Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive type of cancer that readily metastasizes to other organs in the body. The disease can be tough to treat, because the cancer cells often develop resistance to the drugs commonly used against them.
Now City of Hope researchers may have found a way to overcome this drug resistance – by using an extract of the milk thistle plant. The plant has long been used as a natural supplement for various conditions, and the latest research opens the door on a powerful new use. Findings from the researchers’ laboratory study were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
Susan Kane, Ph.D., a professor in City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Biology, and David Sadava, Ph.D., a visiting professor from the Claremont Colleges, compared effects of the extract silibinin on two specific cancer cell lines that have shown resistance to three common chemotherapeutics – etoposide, doxorubicin and vincristine.
Continue reading “Milk thistle extract could help defeat small cell lung cancer” »
Cancer patients treated with chemotherapy often experience side effects from the toxic compounds – the most common effects being nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Further, about 20 to 40 percent of patients who receive a category of chemotherapies known as neurotoxins can experience a painful condition known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
This condition, caused by chemotherapy-induced nerve damage, can last months to years after chemotherapy treatment. Now, researchers from a national collaboration of hospitals and cancer centers have found that the antidepressant duloxetine – sold under the name Cymbalta – can ease such pain if given during the first five weeks of treatment. Their findings were published online Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Duloxetine is already approved for use in treating diabetes-induced peripheral neuropathy. Researchers hypothesized that the drug could have a similar effect on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The study authors reported: “Among patients with painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, the use of duloxetine compared with placebo for 5 weeks resulted in greater reduction in pain.”
That’s good news to Carin van Zyl, M.D., a palliative and pain specialist in City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care, who commented on the study in an interview with MedPage Today.
Continue reading “Cymbalta can help manage pain from chemotherapy, study finds” »
Current news headlines seem to focus on the across-the-board federal budget cuts — known as sequestration — as the primary threat to U.S. biomedical research. But this is not the only straw that broke the camel’s back. A chronic decline of public funding has weakened the country’s scientific efforts for years.
On Monday, researchers are gathering to say, “Enough is enough.”
More than 170 organizations — from comprehensive cancer centers to research advocacy groups — and thousands of survivors, researchers, clinicians, business leaders and members of the general public aim to make their voices heard at the Rally for Medical Research on April 8 in Washington, D.C., with satellite events throughout the nation. Their goal: Convince U.S. policymakers to make medical research funding a national priority.
One of those events will be at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology. As a national leader in biomedical research, few institutions can predict the impact on research, and patients, better than City of Hope.
Sequestration, which took effect March 1, slashed funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by more than 5 percent — about $1.5 billion. It was a heavy blow, but only the most recent one. The NIH budget has been stagnant for nearly a decade, resulting in an estimated $5.5 billion — about 30 percent — loss since 2003 because funding has not kept pace with the rate of biomedical inflation, which is around 3 percent each year.
As funding dwindles, researchers fear the country’s ability to cope with an aging population and a growing burden of chronic diseases — including cancer and diabetes — will follow. NIH funding is a key factor in finding treatment breakthroughs for patients with these diseases. Continue reading “Rally for Medical Research: Scientists protest from D.C. to Duarte” »
For more than a decade, hormone therapy – once believed to improve cardiovascular, bone and cognitive health and control extreme menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats – has been linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer.
Yet, previous studies suggested that such breast cancers were not likely to be lethal, so some women have continued to roll the dice and take the estrogen and progestin combination, a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone.
A new study, however, suggests that women should reconsider whether they can live with these symptoms – or boost their chance of dying from this therapy that relieves them.
The findings were published in the March 29 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers led by Rowan T. Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, analyzed results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. They compared the findings with those from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized clinical trial, in which women were assigned to different treatments. Continue reading “Estrogen and progestin: Hormone therapy to die for?” »
With various cancer awareness months spread throughout the calendar year, the catchall-sounding National Cancer Control Month might seem a little redundant or nebulous. But even as annual cancer deaths continue to drop, it bears reminding that more needs to be done to keep cancer at bay.
That sentiment was stressed by President Barack Obama in an official proclamation marking April as National Cancer Control Month. In the proclamation, he wrote:
“Together, our Nation is moving forward in the fight against cancer. As we recommit to improving prevention, detection and treatment, let us honor the memory of the courageous men and women we have lost to the disease, and let us stand with all those facing it today … I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent cancer.”
A growing body of research has highlighted an array of lifestyle decisions that Americans can make to reduce their risk of cancer, such as quitting tobacco, eating healthier, exercising regularly, using sun protection and undergoing recommended screenings.
But for one clinician, cancer control is about a different kind of prevention: minimizing cancer treatments’ chronic effects on the growing population of cancer survivors, currently 13 million in the United States. Continue reading “National Cancer Control Month drives attention to prevention” »
Esophageal cancer may not get the attention, or cause the fear, of other higher-profile cancers, but the threat is real – and growing. Experts predict almost 18,000 new diagnoses this year and more than 15,000 deaths.
“The incidence of the most common type of esophageal cancer in America (adenocarcinoma) has been increasing faster than any other cancer over the last 30 years,” says Jae Kim, M.D., interim chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at City of Hope. “No one knows the exact reasons for this, but we do know that heartburn is the main risk factor for this type of esophageal cancer.”
More on heartburn later. But first, some basics, courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. (And what better time than Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, in some states anyway.) The esophagus, part of the digestive tract, is a muscular tube through which food moves from the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer begins in cells in the inner layer of tissues lining this tube; over time it may spread into deeper layers and nearby tissues.
There are two types: Continue reading “Esophageal cancer is on the rise. Main risk factor? Heartburn” »
Testicular cancer doesn’t bear thinking about for most men and, indeed, it seems to elicit few headlines or public discussions. But that doesn’t mean that men, especially young men, shouldn’t be aware of the symptoms. Such awareness could save their lives.
Almost 7,920 cases of testicular cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the National Cancer Institute; and almost 370 cases are expected to be fatal.
Although it can be diagnosed in infants and elderly men, testicular cancer usually affects men in what’s popularly known as “the prime of their life.” About half the cases occur in men ages 20 to 34. The most famous survivor of testicular cancer, cyclist Lance Armstrong, was diagnosed at age 25. Continue reading “Testicular cancer, ‘a disease of younger men,’ can be caught early” »
While high school biology has hammered in the all too familiar double-helix shape of DNA, with chromosomes it may be easier to visualize them as a pair of shoelaces, since its telomeres are the genetic equivalent of laces’ plastic caps that keep them from fraying apart at the tips.
Likewise, telomeres act as protective caps at the ends of chromosomes by maintaining their integrity. But as genes work at replicating themselves or producing proteins, the telomeres get worn down, and the cell can breakdown. Normally, these broken cells are cleared away by the body’s immune system to make way for healthy new cells. But if it lingers around, the fraying gene in the worn down cell can cause a great amount of damage, triggering processes that can make the cell cancerous.
Aware of this malfunction’s destructive impact, researchers from the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study (COGS) consortium, are studying how the gene regulating telomeres — called TERT — contributes to the development of breast and ovarian cancers.
Their findings were published on March 27 in the journal Nature Genetics. COGS members Jeffrey Weitzel. M.D., chief of City of Hope’s Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, and Susan Neuhausen, Ph.D., the Morris & Horowitz Families Professor in Cancer Etiology and Outcomes Research at City of Hope, contributed to this paper. Continue reading “Study ties telomere-controlling gene to breast, ovarian cancers” »