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Cancer News Review

In this month’s Cancer News Review podcast, Dr. William Nelson, director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, discusses top stories in cancer research ranging from ovarian cancer screenings to a recent lung cancer study.

First, Nelson broaches the topic of ovarian cancer screening recommendations issued by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)  The USPSTF reaffirms their previous recommendation not to pursue routine ovarian cancer screening of healthy women. The task force bases their recommendations on a large study that examined women who were screened for ovarian cancer verses women following usual healthcare practices.  The results showed no significant difference in reducing deaths from ovarian cancer. Many of the women who were screened had false positives, causing unneeded surgeries and complications.  The Task Force included an important exception for women at a higher risk, including those with gene mutations such as BRCA 1 and 2 or a family history of ovarian or breast cancers. These women should be screened for ovarian cancer.  Nelson believes that further research of how ovarian cancer begins and improved imaging technologies and blood tests will help early detection of ovarian cancer.

Also in the podcast, Nelson reviews a study in the British Medical Journal examining BRCA mutations and a higher risk of harm from imaging.  Women in their twenties with developing breast ducts have a vulnerability to radiation exposure. If a woman receives radiation around the central part of her chest during this age, the risk for breast cancer increases. Women with BRCA mutations are at higher risk and should avoid radiation exposure from chest x-ray, mammogram and CT scan. Younger women should opt for an MRI rather than mammogram if needed.

Finally, Nelson discusses squamous cell lung cancer and genome sequencing in finding the best drugs for treatment of this disease.  Mutations in certain genes can determine which drug will better treat this type of cancer. This knowledge may lead to more individualization of care

Program notes:

0:20 USPSTF recommendations regarding ovarian cancer screening
1:19 Screened group had a lot of false positives
2:16 BRCA 1 and 2 mutations are exceptions
3:12 Better sense of how ovarian cancers start
4:12 BRCA mutations confer higher risk for harm from imaging
5:12 Vulnerable period for radiation exposure
6:20 Mammography not as good a tool in younger women
7:20 Use MRI instead
7:33 Squamous lung cancer treatment
8:22 Sequencing cancer suggests best drugs
9:15 Mutation profile rather than morphology
9:42 End



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