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Top Cancer Research News: October

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In this month's Cancer News Review podcast, Cancer Center director Bill Nelson reviews top headlines in cancer research.  Each of the studies discussed here were published in the Oct. 2 issue of the Lancet.

In the first topic, researchers tested giving standard chemotherapy drugs earlier on in the sequence of treatments for ovarian cancer.   After surgery to remove the cancer, they gave the drugs to patients whose levels of a biomarker called CA125 were rising, indicating that ovarian cancer was recurring somewhere in the body.  They compared the survival of women who received the drugs earlier - when CA125 levels rose - with those who began the drugs once symptoms started to appear.  It would be easy to assume that if the drugs are given earlier, the disease could be held back longer.  But the research proved otherwise -- patients in both groups had the same overall survival.

The second topic focuses on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) -- which, Nelson says, can be very indolent in some people and more aggressive in others.  Researchers gave patients with CLL a combination of standard chemotherapy regimens and a drug called rituximab, which has been used for lymphomas.  Results show an improved survival rate for patients, and Nelson describes the achievment as a major advance in the field.

Finally, for men with metastatic prostate cancer, the chemotherapy drug, docetaxel has shown some benefits, but Nelson says the problem is that those benefits are not long-lived, and other than docetaxel, men in this category have few options for standard treatment.  Scientists gave men whose cancer was progressing after being treated with docetaxel another drug in its class, called carbazitaxel, and it resulted in prolonged survival, smaller cancers and controlled symptoms.  Nelson predicts that scientists will continue to study this family of drugs to develop new ones in the same class that could further control cancer.

Listen to the podcast.

Program notes:
0:17  Ovarian cancer treatment sequence
1:01  Initiate chemotherapy when a blood marker rose
2:03  Won’t be helpful to start treatment early
3:06  Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
3:34  Rituximab
4:33  I think we’ve got CLL on the run a bit
4:45  Recurrent prostate cancer and carbazitaxel
5:33  Prolonged survival and decreased symptoms
6:23  Targets microtubules
7:24  End

3 thoughts on “Top Cancer Research News: October”

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  2. I need to pass along the following idea of study for a potential cure for cancer. This will sound bizarre, and maybe it is just the product of a childesh mind playing tricks. I have had this idea in my head since I was a child in elementary school. A word popped into my mind late one night that may be a clue to curing cancer. I was almost finished with my homework and took a break and began to ponder the loss of my father who died from lung cancer much too young at the age of 29. Although I never knew him, since I was only 3 months old when he died, I always felt that I was cheated for not having known him. I only knew of him through the wonderful stories passed on to me from my mother and other family members. To this day I can't remember exactly how this word came to me, but it's something that I have remembered throughout my life. I am now 58 years of age and I have never shared this with anyone for fear that they would think that I was looney. While breaking from my homework that night, I prayed to God for the wisdom to cure cancer so others would be spared the loss of their loved ones. As I meditated on my prayer and mindless thoughts, a word popped into my head that I had never heard before. Rumin or rumen? I looked the word up in the dictionary right away, but don't remember anything about the definition that I found, if any, so I chalked it up to just a tired mind game. Nevertheless, I have remembered that word for about 50 years now. I have since learned that rumen refers to the large upper chamber of the digestive system of ruminant animals such as cows and has an important function in the digestion of straws, grasses, and other feedstuff. This process is highly dependent upon rumen microbes. Perhaps research into this process or the genetics of rumen microbes is the key to curing cancer. Also, one story my mother told to me about my father may somehow be related. She told me that once when he was in great pain near the end of his battle, he was sitting outside under the shade of a china berry tree and made this comment about the berries on that tree: "Someday, someone will find a great use for those berries". This may mean nothing or it could be a clue for someone knowledgeable in cancer research. Pperhaps there is a connection with rumen microbes and something inherent to the china berry tree. This is not a joke or scam. I just don't have the knowledge or resources to do anything with this "information" received many years ago as described above. Against my better judgement, I have now passed this information along just in case it might mean something to someone with the knowledge and curiosity to check in to it. Maybe it is Divine wisdom, an answer to a child's prayer, or perhaps just the foolish thoughts of a young child longing for the father he never knew. Either way, my conscious is clear now that I have released these thoughts from my mind for others to ponder.

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