Best of Breast: news for week ending 26 September 2014

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:


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

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Best of Breast: news for week ending 5 September 2014

The latest medical developments in the world of breast cancer and cancer, from Google Alerts, for the week ending 5 September 2014.

Last week’s Best of Breast (w/e 29 August 2014) covered the controversy over whether cancer is curable or not.  Now, I know there are many people who are in long-term remission, but remission is not a cure.  The current thinking is that cancer is a chronic disease, it may go into latent mode, but it may re-surface years later.

This week seems to be the week of the metastasis – scientists are discovering more ways in which cancer cells cannily inveigle themselves into other parts of the body.  It’s nothing new … there have been similar discoveries every week, every month, every year.  The problem seems to be putting this research into practice and finding ways of blocking the proteins or enzymes or rogue signalling-pathways that cause cancer to metastasise.


Invadopodia … how cancer cells metastasise.

1.  Stopping cancer from forming tentacles stops metastasis

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Best of Breast: news for week ending 22 November 2013

A summary of the latest medical developments, culled from Google Alerts, for the week ending 22 November 2013.

I actually wanted to put the item on how cannabidiol (a derivative of pot) can treat the pain and slow the progression of breast cancer, at number one spot – that would have been an attention-grabber, but I think the breakthrough on K-Ras deserves top ranking.  What’s frustrating is that there are all these breakthroughs but it will be years before they pass trials and are available to cancer patients.


Image credit – wikipedia – V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog

1.  Breakthrough: Scientists find way to shut off K-ras gene that causes third of all tumours

  • A gene called K-ras when mutated can trigger the development of tumours and fuel their aggressive growth
  • A drug that shuts K-ras down has eluded some of the best brains in science for more than 30 years, leading many to believe it was unbeatable.
  • Now, US scientists have succeeded in making a drug that kills ras-driven human lung cancer cells.
  • It is hoped that by shutting off ras, the new drug will stop the growth of tumours and shrink them.
  • Crucially, it acts only on the cancer-causing form of the ras gene, meaning healthy cells are spared. This should cut the risk of side-effects such as sickness, nausea and hair loss normally seen with cancer drugs.
  • The new drug works against one rogue form of ras but scientists believe it should be possible also to make drugs that work against the other forms.

For more information:

K-ras – wikipedia

Nature, Year published:(2013)DOI:doi:10.1038/nature12796, K-Ras(G12C) inhibitors allosterically control GTP affinity and effector interactions

Cannabis flower

Image credit: Wikipedia – The bud of a Cannabis sativa flower coated with trichomes, which contain more CBD than any other part of the plant.

2.  Pot treats pain, slows the progression of breast cancer

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