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April 2006 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for April 2006. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Fluorescent Drug Allows Better Glioma Resection and Survival

FRIDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with malignant gliomas have a more successful resection and higher progression-free survival rate if they are given 5-aminolevulinic acid, which makes their tumors fluoresce during surgery, according to a report in the May issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Report Sheds Light on X-SCID Gene Therapy Cancer Risk

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Gene therapy for treatment of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (X-SCID), while largely successful, may cause T-cell leukemias because of the nature of the therapeutic gene rather than insertional mutagenesis, according to a brief communication in this week's issue of Nature.

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Medical Students Need More Training in Skin Cancer Exams

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- One in four medical students has never been trained to, or performed, a skin cancer examination, and less than one-third feel confident in their own skill at performing such exams, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology. Medical students need more consistent training in performing skin cancer examinations, the study authors conclude.

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Aging Disease-Gene Defect Active in Normal Cell Aging

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- A splicing defect in the lamin A gene is known to cause premature aging diseases, and the same defect has now been linked to the normal process of cellular aging, according to a report published April 27 in Sciencexpress, the early online edition of Science. Reversing the defect causes fibroblasts to lose some age-related characteristics, and cells from 80- and 90-year-olds proliferate more like a child's.

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Asians with Large Nevi May Have Low Melanoma Risk

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Although white patients with large congenital melanocytic nevi (LCMN) can have a lifetime melanoma risk as high as 10 percent, none of 36 Asians with LCMN developed cancer after almost 17 years, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Skin Cancer Patients Detect 44 Percent of Own Melanomas

THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Skin cancer patients detect almost half of their melanomas themselves, while physicians find about one quarter of cases, according to the results of an Australian study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The study was conducted in a region that has been encouraged to check for melanomas for many years, the authors note.

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Hypoxia-Related Enzyme Essential for Tumor Metastasis

WEDNESDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- The enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) is highly expressed in hypoxic human tumor cells and plays an essential role in metastasis, according to a report in the April 27 issue of Nature. The protein could be a new target for potential cancer therapies.

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Low Plasma Folate Linked to Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk

TUESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with either low or high plasma folate concentrations may have a lower risk of colorectal cancer than those with intermediate levels, according to a study published online April 25 in the journal Gut. The study is one of the few to examine the effect of circulating folate levels, rather than dietary intake of folate, on colorectal cancer risk.

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FDA Opposes Medical Marijuana

TUESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Noting that voters in a growing number of states have backed measures legalizing marijuana smoking under physician supervision, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a stand against the medical use of smoked marijuana.

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Most Physicians Would Halt Chemo at Patient's Request

MONDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of physicians would halt chemotherapy if a terminal cancer patient insisted, but fewer would comply with a patient's request to speed death with drugs, according to a survey of physicians in six European countries and Australia published in the April 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Telephone Support Boosts Cancer-Screening Rates

MONDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- Telephone support can increase rates of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening among minority and low-income women, according to a study published in the April 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Raloxifene Equals Tamoxifen for Breast Cancer Prevention

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Raloxifene is equal to tamoxifen at preventing invasive breast cancer and may offer some advantages over tamoxifen, including a lower risk of uterine cancer and blood clots, according to preliminary results of the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) trial released this week by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

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CDC Reports U.S. Death Rate Has Fallen to Record Low

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- The United States death rate has fallen to a record low, life expectancy is increasing and the life expectancy gender gap is narrowing, according to a summary report, issued April 19 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

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Cancer Patients Have More Physical Limitations with Aging

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients experience a higher number of functional limitations as they age than those who have never been diagnosed with cancer, according to a report in the April issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Health care interventions are needed to help cancer patients regain or maintain physical activity as they age, the authors indicate.

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Benign Lesions Linked to Higher Risk of Anal Cancer

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- There is a significant link between benign inflammatory anal lesions and long-term risk of anal cancer, although hemorrhoids don't appear to be a risk factor, according to a study in the May issue of Gut.

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Black Women in U.S. Get Fewer Mammograms

WEDNESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Black women in the United States tend to have longer intervals between mammograms than white women, which could help explain why black women have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, according to a study in the April 18 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Researchers Develop Model to Predict Prostate Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have developed a model that can be used to predict prostate cancer risk based on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, family history, race and other factors, according to a study in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The model suggests that men who are black, have an older age at biopsy, higher PSA and an abnormal digital rectal exam result are more likely to have high-grade disease.

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Pregnancy Lowers Cancer Risk in BRCA Carriers Over 40

WEDNESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women over 40 years old who carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations predisposing them to breast cancer have a 14 percent reduced risk of breast cancer with each full-term pregnancy, similar to the general population, according to a study in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Breast Implants Not Linked to Cancer in Long-Term Study

WEDNESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- After a mean follow-up of nearly 20 years, researchers found that women with cosmetic breast implants are not at higher risk of cancer overall and in fact have a lower risk of breast cancer, according to a study in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Cancer Patients Need Support in Talking to Their Children

TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children of breast cancer patients often know something is wrong before they are told, and find their mother's chemotherapy and hair loss especially stressful, according to a study published online April 13 in BMJ, which suggests parents should get more support on discussing life-threatening illnesses with children.

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Melanoma Recurs More Often Than Thought

TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Melanomas may recur more frequently than previous studies have shown, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

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High Levels of Cadmium in Young Smokers

MONDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Cadmium and strontium are present at high levels in the blood of young smokers and cadmium has multiple effects on the vascular endothelium, according to a study in the April issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

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'Cytokine Storm' May Explain U.K. Clinical Trial Disaster

MONDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- The experimental antibody drug TGN1412 that caused organ failure in six British men but not in test animals may have triggered a "cytokine storm" immune reaction, according to a news report published in the April 13 issue of Nature.

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Sedentary Women at Higher Risk of Ovarian Cancer

FRIDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who are sedentary for six hours a day or more have a 55 percent greater risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with less sedentary women, according to a study in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Heavy Smoking Depletes Protective B Vitamins

FRIDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy cigarette smoking depletes B vitamins in the bodies of smokers, decreasing the protective effect against genetic damage, according to research published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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One-Third of Cancer Patients Are Malnourished

THURSDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- About a third of cancer patients are malnourished at the start of radiation treatment, which can worsen after radiotherapy, particularly in patients with head and neck cancers, according to a Turkish study in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Dietary Supplement Use Common in Cancer Patients

THURSDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of cancer patients in a veterans' hospital report using dietary supplements, with a risk existing for interactions between the supplement and prescription medications, according to a study in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Survival Lower in Hispanic Colorectal Cancer Patients

WEDNESDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic patients in the United States tend to present with colorectal cancer at a younger age and more advanced disease and have significantly worse survival than non-Hispanic whites, according to a study in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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High Cholesterol Linked to Prostate Cancer

WEDNESDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Men with hypercholesterolemia may have a higher risk of prostate cancer, according to a case-control study published online April 12 in the Annals of Oncology.

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Modern Chemotherapy Over 50 Percent More Effective

TUESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer and node-positive tumors, biweekly treatment with doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel produces a more than 50 percent lower rate of recurrence and mortality, compared with low-dose cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and fluorouracil, according to a study in the April 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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HRT After Hysterectomy Does Not Raise Breast Cancer Risk

TUESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not raise the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women with prior hysterectomy, according to a study in the April 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Hormone Therapy Linked to Breast Cancer in Blacks

TUESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Hormone therapy is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer in black women, especially for those with a low body mass index (BMI), according to a report in the April 10 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Prostate-Specific Nanoparticles Shrink Tumors in Mice

TUESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have developed prostate-specific nanoparticles that can deliver docetaxel to prostate cells, and the nanoparticles completely reduced tumors in 5 of 7 mice treated with the experimental therapy, according to a report published online April 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Invasive Cancer Risk Higher with Lobular Carcinoma In Situ

MONDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with lobular carcinoma in situ are more likely to develop invasive breast cancer than those with ductal carcinoma in situ, according to research published online April 10 in Cancer.

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HPV Vaccine Shows Long-Term Protection Against Infection

FRIDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- A follow-up of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine trial first reported in 2004 shows that the therapy could protect women against infection for up to 4.5 years, according to a report published online April 6 in The Lancet.

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Nicotine May Reduce Efficacy of Lung Cancer Chemotherapy

FRIDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine in cigarettes or patches may block the ability of some chemotherapy drugs to kill lung cancer cells, a finding that agrees with clinical studies showing that patients who smoke have worse survival rates, according to a study published online April 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Low Vitamin D Linked to Cancer Risk in Men

THURSDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men with lower levels of vitamin D may be at higher risk than other men of developing cancer, particularly of the digestive system, according to a study in the April 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Report Suggests Half of Cancer Deaths Preventable

WEDNESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- At least half of all deaths due to cancer are preventable, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Cancer Society. Tobacco use, physical inactivity, obesity and poor nutrition are the major preventable causes of cancer-related deaths, and there has been progress in some areas, but not in others, the report indicates.

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Low-Dose Isotretinoin Does Not Prevent Head, Neck Tumors

WEDNESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Despite encouraging results from using high doses of the synthetic vitamin A derivative isotretinoin to treat patients with head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC), the drug has no impact on reducing the rate of second primary tumors when administered in low doses, according to a study in the April 5 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Soy Associated with Moderately Lower Breast Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing soy consumption may slightly lower breast cancer risk among women in Western nations, according to a meta-analysis published online April 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, the evidence is not strong enough to recommend high-dose isoflavone supplements, they conclude.

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