New Technique Helps Locate Even Tiniest Amount Of Cancer Tissue.

ABC World News (9/25, story 10, 2:20, Muir) reported, "Tonight, doctors are hailing a medical breakthrough in the fight against cancer. It's a new technique that helps them see and remove cancer cells that are otherwise invisible, even under the microscope." ABC correspondent Jim Avila explained that lighting up cancer cells with fluorescent light "shows the doctor even the smallest of cancer tissue." In fact, "a study released this week by doctors at Purdue University and the Mayo Clinic says this glow in the dark technique targets cancer cells 30 times smaller than are possible to see with the naked eye, allowing surgeons to remove up to five times as many cancerous deposits than ever before." The study's lead author sees "future strong implications for breast cancer, colorectal surgery...thoracic surgery," as well as for ovarian cancer.

Simultaneous Administration Of Radiotherapy, Chemo Better For Breast Cancer.

Bloomberg News (9/25, Bennett) reported that according to a study by University of Birmingham, UK, oncology professor Indrajit Fernando, a trial of nearly 2,300 early stage breast cancer patients found that "giving breast-cancer patients chemotherapy and radiation at the same time reduced the risk of tumors recurring by 35 percent." These findings contradict earlier "trials that failed to find a benefit and may change the way the tumor-fighting techniques are used."

        According to Reuters (9/25, Kelland), this dual treatment is known as synchronous chemo radiation, and the study found that the dual approach yielded limited side effects and didn't reduce patient quality of life.

        Medscape (9/26, Chustecka, Subscription Publication) notes that usually following surgery, "breast cancer patients undergo chemotherapy first and radiotherapy second" rather than simultaneously. This new study, known as the Sequencing of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy in Adjuvant Breast Cancer (SECRAB) study, had "a median follow-up of 8.8 years."

        MedPage Today (9/26, Bankhead) reports that over five years the incidence of recurrence "was 2.8 percent with synchronous therapy, with radiation during or between cycles of chemotherapy, and 5.1 percent among women who received adjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy," and having "synchronous therapy also shortened the overall duration of treatment." 

Data Suggest Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Doubles Prostate Cancer Risk.

Medscape (9/25, Chustecka, Subscription Publication) reported that results from the biggest "registry study so far has found a significant association between benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer," according to findings presented during the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress. After analyzing data from more than three million men in Danish registries, tracking some as many as 27 years, researchers found that "men who were hospitalized for BPH were twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as the general population (hazard ratio [HR], 2.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.13 to 2.31), and were also twice as likely to die from prostate cancer (HR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.91 to 2.08)."

        According to MedPage Today (9/25, Susman), data was examined from "1980 to 2006, finding 187,591 men who were hospitalized for BPH and compared their risk of prostate cancer with 2,770,300 men in the general population."

Perfusion May Improve Recurrence Rate In Melanoma With Liver Metastasis.

Medscape (9/25, Nelson, Subscription Publication) reported that a study presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress found that "percutaneous hepatic perfusion appears to extend progression-free survival in melanoma patients with liver metastases." The typical recurrence rate for "ocular or uveal melanoma" is 50 to 60 percent. But, those receiving "percutaneous hepatic perfusion using melphalan had an overall progression-free survival of 6.1 months; in those who received best alternative care (control group), it was 1.6 months." The data came from 93 randomized patients at 10 clinics in the US.

        MedPage Today (9/25, Fiore) also covers the trial, noting "there were no differences, however, in overall survival, which at one year was 29 percent for those on PHP and 26% for those on best alternative care."

Radium-223 May Increase Prostate Cancer Survival.

MedPage Today (9/24, Bankhead) reported that in a study presented at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress by Dr. Chris Parker of the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, "treatment with radium-223 chloride (Alpharadin) was associated with a 30 percent reduction in the odds of dying during follow-up" among 922 patients with advanced prostate cancer. According to Parker, the drug is "the first drug targeted to bone metastases in prostate cancer to improve survival." The drug "selectively targets bone metastases with high-energy, short-range alpha particles." 

Model May Predict Men's Sexual Health After Prostate Cancer Treatment.

A number of publications discussed a recent study describing the factors that may affect men's sexual health after prostate cancer treatment. The New York Times (9/21, Parker-Pope, Subscription Publication) "Well" blog reports that " data, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association," suggest that "whether a man is able to achieve adequate erections after treatment for prostate cancer varies greatly depending on a number of individual variables, including his age, the extent of his cancer and the quality of his sex life before treatment." Three treatments were examined: "surgical removal of the prostate; radiation therapy; or brachytherapy." All in all, "35 percent of men in the surgery group, 37 percent of men in the hormone group and 43 percent of men in the brachytherapy group were able to have sexual intercourse two years after treatment."

        According to the AP (9/21, Johnson), experts say that "using the findings, men can get a rough idea of their personal odds by answering questions that also include weight and race." That said, the study "included only men with early-stage cancers, and it didn't address cure rates for different treatments." It also "didn't include men who chose what's called "active surveillance," where a doctor keeps track of a tumor through regular tests and treats it only if the cancer markedly worsens." Another consideration is that "the study was done from 2003 through 2006, a time when laparoscopic surgery, with small incisions and often performed robotically, was less common than it is today." It is not clear whether laparoscopic surgery "is better or worse for sexual function."

        Also covering the story are Reuters (9/21, Joelving), HealthDay (9/21, Mozes), MedPage Today (9/21, Bankhead), WebMD (9/21, Doheny), Medscape (9/21, Mulcahy, Subscription Publication), and the NPR (9/21, Knox) "Shots" blog.

        Black Men May Be Genetically Predisposed To Prostate Cancer. HealthDay (9/21, Dotinga) reports a study to be released at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities showing that disparities in "'population specific' messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA" in prostate tumors may exist between black men and white men, and that those changes may "affect how prostate cancer tumors form or stop forming," which would in turn "explain why black men in the United States are more likely to get prostate cancer and die from it than white men."

Soy May Not Affect Breast Cancer Recurrence, Mortality.

The Chicago Tribune /Harvard Health (9/21) reports, "A large study, presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, shows no relationship between soy food consumption and increased risk of recurrence or death among women diagnosed with breast cancer." That said, "these findings refer to soy foods, not soy supplements, which can have different kinds and amounts of isoflavones -- sometimes as much as 60 to 80 mg or more in each pill, which is more than the highest average daily intake of soy isoflavones in the Vanderbilt-led study."

Black Women May Have Higher Risk Of Aggressive, Recurring Breast Cancer.

HealthDay (9/21, Dotinga) reports a study to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in which data on "415,664 white women and 39,887 black women diagnosed with primary breast cancer at age 19 or older" were analyzed. The study showed that while "overall diagnoses of breast cancer are higher in whites compared to blacks," the "black women who develop breast cancer are more likely than white women to suffer a second cancer in the other breast, and those who are diagnosed under age 45 are more likely to get a primary breast cancer of a more aggressive form."

SWIFT May Detect Bone Invasion Of Oral Cancer.

MedPage Today (9/21, Bankhead) reports, "Sweep imaging with Fourier transform (SWIFT) provided fine-detail views of cortical and medullary bone specimens" to examine "oral cancer's spread to the mandible." SWIFT imaging "exhibited good correlation with histopathologic findings." While the "studies did not specifically examine SWIFT's ability to identify early cortical bone invasion by oral cancer," they do offer "a SWIFT-based MRI technique for accurate assessment of minute changes of cortical and medullary bone in three dimensions without any ionizing radiation." SWIFT may be useful, since current techniques have "limitations" that "often preclude determination of bone invasion prior to surgery."

Biomarkers Reported For Aggressive Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

Medscape (9/21, Yin, Subscription Publication) reports, "It's now possible to test for breast cancers in young, high-risk African-American women before cancer cells appear, according to study results presented Monday at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities (SCHD)." Researchers "spotted three activation patterns, including AKT/mTOR, a cancer signaling pathway activated in aggressive triple-negative breast cancer." They also noted that "insulin stimulates AKT/mTOR," which suggests that patients with untreated "prediabetes or diabetes...might stimulate precancerous cells and promote a conversion to cancer cells every time they ate," and suggested "weight loss, exercise, and metformin" may inhibit abnormal cell growth.

MRI May Be More Effective For Breast Cancer Screening In Some Women.

HealthDay (9/21, Dotinga) reports that a study "scheduled to be released Tuesday at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities" shows "that compared to mammograms, MRI screenings for breast cancer saved money used for diagnosis and boosted the likelihood that high-risk, underserved women who were specially targeted would return for follow-up appointments." However, in this experiment, the cost of an MRI was lowered due to a grant, thus lowering the cost per diagnosis. Lead researcher Dr. Anne C. Ford said, "If you truly target high-risk women with MRIs, you can find the cancers, and you can find them early," and that the important thing is lowering the cost of MRIs. 

Stressed Women May Show Higher Risk Of Aggressive Breast Tumors.

The Los Angeles Times (9/20, Kaplan) "Booster Shots" blog reports that according to a study presented Sept. 19 at the American Association for Cancer Researcher's conference, University of Illinois-Chicago researchers surveyed 989 women with a recent breast cancer diagnosis and "found that stressed women were 38% more likely to have cancers that were estrogen receptor-negative." The study authors acknowledged that it is unclear whether "the women with more aggressive cancers were already more stressed out before they were told they had breast cancer" or were stressed during the interview because they had more aggressive tumors.

New Chemotherapies For Ovarian Cancer May Improve Survival.

MedPage Today (9/20, Bankhead) reports that according to a study presented at the European Society of Gynecological Oncology meeting, in "135 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer that was platinum-resistant in 96% of cases," the patients "appeared to receive the most benefit when bevacizumab (Avastin) was paired with weekly paclitaxel (Taxol), a comparison of five bevacizumab-containing regimens showed. The addition of paclitaxel or gemcitabine to bevacizumab led to the highest response rates and progression-free survival (PFS)." When compared against bevacizumab monotherapy, "the bevacizumab-paclitaxel regimen remained significant...for PFS," but "a bevacizumab-gemcitabine (Gemzar) combination did not." Researchers cautioned that this is a single study and will need further validation.

        Focusing on another study, MedPage Today (9/20, Bankhead) reports, "Women with platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer lived significantly longer when treated with a regimen designed to extend the platinum-free interval (PFI)." Specifically, "the combination of trabectedin (Yondelis) and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD, Doxil)" led to a 42% "reduction in the mortality hazard," compared to PLD-only patients. Researchers suggested, "The significant overall survival advantage of trabectedin plus PLD therapy suggests that the greater survival benefit after reintroduction of subsequent platinum could be attributed to an extension of PFI." The results were presented at the European Society of Gynecological Oncology meeting.

        Finally, MedPage Today (9/20, Bankhead) reports that according to the results of a "small clinical trial" presented at the European Society of Gynecological Oncology meeting, over "80% of women with low-grade serous ovarian cancer achieved disease control during treatment with" AZD6244, a drug that targets the MAP kinase pathway. Researchers said nearly "two-thirds of the patients had a progression-free survival (PFS) exceeding six months" and that the data suggest "that AZD644 is an active agent affecting the MAP kinase pathway and that the activity is not limited to tumors with BRAF and KRAS mutations."

Combo Chemotherapy May Benefit Endometrial Cancer Patients.

MedPage Today (9/20, Bankhead) reports that according to the results of a "small clinical trial" presented at the European Society of Gynecological Oncology meeting showed, "half of patients with recurrent endometrial cancer benefited from treatment with hormonal therapy plus an mTOR inhibitor. ... In the subgroup of patients with endometrioid tumors, two-thirds had objective responses or stable disease with the combination of letrozole (Femara) and everolimus (Afinitor)." The rationale behind the trial was that "estrogen receptor function in endometrial cancer is mediated in part by MAPK signaling, and mTOR inhibition has been shown to disrupt growth processes in estrogen-sensitive tumors." Researchers suggested more research on "the role of mTOR inhibition in overcoming hormonal resistance." 

Novel Cancer Treatment Discussed.

The CBS Evening News (9/18, story 7, 1:55, Mitchell) reported that a new treatment "makes cancer cells glow so surgeons can see what they have been missing." It works by adding "a glowing dye to folic acid, a vitamin cancer cells need to grow." CBS' Bowers explained, "The procedure hasn't been approved yet in this country but Dutch doctors have performed 20 successful trial surgeries." Bowers noted, "Even more promising, that same technology can be used to target and kill cancer by delivering extremely powerful chemotherapy drugs just to the cancer cells, leaving healthy tissue unharmed."

Bloodstream Infection May Indicate Risk Of Colon Cancer.

Bloomberg News (9/19, Lopatto) reports a presentation "at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" showing that people with bacterial bloodstream infections "are 14 times more likely to be diagnosed with the malignancy a year later than the general population," while people who have anaerobic bacteria, "such as those that inhabit the colon -- faced a 115 times greater chance of cancer diagnosis." Researchers explained, "Cancers tend to penetrate into blood vessels, which may make it easier for bacteria from the intestinal tract to get into the bloodstream." National Cancer Institute data show that "about 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer in 2011, and 49,000 people will die."

PET Imaging May Predict Cervical Cancer Outcome.

MedPage Today (9/19, Bankhead) reports that according to research presented at the European Society of Gynecological Oncology meeting and published in Cancer, "fewer than 2% of patients with advanced cervical cancer had asymptomatic recurrence after five years when PET imaging showed complete response to chemoradiation." Specifically, "analysis of survival by FDG-PET response demonstrated that patients with a complete metabolic response had a three-year OS of 95% and cause-specific survival of 98%. In contrast, patients with anything less than a complete response had a three-year OS of 36% and cause-specific survival of 40%." This suggested "that post-therapy PET imaging can eliminate the need for resource-intensive follow-up in most cases."

Experts Debate Link Between Incretin, Pancreatic Diseases.

MedPage Today (9/19, Fiore) reports "a debate" regarding "concerns about a higher risk of certain cancers linked with incretin therapies for diabetes." Specially, one research group, who published in the journal Gastroenterology, "found higher rates of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer in patients on either sitagliptin (Januvia) or exenatide (Byetta)," and said that the link is plausible because the drugs involve "a hormone that drives cellular replication." However, opponents pointed out that the data came "from the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), which is known to have several limitations," including reporting bias. Researchers agreed that "appropriate prospective studies are needed." 

Study Finds Glioblastoma Tumors Depend On Cholesterol.

The UK's Telegraph (9/16, Adams) reports a study in the journal Cancer Discovery found that glioblastoma tumors, the most common brain tumor, "is dependent on low-density liposome (LDL) cholesterol to thrive." Scientists say this "opens the door to drugs that could be developed to stop them." Researchers found 90% of glioblastomas have "a 'hyperactive signalling pathway' for cholesterol." Researchers say "the tumor cells depend on large amounts of cholesterol for growth and survival, and that pharmacologically depriving tumor cells of cholesterol may offer a novel therapeutic strategy to treat glioblastoma." 

UK Scientists Make Key Discovery In How Melanoma Spreads.

The UK's Scotsman (9/15, Buckland) reports that according to research published in the journal Developmental Cell, "Scottish scientists have made a key discovery in the search for clues to how skin cancer can spread around the body, thus increasing the risk of the disease becoming fatal." Working with mice, researchers from "Glasgow University found that a protein was causing cells in the body to 'sprout legs,' allowing cancer to move from its original location." The investigators demonstrated that when the Rac1 protein "was active in mice, it signalled healthy pigment cells, called melanoblasts, to grow legs and 'travel' during their early development." Melanoblasts may then form into melanoma. 

BRCA Genes May Lead To Earlier Cancers In Next Generation.

ABC World News (9/12, story 6, 2:25, Sawyer) reported that a study shows that women who carry a high-risk gene for breast cancer are developing the illness earlier than their mothers. ABC's Alfonsi said that "Women with a BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 mutation are five times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer and now a new study finds women who inherit that gene mutation are developing breast cancer earlier than ever, six to eight years earlier than their the relatives they inherited it from. ... Researchers are now examining whether it's environmental or reproductive factors or just that we have better testing."

        HealthDay (9/13, Doheny) details that researchers used mathematical models to analyze "the age at diagnosis of two generations of families in which there were BRCA-related cancers." They found that "the median age for the older generation at diagnosis was 48 (half older, half younger). The median age for the younger generation was 42. And, in a parametric model, the estimated change in the expected age at onset for the entire cohort was 7.9 years." Experts suggest that reasons could include "a phenomenon in inherited diseases known as anticipation. It refers to diseases occurring at younger ages or with increased severity with each generation. This is due to DNA instability in which the genes actually evolve and change." Other factors could be "better screening and finding cancers at earlier stages" as well as "Environmental factors and reproductive factors." The research was published in the journal Cancer.

        MedPage Today (9/13, Smith) reports that these findings "have implications for screening guidelines, which now suggest starting cancer screening at ages 20 to 25 for women with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, or five to 10 years earlier than the youngest age at diagnosis in the family." Researchers "cautioned that testing was not available for many members of the earlier generation, so that genetic carrier status was based on assumptions. As well, age at onset in the previous generation was provided by the current patients and might have been affected by recall bias."

IUDs May Lower Risk Of Cervical Cancer.

USA Today (9/13, Szabo) reports a paper in The Lancet Oncology showing that women "who had used an IUD had almost half the risk of cervical cancer as other women." Researchers are unsure of the cause, but an accompanying editorial suggests that "by causing a chronic, low-level irritation in the cervix, an IUD may rev up a woman's immune system, as if her body were trying to heal a wound" and that effect "may be enough to clear persistent HPV infections and even get rid of precancerous lesions." However, experts say "it's too soon to begin recommending IUDs for cervical cancer prevention."

        HealthDay (9/13, Dallas) reports, "The study...said that although IUDs did not affect women's risk for HPV (human papillomavirus) infection -- the virus that causes cervical cancer -- the plastic devices inserted into the uterus may prevent HPV from progressing to cervical cancer." The study showed that within the first year of use, "women who used IUDs had a 44 percent lower risk for squamous-cell carcinoma or a 54 percent reduced risk for adenosquamous carcinoma."

Some NSAIDs May Increase Risk Of Kidney Cancer.

Bloomberg News (9/13, Cortez) reports a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine showing that "People who regularly used ibuprofen, sold by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) as Motrin and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) as Advil, or naproxen, sold by Bayer AG (BAYN) as Aleve, were 51 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer than those who didn't rely on the pills." There was no "increased risk from aspirin or acetaminophen, the main ingredient in J&J's Tylenol."

        MedPage Today (9/13, Walsh) reports that investigators "analyzed data from 77,525 women in the Nurses' Health Study and from 49,403 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Participants completed questionnaires every two years, detailing their use of various types of analgesics." One "possible mechanism through which NSAIDs could cause kidney disease is the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis with resulting papillary and tubular injury, and ultimately damage to DNA." The study's limitations "included the possibility of confounding by indication, with patients taking analgesics for cancer symptoms before the carcinoma diagnosis was made, and a lack of information about doses used."

        HealthDay (9/13, Reinberg) reports that, "the risk was 19 percent lower if these drugs were used for less than four years. For those who used non-aspirin NSAIDs regularly for four to 10 years the risk for renal cell cancer increased 36 percent and went up almost three times for those who used these drugs regularly for 10 years or more."

Modified T-Cells May Treat Leukemia.

In continuing coverage, the New York Times (9/13, Grady, Subscription Publication) reports on an experiment published in The New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine which "which employs a disabled form of H.I.V.-1, the virus that causes AIDS, to carry cancer-fighting genes into the patients' T-cells." In the three patients treated with this, two have had complete remission and one has partial remission. The article describes the techniques involved as well as the side effects, including the loss of "all of the patients' B-cells, both healthy ones and leukemic ones." This new technique is promising but "not without danger to patients." In past studies, patients have died from such treatment when engineered T-cells attacked other organs. Researchers realize that "possible adverse reactions are a real concern" for implementing this strategy to attack other cancers.

Fish Oil May Block Some Chemo Effects.

AFP (9/13) reports a study in Cancer Cell showing that "cisplatin, often used to treat lung, bladder, ovarian and testicular cancer, was rendered impotent by" platinum-induced fatty acids (PIFAs), "which are made by stem cells in the blood and are also present in fish oil supplements." In mice tumors, animals injected with "'normal amounts of fish oil,' became insensitive to chemotherapy." Medical oncologist Emile Voest said "we currently recommend that these products should not be used whilst people are undergoing chemotherapy" and that "the body itself secretes protective substances into the blood that are powerful enough to block the effect of chemotherapy."

        BBC News (9/13, Gallagher) reports, "Using drugs to block the production of the fatty acids prevented this form of resistance which "significantly enhances the chemotherapy," the study says." The Daily Telegraph (UK) (9/13, Adams) also covered this story.

Sulfasalazine May Reduce Glioma-Related Seizures.

Medscape (9/13, Waknine, Subscription Publication) reports a study in Nature Medicine in which "using mice whose brains were seeded with human glioma cells, investigators connected seizure activity to excess release of the neurotransmitter glutamate from tumor cells, an effect that was curtailed by administering sulfasalazine at a dose equivalent to that typically taken by patients with Crohn's disease." However, "it is unclear whether these promising results with sulfasalazine in animal studies will translate into improved outcomes in patients with glioma. No benefit was observed in a small trial of 10 patients with advanced-stage gliomas treated with varying doses of sulfasalazine; moreover, safety concerns arose about whether treatment worsened brain swelling near the tumor, causing the study to be terminated early."

Node Radiation May Not Improve Outcome In Breast Cancer.

MedPage Today (9/13, Phend) reports a study presented "at the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Symposium" suggesting that "including internal mammary nodes in the radiation field for breast cancer doesn't improve outcomes, except perhaps in those with a low burden of positive nodes." In a retrospective study, "Among the 1,308 women with one to three positive nodes, 529 (40%) received intentional radiation to the internal mammary nodes. No measure of survival -- locoregional relapse-free, distant relapse-free, or overall -- showed a significant benefit from intentional irradiation of internal mammary nodes in the whole cohort in the unadjusted or adjusted models." However, MedPage notes that this is a "contentious" issue among radiation oncologists, and quotes researcher Robert Olson saying, "There are several trials showing evidence that women with low burden node-positive disease actually have a large benefit that isn't really proportional to the locoregional recurrence risk." 

HER2 May Allow Colon Cancer To Resist Cetuximab.

Bloomberg News (9/8, Langreth) reports a study in Science Translational Medicine suggesting that "that overactivation of the HER2 protein may be a way that some colon tumors become resistant to Erbitux [cetuximab]." Researchers were able to generate "lung cancer cells in the test tube that were able to evade...Erbitux by making additional copies of...HER2." In addition, in "233 colon cancer patients who received Erbitux, they found that the 13 patients with excess HER2 died sooner than other patients who didn't have excess HER2." Researchers found that Erbitux-resistant tumors could have their growth blocked by "a combination of both Erbitux and a HER2 blocking drug."

Review Finds Increased Risk Of Skin Cancer From TNF Inhibitors.

HealthDay (9/8, Mozes) reports, that a review of earlier studies published in the current online issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that "treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors appears to increase their risk of developing skin cancer," though "TNF inhibitors, which include infliximab (Remicade), adalimunab (Humira), and etanercept (Enbrel), do not appear to boost the risk for developing other forms of cancer." The review was based on "21 previous studies conducted between 1998 and 2010, as well as eight study summaries that had been presented at research conferences during the same timeframe," and was conducted by French scholars led by Prof. Xavier Mariette from Paris-Sud University.

        WebMD (9/8, DeNoon) says the review shows the drugs "may slightly increase skin cancer risk." The drugs work by inhibiting "a natural protein called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa)" that "plays a major role in arthritis" as well as "a major role in protecting the body from infections and cancer." The story notes that "a 2006 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence of increased cancers and serious infections in patients taking anti-TNF drugs," adding that "later studies failed to confirm the cancer risk." 

ALDH1B1 May Be Novel Biomarker For Colon Cancer.

The Denver Post (9/7, Jackson) reports that researchers have discovered that ALDH1B1, an enzyme that can metabolize toxins such as alcohols, may be a biomarker for colon cancer. Researchers expressed hope that a test for the enzyme may eventually eliminate the need for colonoscopies. The research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

Folate Intake May Reduce Risk Of Colorectal Cancer.

Reuters (9/3, Pittman) reported that according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people with the highest daily folate intake had a 30% less risk of colorectal cancer than those with lower intakes. Todd Gibson of the National Cancer Institute, however, was quoted as saying that folate's effect is "definitely still an open question." Reuters noted the study does not show any harm in taking more folate than the daily recommended amount, which had been a previous concern. 

Bioengineered Virus May Infect, Shrink Tumors.

Bloomberg News (9/1, Flinn) reports a study in Nature in which JX-594, a "genetically modified smallpox vaccine," was given to "patients with advanced cancers" in different doses. Researchers found that "six participants in the highest dose group had their tumors stabilize or shrink" without the virus attacking healthy cells. Bloomberg News notes that scientist chose "vaccinia virus, because of its natural ability to replicate itself in cancer cells," and that this is the "first study to show the potential of using a virus to fight human malignancies."

        HealthDay (9/1, Goodwin) reports that vaccinia-derived virus was "engineered to contain an immune-stimulating gene to enhance its cancer-fighting properties." About eight to 10 days after infusion, biopsies showed that "in seven of eight patients (87 percent) who received the highest two doses, researchers found evidence that the virus had not only infected the tumor cells while sparing healthy cells, but that the virus was replicating" in neighboring cancer cells. Researchers found "evidence that the foreign immune-stimulating gene was expressed inside the tumor cells." HealthDay notes that patients had a range of cancers, including "lung, colorectal, melanoma, thyroid, pancreatic and ovarian." Also covering the story are Reuters (9/1, Beasley), the UK's Press Association (9/1), and BBC News (9/1, Gallagher).

Novel Microchip Implant May Monitor Tumor Growth.

BBC News (9/1) reports that German medical engineers have developed a microelectronic chip sensor to be "implanted next" to a tumor. The "chip has a set of electrodes that detect oxygen saturation." When the saturation drops, this "can indicate aggressive growth." Next, researchers plan "to add a medication pump to the chip that can release chemotherapeutic drugs close to a tumour if treatment is needed," pointing out that local chemotherapy may have much less toxic effects than pumping drugs through the patient's entire body.

Valproic Acid May Improve Glioblastoma Survival.

MedPage Today (9/1, Walsh) reports that according to a study published in Neurology, "patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for malignant glioblastoma appeared to have better overall survival if they also received the anti-seizure medication valproic acid." However, "these patients experienced more hematologic toxicities." Researchers hypothesized the effects "may result from the drug's ability to inhibit histone deacetylase, leading to radiochemotherapy sensitization." They now plan to test whether "more potent inhibitors of this enzyme, such as vorinostat (Zolinza) in combination with temozolomide," would have better efficacy and tolerability. WebMD (9/1, Mann) also covers the story.

Some Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need Hormone Therapy.

HealthDay (9/1, Doheny) reports a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggesting that breast cancer patients "aged 60 and older with smaller" hormone receptor positive tumors without lymph node involvement may not need hormone therapy. Those women also "had fewer local and distant recurrences than patients not belonging to this group." HealthDay points out that the treatment "has side effects that can be debilitating and occasionally even life-threatening." Despite the findings, the study authors noted that "many women will want to take the hormone therapy to reduce their risk of recurrence."


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