The information that is out there about cancer and its prevention, treatment, cause, and effect is daunting to say the least. There are traditional and non-traditional approaches that everyone needs to think about and be aware of. When going through cancer you need to decide what avenue you will take whether traditional or non-traditional or a combination of both. It is your life, it is your body, and your decision and what ever you decide, believing that it will work is half the battle. As much as family members want and do in fact need to participate in deciding what avenue you will take it is ultimately "your" battle to believe in and win.
Omega-3s Battle Tumors
Egyptian researchers have found that docosahexanoic acid (DHA), one of the primary omega-3s, reduced the size of solid tumors in mice and increased the efficacy of a chemotherapy drug. The new findings, published in the April 2, 2009 issue of Cell Division, may lead to the use of DHA combined with chemo in treating solid tumors. DHA may also work against tumors by itself, the researchers said. More specifically, the Egyptian team reported that at the molecular level, DHA reduces the accumulation of white blood cells, moderated systemic inflammation and also helped check oxidative stress, all of which have been linked to tumor growth. The investigators further noted that DHA reduced toxicity and damage to the kidney caused by cisplatin, the chemotherapy drug used against tumors in mice. Omega-3s are found in salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines as well as plant-derived foods such as walnuts. The Egyptian findings came just after U.S. researchers reported that a diet high in omega-3s protected against advanced prostate cancer, even in men at high risk.
Chocolate: The Darker, The Better
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
March 16, 2009
The tempting treat may be good for what ails you -- as long as you're willing to go over to the dark side.
A combination of dark chocolate and the berries from the acai palm are being touted as a beneficial agent in fighting many of today's health problems.
Dark chocolate has a higher "oxygen radical absorbance capacity" (ORAC) than many other antioxidant-rich foods, according to Steven E. Warren, M.D., D.P.A., author of "The Healthy Chocolate Desk Reference."
Chocolate is an "antioxidant powerhouse," Warren noted. Its benefits include suppressing appetite to help control weight and being a potential cancer fighter by blocking free radical damage in the body. Other benefits may include reducing blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, supporting the vascular system and improving insulin levels, according to reports published by industry trade papers such as "Wellness Report" and "Healthy Living Report."
Susan Heindl, a local distributor of Xocai, a chocolate-acai product, swears by the product she now sells.
"I'm off my high blood pressure medicine, my seizure medicine and my cholesterol medicine," she said. "Plus, I've lost 40 pounds. When I take a piece of chocolate a half an hour before I eat, it curbs my appetite."
Copyright (c) 2009, Glasgow Daily Times, Ky.
Cervical Cancer Study To Examine Green Tea
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
March 2, 2009
Arizona Cancer Center researchers will study women with cervical infections to look for evidence that green tea plays a role in cancer prevention... (more)
Alternative Medicine Is Mainstream
March 2, 2009 - Wallstreet Journal - By Deepak Chopra, Rustum Roy and Andrew Weil
The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions....
The latest scientific studies show that our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much more quickly than we had once realized, if we address the lifestyle factors that often cause these chronic diseases. These studies show that integrative medicine can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be....... (more)
A Drink A Day Increases Cancer Risk in Women.
February 25, 2009
Downing as little as one alcoholic drink a day seems to increase a woman's risk for developing cancer, according to a British study that looked at nearly 1.3 million middle-aged women.... (more)
New Evidence Of Hormone Therapy Causing Breast Cancer,
February 12, 2009
Postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen plus progestin menopausal hormone therapy for at least five years double their annual risk of breast cancer, according to new analyses from a major study that clearly establishes a link between hormone use and breast cancer, Stanford researchers say..... (more)
Exercise Helps Prevent Colon Cancer
February 13, 2009
A meta-analysis by U.S. researchers finds people who exercise lower their risk of colon cancer..... (more)
New Research Findings May Enable Earlier Diagnosis Of Uterine Cancer
February 5, 2009
Cancer is a genetic disease. It occurs when changes take place in the genes that regulate cell division, cell growth, cell death, cell signalling and blood vessel formation either due to mutations caused by external factors such as smoking or radiation or due to inherited changes. This interaction between defective genes and environmental factors means that cancer is an extremely complex disease. Cancer of the uterus, or endometrial carcinoma, is no exception....(more)
Researchers Find Abnormal Cells In The Blood Years Before Leukemia Is Diagnosed
February 12, 2009
Researchers have shown that abnormal white blood cells can be present in patients' blood more than six years prior to the diagnosis of a chronic form of lymphocytic leukemia. This finding may lead to a better understanding of the cellular changes that characterize the earliest stages of the disease and how it progresses....(more)
March 19, 2009
B.C. sets $109 fine for smoking in cars with kids present
This is the best news yet!!
British Columbians caught smoking in a vehicle with children under 16 present will face a $109 fine under new provincial regulations effective April 7.
The new regulations aim to protect children from second-hand smoke, Healthy Living Minister Mary Polak said Wednesday.
"Any level of second-hand smoke has harmful effects on a child's health, so it's important that we protect vulnerable children who are confined in a vehicle," Polak said.
Police will have the authority to stop any vehicle when they suspect someone is smoking in the presence of children.
People who fail to pay the fine will not be able to renew their driver's licence or auto insurance.
The regulations follow legislation that was passed in the spring of 2008 under the Motor Vehicle Act.
"The dangers of second-hand smoke are more pronounced in the enclosed space of a vehicle, and children — who are more susceptible to its harmful effects — have no choice but to breathe it in," said Barbara Kaminsky, chief executive of the Canadian Cancer Society's B.C. and Yukon division.
B.C. joins Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon in banning smoking in cars when children are present.
Vaccine To Prevent Colon Cancer Tested
United Press International
March 20, 2009
PITTSBURGH -- U.S. researchers are testing a vaccine to prevent colon cancer in those already at high risk for the disease.
Unlike other anti-cancer vaccines that block viruses, this vaccine has been directed against a variant of a cell protein -- called MUC1.
Colon cancer typically starts with an abnormal growth in the intestinal lining -- a polyp. Polyps that become cancerous are called adenomas. Adenomas produce MUC1 in excess.
"By stimulating an immune response against the MUC1 protein in these precancerous growths, we may be able to draw the immune system's fire to attack and destroy the abnormal cells," principal investigator Dr. Robert Schoen of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said in a statement. "That might not only prevent progression to cancer, but even polyp recurrence."
A dozen people have received the experimental vaccine so far, and the researchers intend to enroll another 50 participants between 40 and 70 years old with a history of adenomas sized 1centimeter or more.
After an initial dose of vaccine, the study participants get doses two and 10 weeks later. Blood samples at those time points as well as 12 weeks, 28 weeks and one year later measure immune response.
How Does Turmeric Work?
Dr. Andrew Weil and others have long promoted the healing powers of turmeric, the brilliantly hued spice that’s an integral part of the traditional Indian diet. Turmeric’s main ingredient, curcumin, has been shown to have a wide array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Indeed, eating turmeric in their daily curries appears to be one of the main reasons that elderly citizens of India have very low rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, we are gaining some insight into how curcumin exerts its benefits. University of Michigan researchers have discovered that curcumin incorporates itself into cell membranes and makes them more orderly. This allows the membranes to more effectively control the flow of substances in and out of cells, which improves cells' resistance to infection and malignancy. The findings were published online March 3, 2009, for the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Focused Ultrasound Surgery Re-Invents Cancer Treatment
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 24, 2009
Technology originally used as sonar for submarines could be part of a revolutionary medical treatment, and the University of Virginia Medical Center will be among the pioneers in the new treatment method.
Medical use of ultrasound technology was discovered in 1950, but it proved ineffective because doctors couldn't see what they were doing.
Now magnetic resonance has allowed for the advancement of guided focused ultrasound, a non-invasive method already used to treat one type of cancer. And the technology potentially could be used to treat a host of other forms of cancer along with other diseases.
UVa neurosurgeon Dr. Neal Kassell saw the potential for the treatment, so he helped to establish the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation in 2006. The foundation was created to raise funds to put the treatment on the fast track.
Kassell said he realized early on that the treatment "could have a global impact."
The MR guided focused ultrasound technology is currently FDA approved to treat uterine fibroids -- muscular tumors that grow in the uterus and can require hysterectomies.
Clinical trials in several countries, including the United States, are under way for treatment of numerous forms of cancer -- metastatic bone tumors, along with breast and brain cancer, for instance. Treatment for other diseases, such as Parkinson's, also will be investigated.
"The whole field is exploding," Kassell said.
Rolf Taylor, spokesman for the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, also touted the technology's potential.
"There are so many questions that need to be answered," said Taylor. "For us, this is a very exciting event."
The foundation has pledged $3.1 million toward the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Center, which will be housed in a modular facility near the hospital. The state has added $4 million in funding. The cost of the center is expected to exceed $8 million.
The center, one of three that will be established in the United States over the next two years, will specialize in research, training and care, according to Taylor.
He said the center should open in the fall.
The technology uses magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound to treat tumors, with no need for incisions or anesthetic. The MRI allows doctors to see the interior of a patient's anatomy while the "high-frequency sound beams...pass through healthy tissue harmlessly," according to the foundation. The ultrasound beams converge and generate enough heat to destroy tumors.
The treatment has the potential to make lethal forms of cancer a chronic and manageable disease, according to Taylor.
Kassell said there is still much that needs to be studied.
"We're really early," he said.
Still, he has high hopes.
"This has been described as the best kept secret in medicine," Kassell said. "It is my belief, and I could be wrong ... it could be the most important therapeutic technology since the invention of the scalpel."
Copyright (c) 2009, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Va.
Lung Cancer Microscopic Appearance Affects Response To Chemotherapy
February 17, 2009
DURHAM, N.C. -- A tumor's cellular structure, or histology, improves treatment decisions that may lead to improved outcomes for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common type of lung cancer, according to a paper in the latest issue of "The Oncologist." ....(more)
Measles Virus May Be Effective Prostate Cancer Treatment
February 12, 2009
A new study appearing in The Prostate has found that certain measles virus vaccine strain derivatives, including a strain known as MV-CEA, may prove to be an effective treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer. The findings show that this type of treatment, called virotherapy, can effectively infect, replicate in and kill prostate cancer cells.....(more)
Early Pancreatic Cancer Detection Possible
February 17, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- U.S. medical scientists say they have developed a technology that is capable of detecting never-before-seen signs of early-stage pancreatic cancer....(more)
Charred Meat Linked To Pancreatic Cancer Risk
April 21, 2009
Regularly eating meat cooked at a high temperature, to the point of charring, could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 60 percent, researchers said Tuesday.
"Our findings in this study are further evidence that turning down the heat when grilling, frying, and barbecuing to avoid excess burning or charring of the meat may be a sensible way for some people to lower their risk for getting pancreatic cancer," said Kristin Anderson of the University of Minnesota, who led the study.
Anderson said the research, presented at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in Denver, Colorado, found that well and very well done meats cooked by frying, grilling or barbecuing formed carcinogens.
Meat that is baked, stewed or cooked at lower temperatures does not form carcinogens, she added.
The study tracked the eating habits of 62,581 healthy people over nine years, after which 208 cases of pancreatic cancer were found. ....more
Surgery Improves Survival For Prostate Cancer Patients Younger Than 50
May 21, 2009
For men younger than 50 with prostate cancer, undergoing a radical prostatectomy can greatly increase their chances for long-term survival, according to a new study from Henry Ford Hospital.
Results from the study done on the National SEER database show that the surgical procedure improves the 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year survival for younger patients, when compared with other standard treatments such as radiotherapy or watchful waiting.
"When given the choice between surgery, watchful waiting or external beam radiotherapy, patients younger than 50 with moderately and poorly differentiated prostate cancers have better long-term overall and cancer-specific survival when they opt for surgery," says study author Naveen Pokala, M.D., an urologist with Henry Ford Hospital.
Based on findings from the study, Dr. Pokala and co-author Mani Menon, M.D., director of Henry Ford's Vattikuti Urology Institute, strongly recommend retropubic radical prostatectomy a surgical procedure that removes the entire prostate gland plus some of the tissue around it as the treatment of choice for prostate cancer patients under the age of 50.
New Drugs for Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer
Study Shows PARP Inhibitors Fight Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
By Charlene Laino
WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Louise Chang, MDJune 2, 2009 (Orlando, Fla.)
An experimental class of drugs may have potential for the treatment of two types of breast cancer that are notoriously difficult to treat.
Called PARP inhibitors, the drugs block the ability of damaged cells to repair themselves, causing cancer cells to die off or become more susceptible to chemotherapy drugs.
One PARP inhibitor, dubbed BSI-201, improved survival by 60% when added to standard chemotherapy drugs in women with so-called triple-negative breast cancer. Such tumors are hard to treat because they lack receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone as well as the protein HER2, which are targeted by current therapies.
The other PARP inhibitor, known as olaparib, shrank tumors in nearly half of women with cancer caused by mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These inherited breast tumors often strike young women and are particularly aggressive.
"While preliminary, these are some of most exciting results we've seen in a long time," says Eric P. Winer, MD, director of the breast oncology center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Winer, who wasn't involved with the work, moderated a news conference to discuss the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. .....more
Nanoparticles Could Someday Lead to End of Chemotherapy
June 16, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nanoparticles specially engineered by University of Central Florida Assistant Professor J. Manuel Perez and his colleagues could someday target and destroy tumors, sparing patients from toxic, whole-body chemotherapies.
Perez and his team used a drug called Taxol for their cell culture studies, recently published in the journal Small, because it is one of the most widely used chemotherapeutic drugs. Taxol normally causes many negative side effects because it travels throughout the body and damages healthy tissue as well as cancer cells.
The Taxol-carrying nanoparticles engineered in Perez's laboratory are modified so they carry the drug only to the cancer cells, allowing targeted cancer treatment without harming healthy cells. This is achieved by attaching a vitamin (folic acid) derivative that cancer cells like to consume in high amounts.
Because the nanoparticles also carry a fluorescent dye and an iron oxide magnetic core, their locations within the cells and the body can be seen by optical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). That allows a physician to see how the tumor is responding to the treatment.
The nanoparticles also can be engineered without the drug and used as imaging (contrast) agents for cancer. If there is no cancer, the biodegradable nanoparticles will not bind to the tissue and will be eliminated by the liver. The iron oxide core will be utilized as regular iron in the body.
"What's unique about our work is that the nanoparticle has a dual role, as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent in a biodegradable and biocompatible vehicle," Perez said.
Perez has spent the past five years looking at ways nanotechnology can be used to help diagnose, image and treat cancer and infectious diseases. It's part of the quickly evolving world of nanomedicine.
The process works like this. Cancer cells in the tumor connect with the engineered nanoparticles via cell receptors that can be regarded as "doors" or "docking stations." The nanoparticles enter the cell and release their cargo of iron oxide, fluorescent dye and drugs, allowing dual imaging and treatment.
"Although the results from the cell cultures are preliminary, they are very encouraging," Perez said.
A new chemistry called "click chemistry" was utilized to attach the targeting molecule (folic acid) to the nanoparticles. This chemistry allows for the easy and specific attachment of molecules to nanoparticles without unwanted side products. It also allows for the easy attachment of other molecules to nanoparticles to specifically seek out particular tumors and other malignancies.
Perez's study builds on his prior research published in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. His work has been partially funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and a Nanoscience Technology Center start-up fund.
"Our work is an important beginning, because it demonstrates an avenue for using nanotechnology not only to diagnose but also to treat cancer, potentially at an early stage," Perez said.
Perez, a Puerto Rico native, joined UCF in 2005. He works at UCF's NanoScience Technology Center and Chemistry Department and in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine. He has a Ph.D. from Boston University in Biochemistry and completed postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School's teaching and research hospital.
Perez has broad experience in the academic, research and corporate worlds, having worked at Harvard Medical School, conducted research at Boston University and worked for the Millipore Corporation in Bedford, Mass. Since he joined UCF, he has written numerous articles in prestigious journals such as Nature Materials, Nanoletters, Small, PLOS One and Angewandte Chemie Int Ed.
UCF Stands For Opportunity
The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 5th largest in the nation with more than 50,000 students. UCF's first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region's economic development. UCF's culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit http://news.ucf.edu .
2009 AScribe News, Inc.
Dietary Fat Linked To Pancreatic Cancer
June 24, 2009
High intake of dietary fats from red meat and dairy products was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study published online June 26 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
This study was undertaken because research relating fat intake to pancreatic cancer was inconclusive.
To examine the association, Rachael Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed a cohort of over 500,000 people from the National Institutes of Health - AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1995 and 1996 and were followed prospectively for an average of 6 years to track a variety of health outcomes, including pancreatic cancer.
Men and women who consumed high amounts of total fats had 53% and 23% higher relative rates of pancreatic cancer, respectively, compared with men and women who had the lowest fat consumption. Participants who consumed high amounts of saturated fats had 36% higher relative rates of pancreatic cancer compared with those who consumed low amounts.
"[W]e observed positive associations between pancreatic cancer and intakes of total, saturated, and monounsaturated fat overall, particularly from red meat and dairy food sources. We did not observe any consistent association with polyunsaturated or fat from plant food sources," the authors write. "Altogether, these results suggest a role for animal fat in pancreatic carcinogenesis."
In an accompanying editorial, Brian M. Wolpin, M.D., MPH, of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Bostonand Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., DrPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health, call the study well-performed and a good addition to the understanding of pancreatic cancer.
They do note, however, that there is insufficient epidemiological and laboratory evidence to confirm the importance of animal fats or even that meat is the important factor, as opposed to other dietary or lifestyle preferences associated with meat consumption.
"[W]ith further investigation, this work has the potential to provide interesting clues to the mechanisms underlying pancreatic tumorigenesis," the editorialists write.
Aspirin Is Seen To Improve Colon Cancer Survival Rate
International Herald Tribune
August 13, 2009
Study has found that even after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, patients who took aspirin had a much better chance of surviving than non-users.
It has long been known that people who take aspirin regularly are less likely to develop tumors of the colon, and now a study has found that even after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, patients who take aspirin have a much better chance of surviving than non-users.
Patients with colorectal cancer who regularly used aspirin before and after a diagnosis were almost one-third less likely to die of the disease than non-users. Patients who initiated aspirin use only after a diagnosis did even better and had half the risk of dying from the cancer, possibly because of differences in their tumors. The patients were all being treated for nonmetastatic, or localized, cancers, and were followed for an average of almost 12 years.
The study, written by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is being published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"This is a remarkable breakthrough -- for a pill that costs a penny," said Dr. Alfred I. Neugut, a colon cancer expert at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, who was not involved in the research but wrote an editorial accompanying the article.
What lends credence to the study of 1,279 people is that doctors understand the biological mechanism by which aspirin may prevent the growth and slow the spread of colon cancer, since most colorectal cancer tumors are positive for cyclooxygenase-2, or COX-2, an enzyme that is not expressed in a healthy colon but flares up under certain circumstances. Aspirin is a COX-2 inhibitor.
Cancers Can Vanish Without Treatment, but How?
By GINA KOLATA
Published: October 26, 2009
Call it the arrow of cancer. Like the arrow of time, it was supposed to point in one direction. Cancers grew and worsened.
But as a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted last week, data from more than two decades of screening for breast and prostate cancer call that view into question. Besides finding tumors that would be lethal if left untreated, screening appears to be finding many small tumors that would not be a problem if they were left alone, undiscovered by screening. They were destined to stop growing on their own or shrink, or even, at least in the case of some breast cancers, disappear.
“The old view is that cancer is a linear process,” said Dr. Barnett Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health. “A cell acquired a mutation, and little by little it acquired more and more mutations. Mutations are not supposed to revert spontaneously.”
So, Dr. Kramer said, the image was “an arrow that moved in one direction.” But now, he added, it is becoming increasingly clear that cancers require more than mutations to progress. They need the cooperation of surrounding cells and even, he said, “the whole organism, the person,” whose immune system or hormone levels, for example, can squelch or fuel a tumor.
Cancer, Dr. Kramer said, is a dynamic process.
It was a view that was hard for some cancer doctors and researchers to accept. But some of the skeptics have changed their minds and decided that, contrary as it seems to everything they had thought, cancers can disappear on their own.
“At the end of the day, I’m not sure how certain I am about this, but I do believe it,” said Dr. Robert M. Kaplan, the chairman of the department of health services at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, adding, “The weight of the evidence suggests that there is reason to believe.”
Disappearing tumors are well known in testicular cancer. Dr. Jonathan Epstein at Johns Hopkins says it does not happen often, but it happens.
A young man may have a lump in his testicle, but when doctors remove the organ all they find is a big scar. The tumor that was there is gone. Or, they see a large scar and a tiny tumor because more than 95 percent of the tumor had disappeared on its own by the time the testicle was removed.
Or a young man will show up with a big tumor near his kidney. Doctors realize that it started somewhere else, so they look for its origin. Then they discover a scar in the man’s testicle, the only remnant of the original cancer because no tumor is left.
Testicular cancer is unusual; most others do not disappear. But there is growing evidence that cancers can go backward or stop, and researchers are being forced to reassess their notions of what cancer is and how it develops.
Of course, cancers do not routinely go away, and no one is suggesting that patients avoid treatment because of such occasional occurrences.
“Biologically, it is a rare phenomenon to have an advanced cancer go into remission,” said Dr. Martin Gleave, a professor of urology at the University of British Columbia.
But knowing more about how tumors develop and sometimes reverse course might help doctors decide which tumors can be left alone and which need to be treated, something that is now not known in most cases.
Cancer cells and precancerous cells are so common that nearly everyone by middle age or old age is riddled with them, said Thea Tlsty, a professor of pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. That was discovered in autopsy studies of people who died of other causes, with no idea that they had cancer cells or precancerous cells. They did not have large tumors or symptoms of cancer. “The really interesting question,” Dr. Tlsty said, “is not so much why do we get cancer as why don’t we get cancer?”
The earlier a cell is in its path toward an aggressive cancer, researchers say, the more likely it is to reverse course. So, for example, cells that are early precursors of cervical cancer are likely to revert. One study found that 60 percent of precancerous cervical cells, found with Pap tests, revert to normal within a year; 90 percent revert within three years.
And the dynamic process of cancer development appears to be the reason that screening for breast cancer or prostate cancer finds huge numbers of early cancers without a corresponding decline in late stage cancers.
If every one of those early cancers were destined to turn into an advanced cancer, then the total number of cancers should be the same after screening is introduced, but the increase in early cancers should be balanced by a decrease in advanced cancers.
That has not happened with screening for breast and prostate cancer. So the hypothesis is that many early cancers go nowhere. And, with breast cancer, there is indirect evidence that some actually disappear.
It is harder to document disappearing prostate cancers; researchers say they doubt it happens. Instead, they say, it seems as if many cancers start to grow then stop or grow very slowly, as has been shown in studies like one now being done at Johns Hopkins. When men have small tumors with cells that do not look terribly deranged, doctors at Johns Hopkins offer them an option of “active surveillance.” They can forgo having their prostates removed or destroyed and be followed with biopsies. If their cancer progresses, they can then have their prostates removed.
Almost no one agrees to such a plan. “Most men want it out,” Dr. Epstein said. But, still, the researchers have found about 450 men in the past four or five years who chose active surveillance. By contrast, 1,000 a year have their prostates removed at Johns Hopkins. From following those men who chose not to be treated, the investigators discovered that only about 20 percent to 30 percent of those small tumors progressed. And many that did progress still did not look particularly dangerous, although once the cancers started to grow the men had their prostates removed.
In Canada, researchers are doing a similar study with small kidney cancers, among the few cancers that are reported to regress occasionally, even when far advanced.
That was documented in a study, led by Dr. Gleave that compared an experimental treatment with a placebo in people with kidney cancer that had spread throughout their bodies.
As many as 6 percent who received a placebo had tumors that shrank or remained stable. The same thing happened in those who received the therapy, leading the researchers to conclude that the treatment did not improve outcomes.
The big unknown is the natural history of many small kidney tumors, many of which are early kidney cancers. How often do small tumors progress? Do they ever disappear? Do they all need surgical excision? At what stage do most kidney cancers reach a point of no return?
These days, Dr. Gleave said, more patients are having ultrasound or CT scans for other reasons and learning that there is a small lump on one of their kidneys. In the United States, the accepted practice is to take those tumors out. But, he asks, “Is that always necessary?”
His university is participating in a countrywide study of people with small kidney tumors, asking what happens when those tumors are routinely examined, with scans, to see if they grow. About 80 percent do not change or actually regress over the next three years.
With early detection, he said, “our net has become so fine that we are pulling in small fish as well as big fish.” Now, he said, “we have to identify which small fish we can let go.”
Bernie S. Siegel, M.D., author of Love, Medicine, & Miracles; How to Live Between Office Visits (and many more) sent me this next article which provides "food for thought" Don't ever give up, don't ever say die.....