Friday Cancer News Round-up

Cumberland Falls

Cumberland Falls

~ After age 30, exercising for more than an hour a week may help cut a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer, according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Seattle.

In the study, Lisa Sprod of University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and colleagues asked 4,296 women to recall their physical activity levels during four key stages of life: 10 to 15 years old, 15 to 30 years old, 30 to 50 years old, and 50 years old and older.

The odds of developing breast cancer did not appear to change in relation to exercise levels between ages 10 and 30, but women above age 30 significantly cut their chances of developing breast cancer if they were more active, the researchers found.

~ New research finds that people who had radiation treatments for cancer as children are less likely than the general public or even their healthy siblings to get recommended screening tests.

Doctors say that fewer than half of the cancer survivors in their study received mammograms, colonoscopies or other screenings as often as advised.

Some people may avoid screening tests because they want to put the scary experience of having had cancer behind them.

Cancer survivors are at higher risk of developing second cancers later in life, because treatments like radiation raise this chance, and because of genetic factors that led to the disease in the first place.

~ An experimental drug has shown promise as a treatment for advanced melanoma, one of the deadliest of cancers, according to preliminary results from a small trial presented on Monday.

The oral drug, known as PLX4032, is being developed by privately-held Plexxikon Inc. and Roche Holding AG.

The experimental compound is designed to block a genetic mutation in a cellular pathway, known as BRAF, that occurs in up to 60 percent of melanomas and about 8 percent of all solid tumors.

~ First there was surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation. Now, doctors have overcome 30 years of false starts and found success with a fourth way to fight cancer: using the body’s natural defender, the immune system.

The approach is called a cancer vaccine, although it treats the disease rather than prevents it.

At a cancer conference Sunday, researchers said one such vaccine kept a common form of lymphoma from worsening for more than a year. That’s huge in this field, where progress is glacial and success with a new treatment is often measured in weeks or even days.

Experimental vaccines against three other cancers — prostate, the deadly skin disease melanoma and an often fatal childhood tumor called neuroblastoma — also gave positive results in late-stage testing in recent weeks, after decades of struggles in the lab.

~ Breast cancer survivors risk having their disease come back if they use certain antidepressants while also taking the cancer prevention drug tamoxifen, worrisome new research shows.

About 500,000 women in the United States take tamoxifen, which cuts in half the chances of a breast cancer recurrence. Many of them also take antidepressants for hot flashes, because hormone pills aren’t considered safe after breast cancer.

Doctors have long known that some antidepressants and other medicines can lower the amount of tamoxifen’s active form in the bloodstream. But whether this affects cancer risk is unknown.

The new study, reported Saturday at a cancer conference in Florida, is the largest to look at the issue. It found that using these interfering drugs — including Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft — can virtually wipe out the benefit tamoxifen provides.

~ There’s more troubling news about hormone therapy for menopause symptoms: Lung cancer seems more likely to prove fatal in women who are taking estrogen-progestin pills, a study suggests.Hormone users who developed lung cancer were more than twice as likely to die from the disease as women who weren’t taking hormones,

However lung cancer proved fatal in 46 percent of hormone users who developed it versus 27 percent of those given dummy pills.

“It’s another piece of evidence to suggest that hormone replacement therapy should be used with great caution,” said Dr. Richard Schilsky, a cancer specialist at the University of Chicago and president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Women who take hormones already are advised to use the lowest dose for the shortest time possible, doctors said. “Women almost certainly shouldn’t be using combined hormone therapy and tobacco at the same time,”


About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.


Friday Cancer News Round-up — 3 Comments

  1. i KNEW it was MY fault that i got breast cancer by not excercising enough…that’s what my partner of 13 years told me right before he left me mid-way through radiation treatment and he is a physician!!

  2. I had to mammograms one after another and both showed no evidence of a lump.

    Inflammatory breast cancer does not have a lump.

    At the time I had the mammograms I already had stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer.

    A mammogram is a guide but it should not be looked at as a definitive tool. That is how I and my doctor looked at it.

    ‘I can’t have breast cancer, it doesn’t show anything.’

    Well yeah, I can and yeah, I did.

    Renee xoxo

  3. Yeah, well, I have taken a daily walk, 5-7 days/week, for the past ten years. As a teenager I ice skated. At 19 I got thyroid cancer. Two years ago I got breast cancer. Obviously my cancers didn’t read the study about regular exercise.

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