3/29/2003 Houston, Texas Reuters News Service / SOURCE: Blood 2003;101:1053-1062. An ingredient in the curry spice turmeric may help suppress and destroy a blood cancer, early lab research shows--suggesting yet another health benefit from this long-heralded substance. Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian food and yellow mustard. Its active ingredient is curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color. Adding curcumin to human cells with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his colleagues found, stopped the cells from replicating. And the cells that were left died. Although the study did not test the benefits of curcumin in patients, previous research has shown the substance may fight other types of cancers, Aggarwal told Reuters Health. Studies have also shown that curcumin, even in large quantities, does not produce any known side effects in humans, the researcher noted. Based on this evidence, Aggarwal recommended that people with cancer should try to eat more curcumin, if possible. "Whichever way you can take it, as much as possible," he said. Aggarwal added, however, that further research is needed to determine how much curcumin people need to get the most benefits. Previous laboratory research has shown that curcumin may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as treat and prevent cancer. Patients with multiple myeloma are in particular need of new treatments, Aggarwal and his colleagues point out in their report in the journal Blood. Once diagnosed with this blood [...]
3/27/2003 Los Angeles Rueters Hank Ballard, the man responsible for starting the “twist” phenomenon that swept the nation in the late 1950s, passed away on March 2 after a battle with throat cancer. Ballard wrote and recorded legendary R&B hit “The Twist” in 1958 as a B-side to one of his singles; the following year, when Chubby Checker unveiled his cover of the song, it became a massive sensation, inciting other groups to record “twist” songs of their own, including “Twisting The Night Away” and “Twist And Shout” — the latter of which was written by the Isley Brothers and became one of the biggest early hits for the Beatles (as well as, many years later, providing one of the best moments in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Ballard was the lead vocalist in ’50s doo-wop group the Midnighters, originally known as the royals, and boasted nearly two dozen hits on the R&B charts, including 1954’s “Work With Me Annie,” which sold over one million copies. He became an inductee to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
3/26/2003 London Patricia Reaney Reuters Taking low-dose aspirin regularly could cut the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus, Italian researchers said on Tuesday. Millions of people already take the painkiller to relieve headaches and arthritis and to prevent heart attacks and stroke. Studies have also suggested the century-old drug could have a protective effect against bowel and lung cancer. Researchers at the Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan have now shown that aspirin can slash the risk of mouth and throat cancer by two-thirds. "We found aspirin had a protective effect against cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract," Dr. Cristina Bosetti, an epidemiologist at the institute, said in an interview. Bosetti and her team analyzed three previous studies involving 965 cancer patients who had been taking aspirin for other problems, such as heart disease, for five years. The cancer patients and nearly 1,800 other people filled in questionnaires about their smoking and drinking habits, diet and how often they took aspirin. The research, which is reported in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed fewer mouth and throat cancers in the patients who had been taking aspirin for five years or longer. "This is the first study which reports such protection. Few studies have been conducted on aspirin and the upper aerodigestive tract," Bosetti added in a statement. The researchers believe aspirin may play a role in cutting cancer risk because of its impact on an enzyme called cyclooxegenase-2, which is involved in inflammation and is thought [...]
3/25/2003 Cleveland Daniel Nester Journal of Clinical Onocology Standard radiation treatment combined with a single high dose of chemo increases survival rates. Although it also increases toxicity rates, the addition of concurrent high-dose, single-agent cisplatin (Platinol, Bristol-Myers Squibb) to conventional radiation treatment significantly improves survival rates in patients with head and neck cancer. A new study has found that the three-year projected overall survival rate of patients who received the combination treatment was 37%, compared with 23% in those patients who received radiation alone. Another arm of the seven-year study showed no improvement in efficacy from the use of multi-agent chemotherapy with a split-course of radiation despite the possibility of midcourse surgery. The three-year survival rate for that group was 27%. The study proves that “concurrent chemotherapy and radiation can be safely administered with acceptable toxicity in a multi-institutional, cooperative oncology group trial,” said David J. Adelstein, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and lead researcher of the study. More investigation of this combination is needed, he said, but the results demonstrate the treatment “significantly improves survival.” Materials and methods Adelstein and colleagues at the Head and Neck Intergroup — comprising the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and the Southwest Oncology Group — were following-up their previous studies that have compared the standard care of radiation treatment and a combination of radiation and chemotherapy in patients with unresectable head and neck cancer. Those studies demonstrated increased response rates compared with radiation alone, but survival differences were statistically insignificant, Adelstein said. Overall [...]
3/24/2003 Susan Aldridge, PhD American Association of Dental Research Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are four times more likely to have oral cancer. Periodontal disease is a form of gum disease where the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth becomes infected and inflamed. Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey now reveals a link between periodontal disease and oral cancer. Participants were divided into two groups, depending on the measure of gum detachment from the teeth - a way of assessing the presence of periodontal disease. The researchers, from the University of Buffalo, then determined the presence of oral tumors, precancerous lesions and other problems in the oral cavity. They found that people with periodontal disease were four times more likely to have an oral cancer, and twice as likely to have a precancerous lesion. This study doesn't actually prove that periodontal infection causes oral cancer. But infection has been linked to other cancers - for instance, there is an association between Helicobacter pylori infection and stomach cancer. If periodontal disease does cause oral cancer, then there is enormous scope for prevention and earlier diagnosis. OCF Note: This study was lacking significant control parameters which may have found other commonalities between subjects that would have refuted this generalized finding. This might have include factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, genetic factors, and other possible co-factors that were not identified in this group of individuals in the study. People with periodontal disease invariably [...]
3/5/2003 San Diego, CA Scott C. Matthews, MD Psychosomatics Following a simple checklist may help people separate fact from fiction in finding information about alternative cancer treatments on the Web. A new study shows that applying four basic criteria to Internet sources of information about herbal and other alternative cancer treatments might help steer people away from dubious web sites. Researchers say the Internet has become an important source of medical information. But the quality of the information varies greatly, especially in regard to complementary or alternative medicine treatments that have not been widely studied. By evaluating web sites according to four "red flag" criteria, researchers say they were able to quickly screen sites for likely scientific accuracy. The study, published in the March-April issue of Psychosomatics, recommends that people avoid sites containing one or more of the following red flags in regard to alternative cancer treatments: • Online purchasing of the product/therapy described is available. • The description of the treatment includes patient testimonials. • The treatment is described as a "cancer cure." • The treatment is described as "having no side effects." Researchers applied this checklist to searches for three common herbal treatments frequently used by cancer patients: floressence, amalaki, and selenium. They found over 90% of the sites for floressence and amalaki had at least one red flag. These sites provided a large amount of vague and inaccurate information. In contrast, those sites without any red flags provided some scientifically accurate information and included links to scientific [...]
3/4/2003 New Haven CuraGen Corporation CuraGen Corporation , a genomics-based pharmaceutical company, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its Investigational New Drug (IND) application to initiate clinical trials for CG53135, a potential protein therapeutic being investigated as a treatment for oral mucositis. Oral mucositis is a side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that results in the degradation of mucosal tissue that can range from redness and irritation to severe ulcerations of the mouth and throat. CuraGen now plans to proceed with a multi-center Phase I clinical trial to evaluate safety and pharmacokinetics in patients with cancer who are at risk for mucositis following chemotherapy. Mucositis is a debilitating complication of cancer chemotherapy or radiotherapy that affects the mucosal tissue, which acts as a protective lining within the digestive track, including the mouth and throat. Symptoms range from pain and discomfort to severe ulcerations that limit a patient's ability to ingest nutrients. Mucositis can result in a suppressed immune system that can reduce a patient's ability to tolerate further cancer therapy. Delayed treatment can lessen the effectiveness of the chemotherapy or radiotherapy, adversely impacting the value of the patient's overall treatment regimen. "CG53135 is a novel protein discovered through the application of CuraGen's functional genomic technologies. In preclinical studies, this potential protein therapeutic reduced tissue inflammation and degeneration, and minimized the severity and extent of mucosal tissue damage. Mucositis is a significant unmet medical need, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to advance [...]
Is detection of oral and oropharyngeal squamous cancer by a dental health care provider associated with a lower stage at diagnosis?
3/2/2003 The Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery Jon D. Holmes, DMD, MD Eric J. Dierks, DMD, MD Louis D. Homer, MD, PhD Bryce E. Potter, DMD, MD Purpose: Stage at diagnosis is the most important prognostic indictor for oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers (SCCs). Unfortunately, approximately 50% of these cancers are identified late (stage III or IV). We set out to examinationine the detection patterns of oral and oropharyngeal SCCs and to determine whether detection of these cancers by various health care providers was associated with a lower stage. Patients and Methods: Data were gathered on 51 patients with newly diagnosed oral or oropharyngeal SCC through patient interview and chart audit. In addition to demographic data, specific inquiry was made regarding the circumstances surrounding the identification of the lesion. The main outcome measure was tumor stage grouping based on detection source. Results: Health care providers detecting oral and oropharyngeal SCCs during non–symptom-driven (screening) examinations were dentists, hygienists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and, in 1 case, a denturist. All lesions detected by physicians occurred during a symptom-driven examination. Lesions detected during a non–symptom-driven examination were of a statistically significant lower average clinical and pathologic stage (1.7 and 1.6, respectively) than lesions detected during a symptom-directed examination (2.6 and 2.5, respectively). Additionally, a dental office is the most likely source of detection of a lesion during a screening examination (Fisher exact test, P = .0006). Overall, patients referred from a dental office were of significantly lower stage than those referred [...]
3/1/2003 Aviano, Italy Janet Raloff Luigino Dal Maso of the Cancer Referral Center In what may be bad news for bars and pubs, a European research consortium has found that people drinking alcohol outside of meals have a significantly higher risk of cancer in the mouth and neck than do those taking their libations with food. Luigino Dal Maso of the Cancer Referral Center in Aviano, Italy, and his colleagues studied the drinking patterns of 1,500 patients from four cancer studies and another 3,500 adults who had never had cancer. All lived in Italy or French-speaking Switzerland. After the researchers accounted for the amount of alcohol consumed, they found that individuals who downed a significant share of their alcohol outside of meals faced at least a 50 to 80 percent higher risk of cancer in the oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus, when compared with people who drank only at meals. Consuming alcohol without food also increased by at least 20 percent the likelihood of laryngeal cancer. The findings appear in the International Journal of Cancer. Roughly 95 percent of cancers at these four sites traced to smoking or drinking by the study volunteers, Dal Maso says. The discouraging news, his team reports, is that drinking with meals didn't eliminate cancer risk at any of the sites. For their new analysis, the European scientists divided people in the study into four groups, based on how many drinks they reported having in an average week. The lowest-intake group included people who averaged [...]
3/1/2003 Maryland University Of Maryland Medical Center Photodynamic therapy, which uses a red laser and a light-sensitive drug to destroy cancer cells without harming normal tissue, represents a promising new treatment option for patients with throat or oral cancers, according to a voice and swallowing specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “It’s as close to a magic bullet as you can get to kill cancers that are close to the surface,” says Paul F. Castellanos, M.D., an otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon who has treated a dozen patients with the minimally invasive laser light therapy in the past 18 months. Nine of those patients had throat cancer, and three had oral cancer. “Photodynamic therapy is the only thing that kills the cancerous tissue and the precancerous tissue, but not the normal tissue,” says Dr. Castellanos, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We are very excited about this new frontier in the treatment of these kinds of cancers and premalignancies.” Before patients receive the therapy, they are given an intravenous injection of a light-sensitive drug called porfimer sodium, which passes through normal cells but collects in cancerous and precancerous cells. Two or three days after the injection, doctors expose those areas to a red laser, causing a chemical reaction that destroys the diseased cells. Other lasers kill cancer cells with heat—vaporizing or cutting out tumors, along with a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue. In photodynamic therapy, the red laser’s [...]