Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is It Possible Anti-Cancer Virus Might Form Foundation For New Type Of Cancer Therapy?

Check-out this U.S. World & News Report article:

Trial of Cancer-Fighting Virus Shows Promise

It sought out, destroyed tumor cells without harming healthy cells, study says

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of cancer treatment that uses a virus to infect and destroy tumor cells without harming normal cells is showing promise in early clinical trials.
The small, Phase 1 trial involved 23 patients with advanced cancers that had spread to multiple organs and who had exhausted other treatment options.
Each received an intravenous infusion of a virus called JX-594 at one of several dose levels. The virus was genetically engineered to contain an immune-stimulating gene to enhance its cancer-fighting properties, explained study co-senior author John Bell, a senior scientist at Ottawa Hospital Research Institution in Ontario, Canada.
Patients underwent biopsies eight to 10 days later. In seven of eight patients (87 percent) who received the highest two doses, researchers found evidence that the virus had not only infected the tumor cells while sparing healthy cells, but that the virus was replicating. Replication means that the virus is reproducing and infecting neighboring cancer cells, rather than just infecting tumor cells it directly came into contact with.
There was also evidence that the foreign immune-stimulating gene was expressed inside the tumor cells. "This is a landmark observation in that it shows it's possible that a virus can find tumors, specifically grow in tumors but not in regular tissues, replicate and destroy them," Bell said...

Read the rest by clicking HERE.

Another hopeful research direction...  Wouldn't you love to see one of these just POP!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Steve Jobs Is Making Most Of His Battle Against Pancreatic Cancer

Here is a headline link and excerpt to a Forbes article about Steve Jobs and his pancreatic cancer:

Jobs’s Apple Exit Follows Eight-Year Health Fight After Cancer Diagnosis

...His neuroendocrine tumor wasn’t the worst-case scenario, since it’s often less aggressive than other pancreatic malignancies that can kill patients within a year. Jobs said on Aug. 24 he “can no longer meet my duties and expectations” as Apple’s chief executive officer. He will become chairman. 

While neuroendocrine tumors can grow slowly and be treated successfully with early removal, those that spread to other organs, such as the liver, can be life-threatening. Although he didn’t specify a reason, Jobs had a liver transplant in 2009, a treatment that can prolong the lives of patients with his type of cancer by an average of about five years. The effects of cancer and a transplant can be difficult to overcome, even with a less demanding job than CEO...
Sounds like he is making the best of a bad situation.  Hope he can hang-on a few more years...

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PSA Prostate Cancer Controversy Continues...

Should men get PSA tests or not?  Some say no, but this prostate cancer expert says yes...

Prostate Cancer Expert: Despite Controversy, PSA Test Still Best Weapon

/PRNewswire/ -- Recent controversy over prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening for middle-aged men does not diminish the critical importance of a health test that spares thousands of lives annually, says an expert who practices medicine in a state where more men die of prostate cancer than in any other.

With September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Stephen Taylor of Concord-based Pacific Urology says that with one in six men developing the disease and approximately 25,000 males affected in California annually, men cannot afford to dismiss the PSA test regardless of critics' charges.

No one is more of a believer than Alfred Diggs of Concord, who was diagnosed at age 55, underwent a prostatectomy and remained cancer free for 11 years. He is undergoing radiation for recurrence, but says he is confident in overcoming the disease.

"The more people know about prostate cancer, the more we can save. It hasn't been an easy road, but I am happy to be here and celebrating life," says Alfred.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a relative 5-year survival rate of nearly 100 percent and a relative 10-year survival rate of 91 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Yet the American Cancer Society forecasts 4,300 California deaths in 2011, followed by 2,160 in Florida and 2,060 in Texas.
Five Steps to Prostate Cancer Prevention:
1. Test Annually

Men should undergo annual prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test screenings and digital rectal exams (DRE) starting at age 50 or earlier. High-risk groups such as African American men should begin testing at age 35-40.
2. Listen to Your Body

A change in the frequency, urgency and pressure during urination, painful urination or the presence of blood in urine are all warning signs, as are other symptoms. See more at
3. Regulate Diet & Alcohol Intake

Eat healthy, balanced meals rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consume no more than two drinks per day as studies show regular heavy drinking increases risk.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity may affect hormone levels related to prostate cancer risk.
5. Exercise Regularly

At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to seven times per week guards against multiple health risks.

About Pacific Urology
With clinics in Concord, Walnut Creek, Antioch, Brentwood, San Ramon, and Livermore, Pacific Urology is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's largest urology practices. Pacific Urology offers a combined expertise of nearly a century of collective experience in urologic health.  
SOURCE Pacific Urology

Makes sense to me.  Feel good and keep smiling, guys!  Pat

Friday, August 26, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: New Lung Cancer Drug Approved Today By FDA

The FDA just approved another chemotherapy drug to be used against lung cancer.  Will it really make any difference?  Click-on the headline link below to read the article...

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Drug Gets FDA Nod

Almost 60% of the tumors studied during clinical trials shrank in size.
Nothing was mentioned about cost or overall survival data.

Sounds like it could help a select group of patients...  I hope so!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: The FDA has approved vemurafenib (Zelboraf) for the treatment of metastatic and unresectable melanoma along with a companion genetic mutation test

Click-on the headline link below to read details, courtesy of Medpage Today:

FDA OKs Late-Stage Melanoma Drug
WASHINGTON -- The FDA has approved vemurafenib (Zelboraf) for the treatment of metastatic and unresectable melanoma along with a companion genetic mutation test.

Overall survival improvement looks promising.  But not surprisingly, the cost is high:  Over $50,000 for six months of treatment.  

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Article Which Helps Explain Why Cancer Research Takes So Long...

My previous post refers to a series of oncology meetings where most of the latest anti-cancer advances are revealed--none of which are held during the summer.

On cue, a reader forwarded me a link to this detailed article, in the New York Times, about how the complex human/cancer genome may be able to be mapped and some day rearranged to help fight cancer.

The paper was presented at this spring's annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, Florida.  Here is a link to the article, which I only sort of understand:

Cancer’s Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus

I guess reporter, George Johnson, finally got around to writing about it.  Or it took him this long to understand it!  Bottom line:

...In their original “hallmarks” paper — the most cited in the history of Cell — Dr. Hanahan and Dr. Weinberg gathered a bonanza of emerging research and synthesized it into six characteristics. All of them, they proposed, are shared by most and maybe all human cancers. They went on to predict that in 20 years the circuitry of a cancer cell would be mapped and understood as thoroughly as the transistors on a computer chip, making cancer biology more like chemistry or physics — sciences governed by precise, predictable rules. 

Now there appear to be transistors inside the transistors. “I still think that the wiring diagram, or at least its outlines, may be laid out within a decade,” Dr. Weinberg said in an e-mail. “MicroRNAs may be more like minitransistors or amplifiers, but however one depicts them, they still must be soldered into the circuit in one way or another...” 

...With so many phenomena in search of a biological explanation, “Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation” may conceivably be followed by a second sequel — with twists as unexpected as those in the old “Star Trek” shows. The enemy inside us is every bit as formidable as imagined invaders from beyond. Learning to outwit it is leading science deep into the universe of the living cell.

Twenty years from now is too long to help me and my bone marrow cancer by even the most optimistic measure--I will be long gone by then.  That might be one of the reasons I'm not more interested in this stuff.  It's too abstract and distant for me.

Doesn't mean it isn't important or interesting... 

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where Is All Of The Cancer News?

I have been searching media and my personal cancer research network for cancer therapy news.  Except for the exciting, although ridiculously small T-cell leukemia study which broke last week, I'm not having much luck.

My analysis:  Researchers have taken the summer off!

That may be part of the answer.  Another is cancer research results are released to the public in clusters.  These clusters appear around major oncology and hematology meetings in the U.S. and abroad.

Just not a lot of those scheduled during the summer.  No big meetings with lots of science/medical writers and free publicity, no news.  Researchers wait to release news when the media is paying attention.

Maybe it is the medical reporters who have taken the summer off!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Friday, August 12, 2011

Research Brain Cancer Breakthrough...

I saved an excerpt and link to this article for a "rainy day."  More good cancer related research news--this time about brain cancer:

THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A map of the genetic mutations associated with the second most common form of brain cancer appears to reveal the biological cause of the tumors, researchers report....
 ...The genes appear to be the missing link in the "two-hit" theory of cancer development, the scientists said. That is, each cell in the body has two copies of 23 chromosomes, representing thousands of genes that produce protein. If one copy is missing, the other copy can make up for the lack of protein. But if the second copy fails, it can become cancerous...

Here is a LINK to the story.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Thursday, August 11, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Scientists for the first time have used gene therapy to successfully destroy cancer tumors in patients with advanced disease -- a goal that has taken 20 years to achieve.

This news is being featured by a number of network stations:

Gene therapy shown to destroy leukemia tumors


I watched the report about this on the CBS morning show today.  It is a very limited, 3 patient study.  In one year, two patients achieved full remission, another a strong partial response.  Sounds like the side-effects are pretty nasty.

Hope this works as well as researchers hope...

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Men Get Breast Cancer, Too!

Check-out this bizarre ABC News report by clicking-on the headline link below:

Man With Breast Cancer Denied Medicaid Coverage Because He's Not a Woman