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SCCA Cancer News Watch

SCCA's compilation of important cancer news from around the world.

2011  |  2010  |  2009

New Ovarian Cancer Finding Could Help with Early Detection

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have taken a small, but potentially significant step toward early detection of ovarian cancer, finding that protein "biomarkers" released by tumors show up in women's bloodstreams years before symptoms appear, though not necessarily early enough to save lives. Read more  

Israelis’ Cancer is Linked to Holocaust

An Israeli study, believed to be one of the first of its kind, has found significantly higher cancer rates among European Jews who immigrated to Israel after the Holocaust than among those who left Europe for what is now Israel either before or during World War II. Read more  

Cancer From the Kitchen?

What if breast cancer in the United States has less to do with insurance or mammograms and more to do with contaminants in our water or air -- or in certain plastic containers in our kitchens? Read more  

Oral Cancers in Women Rising

About 34,000 new U.S. cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, and the numbers are rising, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Although oral cancer has primarily been a man's illness, affecting six men for every woman, the foundation says that over the past 10 years, that ratio has become two men to each woman. Read more  

Breast Cancer Risk Is Not So Easy to Figure Out

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's controversial new breast cancer screening recommendations are specifically for women who are at "normal" risk of breast cancer. But how do you know if you have a higher than average risk and thus should be more inclined toward getting screened in your 40s or should even follow special guidelines for breast cancer screening that go beyond what's usually recommended? Read more  

New Guidelines: Women Can Get Pap Smears Every Two Years

Most women in their 20s can have a Pap smear every two years instead of annually, say new guidelines that conclude that is enough to catch slow-growing cervical cancer. The change by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists comes amid a completely separate debate over when regular mammograms to detect breast cancer should begin. The timing of the Pap guidelines is coincidence, said ACOG, which began reviewing its recommendations in late 2007 and published the update Friday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Read more   

U.S. Health Chief: No Change on Mammogram Policy

A federal advisory board's recommendation that women in their 40s should avoid routine mammograms is not government policy and has caused "a great deal of confusion," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday. Read more  

Begin Mammograms At 50, Not 40

To the consternation of many, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that the average woman wait until age 50 to begin routine screening for breast cancer, and only get screened every two years. The previous recommendations — in place since 2002 and backed by the American Cancer Society, radiologists and health professionals — said women should begin routine screening at age 40. Read more  

One More Reason to Get Up Early

A new study suggests that early morning is an ideal time to schedule a colonoscopy. Read more  

Hello Cancer, Goodbye Marriage

In a study published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Cancer, neuro-oncologists Marc Chamberlain of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Michael Glanz of the University of Utah School of Medicine followed 515 married patients with serious cases of cancer or multiple sclerosis for five years. The overall divorce or separation rate was 11.6 percent—not much different from the general population. But when couples did split, the patient was six times more likely to be a woman than a man. Read more  

Medicines to Deter Some Cancers Not Taken

Many Americans do not think twice about taking medicines to prevent heart disease and stroke. But cancer is different. Much of what Americans do in the name of warding off cancer has not been shown to matter, and some things are actually harmful. Yet the few medicines proved to deter cancer are widely ignored. Read more  

Obesity Linked to Specific Cancers

About 100,500 new cases of cancer are caused by obesity every year, according to the most comprehensive attempt ever to estimate the cancers attributed to extra weight. Read more  

What You Don’t Know Might Kill You

The right doctors make all the difference when it comes to treating cancer. So why don't we know who they are? Read more  

Pros and Cons of Prostate Surgeries

Prostate cancer patients who chose minimally invasive surgery rather than more extensive operations to remove the prostate were less likely to experience complications like pneumonia, but reported higher rates of long-term problems... Read more  

Wanted: Mammologists

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but what is it we need to be aware of? We know that for women, breast cancer is the most common cancer and, after lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death.... But equally important is improving access to life-saving therapy for women already living with breast cancer — many of whom don’t even know it. Read more   

How We're Winning the War on Breast Cancer

I was 18 when I first felt a lump in my breast. Of course, I was convinced that I was going to die. This was three decades ago -- back when we knew far less about breast cancer. A general surgeon removed the lump, which, thank goodness, wasn't malignant. Read more  

Targeting Cancer With Bee Venom

A bee sting can be painful, but its venomous payload might hold promise for a beneficial purpose—fighting cancer. Read more  

Breath Sensor Identifies Signs of Lung Cancer

The breath of people with lung cancer is different from that of healthy people — it contains higher concentrations of alkanes and other volatile organic compounds.  

Armstrong Uses Technology to Lift Cancer Survivors, End Stigma

The world's only seven-time winner of the Tour de France— and perhaps its best-known cancer survivor — keeps in close contact with cancer survivors around the world, who say his story inspires them to keep fighting. Read more  

Cancer Is Hardest on Separated Patients

Married cancer patients live longer than single ones, presumably because they have a built-in support system, are more likely to stick to their treatment regimens, and may even be in better health to begin with. But among single patients, those who are separated at the time of diagnosis have the worst life expectancy, a new study reports. Read more   

Study on Vaccine for Cervical Cancer Finds Benefits Despite Some Risks

The new vaccine designed to protect girls and young women from cervical cancer has a safety record that appears to be in line with that of other vaccines, a government report has found. Read more  

Cancer Deaths Declining, Especially Among Young

Cancer death rates are declining, especially among younger people, new research shows. And while cancer is poised to become the number one killer in the United States, topping heart disease, that is because deaths from heart disease have decreased faster than for cancer. Read more  

Patients Are Reminded of Aspirin's Risks

Cheap, ubiquitous aspirin has long been known for health benefits from basic pain relief to heart attack prevention. But after a new study this week provided tantalizing evidence suggesting that aspirin might increase survival chances for colorectal cancer patients, experts were quick to warn that the drug, a medicine cabinet staple, also had its risks. Read more   

Weight Lifting Benefits Breast Cancer Survivors

A new study suggests that breast cancer survivors with lymphedema who participated in a supervised weight-lifting program experienced fewer exacerbations of their lymphedema and showed a reduction in symptoms compared to women in the control group. Read more  

Health: Wait Listed

You’ve found a lump in your breast—why does it take so long to get a diagnosis? Some local centers are saying it shouldn’t. Read more  

Lack of Study Volunteers May Hobble Cancer Fight

Why hasn't there been more progress in the fight against cancer? Once reason, says Hutchinson Researcher Scott Ramsey, is that few adult cancer patients — just 3 percent — participate in studies of cancer treatments. Times science journalist Gina Kolota reports on the problems that clinical trials face the search for new treatments and cures for cancer. Read more  

Considering Longer Chemotherapy

The newest prognosis for cancer may be longer chemotherapy. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are moving toward treating cancer patients with drugs continuously, even when they may not urgently need them. Read more  

Hutchinson Center Researchers Find Women with Migraines Less Likely to Get Breast Cancer

Women diagnosed with migraine headaches have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. That's the finding of a new study led by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center researcher Dr. Christopher Li. Read more  

Blacks With Equal Care Still More Likely to Die of Some Cancers

African Americans are less likely than whites to survive breast, prostate and ovarian cancer even when they receive equal treatment, according to a large study that offers provocative evidence that biological factors play a role in at least some racial disparities. Read more  

In Health Reform, a Cancer Offers an Acid Test

It’s become popular to pick your own personal litmus test for health care reform... My litmus test is different. It’s the prostate cancer test. Read more   

Vegetarians Avoid More Cancers

Vegetarians are generally less likely than meat eaters to develop cancer but this does not apply to all forms of the disease, a major study has found. Read more  

What Farrah Fawcett Can Teach Us About Anal Cancer

Anal cancer is one of those cancers no one likes to talk about because it's, well, anal cancer. But we really should discuss it as much as, say, cervical cancer. Read more  

Leukemia Can Be Cured Without Brain Damage

Doctors have found a way to cure leukemia in children while sparing them from a toxic treatment that can cause brain damage, a study says. Read more  

Obesity in Young Adulthood May Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Obesity is known to increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a particularly aggressive type of cancer. But a new study suggests the risk is greatest among people who were already overweight during their teenage years or obese during their 20s and 30s. Read more  

Liver Cancer Therapy Trial Showing Success

An experimental therapy that directs a very high dose of chemotherapy precisely to the region of the body where the cancer is growing is showing promise for patients with advanced liver cancer. Read more  

Marijuana Smoke on California Cancer List

Marijuana smoke has joined tobacco smoke and hundreds of other chemicals on a list of substances that California regulators say cause cancer. Read more  

Progress But No Cure Reported at ASCO

Study results from the world's largest cancer conference this weekend highlight both the progress and the frustrations in the fight against cancer. Read more  

Immune Therapies Finally Working Against Cancer

First there was surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation. Now, doctors have overcome 30 years of false starts and found success with a fourth way to fight cancer: using the body's natural defender, the immune system. Read more  

Marrow Donors Elusive for Multiracial Patients

At a time when the number of multiracial Americans is rising, only a tiny fraction of donors on the national bone-marrow registry are of mixed race. The National Marrow Donor Program is trying to change that by seeking more diverse donors for patients suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. Read more  

Don't Judge the Chemo Kid

Amid the uproar over the refusal of a parent to allow her son to undergo treatment for Hodgkin's disease, Dr. Rahul Parikh reflects on the truly grueling regimen that is chemotherapy. Read more  

Older Breast Cancer Patients Benefit from Chemo Too

Researchers have long left older women out of clinical trials due largely to concerns that they can't tolerate toxic therapies. However, a new study of women 65 and older shows that women with early-stage breast cancer who are treated with chemotherapy along with surgery will likely live longer than those who aren't. Read more  

Statins Shown to Cut Prostate Cancer Risk

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins that are a major weapon against cardiovascular disease may also protect men against prostate cancer. Read more.  

Patient Voices: Lung Cancer

This week six men and women with lung cancer are profiled in the Times' ongoing Patient Voices series. Read more.  

Test May Determine Lung Cancer Risk

A new urine test appears to distinguish which smokers are likely to get lung cancer and which are not, by detecting whether smokers have a particular chemical in their urine that's been linked to lung cancer. Read more  

Fawcett's Cancer Battle Brings Attention to Rare Disease

Farrah Fawcett's diagnosis of anal cancer is bringing necessary attention to a rare, but ever growing disease that far too many are embarrassed to talk about. Read more.  

DNA Test Outperforms Pap Smear

A new DNA test for the virus that causes cervical cancer does so much better than current methods that some gynecologists hope it will eventually replace the Pap smear in wealthy countries and cruder tests in poor ones. Read more.  

Cancer Patients Find Insurance is No Bulwark Against Bankruptcy

According to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Cancer Society, even people who are well insured often find themselves in serious financial difficulties when it comes to cancer treatment. The story, reported by Joanne Silberner, also includes tips on how to get most out of your insurance.  

Colonoscopies Prevent 15,000 Cases of Colon Cancer in Germany

Since 2002 colonoscopies have been free to all German citizens over the age of 55. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have determined that thanks to colonoscopy screenings, some 15,000 cases of colon cancer were prevented between 2002 and 2010. The research was based on the 1.8 million colonoscopies that have been carried in Germany out since 2002. Read more.  

Prostate Test Found to Save Few Lives

Two studies, one from Europe the other from the United States, confirms what many have long suspected: that the PSA test often leads to unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer. Read more.  

Genetic Tests May Reveal Source of Mystery Tumors

Doctors are unable to correctly ascertain the source of some 2 to 5 percent of new cancer cases diagnosed every year. But a new genetic test may help.  

Third Of Cancers Preventable

A new study shows lifestyle choices from transportation, to food, to exercise can all reduce cancer risk, reports Richard Roth. Julie Chen speaks to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel about the results. The report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, was published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institure for Cancer Research.  

Cancer Patients Who Do Research Get Newest Drugs

Cancer patients who research treatment options, including getting a second opinion, are three times more likely to get the newest drugs than patients who don't spend extra time learning about their condition, according to a study of 633 people with colorectal tumors.  

Cancer Survivors Struggle to Find Jobs

A report appearing in the The Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that cancer survivors in the United States and Europe are 37 percent more likely to be unemployed than workers who never had the disease. The study's chief author, Angela G.E.M. de Boer of the Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, urged employers be more flexible in accommodating the needs of cancer survivors.  

Maybe It's Better To Stay in the Dark

The Washington Post reports on a new study published in Chronobiology International that found that nations that emit the most light at night tend to have the highest prostate cancer rates. The study seems to correlate with other research linking higher breast and prostate cancer rates with people who have jobs that expose them to light at night. Just what causes the increased risk is unclear, but researchers suspect that the hormone melatonin may play a role.  

My Drug Problem

Whatever one thinks about the American health care system, one thing it offers to many is access to the best cancer drugs available. But will that always be the case? Breast cancer survivor and Atlantic magazine contributing editor Virginia Postrel reflects on the $60,000 drug that saved her life and how health reform might change access to drugs like Herceptin.  

Cancer Miracles

Senior Editor Robert Langreth writes about how researchers--including Cassian Yee of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center--are trying to harness the immune system to beat cancer.  

New Marker Indicates Whether Prostate Cancer Is Spreading

Oncologists may soon be able to distinguish between aggressive and slower growing prostate tumors. Researchers have identified a potential marker in the urine of patients that indicate whether the cancer spreading or not. The research was published in the journal Nature.  

Breast Cancer's Decline Analyzed

Breast cancer's sudden decrease in several countries can be credited to a 2002 federal warning against overuse of hormone-replacement drugs after menopause, a new study argued. The findings, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, were disputed by a hormone-pill maker and others, adding to the debate over the safety of such treatment.  

New Oral Cancer Tests: Crucial or Wasteful?

Though relatively rare, it is one of the easiest cancers to spot and diagnose. And if treated early, it is usually curable. So why do experts find oral cancer so vexing? Despite the many advances against cancer in recent decades, the statistics on this form of it remain discouraging: more than 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in the late stages, and the five-year survival rate is a disappointing 59 percent. Moreover, oral cancer is increasing in people traditionally at low risk, a phenomenon partly attributed to the rise of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV...  

Vitamins Get 'F' in Cancer Prevention

A flotilla of recent studies — including two papers published today — has sunk the notion that individual vitamin supplements prevent cancer.  
<i>Wired Magazine, 01-01-2009</i>

The Truth About Cancer

The overall cancer mortality rate in the US has fallen by a scant 8 percent since 1975. (Heart disease deaths, by comparison, have dropped by nearly 60 percent in that period.) We are so consumed by the quest to save the 566,000 that we overlook the far more staggering statistic at the other side of the survival curve: More than a third of all Americans—some 120 million people—will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives. Their illness may be invisible now, but it's out there. And that presents a great, and largely unexamined, opportunity: Find and treat their cancers early and that 566,000 figure will shrink.  

2011  |  2010  |  2009