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Drug company halts production of lung cancer treatment
Date: 2012-09-21 20:49:27

In what could be disappointing news for some individuals who have taken a cancer biomarker blood test that found lung tumors, a lung cancer drug that was in development by Astex Pharmaceuticals has been discontinued. The drug, amuvatinib, was shelved in light of its failure to display the desired effectiveness.

"We have decided to end the clinical development of amuvatinib, despite the favorable safety and preliminary clinical activity we observed in the first stage of this Phase 2 trial and in the earlier Phase 1b trial in combination platinum-etoposide based chemotherapy," said James S.J. Manuso, chairman and CEO of Astex Pharmaceuticals.

The chairman also stated that amuvatinib could possibly be licensed to other drug developers, if his company allows.

According to Reuters, the drug was shelved after failing to produce a 10 percent rate of reaction in lung cancer patients.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information notes that a positive result from a blood test for lung cancer could be linked to asbestos, heredity and living in an area with high levels of air pollution. However, smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer.

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Onset of pancreatic cancer could come earlier for smokers and drinkers
Date: 2012-09-20 21:58:13

The average age for an individual to receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis - potentially through a cancer screening blood test - is 72 years old. Unless a person smokes or drinks heavily, in which case the average age is closer to 60 years old, according to a study appearing in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

"If you do have these habits, and you're going to develop pancreatic cancer, the age of presentation may be younger," said Michelle Anderson of the University of Michigan Health System, quoted by Reuters.

Anderson and other researchers arrived at this conclusion after surveying data of more than 800 pancreatic cancer patients.

Reuters notes that this study doesn't necessarily prove that alcohol and tobacco use causes pancreatic cancer, only that there is a correlation between substance use and an earlier age of onset for these tumors, which in some cases could be detected through a blood test.

The National Cancer Institute states that almost 44,000 new instances of pancreatic cancer, and almost 38,000 deaths due to the disease, are reported each year in the U.S.

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New treatment for giant-cell bone tumors shows promise
Date: 2012-09-21 21:41:44

Denosumab, a drug that attacks proteins that help destroy bones, enhanced the bone health of 20 study participants who could have gotten a positive result for giant-cell bone cancer from a blood test screening. These findings appear in the American Association for Cancer Research's journal, Clinical Cancer Research.

Giant-cell bone tumors usually are not malignant, but the California researchers who authored this study say these tumors are only treatable with surgery, which isn't always effective. Sometimes, amputation is required to ensure these tumors won't ever spread.

According to the researchers, after they administered denosumab to their subjects for four weeks, 20 percent of them lost all but 10 percent of their giant-cell tumors, and bone matter grew back in 65 percent of patients who had lost bone cells due to their ailment.

"Radical surgery is currently the only treatment option," said Sant P. Chawla, director of the Santa Monica Oncology Center. "In our study, the use of denosumab allowed patients to avoid radical surgery and prevented recurrence. We hope that in the future, its use may make it possible to avoid surgery completely."

The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that the most frequently benign bone tumors to be detected by a blood test are osteochondromas, and they generally develop in individuals between 10 and 20 year old.

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Houston scientists hope to reduce cancer deaths
Date: 2012-09-21 21:04:43

Researchers from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, have developed a new $3 billion strategy to reduce instances where unfortunate information from blood tests for cancer biomarkers lead to deaths, according to the Associated Press (AP)

Dubbed "The Moon Shots Program" in honor of President John F. Kennedy, this initiative has been described as two agendas that will be enacted simultaneously. The first is meant to better utilize what is known about cancer, while the other involves understanding what must be learned in order for the disease to be cured.

"The Moon Shots Program signals our confidence that the path to curing cancer is in clearer sight than at any other time in history," Ronald DePinho, president of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, told the AP.

The news source further notes that the scientists are focused on preventing more deaths from lung, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, as well as leukemia and melanoma during the next 10 years. DePinho has already developed new blood tests for mice that determine if they should undergo more complex screenings for cancer.

"The world would profit from more institutions taking an ambitious approach like this," Clifford Hudis, a breast cancer researcher from New York, told The Wall Street Journal. "The problems are big and complex."

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Individuals with AIDS have greater than average risk for digestive cancers
Date: 2012-09-25 14:13:37

New research available in the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association shows that individuals who took an STD diagnosis test that detected the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and later developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have a higher than normal likelihood of receiving a blood test detecting cancer tumors in the stomach and esophagus.

"People diagnosed with AIDS are living longer due to improved therapies," said lead author E. Christina Persson. "However, they remain at increased risk of developing a number of different cancers. An elevated risk of esophageal and stomach cancers had been observed before, but we were able to look at risk for subtypes of these malignancies."

Analysts from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) culled information from the HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study, which contains data on almost 600,000 individuals coping with AIDS. They found that AIDS patients were nearly 70 percent more likely to develop esophageal cancer, and more than 40 percent more susceptible to stomach cancer than the rest of the population.

The NCI also stated that an STD diagnosis test indicating HIV makes an individual's cancer biomarkers blood test more likely to detect tumor cells in the lungs, mouth and cervix.

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Scientists connect immune cell to likelihood of lung cancer
Date: 2012-09-21 21:48:19

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that almost all lung cancer deaths - the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. - are linked to smoking. However, between 10 and 20 percent of lung tumors, which could be detected with blood testing, develop in individuals who have never smoked.

Investigating this phenomenon, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine (WU), St. Louis, discovered that the presence of natural immune cells in mice corresponded to their susceptibility to lung cancer.

"We want to know whether heavy smokers who don't get lung cancer have natural killer cells that are somehow better at destroying newly developing lung cancer cells," said Alexander Krupnick, associate professor of surgery and lead study author. "By comparison, do patients who have never smoked but develop lung cancer have weak natural killer cells?"

The WU analysts genetically engineered three types of mice with different levels of vulnerability to lung cancer. Once they administered a carcinogen to the animals, the group with the highest levels of tumor-killer cells resisted the illness, while the rest of the mice developed lung cancer.

According to the NCI, smoking could contribute to positive blood testing for other types of cancer, including throat, mouth, esophagus and stomach cancer.

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Follow-up treatment still too expensive for young cancer survivors
Date: 2012-09-25 15:11:02

Even if they have access to health insurance, 20- to 39-year-old cancer survivors are less likely than older survivors to undergo regular healthcare checkups for this disease that's sometimes detected by blood testing, according to a study published in the journal of the American Cancer Society.

University of Utah researchers drew these findings by looking at a survey of almost 1,000 individuals who developed tumors between the ages of 15 and 34, and had survived at least five years following their diagnoses, compared to a control group of people who had never had cancer. Regardless of their insurance status, recovering cancer patients were almost 70 percent more likely than people in the control group to skip seeing a doctor due to a lack of personal funds.

"[Young cancer survivors] need to be educated about the importance of regular healthcare to monitor for late effects," said Dr. Anne Kirchhoff of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. "Furthermore, even the insured survivors in our study reported unmet healthcare needs due to cost barriers."

The National Cancer Institute reports that approximately 70,000 individuals between 15 and 40 receive bad outcomes from blood testing for tumors in the U.S. every year. The most common forms for young people to develop include lymphoma, leukemia and germ cell tumors like those in testicular cancer patients, according to the organization.

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Combining cigarettes and hookah doubles health danger
Date: 2012-09-26 22:52:55

According to findings published in the Journal of American College Health, many individuals of college age have misconceptions about smoking from a hookah - for example, they don't necessarily realize it increases the likelihood that a blood test will eventually detect lung cancer markers in a person's blood.

Surveying a portion of the college population, a research team led by Aashir Nasim of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, also a psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, determined that knowledge about the addictive nature and carcinogenic qualities of hookah smoke was relatively low among their age group. Many college students they spoke with thought that water in hookah pipes filtered out the harmful elements of tobacco.

The researchers note that hookah smoke is held in the lungs longer, and hookah smoking sessions last longer than the time it normally takes to smoke a cigarette. This means that hookah could potentially be more likely to lead tumor biomarkers to show up on a blood test.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when the charcoal in hookah pipes burns, its smoke contains carbon monoxide, metals and other carcinogens.

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Scientists strive to eliminate cervical cancer
Date: 2012-09-28 23:56:23

Fewer women are screening positive for cervical cancer biomarkers in blood tests for the disease, according to research highlighted in an article for the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

However, the rates of cervical cancer remain disproportionate between different racial and socioeconomic groups. The researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center, the University of South Florida and Ohio State University note that Hispanic women have the greatest chance of developing cervical cancer. Meanwhile, black women over the age of 85 are three times as susceptible to the disease as white women of the same age.

"The good news is that over the past several decades, the incidence of invasive cervical cancer has declined dramatically," said Anna R. Giuliano of the Moffitt Cancer Center. "The bad news is that 60 percent of invasive cervical cancers occur in women who are members of underserved racial or ethnic minorities, in women residing in rural areas or living in poverty."

The study authors note that 15 out of every 100,000 women received positive blood tests for cervical cancer in 1975. However, thanks to the widespread use of pap smears, that number has decreased dramatically. The National Cancer Institute's most recent data show that just over 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer have been reported since the start of 2012.

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Cancer costs European economy 124 billion euros a year
Date: 2012-09-28 23:51:49

Two studies conducted by researchers presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology's 2012 Congress estimate how much resources cancer - which is detectable by blood tests - costs the continent in terms of healthcare and lost productivity. They concluded that the overall annual cost of cancer in Europe is 124 billion euros.

"Cancer poses a considerable economic burden not only to healthcare systems but to other areas of the economy, including productivity losses through early mortality and time-off-work, and relatives who have to forego work/leisure to care for cancer patients," said Ramon Luengo-Fernandes of the University of Oxford.

The price tag indirectly linked to positive blood tests for cancer in Germany is higher than all other European nations, the study shows. Meanwhile, Lithuania spent less than 25 percent of what Germany did, the lowest amount out of all nations surveyed on cancer healthcare costs and canceled productivity.

Cancer drains about as much funding from the United States as it does from Europe, according to the National Cancer Institute. Based on its findings in 2010, residents in the U.S. either spent or lost an estimated total of almost $250 billion.

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