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The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is both hard to control and greatly contributes to a patient’s risk of death. Understanding how and why cancer cells spread is key to lowering one’s risk and providing potentially lifesaving help for cancer patients. New research out of Japan taps into technology to explore this process. According to BBC News, a team of scientists devised a method for observing cancer cells in mice as they grow and evolve, giving researchers a firsthand look at that process. In the study, the lab animals were injected with cancer cells, targeted toward their lungs, intestines, and livers, which were enhanced to light up on imaging. The cancer was left to grow before scientists administered a chemical that made the mice’s internal organs nearly transparent. The materials used caused the healthy tissue to reflect a shade of green and the cancerous cells to appear red, allowing researchers to see very clearly clusters of cells, patterns, and shapes, which were previously harder to identify without such imaging technology. With the new breakthrough, researchers can not only better identify where cancerous cells are located, but they can also gain integral insight into how the disease spreads from one area to another. That knowledge can inform new therapies that offer needed help for cancer patients to avoid further spread or recurrence of cancer. The method is still in its early stages and has so far only been tested in mice, but researchers envision human trials as the next phase of the project. “I hope this tissue-clearing and 3D imaging of human samples will... read more
More than 3-million Americans are diagnosed every year with non-melanoma skin cancer. While the numbers are staggering, the survival rate for most skin cancers is high, with new therapies emerging to help patients overcome cancer with minimal, lasting impact. One such treatment is Superficial Radiotherapy, which, as its name suggests, provides skin-deep treatment that attacks non-melanoma cancer cells. The procedure is quick, virtually painless and often affordable, allowing money for cancer patients’ care to stay in their own pockets instead of going to hefty hospital bills. But, SRT may not be right for everyone. What is SRT? SRT is most often used to treat basal and squamous cell cancers, which are not forms of melanoma, a more serious type of skin cancer. SRT uses low doses of radiation to kill the cancer cells. The treatment takes only about 30 seconds, and is delivered once or twice a week for several weeks. Pros of SRT SRT can be performed in a doctor’s office, eliminating the need for a hospital visit. The treatment lessens the risk of scarring that’s often associated with the Mohs procedure, in which skin is removed layer by layer. There are relatively few side effects associated with SRT, except for some mild redness and irritation. SRT is typically a low-cost alternative to other treatments. The treatment is especially beneficial for people who face risks with surgery or who shouldn’t undergo anesthesia. Cons of SRT SRT is not as thorough as Mohs, which is still considered the front-line defense against non-melanoma skin cancer. The doses of radiation associated with SRT could increase the risk of recurrence of skin... read more
It is an accepted truth that the availability of and access to affordable health care can have a significant impact on cancer patients’ care and health outcomes. Unfortunately, that means that many Americans are falling through the cracks. Minority communities statistically live in lower socioeconomic conditions, with less access to health care than white communities. High co-pays, medication costs and prohibitive hospital bills can discourage cancer patients from receiving the best care possible. While cancer financial assistance programs exist to help cancer patients navigate the financial burdens of cancer, the disproportionate impact of cancer on financially disadvantaged communities continues to be a serious challenge. A new study from the Yale University Cancer Center found that black and Hispanic women with breast cancer were less likely than white women to undergo a genetic test that can help doctors create an action plan. The report focused on Oncotype Dx, which helps doctors understand the genetic impact of early-stage breast cancer, information that can determine whether chemotherapy or other approaches would be most effective. The test can also suggest if the patient is at a high risk for recurrence once the cancer cells are eliminated. In a study of 8,000 Connecticut women, more than 51 percent of white women who would be good candidates for the test received it, compared to just 47 percent of Hispanic women and 44 percent of black women. The disparity was also present for women who didn’t fall within the guidelines for the test but received it anyway — 21 percent of white women, and just 9 percent of black and Hispanic women. While the test itself... read more
Just as some humans have more of a sweet tooth than others, it turns out some types of cancer cells may crave sugar more strongly than others. The connection between sugar intake and cancer has long been the focus of research aimed at providing help for cancer patients and those at risk — and a new study shows just why it should be. According to a report featured in Nature Communications, the sugary appeal of sweets may be putting people at increased risk for cancer growth and recurrence. Researchers at University of Texas at Dallas sought to investigate if there are any differences in sugar dependence among two types of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC). During their work, the scientists discovered that a protein involved with sugar transport was present at much higher levels in SqCC than ADC. That elevated level increases the cells’ “appetite” for sugar, the researchers found, and fuels cell growth. The scientists also found high dependence on sugar in other types of squamous cell cancers, including esophageal, cervical, head and neck. So how can this information provide help for cancer patients? First, the data has prompted researchers to consider new therapies, including one that would inhibit levels of the protein that carries glucose. In initial tests with such an inhibitor, researchers found slowed — though not completely halted — growth of SqCC. Scientists are now in the midst of organizing a large animal study on lung cancer using a sugar-restricted diet. Depending on those outcomes, scientists could use the data to develop new recommendations — which can offer dietary help for... read more
Tanning beds are costing Americans much more than the sticker price. Artificial tanning has long been linked to increased risk for skin cancer. A new study, however, found that those stats don’t seem to be deterring people from flocking to tanning salons. So, what will slow that trend? Researchers at the University of North Carolina explored the economic impact of skin cancer that could have developed from artificial tanning, with some staggering results. What are the numbers? Researchers looked at the lifestyles of Americans diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015 to determine how prevalent “fake tanning” was. They ultimately suggested that there were as many as 263,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015 that could have been caused by artificial tanning. More specifically, there were 168,000 cases of basal cell carcinomas, 86,6000 cases of squamous cell carcinomas and 9,000 incidents of melanoma, all of which could be attributed to tanning devices. From there, they determined it would cost more than $343 million to treat skin cancer patients who contracted the disease after using tanning devices. Even more alarming is the total economic impact of tanning-related cancer on patients over their lifetimes: a loss of $127.3 billion. The steep statistics highlight the need for skin cancer financial assistance, to help patients after a diagnosis, but also the work that lays ahead to discourage Americans from stepping into a tanning device to begin with. What’s next? According to the study, a whopping 30-million Americans use artificial tanning devices every year — and that’s despite very popular knowledge that such practices have been linked to skin cancer. The federal government recently tightened... read more
Once the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis has worn off, patients and their families will likely have one thing in sight: beating the disease. Focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel, the day when the patient is cancer-free, is an important motivator that can strengthen and empower patients to reach the finish line. But the finish line won’t be without its challenges. Many cancer survivors are left with significant financial hardships related to their disease and treatment. The financial landscape Treatment costs likely inflict the greatest financial burden after a diagnosis. From chemo and pill regimens to hospital stays and co-pays, the bills can add up, and quickly. But it’s not all medical costs, as a number of less-expected bills may also crop up. The loss of wages from time off or medical leave can hit the wallet hard. A change in lifestyle can also mean a change in finances. For instance, a patient may need to hire someone to help out around the house, watch their kids or even walk the dog, all of which come with a price tag. How to be prepared The financial landscape for cancer patients is a daunting one, but the good news is that there is financial help for cancer patients. Preparation is key to being able to overcome financial hurdles. Patients should work closely with financial counselors and advisors, which are offered at many care centers. They can be a fountain of resources and knowledgeable advice. Such representatives are a good source for information about financial-assistance programs at pharmaceutical companies. It’s important to get such requests in... read more