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July 2008 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for July 2008. 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.

Two Different Breast Cancer Screening Programs Compared

THURSDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Although the organized, population-based screening program in Norway has a longer screening interval, opportunistic mammography screening in Vermont achieves similar outcomes, according to a report published online July 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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PAND Doesn't Add to Survival With Gastric Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- In patients undergoing gastrectomy for curable gastric cancer, the addition of para-aortic nodal dissection (PAND) to D2 lymphadenectomy isn't advisable, according to research in the July 31 New England Journal of Medicine.

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Increased Hip Bone Density Linked to Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- In postmenopausal women, hip bone mineral density predicts breast cancer risk independently of the Gail score, suggesting that the two measurements could be used together to better quantify the risk, according to a study published online July 29 in Cancer.

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Childhood Cancer Survivors Less Likely to Smoke

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- English childhood cancer survivors are significantly less likely to smoke than the general British population, according to an article published online July 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Salmonella Slows Tumor Growth in Some Cancers

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Salmonella typhimurium inhibits the growth of breast and colon tumors and decreases pulmonary metastasis in breast cancer models without inducing severe toxicity, according to a study published online July 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute .

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Androgen-Deprivation Therapy May Harm Cognition

WEDNESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- In men with prostate cancer, androgen-deprivation therapy may be associated with subtle but significant cognitive declines, according to a study published online July 29 in Cancer.

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Kids' Cancer Survival Low in Many Countries

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Annual per-capita government health expenditures are associated with survival of children with cancer in 10 low- and middle-income countries, and half of these countries offer very poor chances of survival for these children, according to research published in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Blood-Based Biomarkers of Prostate Cancer Identified

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Blood levels of small RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs) can distinguish men with prostate cancer from healthy men, according to a study in the July 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Infections Rare After Mohs Micrographic Surgery

MONDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical site infections are extremely uncommon in patients undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer or modified Mohs micrographic surgery for lentigo maligna melanoma in situ, suggesting that the routine administration of antibiotics may be unnecessary, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Fecal Occult Blood Tests Offer Different Results

MONDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- The use of an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (I-FOBT) resulted in higher participation and detection rates for advanced adenomas and cancer than use of a guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (G-FOBT), according to research published in the July Gastroenterology.

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Teledermatology Improves Skin Cancer Outcomes

FRIDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the management of skin cancer, teledermatology referral leads to clinical outcomes that equal or even surpass those of conventional referral, according to a report published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Receptor Activation Inhibits Prostate Cancer Growth

THURSDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- The liver X receptor (LXR), which had previously been shown to sense cholesterol metabolites, can also reduce androgen production and inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells, according to research published in the August issue of Endocrinology.

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Timing of Lymph Node Dissection Studied in Breast Cancer

THURSDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- The timing of axillary lymph node dissection does not affect the number of lymph nodes recovered or long-term complications in patients with breast cancer that has metastasized to the sentinel lymph nodes, according to a report in the July 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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'Tier 4' Drugs Raise Questions About Affordability

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- The emergence of a fourth tier of copayment for expensive drugs calls into question how Americans are going to handle the rising costs of health care, according to a perspective article in the July 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Sorafenib Beneficial in Advanced Liver Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with sorafenib -- an oral multikinase inhibitor -- may benefit patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, according to research published in the July 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Consequences of Genetic Non-Discrimination Act Examined

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA), recently signed into U.S. law, creates a troublesome distinction between those at genetic risk for a disease and those with other characteristics that predispose them to a condition, according to a perspective article published in the July 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Adjuvant Treatment Improves Pancreatic Cancer Survival

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Four new studies show that the addition of chemotherapy and radiation before or after surgery for pancreatic cancer can improve survival, according to an editorial in the July 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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New Standard of Care Proposed for Metastatic Kidney Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Everolimus improves progression-free survival compared to placebo in patients with progressive, metastatic renal cell carcinoma that failed other targeted therapies, according to research published online July 23 in The Lancet.

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Physicians to Get Bonus for Electronic Prescribing

WEDNESDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors using an electronic prescriptions system will be eligible for a bonus from Medicare from 2009 onwards for four years, according to U.S. health officials.

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Drugs Can Reduce Discomfort During Mammography

TUESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Premedication with lidocaine can help reduce discomfort in women who expect pain during mammography screening and make it more likely they will continue to undergo regular screening, according to a report released online July 22 in advance of publication in the September issue of Radiology.

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Gene Expression May Help Predict Lung Cancer Outcomes

TUESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of tumor gene expression and clinical covariates may help predict survival in patients with lung adenocarcinoma, according to an article published online July 20 in Nature Medicine.

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Lymph Node Evaluation Varies by Hospital Type and Volume

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with gastric or pancreatic cancer, lymph node evaluation is significantly more comprehensive at National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated institutions and at high-volume hospitals, according to a report published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery.

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Protein Linked to Poorer Ovarian Cancer Outcomes

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Overexpression of tissue type transglutaminase (TG2) in ovarian carcinoma is associated with poorer patient survival; TG2 also spurs cancer cell attachment, invasion, and resistance to chemotherapy, according to research published in the July 15 issue of Cancer Research.

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Immunosuppressive Agent May Promote Tumor Growth

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- While calcineurin inhibitors are effective immunosuppressive agents that inhibit allograft rejection, they may actually promote tumor growth, according to an article published in the July 15 issue of Cancer Research.

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Robotic Prostatectomy Review Points to Positive Outcomes

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- A review of articles comparing robotically assisted prostatectomies with open and laparoscopic procedures offers data on outcomes to help guide surgical choice. The review was published in the July issue of Urology.

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Retinoic Acid May Spur Tumor Vessel Growth

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Treating SKBR-3 breast cancer cells with retinoic acid can encourage the growth of extensive network structures and induces endothelial genes, suggesting a method of creating blood supply to tumors, according to research published online July 16 in PLoS ONE.

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PET Scans Offer Information on Breast Cancer Survival

THURSDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Positron emission tomography (PET) provides predictive information regarding survival in women with locally advanced breast carcinoma, according to research published online July 14 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Project Compares Cancer Survival Around Globe

THURSDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- A novel comparison of cancer survival around the globe finds a wide variation in survival from breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, according to research published online July 17 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Exception Reporting Improves Pay-for-Performance Benefits

THURSDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Pay-for-performance programs benefit from use of exclusion reporting, whereby certain patients are excluded from quality calculations, and the practice of excluding patients to disguise missed targets, known as gaming, is rare, according to study findings published in the July 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Medical Education Must Adapt to Changing Times

THURSDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Medical schools must adapt their admission requirements and curricula to changes in scientific theory, and are also facing a challenge to the traditional definition of who is suited to the study of medicine, according to two articles published in the July 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Therapy-Suspected Link Reported in Lung Cancer Patient

WEDNESDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- A case of lung cancer in an individual using anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapies -- which regressed upon withdrawal of the drugs -- raises concerns about the use of anti-TNF therapy in older patients with a history of smoking, according to correspondence in the July 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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AMA Actions Fostered U.S. Medical Racial Divide

TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- From the post-Civil War years to the civil rights era a century later, the American Medical Association (AMA) made decisions that helped support a division between white and black Americans in the field of medicine in the United States, according to an article in the July 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Prostate Cancer Vaccine Increases Survival

TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Men with non-metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer have better survival when receiving a vaccine followed by hormone therapy, according to the results of a study published in the July 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

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Iron Reduction Linked to Lower Risk of Cancer

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing iron through regular phlebotomies is associated with a lower incidence of cancer, according to research published in the July 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Breast Cancer Onset in Susceptible Groups Differs

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- The onset of breast cancer in the unaffected twin of a sister with breast cancer and the onset of bilateral breast cancer based on family history differs from that normally seen in unilateral disease and is largely unaffected by age and time since diagnosis, according to a report released online June 30 in advance of publication in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Melanoma Incidence Up Among Younger Whites

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of invasive cutaneous melanoma among white men and women aged 15 to 39 has significantly increased since 1973, and has more than doubled among younger women, according to a letter published online July 10 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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Higher Education Tied to Lower Cancer Death Rates

MONDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Reductions in death rates from four major cancers in the United States in recent years were generally confined to better-educated individuals, and epidemiological studies on cancer and other diseases are vulnerable to false-positive findings, according to two papers published online July 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Younger Breast Cancer Patients Have Worse Prognosis

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients aged 45 and younger have a worse prognosis than their older counterparts, and their disease represents a subset of breast cancers that share gene expression patterns, according to a study published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Pegylated Interferon Boosts Melanoma Survival Rates

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Survival rates for melanoma patients improve if they are treated with a pegylated form of interferon alfa-2 versus observation alone, according to a report published in the July 12 issue of The Lancet.

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Endometrial Cancer Prevention Strategies Needed for Obese

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- In most obese women, neither oral contraceptives nor current screening methods are cost-effective endometrial cancer prevention strategies. But oral contraceptives may be a cost-effective strategy for subgroups of women who are morbidly obese or have longstanding anovulation, researchers report in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Breast-Conserving Surgery Outcomes Affect Quality of Life

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Women with pronounced breast asymmetry after breast-conserving surgery may be at high risk of poor psychosocial functioning, according to study findings published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Study Probes Resveratrol's Anti-Cancer Activities

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes and other plant foods, may inhibit breast cancer initiation through its actions in the estrogen genotoxicity pathway, according to research published in the July issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

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Mantle Cell Lymphoma Rate on Rise in Recent Years

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- In a sample of patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma between 1992 and 2004, mantle cell lymphoma accounted for 2.8 percent of the cases, according to research published in the August 15 issue of Cancer.

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Nanoparticles Send Doxorubicin to Cancer Target

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Using nanoparticles to deliver targeted doxorubicin to tumor vasculature in mice resulted in greatly improved drug efficacy with minimal side effects, according to research published online July 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Program Improves Insomnia After Cancer Treatment

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- A cognitive behavior therapy program consisting of small group sessions teaching stimulus control, sleep restriction and cognitive therapy strategies can improve sleep in cancer patients dealing with insomnia post-treatment, according to the results of a study published online June 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Thickness Predicts Squamous-Cell Carcinoma Spread

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Factors predicting metastasis of cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma include tumor thickness, horizontal size and location at the ear, according to research published online July 9 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Cancers Increasing in HIV-Infected Patients

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Although treatment advances have reduced HIV-related deaths in HIV-infected patients, they are at increasing risk of dying from cancer, and little is known about optimal treatments or the effects of combining antiretroviral and anticancer drugs, according to a review published online June 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Multiple Myeloma Family Merits Long-Term Follow-Up

WEDNESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Five cases of multiple myeloma, three of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and five cases of prostate cancer across two generations of one family points to a pattern consistent with autosomal dominant transmission and warrants on-going study of the family, according to an article published in the July 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Health Cash Incentives for Poor People Debated

WEDNESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Should disadvantaged people be paid to take care of their health? That's the question of a "Head to Head" debate published online July 8 in BMJ.

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FDA: Novel Genetic Test Approved for Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- The SPOT-Light HER2 CISH kit -- a genetic test that measures the number of copies of the HER2 gene in breast tumor tissue -- received approval this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the identification of patients who might benefit from treatment with the drug Herceptin (trastuzumab).

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Little Effect of Medicare Changes on Chemotherapy

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- For elderly patients receiving chemotherapy, the enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) has not greatly affected patient wait times and travel distances for treatment, researchers report in the July 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Androgen Deprivation Not Helpful for Most Prostate Cancers

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Androgen deprivation therapy for localized prostate cancer does not improve survival except in the case of poorly differentiated cancers, according to a report in the July 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Cancer Surgery Costs Lower for High-Volume Surgeons

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- High-volume surgeons are associated with lower inpatient costs for cancer surgery than low-volume surgeons, while hospital volume has little effect, according to study findings published in the July issue of Medical Care.

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Liver Cancer Less Common with More Coffee Drinking

FRIDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of coffee consumption demonstrated an inverse association with primary liver cancer, while elevated levels of gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) increased risk in a large prospective population-based study, according to an article published in the July issue of Hepatology.

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Intervention Benefits Depressed Cancer Patients

FRIDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- A nurse-delivered intervention -- Depression Care for People with Cancer -- may be a beneficial and cost-effective strategy for managing major depressive disorder in patients with cancer and other medical disorders, according to an article published in the July 5 issue of The Lancet.

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Conventional Secondhand Smoke Assessment Faulted

FRIDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- In the assessment of patients exposed to secondhand smoke, measurements of biological markers may be better indicators of exposure and lung cancer risk than conventional assessment methods, researchers report in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Smokeless Tobacco May Be Safer Than Cigarettes

THURSDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- Smokeless tobacco users probably have a lower risk of several common cancers than smokers, but a higher risk than people who use no tobacco products, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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MYC Threshold Found for Tumor Maintenance

THURSDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- In a mouse model of lymphoma, a certain level of MYC expression is necessary to maintain tumorigenesis, and this critical threshold is marked by a shift from cellular proliferation to proliferative arrest and apoptosis, according to research published in the July 1 issue of Cancer Research.

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Multiple Methods Improve Use of Skin Cancer Self-Exam

THURSDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- Several components of the Check-It-Out trial, which entailed a multi-pronged approach to promoting thorough skin self-examination to check for melanoma, were effective, according to study findings published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Novel Drug Effective in Some Advanced Thyroid Cancers

WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Use of motesanib diphosphate -- a novel oral inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors -- may be an effective treatment for some patients with advanced or metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer, according to research published in the July 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Molecular Analysis Monitors Changes in Lung Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells isolated from blood may be a non-invasive procedure that helps physicians monitor changes in epithelial tumor genotypes during treatment, according to the results of a study published online July 2 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Smoke-Free Policies Linked to Many Health Benefits

WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Smoke-free policies -- such as legislation to protect individuals from secondhand smoke -- can lead to health improvements including reduction of respiratory symptoms, and may help reduce adult and youth tobacco use, according to a report published in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

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Co-Pays for Cancer Drugs Illogical and Unworkable

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- The concept of user charges for cancer drugs, cited as a potential solution to fiscal pressures on the United Kingdom's health care system, is an "intellectually dead" idea that is both unworkable and illogical, according to a Views & Reviews article published online June 30 in BMJ.

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Breast Cancer in Pregnancy May Have Worse Prognosis

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to non-pregnancy-associated breast cancers, pregnancy-associated breast cancers present as larger tumors, at a more advanced stage, and are less likely to be hormone receptor-positive, according to an article published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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