Posts tagged ‘Cy Stein’
The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have so many health benefits and so few side effects that a daily dose has seemed like a no-brainer. Until now.
Long linked to heart health, Omega-3s have been shown to lower high triglycerides and, at the right dosages, to reduce the risk of heart disease. Though the evidence of their benefits is less conclusive for other health conditions, Omega-3s in the form of fish oil are sometimes used in attempts to reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, artherosclerosis, kidney problems and age-related eye disease, to name just a few.
Now a new study has linked the consumption of these Omega-3s to a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer. For men who take the supplements to protect their heart, this study could well be “a game changer,” says City of Hope’s Cy Stein, M.D., the Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology.
Have questions about prostate cancer? Check out our TweetChat.
Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., and Mark Kawachi, M.D., associate clinical professor in City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology, participated in a TweetChat on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon Pacific. They discussed prostate cancer research, screening, treatment and management of possible side effects such as incontinence and impotence. To read a log of that TweetChat, click here.
Real medical breakthroughs are few and far between, but advances in treating prostate cancer come close.
Over the last 40 years, the overall five-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer patients has jumped from 64 percent in 1973 to over 99 percent now. Further, men diagnosed with local or regional prostate cancer today have what’s considered a 100 percent chance of five-year survival, due to improvements in fighting the disease with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Despite this overwhelming success, obstacles remain in diagnosing and treating the disease. The month of September, designated Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, offers an opportunity to reflect on the successes and the challenges.
“The PSA [prostate specific antigen] test is not all it’s cracked up to be,” said Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., City of Hope’s Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology. “But it’s one of the very few tools we have available now to screen for and monitor the disease.”
And for men whose cancers are not detected until they’ve metastasized to distant areas of the body, the survival odds plummets to less than 28 percent. And prostate cancer will claim the lives of almost 30,000 men this year, according to the American Cancer Society. » Continue Reading
Months after hearing the arguments and weeks before concluding its current session, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that human genes are a product of nature and are not patentable.
In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote: “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.”
The immediate effect of the June 13 ruling: Myriad Genetics no longer holds the patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as the monopoly on testing for the genes’ cancer-causing mutations. This means other companies can test for these genes, likely for a fraction of the approximately $3,000 Myriad is currently charging. Additionally, panel tests that scan for multiple mutations at the same time can now include BRCA genes in their mix.
Myriad’s BRCA patents were set to expire in two years even if they had been upheld, but “the principle is important,” Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, told the Los Angeles Times. The ruling sets a precedent affecting future genetic research and the development of gene-based tests and therapies, he said. » Continue Reading
The annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) offers more than a way to highlight the numerous advances toward a cure for cancer. It also allows for reflection on barriers to quality research and optimal care.
A briefing Friday focused on the impact of declining public funds for cancer research; today, a presentation called attention to the prevailing problem of cancer drug shortages.
For this report, ASCO had randomly selected its members for a survey from March to September 2012. Of the 250 responses received, 214 were used for this study. Among the findings:
- More than 80 percent of oncologists and hematologists reported experiencing drug shortages during that period.
- A total of 94 percent said the shortage had affected treatment, and 83 percent said they were unable to prescribe standard chemotherapy.
- Approximately 13 percent said the shortage lowered patients’ enrollment – or caused them to suspend participation – in clinical trials.
According to Food and Drug Administration data, the drug shortage is a rapidly escalating problem. In 2005, there were 61 reported shortages; that figure almost doubled to 121 in 2012. » Continue Reading
In recent years, older Americans have been advised to stop undergoing certain cancer screenings — such as Pap smears and prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, tests — because experts say they can lead to costly, risky and unnecessary medical procedures. What do senior citizens think of this advice? Not much.
At least that’s the perception of many of those interviewed for a study published March 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine. For that study, researchers questioned a small cross-section of older Americans to assess their views about medical screenings (and giving up those once-prescribed rituals). The findings were based on interviews with 33 adults between 63 and 91 years of age whose average age was 76.
“Despite the growing consensus that we need to curb overscreening, changing patient and physician behavior will be difficult in light of older adults’ highly favorable views of screening,” wrote lead author Alexia M. Torke, M.D., M.S., of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.
Being on a blood-thinning medication is not unusual. In the U.S., more than 2 million people take the drugs. But although blood-thinners are well-known for their ability to prevent dangerous blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke, new research suggests they may also be useful against prostate cancer.
In a study involving 247 men with metastatic prostate cancer, researchers found that men who took blood-thinning medication in conjunction with chemotherapy survived for an average of almost 21 months, compared to a survival of approximately 17 months for those men who didn’t.The findings, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium on Feb. 14 to 16, were especially surprising to the researchers, who thought that the underlying conditions indicating blood-thinner use (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) might have reduced survival time instead.
Although there are other studies linking blood thinners — including aspirin — to improved survival, researchers say prostate cancer patients shouldn’t start taking them just yet. » Continue Reading
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.
Cancer cells can build up a resistance to the drugs commonly used to combat the disease – it’s one of cancer’s many defensive survival mechanisms. In a research letter published Jan. 9 in the journal Nature, however, researchers report that intermittent treatment appears to have helped overcome drug-resistant melanoma in the lab.
The results are promising, but they’re hardly ready for prime-time.
Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., City of Hope’s Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Chair and Professor of the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, is cautious about whether the results — found in mice — will translate into human benefit.
Scientists in the study used mice with a common type of melanoma linked to a mutation in the BRAF gene. More than half of all melanoma patients have a BRAF-mutated cancer. The drug vemurafenib inhibits BRAF proteins, which leads to apoptosis – or natural cell death – of the melanoma. However, the melanoma can develop a resistance to vemurafenib.
Not only do the cancer cells find different ways to survive the lack of BRAF proteins, they also learn to thrive on the drug treatment itself, feeding off of the vemurafenib to continue growing. » Continue Reading
Advances in prostate cancer treatment probably won’t make most Americans’ list of top 2012 events, but for some men, and their families, such developments stand out among the year’s medical news.
Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director for clinical research, holds up two 2012 events as being particularly significant in the treatment of prostate cancer. One was the FDA approval of the drug enzalutamide (Xtandi) for the treatment of men previously treated with the chemotherapy drug taxotere (Docetaxel) .
“This is an excellent drug that works, in summary, by blocking the interaction of testosterone, the male sex hormone, with the androgen receptor, which drives the growth and metastasis of prostate cancer cell,” says Stein, the Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan chair and professor of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research. “Enzalutamide has been shown to prolong median life expectancy by approximately 5 months, and is very well-tolerated by most patients.” » Continue Reading
Stein, who holds the Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Chair and Professor of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, says treatments for prostate cancer — even advanced prostate cancer — have changed. But some private practice urologists haven’t kept up.
Instead of referring patients to medical oncologists for specialized care or telling them about the many clinical trials now available, such doctors simply continue treating patients by using older, often less-effective medications — much as they would have done years ago.
“Patients don’t even know they have other treatments available to them,” says Stein. “Patients are trusting urologists to do the best by them — and they’re not.”