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Notable News July 2020

It seems like everyone is talking about the Broadway musical Hamilton this month, so let’s take a cue from A.Ham himself and rise up because sitting is proving, yet again, to not be so good for us. Also, not good yet again? Covid-19. It’s especially not good for people with cancer. What is good? Advances in cancer treatment and a blood test that delivers super early cancer detection.

PanSeer

PanSeer is a non-invasive blood test that can detect five types of cancer up to four years earlier than current methods of diagnosis, reports theguardian.com. The blood test is not a cancer predictor, but instead is finding cancers before they cause symptoms or are detected through other screening methods. The test is not able to indicate the type of cancer a patient has, but, with further research, shows promise for early, non-invasive diagnosis. You can learn more here and here.

Photodynamic Therapies

Also showing promise is research regarding skin cancer treatments that could be used to treat other types of cancer, reports medicalxpress.com. Photodynamic therapies (PDT) which use light to treat skin cancers by destroying cancerous and precancerous cells could possibly be used to treat other types of cancers thanks to the development of silica nanocapsules that can be used to convert near-infrared light to visible light. Right now, PDT only works if the tumors are on or under the skin because it works with visible light to activate medications that are injected into unhealthy tissue. However, since near-infrared light can get deeper into the tissues and then be converted into visible light by the silica nanocapsules, the treatment becomes more versatile. Learn more about the process here.

Good Diet Improves Treatment

Speaking of versatile, changing your diet could really help during breast cancer treatment, says cancernetwork.com. Recently reported study findings show that a fasting mimicking diet is safe and effective during chemotherapy in women with early breast cancer. The diet appears to have a positive effect on how well the cancer treatment works, and also reduces the side effects caused by the treatment. Basically, the research found that when fasting, there were less nutrients and insulin for the healthy cells to address, indicating the body should conserve energy and put healthy cells into maintenance mode. Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, so instead of attacking the less-active healthy cells, it would easily find the malignant cells which don’t pick up on body signals and continue to divide despite the fast. Fasting mimicking diets are low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet plans that trick your body into thinking it is fasting. You can learn more about fasting mimicking diets and breast cancer treatments here and here.

Cancer and COVID-19

The sooner we can get a treatment for Covid-19, the better, but in the meantime, cancer patients need to be especially diligent about avoiding the virus. The longer you have had cancer, the higher your risk of a severe Covid-19 infection, says technologynetworks.com. Research has found that people who were diagnosed with cancer 2 years or more ago are more likely to have a severe Covid-19 infection. While there are not a lot of studies regarding cancer patients and Covid-19, one study of 156 cancer patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection showed that 22 percent of the patients died from the infection, and those who had been diagnosed two years or more prior to infection were at a higher risk of dying. Symptoms of Covid-19 can mimic cancer symptoms or the affects of cancer treatments, so it can be hard to diagnose Covid-19 in cancer patients, which could result in more severe infections or higher death rates. Learn more about the study here.

Activity Decreases Cancer Risk

Avoiding exposure to the coronavirus may keep some of us out of the gym, but we still need to get moving, otherwise we increase our risk of dying from cancer, reports medicalnewstoday.com. In a study where patient activity level was tracked through hip monitors, researchers found that the amount of time people are sedentary puts them at a higher risk for dying from cancer. Researchers also found that being physically active for 30 minutes a day decreased the risk of dying from cancer. Vigorous exercise decreased the risk 31 percent and light exercise decreased the risk 8 percent. The increased activity doesn’t have to be all at once, either. It can be as simple as standing for five minutes every hour while you are at work. Instead of thinking you must get out there and exercise for thirty minutes at a time, think, ‘sit less, move more,’ throughout your day. Find more information here.

June 2020 Notable News

It’s officially summer so grab a cup of coffee and soak up some vitamin D because this month we learn that both of those things can help prevent cancer. We also learn about the recall of a popular drug and the approval of some others. In addition, there’s a new blood test to diagnose liver cancer and some tips on how to recognize skin cancer. Finally, research shows that COVID-19 remains a very real threat, especially for cancer patients.

Vitamin D and Coffee Benefits

With so much going on, your vitamin D status may not be on your mind, but you might want to give it some thought, reports sciencedaily.com. It turns out that a good vitamin D status is good for cancer prevention and prognosis, especially for colon and blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Conversely, a low vitamin D status often correlates with higher incidence of cancer and lower survival rates. You can learn more about vitamin D and cancer here.

While you’re out soaking up the vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you might want to bring your favorite cup of coffee because there’s evidence that coffee could reduce the risk of cancer, reports dailycoffeenews.com. The news comes from an update in the diet activity guidelines from the American Cancer Society. It’s not known how or why coffee seems to help prevent several types of cancers, but there’s been a decade of research that supports the claim. In addition to coffee, the American Cancer Society recommends following a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that diet and exercise lifestyle choices are connected to 18 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. Learn more about coffee and cancer here.

Take a Look at Your Skin

All this talk about sun exposure makes it a good time to think about skin cancer. Especially since there’s room for improvement in skin cancer survival rates, says consumerreports.org. Getting to know your own skin could be the key to survival. A Consumer Reports survey found that only 52 percent of Americans have their skin regularly checked by a doctor. There’s debate about whether or not everyone should see a dermatologist every year, but early detection of skin cancer makes a big difference. When skin cancer is found early treatment is relatively non-invasive and early stage melanoma has a 98 percent survival rate. So, whether you see a doctor or not, you should perform monthly skin checks of your own. Get familiar with the moles and marks on your skin and look for any that don’t seem to fit in. If you find something that looks irregular, let your doctor know. Learn more and find examples of what skin cancer looks like here.

Metformin Hydrochloride Recall

While you’re checking your skin, you might also need to check your list of medications. A popular diabetes drug has been recalled due to cancer risk, reports webmd.com. All lots of metformin hydrochloride extended release 500 mg tablets were recalled due to the possibility that they contained high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) which is a chemical thought to cause cancer. A test by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found higher than allowed levels of NDMA in one lot of metformin. Get more information about the recall here.

FDA Expands Indication for Gardasil 9

The FDA has given accelerated approval for the use of a vaccine to prevent head and neck cancers, reports statnews.com. The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil 9, is recommended for both males and females ages 9 through 45 to prevent several cancers. However, the vaccine was not previously recommended as prevention for head and neck cancers even though they are commonly caused by HPV in the United States. The hope is that, by including head and neck cancers in the list of cancers the vaccine prevents, it will raise awareness for and help prevent the occurrence of these types of cancers. Find more about Gardasil here.

Good News for Thyroid and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The FDA has also given accelerated approval for a drug to treat thyroid and lung cancer, says cancer.gov. The drug selpercatinib (Retevmo) will treat people with thyroid or non-small cell lung cancer with tumors that have a gene alteration called RET. The drug blocks the RET proteins and was shown to shrink tumors. Selpercatinib has fewer side effects than older RET blocking drugs. Accelerated approval means that, although the drug has not gone through all required levels of testing, it can be approved for use, but testing must continue while the product is on the market. The process is only used for drugs that treat serious or life-threatening diseases without better treatment options. Learn more about the accelerated approval of selpercatinib here.

Combatting Nausea

There’s another drug of note this month giving hope to advanced cancer patients who have nausea and vomiting, says cancer.gov. In a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute the drug olanzapine (Zyprexa) was found to reduce nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer patients. Olanzapine is an antipsychotic medication mainly used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and has also been used off-label to prevent nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Learn more here.

Detecting Liver Cancer

The National Cancer Institute was also involved in a study where a blood test has been developed to determine which people are most likely to develop liver cancer, says cancer.gov. The simple blood test is used to check for exposure to certain viruses that lead to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which is the most common form of liver cancer. The test could help lead to early diagnosis and treatment. Most patients with HCC are diagnosed when the cancer is advanced and incurable, but when caught early the prognosis is much better. With HCC on the rise in the US, a test that could help with early detection is welcome news. Learn more about the testing here.

COVID-19 Update

The not-so-welcome news continues about the novel coronavirus. There are some new studies that emphasize the danger of the coronavirus for cancer patients, reports apnews.com. The studies showed that current and former cancer patients who developed COVID-19 were more likely to die within a month than people without cancer. One study showed that 13 percent of cancer patients with COVID-19 died. Another study found the death rate to be 28 percent. The studies are a reminder of how critical it is for cancer patients to do all they can to follow safety guidelines so they can avoid contracting the virus. Find out more here.

Notable News – October 2019

Boo! It’s October, the month of all things frightful, tricks and treats, and dressing up in superhero costume. In the news this month, there’s a super scary shortage of medication that could be a nightmare for some kids, researchers may have some tricks up their sleeves to combat chemo brain, a former NFL player is treating women to cancer screenings, and a superhero alliance has formed to take on cancer at the earliest stages. So, grab your pumpkin spice latte and read on!

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection formed this month, reports nature.com, and joins research teams from the United States and the United Kingdom. Just as the name implies, the group is focused on diagnosing and treating cancer in the early stages. Stanford University, Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, the University of Cambridge, the University of Manchester, and University College London make up the alliance. Advances in cancer research and imaging have made early cancer detection more possible and the alliance hopes that they can further develop testing to be more accurate, helping to improve cancer treatment and survival rates. Find out more about the newly formed alliance here.

Another superhero to many is a former NFL player who knows just how devastating breast cancer can be. Each year more than 42,000 women and men die from the disease. Helping to limit the number of breast cancer deaths is DeAngelo Williams, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Williams has sponsored over 500 mammograms since 2015, reports today.com. He lost his mother and four aunts to the disease and says he covers the cost of screenings in their honor. Williams has a nonprofit organization that pays for mammograms at hospitals in cities in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina. Learn more here.

What’s not being provided this month is the proper supply of a crucial cancer drug. The truly frightening shortage of a cancer medication is keeping some kids from getting the doses they need, reports abcnews.go.com. Vincristine is a chemotherapy medication used to treat childhood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors. It is a low-cost, generic medication that is now having to be rationed by doctors. As of July 2019, Pfizer is the only supplier of vincristine in the United States and has reported a shortage due to manufacturing delays. Teva Pharmaceuticals stopped supplying the drug in July. This type of drug shortage can be a matter of life or death to a child with cancer, but to the pharmaceutical companies, it may be about profitability. Drugs like vincristine don’t have a large profit margin so the companies don’t feel compelled to keep producing them. Pfizer is hustling to increase production and the FDA expects the vincristine supply to recover by January 2020, but in the meantime, there is no equivalent drug available. Learn more about the drug shortage and the children it is effecting here.

The good news is that there is no short supply of hope when great research is being done. For patients who feel like zombies thanks to chemo brain, there’s new hope for a solution in the future, reports medicalxpress.com. Scientists have discovered that there may be a link between the brain fog known as chemo brain and how harsh chemotherapy can be on the digestive system. Using mice for testing, researchers are investigating whether or not the changes to the gut microbiome during chemotherapy are causing cognitive issues. The hope is that, if there is a connection, patients could be treated with prebiotics, probiotics, and diet to help prevent chemo brain. There’s much more to be done, but the theory is promising. Learn more here.

5 Ways to Detect Cancer Before It’s Malignant

Cancer are diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. In 2018 statistics, Cancer appears to be the second leading cause of death worldwide. It is responsible for an estimated more than 9 million death in 2018. About 1 in 6 deaths globally are caused by Cancer. There are several main types of cancer. There are several causes of cancer, however the main cause of cancer is the change or mutation in the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of cells. There are some factors that would lead to cell mutation. Usually cancer cells are genetics and that means it is hereditary. Other factors also are, individual’s lifestyle, diet, smoking, environment such as exposure to radiations and exposure to viruses and other infections.

There are several types of cancer nowadays, however according to statistics the following are the most spread types of cancer:

  1. Lung (2.09 million cases)
  2. Breast (2.09 million cases)
  3. Colorectal (1.80 million cases)
  4. Prostate (1.28 million cases)
  5. Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases)
  6. Stomach (1.03 million cases)

Symptoms of cancer may vary depending on the type of cancer an individual has. However common symptoms of cancer are already established according to studies. The C-A-U-T-I-O-N U-S mnemonics is already an established common symptom of cancer according to studies, viz:

C- Changes in bowel or bladder habits;

A- A sore that does not heal;

U- Unusual bleeding or discharge;

T- Thickening or lump in the breast or any other part of the body;

I- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing;

O- Obvious change in a wart or mole;

N- Nagging cough or hoarseness;

U- Unexplained Anemia;

S- Sudden Weight loss.

Like in most diseases early detection plays an important part in the prevention and intervention of diseases. The same concept is very important also in cancer. It would help a lot in determining what type of cancer a person has and correspondingly its proper management. Once cancer is early detected, it can be prevented from spreading more damages to the person’s body by providing adequate and proper remedies. In most cases, cancer can be detected by the individual upon experiencing the above stated signs and symptoms. Some cancer may cause severe pain in the affected body parts, while some may cause unusual bleedings, sores and other unusual tissue growth that are visible and palpable to the infected individuals. According to studies, there are established cancer self-assessment methods applicable to men and women. In women, the breast self-examination (BSE) is applicable. It can be done regularly by women usually upon taking a bath and every month for purposes of detecting any lump in the breast. In men, the Testicular self-examination (TSE) is applicable also with the same duration in women. However, there are some cancer cases that are asymptomatic. In these cases, diagnostic tests may be conducted by the proper medical experts.

The following are the 5 common ways or methods to detect cancer:

  1. Biopsy– In most cancer cases, biopsy is the main method to determine whether cells are cancerous. In this method, the doctor will get a tissue sample for examination to be used in diagnosing cancer. The method of getting tissue samples can be made possible either through an image-guided biopsy, ultrasound, x-ray, computed tomography scan (CT scan), fluoroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Depending on what method used by the doctor the purpose is just to aid in guiding a specific organ or body part where the tissue samples can be obtained.
  2. Barium Enema – In this method an enema is required to clear the colon for purposes taking images through X-Ray by a radiology technician. This is used to detect colon cancer.
  3. Ultrasound– This is a method of taking images on the body part where cancer is suspected. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of internal body organs. The sound waves hit the organs and bounce back to a device called a transducer. The transducer turns the sound waves into images that are shown on a computer. There are two individuals that will conduct this method. The first individual is the sonographer or the specialist that operates ultrasound machine. 12 hours before the test, the patient is required to be in a “nothing per orem” (NPO) status, which means that the patient will not be allowed to eat or to drink 12 hours prior to the test. However, 1 hour before the test the patient is required to drink a quart of water to keep full bladder. During the test, the patient is required to remove his clothes and any metal object and is required to lie down on the examination table. The sonographer will then apply the echo gel to the skin of the patient in order to block the air pockets for better imaging quality. The Sonographer will then press the transducer firmly against the gel and move it back and forth. After the images are taken, the second individual, the radiologist, which is a medical doctor will then interpret the images for purposes of diagnosing cancer.
  1. Bone Scan– This method uses a small amount of radiation to detect cancer cells that start to propagate in the bones and bone tissues.
  2. Endoscopy– This method uses a thin scope that has camera on its tip connected to the monitor in order to determine any lumps or unusual tissue growths in the patient’s Gastro-intestinal tract.

In most cancer cases globally, early detection is the key to prevent extensive damages that are caused by cancer cell proliferation. It is also very important for proper cancer management.

Notable News: August 2018

The death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin received a lot of attention this month, but the cancer that killed her is in need of more awareness, say experts in a huffingtonpost.com article. The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is a very low eight percent. The disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, spreads early, is resistant to treatment, affects vital functions and, despite being thought of as rare, is increasing in frequency. However, there is some promising new research in the detection of pancreatic cancer (you’ll read about it in the next paragraph). Heightened awareness, funding, and research are needed to help combat this deadly disease. You can start by learning more here and, in case you missed it, you can find this month’s profile in which Alison Greenhill tells the story of her late husband’s experience with pancreatic cancer here.

The promising news is that a blood test could offer early screening for pancreatic and other cancers, according to research reported by dailymail.co.uk. In one study, scientists discovered that they can detect 95 percent of cancers through one blood test thanks to a protein produced by malaria parasites. When ten cancer cells were exposed to the protein, nine of them successfully attached to it. The test can also detect the cancers at any stage and help identify the aggressiveness of the disease. Among the cancers the test can detect are liver and pancreatic. Pancreatic cancer tends to have a low survival rate because it is often not found until the late stages of the disease. This blood test could allow for earlier detection. More can be learned about the potentially life-saving test here.

Another blood test has been found to detect melanoma with an 80 percent accuracy rate, says sciencealert.com. Caught early, the melanoma survival rate is 95 percent, but if it’s not detected early, chances for survival are below fifty percent. The test works by detecting antibodies that the body produces when melanoma forms. Currently, melanoma is detected through biopsies which are invasive and have a slightly lower accuracy rate than the blood test. The researchers hope to take the test to clinical trial and ultimately hope it will be used to detect the disease prior to biopsy in high-risk patients: those with fair skin, a lot of moles, and/or a family history of melanoma. More about this blood test can be found here. There is also a better way to determine which melanoma patients may benefit from immunotherapy. You can learn about that at axios.com here.

Another immunotherapy update comes from a recent study that may offer new insight into immunotherapy treatments, says geekwire.com. While immunotherapy has been a game-changer in treatment for many cancer patients, it doesn’t work at all for others and it can also come with some life-threatening side effects. Researchers set out to better understand the therapies and discovered how the components talk to each other in a process called signaling. It appears that the speed and strength of the signaling affect how the body responds to the treatment. It is the difference in the signaling that may help researchers find a way to reduce or eliminate the dangerous side effects and may also lead to making the treatments more effective. More information about this promising research can be found here.

As important as treatment is, keeping on top of when to be screened can be crucial to successful diagnosis and treatment. There are now more cervical cancer screening options for women aged 30 to 65, and you can learn about those at cnn.com here.

With all the positive research and advances in detection and treatment, it’s important to be aware that not all cancer patients have equal access to the best healthcare. It turns out that the disparities in minority health that we told you about here during National Minority Health month also apply to children. African American and Latino children are more likely to die from cancer, reports npr.org. Race and socio-economic status are factors. A comprehensive look at the research about the inequities in healthcare and survival rates for minority children can be found here.

Hopefully, the healthcare gap and survival rate can be narrowed because a new study shows that life is pretty good for most patients and survivors. The majority of current and former cancer patients who are 50 or older are happy, reports sciencedaily.com. The study showed that two-thirds of cancer patients fit the researchers description of complete mental health which was characterized by high levels of social and psychological well-being and being happy and/or satisfied with their daily lives. The cancer survivors were even happier with three-quarters of them meeting the complete mental health criteria. Learn more about this very happy study here.

Spot These Early Cancer Symptoms – They Can Save Your Life

The word “cancer” is terrifying, but it’s hopeful to know that early detection can lead to increased survival. Over 140 million Americans will get cancer in their lifetimes, but early detection can lead to better treatment and boosts one’s chance of a cure. That’s why it’s so important to be in tune with your body and regularly check for early symptoms that you might have the disease. In this way, checking your body for signs of cancer can form part of your self-care goals. You’re looking after yourself and increasing your longevity.

Cancer is not always easy to spot. Although it might present with a bump or lump, such as in the thyroid or breast, these are not the only symptoms to look out for. Sometimes, cancer in one part of the body won’t show up there. An example is pancreatic cancer. It will show symptoms when the cancer’s big enough to press on other organs, so an early symptom could be pain in the belly or back. However, there are some early, general signs that something’s wrong with your body and the cause could be cancer. Here’s a rundown of the most common symptoms associated with cancer. While it’s important to realize that these symptoms could be something else, it’s always worth checking with your doctor if they persist so that you can get the proper treatment.

Losing Weight Without Trying

If you’re not on a diet but you’re losing weight, this could be a sign of various illnesses, such as diabetes. However, it could also be a sign of cancer in the body. Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom of cancers of the stomach, esophagus, pancreas, and lung.

Extreme Tiredness

If you feel fatigued even when you’ve got a good night’s sleep, and this is a regular occurrence, cancer could be to blame. Fatigue is usually an early symptom of cancer such as leukemia, but it can also present with colon or stomach cancers that cause a loss of blood which goes unnoticed.

Skin Changes

Skin cancer will obviously show up as changes to the skin, such as a sore that doesn’t heal or a mole that’s undergone changes in color. However, skin changes can also be a symptom of other cancers. Rippling or dimpling of the skin can signal breast cancer, for instance, while reddened skin can be a symptom of lung cancer, especially when it’s combined with difficulty breathing or a faster heart rate.

Changes In Bowel Movements

Diarrhea and constipation can arise from a variety of things, such as diet, but if they persist they can be a symptom of various cancers. An example is ovarian cancer, which might also present with bloating and gas.Colon and rectal cancer are also marked by changes in bowel movements, especially if they occur suddenly and persist.

Although there are many symptoms that can signal cancer in the body, the important thing is to note any changes that aren’t normal for you. Whether it’s changes to your skin, energy levels, or bowel habits, anything that doesn’t go back to normal after a few days is worth checking with your primary caregiver.


About the Author: Chrissy Rose is a Content Manager and is working to build one of the best senior resource sites.

Liquid Biopsy Is the New Frontier in Cancer Diagnosis

When my husband was diagnosed with very early stage prostate cancer, it was determined that the best course of action was “watchful waiting” – that is, monitoring the cancer at six month intervals using biopsies of the prostate. It sounded reasonable.

What was not mentioned was the excruciating ordeal of prostate biopsy. Each time he went in for one, it took all day because of the side effects of blood clotting and Amy Grayblocking of the urethra. This led to catheterization as well as pain. After his third one he said, “Let’s just cut the damn prostate out. It’s gotta be better than these biopsies.”

Wouldn’t it be great to have the same information gleaned from a drop of blood?

Thanks to Dr. Dennis Lo, a researcher in Hong Kong, this technology may soon be available. He developed a technique called the “liquid biopsy,” which has shown great success in detecting liver and other cancers before they are symptomatic. He does this with a gene sequencing machine that analyzes the DNA in a person’s blood. Since dying cancer cells shed their DNA into the blood stream, a liquid biopsy can detect the presence of a cancer on a cellular level. This technology is already being used in China as part of prenatal monitoring, as the fetus sheds cells into the mother’s bloodstream during pregnancy.

Early detection of cancer has been behind the great improvement in cancer treatment over the last few decades. For example, one of the main reasons for the decline in colorectal cancer is the more frequent use of colonoscopies. For greater efficacy in early detection, liquid biopsy is being looked at with great interest by American researchers and companies as well. Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute, stated that this technology, will become the “stethoscope for the next 200 years.” A San Diego company, Illumina, which builds fast gene-sequencing machines, is excited about the market potential of as much as $40 billion. It manufactures these devices, some of which are as small as a cell phone, and the devices could be used in clinical trials very shortly.

The liquid biopsy is not a one-size-fits-all cancer detection system. As each cancer has unique DNA markers, part of the research is to identify those markers and apply them specifically.

As far as my husband is concerned, the day cannot come too soon when a liquid biopsy is available for his type of prostate cancer. Luckily his cancer seems to be in remission, and his biopsy schedule has been reduced. Perhaps by the next rodeo, he’ll be able to have a blood draw and call it a day.

 

The New Version of “The Fantastic Voyage”

In 1966, a science fiction film was released about a team of scientists who shrank themselves into molecular sized particles in order to heal a colleague from withinAG his body. Crazy, no?

Well, since then, we’ve seen the development of nanotechnology, a new tool where disease fighting mechanisms are released into the body. Their size? About 100 to 10,000 times smaller than human cells. These smart little machines travel through a patient’s body to the site of a particular problem. Not surprisingly, a very big use of nanotechnology is in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Nanotechnology and cancer detection and treatment is a match that, in the past, was only imaginable in science fiction. Cancer initially happens in formerly undetectable ways at a molecular level. Nanotechnology has the capacity to rapidly detect cancer-causing cells, also at the molecular level. Through the application of molecular contrast agents, nanotechnology can not only detect changes in cells potentially leading to cancer, but can also monitor treatment to ensure that a cancer patient is receiving the correct medicine. Understanding and treating cancer on such a profoundly targeted area of the body can also lead to greater development of individualized therapies.

At this point, most cancer patients receive some combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, all of which can have distressing side effects. The promise of nanotechnology is that the field of targeted treatment, already in process, can be accelerated even more. And as early detection is one significant tool in cancer treatment and cure, nanotechnology can certainly be an important tool in that arena.

How available is nanotechnology for the average cancer patient? Several new nanotechnology drugs have passed the clinical trial stage and are on the market, including Doxil® and Abraxane®. Doxil® has been approved in treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other solid tumors. Abraxane® is being used in the treatment of advanced breast cancer, advanced non-small lung cancer, and advanced pancreatic cancer. Many other nanotechnologies are in the pipeline as well.

Chalk one up for science fiction predicting real life inventions! I’m still waiting for the transporter myself.

 

References:

http://nano.cancer.gov/learn/

http://science.howstuffworks.com/nanotechnology.htm