ASCO: New Advances in Ovarian, Prostate, Lung and Melanoma Treatment

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“Science and Society” was the theme of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 50th annual meeting. The meeting showcased  cancer research from around the world. Some new findings from Dana-Farber researchers included: Joyce Liu, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers reported that, in a phase 2 clinical trial, a combination of olaparib (a drug that blocks DNA repair in cancer cells) and cediranib (which blocks blood vessel growth in tumors) was considerably more effective in women with recurrent ovarian cancer than olaparib alone.. Progression-free survival – the length of time after treatment when …

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ASCO Recommends Tamoxifen for up to 10 Years

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Women with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer should be given the option to have adjuvant hormonal therapy for as long as 10 years, according to new guidelines issued today by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The updated guidelines reflect results from several large studies that showed women who took tamoxifen for 10 years had a lower risk of recurrence and a “survival advantage,” compared to women who took the drug for only five years. In a press release issued by ASCO, Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers …

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How Cancer Researchers Are Working to Help Fight MERS Virus

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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral respiratory illness has been in the news a lot lately.  MERS, first detected in Saudia Arabia in 2012, is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV). It isn’t known exactly where the virus comes from though many infectious disease experts think it is likely from an animal source. While camels in a few countries have tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV, indicating they were previously infected with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus, it hasn’t yet been determined with certainty that camels are the source of the virus, or …

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New Experimental Breast Cancer Drug Shows Promise

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Reports of an experimental drug that slowed advanced breast cancer in a clinical trial have stirred excitement at a national research meeting and breathed new life into a cancer-fighting strategy that had seemed to falter. In one study, the drug, palbociclib, doubled the length of time without disease progression in patients with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer that had spread beyond the breast, compared with women who took only a hormonal treatment, researchers reported at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in early April. Women in the study who received palbociclib also took the hormonal treatment, letrozole. Palbociclib is the …

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DNA Test May Offer Alternative to Pap Smear

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has recommended that a DNA test should be the primary screening tool for cervical cancer, rather than the traditional Pap smear. The DNA test detects the DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted infection that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. “This is an important step forward for cervical cancer screening,” says Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Specifically, the DNA test screens for HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two highest-risk HPV strains, as well as 12 other high-risk HPV …

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More Children are Developing Cancer, But Fewer are Dying from It

By Tom Ulrich Last month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released “Cancer Statistics, 2014,” their annual estimate of new cancers diagnoses and deaths for the year ahead. The report was heavily focused on adult malignancies—not surprisingly, given that the number of adult cancer patients in the nation is orders of magnitudes greater than that of childhood patients—but did hold a few insights into childhood cancers.

Can Coloring Our Hair Cause Cancer?

The use of hair dyes is widespread. It’s estimated that more than a third of women over age 18 and 10 percent of men over age 40 – a group that numbers in the millions in the U.S. alone – color their hair. Even if exposure to hair dye increases cancer risk only slightly, the effect on public health could be significant. We turned to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate.

A User’s Guide to Cancer-Related News

By Vish Viswanath, PhD News about advances in cancer research and treatment appears almost daily. The pace at which new findings are reported, coupled with the complexity of the underlying science, can make it difficult to know which studies are truly significant and which are less so. It’s easy to become confused when reports seem to have varying conclusions. Here are some tips for becoming a savvy consumer of cancer news.

Turning Traditional Medicine Into Cancer Drugs

Quite a few substances used in traditional medicine in China or other countries have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as cancer drugs… and their numbers are growing.  Some examples are: Arsenic trioxide, made from arsenic sulfide ore, has been used therapeutically for more than 2,400 years. Following promising reports from China, the agent was tested in clinical trials and received FDA approval in 2000 for patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia who have not responded to other therapies or whose disease has recurred.