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 (2)

Cancer-Detecting Furry Friends?

by: cancercompass

While the war against cancer is continuing full force, it is fascinating to see the latest technologies that are being introduced in an effort to win this battle. There is still a long way to go, but it is amazing to think of how far we have come in terms of both detecting and treating various forms of the disease.

A few months ago I wrote about a breast-cancer detecting sports bra, and now I’ve seen numerous reports that dogs are being trained to sniff out ovarian cancer, as well as other types of cancer. This is certainly a brilliant idea, if it works.

A dog trainer, Dina Zaphiris, is working with the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, California, to teach rescue dogs how to detect ovarian cancer by sniffing it on a person’s breath. You can watch some of these dogs in action, here.

According to various news stories, cancer causes the body to release certain organic compounds that humans can’t detect, but dogs sure can smell.  In fact, it isn’t just ovarian cancer that dogs can detect, but breast cancer and colorectal cancer have also been sniffed out by specially trained dogs throughout the world (read the amazing stories here and here).

It will be very interesting to see how this research develops, and how accurate these doggie doctors can really be. Perhaps in 10 years a visit to the doctor will include a quick puff of air blown into the face of a trusty canine.



Permalink Comment RSS (1)

Skin Cancer: There’s an App for That?

by: cancercompass

Do you have a suspicious mole that looks like it might be growing and shifting but you’re not quite sure? Well, now there’s an app for that – a free one to boot. Want to keep track of every blemish on your skin and figure out when you should head to a dermatologist? You guessed it, there is an app for that, too.

The University of Michigan is now offering UMSKinCheck, a free mobile app that is intended for skin cancer self-exam and surveillance. According to the company website, the app “allows users to complete and store a full body photographic library, track detected moles/lesions, access informational videos and literature and fill out a melanoma risk calculator.”

Features include:

•    Guidance on performing a skin cancer self-exam and full body photographic survey

•    Tracking detected skin lesions and moles for changes over time.

•    Notifications/reminders to perform self-exams on a routine basis.

•    Storage of photos for baseline comparisons during routine follow-up self-exams.

•    Informational videos and literature on skin cancer prevention, healthy skin as well as a skin cancer risk calculator function.

I think this app is a brilliant idea! I wanted to give it a try, but unfortunately it only appears to be available for iPhones, and I am a proud Android user.

While the idea behind the app is creative and could help save someone’s life, there are many ways to keep track of your skin without the app, and if you are at risk for melanoma or other skin cancers (fair skin, family history, older age) regular visits to the dermatologist are still important, even if you don’t see anything with your app that is a cause for alarm. 

What will they think of next?



Permalink Comment RSS (1)

Prostate Cancer: Which Treatment Option Is Right for You?

by Dana Demas

When is radiation therapy or surgery the right treatment option for prostate cancer? Both treatments provide benefits and risks that may make one a better choice than another. Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer, and often plays a key role in choosing between surgery and radiation. See a quick round-up of the pros and cons below, then ask an expert your questions about prostate cancer treatment.

Radiation Therapy

  • Typically requires several weeks of treatment.
  • New technology delivers radiation to the prostate, with better accuracy, minimizing side effects and toxicity.
  • Common side effects may include: skin sensitivity in the area that is treated, diarrhea, and an increase in the frequency or urgency of urination.

Prostatectomy (Surgery)

  • Typically return home in one day.
  • Minimally invasive, but with slight risks of general surgery.
  • Significant risk of incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Most men take 6-12 months to recover erectile function, if a nerve-sparing prostatectomy was performed.

Have more questions about prostate cancer? Ask urologist, Dr. Larry Bans, and radiation oncologist, Dr. Lanceford Chong, during a special webinar hosted by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Submit a question and they will be back next week to answer them.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Cancer Treatment Therapy Devices to Get Safer

by: cancercompass

Radiation therapy is a form of medical treatment commonly used for treating various types of cancer. This type of treatment has been in the news recently due to hospital fines for administering incorrect doses of radiation to patients, and research stating that the treatment may actually increase cancer development.

Amid its recent controversy comes news that safety checks will be added to machines in order to assure patient safety. The machines will not function unless proper programming and placement of the patient have been approved by the clinician.

"Radiation therapy is a crucial element in effective cancer treatment and is responsible for turning millions of patients into survivors," Dave Fisher, executive director of the industry group Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance, stated to Reuters. "By committing to additional enhanced safeguards and safety checks, radiation therapy manufacturers are doing their part to ensure accuracy and appropriateness before the patient treatment begins."

To learn more about the cancer therapy featured in this post, please visit our radiation therapy information page.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Scientists Say New Microchip Can Detect Cancer

by: cancercompass

Using nanotechnology, University of Toronto researchers have built a microchip they say will detect early stage cancers, reports ComputerWorld.

Scientists say the chip, built with nanowires, can detect the type and severity of the disease by sensing trace amounts of cancer biomarkers. These biomarkers are biologic molecules that indicate the presence or progression of cancer.
This latest nanotechnology advancement was announced just one month after scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine said they created "nanobees." In an experiment involving mice, scientists were able to use nanobees to deliver bee venom called melittin to cancerous tumor cells.

Other advancements in nanotechnology announced earlier this year were made by MIT scientists, who say they used nanoparticles to deliver genes to kill ovarian tumors in mice. In addition, MIT scientists developed gold nanoparticles that kill cancerous tumors with heat without damaging the surrounding tissue.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Lab Claims New Blood Test Detects Early Lung Cancer

by: cancercompass

UK-based Oncimmune LLC recently announced an early detection blood test for lung cancer, reports the Kansas City Business Journal.

Named EarlyCDT-Lung, the test is performed solely at the company's laboratory in De Soto, Kansas. According to a recent company press release, the lab uses high-precision, liquid-handling robots and other instruments to produce more accurate results.

The test specifically measures six autoantibodies involved in lung cancer development, and detects the body's immune response in the form of antibodies to antigens. Healthy immune systems don't typically produce antibodies against normal-tissue antigens.

How do you feel about a potential blood test that could detect lung cancer? Share your thoughts on our CancerCompass Cancer Diagnosis Message Board.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

Gene May Help Predict Early-Onset Breast Cancer

by: cancercompass

Researchers have discovered a genetic marker that may predict the early onset of breast cancer in younger women.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in life tend to have more aggressive, recurrent forms of the disease than women diagnosed between 50 and 60 years of age.  Scientists performed a study of DEAR1 (ductal epithelium-associated RING chromosome 1) to learn more about how the gene's expression may affect early-onset breast cancer.

Overall findings suggest that DEAR1 becomes altered in early-onset breast cancer. Furthermore, researchers say it might be possible to use DEAR1 expression to identify women with increased risk of local recurrence.

Join the discussion about genetic testing and its role in the fight against cancer. Share your experiences with other survivors, caregivers and patients at the Cancer Compass Genetics Message Board.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

New Test for Early Identification of Cervical Cancer

by: cancercompass

A new cancer diagnosis tool may help detect pre-cancerous cells in the cervix more efficiently than a pap smear, reports Reuters.

Zetiq, an Israeli-based company specializing in cancer diagnostic tools, claims its CellDetect™ technology can detect pre-cancerous cells in 90% of patients.

During recent clinical trials, researchers collected and processed cervical smears from 74 women using a cytology method. Each smear was examined using three methods: staining with the traditional Pap method, HPV testing and finally Zetiq's CellDetect™ technology.

Overall, testing showed Zetiq's CellDetect™ technology to have an average sensitivity of 90%, higher than the sensitivity of a Pap test and similar to an HPV test, and a specifity of 74%, higher than the specifity of an HPV test and similar to a Pap test.

In a company press release, Zetiq officials say the analysis was also conducted by an independent professional.

Discuss this new diagnostic method with other cancer survivors, patients and caregivers on the Cancer Compass Diagnosis Message Boards.




Permalink Comment RSS (0)

MIT Announces Progress with Nano Technology

by: cancercompass

MIT researchers announced this month they have made progress with a new drug delivery system that uses a nanofiber hydrogel scaffold, according to an MIT press release.

Researchers demonstrated they can effectively carry and control the release of different sized proteins within this gel, which could potentially carry and deliver insulin and the cancer drug Herceptin. They also found that depending on the density of the gel, they could control the rate of release of the drugs as well.

According to the researchers, this drug delivery system allows for a gradual release of the proteins over hours, days or months from the gel, and the gel itself eventually breaks down into harmless amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.  Traditional drug delivery systems use synthetic polymer materials, which can contain chemicals or other toxic substances.




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.