News from Google Alerts for the week ending 24 October 2014, with the focus on breast cancer and cancer.
Loads of goodies this week, from an article on how disruptions to the biological clock can cause breast cancer. (It’s not the first piece of research into this, but I thought I’d draw your attention to this because when you take your medication and supplements could be affected by the timing).
Also of interest is a cancer clinic in London set up by a leading drug developer who is recruiting patients for a trial of drugs, for whom standard treatment is not working. From what PR material I’ve read, the group is offering drugs and treatments that are complementary to standard-of-care, including statins and metformin. It sounds very like the protocol that Life Extension Foundation recommends. What’s significant is that it’s the first time mainstream doctors (including a highly-reputable oncologist) are sticking their necks out to give patients more options, and it’s nice to see doctors willing to embrace knowledge and techniques that are patient-centred.
There’s also an article on the link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer, and I include this here because prostate cancer is very like hormonally-driven breast cancer. There has been a lot of research into Vitamin D and cancer, but not many explanations on why it seems to work to help keep cancer at bay.
image credit: student.societyforscience.org
1. Biological clock disruptions increase breast cancer risk
News from the world of breast cancer and cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 17 October 2o14.
There is a belief that cancer is a modern-day disease, but that’s not true. An article this week shows that a mummy of a Siberian princess had metastatic breast cancer. Cancer tends to be a disease of age, and in the past people tended to die younger of other illnesses, before they had a chance to develop cancer. No amount of olde-worlde diets could save them from cancer. It is as much a killer than as it is now.
Even though this is a blog on breast cancer, I also included an article on prostate cancer. Why? Because prostate cancer, is very much like breast cancer, in that it is hormone-driven. Some approaches to cure prostate cancer can be applied to breast cancer. In this case, scientists are exploiting prostate cancer cells’ appetite for copper. Instead of trying to stop copper from reaching cancer cells, scientists chose to piggy-back drugs on copper, ensuring that the drugs reach the cancer cells.
Finally, there’s a cool game you can download that will allow you to help researchers in their fight against cancer – it’s called “Reverse The Odds” – and it’s free.
1. Gamers called to analyse real images of cancer cells in Stand Up To Cancer game
News for week ending 10 October 2014, covering medical developments in the world of breast cancer and cancer.
Earlier this year there was a furore in the UK about a cancer campaign featuring a patient with pancreatic cancer and the caption: “I wish I had breast cancer”, the cack-handed message of course being that at least there’s a better chance of curing breast cancer than pancreatic cancer [I’d like to see them say this to a metastatic Stage 4 breast cancer patient!!!].
But looking at the chart below, it’s glaringly-obvious that although the % number of deaths from breast cancer at 7.7% is only slightly-higher than pancreatic cancer’s 5%, the spending on breast cancer is £40.32 million vs pancreatic cancer’s £5.21m. As for lung cancer which is number 1 at 22% of cancer deaths, the spending is a mere £14.15 million.
Well, I guess I’m grateful for all the spending on breast cancer, disproportionate though it may be. And although people moan about the glamorisation and prettification of breast cancer with pink ribbons, I am glad for every penny donated to breast cancer research. And trying not to feel guilty for not having a more difficult cancer. At the end of the day, cancer is cancer, and whether we beat it or not is sometimes not in the hands of the doctors, or the scientists coming up with novel cures or money being poured into research, but on some fluke of our immune system beating it and keeping it away.
Just two more items of note this week: lucky Australia again – the berry of the Blushwood tree has been shown to have amazing anti-tumour properties – we’re talking dissolving tumours within days. Unfortunately at the moment they only work for more surface tumours which can be injected. Before y’all rush out and order a tree, please note that it is very fussy about where it grows, which is currently on the Atherton Tablelands in Australia. Let’s hope they find a way to grow more quickly.
The other item of note is the discovery that drugs may work better against cancer cells, when taken at night.
Graphic supplied by Statista
1. Graphic: How much we spend on cancers against how deadly they are
News for the week ending 3 October 2014, for breast cancer, selected from Google Alerts.
The only items that got me excited this week are (1) a new gizmo that combines both MRI and robotics, allowing a biopsy to be taken with more accuracy while in an MRI scanner (I wonder how this is going to be done – I assume the needle must be non-magnetic?) and (2) a breast cancer vaccine trial in Australia – lucky Australians! Currently the only breast cancer immunotherapy trials in the UK are for Her-2 positive breast cancer.
1. Image-guided robotics to perform biopsies in MRI scanners
The main highlights for breast cancer and cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 26 September 2014.
At the risk of being known as the cancer blog devoted to dogs sniffing out cancer, item 1 this week is about a labrador who detected his owner’s breast cancer. I think this must make the fourth time I’ve seen this reported in the news this year, and I think it is remarkable that there is this amazing resource out there which is under-utilised. I wish I had one of these dogs. It would make it so much easier to know what’s going on without scans or blood tests.
Item 9 is about a researcher who is crowd-funding to develop a patent-free cancer drug. This has significant implications for the US, where there is no central body that regulates or negotiates with the drug companies to get the best deal for cancer patients. It is a travesty that drug companies can charge what they want.
A case in point is a recent expose by the CBS news reportage programme, 60 minutes, of the high-cost of cancer drug pricing in the US and how the doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering refused to prescribe a drug that they considered overpriced and more toxic than a competitor drug. Watch the recording here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-eye-popping-cost-of-cancer-drugs/
Missy the Labrador, who detected his owner’s breast cancer. Image credit: expressnewspaper.
1. Woman’s breast friend: Dog saves owner’s life by detecting her cancer
Medical developments and research from the world of breast cancer and cancer, for the week ending 19 September 2014.
After a year in which I’d had four Pet-CTs and was starting to glow in the dark, I asked my surgeon for an MRI instead of a Pet-CT and was told that he wasn’t familiar with this method of imaging for breast cancer. This week, a study shows that the combination of Pet plus MRI is more effective than Pet plus CT, which is vindication, to some extent. MRIs are also more effective than mammograms in diagnosing breast cancer, but of course, they are also more expensive, so for the time being, mammograms are going to rule.
The second item is about spontaneous remissions. According to wikipedia, a spontaneous remission
“also called spontaneous healing or spontaneous regression, is an unexpected improvement or cure from a disease that appears to be progressing in its severity. These terms are commonly used for unexpected transient or final improvements in cancer.”
I’ve only met three people who had spontaneous remissions. One is Anita Moorjani, another was a woman with inoperable breast cancer who used QiGong to heal her cancer [she still had her tumour, but it was indolent and she’s still hale and hearty 20 years on, at the age of 80!], and a third was a woman with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who used QiGong, nutrition and heavy supplementation and enemas. Kelly A. Turner has written a book about spontaneous remissions. She is not the first person to write about spontaneous remissions, but what’s handy about her book is how she categorises common lifestyle choices in people who experienced spontaneous remissions.
image credit: hjd.med.nyu.edu
1. PET/MRI improved detection of metastases in breast cancer
The latest medical news in Breast Cancer and Cancer from Google Alerts, for the week ending 12 September 2014.
Wahey, it’s the week of the American Society of Oncology Symposium! As usual it’s yielded the results of new trials or new research into cancer treatments. Yet I’ve chosen to lead with another article on cancer-sniffing dogs. Why is this?
While I appreciate what modern science is doing to prolong life and achieve remission, these treatments or diagnoses come with side-effects and long-term issues. The research is also very technical and full of stats – nothing to touch the heart there.
So whenever I see a new method of detection that is simplicity in itself and with minimal side-effects, I cheer! In previous posts I’ve covered how dogs have miraculously detected cancer in their owners. There are also organisations that are now investigating how dogs detect cancer. If you do not have cancer and would like to volunteer to provide a breath sample, please contact the number in the article.
As a layman, I’m interested in prevention, and things that I can do to help prevent or keep the cancer in remission, for example, diet – hence the article which implies that soy is dangerous for women with breast cancer, and another on how a probiotic, lactobacillus plantarum may help prevent cancer.
Another subject that is close to my heart is oncolytic virotherapthy, harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. In May this year, I posted about a woman with Stage 4 multiple myeloma who was went into remission thanks to a specially-engineered measles vaccine. She now has a blog, Let’s Go Viral. Please note that this is not a cure-all – there was another patient who had the vaccine at the same time and did not go into remission. Interestingly, the side-effects from the measles vaccine resembled those of Removab (a tri-functional antibody) – fever, shivering, headaches – but possibly more severe.
Daisy the Dog, awaiting for instruction at the testing centre
1. Medical Detection Dogs need volunteers (without breast cancer) for the first ever canine breast cancer detection trail