Cancer Research

Primary care providers are put in a difficult position when screening their male patients for prostate cancer--some guidelines suggest that testing the general population lacks evidence whereas others state that it is appropriate in certain patients. Now a new perspective piece offers some guidance on when to screen patients and how to involve them in decisions about screening and treatment.


Three prime ministers and nearly three years ago, “first bloke” Tim Mathieson caused a brouhaha with his advice on prostate cancer screening:

We can get a blood test for it, but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small Asian female doctor is probably the best way.

It was the “small Asian female” part of this statement that attracted criticism, but what of the rest of his advice?

Why elephants rarely get cancer is a mystery that has stumped scientists for decades.  


The rising cost of treating and caring for a growing number of cancer patients threatens economic development in low and middle income countries (LMICs), making prevention a key element of health care plans, according to a new commentary.

Authored by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the American Cancer Society, and Imperial College of London, the commentary says in the absence of the implementation of prevention, LMICs will not have the resources to diagnose and treat all new cancer patients, and the economic burden will soon become unsustainable. The commentary appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).


Lung cancer screening programs that utilize standardized reporting and include cardiothoracic surgeons as part of a multidisciplinary team can successfully be adopted into clinical practice without an increase in surgical intervention for non-cancerous disease, according to an article in the October 2015 issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Key points

  • Lung cancer screening programs can be safely and effectively adopted in clinical practice with low rates of surgical intervention for non-cancerous disease

  • Surgical intervention for a non-cancer diagnosis was rare, at 0.24%, which is comparable to the National Lung Screening Trial.


  • Patients with advanced gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) have limited treatment options and there are few oncologists who are specialized in this relatively rare disease. But now results from a multi-center randomized international trial of an innovative treatment show a marked improvement in the length of time patients with mid-gut NETs live without the disease getting worse (progression-free survival, or PFS), researchers reported to the 2015 European Cancer Congress.


    High circulating levels of cardiovascular hormones/peptides in cancer patients have been linked to shorter survival, regardless of disease type and stage of progression in a new paper.

    These chemicals, known as biomarkers, are apparent in the absence of any clinical signs of heart disease or infection, and before the start of anti-cancer treatment, some of which is known to damage heart tissue, say the researchers.

    Levels of cardiovascular hormones/peptides have been used to monitor the severity and progression of heart tissue damage as a result of either chemotherapy or radiotherapy. But what has not been clear is whether the cancer itself may affect the levels of these chemicals.


    Western University researchers are working on a way to use artificial intelligence to predict a patient's response to two common chemotherapy medications used to treat breast cancer - paclitaxel and gemcitabine.

    Peter Rogan, PhD, and a team of researchers, including Stephanie Dorman, PhD, and Katherina Baranova, BMSc, at Western's Schulich School of Medicine&Dentistry, are hoping to one day remove the guesswork from breast cancer treatment with this technique.

    Based on personal genetic analysis of their tumours, patients with the same type of cancer can have different responses to the same medication. While some patients will respond well and go into remission, others will develop a resistance to the medication.


    Researchers have identified for the first time the triple mechanism that stops chromosome separation in response to situations that compromise the integrity of the genetic information. The loss of this response capacity is characteristic of cancerous cells.

    Cell proliferation requires the chromosomes to be copied (replicated) and distributed (segregated) to the two future daughter cells. Cells continually undergo spontaneous alterations (injuries) to the DNA that makes up the chromosomes, because of their aqueous (reactive) environment, for example. In response to DNA injuries, cells put a stop to the cell division cycle, in order to allow time for the injuries to be repaired and prevent the transmission of damaged, incompletely replicated chromosomes.


    Engineers have developed a new medical device aimed at improving diagnostic procedures for various cancers. The Tadpole Endoscope is like a micro-robot fish with a camera which is swallowed by the patient.

    It is different from existing wireless capsule endoscopes by addition of a soft tail that allows it to be guided around the stomach remotely by a doctor, allowing for more comprehensive imaging and accurate location of problems within the body.