Cancer Prevention News: Cancer prevention

2013-01-26 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Cancer prevention

At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.

Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of cancer deaths per year. In 2004, 1.6 million of the 7.4 million cancer deaths were due to tobacco use.

Tobacco smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone. Second-hand smoke (SHS), also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has been proven to cause lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Smokeless tobacco (also called oral tobacco, chewing tobacco or snuff) causes oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer.

Physical inactivity, dietary factors, obesity and being overweight

Dietary modification is another important approach to cancer control. There is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers. Conversely, excess consumption of red and preserved meat may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, healthy eating habits that prevent the development of diet-associated cancers will also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, will considerably reduce cancer risk. National policies and programmes should be implemented to raise awareness and reduce exposure to cancer risk factors, and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Alcohol use

Alcohol use is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The risk from heavy drinking for several cancer types (e.g. oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus) substantially increases if the person is also a heavy smoker. Attributable fractions vary between men and women for certain types of alcohol-related cancer, mainly because of differences in average levels of consumption. For example, 22% of mouth and oropharynx cancers in men are attributable to alcohol whereas in women the attributable burden drops to 9%. A similar sex difference exists for oesophageal and liver cancers (Rehm et al., 2004).


Infectious agents are responsible for almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6% in industrialized countries. Viral hepatitis B and C cause cancer of the liver; human papilloma virus infection causes cervical cancer; the bacterium Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of stomach cancer. In some countries the parasitic infection schistosomiasis increases the risk of bladder cancer and in other countries the liver fluke increases the risk of cholangiocarcinoma of the bile ducts. Preventive measures include vaccination and prevention of infection and infestation.

Environmental pollution

Environmental pollution of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals accounts for 1–4% of all cancers (IARC/WHO, 2003). Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the environment can occur through drinking water or pollution of indoor and ambient air. In Bangladesh, 5–10% of all cancer deaths in an arsenic-contaminated region were attributable to arsenic exposure (Smith, Lingas & Rahman, 2000). Exposure to carcinogens also occurs via the contamination of food by chemicals, such as afl atoxins or dioxins. Indoor air pollution from coal fires doubles the risk of lung cancer, particularly among non-smoking women (Smith, Mehta & Feuz, 2004). Worldwide, indoor air pollution from domestic coal fires is responsible for approximately 1.5% of all lung cancer deaths. Coal use in households is particularly widespread in Asia.
Occupational carcinogens

More than 40 agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances in the working environment are carcinogenic to humans and are classified as occupational carcinogens (Siemiatycki et al., 2004). That occupational carcinogens are causally related to cancer of the lung, bladder, larynx and skin, leukaemia and nasopharyngeal cancer is well documented. Mesothelioma (cancer of the outer lining of the lung or chest cavity) is to a large extent caused by work-related exposure to asbestos.

Occupational cancers are concentrated among specific groups of the working population, for whom the risk of developing a particular form of cancer may be much higher than for the general population. About 20–30% of the male and 5–20% of the female working-age population (people aged 15–64 years) may have been exposed to lung carcinogens during their working lives, accounting for about 10% of lung cancers worldwide. About 2% of leukaemia cases worldwide are attributable to occupational exposures.

Ionizing radiation is carcinogenic to humans. Knowledge on radiation risk has been mainly acquired from epidemiological studies of the Japanese A-bomb survivors as well as from studies of medical and occupational radiation exposure cohorts. Ionizing radiation can induce leukaemia and a number of solid tumours, with higher risks at young age at exposure. Residential exposure to radon gas from soil and building materials is estimated to cause between 3% and 14% of all lung cancers, making it the second cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoke. Radon levels in homes can be reduced by improving the ventilation and sealing floors and walls. Ionizing radiation is an essential diagnostic and therapeutic tool. To guarantee that benefits exceed potential radiation risks radiological medical procedures should be appropriately prescribed and properly performed, to reduce unnecessary radiation doses, particularly in children.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and in particular solar radiation, is carcinogenic to humans, causing all major types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. Globally in 2000, over 200 000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed and there were 65 000 melanoma-associated deaths. Avoiding excessive exposure, use of sunscreen and protective clothing are effective preventive measures. UV-emitting tanning devices are now also classified as carcinogenic to humans based on their association with skin and ocular melanoma cancers.

Breast Cancer Prevention: New Advice

Despite all of the attention we pay to trying to cure it, very little solid evidence exists on how to prevent breast cancer. Don’t smoke, don’t get fat, and exercise plenty—that’s about all the advice the experts have for us, and it’s frustratingly vague, because those are the same rules we’re supposed to follow for preventing every other health issue out there.

So it’s nice to hear from the American Institute for Cancer Research about new evidence that eating plenty of fiber can reduce breast cancer risk by a significant amount. Researchers that the AICR helped fund an analysis of 16 studies of almost one million women and found a 5% reduction in risk for each 10 grams of fiber per day the women consumed. Although we all know that fiber is good for you, and helps prevent colorectal cancer, previous research into breast cancer preventnion had been inconclusive.

Two really interesting things about this research: One, fiber intake reduced breast cancer risk regardless of women’s weight, so it’s not just that thin women were eating more fiber and getting less breast cancer because of their lower weights—fiber has some cancer-preventing power independent of its ability to help keep you slim. Second, soluble fiber prevented breast cancer, but insoluble fiber did not seem to. Soluble fiber is the kind that’s good for your heart (and is found in oatmeal and most fruits and vegetables), while insoluble is the one that keeps your digestion moving (and is sometimes known as “roughage”).

Although they don’t know exactly why insoluble fiber helps women ward off breast cancer, the lead researcher suspects that it’s related to fiber helping us remove excess estrogen from our bodies. As I’ve written before, too much estrogen (sometimes called “estrogen dominance”) seems to be bad for us.

But while it’s always nice to hear that there might be something we can do to prevent this disease, it’s also important to remember that we’re far from having big answers. I just learned that style guru Charla Krupp, author of the books How Not to Look Old and How Not to Look Fat died of breast cancer the other day at 58. Charla was lean and active (and, say those who knew her, smart and funny and a great friend) and I’m willing to bet she ate plenty of fiber.

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Cancer Prevention News: MRIGlobal wins $28M contract to support cancer research

2011-09-07 / Cancer News / 1 Comments

MRIGlobal wins $28M contract to support cancer research

The Kansas City-based nonprofit research organization, formerly known as Midwest Research Institute, said Tuesday that the contract from the National Institutes of Health Division of Cancer Prevention calls for it to run the Centralized Chemopreventive Agent Repository and Drug Chemistry Support program.

Early this year, MRIGlobal bought a 90,000-square-foot facility in North Kansas City to gain an edge in the competition for the contract.

“This new repository complements MRIGlobal’s well-established programs within the National Cancer Institute (NCI),” the organization said in a release. “As the prime contractor, MRIGlobal will maintain a centralized source of chemopreventive agents for NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention to support research to reduce and prevent cancer.”

MRIGlobal will acquire, track and distribute a range of agents that can be used to produce drugs for human clinical trials. These agents include investigational agents, drugs, drug products and pharmaceutical ingredients.

This Breast Cancer Prevention Plan Is Nuts

There’s nothing more empowering than knowing that just making little changes in our lives can forever alter its course. Nothing scarier either. Especially when scientists are talking about the little things we can do to help prevent something as serious as breast cancer. That’s the kind of news I want to jump all over … but the latest bit out of the research team at Marshall University in Western Virginia sounds kind of, well, nuts, to say the least.

So what do researchers claim will help some women cut their risk of breast cancer entirely, and probably make smaller tumors in the women who do develop the disease?

Eat walnuts!

Gotcha, didn’t I? It’s nutty in a good way.

Based on work with mice, the study that shows up in the latest edition of the medical journal Nutrition and Cancer claims that as little as 2 ounces of the seeds can benefit humans in a big way. But it’s only walnuts. Loading up on your favorite peanut butter or pistachio won’t do. That’s because walnuts contain nearly twice as many antioxidant polyphenols as their other nut cousins. And in case you’re wondering why the heck they’re feeding mice walnuts to prevent breast cancer, it’s those polyphenols that make it worth it. They’ve already been found to prevent degenerative diseases, specifically cardiovascular diseases and cancers, and there’s evidence it can prevent osteoporosis and diabetes.

Think it’s too nutty to eat walnuts just for the breast cancer prevention? This might make it worth it: walnuts have been found to help with weight management, cognitive and motor function, and bone health. That’s in addition to diabetes and heart disease.

Do you eat walnuts? Do you think it’s worth adding them to your daily diet to prevent breast cancer?

Medicated Patch Shows Promise in Oral Cancer Prevention

Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed a medicated oral patch that allows a chemoprevention drug to release directly into precancerous lesions in the mouth over an extended time.

The study evaluated the drug fenretinide, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A that has highly promising anti-cancer properties. Until now, scientists have failed to achieve a therapeutic, systemic dose of fenretinide because of drug toxicity and rapid release from the body. By using a new mucoadhesive patch invented by a team from Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) and the University of Michigan, the researchers developed a delivery system that can provide continuous drug therapy to saliva-coated oral tissue.

“The challenge with oral gels or rinses is the medication can dissolve in saliva before it penetrates into the tissue. This patch allows us to target and control drug delivery and tissue exposure,” says Dr. Susan Mallery, an oral pathologist at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The patch consists of three layers: a disk saturated with fenretinide and polymers to make the drug more soluble in saliva, an adhesive ring to hold the disk in place, and a backing layer to ensure the medication stays within the patch.

In their study recently published online by the journal Pharmaceutical Research, Mallery and co-investigator, Dr. Peter Larsen of Ohio State, tested the fenretinide patch using simulated saliva as well as lab animals. In both situations, therapeutic doses comparable to levels needed in humans were achieved without detection of the drug elsewhere in the system or surrounding healthy tissue.

“These results are very encouraging. Fenretinide is a drug that scientists have studied as a cancer preventing compound for decades, and with this mucoadhesive patch, we finally developed a way to harness its potential,” says Mallery.

It is estimated that more than 300,000 people develop precancerous lesions in the mouth every year. Nearly 36,000 people will develop oral cancer. Currently, there is no way to determine which of the precancerous lesions will turn into cancer. While dentists can opt to wait and observe the lesions, they often will surgically remove them for biopsies to determine the course of treatment.

“For people with several or recurring lesions, repeated biopsies can become painful and affect their speech, ability to eat and quality of life,” says Larsen, who is chair of the division of oral and maxillofacial surgery and pathology at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. “Ideally, we would like to have a way to slow down or even reverse the progression of these precancerous lesions without surgery. This medicated patch could be a solution.”

Next, Mallery and her team of investigators will see if these lab results translate to humans, as they begin treating patients in their dental clinic with the fenretinide patch within about 16 months.

This research is supported by the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science, a collaboration of scientists and clinicians from seven OSU Health Science Colleges, OSU Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute ( strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only seven centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State’s cancer program as “exceptional,” the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program’s 210-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a “Top Hospital” as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

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Cancer Treatment News: Making cancer treatment less onerous for patients

2011-07-29 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Making cancer treatment less onerous for patients

Questions about costs, timing and how to find the right treatment protocol can weigh heavily on patients, especially those who must travel great distances to meet with specialists or get a second opinion.

It doesn’t have to be that way, said Steve Bonner, chief executive of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), a for-profit cancer-treatment network with hospitals in the Chicago, Tulsa, Philadelphia and Phoenix metro areas.

CTCA is launching a fixed-price product that offers a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment plan for four of the biggest cancer types that’s guaranteed to be delivered within three to five business days. Patients who still need additional testing after five days can complete the process at no additional cost.

“For the first time in oncology, we believe, you know what the services are you’re going to get, you know what the prices are going to be and you know how long it will take,” Bonner said.
More transparent pricing

The flat-price charges range from $10,000 for prostate cancer on the low end to $14,500 for lung cancer. A comprehensive work-up and treatment plan for breast cancer runs $12,200 while colorectal cancer costs $11,400 for employer health plans, health insurers or patients who pay out of pocket. At the end of the five-day process, patients are free to take the written treatment plan to a competing cancer treatment facility if they wish.

“In health care today, it’s rare that you know what the price is before you make a buying decision,” Bonner said. “This is our first step in that direction.”

Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s effort to make pricing more transparent comes at a pivotal time in U.S. medicine. The health-reform law that President Obama signed in March of 2010 and rolls out over the next few years calls for a variety of methods to raise health-care quality while holding down costs. It includes initiatives aimed at making health-care providers more accountable and health-information technology more widely used. It’s also reshaping financial incentives so doctors and hospitals that achieve the best health outcomes can share in the savings they generate.

Astronomical finding may help treat cancer patients

Astronomers studying stars and black holes have discovered that heavy metals emit low-energy electrons when exposed to X-rays at specific energies – a finding they say could lead to safer and more effective cancer treatments in the future.

The finding raises the possibility that implants made of gold or platinum can allow doctors to destroy tumours with low-energy electrons, while exposing healthy tissue to far less radiation than is possible on Friday, the researchers said.

“As astronomers, we apply basic physics and chemistry to understand what’s happening in stars. We’re very excited to apply the same knowledge to potentially treat cancer,” study author Sultana Nahar of Ohio State University was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

Computer simulations by the researchers suggested that hitting a single gold or platinum atom with a small dose of X-rays at a narrow range of frequencies produces a flood of more than 20 low-energy electrons.

These ejected electrons can kill cancer, shredding their DNA. So doctors can embed many heavy-metal nanoparticles inside and around tumours, then hit them with a tailored shot of radiation, the researchers said

The resulting electron shower can obliterate a tumour and the process would greatly reduce a patient’s radiation exposure compared to most current radiation treatment methods.

For their research, presented at the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy held recently in Columbus, the scientists built a prototype device that showed that specific X-ray frequencies can free low-energy electrons from heavy-metal nanoparticles.

While the machine needs to be developed further, it’s providing a proof of principle for the potential cancer treatment technique, the astronomers said. “This could lead to a combination of radiation therapy with chemotherapy using platinum as the active agent.”

The researchers came up with the new potential cancer treatment after studying the space. Specifically, they were trying to understand what different stars are made of, based on how radiation flows through them and emanates from them.

The team constructed complex computer models to simulate these processes. The models clued them into how heavy metals such as iron behave when they absorb different types of radiation.

Iron plays the dominant role in controlling radiation flow through stars. But it is also observed in some black hole environments, which produce some types of X-rays that can be detected from Earth, the researchers said.

They said, “That’s when we realised that the implications went way beyond atomic astrophysics. X-rays are used all the time in radiation treatments and imaging, and so are heavy metals – just not in this way.

“If we could target heavy metal nanoparticles to certain sites in the body, X-ray imaging and therapy could be more powerful, reduce radiation exposure and be much more precise.”

2 Biotechs, 1 Promising Cancer Drug

It’s not often you find two companies with market caps below $350 million partnered on a drug, but such is the case for perifosine, where tiny Aeterna Zentaris (NAS: AEZS) licensed the cancer drug to only slightly larger Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (NAS: KERX) .

Yesterday, the duo announced that they had completed enrollment in a phase 3 clinical trial testing perifosine in patients with advanced colorectal cancer.

X-PECTing success
I’m a sucker for a good clinical-trial acronym, and they really don’t get much better than “X-PECT” (Xeloda + Perifosine Evaluation in Colorectal cancer Treatment), especially since the companies have a good reason to expect positive results.

As the name implies, the trial is testing perifosine in combination with Roche’s Xeloda in patients who have failed other colorectal-cancer treatments — including Sanofi’s (NYS: SNY) Eloxatin, Amgen’s (NAS: AMGN) Vectibix, and/or Erbitux from Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) and Eli Lilly (NYS: LLY) .

In a phase 2 trial, Xeloda plus perifosine improved median overall survival over Xeloda alone by 6.8 months. This was a small trial of only 35 patients, but it’s still fairly impressive since that’s a 62% improvement on Xeloda alone. Phase 3 data is typically not as impressive as phase 2 results, but there seems to be some leeway for less impressive results to still show a statistically significant effect.

The trial was run under a Special Protocol Assessment, or SPA, with the Food and Drug Administration. Essentially, an SPA means the FDA has agreed that the trial is sufficient for approval. If the trial meets its primary endpoint and nothing new crops up, the FDA should approve the drug.

With a primary endpoint of overall survival — the gold standard in oncology — it seems like a bit of overkill to have an SPA, but there’s really no downside to having one. Just don’t expect the presence of an SPA to increase the chance of a clinical trial success.

When can we expect results?
The companies will probably give us a timeframe in the coming months for their estimate of when the trial will be completed, but we can do some back-of-the-envelope calculations to get close.

The results will be revealed after 360 patients in the study die. It took less than 16 months to enroll the 430 or so patients in the trial. If you assume the patients enrolled steadily, the 360th patient was enrolled about three months ago; the enrollment probably accelerated as we went through the trial, but this is a rough estimate. The median survival of patients in the phase 2 trial was 10.9 months and 17.9 months, depending on whether the patients received perifosine and Xeloda or just Xeloda. Let’s call it an average of a 14-month survival, which would happen approximately 11 months from now. Add in a month or two to crunch the numbers, and we should have the data this time next year.

Which one?
Both companies have drugs in development beyond perifosine, but if you’re betting on the cancer drug as the near-term catalyst, I think Keryx is probably the more appropriate choice. The royalty structure wasn’t disclosed in the licensing deal, but assuming the royalties are in the 10% or less range, Keryx will retain a majority of the financial benefit from perifosine in the U.S. market.

While I’ve focused on perifosine’s potential in colorectal cancer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that it’s also being tested as a treatment for a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. The success in colorectal cancer is important, but it would really take a failure of perifosine in both indications for it to be a complete flop.

Learn to thrive once cancer treatment is complete

University of Colorado Cancer Center is looking for cancer survivors to take part in a clinical trial of a program aimed at helping them manage their condition more effectively. The program, called “Cancer: Thriving and Surviving,” is adapted from a successful effort helping people manage other chronic conditions like diabetes.

With more than 12 million cancer survivors nationwide, researchers would like to know if programs that have proven effective in helping people manage fatigue, frustration, pain and stress might also work for managing similar issues associated with cancer.

“A cancer survivor’s journey does not end after treatment. And therapies and surgeries can have long lasting physical and emotional impact. If proven effective, ‘Cancer: Thriving and Surviving’ can help improve the quality of life for cancer survivors worldwide”, said Betsy Risendal, PhD, assistant research professor in the Colorado School of Public Heath and the trial’s principal investigator.

Cancer survivors can suffer numerous long-term complications including depression, difficulty concentrating and neuropathy.

The program, the first of its kind in the country, has been adapted especially for cancer survivors. Covered topics include communication with health care providers and family members regarding a cancer diagnosis, how to improve and maintain health and problem solving. The instructors, many of whom are themselves cancer survivors, are specially trained to lead the sessions.

The class will meet weekly for about two hours and for seven weeks. Cancer survivors and their caregivers are welcome to participate. Three metro area classes begin in August, and they may be offered in northern and southern Colorado and rural communities later this year.

There are some eligibility requirements for the study, which is being conducted by CU Cancer Center and funded by the Centers for Disease Control. To find out if you are eligible to enroll, you may call the community research partner, the Consortium for Older Adult Wellness at 303-956-8908 or toll free at 888-900-2629. Two classes begin next month on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora: Aug 3 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and Aug. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Learn to thrive once cancer treatment is complete

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. Headquartered on the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, the center is a consortium of three state universities (Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Colorado Denver) and six institutions (The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health, Denver VA Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, National Jewish Health and University of Colorado Hospital).

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Cancer Prevention News: Confusion Over Breast Cancer Prevention, Detection

2011-07-06 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Confusion Over Breast Cancer Prevention, Detection

A new study that followed more than 133,000 women over 30 years found women who had regular mammogram screenings had a lower risk of dying from breast cancer. Specifically, researchers found, seven years of mammograms resulted in 30-percent fewer breast cancer deaths.

For patients, all the information out there on breast cancer can be confusing. But doctors in our area are sticking to their mammogram guidelines.

Doctor Lisa Tuszka, a breast health specialist, says starting annual mammograms at age 40 is what she recommends for early detection.

“Women who develop breast cancer in an earlier age — meaning younger than age 50 — tend to have more aggressive breast cancers and are diagnosed at a later stage.”

Tuszka says ten percent of women she’s seen in their 20s and 30s have breast cancer — a significant percentage she knows can’t be ignored.

From her doctoral program, she discovered even more alarming statistics.

“On a national average, about 20- to 30-percent of women have a family history of breast cancer. In this area, 45-percent of women have a family history of breast cancer,” Dr. Tuszka said.

That’s exactly why Bridget Bergstrom goes in for yearly mammograms. Her aunt died of breast cancer.

“She ended up with breast cancer, and I think if she would have gone in sooner, you know, would have been caught sooner, would have been a different story,” Bergstrom said.

But all the studies and recommendations out there can make it confusing for patients.

“At one time they were recommending that women start at the age of 50,” Kathy Jarek, RN, said.

Jarek, a breast health educator at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, says she’s constantly answering questions about mammograms and self-exams.

“If women are confused or need clarification, I would suggest that they just talk their health care provider,” Jarek said.

Especially if they know they’re at risk, the specialists say, for some an annual check-up is the least they can do.

“Feeling of ease knowing that you’ve got it and you know that you’re good for another year,” Bergstrom said.

How to lower your risk of skin cancer this summer

You’ve heard it many times before: “Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!” But, is there an easier way to keep skin cancer prevention top of mind as summer starts to sizzle?

Dr. Michael Kaminer, member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), says, “Get your skin checked annually around the time of your birthday or a favorite holiday. With summer upon us, opt for July 4 or Labor Day to make sure you get an annual skin cancer screening.”

Many people might be surprised to learn that sun damage is cumulative, and sun exposure in your youth may lead to aging and skin cancer later on. To prevent sun damage, you should develop a routine of wearing and reapplying sunscreen.

“Overexposure to the sun, seen as sunburns, will set skin in a downward spiral,” notes Dr. Kaminer. “In fact, many of my patients can pinpoint the specific sunburn that damaged their skin. Protecting the skin from harmful UV rays is critical not just during the summer, but all year.”

So, what are some steps you can take on a daily basis to lower your risk of skin cancer this summer and beyond? Dr. Kaminer and the ASDS suggest the following:

Be sure to wear sunscreen: No matter what your skin type or how your body reacts to the sun, you should always wear sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply about one ounce (the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover your entire body and reapply every two to three hours spent outdoors. Research shows that many people put on about half of the amount of sunscreen they need, so be sure to lather it on. Also, don’t forget your lips – use lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Take more than a break: Avoid sun exposure during peak hours of intensity from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must be outside, apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before heading out and reapply throughout the day.

Wear sun protective clothing: Wearing a hat with a full, wide brim can help protect areas often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. Apply sunscreen under a T-shirt, or wear more protective clothing.

Protect your family: Teach children life-long skin protection habits at a young age, even if you think they aren’t listening. Set a good example by putting on sunscreen together.

In addition, Dr. Kaminer and the ASDS offer the following tips for long-term skin cancer detection and prevention:

Monitor your skin: If any unusual spots appear on your skin, get them checked out immediately. If something looks funny or different, see a dermatologic surgeon.

See the right doctor: When something doesn’t look right, schedule an appointment with a dermatologic surgeon, who can use a number of noninvasive tools to determine if the spot is cancerous. You can then work together to find the right treatment; many newer treatments are painless and do not cause scarring. To find a dermatologic surgeon, visit

Get help from a friend: The best way to detect skin cancer, especially on hard-to-see places like the back, is to have your spouse, partner or a friend check your skin on a regular basis. Be sure to check your skin yourself too.

So, pack that sunscreen wherever you go and reapply. And be sure to schedule an appointment with your dermatologic surgeon this summer. Visit for more information on how to best detect and prevent skin cancer and to find a free skin cancer screening in your area.

About the ASDS
ASDS is the largest specialty organization exclusively representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to treat the health, function and beauty of skin. Dermatologic surgeons are experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. As the incidence of skin cancer rises, dermatologic surgeons are committed to taking steps to minimize the life-threatening effects of this disease. ASDS members are pioneers in the field, having created and enhanced many of the advancements in dermatologic surgery to repair and improve the skin.

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Cancer Prevention News: Explaining New High Risk Breast Cancer Prevention Treatment

2011-06-16 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Explaining New High Risk Breast Cancer Prevention Treatment

“A new study, using estrogen-fighting drugs, helps prevent breast cancer in high risk patients—with fewer side effects,” said Dr. Robyn Young, a specialist focusing entirely on breast cancer treatment (

Young explained, “Estrogen is a hormone that causes some types of breast cancer cells to grow. These drugs, also called aromatase inhibitors, remove estrogen. Compared to the existing prevention therapy, Tamoxifen, which slightly increases the chance of blood clots or endometrial cancer, these drugs look like a much better option for patients with a high risk of getting breast cancer.”

The new study, announced this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, showed that aromatase inhibitors cut the relative risk of getting breast cancer by 65%, for women who had at least one risk factor—without the traditional side effects. The study was led by Dr. Paul Goss of Massachusetts General Hospital and involved 4,560 women.

This therapy is not intended to prevent the disease in those with an average risk.

High risk factors include, but are not limited to:
Family history of breast cancer
Breast biopsy results showing abnormal cells called hyperplasia
Genetic testing results showing possible future breast cancer

Irvine boy donates presents to cancer patients

When most 7-year-olds think about their birthday, they don’t focus on giving their presents away to cancer patients.

But this year, Jet Charter, 7, of Irvine and several friends brought more than 100 gifts and toys to pediatric cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.

The Todos Conference Room in The Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment was decorated with balloons and kids were served birthday treats.

Jet and friends lined up to put birthday gifts and donated toys in the hospital’s ‘treasure chest.’ After radiation treatment, patients get to select a gift from the treasure chest before going home.

The room filled with hospital employees, and parents and kids sang “Happy Birthday” to Jet. At the end of the song, Jet was presented with a thank you certificate from the hospital.

Jet’s father, Ron Charter, worked closely with the hospital and received support from friends and family.

Gift cards from Jet’s birthday party were used to purchase toys for girls’ and unisex toys for all of the children undergoing radiation treatment at the cancer center.

The family hopes to return next year for Jet’s 8th birthday in hopes to always keep the treasure chest full of toys for the patients.

Massive trial trying to pinpoint cause of cancer

David Greenway’s death from brain cancer on Nov. 17, 1991, came four months after he began getting excruciating headaches.

They turned out to be the first symptoms of the disease.

Greenway died two days before his 23rd birthday. At the time, Suzanne Mensch, Greenway’s older sister by 14 months, couldn’t help but wonder if cancer would strike her next.

“Any headache for the longest time has really scared me,” said Mensch, 43, of Elkton, Md. “It really has freaked me out where I wonder whether this is the beginning of a cancer diagnosis.”

Mensch still wonders why she has been spared from cancer and her brother was killed by it. She hopes researchers will be able to unlock that mystery through her participation in a cancer trial that has recruited people in New Castle County and Cecil County, Md.

The Cancer Prevention Study-3 — called CPS-3 for short — is the American Cancer Society’s fourth large-scale follow-up study on cancer. It is following as many as 500,000 Americans — including nearly 200 local people — over 20 to 30 years.

Some participants will develop cancer and others won’t. The study’s goal is to pinpoint the personal habits, genetic traits and environmental triggers that cause or prevent cancer.

A previous Cancer Society study exposed the strong link between smoking and lung cancer. The link between obesity and the increased odds of dying from cancer was established in another study. More than 300 scientific articles have been published on the results of such studies.

“One of the most unique facets of this study is that we’ll be looking at any cancer,” said Alpa V. Patel, the principal investigator of CPS-3. “This study doesn’t have a focus on any specific type of cancer.”
Getting specific

To participate, enrollees need to be between 30 and 65 and have no history of cancer.

Nearly 100,000 people have enrolled so far, with the recruitment period ending in December 2013. Researchers are aiming for a sample size in which 25 percent of the subjects are minorities.

Cassandra Cogan was motivated to sign up because her family has a cancer history.

Her father survived colon cancer and her grandmother survived breast cancer. But Cogan’s aunt, Eileen Paulus, died in April from pancreatic cancer after surviving cancer in her uterus and breast.

“It does make me wonder why Eileen got all the cancer and I’m hoping that with the studies … the researchers will find a link, whether it’s with lifestyles or medications,” said Cogan, 32 of Elkton. “It makes me feel good knowing that I live in an area that they picked for the study.”

Patel said the Elkton area was selected this year as one of the 100 enrollment sites because of its robust volunteer team.

Because the latest study involves the collection of blood samples from participants, it could significantly advance cancer research, said Dr. Diana Dickson-Witmer, a surgeon and associate medical director of the Christiana Care Breast Center at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Stanton.

“They can look at the specific chromosomes of the people who developed cancers to see if there were patterns that formed,” Dickson-Witmer said.
‘Unique opportunity’

Bob Gravell, 58, of Odessa, is aware of how pervasive cancer is in Delaware, where 507 of every 100,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and 194 of every 100,000 people here die of cancer. Both rates — collected by Delaware’s Division of Public Health — are higher than the national rates.

But the breadth of CPS-3 was the reason he enrolled recently in the study at Elkton High School, during the annual Relay for Life, an overnight walking-and-running fundraiser run by the Cancer Society.

“It’s kind of a unique opportunity to be part of a statistically significant study,” he said.

By joining the study, Mensch said, she feels like she’s contributing to the efforts to find a cure for the disease.

“It’s like donating blood,” she said. “You don’t know for sure if your blood is going to help someone in an accident or whether it’s going to expire on a shelf. But you give it because it has that potential to help. This study has that kind of potential.”

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Cancer Prevention News

2011-05-20 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Volunteers needed for study on cancer prevention

Here’s a chance to be a part of history – by eventually making cancer part of the past, the American Cancer Society hopes.

ACS wants to recruit 500,000 U.S. adults ages 30-65, from all races and ethnic backgrounds, for a massive, lengthy study on cancer prevention. Participants should be willing to commit to the Cancer Prevention Study-3 long-term and should not have previously been diagnosed with cancer. The study’s purpose is to improve understanding of the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer.

People can sign up at today’s Sevier County Relay for Life fundraiser, 6-10 p.m. at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. There they will read and sign a consent form, complete a brief survey, provide some physical measurements and give a small blood sample.

Later, at home, they’ll complete a more detailed survey. Then, they’ll periodically be asked to update it.

Coffee for cancer prevention: good idea?

It’s nice when sinful foods turn out to be not so sinful, and coffee has been earning high marks lately on the nutrition front — to the point that some are now calling it a health food. Adding to the growing evidence is a study published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found that drinking copious amounts may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

“Those in the study who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer,” says study author Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health. “The ones who drank six cups a day had a 60 percent lower risk.”

That’s a heck of a lot of coffee — consumed by just 5 percent of the men in the study, which was comprised of nearly 48,000 male health professionals. But it didn’t matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, Wilson tells me, to get the prostate cancer benefit.

(No way to know, though, whether brewed was better than instant since the vast majority of the participants drank brewed.)

Women coffee drinkers may also have some protection against breast cancer. Swedish researchers reported last week that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day had about a 55 percent lower likelihood of developing a less common type of breast cancer — that’s not dependent on estrogen — compared with those who drank just one cup.

Being a two-cup-a-day coffee drinker myself, I’m wondering if I should make a point to drink more.

“Don’t change your habits based on the results of single study,” Wilson tells me. While accounting for potentially confounding factors like PSA screenings and smoking habits, the study, which simply observed dietary and lifestyle habits, can’t show for certain whether one particular habit really made the difference in disease risk.

On the other hand, Wilson adds, “people who drink a lot of coffee shouldn’t feel guilty about it. For many, it’s their best source of antioxidants.”

That’s likely because they’re not eating the recommended five to eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables — which also protect against cancer.

Besides containing antioxidants, coffee appears to improve the action of the hormone insulin, Wilson says, which could add to its cancer protective effects. And those same attributes might also explain coffee drinkers’ lower risk of Parkinson’s, strokes, gallstones, colon cancer, and liver disease.

If you do decide to up your intake of java, you might want those extra cups to be decaffeinated to avoid disrupting your sleep. (Skimping on sleep, which raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, could negate the benefits of coffee.)

And avoid those frothy mocha, caramel concoctions that contain hundreds of calories, or you could find yourself packing on pounds. Not a good idea if your goal is to lower your risk of cancer.

Report outlines successes, challenges in cancer prevention efforts

A new report from the American Cancer Society details cancer control efforts and outlines improvements as well as gaps in preventive behavior that contribute to cancer mortality. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls, but nearly one in five adolescents and about one in three adults is obese. Vaccination against the virus that causes cervical cancer is up, but smoking declines have stalled. Meanwhile, proven cancer screening tests remain underutilized, particularly in un- and under-insured populations. The report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures (CPED), says social, economic, and legislative factors profoundly influence individual health behaviors, and that meeting nationwide prevention goals will require improved collaboration among government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, policy makers, and the American public.

Since 1992, the American Cancer Society has published CPED as a resource to strengthen cancer prevention and early detection efforts at the local, state, and national levels. Below are highlights of this year’s report.

Tobacco Use

Smoking rates in U.S. adults and youth have stalled. Among adults, the smoking rate remained unchanged in the past 6 years (2009: 20.6%). Among high school students, the smoking prevalence did not change significantly between 2003 and 2009 (19.5%), but use of smokeless products is increasing in some groups. Smoking among middle school students also did not change between 2006 and 2009 (5.2%).

States’ funding for tobacco control ($517.9 million) in 2011 was the lowest amount allocated since the 1999 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), with only 2% of states’ revenue from tobacco taxes and the MSA allocated for tobacco control.

Federal tobacco control funding to some extent offset declines in states’ funding. Several federal tobacco control initiatives, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and funding for tobacco control, went into effect in 2010. Provisions for tobacco dependence treatment coverage in the Affordable Care Act for previously uninsured individuals, Medicare, and Medicaid recipients either went into effect in 2010 or will be implemented in upcoming years.

As tobacco marketing and sales become more restrictive due to regulations, the industry is moving toward unregulated venues and products. For example, point-of-source advertising and promotions are increasingly being targeted by the industry, as are products such as small cigars that are not subject to the same regulations governing cigarette sales and marketing.

Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity, and Nutrition

Currently, an estimated 18.1% of adolescents and 34.3% of adults are obese. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls.

In 2009, the prevalence of obesity among adults exceeded 20% in all states except Colorado (19.3%).

HPV Vaccination for Cervical Cancer Prevention

To prevent cervical cancer, vaccination against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended for adolescent girls. The initiation of the HPV vaccination series among U.S. females aged 13 to 17 increased from 25% in 2007 to 44% in 2009, and nearly one in three completed the entire series.

Cancer Screening

Mammography usage has not increased since 2000. In 2008, 53% of women aged 40 and older reported getting a mammogram in the past year. Women who lack health insurance have the lowest use of mammograms (26%).

In 2008, 78.3% of adult women had a Pap test in the past three years. However, there is persistent under-use of the Pap test among women who are uninsured, recent immigrants, and those with low education.

Colorectal cancer screening rates increased from 38% in 2000 to 53.2% in 2008; however, rates remain substantially lower in uninsured individuals. To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation ensuring coverage for the full range of colorectal cancer screening tests.

Improving these numbers, says the report, will require coordinated efforts. “For example,” the authors write, “the price and availability of healthy foods, the incentives and opportunities for regular physical activity in schools and communities, the content of advertising aimed at children, and the availability of insurance coverage for screening tests and treatment for tobacco addiction all influence individual choices.”

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Cancer News and Treatment

2011-05-05 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Researchers find new lung cancer treatment

RESEARCHERS looking for better ways to treat tumours in children say they may have stumbled instead on something even better – a new therapy for lung cancer, Australia’s single biggest cancer killer.

Lung cancer is the fifth-most commonly diagnosed cancer in this country, accounting for 9703 diagnoses in 2007 – fewer than half the 19,403 new prostate cancer cases recorded the same year.

It also lags well behind bowel cancer (14,234 cases), breast cancer (12,670) and melanoma (10,342).

But lung cancer remains far and away the single most deadly cancer, claiming 7626 lives in 2007 – nearly double the number of the next-biggest, bowel cancer (4047).

Part of the reason lung cancer remains so deadly is that it is often detected relatively late, and is often difficult if not impossible to remove surgically.

But scientists at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, in Sydney, have found a new approach that promises to tackle another reason why the prognosis for most patients with lung cancer can be so poor: the tendency for their tumours to resist chemotherapy drugs.

Maria Kavallaris, the head of the CCIA’s tumour biology and targeting program, and a former president of the Australian Society for Medical Research, said her team used a “gene-silencing” approach to knock out the gene in the cancer cells that made them resistant to the effects of chemotherapy.

The findings, presented at the Australasian Gene Therapy Society meeting in Melbourne yesterday, have so far been tested successfully in mice, and Professor Kavallaris said she hoped human trials would begin next year.

“When we switch off this gene, and treat the cancer cells with the chemotherapy that they weren’t responding to before, then they become responsive,” Professor Kavallaris said.

“It’s still early days, but it’s showing great promise. It’s very encouraging.”

The researchers are still trying to work out how best to deliver the drug to cancer cells in live patients – such as injection, or steady infusion through a drip.

It is hoped the therapy, if successful in later trials, could also prove useful for solid cancers in children, such as neuroblastoma – which is one of the most aggressive childhood cancers.

A new treatment for childhood cancers such as neuroblastoma was what the CCIA team were looking for when they realised their therapy could be of benefit to adult patients as well.

First Wednesday events to support cancer treatment and survivors

It’s time to Paint the Town Purple for First Wednesday this month.

Go Downtown and Relay for Life are working together for the event, which is in its second year. Relay teams will be gathered throughout downtown Salem to raise money for the June 17-18 event, and cancer survivors are encouraged to check in at the survivor’s table at Liberty and Court streets NE.

The highlight of the evening will be the Luminaria Concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Trinity Ballroom of the Reed Opera House, 189 Liberty St. NE.

The concert will feature some of Oregon’s biggest names in blues and soul, including Norman Sylvester, Garry Meziere, Dave Fleschner, Larry London and Terry Robb. They will play together, but you can hear them individually during the “Battle for the Best — Tunes for Tips” solo competition; vote with your money for the best performance.

During the concert, sponsorships for 11 lap quilts will be auctioned off; there is a suggested $25 starting bid. In turn, the lap quilts will go to people in cancer treatment.

Inside and outside the ballroom will be the paper lanterns called “luminarias,” which will be lighted to honor a survivor or memorialize someone who has died.

The concert is free, but there is a suggested $3 donation. All proceeds will go to Relay for Life.

Elsewhere, Travel Salem (181 High St. NE) will host a wine tasting and reception. At Dave Wilson Designer Goldsmith, 216 Commercial St. NE, Susan Trueblood Stuart will show “Painting My Way Through Cancer,” 21 paintings she made during her struggle with jaw cancer.

Per usual, there are gallery shows, restaurant specials and shop sales.

Nucletron Showcases Five Innovations in Cancer Treatment at ESTRO

Nucletron, a leading provider of state-of-the-art radiotherapy solutions for cancer treatment will feature five new innovations at the ESTRO Anniversary Congress, May 8-11 in London, all designed to meet the growing interest and need to more effectively treat a wide variety of cancers. In addition, as one of the first industry partners with the organization, Nucletron will be celebrating its long collaboration with ESTRO on its 30th anniversary.

“2011 is the Year of Radiotherapy in the UK, and there is no better location than London for ESTRO to hold this year’s meeting and commemorate its 30th anniversary. Nucletron is proud of our long term partnership with ESTRO, and we’re looking forward to working with the organization and its members to further advance the important role of radiotherapy, in particular brachytherapy, in the multimodality treatment of cancer,” said Jos Lamers, CEO of Nucletron. “Our commitment to product innovation, professional education, and raising awareness of the benefits of brachytherapy – all aimed at ensuring patient access to quality cancer care – will highlight Nucletron’s presence at this year’s meeting,” he added.

Nucletron will feature five innovative products and solutions at this year’s meeting, all of which were developed with the needs of the modern radiotherapy department for speed, efficiency, accuracy and quality in mind. Awareness of brachytherapy will also receive special attention, with the presentation of a range of awareness and educational materials.

The Vaginal CT/MR Multi Channel Applicator (VCMC) is the first Precise Dose Delivery Solution (PDDS(TM)) for treating gynecologic cancers. The VCMC features a unique design of multiple channels which are curved in the tip of the applicator, and which can be loaded selectively. This provides accurate precision and dose direction, bringing dosimetry measurably closer to the vaginal wall. The VCMC is easy to assemble, clean & sterilize, thus providing economical treatment and optimized day-to-day utilization. This new addition to Nucletron’s range of innovative applicators allows healthcare providers to tackle more complex or advanced endometrial and other gynecological cancers. The recent PORTEC (Postoperative Radiation Therapy for Endometrial Carcinoma) 2 study highlighted the benefits of vaginal brachytherapy versus external beam radiotherapy, in particular significantly lower toxicity and superior QOL outcomes. Delivering the dose where it is most needed, a key aspect of brachytherapy in sparing healthy tissue and reducing treatment toxicity, makes this unique CT/MR-compatible applicator a logical solution in response to the demands of modern gynecologic radiotherapy.

Nucletron’s Prostate Solutions represent a seamless, all-in-one solution that addresses clinical needs, whether these call for low dose rate (LDR or “seeds”), High Dose Rate (HDR) or both. This all-in-one solution is the only one to cover both HDR & LDR in one software configuration. It combines dynamic treatment planning and delivery with advanced robotic accuracy, thereby improving clinical outcomes in patients undergoing prostate brachytherapy. Built around the latest state-of-the-art Oncentra(R) software, each solution integrates ultrasound technology allowing optimal control over the treatment process. Nucletron’s advanced Robotic Seed Delivery technology guarantees reliable, reproducible and precise treatment. The unique combination of dynamic treatment planning and delivery with advanced robotic accuracy helps health care professionals improve clinical outcomes in patients undergoing prostate brachytherapy.

Nucletron will also be showcasing the latest version of its brachytherapy treatment planning solution Oncentra (R) Brachy. Developed with the needs of the busy radiotherapy department in mind and with a focus on shortening workflows, it combines up to 50% reduction in planning times with exemplary treatment planning accuracy. Key components of Oncentra Brachy 4.0 are library plans and GYN applicator models, the first in a series of applicator models. The ability to automatically reconstruct exact applicator geometry from a 3D library eliminates the uncertainty of individual interpretation and assures placement precision. Furthermore, the new libraries and automatic reconstruction can dramatically reduce the time needed for planning, without compromising on quality. This latest edition of Nucletron’s advanced brachytherapy software also addresses the call for reproducibility, leveraging applicator models and library plans to ensure consistency, be it between fractions or between users.

Nucletron’s commitment to external beam treatment planning will also be very much on show, with two leading edge solutions.

The first, the latest release of Oncentra External Beam, intelligently automates routine planning tasks and increases patient throughput. Speed is very much of the essence with the premier of Oncentra’s GPU technology which dramatically speeds up dose calculation, reducing complex calculation times from hours to minutes for enhanced dose algorithms. Users of Oncentra External Beam 4.0 can now routinely have collapsed cone accuracy, in pencil beam times, and creating a 3D plan can take as little as 15 seconds. Oncentra connects to all treatment delivery systems. Its modular planning environment allows it to be used with a department’s linear accelerator of choice and still benefit from the latest in planning tools and technology offered in this new version.

The second, Velocity, brings the best of modern radiotherapy – multiple modality, dose summation and adaptive planning – directly to the radiotherapy department. This innovative solution allows users to turn the sheer volume of data and complexity of today’s radiotherapy directly to their advantage. A unique range of integration tools provides the ability to combine images from multiple modalities, integrate dose summation regardless of source, and apply adaptive contouring across multiple datasets with both accuracy and speed. Velocity eliminates repetitive and time-consuming segmentation tasks by leveraging proprietary anatomy atlases, significantly decreasing treatment planning time and complexity. This new solution provides the user with the full “patient” picture and the advantage of an accelerated workflow.

To learn more about these new innovations in precision cancer treatment, visit Nucletron during the ESTRO Anniversary Conference at booth 110.

HIV drug could lead to new cervical cancer treatment

The HIV protease inhibitor lopinavir (a component of Kaletra) triggers cells infected with human papillomavirus to produce an antiviral protein, inducing death of the cancerous cells, researchers at the University of Manchester report in the journal Antiviral Therapy.

“We have now found that lopinavir selectively kills HPV-infected, non-cancerous cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unaffected,” said Dr Ian Hampson, from Manchester’s School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences.

The finding could lead to a new form of treatment for cervical cancer, which is caused by certain high-risk types of human papillomavirus.

At present treatment options for precancerous lesions caused by human papillomavirus, and for cervical cancer, are limited to freezing with liquid nitrogen in early stages, to electrocauterisation, or to surgery and chemotherapy in cases of cervical cancer.

However, in low and middle-income settings surgical treatments for precancerous lesions and for cervical cancer are often more difficult to deliver due to limited screening programmes, a lack of surgically trained staff and lack of medicines. Due in part to these obstacles, cervical cancer is the most common malignancy in women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Treatments which can be delivered easily by nurses and by affected women, starting on the day when a precancerous lesion is identified, could be particularly important in reducing progression to cervical cancer and deaths from cervical cancer in the developing world.

Although HPV vaccination is being introduced in some countries it cannot protect women who have already developed precancerous changes or who have been infected by high-risk HPV types that are not included in the two vaccines now available.

More generally, a drug which is effective against HPV could revolutionise the prevention of anal and oral cancers caused by HPV.

The University of Manchester researchers tested the effect of lopinavir on HPV-infected cells derived from cervical cancer and from human foreskin.

They found that lopinavir increased the production of ribonuclease L in cells infected with cancer-causing HPV types. HPV appears to reduce the expression of ribonuclease L, but the process which HPV reduces Ribonuclease L expression is inhibited by lopinavir.

The authors also speculate that the same process could lower host antiviral defences and so permit infection with other viruses, indicating a possible explanation for the association between HPV infection and subsequent risk of HIV infection in men and in women.

Co-author on the paper, Dr Lynne Hampson, said: “These results are very exciting since they show that the drug not only preferentially kills HPV-infected non-cancerous cells by re-activating known antiviral defence systems, it is also much less toxic to normal non-HPV infected cells.

“Lopinavir is obviously safe for people to take as tablets or liquid but our latest findings provide very strong evidence to support a clinical trial using topical application of this drug to treat HPV infections of the cervix.”

Standard dose Kaletra treatment in women with HIV is unlikely to show an association with a reduced risk of cervical cancer due to the dose needed to kill HPV-infected cells.

Dr Hampson said: “Our results suggest that for this drug to work against HPV it would be necessary to treat virus-infected cells of the cervix with roughly 10-15 times the concentration that is normally found in HIV-infected patients taking lopinavir as tablets. This implies that, for this treatment to work, it would need to be locally applied as a cream or pessary.”

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Cancer Treatment News

2011-04-20 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

New cancer treatment developed at VGH freezes tumours

Cancerous tumours are being engulfed within ice balls, then thawed and frozen again until they wither and die as part of a new technique being pioneered at Vancouver General Hospital.

The process involves sending argon gas through long thin hollow needles into tumours, plunging the cancer cells to temperatures of -100 Centigrade, then thawing the cells with helium gas.

“The tumour cells are killed by the combination of freezing and thawing. The freeze, thaw, freeze cycle results in complete tumour cell disruption,” said Dr. Peter Munk, an interventional musculoskeletal radiologist at VGH.

Called percutaneous cryoablation, the technique is being explored as a less painful alternative to some other procedures used to deal with cancer. And because the ice ball that surrounds the tumour is visible to surgeons, they can track what is happening to it as well as avoid injury to surrounding tissue and organs.

A pilot project to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the procedure is expected to begin at VGH in a few months after final approvals from a University of B.C. ethics review panel.

The project will involve up to 15 patients with metastatic disease -cancer that has spread to muscle and bone -who need help to relieve extreme pain, said Munk.

Pain can be severe for such patients and conventional therapy, such as radiation or pain medications, may not be effective, he said. The new technique can also be used to either cure or treat the pain associated with liver, lung or kidney tumours.

“With the cryo method, it’s less painful than other procedures because it involves freezing,” said Munk.

“It has an anesthetic, numbing effect. Patients can get a local freezing before the probes go in, and a sedative, and then they can leave after the procedure.”

He noted that other methods -such as radio-frequency ablation, which uses heat -may require a general anesthetic, requiring patients to stay in hospital for a few days after.

Another major advantage was cited by University of Wisconsin doctors in a 2008 study describing a series of cases involving cryoablation.

They noted the ice ball that surrounds the tumour is visible on CT scanning technology, which means that tumour death can be observed, as can the status of surrounding structures, like nerves and organs. That is important because doctors don’t want to damage such nerves and organs.

The study also said cryoablation appears to be less painful than other methods, not only during the procedure, but in the immediate aftermath.

The process involves using CT scanning technology as an imaging guide to insert needlelike probes through the skin to the targeted tumour.

The insulated probes are connected to a generator box that provides the argon gas that then flows through the steel tubes. Most tumours require the placement of multiple probes positioned at different angles. The temperature at the uninsulated tips of the probes drops to -100 Centigrade.

After a certain length of time, the frozen tissue is then thawed by helium gas passed through the same probes, and then the freezing cycle is repeated.

Although the cost of each case varies, Munk concedes it is expensive because the $1,000 probes are disposable (one use only) and several might be required for each case. Although the capital cost of the generator box is relatively inexpensive ($50,000), other costs, which can add up to many thousands of dollars, relate to the medical and CT technology staff required.

The cost of the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute study will be sponsored by Galil Medical, which manufactures the equipment acquired by VGH with donor funds. Munk’s collaborator in the study is Dr. Paul Clarkson, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in bone and soft tissue cancers.

Dr. Stephen Ho and Dr. David Liu are interventional radiologists at VGH who have also started using the method.

Cryoshock causing death is the most serious adverse effect that has been described in the medical literature about the technique.

But Munk, who is editor of the Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal, said of the 30 patients who have had cryoablation at VGH since the technology was acquired last year, there have been no serious complications during or after the procedures.

The benefit of the trial is that the cases will be documented and the data peer reviewed and published for close examination of the results.

Melbourne dentist wins cancer therapy case

Health and consumer advocates have vowed to continue fighting after a legal case against a deregistered dentist who claimed to successfully treat cancer sufferers failed.

Victoria’s health services commissioner Beth Wilson said better ways must be found to deal with unregistered practitioners who could exploit vulnerable people, after the Victorian Supreme Court challenge brought by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) collapsed.

CAV had alleged that Noel Rodney Campbell made misleading claims that his alternative treatments could kill cancer and extend the life of patients with a terminal diagnosis.
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Mr Campbell offered treatments such as photo dynamic therapy, radio wave therapy, ozone therapy and high doses of vitamin C at his business, the Hope Clinic in Glenroy.

The clinic was promoted via a website which Mr Campbell set up after his Collins Street practice closed two years ago following a damning report by the health services commissioner.

That report found Mr Campbell’s Hope Clinic acted unethically when it failed to inform patients there was no scientific basis for his treatments.

After the case against Mr Campbell was dismissed on Tuesday, Ms Wilson, who said her office had been grappling with unregistered “alternative” health providers for a decade, expressed dismay.

“Getting redress for people who have been harmed physically, emotionally and financially has been very difficult,” she said.

“I was hoping this case would provide us with assistance in that regard.

“We need better ways of dealing with those unregistered practitioners who exploit vulnerable people.”

Mr Campbell, who represented himself in court, is not a medical doctor nor is he qualified in oncology, but has practised as a dentist for 30 years.

CAV pointed to 37 claims on his clinic’s website it said amounted to misleading and deceptive conduct and breached the Fair Trading Act.

The case against Mr Campbell was essentially that the therapies provided by the Hope Clinic were not sanctioned by conventional medicine, Justice Tony Pagone said in his judgment.

Justice Pagone said he was not satisfied the statements were false and misleading, because the clinic’s website made the distinction that its treatments were alternative and did not pretend to be orthodox medicine.

Outside court, Mr Campbell continued to insist his clinic did not promote a cancer cure.

“We’ve never claimed to cure cancer,” he said.

“Most of the people we see are at stage four, and they’re going to die within a period of time and our aim with those people is to extend their life.”

Mr Campbell was deregistered as a dentist in Victoria in 1998 after being found guilty of professional misconduct for providing grossly negligent dental treatment.

He remains registered in NSW.

CAV acting director Geoff Browne said the watchdog would now “consider its options” but did not back away from the action taken against Mr Campbell.

“We hope this action will encourage anyone suffering from terminal cancer and their families to thoroughly research any alternative medical treatments before … handing over tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

Cancer Treatment – Key To Reducing Cancers In Developing Countries Revealed

Administration of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine doses over a longer period of time to adolescent girls in Vietnam resulted in antibody concentration levels that were comparable to the standard vaccine schedule, according to a study in the April 13 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on infectious disease and immunology.

Kathleen M. Neuzil, M.D., M.P.H., of PATH, Seattle, presented the findings of the study at a JAMA media briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Cervical cancer is an important cause of illness and death among women throughout the world. “Each year, new cases of cervical cancer occur in approximately 529,000 women and 275,000 women die. An estimated 88 percent of deaths due to cervical cancer occur among women residing in developing countries,” according to background information in the article. Human papillomaviruses are the primary cause of cervical cancer. “Combined with continued strengthening of simple evidence-based screening and treatment approaches, effective HPV vaccine programs could reduce cervical cancer rates in developing countries to the low levels currently observed in many developed countries. One challenge to broadly implementing HPV vaccination programs in developing countries will be delivering the currently recommended 3 doses of vaccine to adolescents within 6 months (dosing schedules at 0, 2, and 6 months or at 0, 1, and 6 months),” the authors write. Even in settings in which such vaccination schedules are feasible, alternative schedules may have advantages, such as lower cost (the vaccine could be delivered with other health interventions) or increased coverage (it may be easier for girls and their families or for vaccinators).

Dr. Neuzil and colleagues conducted a randomized noninferiority trial (predetermined measured outcome of intervention not worse than that of standard dosing schedule) in northwestern Vietnam to determine the immunogenicity (the ability of the vaccine to stimulate an immune response) and reactogenicity (the capacity of a vaccine to produce adverse reactions) of alternative schedules of quadrivalent HPV vaccine. The study, conducted between October 2007 and January 2010, assessed 4 schedules of an HPV vaccine delivered in 21 schools to 903 adolescent girls (ages 11-13 years at enrollment). Intramuscular injection of 3 doses of quadrivalent HPV vaccine was delivered on a standard dosing schedule (at 0, 2, and 6 months) or one of 3 alternative dosing schedules (at 0, 3, and 9 months; at 0, 6, and 12 months; or at 0,12, and 24 months). Of the 903 girls, 809 (89.6 percent) received all 3 doses of vaccine and had a serum sample available for testing after the final dose of the HPV vaccine.

For all 4 vaccination schedule groups and vaccine types, the HPV geometric mean titers (GMTs; a measure of antibody concentrations) were low at the beginning of the study and increased significantly after receipt of 3 doses of the vaccine. For the intention-to-treat population and compared with the standard schedule group at 0, 2, and 6 months, the alternative schedule groups at 0, 3, and 9 months and 0, 6, and 12 months met noninferiority criteria (as gauged by level of antibody concentrations) for the anti-HPV-16 and anti-HPV-18 (HPV types) responses at 1 month after receipt of the third dose. Compared with the standard schedule group, the alternative schedule group at 0, 12, and 24 months met noninferiority criteria for HPV-18 but not for HPV-16.

The vaccine was generally well tolerated in each dosing schedule group. Pain at the injection site was the most common adverse event. No serious adverse events were found.

“The similarity of the immunogenicity and reactogenicity profiles of the HPV vaccine reported from this predominantly ethnic minority population in a low-resource area of Vietnam and other populations throughout the world is reassuring and supports more widespread introduction of the vaccine. The World Health Organization acknowledges that programmatic constraints must be considered in the decision to commence national HPV immunization programs. The option of delivering HPV vaccine on flexible schedules will allow countries to minimize costs and maximize feasibility according to local vaccination practices,” the authors write

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Cancer Prevention News

2011-04-07 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

Frozen Strawberries, Key To Throat Cancer Prevention In China

In a country where there is the highest incidence of throat, or esophageal cancer, Chinese researchers have found that simple strawberries may be an affordable and commonly found prevention tool to stave off this deadly disease. Frozen berries are even better because by removing the water from the berries, the concentrate of the preventive substances increase by nearly tenfold.

Lead researcher Tong Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, division of medical oncology, department of internal medicine at The Ohio State University and member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program in The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center explains:

“We concluded from this study that six months of eating strawberries is safe and easy to consume. In addition, our preliminary data suggests that strawberries can decrease histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduce cancer-related molecular events.”

Study participants consumed 60 grams of freeze dried strawberries daily for six months and completed a dietary diary chronicling their strawberry consumption.

The researchers obtained biopsy specimens before and after strawberry consumption. The results showed that 29 out of 36 participants experienced a decrease in histological grade of the precancerous lesions during the study.

Chen continues:

“Our study is important because it shows that strawberries may slow the progression of precancerous lesion in the esophagus. Strawberries may be an alternative or work together with other chemopreventive drugs for the prevention of esophageal cancer. But, we will need to test this in randomized placebo-controlled trials in the future.”

If the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, the patient’s chances of living and being cancer free five years after treatment is greatly improved. Unfortunately, most cases of esophageal cancer are only discovered when the patient comes to their doctor because of swallowing difficulty, which doesn’t happen until later stages of the cancer growth. The prognosis then is very poor.

Esophageal cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer, but some world areas have a markedly higher incidence than others: Belgium, China, Iran, Iceland, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, appear to have a higher incidence, as well as the region around the Caspian Sea. The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2011, approximately 16,000 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States.

Since the 1960s, Chinese researchers at the Cancer Institute, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, have been tracing the environmental factors that cause esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in the world. About 250,000 esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed each year in China, accounting for half of the world’s total.

Once diagnosed, survival rates for esophageal cancer are poor: 75% of patients die within one year, and the five-year survival rate is only 5% to 10%.

Esophageal cancer occurs more often in specific regions. Most victims live in the “esophageal cancer belt,” which stretches from the central part of North China westward through Central Asia to northern Iran.

In China, esophageal cancer occurs mainly in areas south of the Taihang Mountains on the borders of three provinces Henan, Shanxi and Hebei.

Media Advisory – Annual Report Card on Cancer in Canada(TM) – Fighting a Battle on Two Fronts: the Disease and the System

Media are invited to join the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) for the release of the 2010-2011 Report Card on Cancer in Canada™ and presentation of key findings:

● Cancer Prevention in Canada: The sooner the better
Prevention is the single most cost-effective initiative Canada could implement to combat many cancers and data show it would result in several thousand fewer cases each year and millions of dollars in savings for governments. Despite this compelling evidence, Canada is lacking dedicated cancer prevention centres and organized cancer prevention programs.

● Should clinical trials be considered the standard of care for cancer patients in Canada?
Clinical trials are the engine that drives cancer research and have been the source of major advances in our understanding of cancer cell biology and treatments. Participation in clinical trials allows people with cancer to access potentially effective new treatments, and institutions with high participation rates in academic clinical trials have better patient outcomes. But, Canada is rapidly falling behind other countries in its capacity to undertake patient-oriented research.

● The Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Pharmacist in Collaborative Patient Care and Drug Therapy Management in Canadian Cancer Centres
Due to an aging population, the prevalence of cancer in Canada will continue to increase and the rise in the volume of patients will need to be met with an expansion of oncology services. Cancer treatments are moving from the hospital setting to the home, creating a gap in patient care and oversight. Expanding the role of non-physician healthcare professionals should be addressed.

● Rare Cancers and Advocacy
The need to support patients living with rare cancers, such as testicular and ovarian cancer, is urgent. They face unusual hurdles in diagnosis, treatment and recovery while public attention is focused on the big-number cancers. Though there have been significant advances in treatment options and therapies, many patients with rare cancers are still struggling for access to the services they need. Scores of patients, along with their physicians, become advocates just to be heard.

WHERE: The Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario
Level 4 RBC Foundation Glass Room (Queen’s Park/Avenue Road entrance)

WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
9:45 a.m. – Media sign-in
10:00 a.m. – News conference begins
11:00 a.m. – News conference ends, one-on-one interviews available
The full Report Card and all related materials will be on the CACC website by 10.00 a.m. the morning of the news conference at

WHO: Dr. David Saltman, MD, PhD, FRCP, Board Member, CACC
Dr. Joseph Ragaz, MD, FRCP, Board Member, CACC
Dr. Pierre Major, MD, Vice-Chair, CACC
Sandi Yurichuk, BS, MBA, Vice-Chair, CACC

Note: Patients will also be available at the news conference for media interviews

Lifelong Prevention Still Key to Beating Skin Cancer

Summertime means plenty of fun in the sun for many. “I would burn on Saturday and Sunday, peel by Wednesday and be back on the water by the next Saturday doing the same thing,” says Thomas Randall, a man in his 70s who spent much of his youth at a lake or a beach trying to tan a pale complexion. But countless hours of sun exposure have taken a toll on his skin, and he now needs regular examinations to search for pre-cancerous moles. “I had two moles cut off my chest and a major incision on my left leg to remove another mole,” Kendall says. He’s also had lesions removed from his face and both ears.

Craig Elmets, M.D., chair of the UAB department of dermatology, says protecting skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, is the number one way to avoid potential skin problems. “Sunscreen should be worn daily and re-applied often, even if the sky is cloudy. A hat and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection also protect against melanoma, a form of skin cancer than can occur anywhere on the body, even in the eye,” Elmets explains. Keeping a check on moles is also important, and any changes in moles shape, color or texture should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist. Elmets is also researching various drugs to findElmets’ research focuses on drug-based skin-cancer prevention. In 2010 Elmets demonstrated the drug Celebrex may help prevent some non-melanoma skin cancers. Now, he is investigating other medications that could keep skin cancer from developing in patients who are considered high risk due to a personal or family history of the disease. “Our studies are preliminary, but they have been very encouraging and we’ve found that the medications we’ve tested cause a 50 to 60 percent reduction in skin-cancer development,” Elmets says.

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Cancer Treatment Today

2011-03-25 / Cancer News / 0 Comments

GPs are blamed for cancer care referral lottery

Cancer patients face a lottery over how quickly their GP will send them to a specialist or whether they will be referred at all, a report warned yesterday.

It shows a 35-fold variation in referral rates nationwide, with some patients sent to hospital unnecessarily while others never get to see a consultant at all.

The study by The King’s Fund think-tank says most GPs refer patients within the two-week deadline for suspected cancer.

But it also found many late referrals, particularly for certain cancers.

One in three patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer requiring urgent investigation were given a non-urgent referral instead, delaying their treatment.

The report said: ‘An important component of cancer referral relates to the assessment of urgency, and there is growing evidence questioning GPs’ ability to do this accurately.’

Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe, partly due to late diagnosis.

Evidence from cancer charities shows a quarter of cancer sufferers are being sent away by family doctors who dismiss their early warning signs as minor ailments. The King’s Fund report is based on the findings of an inquiry into general practice started by the think-tank in 2009.

An analysis of GP referral rates for suspected cancers from 51 practices in South London found wide variations. Referral rates for seeing a specialist within two weeks ranged from 0.7 to 25 per 1,000 patients, representing a 35-fold difference.

The percentage of diagnoses of cancer from these referrals also ranged from zero to 24 per cent.

The think-tank said that if the findings were replicated across England, practices that sent too many patients to see specialists – leading to a low rate of diagnosis because not many of them actually had the illness – risked creating anxiety and overburdening services.

On the other hand, GPs who did not refer enough suspected cases, which led to a high rate of diagnosis, could be leaving out patients with the disease who needed prompt specialist treatment.

Dr Laurence Buckman, of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, said: ‘Given the increased intensity and complexity of general practice work, GPs need time off the treadmill so they can look critically at what they do and make improvements.

‘Reducing bureaucracy would help them, as would stopping the constant reorganisations within the NHS. Where GPs fall short, they need to be helped to see where they can make their service better and given the time, resources and staff support to do this.’

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘Although general practice in this country remains the envy of the world, there is no room for complacency. Too many GPs remain unaware of significant variations in performance and do not give priority to improving quality.’

Health minister Lord Howe said: ‘We have a very strong system of general practice, but there is too much variation in quality.’

New brain cancer treatment closer to reality

Brain cancer often strikes suddenly, and it usually shows no mercy.

For people diagnosed with Glioblastoma, the odds are not good. Life expectancy for this deadliest form of brain cancer is about a year, but that might change if the Food and Drug Administration approves a new treatment.

It would be the first non-chemical treatment for brain cancer. That would mean no radiation and no chemotherapy. It’s undergoing clinical testing at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle.

Doctor John Henson says the treatment consists of bombarding the tumors with focused electricity. Patients wear hats with electrodes inside that have shown signs of preventing cancer cells from dividing.

“If we can inhibit cell division within the tumor, then that will cause the tumor to stop growing or perhaps even make it shrink,” he said.

Dellann Elliott went before a Food and Drug Administration panel last week asking that this new treatment be approved.

Glioblastoma took her husband Chris nine years ago, and she’s been fighting ever since for increased funding for research and new and better treatments.

“I feel like I just jumped across the Grand Canyon for brain tumor patients,” she said after that panel approved the treatment and sent it to the FDA for the final OK.

“There have only been three approved chemo’s in the last 35 years for brain cancer,” Elliott said. “When you look at that and see a new option that is completely safe and has a higher quality of life versus chemo, you know my message to the FDA panel was ‘Why would you not approve this?'”

Elliott said it doesn’t have the side effects and sickness associated with the current treatments for brain cancer. The only thing patients complain of, she said, is that their heads get warm.

Dr. Henson is excited to potentially have another option for treating patients because there are so few choices.

“After one episode of progressive disease, we run out of effective treatment options,” he said. “This is a completely new angle of attack, if you will, on the tumor.” It might make living with Glioblastoma manageable or even increase the odds or length of survival.

The FDA is expected to announce its decision on this new brain cancer treatment in a few months.

Jason Bargwanna hands drive to `inspiring’ Jason Richards

The Holden driver will take time out from cancer treatment to return to the track in an inspirational outing.

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Richards will drive Team BOC’s second car alongside Jason Bright after Jason Bargwanna agreed to step aside to give the sick Kiwi a spirit-lifting ride as he prepares to head to the United States for experimental medical treatment.

The V8 world is rallying behind the talented driver following the revelation that Richards is battling a rare form of stomach cancer.

Doctors have been unable to fight the tumour with chemotherapy and he will fly to Michigan in early April.

Richards last week won a development series race at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 and says the return to racing was “like therapy”.

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“Team BOC’s cars have been doing extremely well recently so it’s hard to sit on the couch and watch,” Richards said.

“I can’t wait to get back racing with my team, who have been so supportive through everything, and having the test run in a Fujitsu V8 Supercar last week was a good indication that I am physically able to do it. Having said that, this is definitely not my comeback; it was a last-minute deal.

“Bargs has been very generous. I know very well how hard it is for a racecar driver to step away from a seat, and I’m grateful.” Bargwanna has been inspired by Richards’s battle and didn’t think twice about giving away the drive.

“I have taken inspiration from JR and his strength and character throughout these past few months,” Bargwanna said. “And if holding the stopwatch for the weekend at the AGP helps him in this battle then it’s a pleasure to do so.”

Breast Cancer Can Be Treated – Seek Early Medical Care

The World Health Organisation (WHO) research unit on cancer, GLOBOCAN, ranks Ghana as the 10th in Africa with the breast cancer burden.

In 2002, GLOBOCAN reported that the top 10 causes of cancer mortality in descending order in females in Ghana were cervix, breast, liver, haematopoietic organs, stomach, colorectal, ovary, bladder, pancreas and Kaposi sarcoma.

The word ‘cancer’ evokes desperation that stirs grief and pain; a scourge that strains intellectual, social and emotional resources.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that there are over 20 million people living with cancer in the world today, with the majority in the developing world.

According to medical experts, cancer, which is the term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and invade other tissues, is one of the killer diseases that afflict men and women.

Each cancer is thought to first start from one abnormal cell. What seems to happen is that certain vital genes which control how cells divide and multiply are damaged or altered. This makes the cell abnormal. If the abnormal cell survives, it may multiply “out of control” into a malignant tumour, which consists of cancer cells that have the ability to spread beyond the original area.

It is for this reason that the President of Breast Care International (BCI), Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Adae, has called for a concerted effort and intensive education to highlight the worldwide growing breast cancer crisis and its effect on women in particular.

She said it was necessary to demystify breast cancer to disabuse the minds of patients of the fear, misconception and myths surrounding the disease and encourage women to go for regular, medical examination of their breasts.

Dr Wiafe-Adae, who is a breast cancer specialist and surgeon in charge of the Peace and Love Hospitals at Kumasi and Accra, said the cause of the disease was unknown but women with breast cancer-positive family histories should have regular breast examinations and mammograms (breast x-ray), since they are at risk.

Just being a woman makes one at risk from breast cancer. Other risk factors are having a long menstrual cycle, women who never had children and women who have a history of lumps in their breasts.

However, being free from these factors does not mean a woman is free from getting breast cancer.

At the media launch of the Susan G. Komen Ghana Race Dr Wiafe-Addae said some myths about breast cancer in Ghana were that the disease was incurable and sometimes attributed to witchcraft, or the result of a curse in the family, and worst of all, disease sufferers face stigmatisation.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the cure series began 28 years ago in Dallas, Texas and is now recognised as the most successful campaign worldwide targeting the mobilisation and awareness of the general public with regard to breast cancer.

Since the first race that attracted 800 participants, it has now extended to annual races that attract more than 1.5 million participants and more than 100,000 volunteers.

The Ghanaian race for the cure of breast cancer, which will take place on June 25, African Union Day, is expected to attract between 5,000 and 10,000 young and old people who will walk to raise awareness for the cure of breast cancer.

It is widely known that breast cancer can be treated if reported early and doctors maintain that cancers need multi-disciplinary treatment and various specialists. However, if left untreated, it may spread and destroy surrounding tissues.

Given the complex nature of the disease, early detection of cancer is crucial for effective treatment and such detection is almost impossible without the requisite equipment and trained personnel.

Doctors contend that irrespective of the type of cancer a patient develops, he or she may need one of the following processes — surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy — and usually patients who have prostate and breast cancers undergo hormonal therapy.

Ghana received a boost to enhance the care and treatment of cancer cases in the country, when in April last year, the government secured a $13.5 million loan from the OPEC Fund and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to upgrade and expand the radiotherapy centres at the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals in Accra and Kumasi respectively.

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