Thursday, January 27, 2011

Study finds rogue gene attacks protein that stops cancer spreading

A breakthrough study published in the journal Oncogene reveals scientists at the University of East Anglia have discovered a “rogue gene,” that if blocked by the right drugs, may stop cancer in its tracks. The gene, called WWP2, is an enzymic bonding agent found inside cancer cells. WWP2 attacks and breaks down a naturally-occurring protein in the body which normally prevents cancer cells from spreading. Tests show that by blocking WWP2, levels of the natural inhibitor protein were boosted and the cancer cells remained dormant.

According to researcher Andrew Chantry, "The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene." Once new drugs are developed, it is hoped that conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy could be used on primary tumors with no risk of the disease taking hold elsewhere or metastasizing.

The research team is currently working with other scientists to develop such a drug. Chantry believes drugs could be developed in the next 10 years that could be used to halt the aggressive spread of many forms of cancer. More...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mesothelioma Patients May Benefit From Second Pemetrexed-based Chemotherapy

A new study conducted by a team of Italian researchers tested the effectiveness of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy (PBC) as a second-line treatment for mesothelioma cancer patients whose cancer shows at least a partial response to initial chemo. PBC is already effective for some patients, however no drugs have been approved yet for second-line treatment when the cancer continues to progress after first-line chemotherapy.

The study found that mesothelioma tumors shrunk or at least stopped growing in nearly half of patients (48%), and the median survival rate was 10.5 months after the treatment. Researchers also determined that the patients whose tumors stopped growing for at least 12 months after their first round of PBC treatment were more likely to respond well in the second round. Although the role of second-line therapy in mesothelioma needs further evaluation, this study suggests the possible therapeutic role of re-treatment PBC. More...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Study: Mesothelioma Significantly Underreported in Developing Countries

A new study published by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives estimates the global magnitude of reported and unreported mesothelioma.

According to the study, it conservatively estimates that, globally, one mesothelioma case has been overlooked for every four to five reported cases. In particular, many developing countries, including some with a high cumulative use of asbestos, do not report mesothelioma. Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and India all rank in the top 15 countries for cumulative use of asbestos. Under diagnosing and/or underreporting may have occurred in these countries due to lack of awareness, knowledge and resources.

This study is the first to postulate a global estimate of “missed” mesothelioma cases based on the collective experience of countries with available data on asbestos use and the disease. Given that their estimation is based on asbestos use until 1970 and because many countries have increased asbestos use since then, those countries should anticipate a higher disease burden in the immediate decades ahead.

Since mesothelioma can be prevented by eliminating exposure to asbestos, the authors of the study propose that every country ban the mining, use, and export of asbestos on grounds of public health. They also propose that developed countries share experience and technology to enable developing countries to better diagnose, report, and manage mesothelioma cases.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Debunking the Myths About P/D

"The Question is, Why Wouldn't a Patient Choose P/D?"

In 1994, Dr. Robert B. Cameron began to develop his specific "radical" lung-sparing pleurectomy and decortication (P/D) surgical procedure as a more rational and less radical alternative to the popular radical extra-pleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgical procedure for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

The data show that P/D is much safer than EPP. Surgical mortality (that is, when the patient dies during surgery) for P/D is only 3-4%. For EPP, surgical mortality is 5-7%, or almost twice as high. On top of fatalities, another two-thirds of EPP patients encounter serious surgical complications. Dr. Cameron’s surgical mortality numbers are below 1%.

P/D patients retain the use of both lungs, affording them a better quality of life. EPP patients are left with only one lung. With only on lung, the patient is vulnerable to threats to the remaining lung like infection, pneumonia or pulmonary restriction from prior smoking, asbestos scarring or the unshakeable threat of mesothelioma recurrence.

The only randomized trial for EPP (where the surgeon cannot bias the results through patient selection), revealed that patients who had EPP in fact did worsethan patients who avoided surgery altogether. Studies which have looked at both EPP and P/D reveal that P/D patients survive longer.

With P/D’s superiority overwhelmingly confirmed, the question is then, why wouldn't a patient choose a P/D over EPP? It seems that those clinging to the out-dated notion of performing EPP have tried to answer this question with a series of “myths” about P/D.

Over the coming weeks, Dr. Cameron, as the innovator of the P/D and the surgeon most experienced in performing it, will address in turn each of these "myths".

MYTH #1: “P/D Is Only Appropriate For Very Early Stage Meso.” January 3, 2011

Proponents of the EPP have been known to suggest that “P/D is fine for early-stage cases, but for a BIG tumor you need a BIG surgery.”

It is certainly true that lung-sparing P/D is more appropriate for early-stage cases than EPP. For a patient who is younger with less invasive tumor and a good long-term survival prognosis, there is simply no compelling reason to endure the risks and compromised quality of life associated with a radical lung amputation/EPP.

But just because P/D is more appropriate for early-stage patients does not mean that radical EPP is better for more advanced patients. Statistics reveal that P/D is also better advanced cases of pleural mesothelioma. In fact, many of those who argue that P/D is only appropriate for early-stage meso WILL NOT actually perform EPP for late-stage meso. They understand that EPP is too radical and difficult for late-stage patients and don’t want to harm their published survival statistics. They route their late-stage patients to P/D instead.

As a result, most studies comparing P/D to EPP show patients who were younger (less than 60) and relatively healthy going to EPP, and patients who were older (70 or above) and with more sickness going to P/D. Yet the overall survival for older, more advanced patients who had P/D was still BETTER than the survival for younger, less advanced patients who had EPP.

Click here for more information regarding malignant pleural mesothelioma and Dr. Cameron’s approach to treating the disease.