Monday, January 31, 2011

New Lymphoma Drug, Zinapar, Gets Gains Orphan Drug Status In Europe

Just because my site is named, CancerNews.US, doesn't mean we only cover American cancer news.  Often the United States is out-in-front of the world in oncology practice and research.  But sometimes Europe or Japan leads the way.  Here is a good example of this:

Ziopharm says lymphoma drug may get EU incentives

By The Associated Press
 
NEW YORK (AP) — Drugmaker Ziopharm Oncology Inc. said Thursday its lymphoma drug candidate Zinapar was recommended for orphan drug incentives in the European Union.

Ziopharm said a committee in the European Medicines Agency recommended that Zinapar be awarded orphan drug status, which is granted to drugs that treat rare illnesses. In Europe, orphan drug status comes with incentives including consultations with regulators during development, reduced application and other fees, and 10 years of marketing exclusivity if the drug is approved. The incentives can only be granted to drugs treating illnesses that are chronically debilitating or life threatening and that affect less than five in 10,000 people in the European Union.

Zinapar, or darinaparsin, is an intravenous drug intended to treat peripheral T-cell lymphoma, a cancer that develops from a type of white blood cell. Ziopharm said peripheral T-cell lymphomas account for 10 to 15 percent of all cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, meaning there are around 5,300 to 7,950 cases per year in the European Union and 6,600 to 9,900 in the U.S. The company said the cancer is more common in men than in women, and usually affects people 60 and older.

Ziopharm expects to start a late-stage clinical trial of Zinapar by the end of 2011. The drug was awarded orphan drug status in the U.S. in September. Orphan drug status in the U.S. is reserved for drugs that treat illnesses affecting 200,000 people or less, and it comes with seven years of marketing exclusivity.

Good news!   Human ingenuity knows no political boundries.
Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Women should think about adjusting their breast cancer screening test of choice, depending on their breast's density

This is a really, really good article, featuring an outstanding explanation of why "one size doesn't fit all" when it comes to breast cancer screening:
 Dr. Nalini Chilkov: Breast Cancer Risk: A Screening 3 Times Better Than Mammograms

Read this, ladies!  Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Western Canadian Province's Breast/Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates Among Highest In The World

Who says Canadian Health Care isn't any good:

B.C. Tops World in Cancer Survival Rates - Salem-News.Com

Probably comes from breathing all of that clean air and drinking mountain water!  Read the article and see what you think.


Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

This is a real mystery: Why does using any type of birth control help prevent ovarian cancer?

I found this interesting post on an Asian Website, DOCTOR.NDTV.com - For the better health of Indians:


Contraceptives lower ovarian cancer risk

Birth control pills have long been known to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, but recent research suggests that any type of contraceptive - even, surprisingly, vasectomy - may also be protective.

Since some forms of contraception are associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer, researchers set out to see whether all types had any impact on the future risk of disease. They interviewed 869 women who had developed ovarian cancer, and 1779 others who had not developed the disease, in America about their history of contraception. Women were considered to use no artificial contraception if they relied on natural family planning (avoiding sex during the fertile period in mid-cycle) or withdrawal.

After comparing women with ovarian cancer to those without, researchers found that women who used any type of contraception - birth control pills, tubal ligation (getting your tubes tied), intrauterine devices (IUDs), barrier method (such as diaphragms) or male vasectomy - had between a 40 and 65 percent lower risk of ever developing ovarian cancer.

It was found that women who had gotten their tubes tied or taken birth control pills in the past, either for contraception or other reasons, had a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. But strangely, so were women who used an IUD. Specifically, women who developed ovarian cancer were less likely to have ever used an IUD - among those with cancer, only 12 percent had ever used an IUD, versus 17 percent of women who did not develop the cancer.

Similarly, 14 percent of those with ovarian cancer had a partner who had undergone a vasectomy, but so did 17 percent of the women who never developed ovarian cancer. After using statistical tools to remove the influence of factors that could affect the relationship between contraception and cancer, the researchers found that relying on a vasectomy or IUD lowered women's risks of ovarian cancer by 50 and 60 percent, respectively, relative to women with no history of artificial contraception.

Women who have given birth to children also have a low risk of ovarian cancer, however, and when the authors factored in the influence of pregnancies, they saw a much weaker relationship between vasectomy, IUDs and the barrier method. It's not surprising that the relationship got weaker since dividing women by both pregnancies and contraceptive history made each category very small. It was hard to believe that vasectomy was associated with lower ovarian cancer risk, because it happens in the man. Alternatively, there could be some important differences in the lifestyles of couples who choose vasectomy that in turn lower women's cancer risk.

What's consistent across research is the relationship between ovarian cancer and birth control pills, suggesting that a woman deciding on contraception should consider the pill's impact on her reducing the future risk of this cancer.''
This article was originally published on Annals of Epidemiology, December 2010.  What does the use of unrelated birth control methods have to do with a lower rate of ovarian cancer?  Cervical cancer, maybe.  But I agree with the concluding paragraph:  This doesn't make sense.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

OncologySTAT Posts Abstract Confirming Chemo Brain Is Real

Either Called "Chemobrain" or "Chemofog," the Long-Term Chemotherapy-Induced Cognitive Decline in Cancer Survivors Is Real

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2011 Jan 1;41(1):126-139, AA Argyriou, K Assimakopoulos, G Iconomou, F Giannakopoulou, HP Kalofonos

Abstract

Context: In recent years, there is growing evidence in the medical literature to support an association between administration of commonly used chemotherapeutic agents and an increased risk for cognitive impairment.
Objectives: We herein critically summarize data relating to the pathophysiological mechanisms by which chemotherapy may induce cognitive impairment in patients surviving from solid tumors. The clinical and epidemiological characteristics and the proposed management strategies to counter chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment (CICI) also are presented.
Methods: References for this review were identified by searches of PubMed from 1995 until December 2009 with related terms.
Results: Both the pathogenetic mechanisms and the overall clinical nature of CICI remain vaguely defined. Findings indicate that CICI is a relatively common event that, in most of the cases, remains underdiagnosed, thereby adversely affecting the quality of life of patients with cancer. Effective pharmacological interventions toward the symptomatic or prophylactic management of CICI also are lacking.
Conclusion: Either called “chemobrain” or “chemofog,” the long-term CICI in cancer survivors is real. The need for multidisciplinary care interventions toward a timely diagnosis and management of CICI is clearly warranted.

I know my chemobrain is real!  Feel good and keep smiling--even through the "fog!"  Pat

Friday, January 28, 2011

More About Roche Pharmaceutical's New Melanoma Drug, RG7204

Experimental Melanoma Drug May Help Extend Patients' Lives

Getty Images
Malignant melanoma of the diffuse large non-cleaved cell type. Note the large cells with nucleoli and mitotic stages. H&E stain, LM X160.
The results of a promising recent clinical trial showed that an experimental drug prolonged life in patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The drug, manufactured by Swiss drug giant Roche, targets a specific genetic mutation in some melanoma cells.

About half of melanoma patients have a mutation in a gene called B-RAF, which causes the uncontrolled growth of cells. The Roche drug is designed to block a malfunctioning protein created in cancer cells by the mutation, while leaving properly functioning proteins in healthy cells intact...

Here is a back to this Time article if you would like to read more:  http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/21/experimental-melanoma-drug-may-help-extend-patients-lives/

Here is a link to another article about RG7204 on Help With Cancer.org: http://www.helpwithcancer.org/2011/01/roches-rg7204-could-help-skin-cancer.html

Please note this new drug is not a cure for melanoma.  Yes, it works--but only for a while.  Still, its a start!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Removing FDA Required Testing Prior To Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Therapy Should Save Patients Time & Money:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CNN Opinion Page: Do we really want or need to detect cancer earlier?

Cancer breakthrough -- or nightmare?

By H. Gilbert Welch, Special to CNN
January 11, 2011 9:15 a.m. EST
tzleft.welch_gilbert_courtesy.jpg
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dr. H. Gilbert Welch: New test is said to detect a single cancer cell in blood
  • He says there's a downside to ever more precise cancer screening
  • Tests can detect cancer that may never harm or kill the patient
  • Overdiagnosis of cancer leads to pain, side effects, emotional and financial costs, he says
Editor's note: Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, M.P.H., is a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy & Clinical Practice and the author of "Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health" (Beacon Press 2011).

(CNN) -- A simple blood test. It's able to detect minute quantities of cancer cells that might be circulating in your bloodstream.

It's reported to be able to detect a single cell. It's intended to allow cancer patients to start treatment much earlier.

It's supposed to save lives. It's a cancer breakthrough.

But it's not that simple. The test could just as easily start a cancer epidemic.

We've seen it before. Twenty years ago another simple blood test was introduced. Twenty years later over 1 million Americans had been treated for a cancer that was never going to bother them.

The test was the PSA. It is able to detect minute quantities of prostate specific antigen -- minute as in one-billionth of gram. Turned out a lot of men had "abnormal" PSAs. Many were found to have microscopic cancers, far more than would ever suffer from prostate cancer.

To read more, go to:  An increasing number of our early cancer diagnoses ... are made in people who are not destined to ever have symptoms or die from their cancer.

Tough question.  No one wants to be the one to wait and then die early.  But prostate and breast cancer stats show no extension of median life expectancy when those cancer's are diagnosed early.  Why?  So many very early stage cancers never kill the patient--even if left untreated.

But how to decide who to treat and who to advise wait and watch is the many billion dollar question!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Breast Cancer and Diabetes Don't Mix

Here is an unfortunate article I found on FoxNews.com last week:

Women's Health

Diabetics Diagnosed With Breast Cancer 50 Percent More Likely to Die

Published January 18, 2011 - | FoxNews.com
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are nearly 50 percent more likely to die from any cause if they have diabetes, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The research found that diabetics are more likely to be diagnosed with a late-stage breast cancer, and also receive altered forms of treatment to avoid dangerous side effects related to diabetes that could potentially be less effective in curing the patient.

The results could mean more research on what role high levels of insulin play in tumor growth.

"When patients are faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, which they see as an imminent threat to their lives, diabetes care often goes on the back burner, study leader Dr. Kimberly S. Peairs, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a press release.

"This research suggests we may need to proactively treat the diabetes as well as the cancer," Peairs said. Peairs went on to say diabetics are known to have a higher risk of breast cancer, with additional risks of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which suggests the higher death rate could be linked to being in an overall lower state of health than those breast cancer patients without diabetes.

The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was funded by the American Cancer Society.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eating Soy Could Also Help Slow Prostate Cancer Growth

Did you read the the previous article I posted earlier today?  Best I can tell, all a guy with prostate cancer needs to do to is exercise a lot and eat plenty of soy!  Private MD Labs.com featured this story on their Website earlier this month:


Private MD News

Soy may slow the growth of prostate cancer

Updated: 2011-01-10 16:58:38 CST Category: Prostate
Soy may slow the growth of prostate cancer   Soy products may not be at the top of too many men's shopping lists, but new research from Northwestern University researchers has shown that a nutrient in the food may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

The investigators reported at a recent conference of the American Association for Cancer Research that the cancer cells of men who ate higher levels of soy-enriched food were less developed and posed a lower risk. Men who have received positive PSA tests may benefit from adding more soy to their diet.

After studying the cells, Raymond Bergan, who led the investigation, said that a nutrient in soy called genistein appeared to turn on genes that prevent the spread of cancer cells. This may keep them localized and stop the spread of the disease to other areas of the body.

"All therapies designed to stop cancer cell movement that have been tested to date in humans have basically failed have because they have been ineffective or toxic," Bergan said. "If this drug can effectively stop prostate cancer from moving in the body, theoretically, a similar therapy could have the same effect on the cells of other cancers."
Eat a Soy Joy fruit bar after you exercise and all will be OK?   If only it were that easy!
Feel good, keep smiling and exercise a lot!  Pat

Men With Prostate Cancer Live Longer When They Exercise!

Exercise May Improve Odds Against Prostate Cancer Death

Study found three hours or more of vigorous activity a week upped patients' long-term survival


By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate cancer patients who routinely engage in modest amounts of vigorous physical exercise appear to lower their risk of dying from their disease, new research suggests.
Click here to find out more!
Three hours a week or more of vigorous biking, tennis, jogging or swimming seems to improve the prognosis among such patients, the research team found. But they added that even moderate physical activity appears to lower the overall risk of dying from any cause.

"This is the first study in men with prostate cancer to evaluate physical activity after diagnosis in relation to prostate cancer-specific mortality and overall mortality," noted study author Stacey Kenfield, a research associate in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as at the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston.

"We observed benefits at very attainable levels of activity," Kenfield added, "and our results suggest that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health, even if it is a small amount, such as 15 minutes of activity per day of walking, jogging or biking. Vigorous activity may be especially beneficial for prostate cancer, as well as overall health, at levels of three or more hours per week."

The findings are published in the Jan. 4 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

This is a long, detailed article I found on U.S.News.com.  You can read more by going to: The more hours the patients devoted to either vigorous or non-vigorous exercise routines, the better they fared in terms of survival.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cancer News From USA Today's Science Journals Round-Up

Blood Vessel Cells May Fight Cancer


Endothelial cells in cancer: A Policeman on Every Block. 

Endothelial cells that line all blood vessels are powerful regulators of tumors, reports a new study in mice. The findings open the doors to an entirely new approach for treating cancer based on tissue engineering, where specific doses of endothelial cells could be embedded inside or next to tumors. Tumors were thought for some time to be defined as the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells alone, but modern cancer biology now includes the roles of other cells in tumor growth and the need for blood vessels to feed tumors.

MIT scientists now bring these roles together, reasoning that as blood vessels penetrate deep into the tumors they not only bring blood to and from the tumors but carry the endothelial cells to the deepest recesses of the tumor. Through this process the endothelial cells control many of the aggressive aspects of cancer– serving as cellular policemen at every corner of the tumor neighborhood. In this study, Elazer Edelman and colleagues used unique matrix-embedded endothelial cells, which allowed the researchers to place endothelial cells right next to tumors to directly observe endothelial-cancer cell interaction independent of blood flow.

They found that healthy endothelial cells secrete multiple molecules that are capable of regulating nearby breast and lung cancer cells. These molecules make tumors less proliferative and aggressive by turning down the knobs of molecular signals that drive these processes. The results suggest that endothelial cells don't just hang around in the background providing support--they are active participants in and potential targets for regulating tumors.

If endothelial cells are in fact an essential regulator of cancer growth, tumor aggressiveness might then be defined by whether endothelial cells or cancer cells dominate (more aggressive tumors are able to overcome their endothelial cells while the more benign cannot). Doctors could potentially classify tumor malignancy based on the balance of endothelial cells versus cancer cells in patients and find new ways to treat patients with malignant diseases.

Here is a link to a related article I wrote on Help With Cancer.org., January 24th:  Endothelial Cells Might Hold The Key To Shrinking Solid Cancer Tumors.

More hopeful anti-cancer research.  Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Monday, January 17, 2011

No Surprise Here: Cancer Costs Expected To Rise Sharply This Decade

Several major news outlets covered this story about how the cost of treating cancer is expected to rise swiftly over the next ten years:

Cancer Costs Predicted to Skyrocket to $158 Billion by 2020

Aging Americans, Treatment Advances Likely Factors

Details About New Experimental Anti-Cancer Drug, Ipilimumab

Fig 1

Ipilimumab: A Promising Immunotherapy for Melanoma

By JAYKUMAR R. THUMAR, MD
Oncology Fellow, Yale Cancer Center Yale School of Medicine
HARRIET M. KLUGER, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Yale Cancer Center Yale School of Medicine,
New Haven, Connecticut | January 5, 2011
Financial Disclosure: The authors have no significant financial interest or other relationship with the manufacturers of any products or providers of any service mentioned in this article.



ABSTRACT
Antibody-based targeting of the immune suppressor molecule cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) with ipilimumab has been studied in metastatic melanoma in a number of clinical trials, including a recent phase III trial. This marks the first randomized clinical trial reporting an overall survival benefit using immune modulation in metastatic melanoma. Along with its therapeutic benefits, ipilimumab presents unique challenges to clinicians; these are related to the monitoring of treatment response and the management of drug-related toxicities. This drug is currently being investigated in various cancers, and its indications are likely to be expanded.


Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. The incidence of melanoma has increased considerably in the United States in recent decades and has been accompanied by a rise in mortality from metastatic disease.[1] In 2010, an estimated 68,130 new cases of melanoma will have been diagnosed (38,870 males and 29,260 females), and 8,700 deaths are expected (5,670 male and 3,030 female).[2] Five-year survival rates for patients with metastatic melanoma are less than 10%, with a median survival of approximately 7 months.[3] Despite innumerable clinical trials for advanced melanoma, the options for these patients are limited....


A recently published phase III trial by Hodi and colleagues clearly offers hope after the multi-decade quest to develop immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma.[5,14] Ipilimumab, a monoclonal antibody to cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4, CD152 (CTLA-4), is the first agent to show an overall survival benefit in metastatic melanoma in a randomized clinical trial. Ipilimumab is expected to be approved by the FDA.

You can access all of the charts, graphs, bells and whistles by going to:  Ipilimumab at CancerNetwork.com.

I covered the exciting news about Ipilimumab at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meetings in Chicago last June.  Here is a link to one of my stories: 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Links To Updated Slide Show Presentations From 2010 American Society Of Hematology Annual Meetings

2010 Annual Meeting - American Society of Hematology (ASH)

December 4-7, 2010 | Orlando, Florida

Clinical Care Options (CCO) is an independent medical education company that provides state-of-the-art medical information to healthcare professionals through conference coverage and other educational programs.


Choose from 6 tracks of coverage:

Good News For Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients

Dasatinib moves ahead of imatinib as front-line therapy for newly diagnosed CML in chronic phase

BY FRAN LOWRY | December 7, 2010


ORLANDO, FLA—Dasatinib (Sprycel) should become the initial treatment option in newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP). Follow-up data from the DASISION* trial continued to show dasatinib’s superior efficacy to imatinib (Gleevec).

Neil Shah, MD, PhD, presented 18-month follow-up data from the DASISION trial that showed dasatinib, which is currently well-established as second-line treatment for patients with CML-CP, produced higher and faster rates of complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) and major molecular response (MMR) compared with imatinib.

Dr. Shah is an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and coleader of the Hematopoietic Malignancies Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Read more in CancerNetwork.com's article about Sprycel.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seattle Genetics New Antibody, Brentuximab Vedotin, Shows Remarkable Results In Hodgkin's Lymphoma Patients

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting was held this year in Orlando, Florida.  I covered this story as a freelance medical writer for Help With Cancer.org.  Angela Haupt also wrote about this important new lymphoma drug from Orlando for U.S. News and World Report: 

 Study: New Drug For Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Posted December 6th, 2010

An experimental drug shows promise against Hodgkin's lymphoma in people who either relapsed or didn't respond to standard chemotherapy treatment.

The drug, called SGN-35, wiped out tumors in one-third of patients and reduced tumor size by half in another 40 percent, according to study results presented Sunday at an American Society of Hematology meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Nearly 95 percent of the 102 participants saw their tumors shrink by at least 25 percent, which is considered a strong sign of recovery. SGN-35, manufactured by Seattle Genetics, uses an antibody that recognizes and connects to receptors on the surface of malignant cells, and releases a chemical that kills them by stopping their ability to divide. Because the drug only targets cancer cells—chemicals don't enter the bloodstream or affect healthy tissues—it can be given at high doses, without inflicting the side effects typical of chemotherapy.

"This is unheard of for a single drug," study author Robert Chen told The Seattle Times. "Within a week, you could see some patients get better. You're going to see more cures, and you're going to buy a lot more time for patients who previously were destined for hospice." Seattle Genetics expects the drug will be approved by U.S. regulators by the end of 2011.

Here is a link to one of several articles I did about SGN-35 from ASH on December 5th:
Guess I "scooped" U.S. News!  This was probably the most important and impressive story at last year's ASH.  Good news for Hodgkin's lymphoma patients!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Exercise May Help Prevent Uterine Cancer

Exercise may reduce risk of endometrial cancer



Women who exercise for 150 minutes a week or more may see a reduced risk of endometrial cancer, despite whether or not they are overweight, according to data presented at the Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, held 7–10 November 2010.



"This study is consistent with other studies that strongly support the association between physical activity and lower risk of endometrial cancer," said Hannah Arem, a doctoral student at Yale School of Public Health.

Arem and colleagues examined data collected from a case-control study led by Herbert Yu, MD, MSc, PhD, associate professor at Yale School of Public Health. The study included 668 women with endometrial cancer and compared them to 665 age-matched control women.

Those who exercised for 150 minutes a week or more had a 34 per cent reduced risk of endometrial cancer compared with those women who were inactive.

This association was more pronounced among active women with a body mass index (BMI) less than 25, where the reduction in risk was 73 per cent compared with inactive women with a BMI more than 25, or what is commonly considered overweight.

Although BMI showed a strong association with endometrial cancer, even women who were overweight, but still active, had a 52 per cent lower risk.

"Clearly, programs should be in place to increase the level of physical activity in women," said Arem.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research: Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Philadelphia.  Photo courtesy of VirtualMedicalCentre.com.