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  • Cancer

    A thread dedicated to stories and treatments/research related to cancer.
    • Staying indoors during COVID pandemic raises possible risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer

    Stay-at-home orders, working from home and outdoor recreation limitations have left many Americans inside their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Going outside for extended periods following long indoor periods has put many Americans at risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer: melanoma. A Loma Linda University Cancer Center skin cancer expert breaks down how this indoor and outdoor exposure recipe can be disastrous and how people can protect themselves if they choose to venture outside following prolonged indoor spans.

    Mark Reeves, MD, PhD, director of Loma Linda University Cancer Center and skin cancer expert, says he equates the current pandemic to wintertime. He says too often he has seen people stay mostly indoors in the winter, thus limiting their sun exposure. Once spring or summer comes, patients often go outside for prolonged durations in the sun.

    “When someone is sheltering at home, their skin is no longer used to the sun,” Reeves says. “Once they go outside for the first time, fall asleep at a park, fall asleep in their backyard, or are just outside too long, they end up getting a bad sunburn due to intense sun exposure. I have seen this time and time again, and this type of relationship with the sun can lead to melanoma.”

    UV rays from intense sun exposure penetrate and damage the DNA in skin cells, which causes mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Making sure you are staying safe when you venture outdoors is key to decreasing your melanoma risk.

    Reeves offers these tips to stay safe while enjoying the sunshine.

    Pace yourself with sun exposure. Reeves says, pacing yourself with how much sun you expose to your skin will allow your body to adjust to the UV rays. If you have been indoors for several months, it’s not wise to go running on the beach for hours or barbeque in the backyard for several hours. Pace yourself by doing short stretches of time in the sun then slowly increasing your exposure over time. Intervals can decrease the damage done to your skin.

    Protect yourself with the proper clothing items. Make sure you wear long sleeves and a hat if you have an occupation requiring long outdoor exposure. Find ways to cover your skin if you are required to be outdoors for several hours.

    No umbrella, no problem. Some beaches in California are only open for exercise activities. Some people sit under umbrellas, and some beaches are not allowing lounging, so Reeves warns people not to forget about the risk of sun exposure without the safety of an umbrella. Additionally, he says this is a great time to make sure you wear the proper clothing to stay safe.

    If you forget all of the tips, don’t ever forget the sunscreen. Using sunscreen is the most important tip. Aim for SPF 50 and higher, Reeves recommends. Above all else, sunscreen is your greatest defense against the sun. It is just as essential to put the ointment on when going out for a walk, lounging in the backyard or even gardening. No simple task outside is too small to use this ointment as a defense. Any sun exposure requires sunblock.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

  • #2
    • Four-stranded DNA structures found to play role in breast cancer

    Four stranded DNA structures—known as G-quadruplexes—have been shown to play a role in certain types of breast cancer for the first time, providing a potential new target for personalised medicine, say scientists at the University of Cambridge.

    In 1953, Cambridge researchers Francis Crick and James Watson co-authored a study published in the journal Nature which showed that DNA in our cells has an intertwined, 'double helix' structure. Sixty years later, a team led by Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian and Professor Steve Jackson, also at Cambridge, found that an unusual four-stranded configuration of DNA can occur across the human genome in living cells.

    These structures form in regions of DNA that are rich in one of its building blocks, guanine (G), when a single strand of the double-stranded DNA loops out and doubles back on itself, forming a four-stranded 'handle' in the genome. As a result, these structures are called G-quadruplexes.

    Professor Balasubramanian and colleagues have previously developed sequencing technologies and approaches capable of detecting G-quadruplexes in DNA and in chromatin (a substance comprised of DNA and proteins). They have previously shown that G-quadruplexes play a role in transcription, a key step in reading the genetic code and creating proteins from DNA. Crucially, their work also showed that G-quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells.

    Now, for the first time, the team has discovered where G-quadruplexes form in preserved tumour tissue/biopsies of breast cancer. Details of their study are published today in the journal Nature Genetics.

    The Cambridge team led by Professor Balasubramanian and Professor Caldas used their quantitative sequencing technology to study G-quadruplex DNA structures in 22 model tumours. These models had been generated by taking biopsies from patients at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, then transplanting and growing the tumours in mice.

    During the process of DNA replication and cell division that occurs in cancer, large regions of the genome can be erroneously duplicated several times leading to so-called copy number aberrations (CNAs). The researchers found that G-quadruplexes are prevalent within these CNAs, particularly within genes and genetic regions that play an active role in transcription and hence in driving the tumour's growth.

    Professor Balasubramanian said: "We're all familiar with the idea of DNA's two-stranded, double helix structure, but over the past decade it's become increasingly clear that DNA can also exist in four-stranded structures and that these play an important role in human biology. They are found in particularly high levels in cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells. This study is the first time that we've found them in breast cancer cells."

    "The abundance and location of G-quadruplexes in these biopsies gives us a clue to their importance in cancer biology and to the heterogeneity of these breast cancers," added Dr. Robert Hänsel-Hertsch who is now at the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne, University of Cologne, and is first author on the publication.

    "Importantly, it highlights another potential weak spot that we might use against the breast tumour to develop better treatments for our patients."

    There are thought to be at least 11 subtypes of breast cancer, and the team found that each has a different pattern—or 'landscape' - of G-quadruplexes that is unique to the transcriptional programmes driving that particular subtype.

    Professor Carlos Caldas from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: "While we often think of breast cancer as one disease, there are actually at least 11 known subtypes, each of which may respond in different ways to different drugs.

    "Identifying a tumour's particular pattern of G-quadruplexes could help us pinpoint a woman's breast cancer subtype, enabling us to offer her a more personalised, targeted treatment."

    By targeting the G-quadruplexes with synthetic molecules, it may be possible to prevent cells from replicating their DNA and so block cell division, halting the runaway cell proliferation at the root of cancer. The team identified two such molecules—one known as pyridostatin and a second compound, CX-5461, which has previously been tested in a phase I trial against BRCA2-deficient breast cancer.:
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • #3
      Liquid Biopsy Detects Brain Cancer and Early-Stage Kidney Cancer

      A test that analyzes DNA in blood accurately identified two kinds of cancer, according to two new studies.

      The test was able to identify kidney cancer at its earliest as well as more advanced stages and to identify and classify different types of brain tumors, including low-grade and more aggressive brain cancers. The same test also showed promise for diagnosing kidney cancer using DNA from urine samples.

      If the findings are borne out by further studies, the test—a type of liquid biopsy—could be used to help diagnose kidney cancer and brain cancer without the need for invasive tissue biopsies, which can be risky and costly, said neurosurgeon Chetan Bettegowda, M.D., Ph.D., of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, who was not involved with the new studies.

      “These results are quite exciting. They represent the early phases of a technology that may prove to be very powerful and enhance our ability to care for cancer patients,” Dr. Bettegowda said.

      “About one-third of kidney cancers are diagnosed at later stages, when they’re harder to cure,” said Matthew Freedman, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-senior investigator on the new kidney cancer study. No markers in blood or urine have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to indicate the presence of early kidney cancer. And earlier detection of kidney cancer could reduce deaths from the disease, he said.

      Similarly, the ability to noninvasively detect and classify brain tumors before surgery could help doctors determine the best course of treatment, better plan surgery, and even eliminate the need for surgery in some people, said Kenneth Aldape, M.D., a neuropathologist and chief of the Laboratory of Pathology at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research and an investigator on the brain tumor study.

      The test may also prove useful in noninvasively monitoring whether patients are responding to treatment, Dr. Bettegowda said. Being able to diagnose and monitor brain cancers without the need for invasive biopsies is “one of the holy grails of neuro-oncology,” he said.

      The findings were published June 22 in Nature Medicine and presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Annual Meeting II.

      Identifying Molecular Fingerprints of Cancer

      For more than 40 years, scientists have known that tumors shed cells and molecules into blood and other body fluids. More recently, researchers have shown that analyzing these cells and molecules can reveal some of the same information that tissue biopsies provide.

      Such liquid biopsies are under intensive study as a way to improve the early detection of cancer, help guide treatment decisions, track a patient’s response to treatment, and monitor whether the cancer is progressing.

      Many liquid biopsy tests being developed look for specific cancer-related genetic changes, or mutations, in pieces of DNA circulating in the bloodstream.

      By contrast, the approach used in the new studies profiles the pattern of methylation—chemical tags called methyl groups—on DNA in blood or other body fluids. These chemical tags, which do not change the genetic code itself, play an important role in turning genes on or off.

      The approach takes advantage of the fact that DNA methylation patterns can be used to distinguish between normal and cancerous tissues as well as between different types of tissue, such as kidney, lung, brain, or breast, Daniel De Carvalho, Ph.D., of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, explained at the AACR meeting.

      Dr. De Carvalho led the team that developed the DNA methylation–based liquid biopsy technique; he was involved in both studies.

      In their approach, the researchers use machine learning—a type of artificial intelligence—to gradually fine-tune the computer program that uses DNA methylation patterns to differentiate between different types of cancer and healthy tissues.

      The two new studies show that liquid biopsies that look at DNA methylation patterns may have advantages for detecting tumors that don’t shed much DNA, such as kidney and brain cancer, compared with liquid biopsies that look for specific genetic mutations, Dr. Aldape said.

      “If the amount of tumor DNA in the blood is low, it can be difficult to detect specific DNA mutations because there’s not enough of the DNA there,” he explained.

      But because DNA methylation changes are much more common than changes in the DNA code in cancer cells, he continued, the chances of detecting cancer are increased, even for tumors that don’t shed much DNA. Further enhancing the ability to pick up cancer, the liquid biopsy method uses an antibody to fish out pieces of methylated DNA from blood or urine samples.

      Highly Accurate Detection of Kidney Cancer

      Dr. Freedman and his colleagues tested the method on samples from 99 people with stage 1–4 kidney cancer, 15 people with stage 4 urothelial bladder cancer, and 28 people who were cancer free (healthy controls).

      They found that the blood test was extremely accurate, with an overall 99% chance of distinguishing between people with kidney cancer, including early-stage kidney cancer, and control subjects. That is, the test was very good at finding kidney cancer in samples from people who truly had the disease (known as sensitivity), and it almost never identified kidney cancer in samples from healthy controls (known as specificity).

      The test also had a 98% chance of distinguishing kidney cancer from bladder cancer, another type of urinary system tumor, in blood samples.

      Although it was optimized for use with blood, the test also performed well in detecting kidney cancer in urine samples, with an 86% chance of accurately identifying the disease.

      Although the test will need to be optimized for use with urine samples, “I think there’s great promise for being able to deduce the signature of kidney cancer in urine, which is an even less invasive source of DNA than blood,” Dr. Aldape said.

      Putting the Test Through Its Paces

      Ultimately, Dr. Freedman hopes, the test could be used to screen people who are at high risk of developing kidney cancer, such as those with hereditary syndromes that predispose them to the disease, with the goal of detecting cancer early.

      However, he continued, it will first need to be validated using samples from many more people, such as stored blood samples that were collected at regular intervals in large studies that followed thousands of people over time.

      “When we talk about screening, we want to make sure that there are very few false-positive tests, which would put people through additional unnecessary testing and the emotional anxiety of having a potential cancer diagnosis,” Dr. Bettegowda said.

      The liquid biopsy could also be used when an imaging test such as an abdominal CT scan or MRI procedure done for other reasons reveals a suspicious spot on someone’s kidney. These so-called incidental findings often need to be followed up with an invasive kidney biopsy, Dr. Freedman said.

      He and his colleagues are already investigating use of the blood or urine test to monitor people who had part of a kidney surgically removed as treatment for earlier-stage kidney cancer. Whereas some people are cured by the surgery, others are at risk of the cancer coming back and spreading.

      “Our hope is that we can identify those people who have cancer that has started to spread but that has gone under the clinical radar—and that we’d be able to treat those individuals more effectively,” Dr. Freedman said.

      Promising Findings for Patients with Brain Tumors

      The test also showed high accuracy for detecting gliomas, a type of brain tumor. In that study, which used blood samples from 59 people with glioma and 388 blood samples from healthy controls and people with other types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, lung, and kidney,

      Dr. Aldape and his colleagues found that the same liquid biopsy method had a 99% chance of distinguishing glioma from healthy controls and other cancer types.

      Furthermore, the team found in studies with matched blood and tumor samples from 220 patients with a variety of brain tumors, the test could distinguish between different types of brain cancer, including those that are less or more aggressive, and metastatic brain tumors (that is, cancers that originated elsewhere in the body and then spread to the brain).

      Although MRI is used to detect brain tumors, this imaging method can’t always distinguish between a brain cancer and another type of brain abnormality. When it is a brain cancer, imaging alone usually cannot identify the specific type of brain cancer or tell whether a brain tumor is benign or cancerous. In addition, not all brain tumors will require surgical removal.

      So, a noninvasive test that identifies the specific type of brain tumor could save some people from unnecessary invasive surgery, Dr. Aldape continued.

      “This noninvasive test could therefore ultimately provide a very useful tool for preoperative diagnosis and personalized surgical approaches,” Dr. Aldape said.

      While additional research would be needed, the test also could potentially be useful for developing a treatment plan before surgery and noninvasively monitoring how patients respond to treatment, Dr. Aldape said.

      As with kidney cancer, the method will need to be validated for brain cancer in larger studies that follow people over time, “where we see, in more of a real-world setting, how these tests perform,” Dr. Bettegowda said.

      Combining Complementary Testing Approaches

      Further studies will also be needed before the test can be used to guide treatment decisions or to plan treatment, Dr. Bettegowda continued. That could be tested in small studies “where we have the test results fed back to the treating physicians or clinicians and see how that impacts overall outcomes in terms of patient survival, disease recurrence, and prognosis,” he said.

      And before the test is ready for prime time, Dr. Aldape said, it will also need to be adapted so that it can be readily used by clinical laboratories as part of routine testing.

      Researchers from both studies said that the test may be of most value when combined with other approaches for diagnosing or monitoring cancer.

      Combining methylation-based liquid biopsies with other, complementary, approaches, such as other types of liquid biopsy or imaging methods such as MRI, “has the potential to improve sensitivity, specificity, and the information given back to the patient and their physicians,” Dr. Bettegowda agreed.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • #4
        “Synthetic Lethality” – Exploiting Cancer-Specific Genetic Defects to Target Cancers

        Approach exploits tumor weaknesses when 2 genetic defects are combined.

        With advances in genome sequencing, cancer treatments have increasingly sought to leverage the idea of “synthetic lethality,” exploiting cancer-specific genetic defects to identify targets that are uniquely essential to the survival of cancer cells.

        Synthetic lethality results when non-lethal mutations in different genes become deadly when combined in cells. In a new paper published online July 27, 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the San Diego branch of Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that inhibiting a key enzyme caused human cancer cells associated with two major types of breast and ovarian cancer to die and in mouse studies reduced tumor growth.

        The research team, led by senior study author Richard D. Kolodner, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research San Diego Branch, studied Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast used in basic research, to search for synthetic lethal relationships.

        They zeroed in on Flap Endonuclease 1 (FEN1), a DNA structure-specific endonuclease involved in DNA replication and repair. Turning their attention to cancer cells, they found that when they blocked functions of FEN1 using either a small molecule inhibitor or genetic ablation, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutant cancer cell lines were preferentially killed. Notably, normal cells were able to recover from FEN1 inhibition.

        BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes normally act to prevent breast and ovarian cancer as well as other cancers, but when mutated, may cause a person to be more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer or develop cancer at a younger age. Less than 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA mutation, but it’s estimated that 55 to 65 percent of women with the BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer before age 70 while approximately 45 percent of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

        Similarly, women with inherited BRCA mutations have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer and men with inherited BRCA mutations have increased risk of developing breast and prostate cancer.

        Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with approximately 276,000 new cases per year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Prostate cancer is the fourth most common, with 191,930 new cases and ovarian is 17th, with an estimated 21,750 new cases annually, according to the National Cancer Institute. Kolodner and colleagues then tested the approach in an immune-compromised mouse xenograft model, and found that FEN1 inhibition significantly reduced tumor growth.

        The researchers say their findings are significant in two ways: They underscore the value of using S. cerevisiae yeast as a genetics tool for discovering synthetic lethality relationships and identify FEN1 inhibitors as a possible therapeutic agent to further develop for treating certain cancers with targeted vulnerabilities.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • #5
          You Never Smoked But Still Got Lung Cancer! Treatment Options May Be Different for You

          One in five men and half of the women diagnosed with lung cancer know firsthand that this disease isn’t just for smokers. In fact, the lung tumors that smoking typically causes are genetically different from the ones that non-smokers are more likely get. Those differences can tell doctors which treatments will be best for you and how well they might work. Here’s what you need to know.

          How Did I Get Lung Cancer in the First Place?

          Smoking is, of course, the leading cause of lung cancer. So much so, that it causes a lot of cancers in non-smokers, too. That’s because regular exposure to secondhand smoke – through smoking in your household or workplace, for example – can make your risk for lung cancer 20 to 30 percent higher than other non-smokers’ risk. Let that sink in for a moment.

          But as you may already know, smoking isn’t the only risk factor.

          “Some lung cancers are from unknown exposure to air pollution, radon, or asbestos,” says Raja Flores, MD, a thoracic surgeon who treats patients with lung cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “We also see more never-smokers with lung cancer who have a family history of it.”

          A strong family history of lung cancer may suggest that you carry genes that predispose you to the condition.

          Women and Asian and Hispanic people are also more likely than other non-smokers to develop lung cancer.

          Do Smokers & Non-Smokers Get the Same Disease?
          Some experts believe that the type of lung cancer that non-smokers get is different enough from the type that smokers get to be considered a separate disease.

          For starters, says Flores, doctors see different subtypes of lung cancer in non-smokers. There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell and small cell. Non-small cell breaks down into three subtypes: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

          “Adenocarcinoma is the most common type in both smokers and never smokers,” says Flores, “but we see more adenocarcinoma in never smokers than squamous and small cell. We see all three types in those who smoke.”

          But, perhaps more importantly, never smokers’ lung tumors are genetically very different from those of smokers. Increasingly, doctors and researchers classify cancer tumors by their unique genetic characteristics rather than simply the part of the body where they first appear – that is, lung, breast, colon, etc. This matters because these genetic traits are often what makes the tumors grow. Different drugs target different genetic traits in order to stop or slow the progress of the disease.

          Lung tumors in non-smokers are more likely to have mutations in a gene called EGFR and another called ALK. That’s not bad news though. Doctors have treatments that can stop or slow the growth of cancers with these genetic traits.

          How Does Smoking Affect My Treatment & Prognosis?

          The DNA of your tumor, which often correlates with whether you smoke, can help doctors make treatment decisions. For example, people who have EGFR-positive lung cancer often respond to drugs that target that gene, known as “targeted therapy,” such as erlotnid (Tarceva) and gefitnib (Iressa). People who have the less common ALK gene mutation may take a targeted medication that blocks that gene’s activity, such as alectinib (Alecensa), brigatinib (Alunbrig), ceritinib (Zykadia), crizotinib (Xalkori), or lorlatinib (Lorbrena).

          Non-smokers respond better to targeted drugs, Flores says.

          No matter what the genetic makeup of the tumor, when doctors find your cancer early enough, the ideal treatment is first to remove as much of the cancer as possible with surgery. And, non-smokers tend to do better with lung surgery than smokers do because their lungs work better to begin with.

          Overall, non-smokers have higher lung cancer survival rates than smokers. These rates could be improved, however, by earlier detection. Many experts have called for better screening methods for non-smokers who may be high risk.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • #6
            • Have Gum Disease? Consider Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer

            Severe gum disease may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

            In a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, Mingyang Song, MD, ScD, an assistant professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues found that people with periodontitis, the most severe form of periodontal disease, were 17% more likely to have a history of polyps and 11% more likely to have a history of benign tumors known as adenomas.

            These growths on the lining of the colon are precursors to colorectal cancer, the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, which kills more than 50,000 Americans every year.

            About half (47%) of American adults have gum disease, known as periodontal disease. Most cases are mild, but 8.5% have the more serious condition known as periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.

            The researchers also found that the odds of developing either polyps or adenomas increased with each tooth lost to the disease. Of the 42,486 people who enrolled in the study, those who had lost one to three teeth were 28% more likely to develop conventional adenomas, while those who had lost four or more teeth were 36% more likely to develop adenomas and 20% more likely to develop serrated polyps.

            “Having ever been diagnosed with periodontal disease puts a person at risk of colorectal cancer precursor lesions, some of which may eventually lead to colorectal cancer,” Song told the website Onco’Zine, adding that the results demonstrate the importance of getting screened regularly and maintaining good oral hygiene.

            Though previous studies have explored the relationship between periodontal disease and a variety of cancers, including breast, head, neck and pancreatic cancers, this study is the first to provide clinical evidence of a link between periodontal disease and colorectal cancer.

            How could gum disease increase cancer risk? One hypothesis is that some of the pathogenic bacteria produced in the mouth can migrate to major organs such as the colon. In earlier research at NYU Langone, researchers found that two strains of oral bacteria known to cause periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, are associated with an increase in pancreatic cancer risk.

            Interested in learning more about colorectal cancer risk factors? Click here and here to read about how your dietary habits affect your chances of developing colorectal cancer. And to learn how to reduce your risk, click here, here and here. :
            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • #7
              Taiwan approves new drug for early breast cancer treatment

              China based CANbridge Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing innovative drug candidates to treat underserved medical conditions, has announced that it has received marketing approval from the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration for NERLYNX® (neratinib) for the extended adjuvant treatment of adult patients with early stage HER2-positive breast cancer following adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy.

              NERLYNX was approved in Hong Kong in 2019 and in mainland China earlier this year.

              CANbridge acquired the exclusive NERLYNX development and commercial rights from Puma Biotechnology, Inc. for Greater China in 2018.

              Up to 20% of patients with breast cancer tumors over-express the HER2 protein (HER2-positive disease) and in the ExteNET study, 57% of patients were found to have tumors that were hormone-receptor positive.:
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • #8
                Chemotherapy for rare cancer fine-tuned with organoids

                A patient-specific tumor organoid model is being used to identify the most effective chemotherapy protocol to treat appendix and colon tumors, a personalized medicine approach that is showing promise. The organoids were created by researchers at the Wake Forest Organoid Research Center (WFORCE), a joint effort by the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) and the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center.

                Treatment for advanced stages of colon and appendiceal cancer with spread in the abdomen consists of cytoreductive surgery which removes tumors from the organs in the abdominal area which is then followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). As its name suggests, HIPEC is a cancer treatment that involves filling the abdominal cavity with chemotherapy drugs that have been heated at a specific temperature. Paired together, the two treatments increase life expectancy for patients that in the past were deemed candidates only for palliative approaches.

                With the patient-specific tumor organoid model, doctors can test the effect of HIPEC on individual tumors to tailor the conditions needed for optimal effect, thus providing a personalized medicine approach for each patient. Appendix cancer is a rare disease and affects only 1 in 100,000 people while as many as 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with colon cancer.

                "Patients undergoing the combination of cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC endure a long surgery that lasts for many hours," said Konstantinos Votanopoulos, MD, Ph.D., professor of surgery and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology.

                The effect of intraperitoneal chemotherapy on the viability of the tumor of every individual patient is largely unknown, Votanopoulos said. "With this organoid platform we can quantify the impact of each drug in killing cancer cells. We can select the correct drug for the correct patient at the correct concentration and temperature, or even spare the patient from a procedure that will not substantially improve his or her outcomes."

                An important finding of this work is that every tumor responds to heat differently with some tumors having showing dramatic response while others showing minimal or no meaningful response at all. The authors conclude this is probably related to genetically determined biologic machinery built in the cancer cells to counteract the impact of hyperthermia. Votanopoulos said a future hope would be to perform an image guided biopsy and grow organoids that will determine the optimal approach for each patient.

                Shay Soker, Ph.D., a co-author and professor of regenerative medicine at WFIRM, said the study suggests that "the organoid model can accurately represent what occurs inside a patient's body. The research continues to show that organoids are promising candidates for drug screening to assist in clinical decision making as well as in the study of how environmental factors, viruses or toxins impact cellular function of both normal and tumor cells."

                Organoids are tiny, 3-D tissue-like structures created in the laboratory that mimic the function of human tissues and organs such as the heart, liver, lung, blood vessels, as well as cancerous tumors. The organoids are used as a testing and predicting platform to model diseases, evaluate efficacy and/or toxicity of new and existing drugs, and can also be used to test environmental hazards.

                "Using a patient-specific tumor organoid model will eventually allow patients to be treated with the best available chemotherapy, while sparing the toxicity of drugs that are not effective for their specific tumor," said Steven Forsythe, MS, first author of the study.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • #9
                  COVID-19 Leads to Drop in Cancer Diagnosis/Delays in screening, diagnosis and treatment could lead to poorer outcomes.

                  Screenings have declined steeply and fewer people are being diagnosed with cancer since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, according to an analysis by a national laboratory testing company. This is expected to lead to delayed treatment initiation and worse outcomes.

                  Harvey Kaufman, MD, senior medical director of Quest Diagnostics, and colleagues analyzed weekly changes in the number of patients with newly identified cancer during the height of the spring COVID-19 outbreak, in which New York and other states in the northeast were hardest hit.

                  The outbreak prompted shutdowns in many states, with people being advised to stay home—and in particular to stay away from health care settings to avoid exposure to the new coronavirus. What’s more, medical centers curtailed other services to devote staff and resources to COVID-19 care, and many doctors temporarily closed their offices.

                  This led to a sharp reduction in the number of people receiving medical care unrelated to COVID-19. An analysis by the electronic medical records vendor Epic, for example, found that screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancer dropped by around 90% after the declaration of the COVID-19 national emergency. Between March 15 and June 16, an estimated 285,000 breast cancer screenings, 95,000 colon cancer screenings and 40,000 cervical exams were missed. Things have since picked up but are still not back to normal.

                  A follow-up analysis showed that in mid-June, screening rates for the three cancers were still down by about a third.

                  Kaufman’s team conducted a cross-sectional study of people who received tests for any reason at Quest’s labs across the United States from the first week of January 2019 through April 18, 2020. The analysis looked at patients with newly diagnosed breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, stomach or esophageal cancer as identified by standard diagnostic codes.

                  As described in a research letter in JAMA Network Open, the analysis included 258,598 people during the baseline period before the COVID-19 outbreak and 20,180 people during the COVID-19 period from March 1 to April 18. Overall, three quarters were women and the average age was 66.

                  During the pandemic period, the number of newly identified patients with any of the six cancers fell by 46%, from 4,310 to 2,310 per week. The researchers saw significant declines in all these cancer types, ranging from a 25% decrease for pancreatic cancer (from 271 to 204 newly identified patients per week) to a 52% drop for breast cancer (from 2,208 to 1064 per week).

                  “Our results indicate a significant decline in newly identified patients with six common types of cancer, mirroring findings from other countries,” the study authors wrote. They noted that the Netherlands Cancer Registry saw as much as a 40% decline in weekly cancer incidence, while the United Kingdom experienced about a 75% decline in referrals for suspected cancer since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented.

                  In a recent editorial in Science magazine, National Cancer Institute director Norman Sharpless, MD, estimated that reduced screening for six months due to COVID-19 and the resulting delays in diagnosis and treatment could lead to nearly 10,000 extra deaths from breast and colorectal cancer alone over the next decade. U.K. researchers estimated that the COVID-19 crisis could result in 6,270 excess deaths over one year in England and 33,890 excess deaths in the United States.

                  “Cancers being missed now will still come to light eventually but at a later stage...and with worse prognoses,” Sharpless wrote. “Clearly, postponing procedures and deferring care as a result of the pandemic was prudent at one time, but the spread, duration and future peaks of COVID-19 remain unclear. However, ignoring life-threatening non-COVID-19 conditions such as cancer for too long may turn one public health crisis into many others.”

                  Kaufman and colleagues made the same point. “While residents have taken to social distancing, cancer does not pause,” they wrote. “The delay in diagnosis will likely lead to presentation at more advanced stages and poorer clinical outcomes.” They stressed the need for urgent planning to address the consequences of delayed diagnoses, including expanded telehealth offerings.: -

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • #10
                    Lung Cancer Risk, Treatment, Survival — Your Sex Matters!

                    When it comes to lung cancer—from your risk for it to survival rates—your biological sex makes a difference. There’s a lot that doctors and scientists know on the subject, but there’s still a whole lot more that they don’t. Here’s where the research stands.

                    Young Women May Be Higher Risk Than Young Men

                    Lung cancer usually develops in older people. For most who get it, the diagnosis comes after age 65. It’s especially rare for people under 45 to develop the condition. But rates are increasing among young women. A recent study in the International Journal of Cancer found that while lung cancer rates are falling among men ages 30 to 49, they are rising among women in this age group in six developed countries, including the U.S. While the gender gap in smoking has closed in these countries over the years, tobacco-use alone didn’t explain the differences in cancer rates.

                    Women Non-Smokers May Be More Likely to Get Lung Cancer Than Men Non-Smokers

                    The single most important thing you can do to avoid lung cancer is to never smoke. But, this doesn’t seem to reduce risk in women as much as it does in men.

                    Overall, lung cancer is more common in men than women. But in non-smokers, it seems to be more common in women. According to some estimates, as many as half of women with lung cancer worldwide may be non-smokers. That number is closer to one in six among men. In Asia, well over half – as many 60 to 80 percent – of women with lung cancer have never smoked.

                    “We accept that these differences exist, but we really don’t know why. It is one of the key questions researchers have,” Andrea Wolf, M.D., a thoracic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told SurvivorNet.

                    Some risk factors for smokers and non-smokers include:

                    Secondhand smoke exposure
                    Exposure to other cancer-causing substances, such as radon, asbestos, and uranium
                    Inhaled chemicals, such as arsenic, nickel, and mustard gas, among several others
                    Diesel exhaust
                    Air pollution

                    Though it’s not yet confirmed in research, it’s possible that women have different genetic risk factors than men.

                    But, the gender gap could be closing, says Matthew Schabath, PhD, a cancer epidemiology researcher Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. “A recent study of over 12,000 patients with lung cancer found that the proportion of patients with lung cancer who reported themselves as never smokers increased over time, but the observed increase was independent of sex.”

                    Survival Rates Are Better Among Women

                    Though more men get lung cancer, more women are currently living with it. “Treatment responses—stage for stage, treatment for treatment—are often better in women than men,” Wolf says. That includes surgery, chemotherapy and some targeted therapies, a treatment that attacks unique proteins on the surface of an individual’s lung tumors.

                    Some research suggests that while both men and women benefit from immunotherapy, responses might be a little better in men.

                    Women may respond better to some treatments because their tumors have more targets for anti-cancer drugs. For example, the drug erlotinib (Tarceva) shuts down a cancer-promoting protein called EGFR on the surface of some tumors. Research shows that more women, particularly Asian women, have EGFR-positive lung tumors than men.

                    Screening Saves Lives

                    If you are eligible, get annual lung cancer screenings. Men and women, ages 55 to 74, who have smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or quit within the last 15 years, can get an annual CT scan of their lungs to check for signs of cancer.

                    “A low-dose CT scan for high-risk patients has been shown to decrease the chances of dying from lung cancer,” Wolf says. “Lung cancer screening saves lives.”

                    Studies show that screening saves twice as many women’s lives as men’s. “We don’t understand why that is, but it means we need to get eligible women these low-dose CT scans just like we do mammograms, pap smears and everything else,” Wolf says.

                    If you are a non-smoker but have a family history of lung cancer in non-smokers, ask your doctor about screening. “It may be an uphill battle in terms of insurance coverage, but it’s worth having a conversation with your provider. It’s worth pushing for it,” says Wolf. People who have had long-term exposure to smoke or other environmental risks may be eligible, too.

                    Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center, Schabath says, are looking for genetic factors in never-smokers that might make them more susceptible to lung cancer. “The goal is to identify subsets of never-smokers that may benefit from lung cancer screening.”

                    How You Can Lower Your Risk

                    Don’t smoke.
                    Avoid people who are smoking and places where smoking is allowed indoors.
                    Have your home tested for radon and address it if necessary.
                    Maintain a healthy weight, a healthy diet and an exercise routine to reduce overall cancer risk.
                    Know the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, including chronic cough, wheezing, and chest pain.

                    “I encourage women to be sensitive to symptoms they might have,” Wolf says. “A cough that lasts more than a few weeks is not normal. Seasonal allergies shouldn’t go on for months and months on end. Wheezing and new allergies need to be evaluated.”: -

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • #11
                      Y Combinator startup grows mini-tumors to take the guesswork out of personalizing cancer treatments

                      From targeted drugs to immunotherapies, cancer care has made enormous strides over the years. Despite this proliferation of new treatments, oncologists still rely on certain presumptions to pick the best option for their patients. Known Medicine wants to take away that guesswork.

                      Make no mistake—these doctors are the best people to be making such decisions, but they’re “definitely making a best guess,” co-founder and CEO Andrea Mazzocchi said. Their predictions could rely on the biomarkers found in patients’ cancer tissue and what has worked in the past for similar tumor profiles. But it can get tricky when cancers have no obvious genetic drivers—or when treatments like checkpoint inhibitors may work well for some patients but not others.

                      “We are adding another tool for physicians to make the best decision. We do that by modeling not just a patient’s cancer cell, but also a bunch of other cell populations,” Mazzocchi said. Those include immune cells and the stromal cells that form or connective tissue, which can affect how a tumor may respond to treatment.

                      Here’s how it works: Known Medicine receives a tumor sample from a hospital and breaks it down into several mini-tumors in its lab. It then doses each model with different cancer drugs and drug combinations to see what works best for each patient.

                      The company is an extension of Mazzocchi’s research at Wake Forest University, where she completed a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. “As I approached my defense, I started thinking about what to do next,” she said. “Working in a company didn’t sound great—there were no companies doing what I wanted to do.”

                      A move to Utah introduced Mazzocchi to Katie-Rose Skelly, a data scientist at the artificial intelligence drug discovery biotech Recursion Pharmaceuticals. They launched Known Medicine in February of this year and applied to Y Combinator’s early-stage startups program in March—in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic.
                      “I defended my thesis two days before I had to apply to Y Combinator, the day North Carolina shut down for coronavirus. It was the wildest three days,” Mazzocchi said.

                      Those days were worth it. The company grabbed $150,000 in seed funding and stands to pick up even more after pitching its work to investors at the accelerator's Demo Day later this month.

                      Known Medicine’s approach focuses on the FDA-approved standard of care for each specific cancer. It could be particularly helpful in suggesting the off-label use of different chemotherapies that “are not so obvious to find,” Mazzocchi said. The company works closely with oncologists at Wake Forest, to stay on the “cutting edge” of cancer treatment and make sure it’s not missing any possible options.

                      The company’s lab can process patients with solid tumors as well as those who have developed pleural effusion, a buildup of fluids and cancer cells in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. For solid tumor patients, the company needs a tumor sample and a blood sample, but for patients with pleural effusion, it just needs a sample of that built-up fluid.

                      “It has to be removed or the patient loses the ability to breathe,” Mazzocchi said. “We take what normally would be discarded and separate the cell population out [from the plasma].”

                      The company identifies cancer cells, stromal cells and immune cells from the fluid sample and then puts them into culture in measured ratios so that all the mini-tumors are identical. After the tumor models have rested, the team starts testing cancer treatments. The process is much the same for the solid tumor patients, except that tumor samples won’t contain immune cells—the company pulls those out of the blood sample.

                      The feedback on each treatment goes beyond how many cancer cells in the models live or die, Mazzocchi said.

                      “We want to know what the longer-term effects of these drugs are, beyond just the five-day assay we run,” Skelly said, adding that the company could use machine learning to find cells that are pre-apoptotic—on their way to death—that would show up as alive in its test, but would respond to treatment over time.

                      Known Medicine’s immediate goal is to make sure cancer patients get the best treatments faster, said Skelly, who serves as the company’s chief technology officer.

                      “In the longer term, that will likely also involve partnerships and discovering new treatments for patients. That’s one of our long-term visions,” Skelly said. “But any way we can make sure patients are treated in the best possible way—that is what we’re chasing after, first and foremost.”

                      Known Medicine plans to first partners with doctors from various research institutions, to validate the company’s approach and technology. And it’s already thinking about scaling up its approach.

                      “What we want is a fully automated system where we don’t have to have people handling things at virtually any point and that can be scaled up for any patient without mistakes,” Skelly said.

                      Moving forward, the company hopes to develop a testing kit for research use, and then one for clinical use, Mazzocchi said. The goal is to put its product in every hospital or cancer clinic, not just to help patients, but also to collect data to eventually be used in drug discovery.

                      That’s another place where Skelly’s AI chops come in. While Mazzocchi holds multiple degrees in biomedical engineering, Skelly studied computer science and earned a master’s degree in biomedical informatics before heading to Utah to work for Recursion.

                      “I’m a big fan of biological imaging datasets. There is a ton of rich information about biology from pictures you can take, even in things that aren’t visible by eye to people. Computers can pick up on so much,” Skelly said. “The more data you have, the better they get at figuring out what is working and what’s not.”

                      As the company builds its dataset, it will start looking for indicators in the images that can predict whether a patient will respond to treatment or experience side effects, she added. That requires collecting a lot of data in a consistent manner.

                      “In the future, we will be able to look at a picture of a [mini-tumor] that’s been treated with a drug and tell you whether that treatment is working or not,” Skelly said.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • #12
                        • What is stage 3 lung cancer? Symptoms, treatment and all you need to know

                        Lung cancer is said to be the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the risk of a man developing lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 15, whereas, the risk for a woman is about 1 in 17. However, the risk is much higher in smokers than non-smokers. But people who never smoked or who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can also get lung cancer, and there may be no clear cause of the condition in these cases. Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt has been reportedly diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.

                        The actor took to Twitter to announce that he’s taking a short break from work because of health concerns. “Hi friends, I am taking a short break from work for some medical treatment. My family and friends are with me and I urge my well-wishers not to worry or unnecessarily speculate. With your love and good wishes, I will be back soon,” Dutt wrote. Read on to learn what exactly stage 3 lung cancer is.

                        What is stage 3 lung cancer?

                        Lung cancer is defined as a type of cancer that begins in a person’s lungs. Stage 3 lung cancer is when the disease has begun to spread beyond the lung where it started. Medical doctors use stages to help them describe where the cancer is and how it is likely to respond to specific treatments. According to WebMD, stage 3 cancer is in just one lung in most cases and it’s also limited to the lymph nodes, organs, and other tissue near that organ. Here, cancer has not spread, or metastasised, beyond that. Hence, stage 3 lung cancer is also called locally advanced or locoregional disease. The next stage, stage IV, is the last and most serious stage of cancer.

                        The ACS said that about 80-85 per cent of people with lung cancer have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and about 10-15 per cent have small-cell lung cancer - a rarer and more aggressive type. Doctors treat these two types of lung cancer differently. Here's all you need to know abut the symptoms, treatment and outlook for stage 3 NSCLC.

                        Stage 3 lung cancer can be categorised into - 3A, 3B and 3C, depending on the size of the tumour and which lymph nodes and other tissues that have been affected by cancer.

                        Stage 3A: A person has one or more tumours in one lung and the cancer is in nearby lymph nodes. The cancer hasn’t reached distant organs although it may be in certain nearby tissues.

                        Stage 3B: This is more advanced and a person has one or more tumours in the same lung. The disease may have spread to lymph nodes above the collarbone and may be in lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest.

                        Stage 3C: A person has one or more tumours in the same lung and the cancer has spread to lymph nodes above the collarbone or to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest. The cancer may be spread to all parts of the chest wall or its inner lining, heart, breastbone, and other nearby tissues but hasn’t spread to distant organs. Stage 3C is the most advanced stage within this stage.

                        Symptoms of stage 3 lung cancer

                        It's important to note that small and non-small cell lung cancer have similar symptoms, although they can vary between individuals. Sign and symptoms of stage 3 lung cancer may include the following:

                        Pain in the chest
                        A cough that won’t go away
                        Coughing up blood or rust-coloured spit
                        Difficulty breathing
                        Weight loss
                        Hoarseness or an altered voice
                        Loss of appetite
                        Pain or difficulty when swallowing
                        Fatigue and weakness
                        Swelling in the face, veins of the neck, or both
                        As cancer progresses through stage 3, it can start to affect other parts of the body and the person may develop other symptoms such as bone pain and jaundice.

                        Treatment for stage 3 lung cancer

                        Treatment for stage 3 lung cancer depends on the location, size and other characteristics of the cancer, as well as age and overall health of the patient. In most cases, doctors will treat a person with stage 3 lung cancer using a combination of treatments such as:

                        Radiation therapy
                        Targeted therapy
                        Laser therapy
                        Endoscopic stent

                        Treatment for stage 3 lung cancer can be aggressive for many patients as this may give a better chance of survival. Patients can experience pain or discomfort resulting from their cancer or treatment they are receiving. In such cases, they should speak to their doctors who can help them feel more comfortable during treatment or cope with their problems.


                        As with any serious illness, lung cancer can bring uncertainty, worry and other challenges to the patients and their loved ones. Perhaps, doctors often find it challenging to treat stage 3 lung cancer. However, improvements in diagnosis and treatments in recent years have led to better outcomes and survival rates for most cancer patients, including those with stage 3 lung cancer. Currently, there is no cure for stage 3 lung cancer, but treatment can help relieve symptoms and prolong life. While there's no definitive way to prevent lung cancer, adopting healthier lifestyles and being aware of the disease can reduce the risk.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • #13
                          Mersana Therapeutics Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for XMT-1536 for the Treatment of Patients with Platinum-resistant Ovarian Cancer

                          Mersana Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRSN), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) targeting cancers in areas of high unmet medical need, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for XMT-1536, for the treatment of patients with platinum-resistant high-grade serous ovarian cancer who have received up to three prior lines of systemic therapy or patients who have received four prior lines of systemic therapy regardless of platinum status.

                          “We are very encouraged by the FDA’s decision to grant us Fast Track Designation for our lead program XMT-1536, which has shown very encouraging activity and tolerability in our Phase 1 study in ovarian cancer to date. We believe this recognition underscores the high unmet medical need for a treatment for patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer,” said Anna Protopapas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mersana Therapeutics. “With this designation in hand, we plan to be able to quickly advance through the administrative steps of XMT-1536’s development and bring forth a therapy for these patients as soon as possible.”

                          The FDA’s Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs that treat serious conditions and fill unmet medical needs. A drug granted Fast Track Designation may be eligible for several benefits, including more frequent meetings and communications with the FDA and, if certain criteria are met, the potential for Accelerated Approval, Priority Review or Rolling Review of a Biologics License Application (BLA).

                          About XMT-1536

                          XMT-1536, a first-in-class ADC targeting the sodium-dependent phosphate transport protein NaPi2b, utilizes the Dolaflexin platform to deliver an average of 10-12 DolaLock payload molecules per antibody. The NaPi2b antigen is broadly expressed in ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) adenocarcinoma. XMT-1536 is in an ongoing Phase 1 proof-of-concept clinical trial in patients with tumors expressing NaPi2b, including ovarian cancer and NSCLC adenocarcinoma. More information on the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial can be found at (NCT03319628).

                          About Mersana Therapeutics

                          Mersana Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company using its differentiated and proprietary ADC platforms to rapidly develop novel ADCs with optimal efficacy, safety and tolerability to meaningfully improve the lives of people fighting cancer. Mersana’s lead product candidate, XMT-1536, is in the expansion portion of a Phase 1 proof-of-concept clinical study in patients with ovarian cancer and NSCLC adenocarcinoma. XMT-1592, Mersana’s second ADC product candidate targeting NaPi2b-expressing tumors, was created using Mersana’s customizable and homogeneous Dolasynthen platform and is in the dose escalation portion of a Phase 1 proof-of-concept clinical study. The Company’s early stage programs include a B7-H4 targeting ADC, as well as a STING-agonist ADC developed using the Company’s Immunosynthen platform. In addition, multiple partners are using Mersana’s Dolaflexin platform to advance their ADC pipelines.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • #14
                            • Colon and rectal cancer cases are going up among people younger than age 50, researchers say

                            Cases of colon and rectal cancer are on the rise in young adults -- and the median age of patients diagnosed is getting lower.

                            The median age is going down
                            In 2017 -- the most recent data available -- 52,547 people died of colorectal cancer nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

                            In the report, the American Cancer Society found that the median age for people diagnosed with colorectal cancer was 72 in 1989. It stayed that way until the early 2000s and then fell to 66 by 2016.

                            ACS researchers found that the rate at which people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States is dropping among those 65 and older but rising in younger adults.

                            Scientists knew cases of colorectal cancer was going up in younger age groups. "But we were surprised by how fast it is happening," said Rebecca Siegel, study co-author and scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.

                            "This report is very important because it not only provides a snapshot of the current colorectal cancer burden, but also a window to the future," she said, adding that if the increases in younger adults continue, "doctors should be aware of the unique challenges in this patient population -- such as the need for the preservation of fertility and sexual function, as well as the risk of long-term treatment effects because of their extended life expectancy."

                            The obesity epidemic could be a factor
                            The report included data on colorectal cancer cases and deaths from the National Cancer Institute and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

                            Based on an analysis of the data, researchers found colorectal cancer cases among people younger than 50 have been increasing since the mid-1990s.

                            From 2012 to 2016, incidence rates among that age group rose by 2.2% annually and included tumors found in both the colon and the rectum, the study found.

                            Among adults ages 50 to 64, researchers found that colorectal cancer incidence declined during the 2000s, then reversed course and rose by 1% annually between 2011 and 2016. Among adults ages 65 and older, the study found that a rapid decline in colorectal cancer incidence persisted during the 2000s and that rates fell by 3.3% annually from 2011 to 2016.

                            "Much of the decline in incidence in older aged adults is because of increased screening, but the cause for rising incidence in younger age groups is still unknown," Siegel said.

                            "The obesity epidemic is probably contributing, but doesn't seem to be the sole cause," she said. "Diet has a large influence on colorectal cancer risk and there is a lot of research going on looking at how different things we consume, including drugs such as antibiotics, influence gut health, specifically their role in determining the microorganisms that make up our microbiome."

                            Doctors should follow up with younger patients
                            The review also revealed trends in colorectal cancer deaths and determined future projections for the disease. Except for several types of skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States.

                            The analysis found from 2008-2017 colorectal cancer death rates dropped by 3% annually in adults 65 and older and by 0.6% annually in adults ages 50 to 64 -- but the rates jumped by 1.3% a year in adults younger than 50.

                            The report also found that "striking disparities" by race and geography persist, with mortality rates among Alaska Natives almost three times higher than those in whites and about double those in blacks.

                            As for incidence, during 2012 through 2016, rates ranged from 30 cases per 100,000 people among Asian/Pacific Islanders and 38.6 in Whites to 45.7 in Blacks and 89 in Alaska Natives, according to the data.

                            There were limitations in the research and scientists were unable to determine exactly why certain declines or increases in colorectal cancer occurred among various age groups.

                            Yet researchers were able to make some projections in future trends, predicting an estimated 53,200 colorectal cancer deaths in 2020 with an estimated 7%, or 3,640 deaths, in adults younger than 50.

                            The analysis also projected 147,950 newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer in the US this year with about 12%, or 17,930 cases, diagnosed in adults younger than 50.

                            The analysis may "build more consensus for beginning to screen before age 50," Siegel said.

                            "In addition, this should be a wake-up call for clinicians to be better about timely follow-up of younger patients who present with symptoms" of colorectal cancer, she said.:
                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • #15
                              New study describes which cancer patients are more vulnerable to COVID-19

                              A newly published study led by the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham has found that, compared to other cancers, patients with blood cancers are more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. As access to treatment remains of upmost importance, this information will help clinicians to guide patients to ensure they can have therapy safely and successfully during this time.

                              The study, published in Lancet Oncology by the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project (UKCCMP), found that blood cancer patients were particularly at risk with 57% higher odds of severe disease if they contract COVID-19. This was when compared to other cancer patients, such as breast cancer, which was shown to have the lowest risk overall.

                              In line with what we already know about the coronavirus pandemic, age was shown to play a factor in the overall outcome, with cancer patients over the age of 80 found to have the highest frequency of fatality.

                              As COVID-19 spread globally in early 2020, cancer patients were identified as a sub-group who were potentially at an increased risk of infection of COVID-19 and of potentially suffering more serious disease consequences. It was this concern that led to the formation of the national UKCCMP project.

                              As cancer treatments need to carry on during the pandemic, this study gives clinicians and patients important information to make informed decisions about that treatment. The production of risk tables for different cancer types will let doctors discuss the risks and benefits with patients, so that together they can pick the best way to treat each person's cancer. The study also gives an evidence base from which hospitals and other healthcare providers can design measures to ensure that they maintain access to life-saving treatments as safely as possible.

                              Since March more than 60 cancer centers across the UK have entered data into the UKCCMP database with information on adult cancer patients who contracted COVID-19. The project was set up to help researchers and clinicians better understand what groups of cancer patients are most at risk of severe COVID-19.

                              Using demographic data such as age, gender and tumor type, researchers were able to determine that patients with hematological cancers, particularly older patients and those with leukemia, had a more severe COVID-19 trajectory compared to patients with solid organ tumors.

                              Professor Rachel Kerr, study Senior Researcher, University of Oxford said: "Using these new data we are working fast to identify trends and correlations, which will enable us to create a tiered risk assessment tool so we can more precisely define the risk to a given cancer patient and move away from a blanket vulnerable policy for all cancer patients, in the event of a second wave of COVID-19."

                              Dr. Lennard Lee, academic clinical lecturer, University of Oxford said: "For the first time, we have a comprehensive analysis to determine who is more at risk of COVID-19. It is important to note that whilst cancer patients are more vulnerable, the chance of any given patient getting infected with COVID-19 remains low. People with cancer can be reassured that everything is being done in UK cancer centers to effectively minimize the risk of infection so that life-saving treatments can continue to be given."

                              Professor Jean-Baptiste Cazier, director of the Center for Computational Biology, University of Birmingham said: "This study demonstrates the power of considering patients in the specificity of their condition. We have been able to disentangle the key factors relevant to their situation by integrating detailed information from cancer patients with COVID-19 from across the UK. In turn we are able to help oncologists better inform their patients about their particular risks."

                              Professor Gary Middleton, University of Birmingham and chair of the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project, said: "Patients are turning to their oncologists and wanting to know exactly what is their risk from COVID-19. This is particularly important as the number of cases in Europe and the UK is still labile. The UKCCMP will continue to work to understand the effect of COVID-19 on cancer patients and cancer services to ensure the best possible care in the months ahead.":

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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