March 2007 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for March 2007. 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.

FDA Panel Backs Prostate Cancer Vaccine

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Thursday to support approval of Provenge, a vaccine aimed at extending survival of patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

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Radiofrequency Ablation Effective in Lung Cancer Study

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Pulmonary radiofrequency ablation is safe for patients with inoperable lung cancer, and may improve long-term survival and slow tumor progression, researchers report in the April issue of Radiology.

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Infertility Treatment Safe After Borderline Ovarian Tumor

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Infertility treatment appears to be a safe option for women who have problems conceiving after conservative surgical treatment of borderline ovarian tumors, according to the results of a small study published in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility. However, the results cannot be extrapolated to patients with later-stage disease.

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Obesity Linked to Post-Surgery Upgrade of Prostate Cancer

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate cancer patients who are obese are more likely than non-obese patients to have more biopsy cores that are positive, higher levels of prostate-specific antigen and an upgrade of their Gleason score after radical prostatectomy compared with biopsy, according to a study in the March issue of Urology.

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Stem Cell Infusion Helps Regenerate Cancerous Liver

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of portal vein embolization (PVE) and a local infusion of CD133+ bone marrow stem cells can increase hepatic regeneration more than PVE alone in patients with large, malignant lesions scheduled for resection, according to the results of a study published in the April issue of Radiology.

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Robot-Assisted Cystectomy Safe and Effective

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Robot-assisted cystectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection is safe for patients who would otherwise be candidates for open cystectomy, although more control data is needed to fully assess the benefits of this type of procedure, researchers report in the March issue of Urology.

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Complex Arteries No Obstacle to Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with renal tumors who have kidneys with complex vasculature can still be safely treated laparoscopically, researchers report in the March issue of Urology.

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Residents' Work Hours Not the Only Cause of Fatigue

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among young physicians, long hours are not the only work-related pattern that accounts for excessive sleepiness and fatigue-related clinical errors. Night work and schedule instability may take an even greater toll, according to the results of a study published online March 26 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Kidney Transplant Patients at Greater Renal Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Renal transplant patients are at greater risk of renal cell carcinoma in their native kidneys and should be checked annually by ultrasound, researchers report in the March issue of Urology. Localized tumors 6 cm or less in size can be successfully treated.

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MRI Recommended for Breast Cancer Screening

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the contralateral breast in women with breast cancer can detect occult cancers that are missed by mammography, according to study findings published online March 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results were released at the same time as new guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS), which recommend annual MRIs in addition to mammograms for high-risk women.

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Few Surgeons Refer Cancer Patients to Plastic Surgeons

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Many general surgeons do not refer breast cancer patients to a plastic surgeon prior to mastectomy, although female surgeons and those treating many breast cancer patients are more likely to do so, according to a report published online March 26 in Cancer.

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Triple-Negative Breast Cancer More Common in Blacks

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Breast tumors that are negative for the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) are more commonly found in younger women, blacks and Hispanics, and are associated with poorer survival, according to the results of a study published online March 26 in Cancer.

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Web Reminder Increases Mammography Screening

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Use of the Web-based Preventive Care Reminder System, or PRECARES, which office staff use to remind patients to schedule a mammogram, helps increase screening rates, according to a report in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Regular Health Exams Increase Cancer Screening

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Regular, preventive health examinations increase the likelihood that eligible patients will undergo screening for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, according to study findings published in the March 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Progression-Free Survival Methodology Flawed

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- The methodology used to determine progression-free survival, which is increasingly used as a primary endpoint in cancer clinical trials, often leads to overestimates, according to a study in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Plant Compounds May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who consume large amounts of lignans, phytoestrogens found in plants, have a lower risk of developing estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer, researchers report in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Narrow-Band Imaging Evaluated in Colon Cancer

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Both low-magnification and high-magnification narrow-band imaging can distinguish neoplastic from non-neoplastic colorectal lesions, and its diagnostic accuracy is superior to conventional colonoscopy, according to a report published in the March issue of Gut.

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Even with Insurance, Patients Can Have Medical Debt

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- When serious illness strikes, even people with seemingly comprehensive health insurance can accrue significant medical debt because of gaps in coverage or insurance-company practices. This adversely affects not only their finances but also their health, according to a report released March 22 by The Access Project in Boston.

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Low-Dose Birth Control May Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Among women who take low-dose oral contraceptives containing ethinyl estradiol and norgestrel, researchers have found an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who have never used hormonal contraception, according to a report in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Prostate Cancer

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Men in the United States often have insufficient plasma levels of vitamin D and those with lower levels have a higher risk of prostate cancer, particularly if they also have a polymorphism that results in a less functional vitamin D receptor, according to a study in the March issue of PLoS Medicine.

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Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Dietary Fat

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- There is a direct association between dietary fat intake and the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women, according to the results of a study published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Bisphosphonates Stave Off Bone Loss in Prostate Cancer

WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Once-weekly oral bisphosphonate therapy can stave off bone loss among men with prostate cancer who are undergoing androgen deprivation therapy, according to a report in the March 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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In Melanoma, Sentinel Node Can Occur Outside Nodal Basin

WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Sentinel lymph nodes outside the conventional nodal basin are relatively rare in patients with primary cutaneous melanoma, but such interval nodes may be as likely to contain metastatic spread as conventional nodes, researchers report in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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Acquired Melanocytic Nevi Pattern Varies in Whites

WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- White patients with different skin types show significant differences in the prevalence of acquired melanocytic nevi, according to study findings published in the March issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

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Surgery, Radiotherapy Equal for Some Lung Cancer Stages

WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Surgery is no more successful than radiotherapy in treating patients with pathologically proven stage IIIA-N2 non-small-cell lung cancer, according to the results of a study published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Physicians Often Decide Where Medicare Patients Have Surgery

WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians serve as the decision-maker in choosing a hospital for surgical Medicare patients nearly one-third of the time, researchers report in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

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Colon Cancer Survival Linked to Lymph Node Analysis

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- There is a direct association between survival rates for stage II and III colon cancer and the number of lymph nodes that are evaluated after surgical resection, according to a meta-analysis in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Decades After Childhood Leukemia, Cancer Risk Rises

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- In patients treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood, the cumulative incidence rate of secondary cancers increases steadily for 30 years after treatment, according to study findings published in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Too Many Barriers Deprive Dying Patients of Hospice Care

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Only one-third of terminally ill patients in the United States seek hospice care, but removing barriers to talking about such care could allow more patients to use the support earlier in their illness, researchers report in the March 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Black Male Breast Cancer Mortality Three Times Whites

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Black males in the United States are half as likely to be referred to a medical oncologist and more than three times as likely to die from breast cancer as white males, according to a report in the March 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Low-Grade Dysplasia Predicts Esophageal Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- The extent of low-grade dysplasia, but not the extent of high-grade dysplasia, may predict risk of progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma among patients with Barrett's esophagus, researchers report in the March issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Hyperglycemia May Increase Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Hyperglycemia, independent of obesity, approximately doubles the risk of cancers including malignant melanoma and cancer of the pancreas, endometrium and urinary tract, according to the results of a study published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

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Expert Centers for Ovarian Cancer Are Cost-Effective

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- While patients with advanced ovarian cancer who are treated at expert centers have higher overall costs than patients treated at less-experienced medical centers, the strategy is more cost-effective over time, according to a report published online March 12 in Cancer.

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Androgen Therapy Linked to Periodontal Disease

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Men with prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation therapy have a higher risk of periodontal disease than patients not undergoing the therapy, researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Urology.

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Many Stomas in Rectal Cancer Patients Not Reversed

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Almost one-fifth of stomas created in rectal cancer patients undergoing total mesorectal excision are never closed, largely as a result of postoperative complications, according to the results of a study published online March 15 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Stem-Cell Autograft-Allograft Improves Myeloma Survival

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with newly diagnosed myeloma who receive a hematopoietic stem-cell autograft and a stem-cell allograft from an HLA-identical sibling tend to survive longer than patients who undergo a double-autologous stem-cell transplant, according to study findings published in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Study Projects Acute Oncologist Shortfall by 2020

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- An aging U.S. population and better cancer survival rates means that demand for oncology services could outstrip supply by up to 15 million visits by 2020, according to a report in the March issue of the Journal of Oncology Practice.

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Racial Disparity in Prostate Cancer Due to Poor Access

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Racial disparities in prostate cancer mortality continue to exist in the United States, most likely because of reduced access and continuity of medical care stemming from poor socioeconomic status, according to a report in the April 15 issue of Cancer.

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Tykerb Approved for HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval to a new anti-cancer treatment, Tykerb (lapatinib), for use in combination with Xeloda (capectabine) for treatment of patients with advanced metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. Women who have already been treated with other cancer drugs such as an anthracycline, a taxane, or Herceptin (trastuzumab) can be prescribed the drug.

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Insurance Status Affects Care Related to Health Crisis

TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Although the majority of all patients receive appropriate immediate and follow-up care for "health shocks," including unintentional injuries and new chronic conditions, uninsured patients lag behind their insured counterparts, according to study findings published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Radiation for Breast Cancer in 1980s Linked to Heart Risk

MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Although radiation treatment for breast cancer has changed over time, women who received radiation in the 1980s still have an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, and certain adjuvant chemotherapy regimens and smoking also increase the risk, according to study findings published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Endotoxin Exposure May Reduce Lung Cancer Risk

MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term occupational exposure to endotoxin may reduce the risk of lung cancer, according to a report published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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FDA Adds Boxed Warning to Aranesp, Procrit and Epogen

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has added a boxed warning to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, including Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa), Epogen and Procrit (both epoetin alfa). Physicians should weigh the risks and benefits of the drugs, and if they use them, they should monitor and adjust patient dosage to ensure the lowest level of hemoglobin is maintained to avoid transfusion.

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Novel Toxic Compound May Treat Prostate Cancer

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- PRX302, a toxin activated by prostate-specific antigen, may be a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer and other prostate conditions, according to the results of a study in animals published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Countries' Asbestos Use Linked to Mesothelioma Rates

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The amount of asbestos a country used in the 1960s is strongly linked to mortality rates from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in both men and women in 2000-2004, according to an international analysis in the March 10 issue of The Lancet that calls for the elimination of the mineral.

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Breast Density Changes Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Changes in breast density may predict a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to the results of a study published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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CDC Report Assesses State of Aging Americans' Health

THURSDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- By 2030, 71 million Americans will be age 65 and older, placing additional strains on a health care system in which almost 95 percent of expenditures already go toward treating older adults' chronic health conditions, according to a report published March 8 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Merck Company Foundation.

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Long-Term Cardiac Risk After Hodgkin Lymphoma

THURSDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma have a threefold to fivefold increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in the decades after treatment, according to a study in the March 1 issue of Blood.

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PET Accurately Spots Aggressive Renal Cancer

WEDNESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Positron emission tomography (PET) with an iodine-124-labelled antibody can help determine if a renal mass is an aggressive clear-cell carcinoma that warrants immediate surgery instead of biopsy, according to an open-label pilot study published online March 7 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Perinatal Factors Affect Neuroblastoma Risk

WEDNESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Ethnicity and perinatal factors, including delivery weight, number of previous pregnancies and Caesarean or vaginal delivery, affect the risk of developing neuroblastoma before 5 years of age, according to the results of a study published in the March 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Good Quality of Life After Iodine-125 Prostate Implant

WEDNESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Treating localized prostate cancer with iodine-125 brachytherapy produces excellent quality-of-life results over the long term, according to a study in the February issue of Urology.

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Pregnancy May Increase Melanoma Risk

WEDNESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnancy increases the risk of developing melanoma in women under 55 years old, with the risk increasing with increasing number of births, researchers report in the March 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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CT Screening Does Not Reduce Lung Cancer Deaths

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- While routine computed tomography (CT) screening can help detect lung cancer earlier in current and former smokers, it has no effect on diagnosis of advanced-stage lung cancer or death from lung cancer in this group, researchers report in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Aspirin Not Advised to Prevent Colon Cancer in Most People

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors reduce the incidence of colorectal adenomas or colorectal cancers, but the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks do not favor their use in average-risk individuals, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The recommendations and two reviews of the data are published in the March 6 Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Higher Cancer Mortality Seen in Rheumatoid Arthritis

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who are diagnosed with new-onset inflammatory polyarthritis and go on to develop cancer have a greater risk of dying of the cancer than other oncology patients, according to a study in the March issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. The findings suggest that the risk of cancer associated with rheumatoid arthritis may be due to decreased survival rather than an increased incidence.

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Urinary Protein Shows Promise As Renal Cancer Marker

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- The expression of brain-type fatty acid-binding protein, which can be detected in urine using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, may be helpful as an ancillary diagnostic tool for renal cell carcinoma, as well as to monitor patients after surgical removal of the tumor, according to a report in the February issue of Urology.

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Male, Female Radiologists Differ in Career Choices

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Female radiologists differ from their male colleagues with respect to age, training and the types of practices they choose to work in, according to a report in the March issue of Radiology.

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Childhood Cancer Survivors Face Osteoporosis Risk

FRIDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children and adolescents who receive treatment for cancer often have a loss of bone mineral density that requires long-term management, according to a report published in the April 1 issue of Cancer.

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Lung Transplant Patients at Risk of Later Complication

FRIDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- Lung transplant recipients who develop primary graft dysfunction after surgery have an increased subsequent risk of developing bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, according to a study published in the March 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Genetic Profile Predicts Chemo Response in Colon Cancer

FRIDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- A set of 14 genes can predict the response to chemotherapy in patients with advanced colorectal cancer with 95 percent accuracy, according to the results of a study published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Immune Response to Melanoma Affects Odds of Metastasis

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with primary cutaneous melanoma, the presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is associated with a lower risk of metastasis to the lymph nodes, according to the results of a study published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Positive PSA Test Causes Worry, Even If Biopsy Negative

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Men who have a positive prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and subsequent workup for prostate cancer become more worried about cancer and report impaired sexual function, even in the case of a negative biopsy result, researchers report in the February issue of Urology.

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Molecular Profile of Ovarian Tumor Vasculature Identified

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Ovarian cancers express 12 tumor vascular markers that differ from normal ovarian tissue and other tumors, according to the results of a study published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The markers could be developed into a new diagnostic test for the disease.

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