Lifestyle and the rise in head and neck cancers

3/31/2006 London, England Dr. Thomas Stuttaford The Times Online ( Less than two years before his death in March 2001, John Diamond’s book "C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too" was published. The book, his column in The Times and a BBC TV series chronicled Diamond’s final illness. This media coverage introduced the subject of head and neck cancers to the general public. These cancers are becoming more common. John Diamond’s cancer had started in his tongue but had spread to the neck and beyond before it was diagnosed. His column and book were written with absolute honesty and wry humour. Nobody knows if John greeted St Peter with a quip, but he certainly joked to his surgeon when he went into the operating theatre only a day or two before he died. He was bleeding from a tumour site and the surgeon told him that it was necessary to tie off the “bleeding point” — the technical term for a bleeding blood vessel. John looked at his surgeon, nodded his agreement, smiled, produced his notepad and wrote: “What is the bleeding point?” Last week a number of experts, including Peter Rhys-Evans, of the Royal Marsden, who looked after John, talked in Amsterdam about Erbitux (cetuximab) in the treatment of head and neck cancers. Erbitux, made by Merck, is one of the new monoclonal antibody chemotheraputic agents that targets cancer cells while largely sparing healthy tissue. It has already proved its worth against colo-rectal cancer, and there are encouraging reports of [...]

2009-04-12T10:10:29-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Surgical margins and survival after head and neck cancer surgery

3/30/2006 Pasadena, CA R Haque et al. BMC Ear Nose Throat Disord, January 1, 2006; 6: 2 Background: Mixed results exist as to whether positive surgical margins impact survival. The aim of this study was to determine whether positive surgical margins are indeed associated with decreased survival in patients with primary head and neck cancer. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 261 cases diagnosed with cancer of the larynx or tongue between 1995 and 1999. Cases were followed through December 31, 2002. Survival curves by margin status were generated by Kaplan-Meier methods. Categorical data were evaluated with odds ratios (OR). Results: All-cause mortality was markedly higher in cases with positive margins as compared with those with negative margins (54% versus 29%, P = 0.005). This pattern also appeared after adjusting for age and sex (OR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.29 - 6.84). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that positive surgical margin status is associated with increased mortality. This association also generally persists after adjustment for tumor size, stage, and adjuvant therapy. Authors: R Haque, R Contreras, MP McNicoll, EC Eckberg, and DB Petitti Authors' affiliation: Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, USA

2009-04-12T10:10:01-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Amgen Files For FDA Approval Of Panitumumab – Update

3/30/2006 New York, NY press release Amgen Inc. said Thursday that it has completed the Biologic License Application submission with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for experimental drug panitumumab as a treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in patients who have failed prior chemotherapy, including oxaliplatin and/or irinotecan containing regimens. Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company, is developing the drug Abgenix Inc. , another biotechnology company it is in the process of buying for about $2.2 billion in cash. Amgen and Abgenix previously announced data from a randomized Phase 3 trial involving 463 patients that showed a 46% reduction in tumor progression rate in patients who received panitumumab every two weeks compared to those who received best supportive care alone. Full results of the trial will be presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research on April 3. Willard Dere, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Global Development at Amgen, said, "Completing the BLA brings us one step closer to realizing our goal of making panitumumab accessible to patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have failed available treatment options." Panitumumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor, a protein that plays an important role in cancer cell signaling. Panitumumab received Fast Track designation from the FDA in July 2005 for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have failed standard chemotherapy treatment. It is being evaluated in clinical trials as both a monotherapy and in combination with [...]

2009-04-12T10:09:36-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Amifostine Makes Radiation More Effective, Eases Side Effects

3/30/2006 Brazil staff Doctors in Brazil have concluded that the drug amifostine eases many of the most common side effects associated with patients receiving radiation therapy to treat their cancer while simultaneously making the cancer more susceptible to radiation. The study was published in the March 1, 2006, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. The researchers set out to evaluate, via a clinical investigation of already published work, whether adding amifostine to radiation therapy would prevent common side effects, such as mouth dryness, difficulty swallowing, lung inflammation, bladder inflammation, problems with the esophagus and inflammation of the mucous membranes. In some cases, these side effects can be severe enough that the patients' treatment has to be suspended or stopped completely – potentially preventing their cancer from being completely cured. The other major purpose of the study was to discover if amifostine would inadvertently protect the tumor from radiation. The investigators narrowed their research to 14 randomized, controlled trials in which 1,451 patients were split into two groups: one receiving radiation therapy alone and the second receiving radiation therapy in addition to amifostine. Patients taking amifostine were shown to have less radiation-related side effects. The research also showed that the drug did not protect the tumor from the radiation therapy and patients receiving the drug were more likely to have their cancer affected by the radiation than patients not given amifostine. Taking amifostine does have [...]

2009-04-12T10:09:10-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Trends in Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Adults and Adolescents in the United States

3/29/2006 Washington, DC David E. Nelson et al. American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2004.061580 Objectives: Smokeless tobacco has many adverse health effects. We analyzed long-term national trends in smokeless tobacco use. Methods: We used 1987 to 2000 National Health Interview Survey data for adults aged 18 years and older, 1986 to 2003 data from Monitoring the Future surveys of adolescents, and 1991 to 2003 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 9th- to 12th-grade students to examine overall and demographic-specific trends. Results: Smokeless tobacco use among adult and adolescent females was low and showed little change. Smokeless tobacco use among men declined slowly (relative decline=26%), with the largest declines among those aged 18 to 24 years or 65 years and older, Blacks, residents of the South, and persons in more rural areas. Overall and demographic-specific data for adolescent boys indicate that ST use increased for 12th-grade students from 1986 until the early 1990s, but has subsequently declined rapidly in all grades since then (range of relative overall declines=43% to 48%). Conclusions: Smokeless tobacco use has declined sharply, especially among adolescent boys. Ongoing prevention and cessation efforts are needed to continue this trend. Authors: David E. Nelson 1, Paul Mowery 1, Scott Tomar 2, Stephen Marcus 3, Gary Giovino 4, Luhua Zhao 5 Authors' affiliations: 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2 University of Florida 3 National Cancer Institute 4 Roswell Park Cancer Institute 5 Research Triangle Institute

2009-04-12T10:08:41-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Cuba working to use anti-cancer therapies in early stages of disease

3/29/2006 Havanna, Cuba Lilliam Riera Gramma Internacional ( Cuban scientists, whose field studies of therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cancer have demonstrated encouraging results, have begun to work toward applying these therapies in the early stages of the disease. The therapeutic cancer vaccines, produced from component elements of tumors, are not intended to cure patients but to keep the tumor under control for a long period. The drug attempts to stimulate and “teach” the immune system of the affected organism to detect and destroy malignant cells without the disagreeable side effects caused by chemotherapy and radio therapy. In an article published on March 23 in Granma daily Dr. Luis Enríquez Fernández, head of the vaccine department of the Molecular Immunology Center (CIM) stated that, on the basis of animal experiments, Cuban and other researchers, can predict the value of transferring studies of these new cancer vaccine therapies to patients in the early stages of the disease in whom, theoretically, it would be possible to halt tumor growth for prolonged periods. “Today, the specialized scientific community has sufficient evidence to begin firmly believing in this possibility and we have already begun working to eradicate this scourge on humanity via a preventative vaccine,” the doctor affirmed. According to Enríquez Fernández, after nearly 30 years of clinical evaluations of the concept of therapeutic cancer vaccines and with more than 400 clinical trials completed, during which revolutionary advances in immunological thinking have occurred, “we have begun to understand the reasons for which the [...]

2009-04-12T10:08:11-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

‘Custom’ Nanoparticles Could Improve Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment

3/29/2006 Chapel Hill, NC staff Researchers have developed "custom" nanoparticles that show promise of providing a more targeted and effective delivery of anticancer drugs than conventional medications or any of the earlier attempts to fight cancer with nanoparticles. Designed at the molecular level to attack specific types of cancer without affecting healthy cells, the nanoparticles also have the potential to reduce side effects associated with chemotherapy, the researchers say. Their study was described today at the 231st national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. The particles, considered the next generation of cancer therapeutics, are the most uniform, shape-specific drug delivery particles developed to date, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. Other potential benefits of the tiny uniform particles include enhanced imaging of cancer cells for improved diagnosis and use as delivery vehicles for gene therapy agents, they say. To date, the UNC researchers have produced a variety of custom nanoparticles from biocompatible organic materials using techniques they adapted from processes used by the electronics industry to make transistors. In cell studies, they have shown that the uniform nanoparticles can attach to specific cell targets, release important chemotherapy drugs inside cells, and hold MRI contrast agents. Animal studies began recently and human studies are anticipated, the researchers say. "I think this will transform the way one detects and treats disease," says study leader Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at UNC and director of the school’s Institute for [...]

2009-04-12T10:07:37-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Levels of ET-1 Help Predict Outcomes of Nasopharyngeal Cancer

3/27/2006 Iowa City, IA staff According to an article recently published in the journal Cancer, high levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1) prior to therapy are associated with a worse prognosis in patients with nasopharyngeal cancer. The nasopharynx is the area above the soft palate (roof of the mouth) and behind the nose. Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is considered a type of head and neck cancer. Approximately 40,000 people in the US are diagnosed with head and neck cancer every year. Cancers of the head and neck comprise several types of cancer affecting the nasal cavity, sinuses, oral cavity, nasopharynx, oropharynx, and other sites throughout the head and neck. In 2005 the American Cancer Society estimated that 11,000 people would die from head and neck cancer that year. Advanced nasopharyngeal cancer refers to cancer that has spread from its site of origin to different sites in the body. Patients with advanced nasopharyngeal cancer have different prognoses following standard therapies. Researchers are evaluating different patient and disease variables, or “markers”, to help determine which patients are at a higher risk for developing cancer progression following standard therapies. Those at a higher risk for cancer spread or progression may benefit from more extensive or aggressive therapy. Researchers from China recently conducted a study to evaluate a possible association between levels of ER-1, a molecule associated with the development and spread of cancer, and outcomes of patients with advanced nasopharyngeal cancer. Levels of ER-1 in a blood sample were measured in 62 patients with advanced [...]

2009-04-12T10:07:10-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Health Journal: The case against vitamins

3/27/2006 Pittsburgh, PA Tara Parker-Pope Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ( Every day, millions of Americans gobble down fistfuls of vitamins in a bid to ward off ill health. They swallow megadoses of vitamin C in hopes of boosting their immune systems, B vitamins to protect their hearts, and vitamin E, beta carotene and other antioxidants to fight cancer. It's estimated that 70 percent of American households buy vitamins. Annual spending on vitamins reached $7 billion last year, according to industry figures. But a troubling body of research is beginning to suggest that vitamin supplements may be doing more harm than good. Over the past several years, studies that were expected to prove dramatic benefits from vitamin use have instead shown the opposite. Beta carotene was seen as a cancer fighter, but it appeared to promote lung cancer in a study of former smokers. Too much vitamin A, sometimes taken to boost the immune system, can increase a woman's risk for hip fracture. A study of whether vitamin E improved heart health showed higher rates of congestive heart failure among vitamin users. And there are growing concerns that antioxidants, long viewed as cancer fighters, may actually promote some cancer and interfere with treatments. Last summer, the prestigious Medical Letter, a nonprofit group that studies the evidence and develops consensus statements to advise doctors about important medical issues, issued a critical report on a number of different vitamins, stressing the apparent risks that have emerged from recent studies. The Food and Nutrition Board of [...]

2009-04-12T10:06:43-07:00March, 2006|Archive|

Cancer drugs can top $100,000 a year

3/27/2006 Chicago, IL Jim Ritter Chicago Sun-Times ( A new generation of high-tech cancer drugs is extending patients' lives, but the costs are stunning. Take Erbitux, approved for advanced colorectal and head-and-neck cancers. It costs $327 a day, $9,800 a month, $118,000 a year. And that doesn't count the cost of administering the intravenous drug New drugs for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and for lung, breast, pancreatic, kidney and stomach cancers also cost thousands of dollars a month. Drug companies are seeking to expand the lucrative market by testing the drugs on other cancers. They also are developing new drugs. "Some of these agents are outrageously expensive," said Loyola University Health System oncologist Dr. Patrick Stiff. Expensive to Make Drug companies make no apologies. They say their new drugs are much more expensive to make than traditional chemo drugs. Companies say they need to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars it can take to bring a new drug to market. It's a risky business. Many drugs that work well in the lab and in animals fail in human trials. For example, Onyx Pharmaceuticals has been in business 14 years and raised $700 million from investors. But so far, Onyx has brought only one drug, Nexavar, to market. Nexavar, for advanced kidney cancer, costs $4,333 a month. "Given the time, the odds and the cost, there has to be a return for the capital that goes into it," Onyx CEO Hollings Renton said. None of the new drugs cure cancer, and for [...]

2009-04-12T10:06:14-07:00March, 2006|Archive|
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