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February 2009 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for February 2009. 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.

Goserelin Treatment Shows Similar Benefits As Tamoxifen

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The use of goserelin was associated with improved rates of survival and recurrence over the long term in women with breast cancer, according to research published online Feb. 24 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Risk of Death in Elderly

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Older individuals who are excessively sleepy during the day may face a higher risk of mortality, according to research published online Feb. 26 in the journal Stroke.

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Genetic Variants Predict Survival in Pancreatic Cancer

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with resectable pancreatic cancer, mismatch repair gene polymorphisms may be significantly associated with clinical outcomes, according to a report published online Feb. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Technique Renders Breast Cancer Sensitive to Tamoxifen

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Switching on the estrogen receptor (ER) gene in the one-third of breast cancers that do not produce the receptor, which have a poor prognosis, restores their sensitivity to tamoxifen, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Gene Mutation Linked to Higher Risk of Colon Cancer Death

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Mutations in a gene involved in promoting cell growth increase the risk of cancer-specific death in patients with colon cancer, and the increased risk appears to depend on the absence of mutations in another cancer-promoting gene, according to research published online Feb. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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PSA Provides Higher Cancer Prediction By Race

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has a higher prediction for prostate cancer in African American men, which may be explained by genetic West African ancestry, according to a study published online Feb. 24 in Cancer Prevention Research.

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Variables Predicting Cancer After Mammography Identified

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Among women who develop invasive breast cancer after abnormal mammographic findings, the best predictors of cancer are masses and calcifications, with asymmetry and architectural distortions having much lower positive predictive value, researchers report in the March issue of Radiology.

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Light Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer Risk in Women

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Even low levels of alcohol consumption may raise women's risks of certain cancers, according to research published in the Mar. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Liver Cancer Rates Tripled in the United States Since 1970s

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States has tripled since the 1970s, although survival has continued to improve due to better diagnosis and treatment, according to a report published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Supplements Affect Expression of Prostate Cancer Genes

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In prostate cancer patients scheduled for radical prostatectomy, selenium and vitamin E have significant effects on expression levels of genes commonly associated with cancer development and progression that may have clinical implications, according to an article published in the Mar. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Age, Treatment Predictive of Leukemia Prognosis

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Complete response, time to treatment failure and overall survival are useful outcomes for developing new prognostic models for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to research published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Male Infertility Linked to Testicular Cancer Risk

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Men with male factor infertility showed a markedly higher risk of testicular cancer than men in the general population, according to research published in the Feb. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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HPV-Positive Test Less Likely Than Previously Reported

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of a positive carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) test in a general population of women is less likely than previously reported, suggesting concerns over HPV testing in general clinical practice may be overstated, according to research published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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More Rapid Communication of Breast Biopsy Results Needed

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Uncertainty while awaiting a final diagnosis following a large-core breast biopsy is associated with an abnormal salivary cortisol profile, indicative of biochemical distress, according to research published in the March issue of Radiology.

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Calcium, Other Nutrients May Reduce Disease Risk

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Several nutrients were associated with possible protection from cancer and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to two studies published in the Feb. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Abstract - Park
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Insurance Essential for Good Health, Well-Being

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Having health insurance is vital for health and well-being, and when rates of uninsurance are high, even insured people are more likely to struggle to obtain necessary care, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine released online Feb. 24.

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Denosumab May Benefit Patients with Bone Metastases

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with bone metastases from prostate, breast or other cancers, who have elevated urinary N-telopeptide levels despite ongoing intravenous bisphosphonate therapy, treatment with denosumab may be more effective at normalizing levels and reducing skeletal-related events than continuation of bisphosphonate therapy, according to a report published in the Mar. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Letter Program May Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A letter notification program targeting women with early-stage breast cancer may prompt some patients to take advantage of extended adjuvant letrozole therapy, researchers report in the Mar. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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US Health Spending May Have Hit $2.4 Trillion in 2008

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Health spending in the United States was estimated to be $2.4 trillion last year, and is expected to account for an unprecedented share of the economy this year, according to a report published online Feb. 24 in Health Affairs.

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Reminders May Improve Rates of Colorectal Cancer Screening

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Mailed reminders to patients and electronic reminders to physicians may improve rates of colorectal cancer screening and detection of adenomas, according to study findings published in the Feb. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Colon Cancer Patients Influencing Treatment Choices

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with colon cancer who seek treatment information are more likely to know about and be treated with novel targeted therapies, regardless of whether they have metastatic disease, for which the therapies have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, or localized disease, for which the drugs are not approved treatments, according to an article published online Feb. 23 in Cancer.

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Study Supports Halt of PSA Testing in Some Older Men

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Men who are 75 to 80 years old and have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) less than 3 ng/mL are not likely to have life-threatening prostate cancer during the remainder of their lives, according to research released online in advance of publication in the April issue of the Journal of Urology.

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Azacitidine May Be Effective in Myelodysplastic Syndrome

MONDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Azacitidine, as opposed to conventional care, improves overall survival in patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome, according to research published online Feb. 19 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Tibolone Linked to Breast Cancer Recurrence

MONDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The synthetic steroid tibolone increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a report published in the February issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy Use On The Rise

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- During recent years, contralateral prophylactic mastectomy has become a more commonly used treatment in women with ductal carcinoma in situ, according to research published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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ASCO Oncology Exam Tests Fellows' Competencies

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The development of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 200-question Medical Oncology In-Training Examination required four years and contributions from a testing organization and volunteer question-writers, according to an overview of the process published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Early Recognition of Depression May Benefit Cancer Survivors

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- People diagnosed with cancer may face an increased risk of depression that persists for years, according to research published online Feb. 17 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Proposed Changes to Health Care Would Reduce Costs

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Simultaneous gains in universal health coverage, improved health outcomes and slowed spending growth would have a major impact on the development of public policy, according to a perspective published in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Transparency, Globalization Growing in Clinical Research

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- All clinical trial data and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration database should be publicly available, and global clinical research should be conducted in relevant populations for potential applications of the intervention, according to two articles published in the Feb. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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IDH1, IDH2 Mutations Linked to Malignant Glioma

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Mutations in the isocitrate dehydrogenase genes IDH1 and IDH2 appear to play a role in the pathogenesis of malignant gliomas, according to research published in the Feb. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Implementing a Quality Improvement Faculty Path

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A new career pathway in academic medicine, termed clinicians in quality improvement, is a justified concept to achieve and recognize excellence in patient safety, according to a commentary published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Unemployment Higher Among Cancer Survivors

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer survivors, especially of the breast, gastrointestinal system and female reproductive organs, have an increased risk of experiencing unemployment, according to a review published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Gene Linked to Lower Survival in Colorectal Cancer Patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal cancer patients whose lymph nodes are histologically negative but produce a marker of lymph node metastasis have an earlier time to recurrence and lower disease-free survival, researchers report in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Ads Featuring 'Drug Facts Box' Help Educate Consumers

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Replacing the brief summary in direct-to-consumer ads with a "drug facts box" may result in improved consumer knowledge and judgment about medication benefits and side effects, according to study findings released online Feb. 17 in advance of publication in the Apr. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Social Norms Influence Lifeguards' Safe Sun Habits

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Workplace safe sun policies and participation in skin cancer prevention programs both help improve the sun protection habits of lifeguards and aquatic instructors, but social norms exert the greatest influence, researchers report in the February issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

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Poorer Prognosis for Black Women with Uterine Tumors

MONDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Black women with uterine corpus tumors have a higher likelihood of mortality compared with white women, revealing a racial disparity that has continued over time, according to research published online Feb. 9 in Cancer.

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Breast Imaging Useful for Assessing Cancer Extent

MONDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Breast MRI can be useful for assessing the extent of disease in women diagnosed with breast cancer, but surgical treatment decisions should not be made solely on breast MRI results, according to a review in the February issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

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Urinary Metabolite Levels Higher in Prostate Cancer

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of an amino acid derivative are higher in the urine of men with more advanced prostate cancer, which could be used as a non-invasive screening test, according to a study in the Feb. 12 issue of Nature.

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Breast Cancer Risk Raised in Hodgkin's Disease Survivors

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women who survived Hodgkin's disease as children have a 37-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer than women in the general population, particularly bilateral disease, according to study findings published in the September issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology - Biology - Physics.

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Surrogate Endpoints Found for Prostate Cancer Survival

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Distant metastasis and general clinical treatment failure three years after prostate cancer treatment are effective surrogate endpoints for survival at 10 years, according to a report published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Pregnancy Can Mean Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Although pregnancy may conceal breast cancer in younger women and lead to a delay in diagnosis, evaluation and treatment, pregnancy-associated breast cancers are not associated with a worse outcome compared to non-pregnancy-associated breast cancers, according to research published online Feb. 9 in Cancer.

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Prophylactic Warfarin Doesn't Cut Cancer Patient Thromboses

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Treating cancer patients who have central venous catheters with prophylactic warfarin does not reduce the risk of symptomatic catheter-related or other thromboses, according to a report published in the Feb. 14 issue of The Lancet.

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Genetic Variants Linked to Higher Risk of Thyroid Cancer

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Two common genetic variants appear to be associated with an increased risk of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, according to research published online Feb. 6 in the journal Nature Genetics.

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Social Factors Affect Smoke Avoidance in Pregnant Women

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- In pregnant non-smoking black women, social factors play a significant role in the avoidance of environmental tobacco smoke, according to an article published in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Drug Regimen Effective for Small-Cell Lung Cancer

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A 21-day regimen of irinotecan and carboplatin is effective and well-tolerated in treating extensive and relapsed small-cell lung cancer, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Protein Critical for Action of Thyroid Cancer Drug

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A cellular protein is a critical mediator in the signaling pathway of a drug that inhibits the growth of thyroid cancer cells, according to a report published online Feb. 10 in Cancer Research.

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Aspirin Lowers Risk of Colorectal Adenomas

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Aspirin lowers the risk of colorectal adenomas, and the lower risk is maintained if patients frequently take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) post-treatment, according to two studies published online Feb. 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Abstract - Cole
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Abstract - Grau
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Drug Improves Survival in Follicular Lymphoma Patients

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Maintenance therapy with rituximab improves survival in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma, according to research published online Feb. 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Statins Not Effective As Cancer Preventatives

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Despite recent epidemiologic evidence suggesting statins decrease breast cancer incidence, they had no activity in a rat model of mammary cancer, according to research published in the February issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

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Tumor Cells May Be Marker of Prostate Cancer Survival

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with progressive, metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer receiving first-line chemotherapy, the circulating tumor cell count may be a useful prognostic marker for survival, according to a report published online Feb. 11 in The Lancet Oncology.

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B-Cell Clones Often Present Before Leukemia Diagnosis

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly all cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are preceded by monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis, which affects roughly 4 percent of individuals over the age of 50, according to research published in the Feb. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Financial Incentives May Improve Smoking Cessation

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Offering workers financial incentives to stop smoking was associated with higher long-term smoking cessation rates, according to research published in the Feb. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Additional Drug Improves Survival in Early Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Tamoxifen or anastrozole treatment of premenopausal women with endocrine-responsive early breast cancer leads to similar rates of disease-free survival, which is improved by additional treatment with zoledronic acid, according to a report in the Feb. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Mutations Linked to Family Members Prone to Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with germline mutations in the p53 gene, which increases cancer risk, have at least one family member with one of four "core" cancers, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Marijuana Use Linked to Common Testicular Malignancy

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana use may increase men's risk of non-seminoma testicular germ cell tumors, according to research published online Feb. 9 in the journal Cancer.

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Multivitamins Do Not Lower Risk of Chronic Disease

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Multivitamins have little to no impact on the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease or mortality in postmenopausal women, according to study findings published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Care Coordination Programs Don't Benefit Medicare Patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- For Medicare beneficiaries with chronic illnesses, most care coordination programs have little impact on reducing hospitalizations and costs or improving quality of care, according to a report published in the Feb. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Locoregional Treatment of Breast Cancer Effective

TUESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Locoregional treatment of advanced breast cancer, consisting of locoregional radiotherapy to the breast and regional lymphatics in most cases, is effective in improving survival, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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FDA OKs Drug Produced Using Genetically Engineered Goats

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a product that is produced using genetically engineered animals, according to a release issued by the agency.

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RFA May Offer Benefit in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) may provide better three-year overall survival for patients with small hepatocellular carcinomas compared with percutaneous ethanol injection, according to research published in the February issue of Hepatology.

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ASCO Guide Addresses High Costs of Cancer Care

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Communication between patients and their doctors regarding the high cost of cancer care may be improved with the Feb. 5 release of a new patient guide from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

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Opioid Use Before Death Varies in Pediatric Cancer Patients

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of hospitalized pediatric oncology patients receiving opioids during their last week of life varies substantially depending on the hospital, according to study findings released online Nov. 6 in advance of publication in Pediatric Blood and Cancer.

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Smoking Stops Cell Growth Via Aging Protein

MONDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoke stops cell growth and impairs cell migration via a protein involved in premature aging, according to research published in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Capn4 Linked to Metastasis and Invasion in Liver Cancer

FRIDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Overexpression of calpain small subunit 1 (Capn4) appears to play a role in invasion and metastasis following liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma, according to research published in the February issue of Hepatology.

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Fertility Treatment Does Not Affect Ovarian Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are treated with fertility drugs are not at increased risk of ovarian cancer, regardless of what types of drugs are used, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 5 in BMJ.

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Nanoprobe Points to Outcome Following Tumor Treatment

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A method of assessing vascular permeability in tumors in rats using a nanoprobe helped predict the effect of later treatment with liposomal doxorubicin, according to research published in the February issue of Radiology.

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US Health Care System Squeezes Cancer Patients

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with life-threatening illnesses not only face the specter of serious disease, they also have to grapple with incurring huge debts to meet medical fees, personal bankruptcy and even forgoing treatment, according to a report released Feb. 5 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

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Hormonal Therapy Link to Breast Cancer Explored

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A decline in the use of combined hormone therapy appears responsible for a decreased incidence of breast cancer among women, according to research published Feb. 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Four-Drug Regimen Not Beneficial in Colorectal Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, the addition of cetuximab to capecitabine, oxaliplatin and bevacizumab is associated with significantly reduced progression-free survival and a lower quality of life, according to a report published in the Feb. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Cardiac Imaging Use Must Consider Risks and Rewards

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The decision to use cardiac imaging tests should take into account the potential risks of malignancy due to radiation exposure, as well as the benefits of the test, according to an American Heart Association science advisory published online Feb. 2 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Computer-Aided Detection Improves Cancer Screening

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Using computer-aided detection in conjunction with traditional computed tomographic (CT) colonography screening is a cost-effective way to improve colorectal cancer prevention, according to research published in the February issue of Radiology.

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Aggressive Therapy Beneficial for Ependymoma Patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Gross-total resection, including second surgery for patients with an incomplete first surgery, plus high-dose postoperative radiotherapy provides long-term benefits in local tumor control, event-free survival and overall survival for children with localized ependymoma, according to research published online Jan. 31 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Benefits and Harms of Skin Cancer Screening Not Clear

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- There is not enough evidence in the published research on skin cancer screening to determine the benefits and harms of whole-body examination by physicians or by self-examination, according to two articles published in the Feb. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Abstract - Wolff
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Abstract - U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
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Consensus Review Improves Breast Cancer Detection

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Consensus review of discordant mammography findings improves cancer detection while reducing the number of unnecessary and stressful callbacks of non-cancer patients for further assessment, according to research published in the February issue of Radiology.

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New Fecal Blood Tests Allow Detection of Colorectal Cancer

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Qualitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests may be a future option of colorectal cancer screening over the currently used and more limited guaiac-based tests, according to research published Feb. 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Early Transplants Not Better for Alcoholic Cirrhosis Patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with Child-Pugh stage B alcoholic cirrhosis do not benefit from immediate listing for liver transplantation versus waiting until the disease progresses to stage C before listing for transplantation, according to an article published in the Feb. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Genetic Variants in Alcohol Genes Linked to Cancer

MONDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Several polymorphisms in genes for enzymes involved in ethanol metabolism may influence cancer risk in individuals who consume alcohol, according to a review published in the February issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Microcoils Effective to Guide Lung Nodule Removal

MONDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Computed tomography-guided placement of microcoils to guide video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical (VATS) excision of lung nodules is safe and effective with few complications, according to study findings published in the February issue of Radiology.

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Physician's Briefing
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