John McCain and Glioblastoma

It's Time to Stop Cancer
It’s Time to Stop Cancer

Two years ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden was inspired by the death of his son to launch a “moonshot” campaign for cancer treatment research. Today, Sen. John McCain’s battle against brain cancer has once again turned a spotlight on the disease.

Vice-President Biden Joins the Fight Against Cancer

In May 2015, Biden’s eldest son Beau succumbed to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The same disease claimed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2009.

Four months after his son’s death, Biden called off his expected run for the presidency in order to launch a campaign of a different sort. Biden and his advisors joined forces with the American Association for Cancer Research to ramp up the search for a cure.

Brain Cancer Remains in Public Awareness

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a one-time Presidential candidate himself, was diagnosed with glioblastoma this past July. The diagnosis added another layer of drama when McCain returned to Washington, D.C. a week later and cast the deciding vote against a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Last month, McCain appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss his illness. The senator told host Jake Tapper that he would be undergoing an MRI the following day, adding that advancements in cancer treatment gave hope for his prognosis.

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3-D Printing Allows Doctors to “Practice” Cancer Surgery

New Technology Helps to Train Doctors
New Technology Helps to Train Doctors

The classic med school model of practicing surgery on cadavers may soon be a thing of the past. Some doctors are now using 3-D printing models of patients’ organs as guides to improve outcomes of cancer treatment.

3-D Printing Improves Success of Prostate Cancer Treatment

While 3-D printing has been around since the mid-1980s, it’s just now coming into focus as a valuable tool for medical applications. One of the current pioneers of 3-D “surgery” is the USC Institute of Urology of Keck Medicine of USC.

Surgeons such as Dr. Inderbir Gill, executive director of the Institute, are using 3-D printed organs for patients with prostate cancer. The reproduction allows doctors to determine the precise location of tumors, which is virtually impossible to do during actual surgery.

Working with a 3-D model also helps surgeons reduce the risk of serious side effects that can occur during contact with areas surrounding the prostate. According to Dr. Gill, precision tools such as 3-D printing greatly improve the chances of completely removing the cancer.

Fine-Tuning Medication Dosage with 3-D Models

Another promising application of 3-D medical printing in cancer treatment involves the use of radiopharmaceuticals. Drugs containing radioactive material are administered to patients intravenously, orally, or placed inside a body cavity.

It’s challenging to determine a radiopharmaceutical dose that’s powerful enough to kill cancer cells without damaging healthy tissues as well. 3-D printing provides a vehicle to find the right balance.

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Cancer News: Cancer Can Metastasize Without Involvement of the Lymph System

Metastatic cancer, where tumors spread from the original site to other parts of the body, presents a significant challenge for cancer treatment. Current research is causing scientists to rethink the conventional model of metastasis.

The Role of Lymph Nodes in Cancer Metastasis

A team of researchers led by Dr. Rakesh Jain of Massachusetts General Hospital studied 213 tissue samples from 17 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The focus was on relationships between cells from the primary tumor, lymph nodes and remote sites of metastasis.

The scientists were surprised to discover that only 35 percent of the patients presented the traditional path of cancer moving via lymph nodes to more distant sites. In these cases, cancer cells from both metastases matched cell types in the original tumor.

In the other 65 percent of patients, both metastases matched different cells within the primary tumor, indicating separate origins. These results demonstrate that cancer may metastasize without involvement of lymph nodes, contradicting previously-held beliefs.

Applications for Future Cancer Treatment

According to Dr. Jain, lymph node metastases were generally considered forerunners of more distant metastases. Scientists were therefore puzzled why complete surgical removal of lymph nodes didn’t always improve survival rates.

Dr. Jain went on to explain that the typing assay his team developed can be a valuable way to analyze cancer’s path in certain patients. The information can then be used for better clinical management of metastatic cancer treatment.

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NCI Studies Disparities in Cancer Treatment in Rural Communities

If You and Your Family Does Choose to Live Out in the Country, Make Sure You Live Close to a Location with Good Healthcare Providers.
If You and Your Family Does Choose to Live Out in the Country, Make Sure You Live Close to a Location with Good Healthcare Providers.

Does where you live affect your chances of surviving cancer? Recent studies are putting a focus on the disparities of cancer treatment between rural and urban communities.

Equal Access to Health Care?

Overall, cancer death rates in the United States have declined over the last 40 years. Unfortunately, two studies from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control have revealed that cancer death rates are higher in rural areas and declining at a much slower pace.

NCI has a history of promoting cancer control in Appalachia, with efforts directed at prevention and early detection. Issues surrounding last year’s presidential election have further raised the visibility of questions about access to quality health care.

As research methods and tools become more sophisticated, scientists have the advantage of more granular data. This allows for more detailed plotting of disease patterns and trends as they apply to specific geographic regions.

Healthcare Organizations Rise to the Challenge

Growing acknowledgement of the problem is also raising the sense of urgency. Researchers at the University of Washington found that differences in life expectancy by county are large and growing even larger.

NCI, along with federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are joining forces to collaborate on research and implementation. The next big step is a May 2018 meeting that NCI is convening among major organizations in the cancer community.

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Multiple Myeloma Patients React Positively to CAR T Cells Treatment

New Discoveries for Making Cancer Easier to Bear Are Sprouting Up!
New Discoveries for Making Cancer Easier to Bear Are Sprouting Up!

CAR T cells, engineered from a patient’s own immune cells, have proved to be a valuable weapon in immunotherapy cancer treatment. Now, recent trials demonstrate that CAR T cells may be effective against advanced multiple myeloma.

Global Testing of CAR T Cells

Earlier this year, two groups performed tests on CAR T cells designed to target B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), a protein specific to myeloma.

  • Researchers in China conducted a study in which 33 of 35 patients went into complete remission within two months of treatment.
  • A team in Tennessee administered different doses of the CAR T cells to 21 patients. Beyond the first-level dose, patients experienced a 100 percent response rate, with 27 percent achieving a stringent complete response indicating no presence of the disease.

In another encouraging result, patients in both trials who experienced side effects were able to be successfully treated.

How CAR T Cells Fight Cancer

Unlike more traditional forms of cancer treatment, CAR T cells fall under the umbrella of immunotherapy. A patient’s individual immune cells are harvested from their blood, then engineered to target antigens, which are foreign bodies that trigger an immune response.

The CAR T cells are multiplied until they reach a quantity in the billions, then reintroduced into the patient. According to Dr. James Kochenderfer, lead author of the U.S. study, the key is targeting antigens that aren’t expressed in healthy tissues.

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Gold Nano Particles May Boost Lung Cancer Treatment

Gold Nano-particles Can be Introduced into the Bloodstream to Help Fight Cancer.
Gold Nano-particles Can be Introduced into the Bloodstream to Help Fight Cancer.

Gold may have a value that goes well beyond financial gain. Researchers have discovered that the shiny element can enhance the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer.

Cancer Treatment as Good as Gold

Testing was conducted at the University of Edinburgh, where Scientists took nanoparticles, which are microscopic particles of gold, and encased them in a chemical device. The object was then used on zebrafish to successfully accelerate their chemical reactions.

Dr. Asier Unciti-Broceta from Cancer Research U.K.’s Edinburgh center participated in the study. He explained that the team’s goal was to find a way to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy methods.

Lessening the Side Effects of Traditional Cancer Treatment

Side effects of cancer treatment are usually the result of drugs attacking healthy cells as well as diseased ones. According to Dr. Unciti-Broceta, their findings indicate that gold could possibly be used to safely release drugs inside tumors.

Immunotherapy for cancer is effective because it helps the immune system’s ability to target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. Researchers are continuing tests with nanoparticles in the hopes of applying a similar method with humans.

Dr. Aine McCarthy, also of Cancer Research U.K., expressed optimism that incorporating gold in immunotherapy for cancer could improve the outlook for hard-to-treat cancers such as brain tumors.

Issels®: The Gold Standard of Immunotherapy for Cancer

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