Friday, September 03, 2010

Cancer Carnival #37

Friday of a long weekend? The only thing that could be better is a fresh edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. The Carnival relies on posts and hosts, so be sure to submit your posts for next month, where the carnival will be hosted by Highlight HEALTH, who also start the proceedings this month.

In a recent post at HighlightHEALTH, Faith Martin discusses peer-reviewed research into the link between positive psychology and cancer survival.
Enter “Psychoneuroimmunology” – the field of study exploring the direct link between the nervous system and immune system, including the endocrine system, covering hormones. The brain controls these systems. Part of psychoneuroimmunology is the study of degree to which the action of these systems is impacted on by mental health and the way we think and process information around us. This is of particular interest when we exam the relationship between psychological experience, nervous/immune/endocrine systems and health conditions.
Faith goes on to describe how stress and psychology can impact physiology in ways that can affect tumor growth.

At Stem Cell Assays, Dr. Alexey Bersenev highlights high-throughput cancer stem cell-based screening assays to identify therapeutic compounds, in particular for neuroblastoma.

David at Health and Life, offers a brief summary on the history of cancer treatment and what future directions it is taking, with a particular mention of anti-angiogenic therapy. On the subject of anti-angiogenesis, Blane Tarr points us to a TED talk about anti-angiogenesis and dietary sources for certain anti-angiogenic compounds, such as ellagic acid from strawberries. Sticking with a dietary theme, Valentina Rey sends us a post about research into the effectiveness of produce in preventing lung cancer.
According to this new findings, a subject’s risk of developing lung cancer decreased when fruits and veggies were eaten, regardless of the amount—here, variety, not quantity, was important. Each different type of produce eaten reduced the risk of cancer by another 4%, up to a total decrease of 23%. This decrease occurred for all types of lung cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer developed by smokers.
Here at the Bayblab, I provide an update, describing some sad news surrounding research into Devil Facial Tumor Disease. Other bloggers have also covered this story.

Finally, Orac has a post about the angiogenesis inhibitor Avastin, and the politics of drug approval.
Another lesson of the ongoing Avastin saga is about the very nature of science-based medicine itself. We have stated that we believe that medical care should be science-based. However, although medicine should be based on science, medicine itself can never be a pure science because so many non-science-based considerations impact on it. On the patient level, there is patient choice and how the doctor and patient weigh the patient's personal situation and personal considerations in choosing from among science-based therapies. At the national level, considerations of cost, politics, and values cannot be separated from medical policy considerations. Science can tell us that Avastin does not prolong overall survival in breast cancer patients and that it only very modestly prolongs progression-free survival. It can tell us that even that modest increase in PFS comes at a cost of complications that prevent improved PFS from translating to improved OS. What science can't tell us is whether that modest benefit is worth the cost. That's a value judgment that must be made both at the level of society as a whole and at the level of each patient and physician.
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. For a broader collection of science-related blog carnivals, sign up for the Science, Medicine, Environment and Nature Blog Carnival Twitter Feed.