression in cancer patients launched by the University of Liverpool will vastly improve patients’ ability to come to terms with their disease.

Depression affects 25% of patients with advanced cancer – the stage at which the disease has begun to spread from its original tumour. At this stage, depression is difficult to diagnose as symptoms can be confused with a patient displaying ‘appropriate sadness’ – feelings which commonly result from suffering a terminal illness.

A team from the University’s Division of Primary Care has created a method of testing for depression so clinicians can introduce additional treatment to enable patients to cope with the cancer more effectively. The tool could also be applied to sufferers of other serious illnesses such as
Parkinson’s Disease and chronic heart disease.
Based on a screening system originally developed for sufferers of post-natal depression, the new tool - known as the ‘Brief Edinburgh Depression Scale’ (BEDS) - includes a six-step scale that assesses a cancer patient’s mental condition. The test includes questions on worthlessness, guilt and suicidal thoughts.

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Tobacco doesn’t always kill!

You can still live as a smoker, but you may have to part with a few of your organs and this video talks about it.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Scientists identify ‘junk’ DNA that can switch off cancer tumors Recently, scientists at the University of Oxford have discovered that 'junk' genetic material can switch off cancer tumours, preventing them from growing.
Dr. Alexandre Akoulitchev at the university has found that it is possible to use large molecules of RNA to regulate the activity of a gene called dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) which produces an enzyme that is responsible for the rapid spread of tumour.
Almost 34,000 genes are responsible for producing proteins according to the Human Genome Project. The rest are considered to be scrap. The DNA and the proteins they produce are connected through the RNA when the proteins are activated. Though not all RNA are directly involved in protein synthesis, about 500,000 varieties of RNA of unknown function have been estimated to be produced by 'junk' DNA.

The team at the University of Oxford has shown that certain RNA can be used to directly control the gene DHFR. When this gene is inhibited, the thymine—a chemical that is vital for the rapid division of cancer cells—supply is cut off.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Aspirin can save cancer patients experiencing heart attack

The Hindu: Aspirin can prove to be a life saviour for cancer patients who have heart attacks, claims a new research. And, the medical decision to not give aspirin to cancer patients who have heart attacks (based on the premise it could cause lethal bleeding) is a deadly mistake, it says.

Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, however, say that notion is now proven wrong and that without aspirin, the majority of these patients will die.

They say that their study, turns common medical assumptions upside down and will likely change medical practice for cancer patients. Because aspirin can thin blood and cancer patients experience low platelet counts and abnormal clotting, physicians view aspirin as a relative contra-indication.

Given that blood platelets are responsible for the clotting process, physicians do not eagerly prescribe aspirin as a standard treatment.

The study to be published in the February 1, 2007 issue of the journal Cancer, found that 9 of 10 cancer patients with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) who were experiencing a heart attack and who did not receive aspirin died, whereas only one patient died in a group of 17 similar cancer patients who received aspirin.

They also found aspirin helps cancer patients with normal platelet count survive heart attacks, just as it does for people without cancer.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nurses in contact with chemotherapy drugs face fertility problems

Reuters Health: In a study of oncology nurses, skin contact with chemotherapy drugs seemed to increase the time needed to conceive and to also raise the risk of premature delivery, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.

"Our findings show that even very low (skin exposure to chemotherapy drugs) can cause an elevated risk of a prolonged time to pregnancy, premature delivery, or a low birth weight, even when gloves are worn during work." Dr. Wouter Fransman told Reuters Health.

"We hope that people working with (these) drugs are aware of the potential risks of these agents," Fransman said. "The awareness on how to safely work with these agents and following the right protocols and regulations will minimize exposure and hence reduce health risks."

Fransman from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues used questionnaires to assess pregnancy outcomes, work-related exposures, and lifestyle factors among 4,393 oncology nurses, 1,519 of whom reported skin exposure to cancer drugs during the course of their work.

Cigarettes and Tobacco Pandemic

A report released by Harvard recently, has shown that the nicotine content in cigarettes has increased by 11% during the period 1998 to 2005, causing a tobacco pandemic in the United States. Tobacco companies have been increasing the nicotine content in cigarettes to make it more addictive. Moreover tobacco used in cigarettes is genetically engineered to increase their nicotine content.

In this video Dr. Michael Thun from the American Cancer Society, expresses his views on this shocking report.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Treatments based on cancer genetics may be ineffective

HealthDay News: Many cancer studies that rely on what scientists call genetic microarrays have critical flaws in their analyses or their conclusions.

This means doctors are taking this flawed research and using it as the basis of treatment for cancer patients -- treatments that may adversely affect patient outcomes.

That's the surprising conclusion of a new study by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute that's published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Microarrays are a tool used to study gene expression, or production. Using microarrays, researchers can study thousands of genes at a time, all on a single glass slide. In cancer research, microarrays are used to study the unique gene pattern of specific tumors, to find new drug targets, and to categorize the characteristics of a patient's tumor to help tailor an individual's treatment.

But, these studies based on microarrays produce vast amounts of data that are easily misinterpreted, the researchers say. Much of the problem owes to a lack of communication between clinicians and the statisticians who analyze the data, according to the new study.

"A lot of the publications trying to tie gene expression to clinical outcomes are flawed," said study co-author Richard M. Simon, chief of the National Cancer Institute's Biometric Research Branch.

It's difficult to analyze a readout where you get 20,000 to 30,000 gene variables, Simon said. "Properly analyzing that data to predict outcomes for patients is difficult," he said.

The genetic technology is very powerful, Simon added. "There are great success stories in being able to use gene-expression technology for being able to figure out which patients respond to what treatment. But there is a need for improvement in the analysis of the data and a close interdisciplinary collaboration with statistical experts in the analysis of these studies," he said.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Calcium protects people from colorectal cancer The potential protective effects of calcium supplements against colorectal cancer may carry on for five years after people stop taking the supplements, research has revealed.

The Calcium Follow-up Study, an observational study that followed the Calcium Polyp Prevention Study, found that people from the original calcium supplementation group had a significant 12 per cent lower risk of any adenoma five years after the original supplements were stopped, compared to people from the placebo group.

“The protective effect of calcium supplementation on risk of
colorectal adenoma recurrence extends up to five years after cessation, even in the absence of continued supplementation,” wrote lead author Maria Grau from Dartmouth Medical School in the US.

Colorectal cancer accounts for nine per cent of new cancer cases every year worldwide. The highest incidence rates are in the developed world, while Asia and Africa have the lowest incidence rates. It remains one of the most curable cancers if diagnosis is made early.

In the Calcium Polyp Prevention Study, 930 people with a recent adenoma were randomly assigned to receive four years of daily 1200-milligram calcium supplements or a placebo. The study revealed that those assigned to calcium supplements had a 17 per cent lower relative risk of an adenoma recurrence than those who got the placebo.

The new research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, used data on 822 of the original 930 subjects from the Calcium Polyp Prevention Study. Of these subjects, 597 underwent at least one colonoscopy exam, and completed follow-up questionnaires.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Women who have or had breast cancer should avoid soy supplements Soybeans are good. But like most foods, too much of a good thing can be bad for the health of an individual. An Australian cancer organization has said that women who have or have had breast cancer need to avoid soy supplements, which contain high doses of phyto-estrogen as such supplements have the potential to stimulate tumor growth.

The Cancer Council of New South Wales has planned to release a new position statement on soy foods in response to many inquires about the benefits of soy foods or soy supplements, according to This statement will say that soy foods may slightly lower the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

The Cancer Council led by a number of college professors in oncology does not reveal its financial source to the public and it is unknown whether the organization represents the medical or drug industry, or consumers, or simply the science per se.

They said soy foods used as a measure to aid treatment of breast cancer or prevention of cancer returning may do more harm than good. They suggested cancer survivors exercise caution when it comes to soy foods.

Health benefits of soy foods have been a hotly debated issue. Soy is commonly consumed by Asians who have lower risk of “affluence” diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer compared to the Westerners. Many people attribute the lower incidence of these diseases in part to use of high amounts of soy foods and lower amounts of meat and dairy.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Drug extracted from mushrooms is found to be effective in treatment of cancer

The Scotsman: Scientists are preparing to conduct the first British clinical trials of a revolutionary drug extracted from mushrooms that is set to begin a new era in the treatment of cancer.

The drugs, which are based on a number of exotic species of fungi, are credited with dramatic benefits for stomach and bowel cancer sufferers in the Far East, with studies showing substantial increases to life expectancy rates in China and Japan.

Until now, British patients have missed out on the potential benefits from the drugs, because western researchers - particularly in the UK - have been slow to study the area.

Despite the delays, however, a team of scientists now plans to conduct trials in the UK after they convince regulators that the drugs pose no risk and are effective at treating the disease. Authorities in the United States have already certified the drugs as safe, and are expected to complete their approval in the summer.

There are 4,262 stomach and bowel cancer sufferers in Scotland. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer and last year around 1,500 people in Scotland died from the disease. The country's tendency towards smoking and a bad diet have been blamed for the high rate.

Sufferers last night hailed the possibility of a new generation of treatment as massively exciting, although experts warned against raising hopes that could later be dashed.

A team led by Dr Bjørn Kristiansen, the CEO of Norwegian firm Medimush and who previously lectured at Strathclyde, hopes to file an application to British regulators by the summer and begin trials somewhere in the UK in October.

Dr Kristiansen said: "I would be extremely surprised if the tests are not completed by the end of the year. There is no obvious reason for the regulator to say no - there are no side-effects - so it is just a matter of time as to when we go ahead with the trials."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New test for the diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults and till now it has been diagnosed using CAT scan or MRI scan. 20 to 30 % of the kidney masses that appears to the malignant in the CAT or MRI scans are not cancerous and surgery is the only way to find whether the masses are really cancerous or not.

Scientists have now developed a ‘Urine Test’ that can determine the nature of the tumors in the kidney and can actually distinguish between malignant and benign tumors. This new method can put an end to the problems faced during the diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma and can indeed help in early detection of this disease.

This news story throws more light on this new method which could be available in the market in the next five years.

Molecular markers that help in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer

PressZoom: A pattern of micro molecules can distinguish pancreatic cancer from normal and benign pancreatic tissue, new research suggests.

The study examined human pancreatic tumor tissue and compared it to nearby normal tissue and control tissue for levels of microRNA (miRNA). It identified about 100 different miRNAs that are present usually at very high levels in the tumor tissue compared with their levels in normal pancreatic tissue.

The findings suggest that miRNAs form a signature, or expression pattern, that may offer new clues about how pancreatic cancer develops, and they could lead to new molecular markers that might improve doctors' ability to diagnose and treat the disease.
Pancreatic Cancer is expected to strike 33,700 Americans and to kill 32,300 others this year, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer death. The high mortality rate the number of new cases nearly equals the number of deaths exists because the disease is difficult to diagnosis early and treatment advances have been few.

The study, led by cancer researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, was published online Dec. 5, 2006, in the International Journal of Cancer.
Our findings show that a number of miRNAs are present at very different levels in pancreatic cancer compared with benign tissue from the same patient or with normal pancreatic tissue, says principal investigator Thomas D. Schmittgen, associate professor of pharmacy and a researcher with the Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Most are present at much higher levels, which suggest that developing drugs to inhibit them might offer a new way to treat pancreatic cancer. It also means that a test based on miRNA levels might help diagnose pancreatic cancer.

Read more of this story…

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chillies can fight cancerous tumors! The chemical in chillies that makes them hot to taste could be used to combat cancerous tumors, a new study has found.

Dr Andrew Westwell, a senior lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, said the chemical compound capsaicin, that gives spicy food like curry its kick, could hold the key to the next generation of anti-cancer drugs that will kill tumours.

He was an adviser in a study, published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications that has proven for the first time that capsaicin can kill cells by directly targeting their energy source.

Working in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, Dr Westwell said the beauty of the laboratory test discovery was that the compound would have few or no side effects for the patient.

It could also mean that patients could control or prevent the onset of cancer by eating a diet rich in capsaicin. Dr Westwell said, "We found that in cancer cells grown in the lab, capsaicin can be a signalling mechanism that instructs cancer cells to die, without the nasty effects of chemotherapy, such as affecting healthy cells or changing DNA.

"But with any potential new drug it needs to be thoroughly tried and tested for around 10 years - although the advantage we do have is that chillies are already eaten by many people and are known to be safe."
Dr Timothy Bates, a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) College of Experts, said the research team also tested similar compounds on pancreatic cancer, producing similar cell death to that observed with lung cancer cells.

These results are highly significant, as pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1%.

Super powering a gene (PTEN) with enzymes can help to fight cancer

CBC News: Researchers think they have discovered how to boost one of the body's natural cancer fighters.It might be possible to superpower the gene, known as PTEN, by tinkering with an enzyme that regulates its activity, scientists report in the Jan. 12 issue of Cell.

Although they are a long way from developing an actual drug based on the discovery, the ability to manipulate the tumor-suppressor gene is "potentially a real breakthrough," said study author Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi, a professor of cancer biology and genetics at MemorialSloan-KetteringCancerCenter.

Pandolfi and other researchers at Sloan-Kettering and Columbia University were intrigued by the PTEN gene, which suppresses tumors by preventing "excessive proliferation [of cells] that's associated with cancers and [inducing] cells to die when they misbehave and act as a tumor," Pandolfi explained.

Essentially, the PTEN gene acts as a guard inside a cell, explained Xuejun Jiang, director of a Sloan-Kettering laboratory that studies cells. But when the gene mutates, it stops guarding cells properly.

"The consequence is that those cells might grow crazily, and when they need to die, they don't die," Jiang said.
Scientists have noticed that mutated PTEN genes seem to be connected to several kinds of cancer, including tumors in the prostate, brain and breast.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Treating Multiple Myeloma with Arsenic

Multiple myeloma is a unique cancer of plasma cells that attacks and destroys bone. Due to its complexity, the disease can be difficult to diagnose and often results in varying treatment recommendations from doctors.

Scientists have recently found that arsenic (As), a poisonous metalloid used in pesticides, herbicides and insecticides can be used in treating multiple myeloma. This abc7 news clip reports on how arsenic is used to treat multiple myeloma.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

A short awareness-video on testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the testicles and it has one of the highest cure rates of all forms of cancer. Most men have very little knowledge on this disease and they often fail to detect it in its early stages. This short and interesting clip explains how to ‘catch’ testicular cancer, early.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Scientists identify gene linked to the most common type of kidney cancer in children Scientists have identified a gene linked to the most common type of kidney cancer in children, and expressed hope this might help doctors determine which young patients are most at risk of dying.

Writing on Thursday in the journal Science, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers said about 30 percent of cases of the cancer called Wilms tumor involve mutations in a gene called WTX located on the sex-determining X chromosome.

About 90 percent of childhood kidney cancer cases are Wilms tumor. It occurs in roughly one in 10,000 children worldwide. It is treated with surgery and chemotherapy, with about 80 percent of patients surviving. It usually appears by age 5.

The disease also is called nephroblastoma. "The typical treatment for these children is you remove the kidney that's affected. If they have tumors in both kidneys, you take out one kidney and part of the other kidney and then you give chemotherapy," said Dr. Daniel Haber, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

"Twenty percent of these children will then have a recurrence of their tumor and die of their disease. So, clearly, if you could identify them up front, you would give more aggressive treatment," Haber, senior author of the study, said in an interview.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Role of genetics in lung cancer care – Taiwanese researchers report that a cluster of five genes could predict lung cancer outcome

HealthDay News: A cluster of five genes may predict a better outcome after treatment for patients with lung cancer, Taiwanese researchers report.

The study highlights the increasingly important role of genetics in lung cancer care, one U.S. expert said.

"This is one of several studies over the last few years looking at genes to predict that if a tumor is removed surgically, who does well and who should get more aggressive therapy," said Dr. Roy S. Herbst, chief of the section of thoracic medical oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and co-author of an editorial accompanying the report in the Jan. 4 New England Journal of Medicine.

"Now, we have to move toward personalizing therapy," Herbst said. In the study, a team of cancer specialists at National Taiwan University, Taipei, studied the expression of a variety of genes in tissue samples from 125 people who had surgery for lung cancer. They identified 16 genes associated with better survival.

They then narrowed their search to five genes from that array. This "five-gene signature was an independent predictor of relapse-free and overall survival," the researchers reported.

"If we are truly going to make inroads in lung cancer, we have to look at genes," Herbst said. "At M.D. Anderson, we are very focused on genes to personalize therapy for persons with lung cancer."

But the Houston program is in its early stages, Herbst said. If an early treatment fails in a patient, a genetic analysis is made of a tissue sample to help determine what to do next. "The problem is, we don't know which genes are the best," Herbst said. "We are learning as we go along."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saving rainforests can save thousands from cancer!

Many plant species in the tropical rainforests have the potential to fight cancer and saving them from extinction means a lot to us. This video explains how saving rainforests could save the lives of cancer patients.