Latest developments in cancer research and treatment for August 2021


The news is happening all the time in the field of cancer. Sometimes it’s important, like the word that a breakthrough drug has increased survival for hard-to-treat cancer. Sometimes it’s smaller. All of this can be important to you and your family as you navigate your cancer journey. We do our best to keep you up to date with a monthly recap of some of the most important recent cancer news.

Cholesterol lowering drugs linked to better survival in triple negative breast cancer

What’s new Statin therapy, which is typically prescribed to help lower cholesterol levels, may also improve overall survival (OS) and breast cancer specific survival (BCSS) for women diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer ( TNBC), according to a study published online in August. 3 in the review Cancer.

Research Details Researchers examined data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) -Medicare database and the Texas Cancer Registry-Medicare database to identify women aged 65 and under who were diagnosed with cancer. stage 1-3 breast cancer between 2008 and 2015. Of these, researchers identified 2,281 women who had started a statin within 12 months of their diagnosis, of whom 1,543 were also diagnosed with TNBC. The results showed that compared to women diagnosed with other types of breast cancer, women with TNBC had 30% improved OS and 58% improvement in BCSS. The results also suggest that statins benefit may be better in women with early-stage TNBC, and that the type of statin – especially lipophilic statins, such as Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Mevacor ( lovastatin), Lescol (Fluvastatin), and Livalo (pitavastatin) – had a statistically significant influence on the improvement in survival.

Why is this important TNBC currently accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Because TNBC cells do not have progesterone or estrogen receptors and do not overexpress human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein, they do not respond to current hormone therapy or therapy. targeted drug. Previous studies suggest that statins decrease the ability of breast cancer cells to divide and increase the tendency of cancer cells to self-destruct. Although more research is needed, there may be a future role for statin therapy for TNBC.

RELATED: Real Stories From Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Blood test for prostate cancer reduces need for MRI and biopsy

What’s new A blood-based screening risk prediction model appears to work as well as traditional prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening (which measures the level of the PSA protein in the blood) to detect prostate cancer. clinically significant prostate. The new model also appears to reduce over-testing with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and biopsies, according to test results published online August 12 in the journal. The Lancet Oncology.

Research Details Swedish researchers evaluated the impact of using a blood-based prostate cancer risk prediction model (called Stockholm3), compared to the traditional PSA test, in 2,293 men at high risk of prostate cancer. develop prostate cancer. Participants provided an initial blood sample for analysis. Those with high PSA levels were randomly selected for traditional biopsies or MRI to confirm the diagnoses. Not only was a Stockholm score3 found to be as sensitive in detecting prostate cancer, but it detected more cancers than the PSA test. Additionally, replacing the PSA test with a Stockholm risk tool3 in settings where MRI and targeted biopsies were used actually reduced the number of MRIs performed by 36% and biopsies by 8%.

Why is this important A problematic aspect of screening for PSA is that it has been associated with excessive detection of harmless low-grade cancers; side effects (both psychological and physical) associated with the diagnostic process; and overprocessing. Improving the ability to determine which prostate cancers are harmless and which require more aggressive testing and treatment would be a dramatic improvement in the screening process.

RELATED: Cancer trends: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected cancer screening?

Higher vitamin D intake linked to reduced risk of early colon cancer

What’s new A total vitamin D intake of 300 international units (IU) or more appears to be associated with an up to 50% lower risk of developing early colon cancer (i.e. colon cancer before age age 50) in women, according to the results of a study published online July 6 in the journal Gastroenterology.

Research Details Harvard researchers prospectively evaluated the total vitamin D intake and risk of early-onset colon cancer in 94,205 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study II between 1991 and 2015. In the six-monthly follow-up questionnaire, it was asked women to report if they had had a colonoscopy. or the sigmoidoscopy procedure, the reason for the procedure and whether or not polyps – precursors of colon cancer – were found. In the study, 111 early-onset colon cancers and 3,317 colorectal polyps were documented. Women who reported consuming at least 300-450 IU of vitamin D per day had a 49% lower risk of early-onset colon cancer than women who consumed less than 300 IU / day, while women reporting >450 IU / day had a 51 percent reduced risk. When researchers looked at sources of vitamin D, they found that dietary vitamin D (for example, from sources such as skim milk or fish) offered the greatest risk reduction (66%), compared to additional vitamin D (33%). In addition, a higher intake of vitamin D (>600 IU / day) was associated with a 39% reduced risk of benign colon tumors, called adenomas, and a 15% reduced risk of a type of tumor known as serrated polyp, which is more difficult to remove. locate and usually does not become malignant. When the researchers adjusted for factors such as multivitamin use, body mass index, calcium intake, physical activity, and smoking status, the results remained the same.

Why is this important Colon cancer was, until recently, considered a disease of the elderly, but early-onset colon cancer is now the third leading cause of cancer in young adults (20% of these cancers are now diagnosed in people aged 20 to 54). Early-onset colon cancer is also often more advanced at the time of diagnosis. Although more research is needed, the present study suggests that increasing dietary vitamin D intake to at least 300 IU / day (which is equivalent to about three 8-ounce glasses of milk) can significantly reduce the risk. to develop early colon cancer.

RELATED: Antibiotics linked to a 50% higher risk of colon cancer

Training May Help Fight ‘Chemo Brain’ In People With Breast Cancer

What’s new Engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity (PA) before and during chemotherapy treatment may help prevent cognitive decline (aka “chemotherapy brain”) in breast cancer patients, according to published study online August 18 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Research Details Researchers at the University of Washington measured self-reported physical activity levels before (within seven days) and within one and six months after the first chemotherapy sessions in 580 breast cancer patients, compared with 363 controls without cancer. They also assessed cognitive measures, including perceived cognitive impairment, the ability to maintain attention, and visual memory. Only 33 percent of patients met national PA guidelines (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week) prior to treatment. But those who did had significantly better cognitive scores over time (including cognitive function and visual memory), compared to patients with lower PA levels. They also had sustained cognition and visual memory comparable to their cancer-free peers who met national PA guidelines prior to the study, but they still reported more problems with overall cognition.

Why is this important The results do not definitively link greater physical activity and prevention of brain chemo. However, they suggest that maintaining physical activity during breast cancer treatment could be an important tool in protecting cognitive function. Further studies will help unravel the connection.

RELATED: Everyday Health Creates a Breast Cancer Talk Community: Here’s What You Missed

FDA Warns Against Robot-Assisted Mastectomy Surgery

What’s new The FDA has not established the safety and efficacy of robot-assisted surgical devices (RAS) for mastectomy procedures aimed at preventing or treating breast cancer, according to a statement released on August 20.

Research Details RAS devices have been approved for certain types of surgeries that are often performed on cancer patients (eg, hysterectomies or prostatectomies). However, the FDA has not reviewed any clinical studies demonstrating the safety or efficacy of RAS devices for the prevention or treatment of breast cancer, or improvements in overall survival, cancer recurrence, or survival. disease free. However, studies of ARS and mastectomy are ongoing, despite the potential clinical risk they pose to patients or participants.

Why is this important The FDA recommends that all patients who require surgery to prevent or treat breast cancer to ask their surgeons beforehand if they plan to use robot-assisted surgery. If so, they suggest asking questions about the surgeon’s training, experience, and patient outcomes with the RAS device procedures, as well as the number of procedures they have performed.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Mastectomy Buying Guide: The Essentials of Pre-Surgery


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