FDA Approves First-of-a-Kind Test for Cancer-Gene Profiling

Excerpt:

“U.S. regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind test that looks for mutations in hundreds of cancer genes at once, giving a more complete picture of what’s driving a patient’s tumor and aiding efforts to match treatments to those flaws.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Foundation Medicine’s test for patients with advanced or widely spread cancers, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed covering it.

“The dual decisions, announced late Thursday, will make tumor-gene profiling available to far more cancer patients than the few who get it now and will lead more insurers to cover it.”

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Finding Skin Cancer in a Flash

Excerpt:

“The typical nude skin cancer checks with long photo sessions at your dermatologist’s office to track any suspicious skin marks just got a lot more accurate, while reducing the chance of unnecessary biopsies.

“UConn Health is the only institution to date in Connecticut to offer the latest advanced smart technology that hunts for  and keeps an eye on changing moles.

“An integrated body-scanning camera and smart software technology “helps us find skin cancer in a flash,” says Dr. Jane Grant-Kels, professor and vice chair of UConn Health’s Department of Dermatology and director of the UConn Cutaneous Oncology Center and Melanoma Program.”

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A Better Way to Diagnose and Manage Neuroendocrine Tumors

Excerpt:

“A recent study reported in the May issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine demonstrates that Ga-68 DOTATATE PET/CT scans are superior to In-111 pentetreotide scans, the current imaging standard in the United States for detecting neuroendocrine tumors (NETS), and could significantly impact treatment management.

“NETS occur mostly in the respiratory and digestive tracts and are usually slow-growing. They can be difficult to diagnose, and many treatment options exist. It’s therefore critical to delineate the extent of disease accurately for proper management. While the incidence of NETS is relatively low, with 2.5-5 cases per 100,000 in the United States, data from the National Cancer Institute show a five-fold increase worldwide from 1973 to 2004. NETS can be malignant and, although they comprise less than two percent of gastrointestinal cancers, they are more prevalent than stomach and pancreatic cancers combined.”

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New Diagnostic Tools for Prostate Cancer

“Dan Woska was weighing his treatment options after he was found to have prostate cancer two years ago when a friend mentioned a new genomic test that could gauge how lethal his tumor was.

“The test, called Oncotype DX, which looks at the expression of 17 genes in a tumor, cost about $4,000 and was not covered by Mr. Woska’s insurance. But through a patient assistance program, the company that created it, Genomic Health, ran it for him free, using a tiny grain of tissue left over from his biopsy. The results indicated there was an 81 percent probability that Mr. Woska’s tumor would not spread beyond the prostate. On an aggressiveness scale of zero to 100, the tumor was an indolent 15.

“Thrilled and relieved, Mr. Woska decided to forgo radiation and surgery.”


Aspirin Doesn't Help Breast Cancer Outcomes, May Aid Detection

“Researchers found no link between taking aspirin and improved breast cancer outcomes, however the drug’s effect on breast density may help with earlier diagnosis, according to two new studies presented at a conference on breast cancer.

“Several studies have shown aspirin to cut the risk of colorectalbreast and other cancers.

“Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania presented the new studies at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

” ‘Past studies have found that aspirin may hold anti-cancer benefits. However, many of them were preliminary, preclinical, and didn’t support a clear mortality benefit. They also didn’t look at prior use of aspirin,’ said Dr. Julia Tchou, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release. ‘Our data did not support the notion that this century-old pill has protective qualities and down-the-road benefits for breast cancer patients. However, larger patient cohort studies are needed to confirm our results.’ “


MRI-Ultrasound Fusion Improves Prostate Biopsy Cancer Detection

“Magnetic resonance imaging-ultrasound fusion targeted prostate biopsy (MRF-TB) improves detection and risk stratification of high-grade disease and limits detection of clinically insignificant prostate cancer, according to a study published in the December issue of the The Journal of Urology.

“Neil Mendhiratta, from the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues reported clinical outcomes for 452 consecutive men presenting for primary . Participants underwent prebiopsy multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging followed by MRF-TB and systematic biopsy.”


New Test for Prostate Cancer Significantly Improves Prostate Cancer Screening

“A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows that a new test for prostate cancer is better at detecting aggressive cancer than PSA. The new test, which has undergone trial in 58,818 men, discovers aggressive cancer earlier and reduces the number of false positive tests and unnecessary biopsies. The results are published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology.

“Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men worldwide, with over 1.2 million diagnosed in 2012. In number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer increases and within 20 years over 2 million men are estimated to be diagnosed yearly. Currently, PSA is used to diagnose prostate cancer, but the procedure has long been controversial.”


Case for Testing Cancer in Blood Builds, One Study at a Time

“Two new studies published on Wednesday of patients with breast and prostate cancers add to growing evidence that detecting bits of cancer DNA circulating in the blood can guide patient treatment.

“Enthusiasm is building for ‘liquid biopsies,’ which offer a non-invasive alternative to standard tissue biopsies and are expected to be a multibillion-dollar market.

“But a key question remains: Do they really work?

“The stakes are high. At least 38 companies are working on liquid biopsies for cancer, according to analysts at investment bank PiperJaffray, who think the U.S. market alone could eventually reach $29 billion a year.”


Super Advocate: Surviving Lung Cancer Revitalizes Dave Bjork’s Life


In 1998, Dave Bjork went to the doctor for a high fever accompanied by chills so intense that he shivered even though he wore three jackets. A chest X-ray revealed pneumonia and Dave went back to his life. “I didn’t think anything of it,” he says.

But then Dave had another bout of pneumonia only a few months later, and his new X-ray and his old one had a terrible similarity. “My radiologist held up the two X-rays and showed me that the infection was in the same spot,” he says. Next came a CAT scan and a call from his doctor saying they’d found a tumor in his lung. Continue reading…