Cancer Research

New prostate screening guidelines recommend that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test not be used to screen for prostate cancer based on evidence that shows uncertain benefits and   an increased risk of harm. 

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men and the third most common cause of death from cancer in men in Canada and elsewhere. In modern times, the prognosis for most prostate cancers is good with a 10-year survival rate of 95%. Prostate cancer is generally slow to progress and today is usually not life-threatening. 

The researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute discovered that the ties which lash cells together - controlled by a protein called TIAM1 - are chopped up when cell maintenance work goes wrong.

Diagnostic screening systems for breast cancer like X-ray computed tomography (CT) and mammography are effective at detecting early signs of tumors but they subject patients to ionizing radiation and sometimes inflicting discomfort on women who are undergoing screening, because of the compression of the breast that is required to produce diagnostically useful images. 

Effective treatments for lung cancer has been challenging because so many genetic mutations play a role in the disease. Mutations, by their very definition, are difficult to predict, they occur due to random cosmic rays over time and in other natural ways, and can be aggravated by some aspects of the environment.

But by analyzing the DNA and RNA of lung cancers, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that patients whose tumors contained a large number of gene fusions had worse outcomes than patients with fewer gene fusions. Gene fusions are a type of genetic anomaly found in cancers that occurs when genes get rearranged and fuse together. 

Although prostate cancer will affect over 23,000 U.S. men next year, the individual genes that initiate prostate cancer formation are poorly understood, but finding an enzyme that regulates this process could provide excellent new prevention approaches for the malignancy.

Sirtuin enzymes have been implicated in neurodegeneration, obesity, heart disease, and cancer and a new paper in The American Journal of Pathology finds that the loss of SIRT1 drives the formation of early prostate cancer (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia) in mouse models of the disease. 

Mobile Phones - No Link To Cancer

Although some members of the public express concern that mobile phones may cause cancer no credible evidence exists for a causal link between cancer and the weak magnetic fields associated with mobile phones.

A paper published today* by a team from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology in Interface, a Journal of the Royal Society, following a study of the effects of weak magnetic fields on key human proteins shows that such weak fields have no detectable impact on flavoproteins.

Targeted therapy with radiopharmaceuticals - radioactive compounds used in nuclear medicine for diagnosis or treatment - has a lot of potential to more effectively kill cancer cells that have migrated from primary tumors to lymph nodes and secondary organs such as bone marrow.

Disseminated tumor cells can be difficult to treat with a single targeting agent because there are dramatic differences in the number of targetable receptors in each cell.

Women over the age of 70 with certain early-stage breast cancers don't get much benefit from radiation therapy, according to studies, but they still get it.  The reason is because doctors were able to make decisions that overruled the published evidence and every patient wanted to take no chances.

Now, with government increasingly controlling health care in the United States, the search is one for ways to lessen such "defensive medicine" and cut costs. The problem is that it will be difficult to tell doctors and patients they won't get what was previously considered standard care under a free market system now that more treatments are determined by government panels.

For many men, the down sides of PSA testing outweigh the benefits. Gerald Streiter/Flickr, CC BY-NC

By Ian Haines, Monash University

If you're at high risk of skin cancer, check your skin regularly. Roman Königshofer/Flickr, CC BY-ND

By H. Peter Soyer, The University of Queensland and Anna Finnane, The University of Queensland