Blog Archives

The Cancer Moonshot/Biden Cancer Initiative


When Deborah Mayer, PH.D., RN, AOCN, FAAN, was a young oncology nurse, she met a patient with sarcoma who clearly expressed her expectations for care.

I expect my doctor to try to cure me,” the patient told Mayer, who is now a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor in the School of Nursing at UNC Chapel Hill. “But if nobody has asked me how I slept or when I last moved my bowels, then the time you’re buying me is not worth living.”

Mayer took that conversation as a call to action, never forgetting the importance of symptom management.

Recently, she relied on her passion for and knowledge about the subject when she sat on former Vice President Joe Biden’s Blue Ribbon Panel that helped shape the Moonshot initiative, a national endeavour to make 10 years’ worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment within half that time. The panel helped inform Biden’s task force and the National Cancer Advisory Board about what should be included in the Moonshot.

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Donated Tumour Yields Answers for DIPG


Jennifer Kranz was diagnosed with an especially aggressive form of a deadly childhood brain tumour, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), on her 6th birthday in 2013, and died less than four months after being diagnosed.

Jennifer’s parents heard about the work of Stanford paediatric neuro-oncologist Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, who studies donated DIPG tumour tissue to understand how its biology might be targeted with new treatments during Jennifer’s illness, and during their final appointment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the Kranzes asked if they could donate their daughter’s tumour for this research after her death.

They said ‘Yes, here is the paperwork,’ and we signed it,” Libby said. Then she realized the donation form asked only for consent to study the tumour on Jennifer’s brainstem, making no mention of the metastases that had spread to the frontal lobe of her brain and down her spine.

But we want to donate all of it,” Libby, Jennifer’s mom told Sonia Partap, MD, Jennifer’s oncologist. The Stanford team made the arrangements, and Libby also asked Monje to try to figure out how Jennifer’s tumour had spread so fast.

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Dr Charles Keller’s New hope for Rare Children’s Cancers


While many types of cancers have had improved survival outcomes over recent years due to new drugs and other clinical innovations, there are certain cancers that have not progressed appreciably in their survival rates or in developing new methodologies and drug protocols for decades.

Unfortunately, these cancers primarily affect children and young adults. Since the number of patients diagnosed with these deadly diseases annually is small compared to other types of cancers such as breast, prostate and colon cancer, they are treated as “orphan” diseases which translate into less emphasis by the drug companies and medical establishment in finding treatments and cures for these forms of cancer.

It is therefore up to dedicated researchers and grassroots support groups to “pick up the slack” and help those children afflicted with these deadly diseases by finding new drug protocols and techniques to stop the cancers from metastasising at worst or to stop the cancer cells from developing at best.

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What You Need to Know about Medical Marijuana for Cancer


Herbs and plants were the original treatments for many illnesses and injuries people faced. As such, cannabis or marijuana use dates back centuries. It popped up in Western medicine in the 19th century as a means of relieving pain, inflammation, and spasms.

Today, marijuana use can spark some serious debate, even when considered for medical use only. But regardless of how you feel about its use, more cancer patients are turning to marijuana for a number of reasons.

Marijuana is not legal for use everywhere and researchers have their own concerns about potential side effects. For some patients, however, the benefits can be invaluable as they go through treatment.

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Do Alternative/Complementary Treatments Work for Cancer Treatment Side-Effects?


These days, walking into any major cancer centre looks rather different to a few years ago, because you are likely to see not only ordinary examination rooms, equipment, and chemotherapy suites, but also massage rooms, yoga mats, and possibly even a music therapy room.

This is the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. More and more recent research now supports complementary treatments such as Acupuncture, Yoga, and some diet supplements as good ways to relieve some of the side-effects of Chemotherapy Treatments.

Treatment centres that offer complementary options, as well as the amount of individuals taking advantage of them, have increased dramatically across the globe in recent years, with some studies showing that around 50% of all people undergoing cancer treatment use some kind of complementary option.

Most of the complementary treatments recommended by medical  doctors have few or no side-effects, according to the director of medical content at the American Cancer Society, Ted Gansler, MD, who states that it is fine to try Music Therapy or Meditation, for example, while you follow your standard treatment plan.

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New Method Means Stem Cell Transplantation is Reaching More Populations


Stem cell transplantation has drastically evolved, not only moving into different types of haematologic malignancies, but also into patient populations of different ethnicities, according to associate director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Tsiporah B. Shore, M.D.

We live in a very multi-ethnic world, and it is more and more vital that all ethnic and racial groups needs can be accommodated.

With the addition of novel approaches such as haplo-cord and haploidentical transplants, an increasing number of patients are able to receive this necessary treatment.

Stem cell transplantation is a very important procedure that should be available for everyone. Looking at the unrelated registry, or even within families, there are very limited donors for many ethnic populations. It is vital that something is done about that so that transplants are available to everyone, even when donors are not available in the registry.

Shore’s centre has pioneered a new method called the haplo-cord transplant and also do cord transplantations and haploidentical transplantations – options which are fairly new and different to what was available five years ago thus enabling the entre to find donors for almost everyone.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Launches OncoKids – A Comprehensive DNA and RNA Paediatric Cancer Panel


A team of investigators at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles recently launched OncoKidsSM, a next-generation sequencing-based panel specifically designed for paediatric cancers.

The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) OncoKidsSM cancer panel is a primer-based target enrichment, next-generation sequencing assay designed to detect diagnostic, prognostic and biologic markers for targeted therapy across the spectrum of pediatric cancers. These cancers include leukaemias, sarcomas, brain tumours and embryonal tumours. OncoKidsSM is a targeted gene panel intended to guide the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pediatric patients based on the genomic alterations specific to their tumor.

The OncoKidsSM panel was developed by a team comprised of laboratory geneticists, oncologists and pathologists.

In contrast to adult cancers, which may contain hundreds of sequence alterations, paediatric malignancies may develop from a very small number of mutations, only some of which overlap with the types of mutations seen in adult cancers.

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Conquering Cancer’s Biggest Side-Effect: Fear


Cancer can be a frightening, nerve-wracking disease, and medical science often overlooks the emotional toll it takes on patients.

Children with Cancer can suffer even worse as they have to deal with all the hospital and clinic appointments, tests, tubes, operations, scans and treatments.

When dealing with Childhood Cancer, not only does the disease take its toll on the Child with Cancer, but also on the Parents and siblings.

The stress of dealing with cancer in a child can cause many problems in the family unit, with siblings feeling that they are being ignored, parents being overworked and run ragged as the disease takes its course, and many fathers are unable to cope as they feel helpless and that they have failed their child – on top of which the mother often has to stop working to support the Child with Cancer – leaving the father as the only breadwinner and the only one at home to take care of the rest of the family.

Childhood Cancer often causes the break-up of the family unit, ending in divorce and leaving the mother to deal with everything on her own.

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Foodie Friday: Nutritional e’Pap Recipes


Yesterday we gave you some important information about e’Pap, a revolutionary nutrient-loaded porridge that was created to cater to the feeding needs of HIV patients and babies.

Nutrient content in fruit and vegetables has dropped up to 76% over the past 50 years in the USA and Europe. Proof that modern intensive agriculture practices create the problem. The result is a global crisis of mass starvation of micro-nutrients in communities both rich and poor.

Such is the success of e’Pap in improving nutrition, energy and productivity for those who consume it, that up to two million servings a month of e’Pap are distributed in Africa.

e’Pap could be the answer for Children with Cancer – it is full of vitamins, cheap, and easy-to-make; it does not even require cooking so is suitable for use in even the remotest rural areas.

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Herbal Essential Oils Proven to Kill Cancer Cells


Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils has become an accepted complementary therapy for cancer patients, as they can provide support in the form of stress relief and emotional support.

Some essential oils, however, have been shown to act directly on cancer cells, , preventing growth or even promoting apoptosis (cancer cell death).

Every individual carries a minute amount of “cancer,” or malformed cells, in our bodies at all times. These cells do not cause any problems in healthy bodies where a balanced diet and robust lifestyle is practiced – the cells will generally be removed or healed and the body kept in balance.

In an unhealthy body which is not well-maintained or exercised and fed a constant diet of junk food, these malformed cells can continue to exist and can actually develop into cancer.

Some of the most effective oils against unhealthy irregular cells include Chamomile, Frankincense, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme. These oils are remarkable because they are able to selectively harm or disable cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact, whereas many conventional cancer medications and treatments are often poorly targeted and cause severe side effects.

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High Levels of Education Linked to Heightened Brain Tumour Risk


A university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumor, suggests a large observational study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn’t go on to higher education, the data show.

The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991.

They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumor, and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status, and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labour market,and national census data.

During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5735 of the men and 7101 of the women developed a brain tumour. Read the rest of this entry

Cancer Protects Itself via Inflammatory Pathways


A few years ago, scientists in the laboratory of Stanford’s Irving Weissman, MD, discovered that cancer cells cover themselves in copies of the CD47 “don’t eat me” protein to protect themselves from being engulfed and devoured by immune cells called macrophages.

What they could never really tell though, is how the cancer cells actually increased the production of CD47.

Recently, however, Weissman and his colleagues discovered that cancer cells accomplish this trick by recruiting molecular pathways usually used for inflammatory processes. One particular pathway involves a protein called tumour necrosis factor (TNF-alpha), which is produced in response to infection or trauma. It attracts and activates macrophage cells, which destroy sick or damaged cells. Ironically, that same genetic machinery is being used by cancer cells to protect themselves from those macrophages. The research study was published in the journal Nature Communications. Read the rest of this entry

High Dose Vitamin C to Improve Cancer Treatment Outcomes Passes Human Safety Trial


Many individuals have been espousing the use of high doses of Vitamin C for cancer patients for years, but were shouted down by the majority, especially Big Pharma, because Vitamin C is not a massive money-spinner.

Now, however, new clinical trials have found that it is safe to regularly infuse brain and lung cancer patients with 800 – 1,000 times the daily recommended amount of vitamin C as a potential strategy to improve outcomes of standard cancer treatments.

In a work presented March 30, 2017 in Cancer Cell, University of Iowa researchers have also shown pathways by which altered iron metabolism in cancer cells, and not normal cells, lead to increased sensitivity to cancer cell killing caused by high dose vitamin C.

This paper reveals a metabolic frailty in cancer cells that is based on their own production of oxidizing agents that allows us to utilize existing redox active compounds, like vitamin C, to sensitize cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy,” says co-author Garry Buettner, who was one of the first to propose that cancer cells might have a vulnerability to redox active compounds over 40 years ago. Buettner, along with study senior authors Bryan Allen and Douglas Spitz, are faculty members at the University of Iowa’s Department of Radiation Oncology, Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Read the rest of this entry

Link between Blood Sugar & Brain Cancer Found


According to a new study from The Ohio State University, while many cancers are more common among those with diabetes, cancerous brain tumours called gliomas are less common among those with elevated blood sugar and diabetes.

Glioma is one of the most common types of cancerous tumours originating in the brain. It begins in the cells that surround nerve cells and help them function.

The discovery builds on previous Ohio State research showing that high blood sugar appears to reduce a person’s risk of a noncancerous brain tumour called meningioma. Both studies were led by Judith Schwartzbaum, an associate professor of epidemiology and a researcher in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. The new glioma study appears in the journal Scientific Reports. Read the rest of this entry

Reduction in Radiotherapy for Childhood Brain Tumours Unsucessful


A research study, Radiotherapy after high-dose chemotherapy with autologous hematopoietic cell rescue: Quality assessment of Head Start III, published in Paediatric Blood & Cancer, shows that reduced Radiation Therapy results in worse outcomes.

This study shows that attention to the timing, dose, and location of radiation therapy is crucial,” Kenneth K. Wong, MD, a radiation oncologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and first author on the study.

The paper is a qualitative assessment of the Head Start III trial which avoids or delays Radiation Therapy in children with brain tumours. The studies represent an innovative approach to the treatment of malignant brain tumours – using high dose Chemotherapy followed by transfusion of blood stem cells – as a substitute for radiation in younger children, where the late side effects of radiation to the developing brain can be particularly detrimental. If disease persists after this course of treatment or if the child is older, they receive radiation therapy.

In the latest Head Start III study, only 31 of 220 children received radiation – of those, a subset (8 of 25), consisting of  children 6 years of age or younger, had deviations from the treatment plan.

Parents or providers may want to delay the start of radiation or reduce the dose or area of exposure – particularly in very young children,” said Wong. “But in a study already limiting radiation exposure – patients with these kinds of protocol violations experienced worse outcomes.”

Patients that received radiation therapy treatment according to protocol and within 11 weeks of recovery from stem cell transfusion showed improved overall survival.

 

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