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.