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Welcome to the Cancer Health Forums, a round-the-clock discussion area for people who have any type of cancer, their friends and family and others with questions about living with cancer. Check in frequently to read what others have to say, post your comments, and hopefully learn more about how you can reach your own health goals.

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Messages - Cancer Health Editors

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The composition of bacteria in the digestive tract may affect how well immunotherapy for cancer treatment works, according to two studies recently published in Science magazine.

One study found that people with more diverse gut bacteria responded better to PD-1 checkpoint blockers for treatment of advanced melanoma. The other showed that certain types of bacteria influenced the effectiveness of these drugs for epithelial tumors.

In recent years, a growing body of research has shown that intestinal bacteria, known as the gut microbiome, play a role in many health conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to HIV infection. They may also affect the likelihood of developing cancer and how well treatment will work.

Rather than attacking cancer directly, like traditional chemotherapy, immunotherapy helps the immune system recognize and fight cancer cells. PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors are monoclonal antibodies that block the PD-1 receptor on T cells, the main soldiers of the immune system. Some tumors can use PD-1 to turn off immune responses against them. Drugs that block PD-1 can release the brakes and restore T-cell activity against cancer cells.


In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HairToStay hosted a fundraiser at Charles Chocolates on Sunday, October 15. Though the event was dubbed “Chillin’ with Charles,” the rare warm San Francisco sun put the gourmet chocolates at risk of melting.

Bethany Hornthal founded HairToStay to provide subsidies for automated scalp cooling technology to prevent hair loss during cancer treatment. Automated systems like Dignitana’s DigniCap replace older cooling caps that must be kept in a freezer and switched out frequently during therapy. Paxman, Penguin Cold Caps and others also make automated scalp cooling systems.

Last year only around 30 medical centers in the United States offered automated scalp cooling and it was FDA-approved only for breast cancer, Hornthal said. Today scalp cooling is available at over 100 centers and it is approved for people with any type of solid tumor. However, it is still seldom covered by insurance.

Read more about the event here...

Cancer treatments are notoriously hard on patients, as more often than not, they cause unpleasant side effects. But findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that reporting these complications sooner rather than later may increase how long folks live, reports the Associated Press.

For the study, researchers selected 766 people being treated for a variety of advanced cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Scientists divided individuals into two groups: those who received regular care and those who used an online tool to log common symptoms related to therapy, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, fatigue and pain.

Participants noted any difficulties they experienced at least once a week or sooner if they had a particular issue. Doctors viewed reports during checkups with patients, and nurses received email alerts when anyone suffered severe side effects. (Nurses responded immediately about 80 percent of the time and requested medicines to relieve patients’ pain or other issues.)


Cancer Research News & Studies / Sugar Stimulates Cancer Growth
« on: October 27, 2017, 03:20:40 pm »
Studies have shown that some foods increase the risk of developing cancer. Now, new study findings published in Nature Communications suggest that there’s a link between sugar and tumor growth.

For the nine-year study, researchers from Belgium looked to determine the correlation between “the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness.” The Warburg effect refers to the process by which cancer cells produce energy via the fermentation of glucose, which leads to tumor growth. For their experiment, scientists used yeast cells, since their fermentation process is similar to that of cells.

Findings revealed that sugar not only causes tumors to grow but also makes cells multiply faster. The sugar also produces more Ras proteins, known to be the most common cancer-causing genes, which help fuel aggressive tumors.


Researchers who study exceptional responders—patients who have dramatic and long-lasting responses to treatments for cancer that were not effective for most similar patients—met recently to exchange ideas and discuss the state of the science in this emerging field.

The NCI-sponsored meeting, held May 11 at NCI’s Shady Grove campus in Rockville, Maryland, featured updates on the Exceptional Responders Initiative, a pilot study that aims to gain insights into the biological mechanisms that give rise to these unusual responses to treatments.

By analyzing tumors from exceptional responders, the researchers hope to identify the genetic and molecular changes that underlie their responses to treatment. Such studies could also reveal biomarkers that could be used to predict responses to the same or similar treatments in other patients.


Hi Frank,

Check out our slide show of celebrity men with prostate cancer -- many of them faced the same decision you're facing:


A treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer significantly increased progression-free survival for people with Stage III non-small-cell lung cancer, according to results from the PACIFIC trial presented this week at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Madrid.

More than half of patients treated with Imfinzi (durvalumab) following radiation and chemotherapy were still alive with no worsening of disease after one year, compared with just over a third of those who received a placebo. The median progression-free survival duration was 16.8 months in the Imfinzi group and 5.6 months in the placebo group.

Non-small-cell lung cancer, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all lung cancers, is often detected late and has a high mortality rate. It is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Research shows that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Now, new findings published in The Lancet suggest that a new and improved vaccine can stop cancer of the cervix and other cancers associated with this group of related viruses.

There are currently 13 types of HPV associated with cancer development, and HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers. The HPV vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil protect against HPV 16 and 18, while Gardasil is also effective against HPV 6 and 11. Scientists developed 9vHPV, also known as Gardasil 9, to target HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 as well as five others (HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer.

To assess the new vaccine, researchers from 18 countries and 105 study sites conducted a Phase III clinical trial. Scientist randomly assigned 14,215 women between ages 16 and 26 to receive either a Gardasil 9 or a Gardasil vaccine and tracked them for six years after the vaccination.


On September 28, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Verzenio (abemaciclib), a kinase inhibitor that disrupts cancer growth, for people with certain types of advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has progressed despite hormone therapy.

The approval was supported by data from a Phase III trial that showed that women who took Verzenio plus the estrogen blocker Faslodex (fulvestrant) after hormone therapy stopped working held off disease progression for nearly twice as long as those who took a placebo.

Breast cancer is classified by the kind of receptors it expresses. A majority of breast tumors carry hormone receptors for estrogen or progesterone (known as HR-positive). Estrogen and progesterone encourage the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, and treatment usually includes hormone-blocking drugs. Other tumors express a receptor called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). Triple-negative breast cancer doesn’t express any of these receptors.

The FDA approved Verzenio for adults with HR-positive/HER2-negative advanced or metastatic (spread elsewhere in the body) breast cancer that has progressed after taking hormone blockers. More than 70 percent of all breast cancers are HR-positive and HER2-negative, according to the American Cancer Society.


Should all men be screened for prostate cancer? Despite a large and growing body of evidence, this remains a vexing question. New research continues to shed more light on the benefits and risks of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, but experts continue to disagree about how the pluses and minuses balance out.

PSA screening can detect aggressive prostate cancer, allowing for earlier and more effective treatment. But routine testing can also diagnose slow-growing cancer in men who will likely die of other causes, and unnecessary treatment can lead to reduced quality of life. In April, an expert task force recommended that men should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their provider and make decisions guided by their personal preferences.

Cancer of the prostate, a gland near the bladder that produces seminal fluid, is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States and the third-leading cause of cancer death among men, according to the American Cancer Society.


A new type of targeted cancer therapy shrinks tumors that carry a specific genetic mutation regardless of where they may be located in the body, researchers reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting this week in Chicago.

Studies showed that 76 percent of people with 17 types of cancers responded to treatment with larotrectinib, an agent that acts against tumors with tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) fusions. Larotrectnib is the first cancer drug to be developed simultaneously for adult and pediatric populations, and treatment was effective in both groups.

“This really brings us into a new era where treatment is truly based on mutation, not location,” Sumanta Kumar Pal, MD, from City of Hope cancer center said at an ASCO press briefing.


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