Cancer Watch - Issue 4 2005

Originally published in Issue 4 2005 icon

Cancer Watch eye











Latest World Cancer News


Diagnoses Not Understood


A new report from CancerBACUP has revealed that every two minutes a person in the UK gets told they have cancer yet nearly two thirds of them don’t fully understand what their diagnosis means. We have covered previous research in icon before that shows 49% of cancer patients do not understand "doctorspeak".


The fact is that receiving a cancer diagnosis is frightening, the recipient often suffers a temporary mindblanking and they can’t take in a lot of what they are told.

Charities like CANCERactive or Macmillan Cancer Relief can help significantly.

For example, Macmillan has been concerned for some time that if the diagnosis is not delivered effectively it damages the way patients adapt to the disease. They believe that doctors should explore patients’ and relatives’ assumptions about cancer before bombarding them with facts. This is an approach carried out by all Macmillan nurses, who offer support and information throughout patients’ cancer treatment and care.

CANCERactive has been concerned by the whole area of "doctorspeak". Although there are leaflets available, they are often complicated and written in a way that turns off the patient. Which is why CANCERactive has adopted a straight, easy to use and understand approach and all our information is written by journalists and people actually touched by cancer themselves.


New Breast Cancer Gene In Evidence


Close relatives of women who have had cancer in both breasts and also carry a faulty version of the CHEK2 gene have a greatly increased risk of breast cancer - according to a report in The Lancet.


Only 469 people were involved in the study so the results are only indicative as yet.

The women were tested for a possible breast cancer gene called CHEK2. Almost one in three women with the normal version of the CHEK2 gene had a close relative with breast cancer.

But six of the seven women who carried the faulty version of the gene had at least one first degree relative with breast cancer.

Study leader Professor Julian Peto, based at LSHTM, says: "Relatives of women with bilateral breast cancer plus a normal CHEK2 gene have their breast cancer risk trebled. But relatives of those who carry the faulty gene have an even higher risk. Our study also shows for the first time that fathers and brothers of bilateral breast cancer patients have a substantially increased risk of prostate cancer. This risk also seems to be further increased in male relatives who carry the faulty CHEK2 gene."

Approximately 2000 bilateral breast cancer cases are diagnosed in the UK each year. About two per cent of cases are likely to be carriers of the faulty CHEK2 gene. Testing these 2000 women would be useful in estimating individual risks of close relatives

Women with faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known to have a high risk of breast cancer. Up to 80 per cent of these women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.

But women should realise that only around two per cent of the 41,000 UK cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year are due to faulty BRCA genes. Breast cancer is far less to do with genetics than poor diet and lifestyle habits.


Prostate Cancer - Aggressive Or Slow


The biggest problem with prostate cancer is picking out the fast growing ones. They only account for about 5 per cent of all prostate cancers but hitherto there was no accurate test. The PSA test, according to researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in the USA, may be high but only one third of men may actually have cancer cells in their prostate. Now a test has been developed for MDM2. This protein is involved in regulating all growth and is associated with a doubling of distant cancer spread. Early days - but we’ll keep you posted.


Screening For Bowel Cancer


BOWEL cancer rates could be reduced by up to 80 per cent in people with a moderate family history of the disease by screening with colonoscopy, according to new research published in The British Medical Journal.


But the research shows that most people, even those who have two or three relatives with the disease, do not need to be screened before the age of 45 nor very frequently.

As many as a third of the 34,000 bowel cancer cases diagnosed in the UK each year occur in someone with a family history of the disease. A small proportion of these people have a fault in a specific gene which leads to a condition called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) but the majority of cases have no known genetic fault.

HNPCC families are currently screened with colonoscopy every two years from the age of 25 and the new research supports this practice, estimating that screening reduces cancer deaths in this group by up to 70 per cent.

But until now, there has been no strong evidence on how to deal with the remaining majority of people with a family history of bowel cancer. The new study shows an 80 per cent decrease of tumours by screening this group.

Screening with colonoscopy means that pre-cancerous growths can be detected and removed before they progress to cancer.


Fludelone And Myeloma


Memorial Sloan-Kettering has been conducting a research study into fludelone, and all the indications to date are promising.


New Drug For Pancreatic Cancer


Adding a new chemotherapy drug to standard treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer has shown dramatic improvement in survival, a new study from Cancer Research UK claims.


Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat using orthodox therapies and those diagnosed have an overall one year survival rate of only 13 per cent.

Preliminary results of a phase III clinical trial have shown patients receiving a new combination of chemotherapy drugs have a one year survival rate of 26 per cent compared to 19 per cent for those on the trial receiving the standard chemotherapy.

Presenting the data at the 13th European Cancer Conference (ECCO) in Paris, researchers outlined the importance of improving the treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer. In most cases chemotherapy is the only orthodox treatment available and most patients die within a year of diagnosis.

The trial, called GEMCAP, recruited over 500 UK patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. One group had the standard treatment of a chemotherapy drug called gemcitabine. The second group had a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine.

Professor David Cunningham from the Institute of Cancer Research at the Royal Marsden Hospital London and lead investigator of the trial says: "This trial is starting to show we can offer pancreatic cancer patients precious extra time with a new treatment that can be taken in tablet form. These results are an important milestone in the treatment of pancreatic cancer."

Ed: Myopia rules!!!! Regular readers of icon will know that Dr Gonzalez at his New York Clinic is well into a fully monitored clinical trial using 130 supplements and pancreatic enzymes.

The Clinical Trial is being overseen by the National Institute for Complementary Health. Only one of his forty nine pancreatic cancer patients has so far passed away, yet the trial is in its fifth year. He has used the therapy successfully with a number of different cancers, over the last 20 years.

Dr Gonzalez’ therapy is covered on our website and in our book Conventional Cancer Cures - What’s the Alternative?.


New Liver Cancer Trials


A small step for man... The first patient in a multi-centre dose-profiling study has received treatment in Singapore General Hospital after approval by the Health Sciences Authority.


Global bio-nanotech company pSivida Limited has announced that Phase IIb clinical trials have commenced with BrachySil(TM) (32-P BioSilicon(TM)) as a potential new brachytherapy treatment for inoperable primary liver cancer.

The first patient has successfully received treatment at Singapore General Hospital ("SGH") using a new fine-gauge needle, multi-injection device, which will enable, for the first time, larger and also multiple tumors to be treated. A total of 50 patients will be entered into this multi-centre trial, which will be conducted in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The study, which was designed in collaboration with SGH and approved by the Singaporean regulatory authority (Health Sciences Authority), will determine the optimal dose of BrachySil(TM) in treating inoperable HCC. Patients will be evaluated up to 12 months after treatment, and the endpoints are based on evaluations of patient safety and target tumour responses, as well as overall survival.


Latest Nutrition Findings


Alcohol Link To Mouth Cancer


Alcohol is contributing to a steep rise in mouth cancer cases in the UK. But few people are aware that it is a risk factor for the disease, according to a new Cancer Research UK survey. Cases of mouth cancer have risen by a quarter over the past 10 years - from 3411 in 1992 to 4285 in 2001; while smoking rates have fallen in recent years, alcohol consumption has risen sharply.


The major risk factors for mouth cancer are smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Smoking and drinking are together estimated to cause more than 75 per cent of mouth cancer cases in developed countries.

But while three quarters of people asked about the causes of mouth cancer were able to name smoking, only one fifth mentioned alcohol.

Cancer Research UK has recently launched its new three-year "Open Up to Mouth Cancer" campaign, with funding from the Department of Health. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the early signs and risk factors for mouth cancer, and is part of the charity’s Reduce the Risk campaign.

Sara Hiom said," Our new campaign aims to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. Evidence shows that early detection of mouth cancer can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment - raising five-year survival rates from around 50 to 90 per cent."

The most common signs of mouth cancer are sores, ulcers, red or white patches and unexplained pain in the mouth or ear. Less common signs include a lump in the neck, a persistent sore throat or difficulty swallowing. If any of these signs persists for more than three weeks they need to be checked out by a doctor or dentist."


Farmed Fish Hazards


A new report from the Centre for Food Safety highlights the health hazards of aquaculture fish. The aquaculture industry, which produces about a third of the fish sold worldwide, uses antibiotics, fungicides, dyes, and hormones to compensate for crowded conditions, encourage rapid growth, and improve the appearance of the final product.


Farmed fish also accumulate higher levels of environmental contaminants than wild fish. Imported farmed fish are particularly dangerous because they can contain drugs that have been banned in the United States, like chloramphenicol, an antibiotic linked to cancer and aplastic anemia. The report advises consumers to read labels to be certain where their fish comes from and urges the Food and Drug Administration to tighten standards.

Read the report, "The Catch with Seafood: Human Health Impacts of Drugs and Chemicals Used by the Aquaculture Industry".


Codex Guidelines "Scientifically Flawed"


The recent Codex Committee meeting ended in rather a shambles, running out of time and failing to discuss several of the important issues relating to the forthcoming worldwide guidelines on vitamins; notably the benefits to health of natural vitamins and the risk of certain synthetic ones.


The meeting (the 27th Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Usage) took place in Bonn. Scott Tips, legal counsel for the US National Health Federation, said that, "the bad news is that these guidelines could stop millions of people around the world using food supplements containing nutrients in sufficient amounts to benefit health.

The good news is that there is recognition by an increasing number of delegates that there are serious flaws in some of the scientific methods being used".


Trans-fats Cost McDonald’s $10.5 Million


As covered in our last issue, after January 1st 2006 trans-fats have to be declared in US packaging labels. In 2003 a law suit was brought against McDonald’s by arguing that it had failed to live up to 2002 promise to reduce such fats in its food.


Trans-fats have been proven to be worse for you than saturated fats, and are linked to elevated heart attack risk and high cholesterol.

Now a Californian judge has approved a court settlement after McDonald’s admitted it would not make the promised deadline.

$7 million dollars will go to the American Heart Association, to be used in education about trans-fats; $1.5 million will go towards publicising McDonald’s failure to meet the deadline. A Further $2 million will be paid in attorney’s fees.

So what is the situation in the UK, one wonders? Trans-fats are everywhere, especially in processed foods. Isn’t it time for our Government, or the Foods Standards Agency to act?


Chemical World


Mobile Phone Dangers


For the first time ever the British Health Protection Agency (HPA) has acknowledged that headaches, nausea and muscle pains are potential side effects of the electromagnetic fields of mobile phones and computer screens.


Britain is joining Sweden in recognising Electrosensitivity as a physical problem. In Sweden 300,000 people are recognised sufferers and many receive government grants to reduce exposure to such EMF’s (Sunday Times, Sept 11th 2005).


Biased Reporting?


In a recent paper in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Dr. vom Saal compared studies on bisphenol A (BPA) that were funded by industry, all 11 of which found no effect, with studies funded by governments, of which 94 out of 104 documented harmful effects. "The chances of 100 per cent of industry studies being negative, and over 90 per cent of government studies being positive is about one in two billion," he said.


Few chemicals on the planet enjoy more use than bisphenol A. We come into contact with it every day in tin-can linings, CDs, electronics, sports equipment, cars and baby bottles, just to name a few products.

More than six billion pounds of it are made each year.

However, tiny amounts of BPA can leach out and new research shows it can get into us - a study done this year for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found the chemical in 95 per cent of American urine samples. More than a hundred other studies suggest that BPA is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, immune suppression, lowered sperm counts and early puberty.

The plastics industry maintains that BPA is completely safe. But academic and government researchers say the chemical needs to undergo a new risk assessment. Previous assessments were done more than 15 years ago, when the technology to screen for health risks was immature.

Most of the research pointing to its potential for harm has come out in the past five years.

Oh dear. Is plastic killing us? It’s a chemical controversy. (Toronto Globe and Mail, Ontario. Nov 5 2005)


New Smoking Laws "A Shambles"


icon’s view on the new smoking laws is that they are a shambles and almost certainly unworkable. All the evidence pointed to a smoking ban in all public places. Unfortunately the Government forgot that it was their responsibility to govern, and instead made ludicrous and appeasing political half-decisions.


3G Mobile Phone Masts Rule


The Swedish Environmental High Court has ruled that mobile masts and acids for 3G constitute an environmentally dangerous activity, since it cannot be said for certain that electromagnetic radiation for the frequencies in question is harmless to people’s health.


The court referred to a statement from the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority that accepted that threshold values are exceeded at a few metres distance straight in front of the aerial’s beams. The Environmental Court also considered risk from "psychic dread" at nearby homes.

Cancer Watch - Issue 4 2005
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