Friday, January 10, 2020

New cancer treatment delivers weeks of radiation therapy in a second

A new form of FLASH radiation therapy, which delivers weeks' worth of radiation in a second to cancer patients, can be performed using existing equipment
A new form of FLASH radiation therapy, which delivers weeks' worth of radiation in a second to cancer patients, can be performed using existing equipment
Radiation therapy is currently our best shot at treating cancer, but it’s far from a perfect solution. It takes a course of weeks or even months, during which time healthy cells often become unfortunate collateral damage. But what if the whole course of treatment could be over in under a second? Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now shown just how this might be feasible.
With the right tools, cancer cells on their own aren’t all that difficult to kill. Radiation or drugs can be administered to kill them off relatively easily – the problem is tumors like to hide in crowds, and whatever weapons we fire at them also tend to hit healthy cells around them. Because radiation therapy takes weeks, there are more opportunities for those healthy cells to be affected, leading to all kinds of health problems even if the cancer is destroyed.
For the new study, researchers at Pennsylvania University found that by changing the type of fundamental particle used, they could make FLASH radiotherapy far more effective. Normally, electrons are the particles of choice for this method, but they don’t penetrate very deep into the body. That means they’re only really useful for shallower cancer types such as skin cancer.
In this case the researchers used protons, and showed that linear accelerators already in use in hospitals could be adapted to produce these particles. Since they can pass deeper into the body, they should be more useful against a wider range of tumor types.
The team tested it out on mice with pancreatic flank tumors, and found that the method did inhibit the growth of the cancers with roughly the same effectiveness as regular radiation therapy. Importantly though, the proton FLASH therapy reduced healthy cell loss and didn’t cause intestinal fibrosis, a common side effect of radiation therapy.
“This is the first time anyone has published findings that demonstrate the feasibility of using protons – rather than electrons – to generate FLASH doses, with an accelerator currently used for clinical treatments,” says James M. Metz, co-senior author of the study.
The researchers are currently working on how to translate the treatment to clinical trials. This includes designing a system that can deliver the proton radiation to humans.

Saturday, January 4, 2020


Note from a client:

“I bought a wig from you over the summer and have been wearing it for all professional and social occasions for about the last 6 weeks.

I’m still learning, but it’s starting to feel more normal. It surely feels like the best of my options for now.

Many of my close friends have complimented my great new haircut and say that they love the look with “more bangs.” We’ve had some good laughs when I quietly tell them that it’s “hair you wear” and they can’t’ believe it at first. Those moments have been great therapy!

Best of all, I’m starting to feel like myself again, in that I’m looking forward to going out and having fun living my life, as I always have.

Thanks for taking such good care of me back in July!”

I am an Oncology Nurse Clinician who experienced Breast Cancer. After chemotherapy I lost my hair. Susan’s Special Needs was founded in 1994 out of my personal frustration finding a salon that understood.  We have helped over 12,000 women experiencing hair loss from Chemotherapy, Alopecia and other medical treatment.

We are now “Susan’s @ Antonino Salon” to help you during the loss of your hair. We will help you decide what’s right for you. Depending upon your chemotherapy drug and cycle will determine how long you will be experiencing hair loss.

CALL 248-544-4287 FREE consultation to explore wig solutions right for you. We look forward to your visit. Susan's @ Antonino Salon, Birmingham, MI is by appointment only on Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Google’s AI breast cancer system spots tumors human experts miss

One in five breast cancers are not picked up by trained radiologists looking at mammograms, but AI can help improve this result
One in five breast cancers are not picked up by trained radiologists looking at mammograms, but AI can help improve this result
A new artificial intelligence system is proving more effective at detecting breast cancer in mammograms than trained radiologists. The software, developed by researchers from Google Health, is not designed to replace human radiologists but instead assist and speed up current diagnostic processes.
Although mammograms are the best diagnostic tool for uncovering breast cancer clinicians currently have at their disposal, they are not a perfect screening tool. One in five breast cancers are not picked up by trained radiologists looking at mammograms. At the other end of the spectrum around 50 percent of women receiving annual mammograms will have a false-positive finding at some point over a 10-year period.
The new AI system was trained on a dataset of nearly 100,000 mammograms. The newly published study, evaluating the performance of the predictive software, was tested on two large mammogram sets, one from the UK and the other from the US. Neither of the two new test datasets were used to train the AI system.
In the US dataset, the software performed significantly better than human experts, producing 5.7 percent fewer false positive diagnoses. Even more impressively, the system recorded 9.4 percent fewer false negatives, suggesting it picked up several breast cancers that human experts missed.
The results in the UK dataset were less impressive but still significant. In the UK mammograms are screened by two separate radiologists, generally reducing the volume of errors, yet the AI system still bested the human experts with 1.2 percent fewer false positives, and 2.7 percent fewer false negatives.
A second arm to this evaluation study was an independent “reader study” conducted by an external research organization. In this test six US radiologists were pitted against the AI system, evaluating 500 randomly sampled mammograms from the US dataset.
Again, the AI system significantly outperformed the human radiologists on average. However, the study does note that although there were cancers picked up by the AI that were missed by all six human experts, there was at least one case picked up by all six humans but completely missed by the AI system. No clear patterns were identified to explain why these particular cases resulted in significant differences between human and AI, but the Google researchers suggest the future of these tools lies in assisting human experts rather than entirely replacing them.
“This is a great demonstration of how these technologies can enable and augment the human expert,” explains Dominic King, one of the UK Google Health researchers working on the project. “The AI system is saying ‘I think there may be an issue here, do you want to check?’”
Daniel Tse, one of the US Google Health researchers working on the project, affirmed this idea to Stat News, suggesting the goal is not to replace human experts but instead find a way to deploy this software in clinical spaces to help reduce human error.
“We believe this is just the beginning,” says Tse. “There are things that these models and technology are really good at, and there are things that radiologists, who spend their whole lives doing this, are really good at.”
The new study was published in the journal Nature.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Study shows how mitochondria can shield cancer cells from chemotherapy

Mitochondria seen in red, cell nuclei (blue) and mtDNA (white dots)
Mitochondria seen in red, cell nuclei (blue) and mtDNA (white dots)
Chemotherapy is a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer, but the complex nature of the disease means that it doesn’t always produce the desired result. Scientists at the Salk Institute have been researching some of the cellular processes behind these evasive abilities, uncovering a new mechanism that could pave the way for new treatments that see chemotherapy maintain the upper hand.
The work was carried out at the Salk Institute’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, where medical scientists led by Gerry Shadel set out to investigate the role mitochondria might play in the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Mitochondria is best known as the power generator of the vast majority of cells, but the scientists have found that it can also act as an early warning sign when something’s not quite right. While most of the DNA we carry is packed inside the nucleus of the cell, mitochondria packs its own small set of DNA, called mtDNA.
When our cells become stressed or are under attack by viruses or chemicals, such as those in chemotherapy drugs, the mitochondria responds by releasing its mtDNA and instigating an immune response to get on top of the threat. When this happens, a set of genes called interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) spring into action.
These ISGs perform the role of shielding the DNA inside the cell’s nucleus. Unfortunately, it plays the same protective role when it comes to chemotherapy drugs that target the DNA inside cancer cells. The team observed this process at play in melanoma cancer cells grown in culture, and again in mice, where higher levels of ISGs led to higher resistance to chemotherapy drug doxyrubicin.
In this way, the mitochondria acts as a “canary in a coal mine” according to the researchers, serving as an early warning that the cells are under attack. But when this release of mtDNA is triggered by doxyrubicin, it has the undesired effect of protecting the nuclear DNA the drug is designed to attack. With this new understanding, however, comes potential new ways to intervene.
“It says to me that if you can prevent damage to mitochondrial DNA or its release during cancer treatment, you might prevent this form of chemotherapy resistance,” Shadel says.
Shadel and his colleagues are now working towards follow up studies to better understand these processes. The research has been published in the journal Nature Metabolism.
Source: Salk Institute

Monday, December 2, 2019

NO FLYING WIGS – Human Hair. Human/Hair Synthetic. Synthetic.

I am an Oncology Nurse Clinician and experienced Breast Cancer. I was totally unprepared for the patient side. I navigated through a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment. Wham. I began losing my hair. I had no idea what products and services were available. I found a salon that sold wigs and made my appointment. The salon had chair stations overlooking the parking lot. Now with my hair now dripping off my head I tried on a bunch of wigs and found one that I thought would work. I sadly drove home with my wig in a bag to figure it out for myself.

Taking a break after chemotherapy our family was off to Disney World for some well-deserved family fun. One of our first rides was Splash Mountain. Thanks to our daughter’s fast reaction she caught my wig as it started flying off my head.  There had to be a better way – Susan’s Special Needs custom wig fitting business was born.

We are now Susan’s @ Antonino Salon here to help you during the loss of your hair whether from chemotherapy, alopecia or other. Depending upon your chemotherapy drug and cycle will determine how long you will be experiencing hair loss. That will help you decide what is right for you - Synthetic, Human Hair/Synthetic Blend, Human Hair.

CALL 248-544-4287 FREE consultation to explore wig solutions right for you. We look forward to your visit. Susan's @ Antonino Salon, Birmingham, MI is by appointment only on Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Exercise Advice for Surviving Cancer, and Maybe Avoiding It

New guidelines say exercise may help cancer patients live longer, or help you avoid getting cancer in the first place.
CreditCreditKendrick Brinson for The New York Times
Even a little exercise may help people avoid and survive many types of cancer, according to new exercise guidelines released today that focus on how exercise affects cancer outcomes.
The guidelines, issued jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society and 15 other international organizations, update almost decade-old recommendations with new science and specific advice about how much and what types of exercise may be the most needed, helpful and tolerable for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer is, of course, one of the world’s most common major diseases, with more than 18 million people globally diagnosed with some form of the condition in 2018. It also is often treatable and today, millions of people are cancer survivors.
But there are high fiscal and physical costs related to cancer. Treatments, while frequently effective, can leave people feeling ill, anxious, exhausted and frail, and may cause collateral damage to the heart or other parts of the body.
So, physicians, therapists and scientists, working with cancer patients, continue to look for accessible, inexpensive ways to improve the lives of cancer patients and also, more fundamentally, reduce the risk that someone will develop cancer in the first place.
Exercise was an obvious candidate. Whether aerobic or resistance, exercise is known to build strength, fight fatigue and lift gloom. But many researchers, clinicians, patients and their families have worried that it might be unsafe for people with cancer; that it might, somehow, make people’s condition worse.
In 2008, a large group of researchers convened to comb through the available science about exercise and cancer and decide if there was enough evidence to tell patients that they could and even should work out. In 2010, the group published its recommendations, which amounted to saying that exercise appeared to be safe for most people with cancer and they should try, in general, to be active.
Since then, however, there has been “exponential growth” in research related to exercise and cancer, says Kathryn Schmitz, a professor of public health and cancer control at Penn State University and the immediate past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.
So, last year, she and almost 40 other researchers from 17 international health groups gathered to determine whether there was sufficient evidence now to refine the recommendations about cancer and exercise. The group wound up gathering hundreds of studies involving animals and people that examined the impacts of exercise on dozens of aspects of cancer risk and cancer recovery.
And they concluded that there was more than enough evidence to start suggesting that exercise should be a part of standard treatment for most people with cancer. They also found that exercise should be considered a means to substantially drop the risk of developing cancer in the first place.
Specifically, the scientists, in separate reviews being published today in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, report that physically active people have as much as 69 percent less risk of being diagnosed with certain cancers than sedentary people. Exercise seems to be especially potent at lessening the likelihood of developing seven common malignancies, the new recommendations add: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophageal and stomach cancers.
The recommendations also point out that, in multiple recent studies, exercise changed the trajectory of cancer once it began. In animal experiments cited in the new reviews, exercise altered the molecular environment around some tumors, stalling or even halting their growth. And in people, exercising during and after cancer treatment was associated with longer subsequent life spans, the reviews found.
Exercise also seems to lessen cancer patients’ feelings of anxiety or depression and their sometimes debilitating fatigue, the new recommendations report.
And while there had been some concern that exercise might increase the risks for or severity of upper-body lymphedema, the swelling and fluid retention that is common among women recovering from breast cancer, exercise was not associated with an increased risk
Based on these findings, the authors of the new recommendations conclude that people with cancer should aim to exercise at least three times per week at a moderate intensity, such as by brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes, and also try to lift weights twice a week, if possible.
These recommendations are a bit lighter than the standard, governmental guidelines for the general public, which call for moderate aerobic exercise five times per week, plus several sessions of weight training.
Dr. Schmitz says the available science indicates that working out three times a week is the most likely to be feasible and safe for almost everyone with cancer. “The evidence is clear that going from nothing” — from being totally sedentary — “to something is helpful” for people completing or recovering from cancer treatment, she says. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, but for those who are able to, she adds, “more is better.”
She and her colleagues hope that future studies will help to pin down more precise, granular doses of exercise that doctors can prescribe to aid in cancer treatment and prevention in general and against specific types of cancer in particular. They also hope to determine whether or not there is any upper limit on the amount of healthy exercise for people with cancer.
But for now, Dr. Schmitz says, the primary recommendation she and her colleagues would offer to anyone dealing with or hoping to avoid cancer is: “Get up. Move. It’s so simple and so essential. Get up and move.”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

No Painkillers, No Pain

dental exam using pink light.
Preventing one of the worst side effects of cancer treatment, without drugs.
There is now a dramatically improved line of defense against oral mucositis, a common and often debilitating side effect of cancer treatment.
It’s light.
People undergoing radiation and other forms of cancer treatment are at high risk of developing oral mucositis, or extremely painful ulcers in the mouth. According to new worldwide guidelines co-authored by a University at Buffalo researcher, a form of low-dose light treatment—called photobiomodulation therapy—can now be considered a go-to remedy for many of those patients. This therapy can effectively prevent one of the worst aspects of treating cancer, not only improving quality of life during treatment but also potentially improving outcomes by encouraging completion of treatment regimens.

An all-too-common problem

The mouth sores associated with oral mucositis can make talking and eating difficult, derail treatment, and even result in hospitalization and a feeding tube. And the condition is prevalent, affecting close to 40% of patients on chemotherapy, nearly 70% of those getting stem cell transplants and almost 80% of those receiving radiation therapy.
Opioid painkillers are frequently prescribed to counter the pain, but those come with their own problematic side effects, including the potential for addiction.

A safer solution

Light therapies have existed for decades. At a high power, often in the form of a laser, light is used to cut or destroy tissue. But at a low level, it has the ability to relieve pain and promote healing.
“I have increasingly appreciated the role of light as a fundamental element for health,” says Praveen Arany, assistant professor of oral biology and biomedical engineering at UB and president of the World Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (WALT). Arany’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of low-dose light therapy, as well as making it more affordable and effective. He is currently testing a device that would allow people to self-administer the therapy at home.
Arany is among 16 global experts who issued the new guidelines. Among other findings, they identified five new protocols, recommending light therapy for stem cell transplant patients and head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. No major short-term side effects were reported.
“This is a major milestone for the field,” Arany says. “We are confident these guidelines will provide a clear path for several exciting clinical applications, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease to depression, age-related macular degeneration, arthritis, hair loss, wound healing and more.”