Tag Archive for: cancer news

January 2023 Notable News

This month the focus is on cancer screening and education, both equally important in improving patient outcomes. A new metabolite has been found in urine of patients with a form of liver cancer, allowing for a new urine screening tool to detect the cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers; education about symptom recognition could help save lives with earlier detection. Scientists are studying how cells move through the body with the hope of preventing metastasis of cancer cells in the future.

Urine Test Hope for Early Liver Cancer Diagnosis

Staff at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow have identified a metabolite never found before in mammals which could indicate the presence of the disease reports BBC News. Currently, there is no urine test available for any kind of cancer. Liver cancer is usually diagnosed through blood tests, ultrasound scans, and surgery. Scientists discovered a new metabolite while studying glutamine synthetase, which is a protein present in normal liver tissue of mice. This new metabolite is called N5-methylglutamine and is present in the urine of patients with a specific type of liver cancer. This specific liver cancer has a gene mutation of beta-catenin. This urine test will indicate if the patient has this form of liver cancer and may also be used to monitor growth of tumors. Diagnosis of liver cancer is often in the late stages, making the patient’s outcome less favorable. This test could allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment, leading to better patient outcomes. Click to read the full story.

14 Signs of Deadliest Cancer You’re Most Likely to Ignore

Pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease, is particularly hard to spot as it does not cause and signs of symptoms in the early stages reports The US Sun. This cancer typically has a lower survivability rate of death in less than 3 months of diagnosis. The pancreas is located behind the stomach and under the liver, this location makes it difficult to treat. The purpose of the pancreas is to put digestive enzymes in the stomach to break down food. It is also responsible for releasing hormones that regulate blood sugar. Understanding some common symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer could help with earlier cancer detection. Due to the pancreas’ functions, common symptoms are indigestion, abdominal or back pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. More symptoms can include weight loss, fatigue, changes in bowel habits, and difficulty swallowing food. Patients can experience jaundice, itchiness, and depression or anxiety. Pancreatic cancer diagnosis can sometimes be detected with a recent diabetes diagnosis since the pancreas regulates blood sugar. Finally, blood clots can occasionally be a sign of cancer. Click to read the full story.

A Look at How Cancer Cells Move and Metastasize Could Help Doctors Stop Them From Spreading

Instead of focusing on just the effect of the “solid” environment of cells, researchers are turning toward their “fluid” environment reports Popular Science. Scientists are studying how fluids affect cell migration. In cancer cells, the fluid between the cells is thicker than healthy cells. This thicker fluid causes cancer cells to move and spread quicker. The cancer cells maintain a memory after being in the thicker fluid and continue to move faster and leak out into surrounding tissue causing metastasis. Metastasis is usually what kills cancer patients. This new knowledge that fluid viscosity affects cell migration can be used to create potential drug targets to reduce the spread of cancer. Click to read the full story.

December 2022 Digital Health Roundup

Scientists and engineers have teamed up to create new treatments to help fight cancer. These treatments sound like something out of a science fiction movie but are bringing us closer to ending cancer. Bacteriabots are nanobots used to destroy tumors and trigger the patient’s own immune response to fight their cancer. CRISPR is using CAR T-cells to create therapies for cancer patients that have run out of treatment options. Nanobubbles in combination with ultrasound waves are being used to kill cancer cells with positive results in early testing. As science and technology advance, it opens new options for cancer treatment.

The Army of ‘Bacteriabots’ That Could Combat Cancer Tumors

In this case, the bacteriabots colonized 3D tumor spheroids. They delivered chemotherapeutic molecules, demonstrating an innovative on-demand drug delivery method for cancer treatment reports InterestingEngineering.com . Biobots are time limited and programmed to self-destruct without leaving anything harmful behind. They are targeted for a particular task such as going to places of high acidity as in tumor tissue. Using bacteriabots helps to limit the unwanted side effects of treatment on healthy tissue, unlike the current treatments of chemotherapy and radiation. The use of bacteriabots is a non-invasive way to get into a closed environment like tissue and blood vessels. These biobots can also be used to trigger the patient’s own immune system. There are many things biobots could eventually be used for; treating other diseases and even repairing a torn ACL without surgery. Click to read the full story.

CRISPR Gene-Editing May Boost Cancer Immunotherapy, New Study Finds

CRISPR is developing cancer treatments using CAR T-cell therapies. These are called “living drugs” because they’re living cells of the immune system, taken from cancer patients, and then reinfused after being genetically engineered in the lab to attack the patient’s tumors reports weku.org . Using a drug that is living can make it last a few weeks or even a few years. This therapy offers a treatment for people that have run out of other options like stem cell therapy. Scientists are trying to make an off the shelf version of this therapy that would be available quickly, made in large quantities, and less expensive. They take T cells from a healthy donor and use CRISPR to reprogram the T cells. It reprograms it in several ways; to leave healthy cells alone, to hide from the patient’s own immune system, and to destroy cancer. While studies are showing some positive results from the off the shelf CAR T-cell therapy, it is not as effective as using the patient’s own cells. Click to read the full story.

These Tiny Bubbles are “Warheads” for Killing Cancer

These infinitesimal gas bubbles surround the tumor and then can be exploded via ultrasound, creating “therapeutic warhead,” as they artfully put it in their study, published in the journal Nanoscale freethink.com . High frequency ultrasound can damage tissues surrounding tumors. The use of low frequency ultrasound in combination with the nanobubbles reduces harm to surrounding tissues. The tiny bubbles are injected into the bloodstream which goes into the blood vessels of a tumor and is then leaked into the tissue of the tumor. The low frequency ultrasound makes the bubbles explode and that kills the cancer cells. This is an effective treatment for tumors that are located deep within the body or where there are many tumors. The hope is that this method would replace surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. The trials are currently moving from mouse trials to human trials. Click to read the full story.

December 2022 Notable News

Research is a valuable tool in every aspect of cancer; prevention education, treatment advances, and effectiveness of new treatments. New research has shown that survivors of childhood cancer have a significant increase in risk for cardiovascular issues. Oral chemotherapy is a new modality for cancer treatment and research shows the pros and cons of this treatment. This month, research confirms that there is a direct link between alcohol consumption and increased risk in getting certain cancers. All these studies will help to educate cancer patients, causing better outcomes for people.

Survivors of Childhood Cancer Face a Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The researchers said the risk of cardiovascular disease was significantly higher in cancer survivors in virtually all categories, including sex, race/ethnicity, income, education, smoking status, and physical activities reports healthline.com . The increased risk of cardiovascular disease for survivors of childhood cancer comes from the use of chemotherapy and radiation to treat the cancer at an early age. The class of chemotherapy commonly used is anthracyclines and it is known to place patients at risk for damaging the heart muscle. Radiation therapy directly to the chest causes damage to the heart muscle and the heart valves. The research did show an increase in risk to children that were treated for cancer in households making under $50,000. To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for these patients, they should follow a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, and do not smoke. Oncologists need to refer childhood cancer patients to cardiologists for screening to find cardiovascular disease in its early stages. Catching the disease in its early stages allows for prompt treatment and better outcomes. Click to read the full story.

Oral Chemotherapy: What are the Advantages?

Chemotherapy kills or slows the growth of cancer cells. In some cases, it can eliminate cancer. In others, it prolongs life by slowing down the progression of the disease reports MedicalNewsToday.com . Oral chemotherapy can come in the form of a pill or liquid that can be swallowed or placed under the tongue. This treatment can be given at home which is less expensive and less inconvenient for cancer patients. The dosing of oral chemotherapy is especially important and requires clear instructions from the doctor. The medication requires special handling such as wearing gloves and storing it at a specific temperature. It needs to be kept secure and dry in an airtight container away from food, children, and pets. The side effects of oral chemotherapy are the same as IV chemotherapy; hair loss, fatigue, nausea, and bruising. It is important to log side effects and notify the doctor of vomiting. There are several disadvantages to taking chemotherapy orally. If a patient has an adverse reaction to the medication, they are at home instead of with a medical professional and will take longer to get help. This medication given orally is very dose dependent and patients can make errors at home that affect the treatment outcome. There is also a high out of pocket expense in using oral chemotherapy versus IV, some insurance companies will not cover the cost of oral chemotherapy. Oral chemotherapy is not available to treat all forms of cancer but in some cases, it has been proven to be more effective than IV chemotherapy. Click to read the full story.

Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Most Americans Aren’t Aware

The new study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, notes that there are seven cancer types that have been linked to alcohol consumption reports Healthline.com . The types of cancers linked to alcohol consumption are mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast cancer. Alcohol consumption is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for people to prevent cancer. Since the pandemic, consumption of alcohol is on the rise. There needs to be interventions made to help educate people on the direct link to cancer such as media ads, warning labels, and doctor’s educating their patients. Older Americans are less aware of the increased risk of cancer form drinking alcohol. There is no safe level of drinking of any kind of alcohol and this needs to be emphasized to help prevent cancer. Click here to read the full story.

November 2022 Notable News

Looking at things from a different point of view can often lead to insights to advance the treatment of cancer. Studying the genes of a unique cancer patient is helping scientists learn about harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. A single blood test is being refined by scientists to help doctors with early cancer detection. Doctors also address common myths about lung cancer to raise awareness in the month of November.

Unique Patient Offers New Hope for Beating Cancer

A unique cancer patient who has survived a dozen tumors could hold the key to beating the disease, according to scientists’ reports independent.co.uk/ . This patient has developed different types of cancers after getting mutations in a gene inherited from both parents. The patients’ immune system fights these cancerous tumors and scientists want to learn how the patients’ immune system does this. If they can learn how, this could help with earlier cancer diagnosis and development of new immunotherapy drugs to fight cancer. Throughout this patient’s life, from birth to age 40, the patient has developed 12 tumors. Five of those tumors were malignant. By mapping the patient’s genome, scientists found mutations in MAD1L1 gene. It had the wrong number of chromosomes. This gene is important for cell division and proliferation. This patient had five forms of aggressive cancers that disappeared easily. This patient has constant tumors, causing the immune response to be elevated to fight the cancers. Scientists have learned that the immune system can fight against cells with the wrong number of chromosomes. Find more information here.

A Blood Test That Screens for Multiple Cancers at Once Promises to Boost Early Detection

This year, President Joe Biden identified developing MCED’s (multicancer early detection) tests as a priority for the Cancer Moonshot, a US$1.8 billion federal effort to reduce the cancer death rate and improve the quality of life of cancer survivors and those living with cancer reports theconversation.com/us . Tumors shed DNA in blood when the cells die. MCED tests look for trace tumor DNA, these tests are being used to help guide treatments for advanced stage cancers. Later stages of cancer have larger amounts of tumor DNA, testing for this is called liquid biopsy. The MCED test tried to detect cancer in earlier stages when the tumor cell DNA is less which is harder to detect. There are also abnormal DNA shed as part of the aging process and this can be confused for cancer DNA. The new tests focus on molecular barcodes in which DNA methylation is specific to cancer cells. There is one biotech company that launched the first MCED test in the U.S. It tests for 50 types of cancer, but it is not covered by insurance. Doctors are trying to work out appropriate circumstances to use a MCED test and what follow up testing would be required. Find more information here.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Myths about Lung Cancer Everyone Needs to Stop Believing

November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month- a disease many of us think we know the key causes and symptoms of. However, there are still some misconceptions around lung cancer– it’s not necessarily just a ‘smoker’s disease’ reports independent.co.uk. Lung cancer is more common in people ages 6-70 with a history of smoking for many years. However, lung cancer can be diagnosed in people as young as 20 years old. In 10% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer, there is no history of smoking. Causes of lung cancer in non-smokers can be genetic or exposure to harmful substances like asbestos. Some of the damage to the lungs can be reversed after smoking cessation unless the patient is diagnosed with emphysema. Lung cancer patients have a 65% survival rate if the cancer has not spread and is localized. CT scans for smokers over the age of 50 can help find small tumors that can be removed, this increases chances of survival. Men and women are both at risk for getting lung cancer, men’s risk is only slightly higher. People should pay attention to symptoms such as a cough for 2-3 weeks, recurring chest infections, shortness of breath, and painful breathing. If you have any of those symptoms, see your doctor. Find more information here.

October 2022 Digital Health Roundup

Scientists have out done themselves in the arena of innovation for cancer treatments and detection this month. Fibroscan is a tool using ultrasound for oncologists to detect liver changes that could lead to further testing for diagnosing and treating liver cancer. A group of researchers have developed artificial intelligence to help oncologists determine the best drug therapy for each patient and their individual cancer. A small wireless implant is being tested to help battle deadly brain cancer tumors with less side effects than standard treatments for the patient.

Can A Fibroscan Detect Liver Cancer

Fibroscan is a noninvasive imaging test that may help diagnose liver cancer reports Healthline.com. Fibroscan uses ultrasound or sound waves to see the liver. It bounces sound waves off of the liver and can show signs of damage such as scarring and stiffness. Scarring or stiffness can be signs of cancer. Fibroscan shows more detail than a standard ultrasound and it can show changes to the liver over time. This tool has been helpful for finding hepatocellular carcinoma which is the most common type of liver cancer. If the Fibroscan detects certain changes to the liver, a biopsy can be done to detect if cancer is present. The Fibroscan is a quick test lasting about 15 minutes that requires fasting 3 hours before the test. Early detection of liver cancer increases the patient’s chance of survival. Click to read the full story.

It’s Like Molecular Speed Dating: LSU Using Artificial Intelligence In Cancer Treatment

Using algorithms originally designed to map complex social networks, like those utilized by Facebook, researchers generated three-dimensional graphs of molecular datasets that include cancer cell lines, drug compounds and interactions among proteins inside the human body reports TheAdvocate.com. This AI helps oncologists find drug therapies that work best on each patients different cancer. The information this AI provides will help patients get the correct treatment quicker and cut cost by choosing the right treatment the first time. The graphs created are analyzed by the AI. Researchers train the AI by inputing data, then ask it for what medicine would work best for that particular cancer. The AI makes a prediction based on the data and the researchers test the results in a wet lab. The team used six combinations of cancer cell lines with the drugs most toxic to their gene profile. The AI is able to match the cancer cell lines with the best drug much quicker, giving the patient the best treatment option. Click to read the full story.

A Small Wireless Implant Could Help Kill Deadly Brain Tumors

Researchers at Stanford Medicine developed and tested a wireless device in mice that is small enough to be inserted into a mouse’s brain to kill cancerous cells reports InterestingEngineering.com. This implant is activated remotely and heats up nanoparticles that are injected into the cancerous tumor to kill the cancer. The nanopartilces treat only the tumor so it has less side effects than chemotherapy and radiation. The implant uses photothermal treatment which uses light to heat up the nanoparticles. Photothermal treatment used to only be used during surgery when the brain was exposed to a light, but with the implant it can be done remotely. The device generates heat at the precise site of the tumor and is implanted between the skin and the skull. Then gold nanoparticles are injected into the tumor through a tiny hole in the skull. The implant then sends out infrared light that penetrates the brain tissue to activate the nanoparticles, it increases the temperature by up to 5 degrees Celsius. The power of the implant and wavelength of light can be adjusted to treat the cancer. Click to read full story.

October 2022 Notable News

The month of October brings exciting legislature to help patients afford available cancer treatments. Once passed, this legislature could make cancer treatment equitable and affordable while having a profound impact on the future. Scientists have created a new cancer vaccine for high risk melanoma patients that when given in combination with a cancer medication has encouraging results. Scientists have also found an experimental treatment for cancer that uses a modified herpes virus that has very promising early results. Lawmakers have an impact on cancer treatment by regulating laws that govern the insurance companies and are equally as important as the scientists finding the new cancer treatments.

Insurance Companies Shouldn’t Decide Which Cancer Treatment You Get. That Could Change.

There is a term that is familiar to cancer patients and providers, financial toxicity. Financial toxicity is when patients cannot afford the available treatment for their cancer. New options for cancer treatment are available; it used to be just IV medications but now there are oral medications to treat cancer. Insurance companies do not look at the two cancer treatments the same. They often deny coverage or impose huge out of pocket costs for the oral medication despite that doing so puts the patient at risk and violates the doctor-patient relationship by ignoring a prescribed treatment plan, in favor of saving money reports CharlotteObserver.com. There is legislation in front of congress called Cancer Drug Parity Act that could change this for cancer patients. This Act asks for the health plan to cover the level of cost share for all different kinds of cancer medications; it would assure the patients under the plan would get the treatment that they needed. There have been 40 states that have passed legislation regulating insurance plans, this act addresses the federal government. This legislation keeps the decision about cancer treatment between the patient and the oncologist. Click to read the full story.

A Cancer Vaccine for High-Risk Melanoma Patients

Scientists have created a cancer vaccine for Stage-2 melanoma that is custom for each patient. This vaccine is based on messenger RNA technology. The goal of Moderna’s vaccination is to stimulate the immune system to release killer T cells that specifically target particular mutations in patients reports HealthDigest.com. Scientists will give the vaccine with a drug already FDA approved called Keytruda. Keytruda is a monoclonal antibody that is already used to treat certain cancer types. Melanoma is a skin cancer that starts in the cells that make melanin and it is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. It is caused by UV exposure from the sun or tanning bed and the UV rays damage DNA. Early detection increases survivability. Wearing sunscreen that blocks the damaging UV rays is important for prevention of melanoma. This vaccine in combination with Keytruda offers hope for people at high risk of developing melanoma. Click to read the full story.

Experimental Treatment With Modified Herpes Virus Cured Terminal Cancer

Scientists have managed to wipe out terminal cancer using a modified version of the herpes virus. A patient in a trial for the cancer-extermination virus saw his cancer completely disappear after the treatment. Over 15 months later, he has remained cancer free, according to the Institute of Cancer Research in London reports BGR.com. This treatment is still in it is early stages but is offering positive results and hope for cancer patients.There have been other viruses used to treat disease and cancer, the safety of the virus dosage is scientists biggest concern. The virus multiplies in the tumor and causes the tumor to burst from the inside out. The virus also increases the immune system’s ability to kill the cancer. Viruses help scientists target the cancer cells specifically. It is an example of looking at something that typically harms the body, in a new light to kill cancer. Click to read full story.

August 2022 Digital Health Roundup

As technology improves, it has a direct effect on improving cancer detection and patient outcomes. New artificial intelligence (AI) is combing several types of available health and research data to predict patients’ cancer outcomes. Improvements in the abilities of the CT scan increase precision of treatments, increasing quality of life for patients. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia is using AI to improve colon cancer detection for their community.

New AI Technology Integrates Multiple Data Types to Predict Cancer Outcomes

A new study from researchers from the Mahmood Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reveals a proof-of-concept model that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to combine multiple types of data from different sources to predict patient outcomes for 14 different types of cancer reports MedicalXpress.com . The researchers used publicly available information from The Cancer Genome Atlas about the many genomic types of cancer. In considering how to treat cancer patients’, clinicians get information from many sources. They use patient health information, patient family history, histology, as well as the genomic sources. This is a large amount of information to consider and is time consuming to gather from all available resources to make accurate predictions of the patient outcome. Researchers have developed an algorithm that learns prognostic information from many sources. This new AI uses the algorithm to help predict the cancer patient’s outcome. Included in this algorithm is information from the doctors about the patient’s immune response, patient radiology, and the patient’s electronic medical record. This AI is another tool to help the physician and patient treat the cancer and have a better outcome. Find more information here.

New CT Technology to Diminish the Overall Burden of Cancer Treatment

The flat table of a CT could only move right to left, back to front, and up and down. The newest technology allows the table to roll, and Dover explained that it is similar to a “log roll,” and it also can move like and “X” reports TrussvilleTribune.com . Radiation used for cancer treatment is a valuable tool, but it can also be very damaging to the surrounding organs and tissues. Clinicians must align the patient in exactly the right position to give the dose of radiation needed, this new CT allows for millimeter precision. The new availability of table positions allows for a higher dose with fewer treatments and greater accuracy. This new CT also is better for patient convenience by decreasing patient travel time with the need for fewer treatments. More of the radiation dose can go directly to the tumor which allows for better chances of a successful treatment. With less radiation damaging other areas of the body, there are less long-term side effects. This gives patients better outcomes short-term and long–term. Another advance with this CT scan is that it can monitor patient breathing cycles. It can show changes in the body position throughout the breathing cycle in real time to help the clinician make the needed adjustments. Find more information here.

Grady Memorial Hospital to Use AI Technology to Improve Colon Cancer Screening

Grady Memorial Hospital is using a new technology platform donated by Medtronic to improve colon cancer screening in medically underserved communities reports healthleadersmedia.com . The GI Genius modules uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to help doctors find colorectal polyps in real time. There is a higher risk for colon cancer in Black adults. Once diagnosed, Black adults have been having worse outcomes. Research shows that part of the problem is a knowledge barrier; patients are not aware that the screening age for colon cancer has changed to 45 years of age. At Grady Memorial, 30% of their patients are uninsured so there is a cost barrier to cancer diagnosis and treatment. This technology is an AI-assisted colonoscopy, combining the AI with the physicians’ own eyes and experience. The GI Genius has been shown to improve cancer detection by 50%. Earlier colon cancer detection equals better outcomes for patients. Find more information here.

March 2022 Notable News

With all the research done in the field of oncology, we are still learning about the negative impact the pandemic has had on cancer patients. Covid has taken a toll on everyone, but it has hit cancer patients especially hard. March also brings some positive news, an exciting discovery that could lead to important advances in pancreatic cancer treatments. Finally, man’s best friend is also contributing to cancer prevention and cancer screening.

Covid’s Effects on Cancer Care

Cancer patients are more prone to severe coronavirus disease, some do not respond as well to COVID-19 vaccines, and they face delays in diagnosis and treatment due to the pandemic reports CancerHealth.com . During the pandemic and quarantine, people missed screening opportunities, and this is causing an increase in later stage cancer diagnosis. Patients with lung cancers and blood cancers are at a higher risk of having a more severe case of Covid and do not respond well to the vaccine. Cancer patients also face delays in needed treatments during the pandemic. Another negative impact of Covid is the toll it takes on a patient’s mental health due to isolation and financial stress. Racial minorities and people with lower incomes have been hit the hardest during the pandemic. Finally, cancer research has been negatively affected due to labs closing and clinical trials getting delayed. As a nation, we need to look at the toll Covid has taken on the field of oncology and make changes to lessen the impact of a pandemic in the future. Find more information here.

Molecule Discovered that Can Kill Pancreatic Cancer

A research team led by scientists at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has discovered a molecule that inhibits the growth and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells through the iron metabolism pathway reports MedicalXpress.com . This molecule works on iron metabolism to kill the cancer cells and proteins that cause cancer growth. A door has now opened for development of a new pancreatic cancer treatment. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells have mutations that make it difficult to treat with chemotherapy. This molecule causes ferroptosis, cell death triggered by iron, in PDAC which can lead to new and effective treatments. Find more information here.

Dogs Help Sniff Out Cancer

Cancer cells give off a specific odor—traces of which can be detected by dogs through human urine, breath, skin, sweat, and feces, reports HealthDigest.com . Dogs can smell this odor before the cancer spreads, allowing for early detection. Currently, there is an eight month long intensive training for detection dogs. The canine scent detection will be used as a screening tool. Research is being done as to what biologic compounds the dogs smell and then screening tests can be created based on those compounds. Find more information here.

February 2022 Digital Health Round Up

Technological advances show promise in the areas of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. During the pandemic, the virtual visit was introduced to adapt to the changing needs of healthcare. Healthcare providers and patients have demanded that telemedicine evolve to provide for an effective patient experience. Providers are harnessing the power of technology to make a less invasive way to diagnose colon cancer, which is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Two Squadrons at Keesler Air force base are joining forces and using digital health technology to make radiation therapy for cancer patients safer and more precise.

The Virtual Visit

This trend is here to stay; 76% of Americans indicated that they plan to use telehealth either more or at the same rate, even after the pandemic subsides, reports MedCityNews.com . To provide “distributed care” or care that is brought to the patient instead of the patient going to the care. It requires data and artificial intelligence (AI) to drive the digital health experience.  Healthcare providers use data and clinical history to create a strong patient relationship. The digital interaction is documented and can be shared with other providers to provide continuity. Providers create easy to use platforms to make appointments, view records, and link to the virtual visit all from one site. Telemetry tools are available to monitor patient conditions at home and use diagnostic tools to input for AI algorithms. Insurance companies and Medicaid offer billing codes and reimbursement for virtual visits. There are guidelines in place for data governance to insure patient privacy. Find more information here.

Cancer Detecting Pill

The Colon Capsule Endoscopy device, or Pillcam, passes through the digestive system taking 50,000 pictures of the bowel on its way, reports BBCNews.com . This pill camera requires the same preparation as a colonoscopy and has been used on its 2000th patient in Scotland. The pill still must be swallowed in the hospital setting but the patient can go home as it passes through their system. The patient wears a recorder on their waist to record the images.  Many patients have a fear of having a colonoscopy and avoid getting the procedure done. The Colon Capsule Endoscopy device is less invasive than a colonoscopy, it’s painless, and there is no sedation required.  Pillcam allows for early detection of colon cancer and therefore the patient gets treatment faster. Find more information here.

Customized Care for Cancer Patients

In an effort to make radiation therapy for cancer patients more accurate and effective, the 81st Diagnostic and Therapeutic Squadron joins forces with the 81st Dental Squadron to shape radiation bolus for each patient, reports WXXV25.com. They use digital dentistry software in combination with 3D Printers to help cancer patients by making an artificial surface specific to each patient.  This artificial surface acts as a barrier, allowing the radiation to work, as well as make the radiation bolus specific to each case. During the radiation bolus, the machine scans the patient’s face creating a custom prosthesis that can be used every time there is a treatment. This process makes the radiation therapy more precise and safer for the cancer patient. Find more information here.

February 2022 Notable News

February brings more innovation in the field of oncology. This month there are many advances for cancer prevention. Scientists are developing a single test for women that can detect and predict the risk of getting four types of cancer. Thanks to new research, doctors have lowered the screening age for colon cancer from age 50 to 45. Finally, a decade long study has proven there is a link between alcohol and some deadly cancers.

Test for Four Types of Women’s Cancer

Scientists are developing a “revolutionary” test to predict a woman’s risk of four cancers using a single sample collected during cervical screening, reports TheGuardian.com . This test uses a cervical tissue sample to spot ovarian, uterine, cervical, and breast cancers. Patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer have the highest risk of death due to it typically being diagnosed in late stages. This cancer has subtle symptoms making it difficult to detect in early stages. Earlier detection could mean stopping the cancer before it even starts in some cases. This test could provide risk scores for patients by assessing genetic footprints that can be tracked over time. These risk scores allow for a more personalized approach to screening, prevention, and detection. Find more information here.

Earlier Screening for Colon Cancer

In the new study, researchers found that Americans in their 20’s and 30’s are seeing the steepest rise in distant-stage colon cancer— later-stage tumors that have spread to other sites in the body reports UPINews.com. The symptoms of colon cancer are changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, abdominal cramps that are persistent, and weight loss for unknown reason. There has been a delay in detection causing a higher mortality rate. Providers are reacting to this rise in colon cancer in younger people by lowering the screening age from 50 to 45. So far, there is not an obvious reason as to the increase in incidence of colon cancer in younger people. Doctors suggest there is a correlation with obesity and diabetes. Screening for colon cancer is a powerful tool for prevention, family history is an important part of this screening. Find more information here.

Link between Alcohol and Cancer

The roughly decade-long study, published last week in the International Journal of Cancer, has confirmed a link between certain types of cancer and the amount of alcohol a person consumes reports Survivornet.com. Cancers included in this study are esophageal cancers, and head and neck cancers. A person with one or both genetic variants show an increased risk. This variant reduces one’s tolerance to alcohol, causing the body to not be able to break down the alcohol. It is also noted that drinking alcohol in combination with smoking puts a person at a much higher risk for cancer. Doctors suggest considering moderation when it comes to drinking alcohol, limiting the number of drinks to four per week. Find more information here.

January 2022 Notable News

January offers hope. This year is starting with many new and exciting advances in the areas of cancer diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. A simple blood test has been found to detect if a patient has cancer and if it has metastasized in the body. There are now new clues as to how ovarian cancer begins and therefore might be prevented. Cancers have been found to be sorted by immune archetypes to make more precise immunotherapies to treat the cancer. It is encouraging to see the results of the prevention efforts, there is new research to show that the HPV cancer vaccine is saving lives.

Blood Test for Cancer Detection

A University of Oxford study outlines a new type of blood test that can be used to detect a range of cancers and whether these cancers have spread (metastasized) in the body, reports MedicalXpress.com. This blood test can be helpful in finding and staging cancer in the future for patients with non-specific symptoms that concern the provider. This is the first simple blood test to find metastatic cancer without any prior knowledge of the cancer type. A different technique is used with this blood test, it uses magnetic fields and radio waves to profile metabolites from the cancer tumors in the blood. Early diagnosis of cancer offers a better prognosis for patients, this blood test is easily, quickly, and affordably done by a primary doctor. Find more information here.

Clues into Ovarian Cancer

In a new study, scientists used stem cells created from the blood samples of women with BRCA mutations and ovarian cancer to fashion a model of fallopian tube tissue. There, they found first hints of ovarian cancer in the fallopian tube tissue, reports U.S.News.com. The hope is that by studying this tissue, they can predict ovarian cancer many years in advance of it developing. Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths for women due in part to the subtlety of the symptoms. Women with BRCA-1 mutations have a much higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. If scientists can find the abnormalities in the fallopian tube tissue, they may be able to stop the cancer. Using this fallopian tissue, they may be able to test which drug is most effective on the cancer without having to expose the patient to the drug first. The findings of this study may allow doctors to have early detection of ovarian cancer and have more effective treatments for the patient. Find more information here.

Sorting Cancers to Develop Precision Treatments

Using data from over 300 patient tumors, researchers have described 12 classes of ‘immune archetypes’ to classify cancer tumors, reports Sciencedaily.com. This study showed that cancers from different parts of the body respond similarly immunologically. Tumors are made up of immune cells that are supposed to fight the cancer cells, but with cancer cells, they overpower the body’s immune cells and take over. These ‘immune archetypes’ allow for doctors to personalize each patient’s cancer immunotherapy. This information helps researchers explain why immunotherapy works for some patients and not others. These archetypes increase information needed by physicians to appropriately treat the cancer tumors with the right immunotherapy, thereby significantly improving patient outcomes. Find more information here.

HPV Vaccine Saves Lives

New data confirms that the vaccine is already saving lives. The number of cervical cancer cases and deaths among American women dropped after the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, according to a November 2021 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports mskcc.org. While this study speaks for itself, there are still many people afraid to get this vaccine for their children. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection with very severe consequences to the body. There is an increase in throat and neck cancer caused by HPV, this has greatly affected both men and women. Physicians want to emphasize that this vaccine does not promote sexual activity, this vaccine saves lives. This simple vaccine can save the lives of many people and prevent cancer caused by HPV from ever occurring. Find more information here.

September 2021 Notable News

A big yellow duck is raising awareness by having an adventure, researchers are becoming more aware of how cholesterol might affect cancer, and quitting smoking is always a good idea. A better breast cancer treatment and vaccines could be on the way for cancer patients, and fruit flies may be the key to longer lifespans.

Fruit Flies and Cancer

Researchers are learning a new anti-cancer strategy from studying fruit flies, reports technologynetworks.com. The research shows that, rather than trying to destroy tumors, treatments that attack destructive cancer chemicals could lead to improved health and survival rates. Researchers discovered that the tumors in fruit flies release a chemical, called interleukin-6 (IL-6), that weakens the barrier between the brain and the bloodstream and allows the bloodstream and brain environments to mix. The same chemical was found in mice and researchers were able to extend the lifespan of both the mice and the fruit flies by blocking the IL-6 impact on the blood-brain barrier. If researchers are able to find a drug that blocks the effect of IL-6 on the blood-brain barrier, it could potentially prolong the lives of cancer patients. Learn more about the fruit fly research here.

COVID-19 Booster Shot for Blood Cancer Patients

Some blood cancer patients could benefit from a Covid-19 booster shot, reports usnews.com. A study showed that more than half of the patients with B-cell blood cancers, who did not make antibodies after the first two Covid-19 vaccine shots, had a better result in making antibodies after the third booster shot. Blood cancer patients with questions about covid-19 vaccinations should consult their doctors. Get more information here.

Cancer Vaccines

Researchers have found some promising results studying the use of cancer vaccines, reports news.mit.edu. Experimental studies have helped to identify cancer proteins that, when vaccinated against, can potentially increase the body’s own immune response by waking up T cells to target the proteins. Over the past decade, scientists have been exploring cancer vaccines as a way for the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Learn more here

Breast Cancer Treatment

There is good news in breast cancer treatment, reports abcnews.go.com. New data shows that the drug ENHERTU worked better than the current treatment for HER-2 positive breast cancer, which is currently incurable. ENHERTU was more successful at reducing tumor size and keeping the patient alive longer. The results suggest that ENHERTU could become a first-line treatment for breast cancer and researchers are investigating to see if they have similar results using ENHERTU to treat other cancers such as stomach and lung cancers. Read more here

Lung Cancer and Smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking, says cancer.gov. A new study shows that quitting smoking after being diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer could help people live longer and could also delay a return of the cancer. In the study, the people who quit smoking lived a median of 22 months longer than those who did not quit. Learn more about the findings here

There is also new information from cancer.gov about lung cancer among people with no history of smoking. A study has found that most of the tumors are caused by the mutations of natural processes in the body. The study also identified three subtypes of cancers among never smokers. The findings could help researchers develop better treatments for these types of lung cancer. Learn more here.

High Cholesterol and Cancer

Scientists are beginning to understand why there may be a link between high cholesterol and cancer, reports medicalnewstoday.com. Researchers have found that high cholesterol levels may help make cancer cells resistant to death. Using cell lines and mice models, researchers found that exposure to a derivative of cholesterol, known as 27HC, led to the growth of tumors and prevented the process of natural cell death in cancer cells. Understanding the link between cholesterol and cancer could lead to creating better cancer treatments. Find more information here.

Mr. Vanderquack

There are many ways to spread cancer awareness, but perhaps none more fun than a 20-inch duck in a Jeep traveling the country. The duck, Mr. Vanderquack, has a GPS tracker and is traveling to all 50 states in an effort to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research, says wate.com. Thousands of Jeep owners have volunteered to drive Mr. Vanderquack around the country where he will visit over 650 cities. Mr. Vanderquack’s journey began in early September and is expected to take three months. You can follow the journey and sign up for email updates at mrvanderquack.com or on Instagram @mrvanderquack. Mr. Vanderquack’s adventure has already raised more than $20,000. Get more information here

August 2021 Notable News

The news this month is a little nutty! Actually, it’s a little peanutty! It turns out that eating peanuts could cause cancer to spread but drinking milk could save young people from developing colon cancer. Widowers are more likely to have advanced prostate cancer, and having a positive attitude isn’t necessarily a requirement for surviving cancer. All that and a glimpse into the state of cancer rates across the globe.

Global State of Cancer

A chart detailing the cancer survival, incidence, and death rates of several countries provides information about the global state of cancer, says medicalnewstoday.com. The lowest cancer rates were found in India, which also had the lowest cancer death rates. Doctors in India believe that prevention and education, service delivery, and research should all be equal in cancer care. The United States has the highest cancer rate, but possibly because of the screening tests that detect cancer earlier and more successfully than in other countries. However, the US also has a prevalence of cancer risk factors, such as obesity, that could be contributing to the high incidence of cancer. China has the highest cancer mortality rate. Learn more about the state of cancer in other countries here.

Potential Cause of Metastasis

A recent study shows that cancer patients who eat a lot of peanuts could have an increased risk of metastasis, reports sciencedaily.com. The study showed that, after eating peanuts, a carbohydrate-binding protein called peanut agglutinin (PNA) enters the blood stream. The PNA interacts with blood vascular wall cells which then leads to the production of cytokines, molecules that are known to cause cancer to spread. Another study showed that PNA binds to a sugar chain that is associated with cancer cells and that it could lead to the cancer cells being stickier and easier to attach to blood vessels. While more research needs to be done, patients may want to use caution when it comes to eating large quantities of peanuts. Find more information

here.

Vitamin D Benefits

Vitamin D could help younger adults protect themselves against colon cancer, reports usnews.com. Researchers have learned that the overall incidences of colon cancer are decreasing, but among younger adults, colon cancer is on the rise. The increase in cases seems to be linked with a decline in eating foods full of vitamin D, such as fish, mushrooms, eggs, and milk. The study found that young people could reduce their risk of getting colon cancer at an early age by about 50 percent if they consumed 300 IU of vitamin D each day, which is the equivalent of about three glasses of milk. The study is the first to make the connection between vitamin D levels and the rising rates of colon cancer in the younger population. Read more about the connection here.

Widowers and Prostate Cancer

Researchers found that widowers are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, reports medicalxpress.com. Widowers tend to be diagnosed later than married men or men in a relationship, when the cancer has reached advanced stages and has spread into other areas of the body. Studies have shown that people living with a partner have a healthier lifestyle and are more likely to be encouraged to see a doctor when symptoms appear. For better health outcomes, widowers can turn to family and friends for support and be sure to have regular medical checkups. Learn more here.

Power of Positivity

Some people say that the secret to beating cancer is all about having a positive attitude, but as 20-year cancer survivor Caitlin Flanagan points out in theatlantic.com, sometimes it’s hard to feel positive about a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Read this great piece about why the power of positive thinking may not be a requirement to survive cancer here.


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July 2021 Notable News

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a sunscreen recall, but that may not be the only common household product that could contain cancer-causing chemicals. New research has found a clue to understanding metastasis and hope for treating pancreatic cancer, and it’s time for Americans to admit that consuming alcohol is putting them at greater risk for developing several types of cancer.

Even though fewer than one in three Americans equate drinking alcohol with getting cancer, a recent study links alcohol consumption to more than 740,000 new cases of cancer, reports advisory.com. The three most common alcohol-related cancers are esophageal, liver and breast, but the study also found that mouth, larynx, colon, and rectum cancers are related to alcohol consumption. Cancer risk increased with the amount of alcohol consumed, but even moderate drinking (two or fewer drinks per day) was linked to 14 percent of the alcohol-related cancers. Men may have a higher risk factor as they made up 75 percent of the cancer cases related to alcohol. There are several reasons alcohol consumption is linked to cancer including the way alcohol breaks down in the body. Ethanol, which is the alcohol in beer, wine, and liquor, breaks down into a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde. Other factors are alcohol’s ability to increase hormone levels and to hinder nutrient absorption by the body. Learn more about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer here and here.

A healthy protein in a once-overlooked tiny cell component called an intracellular nanovesicle (INV) may be a clue in explaining how it’s possible for some cancers to metastasize and form secondary tumors, reports medicalxpress.com. The protein, named Tumor Protein D54 (TPD54), is involved in the movement of cells. Researchers found that when higher levels of TPD54 were present cell movement increased, and when there was less TPD54 the cells moved less. Increased levels of the protein are associated with some breast cancers that tend to metastasize indicating that TPD54 plays a role in movement of the cancer cells. However, targeting TPD54 to treat cancer is not ideal as the protein is important for a number of normal cell processes including wound healing and immune response. The discovery of the TPD54 role in cell movement along with more study of the INVs and their function as couriers within a cell, could lead to further understanding of metastasis of cancer cells. Find more information here.

A clinical trial for a new pancreatic cancer treatment is showing positive results, reports biospace.com. The ongoing trial is being conducted by Lantern Pharma for the drug candidate LP-184. So far, the preclinical data showed that pancreatic tumors in mouse models shrank with a promising 90 percent efficacy over eight weeks. In comparison, a control group of untreated mice showed tumor growth over the same period. In addition, researchers saw a significant reduction of cancer cells and cancer cell growth in other models. Further study of LP-184 is planned. Learn more here.

Exposure to household chemicals could increase the risk for breast cancer, reports medicalnewstoday.com and studyfinds.org. Researchers say there could be as many as 300 toxic chemicals in common household items such as processed foods, make up, hair products, and furniture. Many household items contain chemicals known as endocrine disrupting inhibitors, and researchers say we should be concerned about our exposure to these chemicals which can alter the hormones that affect breast cancer. While the impact of many of the chemicals is still unknown, there is evidence that some of the chemicals make cells in breast tissue produce more estrogen and progesterone, which both have a known link to breast cancer. Learn more here and here.

Neutrogena, Aveeno, and CVS Health have voluntarily recalled some of their sunscreens or after sun products, reports cnn.com. The sunscreens were found to have been contaminated with benzene, a chemical that increases the risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders. The recalled products are all batches or lots of Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport aerosol, Neutrogena Invisible Daily defense aerosol, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol, and Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol. All recalled Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreens can be found here, and customers can request a refund by completing the form here, or calling 1-800-458-1673. CVS also stopped selling CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera and CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera Spray after the Neutrogena and Aveeno products were recalled. Experts say the recall is not a reason for people to stop using sunscreen as the majority of sunscreens on the market do not contain benzene and successfully protect against skin cancers. An independent lab tested sunscreens and found that most of them did not contain benzene. Learn more about the recalled products and benzene here.


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Patient Advocacy: 7 Ways To Access Medical Journal Articles For Free

Has this ever happened to you? You come across a tweet with a link to a new study in your disease area and you eagerly click on it only to find it leads you to a journal article behind a paywall.   

I’ve lost count of the number of times this has happened to me and the frustration I feel at not being able to access a relevant study without paying an amount I cannot afford. To purchase a single article can cost upwards of $100.  

Over the years I’ve discovered there are some ways to get around this paywall.  Below I’ve outlined 7 tips on gaining access to journal articles. These methods may not always give you access to the full article, but they are certainly worth trying in your search for peer-reviewed literature to better understand your health condition. 

1. Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for journal articles, alongside books from academic publishers.  The site harvests the content of institutional repositories and links them in one record. 

2. Explore online databases

Similar to Google Scholar, there are several online repositories of academic papers free to search online. As I said above, you may not always be able to access the full article, but you will be able to read the study abstract (an abstract is a short summary of the research contained within the study.)  

Core is a search engine and index for aggregated research publications from repositories and journals globally.  

Dimensions is a next-generation linked research information system that makes it easier to find and access the most relevant information. Developed in collaboration with over 100 leading research organizations around the world, it brings together over 128 million publications. Users of the free version can use the Open Access filter to find articles. 

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a list of nearly 10,000 open access journals and a search service finding peer-reviewed and scholarly journals and articles.  

PubMed, maintained by the US National Library of Medicine, is a free search engine covering the biomedical and life sciences going back as far back as 1951. 

JSTOR gives you access to more than 12 million journal articles in upwards of 75 disciplines, providing full-text searches of more than 2,000 journals, and access to more than 5,000 Open Access books. 

Web of Science covers more than 20,000 carefully selected journals, along with books, conference proceedings, and other sources.  

Science.gov covers the vast territory of United States federal science, including more than 60 databases and 2,200-plus websites.

3. Search for pre-printed publications

OSF Preprints is a platform with openly accessible preprints, or submitted manuscripts that are publically distributed before acceptance and peer-review in a traditional scientific journal. An advantage of publishing preprints is the speeding up of scientific communication and of sharing research results earlier, as it can take a long time between submission of an article till publication. OSF Preprints is developed by the Centre for Open Science (COS), a non-profit organization with the goal of greater openness and reproducible research.

4. Download an app

I have installed an app called Unpaywall as a browser extension on my laptop.  

Unpaywall is an open database of 29,624,840 free scholarly articles. The app harvests content from legal sources including repositories run by universities, governments, and scholarly societies, as well as open (free access) content hosted by publishers themselves. 

Open Access Button is another plugin for Chrome or Firefox that works similarly to Unpaywall. Click on the button while you are viewing a pay-walled journal article and it will search for open access versions.  

5. Ask a university librarian or academic

Did you know that people with access to university databases usually have “free” access to all journal articles, because their university pays for it?  If you know someone who works in a university library or is affiliated with an academic institution, it’s worth asking them if they can help you get access to a paywalled journal. 

6. Ask the author for it

While the publisher owns the article, the author will have a legal version he or she can share. Many authors are happy to share a pdf version of their published article. The author’s academic affiliation will be published alongside the article and sometimes this will include their email address. If not a simple Google search should help you find the author’s email contact.   

Metastatic breast cancer patient, Martha Carlson (@Martha__Carlson) says reaching out in this way can be productive. “I’ve had article PDFs sent to me by reaching out to the author and also through other advocates,” she explained.  

ResearchGate and Academia.edu are both platforms that facilitate making contact with researchers and requesting copies of their articles.  

Note: Do NOT share an article an author has given you anywhere online as this will breach the publisher’s copyright rules. 

7. Rent the article

Finally, some journals allow you to “rent” an article for considerably less than buying it. Ok so this tip isn’t free, but if all else fails, it may be your best option.  

I hope you find these tips helpful. As patients and patient advocates, it is important that we can access the latest evidence-based research to help us advocate for ourselves and others.  

Below you will find a list of websites linked to the sites and tools mentioned in this article. 

Useful Sites

Google Scholar:https://scholar.google.com 

Core: https://core.ac.uk 

Dimensions: https://app.dimensions.ai/discover/publication 

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): https://doaj.org 

PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 

Web of Science: https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/solutions/web-of-science 

Science.gov: https://www.science.gov 

OSF Preprints: https://osf.io/preprints 

Centre for Open Science: https://www.cos.io 

Unpaywall: http://unpaywall.org 

Open Access Button:https://openaccessbutton.org 

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net 

Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu