Posts tagged ‘American Cancer Society’
Since 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended routine mammograms only for women age 50 and older. But a study published in Cancer on April 19 found that despite those recommendations, screening rates among women age 40 to 49 have not fallen.
In fact, between 2008 and 2011, the screening rate for that age group has risen slightly, from 46.1 percent to 47.5 percent.
Looking at this data, the study’s authors speculated that the rate may have stayed stagnant due to conflicting screening guidelines from other professional organizations.
The American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network both recommend annual mammograms for women starting at age 40. But the USPSTF suggested that women between 40 and 49 talk with their doctors about the benefits and risks of mammograms, and personal risk factors — such as a genetic mutation or a family history of breast cancer — that may warrant earlier, more frequent screenings.
In making its recomendation, the USPSTF evaluated breast cancer screening, incidence and mortality data. The task force considered the lower incidence of breast cancer in young women and the negative impact of earlier, more frequent screenings, particularly “false positives” that can result in unnecessary costs, additional tests and emotional burden. Continue reading “Mammogram rates not falling for women 40 to 49, despite U.S. advice” »
All Americans will feel the blow of the sequestration’s cuts in the federal budget, but cancer clinicians, researchers and patients face a double whammy. The cuts will impact not just current efforts to treat and prevent cancer, but future efforts as well.
Trimming 5 percent from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s $5 billion budget might not sound like much, but the expected $250 million loss could cut grants for new research by 40 percent. That’s because much of the current funding is already committed to ongoing, multi-year studies, according to NCI’s director Harold Varmus, M.D.
And the greater competition for the remaining funds may lead to a brain drain of talent as promising researchers look for more lucrative and less stressful lines of work. Such an impact will be long-term.
“That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Some brilliant young scientists will just say there are easier ways to make a living than cancer research,” said Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research at City of Hope, in a Daily Beast article. Continue reading “Sequestration’s impact on cancer could last for generations” »
One in a series of articles about how to reduce the risk of cancer…
The adage “you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken” rings particularly true for cancers, where early detection means more effective treatments and better survival odds.
However, too many Americans neglect to get these potentially lifesaving tests. According to a 2012 Frontiers in Oncology study surveying more than 170,000 U.S. participants, aside from colorectal cancer screening, Americans fell short of meeting the screening goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 initiative.
The researchers also analyzed a subset of participants who are cancer survivors. Although the survivors had better overall adherence to getting screened regularly, even they did not meet Healthy People 2010 goals for cervical cancer screening.
Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Chair and Professor of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, said Americans should do a better job of getting screened.
“It is the easiest way to catch cancer in its earliest stages, when it is the most curable,” Stein said.
For example, the five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with stage I colorectal cancer is 74%, whereas by stage IV the odds drop to a dismal 6%. This drastic decline is also seen in many other cancers.
With this in mind, it should be a no-brainer for everyone to get screened in accordance to current recommended guidelines. According to the American Cancer Society, this includes: Continue reading “To fight cancer, get screened – regularly” »
Folic acid is now a staple in U.S. diets, added to bread, flour, cereals, pastas and other baked goods as a way to reduce neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Most Americans simply take it for granted.
But in some countries, people wonder. And they worry. Despite some studies linking folic acid to a lower risk of colon cancer, they worry whether fortification might increase the risk of some types of cancer. As the American Cancer Society points out: “Whether folic acid works against cancer may also depend on when it is taken. Some researchers think that folic acid may not be helpful, and could even be harmful, in people who already have cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.”
A new study should help put those concerns to rest.
In a report published this week in The Lancet, researchers analyzed previously published research to assess just what the effect of folic acid supplementation might be on cancer incidence overall or on the incidence of cancer of the large intestine, prostate, lung, breast or any other specific site. They could find no connection.
Further, they pointed out, the amount of folic acid found in fortified foods is considerably smaller than the folic acid supplements used in the trials.
“The study provides reassurance about the safety of folic acid intake, either from supplements or through fortification, when taken for up to five years,” study author Robert Clarke, from the University of Oxford, said in a journal news release reported by HealthDay News.
“The nationwide fortification of foods involves much lower doses of folic acid than studied in these trials, which is reassuring not only for the U.S.A., who have been enriching flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects [such as spina bifida] since 1998, but also for over 50 other countries where fortification is mandatory [such as] Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Brazil,” Clarke said.
All of this is not to say that folic acid supplementation is perfect. It’s not. Folic acid can hide the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, which is common in older people, and by the time the deficiency is diagnosed, the nervous system can be permanently damaged.
Further, high doses can pose a problem to cancer patients on some chemotherapy drugs, the American Cancer Society notes.
But overall, as Clark says, the results are reassuring.
They’re likely especially reassuring to nutritionists, dietitians and others concerned about our overall nutritional intake. Although folic acid can be found naturally in a variety of food sources, including leafy green vegetables, dried beans and peas, the healthfulness of the average American diet shouldn’t be overestimated.
But crackers, cookies, baked goods? Americans are in no danger of giving up on those.
Recommendations about cancer screenings are always evolving, as physicians and researchers learn more about how the disease develops and are able to analyze data from an ever-growing population of patients. The pace of change, though, can be confusing to both physicians and patients, with some physicians slow to adopt crucial recommendations.
This problem was highlighted in a Dec. 3 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about screening for cervical cancer. The good news is that younger women are getting pap smears as recommended. The bad news is that 58.7 percent of women over 30 who had a hysterectomy – in which the woman’s uterus and uterine cervix are removed – are still getting regular pap smears despite recommendations that they don’t need to be tested.
Though the screenings don’t harm the women, they also don’t help. Such tests amount to a waste of precious health-care dollars. In 2012, new recommendations for cervical cancer screening were issued by three organizations – the U.S. Preventive Medicine Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Cancer Society.
The holiday season, for many people, begins with feasting and closes out with one last all-night binge before New Year’s resolutions temporarily kick in. Research has swung back and forth about the health risks, and potential benefits, of alcohol consumption — with each new study about a cup of good cheer seemingly contradicting the last.
To help put concerns about toasting the New Year into perspective, James Lacey, Ph.D., associate professor in City of Hope’s Division of Cancer Etiology, answers some questions about alcohol and cancer risk.
What cancer risks are associated with alcohol consumption?
Alcohol consumption has been reported to increase the risk of female breast cancer. Alcohol has also been linked with increased risks of digestive tract cancers: oral cancer, pharyngeal cancer, and cancer of the larynx, as well as some types of esophageal cancer.
The mechanisms aren’t entirely understood, but the increase in breast cancer risk might be due to the ability of alcohol to increase circulating levels of estrogens (which of course are key factors in the development of breast cancer). For the digestive tract cancers, there is some indication that alcohol’s metabolism into acetaldehyde – which has carcinogenic and mutagenic properties – might be the mechanism at work. Continue reading “Resolution for New Year’s Eve? Enjoy a drink, in moderation” »
Certain genes can raise a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. When women find out they carry these gene mutations, they face a painful decision: Many choose to have their breasts and ovaries removed to avoid cancer.
That decision also means they’ll go into menopause early — something that can dramatically change their life. City of Hope researchers now are studying how these surgeries affect women’s psychological and social well-being to help them cope.
Deborah MacDonald, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.N.G., assistant professor in the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, understands the issues these women may face, particularly if they are younger. “Early removal of healthy ovaries forces many women to accelerate or abandon childbearing and to enter menopause abruptly and at a younger age than their peers,” MacDonald said.
Her study focuses on women with what are called BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Here’s how these mutations affect a woman’s lifetime risk of cancer:
Proportion of women with a mutation in either gene who will develop this cancer in her lifetime:
- Breast cancer: 50 to 80 percent
- Ovarian cancer: 15 to 50 percent
Proportion of women as a whole who will develop this cancer in her lifetime:
- Breast cancer: 12 percent
- Ovarian cancer: 1.5 percent
MacDonald and her colleagues at City of Hope have found that women who have preventive surgery often struggle with the decision because they’re worried about the impact on sexuality, intimacy, fertility and other factors related to early menopause. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t explored these issues to fully understand or meet these women’s needs, she said.
Supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society, MacDonald will interview women with these mutations and then create and test ways to better inform and prepare these women for making decisions associated with their cancer risk.
Thanks to advances in surgery and medicine, about 43 percent of men and women diagnosed with lung cancer today will still be alive a year after their diagnosis — significantly higher than the 1-year survival rate of 37 percent three decades ago.
The 5-year survival rate, though, remains low at 16 percent. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and researchers like City of Hope’s Dan J. Raz, M.D., are looking for ways to change that. One of those ways may be by making sure that patients with early-stage lung cancer receive the treatment that’s most likely to eradicate their cancer.
Before recently joining City of Hope, Raz, assistant professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery, was part of a University of California, San Francisco research team that developed a potential tool to customize treatment for early lung cancer patients. The tool is a genetic test that may predict which early-stage lung cancers are likely to be more aggressive and spread.
“There are tens of thousands of patients with stage 1 lung cancer diagnosed every year in the U.S., and currently the standard of care for these patients is surgery alone. The goal of this assay is to better predict the risk of lung cancer recurrence and death among these patients so that physicians can use chemotherapy, surgery and even non-surgical treatment modalities in a more effective treatment plan.”
The American Cancer Society reports that more than half of patients reach the 5-year survival milestone when their lung cancers are diagnosed early before they metastasize and spread to other areas of the body. Only 15 percent of cancers are caught in this early stage.
Lung cancer continues to lead all other cancers as a cause of death in the U.S., but recent data and research findings provided a glimmer of optimism.
Fewer people are dying from the disease than in previous years, according to a recent American Cancer Society report. The report cited cigarette smoking as the most important risk factor for lung cancer, and public health efforts to reduce the smoking habit seem to be working.
“We continue to make progress in lung cancer with death rates decreasing in both men and women due largely to a reduction in smoking of tobacco,” said City of Hope’s Karen Reckamp, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, who specializes in lung cancer treatment and research.
The incidence of lung cancer declined in men for the past 20 years, but was increasing among women until only recently. Lung cancer incidence in women decreased by 0.3 percent per year between 2004 and 2008.
Reckamp notes that alongside the reduction in cigarette smoking, medical research into improved cancer treatments also was a major factor in the drop in death rates. “For patients with advanced disease, we understand the biology of lung cancer better than ever and have targeted therapies that significantly improve outcomes for patients,” she said.
Scientists at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) lung cancer meeting in San Diego earlier this month offered news about the latest advances in lung cancer research.
Some studies of interest at the AACR meeting:
- Scientists looked at people with lung cancer who had never or rarely smoked and identified suspicious genetic changes that are different from those seen in tobacco-associated lung cancers.
- Analyzing cancerous cells circulating in a patient’s blood may enable physicians to track the growth of a tumor, monitor the effectiveness of treatment and help identify the most effective treatment for individual patients.
- Researchers are working to identify and characterize genetic changes that occur in specific lung cells that can potentially provide a way to screen for lung cancer and diagnose the disease at earlier, more treatable stages.
“We have entered into an era where screening for lung cancer in high-risk individuals can improve survival,” Reckamp added, citing studies under way looking at testing in older smokers, those with previous tumors and people with chronic lung disease.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 226,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and more than 160,000 patients will die from the disease. The five-year survival rate for lung cancers is 52 percent for early stage cancers when the tumor is still localized. Only 15 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at this stage.