Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Experiment could lead to blocking metastasis

Blood test that finds 8 cancers before they spread is showing progress, scientists ascertain

A new study shows an experimental test may provide information that might stop eight cancers from metastasizing.

In an attempt "to try to find cancer before it spreads, when chances of cure are best," many groups are working on "liquid biopsy tests that look for DNA and other things that tumors shed into blood," the Associated Press says.

Findings of the study by Johns Hopkins University scientists, reported recently in the journal Science, indicate that the non-invasive tests were able to locate some 70 percent of the common types of cancer in 1,005 patients. 

"The rates varied depending on the type," the AP dispatch by Marilynn Marchione says, "lower for breast tumors but high for ovarian, liver and pancreatic ones."

The CancerSEEK test, which "detects mutations in 16 genes tied to the cancer and measures eight proteins that often are elevated when cancer is present," the story continues, also honed in on colon, lung, stomach and esophageal cancers. 

Researchers did not include prostate cancer because the PSA blood test already is widely used — though its value for screening has been questioned. 

The eight cancers currently have no screening tests for people at average risk. 
Nickolas Papadopoulos
According to Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D. professor of oncology and pathology at Hopkins and one of the study's leaders, "We're very, very excited and see this as a first step."

However, he cautions, "we don't want people calling up" and asking for it.

That's because the new test "is nowhere near ready for use yet," the AP notes — "it needs to be validated in a larger study already underway in a general population, rather than cancer patients, to see if it truly works and helps save lives."

The Los Angeles Times also quoted Papadopoulos, to the effect that "the goal is to look for as many cancer types as possible in one test, and to identify cancer as early as possible. We know from the data that when you find cancer early, it is easier to kill it by surgery or chemotherapy."

Researchers say the test could cost around $500 based on current materials and methods. 

More information on research and clinical trials can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Has Julia Louis-Dreyfus' disease disappeared?

'Veep' star celebrates end of breast cancer chemo by posting humorous video of two sons

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as TV's "Veep"
Emmy-award winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus celebrated the end of her chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer by posting a hopeful, humorous video tribute created by her grown sons.

This week's oft out-of-focus Instagram post featured Henry, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter, and Charlie, 20, a college basketball player at Northwestern University — who the former star of "Seinfeld" calls "my beauty boys" — and drew more than half a million viewers and more than 5,000 comments within about 24 hours.

Louis-Dreyfus posted the light-hearted video in the same timeframe as her 57th birthday.

The tribute to her was titled "Mom's last day!!! BEAT IT!!!" and was a lip-synched version of Michael Jackson's song.

The former star of "Seinfeld" was diagnosed in September the day after she'd won an Emmy for "Veep," and has since "been sharing her journey and support from loved ones and fans on social media," according to the Associated Press.

Louis-Dreyfus has won a record-setting Emmy for the HBO series five years in a row for her role as Selina Meyer.

About the boys, her offspring with her since-1987 husband, comedian-actor Brad Hall, she noted in a caption, "Pretty swell, right? Ain't they sweet?"

After her second round of chemo in October, she'd shared a photo of herself with an over-the-top drawn-on mustache, and before starting her third round, a story in the Sydney Morning Herald validates, she "posted a skit her 'Veep' co-stars, Matt Walsh and Sam Richardson, filmed to help her get 'psyched,' featuring motivational quotes from a range of problematic historical figures like Joseph Stalin and Harvey Weinstein."

Has her breast cancer disappeared? No announcement about that has been forthcoming yet.

But a discussion of the myriad forms that loving reactions can take may be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Deaths from lung, breast, prostate cancer dip

United States cancer mortality rates have dropped 26% since 1991, new report indicates

The good news: U.S. cancer death rates have continued to fall.

The bad news: While the incidence has dropped for some cancers, it has risen for others.

Those conclusions, according to a story by Judy George on the MedPage Today website yesterday, are based on a statistical report from the American Cancer Society.

Cancer mortality in the U.S. fell 1.7% from 2015 to 2015 — a decline that "continued a long-running trend, with a 26% drop since 1991," George's piece indicates. 
Rebecca Siegel
Her story notes that "the reduction was fueled largely by fewer deaths from lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer," and cites information from Rebecca Siegel of the ACS and colleagues in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 

"Steady reductions in smoking, plus better detection and treatment, accounted for a significant part of the decline," the MedPage Today article adds.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley
The article also quotes Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the ACS, from a statement: "A decline in consumption of cigarettes is credited with being the most important factor in the drop in cancer death rates."

Over the past decade of available data, the story continues, "the overall cancer incidence in men fell by about 2% per year, with the pace accelerating in recent years."

But in women, "declines in lung and colorectal cancers were offset by increasing or stable rates for breast, uterine corpus and thyroid cancers and for melanoma."

Liver cancer incidence has also continued to rise in women.

Siegel's piece also says that researchers have predicted "1,735,350 new cancer cases and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States in 2018."

More information about mortality rates can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.