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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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Book Shares Diary Entries from Parents Struggle with Daughter's Cancer

by: cancercompass

"Notes Left Behind" documents six-year-old Elena Desserich's battle with brain cancer through the journal entries of her parents, and notes that Elena hid for her parents to find after she was gone.

The Today Show recently re-published excerpts from this book as well as a few of Elena's notes. The diary excerpts are taken from "Part 1: The beginning" of the book. These entries discuss how everyday life changed for the family, in addition to celebrating Elena's birthday while faced with difficult cancer treatments.

Keeping a journal is one way to deal with the emotions that arise following a cancer diagnosis. It's also helpful to find additional support by talking with other cancer survivors, patients and caregivers.



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Combination Chemo/Radiation Treatment Improves Head & Neck Cancer Patient Survival Rates

by: cancercompass

Combining radiation with chemotherapy in the treatment of advanced head and neck cancers may help patients live event-free (without cancer recurrence or new tumors) for 2.2 years, according to new research discussed in U.S. News & World Report.

The article points out that the common survival rate for patients with advanced head and neck cancers is just one year with radiotherapy alone.

During the study, researchers analyzed the 10 year outcomes of 966 patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer. Patients who hadn't had surgery for their cancer were randomly assigned to one of four groups: radiotherapy alone (233 patients); two courses of simultaneous (SIM) chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment (166 patients); two courses of chemotherapy after subsequent (SUB) radiotherapy (160 patients); or both SIM and SUB (154 patients). Patients who already underwent surgery were assigned to either radiotherapy alone (135 patients) or SIM alone (118 patients).

Overall findings suggest that non-platinum-based chemotherapy given simultaneously with radiotherapy reduced deaths and cancer recurrence in patients who had not undergone surgery. Patients who had undergone surgery, however, didn't benefit from this combined treatment. In addition, researchers found that giving patients chemotherapy after radiotherapy was ineffective and actually doubled the rate of toxicity.

How are doctors successfully combining your cancer treatments? Share your experiences at our Cancer Treatment Message Board.




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Scientists Find Genetic Link to Mole Rat's Cancer Immunity

by: cancercompass

Scientists at the University of Rochester say they understand why mole rats are the only mammals that don't get cancer, reports Popular Science.

A new study suggests that a gene could be what makes these animals immune to cancer.  Scientists believe the mole rat's cells express a gene, called p16, which tells cells to stop dividing.  Humans, like most mammals, have only the p27 gene to protect their cells from cancer. Scientists say cancer has found a way around that p27 gene, but the disease is stopped dead in its tracks by the p16 gene.

In the experiment, researchers injected cancer into a mole rat cell. That cell didn't engage in the non-stop proliferation associated with cancer that scientists normally see in altered mouse cells.

Share this story, or your personal experiences with how genetics plays a role in your cancer risk, on the CancerCompass Genetics Message Board.



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Experimental Drug Shows Favorable Results Against Brain Cancer

by: cancercompass

Biotechnology company Angiochem, Inc. recently announced its drug ANG1005 showed favorable results in two separate clinical studies of more than 100 patients with progressive brain gliomas, including recurrent glioblastoma, and in patients with progressive brain metastases. Data from these trials was presented October 18th at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago.

According to an Angiochem press release, greater than 70% of patients receiving ANG1005 in therapeutic doses experienced disease control, with more than half showing a reduction in tumor size. In addition, 78% of patients with taxane resistant tumors responded to ANG1005, which means there is potential for the drug to help against resistant tumors.

Another major finding cited in the press release was the drug's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier without central nervous system toxicity or immunogenicity. Patient tumor brain samples showed ANG1005 was present, which was proof the drug crossed the blood-brain barrier to concentrate in the tumor.

Scientists have observed similar trends in patient responses during the ongoing Phase 1/2 recurrent glioblastoma clinical trial with roughly 65% of patients experiencing disease control to date.

Have you or a loved one undergone experimental cancer treatments? Discuss your experiences at the CancerCompass Clinical Trials & Research Message Board.





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Baltimore Sun Highlights Breast Cancer Patient Stories

by: cancercompass

The Baltimore Sun highlights the stories of "bravery, pain, love, courage, triumph and loss" that marked the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that drew 30,000 participants last Sunday.

Read more about a grieving daughter who found her strength by raising money for Komen, a man's struggle with a rare diagnosis, and the determination of one woman to continue fighting.

Inspire and support other breast cancer patients and their caregivers. Join the Cancer Compass Breast Cancer Message Board to share your own experiences with breast cancer treatments, diagnosis, nutrition and much more.




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IBD Patients Taking Thiopurine Drugs May Have Increased Cancer Risk

by: cancercompass

A new study suggests thiopurine drugs that treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) increase the risk of viral infection-related cancers called malignant lymphoproliferative disorders (LD), reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Thiopurine drugs are used to treat IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, by suppressing the immune system.

During the study, researchers analyzed data for 19,486 IBD patients (60% with Crohn's and 40% with ulcerative colitis or unclassified IBD). Patients were then followed for a median of 35 months.

At the start of the study, participants thiopurine use was as follows: 30% were taking it, 14% discontinued its use and 56% never took the drug. As the study progressed, 23 patients developed malignant LD.

Of the 23 patients with LD, 22 were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and the remaining person was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Overall findings suggest that IBD patients taking thiopurines have a more than five-fold increased risk compared to those who had never received the drugs. In particular, older patients, men, and patients with IBD for a long period of time, were also at an increased risk of LD.

The study was published in The Lancet.




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FDA Approves Drug to Treat Cancer Therapy Complication

by: cancercompass

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a cancer drug that fights a serious complication of cancer treatment, reports Reuters.

The drug, Elitek, was recently approved by the FDA for managing levels of plasma uric acid that often build up as a side effect from cancer treatment, according to the drug's manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis. High plasma uric acid levels can lead to tumor lysis syndrome, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.

Elitek was cleared to treat adults with leukemia, lymphoma or solid tumors who are receiving cancer treatments or therapies that are expected to cause tumor lysis syndrome or elevate plasma uric acid levels.




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Husband & Wife Both Face Breast Cancer Diagnosis

by: cancercompass

ABC News recently featured the struggle of a husband and wife in Munro, Ohio who are battling breast cancer together.

Less than a year after Barbara Welsh, 63, had a lump removed from her breast, her husband, Mike Welsh, 62, found a lump on the right side of his own chest. While Mike was sent for a mammography, his wife says, "they looked at him like he was crazy."

According to ABC News, Mike was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy.

Even though men and women both have breast tissue, woman have 100 times the risk of most men, according to the American Cancer Institute. But just because a man's risk is less, doesn't mean there isn't reason for concern.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,910 men will receive a breast cancer diagnosis this year with 440 men dying from the disease.

Watch ABC's video about this brave couple.

Are you fighting breast cancer with a family member or best friend? Share your story with other cancer patients and caregivers at our Breast Cancer Message Board.




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Prostate Cancer Surgery Technique May Cause Unwanted Complications

by: cancercompass

Compared to men who have traditional prostate cancer operations, Harvard researchers say there is a greater risk of losing sexual function and urine control in men who have prostate cancer surgeries designed to reduce blood loss and hospital stays, reports the Detroit Free Press.

During the prostate cancer surgery in question, surgeons use a technique that requires three or four small cuts in the abdomen. According to the article, this technique is used in 40% of procedures to remove prostates.

Findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that men undergoing this type of surgery were 40% more likely to be impotent and 30% more likely to be incontinent,

A Detroit urologist who helped pioneer the technique for this surgery, which was introduced in 2001, disagrees with the study's findings.

Dr. Mani Menon, director of the Vattikuti Urology Institute at Henry Ford Hospital, shared data on 4,800 prostate cancer procedures of this type, which show the complication rates in Detroit are half of those reported by the national study. And unlike the study, his data includes men of all ages.

If you have undergone this type of prostate cancer procedure, you can voice your opinion at our Prostate Cancer Message Board.




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FDA Approves New Cervical Cancer Vaccine

by: cancercompass

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of Cervarix.

Cervarix is a cervical cancer vaccine produced by British drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline and has been approved for use in girls between 10 and 25 years of age.

The vaccine is intended to offer protection against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which cause approximately 75% of cervical cancers in North America, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Cervarix will compete with Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine which has been sold in the United States since June 2006.

The new vaccine is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of this year.


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