In the most recent health news: Cancer drug tests in the U.K. were recently stopped early because of the impressive success of tests for a new prostate cancer drug. This drug trial was stopped because the drug was so successful at targeting cancer tumours that it was deemed unfair not to offer all the 922 people involved in the drug testing the use of this new cancer drug. This is exciting health news for suffers of prostate cancer (and potentially other cancers) which an estimated 913,000 men worldwide are diagnosed with each year. This cancer drug is called an alpha radiation drug which targets the tumors, relieves pain, and patients are found to be living longer. Scientists are excited with this health news. This health news first appeared on the BBC news site.
Alpha radiation treats prostate cancers
A trial of a new cancer drug, which accurately targets tumours, has been so successful it has been stopped early.
Doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital gave prostate cancer patients a powerful alpha radiation drug and found that they lived longer, and experienced less pain and side effects.
The medics then stopped the trial of 922 people, saying it was unethical not to offer all of them the treatment.
Lead researcher Dr Chris Parker said it was “a significant step forward”.
Cancer Research UK said it was a very important and promising discovery.
Radiation has been used to treat tumours for more than a century. It damages the genetic code inside cancerous cells.
Alpha particles are the big, bulky, bruisers of the radiation world. It is a barrage of helium nuclei, which are far bigger than beta radiation, a stream of electrons, or gamma waves. Dr Parker said: “It’s more damaging. It takes one, two, three hits to kill a cancer cell compared with thousands of hits for beta particles.”
Alpha particles also do less damage to surrounding tissue.
He added: “They have such a tiny range, a few millionths of a metre. So we can be sure that the damage is being done where it should be.”
In 90% of patients with advanced prostate cancer, the tumour will have spread to the bone. At this stage there are no treatments which affect survival.
The study looked at patients with these secondary cancers, as the source of radiation – radium-223 chloride – acts like calcium and sticks to bone.
Half were given the radium-223 chloride drug alongside traditional chemotherapy, while the other patients received chemotherapy and a dummy pill.
The death rate was 30% lower in the group taking radium-223. Those patients survived for 14 months on average compared to 11 months in the dummy group.
The trial was abandoned as “it would have been unethical not to offer the active treatment to those taking placebo”, said Dr Parker. “I think it will be a significant step forward for cancer patients”.
Researchers also said the treatment was safe. Curiously there were fewer side-effects in the group taking the treatment than those taking the dummy medicine.
The findings are being presented at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress but they have not yet been peer-reviewed by other academics.
Prof Gillies McKenna, Cancer Research UK’s radiotherapy expert and director of the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology, said: “This appears to be an important study using a highly targeted form of radiation to treat prostate cancer that has spread to the bones.
“This research looks very promising and could be an important addition to approaches available to treat secondary tumours – and should be investigated further.”
Health news from the media tonight reported that there is a blood test for cancer. Could this be the next medical game changer? The blood test for cancer technology was discovered by Boston scientists and is owned by Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is promising to help bring this new blood test to the market.
Blood Test for Cancer: Photo MSNBC
How long will it take? It is expected it will take Johnson & Johnson about two years to bring this blood test for cancer to the market. This simple blood test could then be available in your doctor’s office. This year, four cancer centers will begin studies on the cancer blood test.
This new blood test is so sensitive that it can identify a single cancer cell among masses of healthy blood cells. This single cell could become indicative of major cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, lung and prostate cancers developing in the future. This test would be like a liquid biopsy, removing the need for painful tissue sampling. It could even replace painful mammograms and colonoscopies.
The blood test for cancer shows lots of potential and could prove more reliable than diagnosing tumors through needle biopsies which don’t always provide enough of a sample for doctors to evaluate and then prescribe a possible method of treatment.
The following excerpt of this exciting health news from MSNBC.com explains further.
The only test on the market now to find tumor cells in blood — CellSearch, made by J&J’s Veridex unit — just gives a cell count. It doesn’t capture whole cells that doctors can analyze to choose treatments.
Interest in trying to collect these cells soared in 2007, after Haber and his colleagues published a study of Mass General’s test. It is far more powerful than CellSearch and traps cells intact. It requires only a couple of teaspoons of blood and can be done repeatedly to monitor treatment or determine why a drug has stopped working and what to try next.
“That’s what got the scientific community’s interest,” Kris said. Doctors can give a drug one day and sample blood the next day to see if the circulating tumor cells are gone, he explained.
The test uses a microchip that resembles a lab slide covered in 78,000 tiny posts, like bristles on a hairbrush. The posts are coated with antibodies that bind to tumor cells. When blood is forced across the chip, cells ping off the posts like balls in a pinball machine. The cancer cells stick, and stains make them glow so researchers can count and capture them for study.
The test can find one cancer cell in a billion or more healthy cells, said Mehmet Toner, a Harvard University bioengineer who helped design it. Researchers know this because they spiked blood samples with cancer cells and then searched for them with the chip.
Studies of the chip have been published in the journals Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine. It is the most promising of several dozen that companies and universities are rushing to develop to capture circulating tumor cells, said Bob McCormack, technology chief for Veridex.
The agreement announced Monday will have Veridex and J&J’s Ortho Biotech Oncology unit work to improve the microchip, including trying a cheaper plastic to make it practical for mass production. No price goal has been set, a company official said, but the current CellSearch test costs several hundred dollars.
For years now, aspirin has been called the “wonder drug.” What this has meant is that by taking a daily low dosage of aspirin, it has been found that aspirin benefits us as an anti-inflammatory and helps prevent heart disease.
Now it seems after research which took place over four years, Peter Rothwell of the University of Oxford writes in an article published in the Lancet, the medical journal, it has been found that aspirin may slightly reduce the cancer risk by about 20 per cent for colon cancer as well as other cancers such as esophagus cancer, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancers.
There may be a drawback for some people though. The daily usage of aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and bleeding in the intestines of some people.
The benefits for women taking a low dose aspirin have not been determined for sure as only a few women were used in the study. It is not known if the risk of breast cancer is reduced. The study was only performed with men who took 75 mg of aspirin a day. Have a conversation with your doctor if you think that you should be taking a low dose of aspirin on a daily basis. The study is not conclusive and this is perhaps the reason why you should speak to your doctor first before beginning to take a baby aspirin everyday for its health benefits.