Posts tagged ‘lung cancer’
The environment plays a role in causing cancer – this much we know. But scientists are still trying to understand what that role is, what environmental factors are in play and how precisely those factors are linked to cancer.
Now City of Hope researchers have unlocked a clue as to how one carcinogen triggers cancer, and they hope this discovery will shed light on how other environmental factors may cause cancer. The study, published online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on one carcinogen in particular, nickel.
In the United States, fossil fuel combustion is the leading culprit for spewing nickel into the air we breathe. In other countries, heavy metal factories are also a common cause. Breathing in nickel increases the risk of nasal cancer and of lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S.
“Nickel has been proven to be a carcinogen, but unlike most carcinogens, it doesn’t change the DNA at all,” said Dustin Schones, Ph.D., assistant professor of cancer biology at City of Hope and a lead author of the paper. » Continue Reading
To stop smoking, two approaches might be better than one. A new study has found that using the medication varenicline, or Chantix – along with nicotine patches – was more effective than the medicine alone in helping people quit.
The study, conducted by Stellanbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 446 generally healthy smokers. One half used a nicotine patch, and the other half used a placebo patch; both groups began using the patches two weeks before their target quit date, and continued for an additional 12 weeks. One week before the target quite date, participants in both groups began using the drug varenicline and continued to take it for 12 weeks, tapering off in week 13.
Researchers found that patients who received the nicotine patch and varenicline were more likely to quit smoking and to have continued that abstinence at 12 weeks, 24 weeks and six months than the placebo group. In fact, at 6 months, 65.1 percent of the combination therapy group was still abstaining from smoking – confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide measurements – versus 46.7 percent in the placebo group.
Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation at City of Hope, said the study not only points to a promising treatment option for smokers, but also underscores the importance of working with professionals who can create a tailored treatment plan for smokers wanting to quit the habit. Smoking is an addiction, and requires serious medical assistance, he says. » Continue Reading
News about the risks or benefits of widespread cancer screening seem to arrive daily – 3D mammography for breast cancer, CT scans for lung cancer, PSA tests for prostate cancer and now pelvic exams for some women’s cancers. Missing in the headlines is a reflection of how cancer detection is evolving.
Today’s cancer experts say screening advice shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. For most cancers, they advocate individual assessments based on each person’s history. This assessment may lead to more specialized screening – or to no screening at all.
An annual consultation with a primary physician, now standard in the wake of health care reform, should make patients aware of their individual risk. From there come more refined choices. » Continue Reading
When the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) recommended last week that Medicare not cover potentially lifesaving lung cancer screening, lung cancer experts criticized the decision, saying the panel had missed an opportunity to help prevent deaths from the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
They weren’t the only ones dismayed by the decision. Our Facebook followers posed a few questions themselves:
One wrote: “This doesn’t make sense. Is it some kind of Dollars vs. Deaths decision?”
Another asked: “What can be done to challenge the decision?”
Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope, was among the expert presenters at the advisory committee meeting. He offers these answers to our Facebook followers:
Thanks for the questions, and for feeling so strongly about this very important issue. First, to offer a little background, this panel offers nonbinding recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – which, under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) determines which services insurers must cover – recommends this same low-dose CT scanning for screening, and insurers will be required to cover it. The CMS will issue a proposed decision by November, and adopt a final decision in February 2015.
However, should Medicare not cover the screening, a huge portion of the population that is most at risk for lung cancer would lose access to lung cancer screening. I presented to the panel at its meeting last week, advocating for the screening to be covered because the science shows it’s effective and it would save lives. This is an opportunity to transform lung cancer from something we can only sometimes cure to a disease we can usually cure, because finding it early is critical. » Continue Reading
People with what’s known as ALK-positive lung cancer usually develop resistance to crizotinib, the primary drug used to treat their disease. The drug’s limitations are all the more significant because its approval in 2011 was considered a crucial advance against this type of nonsmall cell lung cancer.
“This makes new therapies for ALK-positive lung cancer essential to improving and prolonging life for these patients,” said Karen L. Reckamp, M.D. , M.S., co-director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program., in an interview with MedPage Today.
Those new therapies are on the way. A new study suggests that one drug in particular shows promise in the fight against this type of cancer. The study, published online this week in the New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM), included 122 patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer linked to a genetic mutation in the ALK gene. Of those, 83 had relapsed on crizotinib (Xalkori).
In the NEJM study, the new drug ceritinib was found effective among 56 percent of patients who had relapsed on crizotinib. It was found effective among 62 percent of those who hadn’t taken crizotinib. » Continue Reading
“Susan survived breast cancer 20 years ago.” So begins a video of a former City of Hope patient sharing the story of her lung cancer diagnosis and her subsequent treatment at City of Hope.
In her narrative, the former patient expresses shock at her diagnosis, saying she was “totally floored.” After all, she’d never smoked, and the common perception of lung cancer has been that it’s a disease only of smokers. That perception is slowly changing.
As explained by Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., co-director of City of Hope’s Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program: “The most common cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoke, and the risk increases with the quantity and duration of smoking. Yet nearly 15 percent of those who develop lung cancer have never smoked, so there are other factors clearly involved such as the environment and genetics. Although these causes are not well-outlined, research is ongoing to improve our understanding of nonsmoking-related lung cancers.” » Continue Reading
No matter how impressive a research study’s conclusion may be – or how seemingly unsurprising – experts are needed to put the findings into context. Perhaps a study’s methodology wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Perhaps the conclusions confirmed that other researchers are on the right track. Perhaps the study missed the mark completely.
City of Hope’s physicians recently weighed in on an array of recent published studies, offering their expertise, insight and perspective via a special commentary feature in Clinical Oncology News.
From Journal of the National Cancer Institute came this recent study: “More Exercise Is Better During Breast Cancer Chemotherapy.”
Commented Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director of the Women’s Cancers Program and professor and vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope:
The researchers “demonstrated that as little as 25 to 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise three times a week can improve self-reported physical functioning in women undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Twice that amount of aerobic exercise resulted in a significant reduction in bodily pain and fatigue. … The relationship between physical activity, obesity and breast cancer continues to intrigue us and provide important biological insights.” » Continue Reading
Cigarettes are obviously bad for your health. They’re blamed for one in five deaths in the United States and for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also contribute to the risk heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema and stroke.
In fact, cigarettes cause more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents and guns – combined.
Most people understand that cigarettes contain chemicals. What they might not understand is what happens when those chemicals are burned. Once lit, a cigarette releases – via smoke – thousands of chemicals, many of them both toxic and carcinogenic.
“We do not know all the chemicals that go into a cigarette,” said Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope. “There are somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 chemicals. And a cigarette would not necessarily continue to burn if it weren’t for these additives that the tobacco industry puts in them.”
Some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke are also found in batteries, rocket fuel, toilet cleaners and rat poison.
February may be popularly known as the month of love, but it also holds the title of American Heart Month, aiding as a reminder to take care of your heart. One way is to quit smoking.
Not only do cigarettes cause 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States, they also contribute to America’s biggest killer: heart disease.
Nearly 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, with almost 20 percent of those deaths directly related to cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope, said smoking affects the heart by:
- Increasing blood pressure and heart rate
- Increasing blood clotting
- Decreasing oxygen to the heart
- Damaging cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels
- Lowering HDL, the “good” cholesterol
- Damaging heart muscle
All of these factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease, which over time, can lead to chest pain, heart failure, arrhythmias, heart attack and even death.