Friday, December 29, 2023

Small clinical trial shows promise in pancreatic cancer vaccine, story in New York Times reports

Using a vaccine aimed at each patient's tumor may have delayed the return of pancreatic cancer in half of those who received it in a small clinical trial.

According to a story by Benjamin Mueller in editions of The New York Times from a while ago that I just came acrossa study in Nature, "was a landmark in the…movement to make cancer vaccines tailored to the tumors of individual patients."

Dr. Anirban Maitra
Dr. Anirban Maitra, specialist in the disease at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study, is quoted as saying, "This is the first demonstrable success — and I will call it a success despite the preliminary nature of the study — of an mRNA vaccine in pancreatic cancer. By that standard, it's a milestone."

The study only dealt with 16 White patients who were given the vaccine as part of a treatment that also "included chemotherapy and a drug intended to keep tumors from evading people's immune responses," Mueller's story indicated.

Five years ago, when researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center in New York extracted tumors and shipped samples of them to Germany, the study started. In that country, scientists at BioNTech, the company that made a Covid vaccine with Pfizer, analyzed the genetic makeup of certain proteins on the surface of the cancer cells. BioNTech scientists then produced personalized vaccines "designed to teach each patient's immune system to attack the tumors," the Times story reported.

The piece also quoted Dr. Ira Mellman, vice president of cancer immunology at Genentech, which developed the pancreatic cancer vaccine with BioNTech, as saying, "Just establishing the proof of concept that vaccines in cancer can actually do something after, I don't know, 30 years of failure is probably not a bad thing. We'll start with that."

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

Sunday, December 10, 2023

All-time tennis great Chris Evert gets second cancer diagnosis, takes a break from ESPN

Chris Evert, one of the tennis world's greatest woman stars, just received a cancer diagnosis — her second.

The 68-year-old International Tennis Hall-of-Famer, according to a story by Glynn A. Hill in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post, is temporarily stepping down from her position as ESPN analyst and will miss the network's coverage of the Australian Open next month.

Chris Evert
Her public announcement, the article says, "came 11 months after Evert declared she was free of ovarian cancer, which she had discovered in January 2022."

The 18-time Gram Slam singles champion, who intends to return to ESPN for its coverage of the rest of the Grand Slam season, is undergoing chemotherapy following another robotic surgery to remove the malignant cells.

Her statement, made through the network, said, "Since I was first diagnosed with cancer…I've been very open about my experience. I wanted to give all of you an update. My cancer is back. While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it ws caught early."

She added that she encourages "everyone to know [their] family history and advocate for [themselves]. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season." 

Evert, one of the most accomplished players in tennis history, "was ranked first or second in the world from 1975 to 1986 and she became the first player of any gender to win 1,000 singles matches" Hill's story notes.

Evert's first diagnosis was made after a preventive hysterectomy, after which she underwent six cycles of chemo. That helped her bond with her friend, ex-rival Martina Navratilova, who at roughly the same time was diagnosed with early-stage throat and breast cancers. In March of this year, Navratilova declared she was cancer-free.

To learn more about recurring disease, check out Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New treatment choices provide added hope for gastric cancer patients, Mayo Clinic doc says

An increase in recent treatment options has given new hope for patients of stomach cancer, aka gastric cancer.

A recent article by Jason Howland of the Mayo Clinic News Network quotes Dr. Mohamad Sonbol, an oncologist at the clinic as saying that "I tell patients who have recently been diagnosed with gastric cancer that there is definitely a hope because we've gotten significantly better in the last decade, and more specifically, really, in the last year or two."

Dr. Mohamad Sonbol
Options depend on the cancer's location in the stomach, its size and stage, Howland's story indicates, "but can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy."

If you're a man, the piece also says, you're at higher risk for stomach cancer than if you're a woman. 

Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

Still other risk factors, says Sonbol, "are some hereditary syndromes or things that we inherit from our parents."

Early signs of stomach cancer vary, the story notes, "and can include abdominal pain, blood in the stool or just feeling tired."

Stomach cancer, the piece maintains, is relative rare in the United States, so it's frequently diagnosed at later stage of the disease "when symptoms like nausea, heartburn and feeling bloated are more pronounced."

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