Cancer Blog

Here's our collection of cancer-related stories. We sift through a variety of stories and share the issues that we think matter to cancer patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and survivors. Learn about current events in the cancer community, human interest stories, and promising technology and treatment advances. Tell us what you think in the Comments section at the bottom of each post.

Note: The information contained in this service is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in the service is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment of any illness, condition or disease.



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Breath Test to Detect Cancer Being Developed

by: cancercompass

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are developing technology that can detect cancer in a person's breath.

The idea behind the technology comes from research showing that dogs are able to detect cancer on the breath of cancer patients.

According to a recent CNET article, the researchers are "using mid-infrared laser technology to measure suspected cancer biomarkers in the breath, such as ethane, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, and to establish the relationship between those gas molecules and the disease."

Recently, additional research has shown correlations between scent and cancer. Earlier this month, researchers in Pennsylvania say they identified a unique skin cancer odor.

The research team in Oklahoma hopes their work will be used in the development of simple cancer detection devices, which they predict could be a reality within the next decade.




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Scientists Identify Child Cancer Causing Gene

by: cancercompass

Researchers have identified a gene that causes a rare form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.

The discovery was made by an international team of scientific researchers from the United States, Italy and Belgium. According to the researchers, mutations in a gene called ALK are the main cause of the inherited version of neuroblastoma.

These ALK mutations also have a strong link to non-inherited neuroblastoma, which is the more common form of the disease.

Although Neuroblastoma only accounts for 7% of childhood cancers, the disease causes 15% of all childhood cancer deaths due to its low survival rate.

According to a Reuters report, several companies are working to develop drugs that will target the gene.

The ALK research has been published in the British journal Nature.




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Cholesterol Drug Investigated for Cancer Risk

by: cancercompass

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating the drug Vytorin for a possible cancer risk.

Vytorin is a combination of the cholesterol-lowering drugs Zocor and Zetia.

As reported by WebMD, 4.1% of patients taking Vytorin as part of a recent clinical trial died of some form of cancer. That's compared to 2.5% of the patients involved in the study who took an inactive placebo and also died from cancer.

The FDA says people taking Vytorin should not stop taking the drug but administration officials do recommend that patients speak with their doctors.

Manufacturers of Vytorin say they have complied with the FDA's requests.




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Skin Cancer Identified By Scent

by: cancercompass

Researchers in Pennsylvania say they have identified a unique skin cancer odor.

Study author Michelle Gallagher says her research team was able to identify an "odor profile" from the skin of skin cancer patients. After comparing the skin odor of 11 skin cancer patients with odor samples from non-cancerous skin, the researchers were able to accurately differentiate between the two.

Gallagher hopes her research can be used to develop a non-invasive method for detecting skin cancer. A biopsy is the standard method that physicians use to diagnose skin cancer.

The skin cancer odor study was conducted at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gallagher presented her team's findings earlier this week at the American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition.




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Stem Cell Testing for Bowel Cancer

by: cancercompass

British researchers say they have developed a more accurate method for detecting aggressive forms of bowel cancer.

A study conducted by a team of doctors and scientists from Durham University and the North East England Stem Cell Institute determined that aggressive bowel cancer could be detected early by testing for a certain stem cell marker protein.

The research team found that patients with a stem cell marker protein called Lamin A were more likely to develop aggressive bowel cancer. If patients test positive for Lamin A, the British doctors recommend chemotherapy and surgery to treat the disease.

The next step for the team is to develop a prognostic tool to help easily detect Lamin A.

The research has been published online by the Public Library of Science (PLoS).




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Moisturizers Increase Skin Cancer in Mice

by: cancercompass

Researchers have discovered that four skin moisturizers increase the frequency of skin cancer tumors in mice.

Rutgers University researchers tested Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin, and Vanicream moisturizers. During a 20 week test on hairless mice exposed to ultraviolet light, the researchers rubbed the moisturizers into the animal's skin.

According to the researchers, the application of each moisturizer did not cause cancer, but did result in increased numbers of skin tumors and faster tumor growth.

Study leader Allan H. Conney tells WebMD, "This was unexpected. We really did not expect to see the tumor-promoting activity of these creams."

With the recent news that skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S., the findings of the study are alarming.

However, there isn't proof that humans will see the same effect. Conney says, "Our study raises a red flag and points out the need for epidemiologists to take a look at people who use moisturizing creams. And the companies that market these products should take a look at animal models and see if their products promote tumors."




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140-Pound Cancerous Tumor Removed from Oregon Woman

by: cancercompass

It took doctors in Portland, Oregon three operations and over two months to remove a 140 pound cancerous tumor growing near the stomach of Linda Rittenbach.

Rittenbach, who has struggled throughout her life with her weight, had been told by doctors that she needed to lose weight. However, no matter what diet or workout she tried, she was unable to lose the weight. When she went to a different doctor for flu-like symptoms, she learned of the tumor.

According to Dr. George Tsai, "The type of tumor that wound up being extracted was extremely rare." The tumor, a rare form of liposcarcoma had likely been growing for 15 to 20 years.

According to Rittenbach, her doctor told her she had two choices, "I could either live or die. And I had a 20 percent chance if I had the surgery. And if I didn't have the surgery, I would die at home where my family would find me, and I didn't want that."

During the surgery, doctors had to remove both kidneys. However, they were able to put one of the kidneys back.

Now, as the healing process continues, Judy Evanoff, a friend, says that Rittenbach is even back to "driving herself around" again.




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Vitamin C Slows Tumor Growth

by: cancercompass

Scientists say they have found another use for vitamin C: shrinking cancer tumors.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently studied the effects of high-dose injections of vitamin C in mice with brain, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Overall, the injections reduced tumor weight and growth rate by about 50%.

According to the NIH study, the anti-cancer effect of the vitamin C injections is attributed to the formation of hydrogen peroxide in the extracellular fluid surrounding the tumors. Normal cells were not affected by the injections.

The findings were reported earlier this month in an issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In past cancer treatment studies, researchers reported no benefit for cancer patients taking high doses of vitamin C.  However, in those cases, the vitamin was administered orally, which allowed the body to regulate its levels.

According to the study's lead author, new clinical trials with vitamin C are being scheduled.




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Olympic Swimmer Comes Home to Fight Cancer

by: cancercompass

American swimmer Eric Shanteau is ready to fight his cancer. After competing in the 200 meter breaststroke semifinals at the Beijing Olympics, the 24-year-old Texan is coming back to the United States to undergo surgery for testicular cancer.

Shanteau was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June, just weeks before his Olympic swimming trials.  After his doctors verified that the cancer was not spreading, the swimmer decided to continue with his plans to compete in the Summer Olympic Games.  Shanteau competed in the trials and secured a ticket to Beijing.

His quest for an Olympic medal ended Wednesday when he finished 10th in the semifinals, just two places shy of advancing to the 200m breaststroke finals.

In an interview with reporters in Beijing, Shanteau said, "Now I've got a much bigger battle to win, and I know I'm going to win that one."




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Breast Cancer Relapse Rate Low, According to New Study

by: cancercompass

Women who survive breast cancer for five years after being treated for the disease, are more likely to remain cancer-free. That's according to a new study published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers studied the results of women with breast cancer who were treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1985 and 2001.

According to the study, the chances of breast cancer recurring 5 years after successfully defeating the disease were as follows:

  • Stage I Breast Cancer - 7%
  • Stage II Breast Cancer - 11%
  • Stage III Breast Cancer - 13%

Overall, 89% of the women studied were cancer-free after 5 years. 80% remained cancer-free after 10 years.

According to a Reuters article, the study did not take into account recent breast cancer treatment options, including recent advancements in cancer fighting drugs.


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