New Study Finds That Most Cancer Mutations Are Due to Random DNA Copying ‘Mistakes’

Excerpt:

“Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists report data from a new study providing evidence that random, unpredictable DNA copying ‘mistakes’ account for nearly two-thirds of the mutations that cause cancer. Their research is grounded on a novel mathematical model based on DNA sequencing and epidemiologic data from around the world.

” ‘It is well-known that we must avoid environmental factors such as smoking to decrease our risk of getting . But it is not as well-known that each time a normal cell divides and copies its DNA to produce two new cells, it makes multiple mistakes,’ says Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. ‘These copying mistakes are a potent source of cancer that historically have been scientifically undervalued, and this new work provides the first estimate of the fraction of mutations caused by these mistakes.’ ”

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Clinical Trial Looks at Targeted Genetic Therapies for Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are enrolling patients in a clinical trial looking at targeted gene therapies in patients with early stage lung cancer who have had surgery.

“This could help researchers gain insight into genetic targets that could aid in earlier intervention and better outcomes for patients.

” ‘Despite therapeutic advances in recent years, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, and effective new therapies are still desperately needed. Additionally, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for women and for men,’ says Sandra Starnes, MD, Dr. John B. Flege Jr. Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery, associate professor of surgery and co-director of the UC Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Lung Cancer Center. ‘Targeted genetic therapy holds great promise for improved efficacy in treating patients. In this trial, researchers will evaluate the use of a newer targeted therapy for early stage who have had surgery and completed post-operative chemotherapy.’ ”

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Active Surveillance Preserves Quality of Life for Prostate Cancer Patients

Excerpt:

“Faced with the negative quality-of-life effects from surgery and radiation treatments for prostate cancer, low risk patients may instead want to consider active surveillance with their physician, according to a study released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“The Vanderbilt University Medical Center study led by Daniel Barocas, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Urologic Surgery, compared the side effects and outcomes of contemporary treatments for localized with in order to guide men with prostate cancer in choosing the best treatment for them.

“Surgery is considered by some to be the most definitive treatment, and there is evidence from other studies that it has better long-term cancer outcomes than radiation for higher-risk cancers, but it has more sexual and urinary side effects than radiation.”

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9 Deaths Are Linked to Rare Cancer From Breast Implants

Excerpt:

“A rare cancer first linked to breast implants in 2011 has now been associated with nine deaths, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

“As of Feb. 1, the agency had received a total of 359 reports of the cancer associated with the implants. The deaths were not caused by breast cancer, the agency said, but by a rare malignancy in the immune system, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. In cases linked to implants, this rare form of cancer grows in the breast, usually in the capsule of scar tissue that forms around an implant. It is usually treatable and not often fatal.

“The problem is more likely to occur with textured implants, which have a pebbly surface, than with smooth implants, the agency said. Of the 359 reported cases, 231 included information about the implant surface: 203 were textured, and 28 smooth.”

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Innovative Immunotherapy Combo Tests IDO Inhibitor in Melanoma Trial

Excerpt:

“Investigators are looking into a novel immunotherapy combination that pairs the first-in-class IDO1 inhibitor epacadostat (INCB024360) with the checkpoint blockade agent pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“The phase III KEYNOTE-252/ECHO-301 trial, which is enrolling at more than 120 locations, will randomize 600 patients in a 1:1 ratio to either epacadostat combined with pembrolizumab or pembrolizumab plus placebo (NCT02752074).”

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Popular Prostate Cancer Therapy Is Short, Intense and Unproven

Excerpt:

“After learning he had early stage prostate cancer, Paul Kolnik knew he wanted that cancer destroyed immediately and with as little disruption as possible to his busy life as the New York City Ballet’s photographer.

“So Mr. Kolnik, 65, chose a type of radiation treatment that is raising some eyebrows in the prostate cancer field. It is more intense than standard radiation and takes much less time — five sessions over two weeks instead of 40 sessions over about two months or 28 sessions over five to six weeks.

“The newer therapy is surging in popularity, but no one knows whether it is as effective in curing prostate cancer, or how its side effects compare.”

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Radiation Prior to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy May Lower Toxicity

Excerpt:

“Ten percent of patients with lung cancer who received thoracic radiation therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors experienced severe toxicities, according to a retrospective study presented at the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium.

“However, none of the patients who received radiation therapy before immune checkpoint inhibitors experienced severe toxicities.

” ‘Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors and thoracic radiation therapy carried a modest risk for side effects,” Kamran A. Ahmed, MD, a resident in radiation oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, said during a press conference. ‘Our study indicates the risk for thoracic radiation therapy– and immune checkpoint inhibitor–related pneumonitis may be highest when thoracic radiation therapy is delivered after immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.’ ”

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Pembrolizumab Shows Promise in Treatment of Mesothelioma

Excerpt:

“Pembrolizumab, an antibody drug already used to treat other forms of cancer, can be effective in the treatment of the most common form of mesothelioma, according to a new study led by investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study, published this month in The Lancet Oncology, is the first to show a positive impact from checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy drugs on this disease.

“Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that represents about 90 percent of all malignant mesothelioma cases. It’s primarily caused by the inhalation of asbestos, a fiber commonly found in some forms of insulation, vinyl floor tiles, and other material. Tumors form in the pleura, a thin membrane of cells that line the lungs and chest wall. Most survive less than a year. This poor prognosis is partially due to the fact that most patients are not diagnosed until they are already at a late stage of the disease. The standard first-line therapy treatment involves chemotherapy, and currently there is no approved second-line therapy.”

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Glioblastoma Clinical Trial Shows Combined Therapy Extends Life for Patients 65 and Older

Excerpt:

“Treating older patients who have malignant brain cancer with the chemotherapy drug temozolomide plus a short course of radiation therapy extends survival by two months compared to treating with radiation alone, show clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“For 45% of the study participants, improved survival almost doubled — from 7 months to 13.5 months, says co-principal investigator Normand Laperriere, radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network. This was linked to a molecular marker that indicated if a DNA repair mechanism against the drug was active. When the mechanism was ‘off,’ tumours responded better to treatment.”

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