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.



Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Study Links Professions with Higher Esophageal Cancer Risks

by: cancercompass

As scientists begin to learn what substances cause cancer of the esophagus, new research has surfaced linking the disease with certain professions, such as the hotel and restaurant trades, animal handling, mining and carpentry.

Jesus Vioque, lead researcher at Miguel Hernandez University in Alicante, Spain, studied the relationship between occupations and three types of cancers: esophageal, pancreatic and stomach. His study, which was recently published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, paid specific attention to squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma.

Vioque analyzed cases involving 185 men who were recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and 285 cases of healthy men.  Each man answered a questionnaire about diet, profession and lifestyle.  Age and educational level, along with alcohol and tobacco consumption were also taken into account.

Overall study findings suggested ionizing radiation led to increased risk for squamous cell cancer, while serious exposure to volatile sulphur and lead increased adenocarcinoma risk.  High levels of asbestos exposure could also triple the overall risk of esophageal cancer, according to the study.

Vioque suggests workers in high risk professions take protective measures, such as wearing goggles or masks.

While scientists have identified some risk factors for esophageal cancer, the exact cause is unknown. Learn more about esophageal cancer risks.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

FDA Approves Orphan Drug for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

by: cancercompass
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved orphan drug status for mibefradil, a hypertension medication.

The FDA gives orphan drug status to specific drugs that are no longer marketed for their original use, to encourage that these products be redeveloped.

Tau Therapeutics, LLC., a development stage biopharmaceutical company based in Virginia, says mibefradil can help fight pancreatic cancer. According to the company, unlike cancer therapies that damage healthy cells, mibefradil prevents tumor growth by blocking calcium from entering cancer cells.

Mibefradil, trade named Posicor, is a T-channel-blocking drug that was originally marketed for hypertension. It was taken off the market following drug to drug interactions with cholesterol-lowering medications.

Tau Therapeutics says the drug has proven to effectively treat pancreatic cancer in animals and has also been given orphan drug status by the FDA for treating ovarian cancer.




Permalink Comment RSS (1)

Can olive oil prevent or cure cancer?

by: leftona

I just read an article citing a recent study published in the open access journal BMC Cancer on olive oil and cancer.  The article, which can be found at quotes Javier Menendez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology as saying "Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells."  It then goes on to say that "although these findings provide new insights on the mechanisms by which good quality oil, i.e. polyphenol-rich extra-virgin olive oil, might contribute to a lowering of breast cancer risk in a HER2-dependent manner, extreme caution must be applied when applying the lab results to the human situation.  The active phytochemicals (i.e. lignans and secoiridoids) exhibited tumoricidal effects against cultured breast cancer cells at concentrations that are unlikely to be achieved in real life by consuming olive oil"   The conclusion the researches came to was that "these findings, together with the fact that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs."  When I read this information, three questions came to mind: (1) If I already have cancer, should my diet include olive oil and if so how much and how often?; (2) Should I make sure to include olive oil in my family's diet as a preventative measure and if so how much and how often?; (3) If adding olive oil to my diet is a good thing, what's the best way to introduce it into my diet? 

To answer these questions I turned to Carolyn Lammersfeld, National Director of Nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Carolyn explained to me that olive oil is a healthy oil for people with cancer to use in their diets.  It is a monounsaturated fat and as this study mentions also contains bioactive compounds that may be beneficial for people with cancer.  We would certainly prefer people with cancer use olive oil over saturated fats like butter or polyunsaturated fats like corn oil.  Even though it is a healthy fat, it should be used in limited quantities to keep the percentage of calories coming from fat in the diet to less than or equal to 30%  Some literature suggests that obtaining more than 30% of your calories from fat may lead to immune suppression.  Considering most individuals also get fat from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, dairy, etc. we usually recommend limiting added oils in the diet to 1 to 2 Tablespoons/day.  Even this study recommends caution that it may be unlikely to achieve concentrations of these bioactive compounds by consuming olive oil.  The take away appears to be that these findings may lead to the development of new anti breast-cancer drugs.

Carolyn offered the same recommendations for cancer prevention, saying that olive oil is a good choice for use in limited amounts.  One of the things we know as far as cancer prevention, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research is that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer.  Limiting consumption of calorie dense foods may help with weight control.  A Tablespoon of any oil in addition to adding flavor adds 135 calories to the diet.  One can see how easily calories would add up using even a healthy oil like olive oil.  Therefore, the recommendation would be to use no more than 1 to 2 Tablespoons/day as part of an overall healthy diet.

Carolyn’s advice on the best way to use olive oil is to sauté vegetables.  Greens are particularly good sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic and perhaps some soy sauce or flavored vinegar.  Olive oil is also good for dressings for salads, cold grain or bean salads, etc.  Combine with a flavored vinegar, some Dijon mustard, & maybe a citrus juice, and some onion, and you have a very flavorful addition to the diet.  A note of caution is to avoid heating olive oil to high temperatures, as it breaks down at high temperatures and may cause the production of free radicals, which can damage healthy cells in the body.

The author of this post is Adam Lefton. Adam is Director of Online Development for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and has been advocating on behalf of cancer patients since 1999. Questions and comments for Adam can be posted directly on this blog.
Adam is not a trained medical professional and the information provided in this blog is for information purposes only. Every person has their own unique medical situation and those reading this blog should seek the advice of their own medical professional.


Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Doctors Link Ovarian Cancer Survival Rate with Two Proteins

by: cancercompass

Researchers in Houston have discovered that higher levels of two specific proteins increase ovarian cancer survival rates.

Doctors from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center looked specifically for the Drosha and Dicer proteins in 111 women diagnosed with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer.

Women who had ovarian tumors with high levels of the proteins survived a median of 11 years, while those with lower levels survived for a median of approximately 2.6 years.

Both proteins play a key role in RNA interference, a naturally occurring cell system that turns genes on and off.

CNN reports that the study is the largest to link RNA interference with cancer survival rates, and that researchers also found that higher levels of Dicer protein meant higher survival rates for breast and lung cancer patients.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

ACS Announces 2009 Luther L. Terry Award Winners

by: cancercompass

The American Cancer Society (ACS) announced this week the winners of the 2009 Luther L. Terry Awards for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control.

The awards are named after former United States Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, M.D., who led the 1964 surgeon general's report that connected tobacco use to lung cancer and other illnesses.  

There are six categories and the winners for each category are:

  • Distinguished Career - Stanton Arnold Glantz, M.D. of the United States
  • Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry - The Ministry of Health of the Government of Uruguay
  • Outstanding Individual Leadership - Ronald M. Davis, M.D. of the United States and K. Srinath Reddy, M.D., D.M., M.Sc., F.A.M.S. of India
  • Outstanding Organization - The InterAmerican Heart Foundation
  • Outstanding Research Contribution - K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., M.P.H of the United States
  • Outstanding Community Service - Dileep G. Bal, M.D., M.P.H., M.S. of the United States, Hatai Chitanondh, M.D., F.I.C.S., F.R.C.S. of Thailand.

The Luther L. Terry Awards are presented triennially and were first presented at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Chicago, Illinois in 2000.



Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Lean Muscle Mass Helps Obese Cancer Patient Survival

by: cancercompass

A study of body compositions found lean muscle mass benefits obese cancer patients.

Lancet Oncology published the University of Alberta study, which found body composition played a direct role in survival rates, activity levels during illness and reaction to chemotherapy treatment.

Researchers studied the computed tomography images of 250 obese cancer patients. They found people with sarcopenic obesity, a depletion of lean muscle mass, paired with being severely overweight, shortened life spans by an average of 10 months.

Women who were obese, but had lean muscle mass fared better.

Study authors say their findings suggest the importance of taking body composition into account during cancer treatment.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

New Study Says Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Kills Cancer Cells

by: cancercompass

Scientists say extra-virgin olive oil can kill breast cancer cells.

Dr. Javier Menedez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Girona, Spain and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada recently led a research team to investigate which parts of olive oil were most beneficial in fighting cancer.

Menedez says that complex phenols found in extra-virgin olive oil "drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells."

Extra-virgin olive oil results from pressing olives without heat or chemicals, which Menedez says helps retain phytochemicals otherwise lost during refining.

The Spanish researchers, however, quickly pointed out that women shouldn't increase their olive oil consumption based on these findings. The levels used in the study are highly concentrated.

But the researchers hope their findings can help produce more effective anti breast-cancer drugs.

The study is published in current issue of BMC Cancer.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

ASCO Announces 2008's 12 Major Cancer Advances

by: cancercompass

This week the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced the 12 major advances in 2008 that affected cancer treatment and prevention.

As reported by WebMD Health News, here are this year's 12 advances:

  1. Erbitux for Lung Cancer
  2. Gemzar for Pancreatic Cancer
  3. Treanda for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  4. Avastin for Metastatic Breast Cancer
  5. Long-Term Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
  6. Zometa for Breast Cancer
  7. Pegylated Interferon for Melanoma
  8. Targeted Erbitux for Colon Cancer
  9. Birth Control Pill Cuts Ovarian-Cancer Risk
  10. HPV Vaccine May Cut Oral Cancers
  11. Oncologist Shortage
  12. Caring for Childhood Cancer Survivors

The list was developed by 21 cancer specialists on the ASCO editorial board. 




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Old Class of Drugs May Help Obese Breast Cancer Patients

by: cancercompass

Obese breast cancer patients could benefit from an older class of drugs called epithelial growth factor receptor inhibitors, which block stimulatory effects of hormones.

A study published in this month's Cancer Research said obese breast cancer patients produce more leptin, a hormone that is produced by fat cells and helps regulate appetite, bone formation and reproductive functions.

Leptin combined with heightened levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) was shown by the study to stimulate breast cancer cell growth, reports ScienceDaily.

Researchers found that drugs inhibiting epithelial growth factor blocked the effects of leptin and IGF-1.  Study authors noted more tests in animal models is necessary to strengthen findings.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Study Says Gamma Camera Detects Difficult-to-Treat Breast Cancers

by: cancercompass

A new molecular imaging technology using a high-resolution gamma camera found breast cancers not detected by mammograms or by clinical exam, according to a study presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) findings are based on how cancerous cells function, unlike mammography findings that depend on identifying differences in appearance between normal and suspicious breast tissue. That's according to the study's lead author Rachel F. Brem, M.D., professor of radiology and director of the Breast Imaging and Interventional Center at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington D.C.

BSGI requires mild compression of the breast and an injection of a low-dose nuclear material called a radiotracer that is absorbed by cells. According to the study, the tracer is absorbed quicker by cancerous cells because they have a higher rate of metabolic activity than normal cells.

Researchers sought to prove this new technology's effectiveness by using it on 159 women with at least one suspicious or cancerous lesion found during mammography.  Overall findings revealed additional suspicious lesions in 29% of the women, according to study authors, who also noted these newly found lesions were cancerous in 36%, or 14 of the 39 women in the study.

Dr. Brem told ScienceDaily that BSGI isn't meant to replace mammography, but may assist doctors in finding difficult-to-treat breast cancers for high-risk women with normal mammograms.

Read our blog post entitled Fewer Women Getting Mammograms for American Cancer Society suggestions on making mammograms a little more pleasant.


We care about your feedback. Let us know how we can improve your CancerCompass experience.