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)

Skin Cancer Drug Elesclomol Moves Closer to Production

by: cancercompass

Late-stage study data presented this month by Synta Pharmaceuticals Inc. reinforces the likelihood that the company will produce its skin cancer drug elesclomol, reports the Associated Press.

Synta Pharmaceuticals Inc. is testing elesclomol, in combination with paclitaxel, to help treat patients with the skin cancer known as metastatic melanoma.

The company says additional data revealed that lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) could help predict how well elesclomol will work in improving survival outcomes. LDH is an enzyme that plays an important role in cell energy production.

In addition, the company released a statement that said the results show "there are clear signs" the drug will benefit patients with normal LDH. To date, adverse effects have been restricted to patients with high LDH.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

New Book Discusses Ways Men Can Help Women Cope with Breast Cancer Diagnosis

by: cancercompass

John W. Anderson shares insights from his new book Stand By Her: A Breast Cancer Guide for Men in an article published by the NY Daily News.

Anderson's book is intended to be a guide that helps men understand the meaningful role they play in a woman's breast cancer treatment and recovery.

Anderson wrote the book after three women in his life were diagnosed with breast cancer: his mother, his wife and his sister. His mother battled breast cancer for a decade before passing away in 1998. His wife was diagnosed in 2001 and his sister was diagnosed the following year. Both women survived the disease.

There are two major points Anderson discusses in his book to help men understand what they can do when a woman they love is diagnosed with cancer:
1) Nothing. He encourages men to heed the advice of Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, "The way to do is to be." Don't rush to solve the problem, instead he says "take your lead from her actions."
2) Listen. Mirror her mood, says Anderson, pointing out that it's important not to just talk at her. He suggests validating her feelings and only giving your opinion if she asks for it.
How have you helped your wife, sister or mother deal with breast cancer? Discuss Anderson's advice and share your own experiences in helping your loved one cope with the disease by joining the conversation at our Breast Cancer Discussion Board.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Pfizer Halts Late-Stage Lung Cancer Drug Trial

by: cancercompass

For safety reasons, Pfizer has stopped patient enrollment for a late-stage lung cancer trial of its experimental drug, figitumumab, reports Reuters.

The company said independent safety monitors recommended halting the study after deaths occurred in patients taking figitumumab.

Patients currently enrolled in the study may continue their treatment in consultation with their physicians. As of 9/30/2009, 681 patients were enrolled in the Phase 3 study out of a target of 820, reports the company.

Clinical trial investigators and regulatory agencies were notified; they will work closely with the safety monitoring committee on analyzing the date before issuing further guidance.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Advice for Understanding A Breast Cancer Pathology Report

by: cancercompass

In a recent article published by the Chicago Tribune, Marcia Frellick provides advice to help breast cancer patients understand their pathology reports.

After a brief description of invasive and in situ breast cancers, Frellick suggests patients understand their pathology report by doing the following:

 - Access The Talking Dictionary at This allows you to hear Celine Dion, Regis Philbin and Tom Brokaw pronounce and a define common words that appear on pathology reports.

 - Verify Information. Check the top of the pathology report to make sure the name and procedure are yours.

 - Get the Facts. Tests often lead to more tests. That's why she suggests waiting for all the results, so you see the full picture before making treatment decisions.

Read Frellick's article, or take a more comprehensive look at breast cancer by learning about diagnosis, as well as disease staging and potential treatment options, at the CancerCompass Breast Cancer Information section.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

New Studies Show Most Childhood Cancer Survivors Have Healthy Pregnancies & Children

by: cancercompass

Two U.S. studies show the majority of childhood cancer survivors to have healthy pregnancies and children later in life, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Study authors say life-saving treatments, such as chemotherapy, may affect a child's future reproductive health, and as the number of childhood cancer survivors increases, research is necessary to determine the effects.

One study, published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, compared 1,898 infants who were born to childhood cancer survivors diagnosed before age 20 to 14,278 infants born to women without childhood cancer. While infants born to the childhood cancer survivors weren't at risk for death or birth defects, they were 54% more likely to be born preterm and 31% more likely to weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth.

Rates of diabetes, preeclampsia and anemia during pregnancy were similar among both female childhood cancer survivors and women who weren't treated for childhood cancers.

Another study in the same journal issue analyzed 470 children of men who had childhood cancer. Researchers found a "borderline risk" of the children weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth, especially if their father was treated with chemotherapy. Also, female partners of male childhood cancer survivors were not at increased risk for pregnancy complications. However, women did have a higher risk of preeclampsia if their male partner had certain types of childhood cancers, specifically brain tumors.

Are you a childhood cancer survivor? Share your experiences after treatment with other survivors at our Side Effects Message Board.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Study Uncovers Additional Genes Linked to Head & Neck Cancers

by: cancercompass

A U.S. study has uncovered additional genes associated with head and neck cancers, which could lead to more targeted gene therapies, wrote United Press International in a recent article.

UPI reports the study found 231 new genes associated with head and neck cancers, which is responsible for 2.1% of all U.S. cancer deaths. Scientists at the Henry Ford Hospital in San Diego said previously, only 33 genes were associated with head and neck cancers.

Study results were announced in San Diego during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Foundation.

What are your thoughts about the potential for these new genes to create more targeted therapies? Post your comments below, or start a discussion with cancer survivors, patients and caregivers on our Head And Neck Cancer Message Board.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Commander of U.S. Military in Middle East Announces Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

by: cancercompass

General David Petraeus, the commander of American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, is reportedly responding well to radiation treatment after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Petraeus, 56, was diagnosed last February with early-stage prostate cancer. According to a statement from the Pentagon, Petraeus has undergone two months of "successful" radiation treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Information about the diagnosis and treatment have not been disclosed until now because the general and his family consider it to be a private matter, which did not affect his duties.

General Petraeus is expected to take part in meetings this week with President Obama and his national security team to discuss military operations in Afghanistan.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Three Americans Win 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine

by: cancercompass

Three American scientists have been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The winners are Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins, and Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School.

The three scientists received the award for their discovery of telomeres and telomerase.

Telomeres are the repeated sequences of DNA at the ends of chromosomes, which have been linked to cellular processes including aging and cancer. Telomerase is the enzyme that builds the telomeres.

The prize recognizes research that shed light on how our cells function, information which has become increasingly relevant to the study of cancer biology.

The three scientists will share a prize of approximately $1.4 million.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Texas Sets Its Sights on Cancer Research Funding Initiative

by: cancercompass

Texas wants to be the nation's second largest source of cancer research funding, according to an Associated Press report.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is pushing to spend $3 billion on cancer research over the next decade. That would put the agency in second place nationwide for research funding, after the National Cancer Institute.

According to the AP report, cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong helped convince voters in the Lone Star State to approve a 2007 bond measure to fund the initiative.

Cancer researchers should expect to see funding from Texas as soon as spring 2010.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Dose-Dense Chemo Regimen Could Benefit Some Ovarian Cancer Patients

by: cancercompass

New research suggests that dose-dense chemotherapy improves survival in women with advanced ovarian cancer, reports U.S. News & World Report.

A common first-line treatment for patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer is paclitaxel and carboplatin every three weeks. Research from Japan, however, suggests dose-dense weekly treatment with paclitaxel may increase overall survival in these patients.

During this phase 3 study, researchers analyzed 637 women by comparing the two treatment methods. All participants had advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer or primary peritoneal cancer.

According to the report, of the 637 women, 320 received conventional treatment of six cycles of paclitaxel and 317 received the dose-dense paclitaxel on days one, eight and 15. Both groups received carboplatin on day one of a 21-day cycle.

Researchers found women in the dose dense group had a 29% lower risk of cancer progression and a 25% lower risk of death than women in the conventional treatment group.

Toxicity caused 113 patients in the dose-dense group and 69 patients in the conventional therapy group to stop treatment. Severe anemia was experienced by 214 patients (69%) in the dose-sense group and in 137 (44%) of the standard therapy group.

The study was published recently in The Lancet.

What are your thoughts about this new chemotherapy treatment? Share your experiences with treatments that fight gynecological cancers by posting your thoughts at the CancerCompass Gynecological Cancer Message Board.


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