Tag Archive for: cancer

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.

Cancer Awareness Calendar 2023

January

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Blood Donor Month


February

National Cancer Prevention Month

Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

World Cancer Day (February 4, 2023)

National Donor Day (February 14, 2023)

Rare Disease Day (February 28, 2023)


March

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Day (March 3, 2023)

International Women’s Day (March 8, 2023)

Anal Cancer Awareness Day (March 21, 2023)


April

National Cancer Control Month

Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Minority Cancer Awareness Month

Minority Health Month

Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

World Health Day (April 7, 2023)

National Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (April 11-17, 2023)

AML Awareness Day (April 21, 2023)


May

Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

Brain Tumor Awareness Month

Cancer Research Month

Clinical Trial Awareness Week

Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

Melanoma Monday (May 1, 2023)

Women’s Check-up Day (May 8, 2023)

Women’s Health Week (May 14-20, 2023)


June

Cancer Survivors Month

Cancer Survivors Day (June 4, 2023)

Men’s Health Week (June 12-18, 2023)


July

UV Safety Awareness Month

Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness Month


 August

Summer Sun Safety Month

World Lung Cancer Day (August 1, 2023)


September

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Uterine Cancer Awareness Month

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

MPN Awareness Day (September 14, 2023)

World Lymphoma Day (September 15, 2023)

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day (September 19, 2023)


October

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Liver Cancer Awareness Month

National Mammography Day (October 20, 2023)


November

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

National Family Caregiver Month

Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Month

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

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.

8 Tips For Coping With Christmas When You Have Cancer

Christmas is traditionally a time of celebration, feasting on festive foods and drinks and gathering with family and friends. However, if you have cancer, this may also be a time of overwhelming emotions, exhaustion, or physical discomfort. Add in concerns about the current coronavirus pandemic, and you’ve got a recipe for a stressful holiday.  “As our second COVID Christmas is fast approaching and with our world so desperately wanting to return to normal comes a lot of holiday festivities, says Marissa Holzer, who has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 2014.  “Some of these parties and gatherings may bring unnecessary stress and anxiety, even during normal times, or they may make an immunocompromised individual feel unsafe.”

Let’s take a look at some ways we might reduce the stress of the festive season.

1. Plan Ahead

Consider what aspects of Christmas may be difficult for you, and plan ahead of time for what will help you cope.  You may find it useful to write a list. For example, keep snacks, hand sanitizer, and masks in your bag when traveling away from home.

2. Listen to Holiday Music

This tip comes from two-time breast cancer survivor, Terri Coutee, who finds listening to holiday music lifts her spirits. “It can be in the form of quiet instrumental when I am feeling peaceful and reading or resting,” she explains. “When I am cooking or decorating I might put on a favorite artist with a little jazz or swing to it and dance a bit while preparing for the holidays.

3. Ask for Help

The run-up to Christmas is a hectic time filled with food shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and extra household jobs. Now is the time to call on the assistance of those who offered to help when you were first diagnosed.  Reach out to them and ask for practical help with Christmas chores. Also, do as much of your grocery and gift shopping online as possible.

4. Schedule Rest Time

Don’t expect to be able to do what you could do before cancer. Know your limits and don’t expect too much of yourself. You may find it helpful to think of your energy reserves as your ‘energy bank’. Whenever you do an activity you make a withdrawal. And when you rest you make a deposit. It’s important to balance withdrawals with deposits. If you keep doing too much whenever you feel like you have energy, you’ll run out completely and not have any reserves left for the things that are important.

Cathy Leman, who works with post-treatment survivors of hormone-positive breast cancer, says that “one thing that helps my clients cope during the holidays is being deliberate in creating space for themselves; ideally before they start their day. As little as ten minutes devoted to setting an intention, doing deep breathing or journaling can help you feel grounded and balanced.”

5. Adjust Your Expectations

Arising out of the previous tip, Jennifer Douglas, who was diagnosed with DCIS, suggests keeping expectations flexible. “Since our energy fluctuates so much during and after treatment it can be really difficult to know how much to put on one day,” she explains. “I found that giving myself grace to do a lot, or a little, with regards to holiday preparations, enabled me to feel more at peace. Some days I felt good and could do a lot, and other days I didn’t have the energy. Either way, I listened to my body and did what I could. Having flexible expectations of myself helped me get through the busy season while preserving my precious energy.”

6. Set Firm Boundaries

When you visit with friends and family the subject of your diagnosis and treatment may come up at some point. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone that you don’t want to talk about cancer if you don’t. It can be helpful to plan ahead of time how you will respond to these questions.

Rod Ritchie who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 (followed in 2016 with a diagnosis of prostate cancer), steers clear of cancer conversations as much as he can. “Because I don’t want to turn a Christmas party into a pity party, I don’t mention the ‘C word’ unless it comes up for discussion,” he says. “ It doesn’t hurt me to have a day off the topic as well!”

7. Feel What You Feel

Christmas is a time of high expectations and the reality of our experience doesn’t always match these expectations. Tell yourself that’s ok. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Even if how you feel doesn’t correspond to what others expect, your feelings are still real and valid.

Breast cancer survivor, Nancy Stordahl, still grieves the death of her mother from breast cancer and finds Christmas can be a challenging time. “There is nothing wrong with honoring your grief by feeling it,” she says. “No one should feel guilty about grieving during the holidays or during any time of year, for that matter.”

Prostate cancer survivor, Gogs Gagnon, who lost his sister to ovarian cancer says he finds “comfort in sharing stories at family gatherings. Reliving my favorite memories and allowing myself to cry without fear of judgment is incredibly healing and therapeutic.”

8. Prioritize What is Best For You

You get to decide the kind of Christmas you want. It’s ok to say no to certain things, such as not visiting friends or family. Discuss your needs with friends and family, but remember that it’s ok to prioritize what’s best for you, even if others don’t seem to understand. In the words of Marissa, “My motto this season:  If it doesn’t bring peace, joy and love to your heart it is absolutely okay to say no.”

My wish for you this holiday season is that it will be a time filled with an abundance of peace, joy and love, and that the new year will bring good health and happiness to us all.

Merry Christmas.

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.

How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Treated?

How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Treated? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

Breast cancer expert Dr. Adrienne Waks discusses treatment approaches for metastatic breast cancer and explains how research is evolving.

Dr. Adrienne Waks is the Associate Director of Clinical Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. To learn more about Dr. Waks click, here.

See More from Thrive Breast Cancer

Related Resources:

What Role Do Breast Cancer Patients Play in Care and Treatment Decisions?

Key Questions Patients Should Ask Before Participating in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

What Are the Treatment Options for Early Stage Breast Cancer?


Transcript:

Katherine:

What about people who have metastatic disease? What treatment advances are available for them?  

Dr. Waks:

Yeah. You know, I think that’s an incredibly important question and a totally different set of discussions than we have with women with early stage breast cancer and unfortunately and unacceptably at this point for a woman diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer still typically that can become a life-threatening diagnosis. 

So, it’s exceptionally important that we rapidly improve the treatment options that we have for women with metastatic breast cancer. Maybe everybody says this every year, but I think that this year, 2022, has been a particularly exciting year in terms of advances that we’re making in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, really of all subtypes. I would say the most exciting class of drugs or type of drugs that’s coming out in breast cancer and in all malignancies honestly, is called antibody drug conjugates, which is to say an antibody. So, a molecule that’s targeted to some particular approaching on a cancer cell surface and then is attached to or conjugated to a chemotherapy molecule.  

So, the antibody is like a smart delivery system directly to the cancer cell for what’s call a payload, basically like a sort of action molecule or the killer molecule, which is the chemotherapy. 

Those kinds of antibody drug conjugants have made a huge impact in recent years in improving outcomes for women really with all subtypes of breast cancer, so that drug class I think is a very exciting one to watch in general. In terms of specific recent developments in metastatic breast cancer, so probably the biggest blockbuster development over the past year and really over just the past three months is the understanding that we can break out a subtype of metastatic breast cancer that we really didn’t even talk about before which is called HER2-low breast cancer. So, before if you asked me in May of 2022, there really were only two types of HER2 readouts for a breast cancer tumor. 

There was a HER2-negative breast cancer tumor and there was a HER2-positive breast cancer tumor and as I already told you, the HER2-positive accounts for about 20 percent of breast cancers overall. The other 80 percent are HER2-negative. And so, historically, again you asked me three months ago I would have said if you’re HER2-positive and that 20 percent will give you these different HER2-directed treatments and if you’re not, we can’t use those. And what’s changed is that we’ve developed new antibody drug conjugants. So, drugs that are targeted against in this case the protein HER2 that seem to be so effective and work so well, that you don’t truly have to be HER2-positive.  

You can be HER2-low and still benefit from these treatments, which is to say your cancer has a little bit of HER2 protein on the surface of the breast cancer cells but not a lot. So, not enough to make it positive but enough to make it low in its designation. 

That’s actually a large proportion of breast cancer patients. It’s over 50 percent of breast cancer patients, so it’s significantly more than HER2-positive, so a large proportion of breast cancer patients actually fit into this new category called HER2-low and we now know from data that were presented in June of 2022 and then published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is our biggest most high profile academic medical journal, we know that for patients who fall into that HER2-low category, again that’s more than 50 percent of breast cancer patients, that they can, if they have a metastatic breast cancer, benefit from this new antibody drug conjugate called trastuzumab deruxtecan (Enhertu).  

When it was compared to the existing chemo options we have for those patients which do have some efficacy but nonetheless, when trastuzumab deruxtecan was compared to the existing chemo options, it clearly looked better for patients with HER2-low breast cancer. So, that was not just an exciting advance in terms of new treatment options which we always love to be able to offer to patients but also in terms of breaking out this entirely new designation and subcategory that captures more than half of our metastatic breast cancer patients and helping us to offer them something new and hopefully will be a pathway for other drugs to be developed in this space and for this new subcategory. 

So, that was very exciting. I’ve been talking about it with patients all the time in the past just three months since those data came out.  

You know, a second antibody drug conjugate that has also been very exciting in recent months and recent years is called sacituzumab govitecan which Trodelvy is the brand name of that one. That’s an antibody drug conjugate that’s targeted against a different protein on the cell surface that’s targeted against the protein Trop-2, so that’s where the Trodelvy comes from. It’s targeting Trop-2. That’s an antibody drug conjugate that we’ve known for probably three or more years now can be very effective in triple-negative metastatic breast cancer. So, we’ve had that option for a number of years in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. 

But again, just in the past few months have gotten good and exciting data that this Trodelvy or sacituzumab drug also works in estrogen-driven breast cancers.  

And so, it’s giving another option to patients with not just triple-negative but also estrogen-driven breast cancer. So, that was another very recent development just in the last three months or so. 

Katherine:

That’s really exciting. 

Home Safety Tips for People with Cancer

Cancer and its treatment can cause you to feel fatigued, dizzy, and weak. They both can contribute to a loss of balance and an increased risk of infection. Needless to say, many people with cancer and even those going through treatment need to prioritize staying safe and secure at home.

Thankfully, there are plenty of safe, effective, and easy ways you and/or your caregiver can help you maintain your safety at home. It should be a sanctuary of comfort, and a place where you shouldn’t have to worry about your condition limiting you in any way. Rest and relaxation are important when it comes to recovering.

So, how can you ensure that relaxation at home by making sure it’s safe?

Let’s cover a few home safety tips you can use to maintain your independence and prioritize your well-being while dealing with cancer or going through treatment.

Home Modifications

One of the easiest ways for a person with cancer to boost their safety at home is to make some basic modifications. In most cases, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your independence with a few simple swaps. Some of the easiest ways to improve your safety by modifying things in your home include:

  • Removing rugs
  • Creating clear pathways in rooms
  • Increasing the lighting
  • Installing shower grab bars
  • Utilizing small ramps throughout the home

As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of DIY know-how or experience to make these changes, but they can end up making a big difference in your safety. You’ll reduce your risk of tripping and falling, and you’ll have more support when you’re doing everyday tasks like showering or going from room to room.

Hire a Caregiver

If you’re a person with cancer reading this and you don’t already have a caregiver, it might be time to consider hiring one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent situation, but a caregiver can help with everyday tasks and ensure your safety while you’re there. You’ll also enjoy some wonderful benefits, including:

  • Companionship
  • A greater sense of dignity
  • Better health tracking
  • Reassurance
  • Flexibility

Caregivers can do just about anything. Maybe you need someone to run errands and do shopping for you, or just for someone to keep your environment clean. You can even consider working with a caregiver who has a medical background, so they can help to administer medications and make sure you’re staying active. Most home caregivers are well-versed in things like first aid, and they’ll know how to keep you safe or provide immediate assistance in case of an emergency.

There are countless caregiving sites online where you can find someone who will work with you and meet your needs. Or, consider asking your doctor for any recommendations they might have. Your caregiver could end up being a very close friend. Loneliness can be a huge problem for people with cancer or those going through treatment. We saw the consequences of that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. A caregiver will not only be a companion, but a built-in support system that can make your days easier, safer, and more vibrant.

Steer Clear of Infection

People with cancer are often at a greater risk of developing an infection, which can complicate both the illness and treatment and make you much sicker. Keeping your home clean and as disinfected as possible is imperative. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re walking on pins and needles in your own home because you’re worried about developing an infection.

However, you might not have the strength or energy to clean every day, either. A caregiver can help with that, but you can also do things to make life easier on yourself and keep harmful substances (and critters!) out of your home.

For example, you can reduce the risks of rodents and pests getting into your home and carrying in harmful bacteria by sealing up cracks and holes, making sure all food particles are cleaned up, and cleaning yourself and your clothes once you get inside if you’ve been spending some time outdoors. Being outside in nature is a fantastic way to boost your immune system, reduce stress, and improve your energy levels. But, don’t put yourself at risk of getting sick, injured, or bringing in bacteria. Take the proper precautions to protect yourself.

There’s no reason why people with cancer shouldn’t feel safe at home. Change can be hard to deal with, especially when it comes to modifying your home or bringing someone new in to help you with everyday tasks. However, your health needs to be your top priority, and to stay healthy, you also need to stay safe.

Keep these tips in mind and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. With a few changes (and additions), you’ll feel safer and more comfortable at home than ever.

Psychosocial and Emotional Impact of Cancer: Change on Career Plans

As young cancer patients, we have to endure more than our disease, but the life changes that come with it. One of the changes may be a change in career plans, and this can have a varying psychosocial and emotional impact.

For me, personally, having a cancer diagnosis at the age of 27 vastly changed the direction of where my career was headed. I was working in healthcare already and also attending graduate school, but I didn’t know what kind of role I wanted to have in healthcare when I graduated. Getting cancer during this time and going through a very personal, yet somewhat traumatic experience helped me to realize that my purpose in life is to help other cancer patients. However, it’s not always as clear why we got cancer at the age we did, and how that will continually affect us. There are also no clear-cut rules on whether we should continue working even if we’re going through treatment, whom to tell about our diagnosis, and how, or how best to describe a gap in our resume. Luckily, the Cancer and Careers website has all the answers to some of our biggest questions:

  1. Should I tell my employer?
    • Consider the side effects of treatment, the general law about disclosing, and your environment
      • If you think you’ll need to request a reasonable accommodation or medical leave, you may have to disclose a medical condition but not necessarily the diagnosis
      • Is your company big or small? Do people have close-knit relationships?
      • What are your side effects like and will they affect your daily productivity?
  2. If I need to tell my employer, when do I tell them and whom do I go to?
    • It is best to let the people below know when you and your healthcare team have developed a plan for treatment
      • Your boss – generally you are protected by the ADA if you’ve made your employer aware of a medical condition
      • Human resources department
      • Co-workers, if you feel comfortable
  3. What do I tell them?
    • Tell only as much as you want and prepare ahead of time what information you want to share
    • Tell them what to expect, for example, future absences or even changes in appearance
    • Reassure that you’re still a part of the team!
  4. How do I explain a gap in my resume?
    • Remember that you’re not required to disclose your diagnosis during an application process or interview
    • Know that it is prohibited by law for any recruiter to ask about “health issues” should you choose to use that phrase to explain the gap
    • If your resume, list your skills first, and highlight community or volunteer work, as well as part-time and freelance work

More Resources:

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.

May 2022 Notable News

This month brings exciting and new information to help with the fight on cancer. As technology improves, knowledge gathered about cancer changes how the medical community views and approaches cancer treatment. Early screening is the key to dramatically reduce colon and rectal cancers in women. There is also a rise in esophageal cancers in middle aged adults, early screening plays a key role in patient outcome.

New Evidence Shows Cancer is not as Heritable as Once Thought

Scientists have found that cause of cancer is not primarily genetic as once thought. There are three causes of cancer: genetic (genome), environmental (exposome), and metabolic (metabolome). As cancer develops and spreads in the body, it creates its own environment and introduces certain metabolites. It becomes a self-fueled disease, reports MedicalXpress.com . Looking at how the cancer grows and survives in the body offers another more specific avenue of treatment for physicians to offer their patients. Simple changes to a patient’s metabolism and lifestyle can change the internal environment and prevent the cancer from growing. Scientists looking at all three causes of cancer opens more options for cancer prevention and treatment. Find more information here.

Starting Colon, Rectal Cancer Screening Earlier Reduces Risk in Women, Study Finds

Starting colon and rectal cancer screening at ages 45 to 49 has resulted in about a 50% reduction in cases of the disease diagnosed in women ages 45 to 60, compared with starting screening at ages 50 to 54 reports, UPINews.comColon and rectal cancers are the third deadliest cancers and there has been rising rates among younger people. In response to the rising rates of occurrence, earlier screening has been encouraged by physicians. The standard procedure for screening is a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, the doctor can identify and remove cancerous tumors at an earlier stage and remove polyps that could become cancerous. Find more information here.

Alarming Rise Found in Esophageal Cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus in Middle-Aged Adults

Adults ages 45 to 64 experienced a nearly doubled rate of esophageal cancer and a 50 percent increase in the precancerous condition Barrett’s esophagus between 2012 and 2019 reports MedicalXpress.com . This information has prompted doctors and scientists to look at the causes of this rise, is it due to an increase in screening or is it an actual rise in cancer. Doctors use endoscopy to guide a small camera down the patient’s esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Esophageal cancer is usually detected in later stages due to minimal symptoms in the early stages. People with elevated risk factors such as chronic acid reflux, male gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and Barrett’s esophagus need to get earlier screening. Early screening is the best tool in prevention, often the endoscopy can be done at the same time as the colonoscopy. Find more information here.

May 2022 Digital Health Round Up

This month brings great strides in the advancement of technology available to physicians treating cancer patients. Scientists are using artificial intelligence to help physicians predict cancer reoccurrence for patients, helping patients have better outcomes. New imaging technology, using fluorescent probes, aids in tracking the patient’s cancer drug progress. Researchers have also developed a procedure using photodynamic therapy to help in the fight on colorectal cancer.

AI Tool Accurately Predicts Tumor Regrowth in Cancer Patients

Doctors and scientists have developed an artificial intelligence tool that can accurately predict how likely tumors are to grow back in cancer patients after they have undergone treatment reports, TheGuardian.com. Using this AI for the patients that are at highest risk of having the cancer reoccur helps with getting detection sooner and increases the patients’ chance of a better outcome. Cancer patients carry the burden of worrying about reoccurrence daily, and this AI can help decrease some of that anxiety. Accurate prediction of recurrence can decrease the amount of CT scans for patients, decreasing the amount of radiation that the patients are exposed to. This study tested the AI on lung cancer, but this artificial intelligence tool can be used for many other cancers throughout the body. Find more information here.

Fluorescent Probe Can Track Cancer Drug Progress, Study Shows

Researchers say the fluorescent probe can track how tumors are responding to the drugs, which harness the body’s immune system to fight disease. The light-sensitive technology is able to detect which key immune cells-a small group known as T cells- are involved in attacking tumors reports, MedicalXpress.com . This new imaging technology can show doctors how the patient’s body is responding to the treatment right away. The doctors can see the response through tissue or blood samples and make changes to treatment based on the findings. This imaging allows for a more personal approach to each cancer patient, improving patient outcomes. Find more information here.

Wireless Device to Provide New Options for Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Photodynamic therapy is a new tool available in the fight on colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer. The researchers will use photodynamic therapy (PDT) during surgery by using a photosensitizer- a drug activated by light- to kill the cancer cells. During this process, surgeons will be able to remove the bulk of the tumor, then fully irradiate the tumor bed when the photosensitizer is activated by the light reports, MedicalXpress.com . The primary treatment for colorectal cancer is surgery and chemotherapy, this allows for another option for treatment of this cancer. Using the photodynamic therapy helps the surgeon get out all the cancerous cells, helping to prevent reoccurrence of the cancer. This method of treatment also helps decrease the toxic side effects that chemotherapy has on the body. Photodynamic therapy can be used for treatment of other cancerous tumors throughout the body. 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.