Friday, October 02, 2009

Cancer Carnival #26

Here we are again with the Cancer Research Blog Carnival #26 - your monthly roundup of posts from the cancer blogosphere.

The first post comes from the blog Asbestos Lung Cancer which, as you might guess, focuses on asbestos-related disease. This post discusses asbestosis symptoms and detections.
A history of asbestos exposure may provide the first clue to the diagnosis of asbestos diseases such as asbestosis and asbestos pleural disease. It often takes decades involving the patient’s asbestos exposure and the appearance of early symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.
Francisco Barriga, who blogs at MolBio Research Highlights (who will be hosting the next edition, so start writing those posts!) follows up on a previous post on cancer stem cells (featured in Cancer Carnival #23) with some research blogging: Targeting cancer stem cells: chemical style.
In a previous post I tried to summarize the major points underlying the Cancer Stem Cell Hypothesis, which states that tumors are hierarchically structured and that a particular subpopulation of cells, cancer stem cells (CSCs), are capable of initiating and sustaining the growth of the tumor. This has obvious clinical implications since eliminating these cells would lead to the definitive disappearance of the tumor.
He takes a look at a recent Cell paper that takes a high-throughput approach to targetting cancer stem cells and finding that conventional chemotherapeutics aren't effective against this population.

Here at Bayblab, and staying on the cancer stem cell theme, AC takes a look at a new paper from Cancer Research that finds that a widely prescribed diabetes drug might be effective against breast cancer stem cells.
A friend of the bayblab sent me a link to a paper that just came out in Cancer Research showing promising results of Metformin against breast cancer. Not only does the drug seem to selectively kill CD44 positive breast cancer stem cells, but it seems to inhibit mammosphere formation.
Like the Cell paper above, one conclusion seems to be that future effective drug treatments will require targetting both tumour 'bulk' cells and cancer stem cells.

At HighlightHEALTH, the results are in and Allison Bland reports on lifestyle changes that prevent breast cancer. A recent update to the 2007 report by the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund (AICR/WCRF) that describes certain measures that can be taken to reduce breast cancer deaths
The study is an update to the breast cancer chapter of Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Earlier conclusions were based on data from 873 studies evaluating the relationship between diet, physical activity, obesity and cancer. The 2009 update includes evidence from an additional 81 studies.

The report estimates that over 70,000 breast cancer cases in the U.S. — 40% of cases every year– could be avoided every year by simple lifestyle changes.
The post provides more details on the report, and outlines some of the preventative measurest that can be taken.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Orac lays the smack down on Bill Maher for some wacky views on medicine and cancer
Maher responds that he "doesn't know whether Laetrile works," but that he knows that "the shit we've tried for the last 50 years doesn't. I know they've made no progress as far as cancer in this country. So, yes, there are people who actually go out of this country when they get cancer. Some of them come back alive after a death sentence. But in this country you can't talk about that. I might get arrested right now."
Follow the link to find out the many ways Maher has it wrong.

Finally, September marked the passing of Patrick Swayze who succumbed to pancreatic cancer. More here and here. One alt-med 'treatment' for pancreatic cancer is called the Gonzalez protocol. The Journal of Clinical Oncology recently published a study showing that this regimen is substantially worse than standard care. You can read more at Science-based Medicine and Neurologica.

That's it for this month's Cancer Research Blog Carnival. For older editions, visit the Carnival Homepage. Don't forget, the CRBC has subscription options; you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available.

November's issue will be posted at MolBio Research Highlights. If you'd like to host a future edition, email