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Archive for the ‘Cancer treatment’ Category

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/04/2264878.htm

Brisbane scientists target cause of prostate cancer

Brisbane scientists say they are conducting a world-first study to pinpoint the cause of prostate cancer.

Eight-hundred men identified as having a hereditary risk of developing the cancer will take part in the study.

Queensland Cancer Council spokeswoman Suzanne Steginga says the sons and brothers of the men taking part also have double the risk of developing it themselves.

She says the findings will be used to develop education resources to assist men detect the cancer early.

“What we will be doing is contributing to the international efforts to better understand how the relatives of men with prostate cancer cope and manage, what their worries are and how we can support them,” she said.

Bill McHugh is a prostate cancer survivor and says while more men know about the risks, not enough take them seriously.

“There’s a lot of research being carried out so I think the awareness now is much greater, but men still have the belief they are bulletproof and it won’t happen to them,” he said.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/25/2254815.htm

Petrol prices ‘threatening rural dialysis patients’

Kidney Health Australia says the rising cost of petrol is threatening dialysis patients in regional Australia.

Two thousand people across the country have to travel to dialysis three times a week.

Some are spending hours travelling, and are entitled to financial reimbursement of just 13 cents a kilometre if they travel more than 75 kilometres.

Anne Wilson from Kidney Health Australia says the patients have enough to deal with, without adding the burden of petrol prices.

“Really what Kidney Health Australia is doing is calling for a bit of a review of the petrol safety net to ensure that people in this category can still attend their lifesaving treatment, because otherwise they die,” she said.

Kidney Health Australia says the rising cost of petrol is threatening dialysis patients in regional Australia.

Two thousand people across the country have to travel to dialysis three times a week.

Some are spending hours travelling, and are entitled to financial reimbursement of just 13 cents a kilometre if they travel more than 75 kilometres.

Anne Wilson from Kidney Health Australia says the patients have enough to deal with, without adding the burden of petrol prices.

“Really what Kidney Health Australia is doing is calling for a bit of a review of the petrol safety net to ensure that people in this category can still attend their lifesaving treatment, because otherwise they die,” she said.

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Cancer, heart disease and crashes set to be big killers: WHO

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Deaths from road accidents, cancer and heart disease are set to soar over the next 20 years as the developing world’s populations get richer and live longer, according to a study out this week.

As low and middle-income economies grow by 2030, mortality rates from noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and road crashes due to increased car-ownership, will make up more than 30 per cent of deaths worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found.

Meanwhile, deaths from factors currently associated with the developing world, such as nutritional deficiencies, malaria and tuberculosis, will fall, the Geneva-based organisation said in its “World Health Statistics 2008.”

“Globally, deaths from cancer will increase from 7.4 million in 2004 to 11.8 million in 2030, and deaths from cardiovascular diseases will rise from 17.1 million to 23.4 million in the same period,” the survey stated.

“Deaths due to road traffic accidents will increase from 1.3 million in 2004 to 2.4 million in 2030, primarily owing to increased motor vehicle ownership and use associated with economic growth in low- and middle-income countries.

The WHO statistics found that this increase in deaths from noncommunicable diseases will be accompanied by “large declines in mortality for the main communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional causes, including HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria.”

However, deaths worldwide from HIV/AIDS are expected to rise from 2.2 million in 2008 to a maximum of 2.4 million in 2012 before declining to 1.2 million in 2030.

Deaths from road accidents, cancer and heart disease are set to soar over the next 20 years as the developing world’s populations get richer and live longer, according to a study out this week.

As low and middle-income economies grow by 2030, mortality rates from noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and road crashes due to increased car-ownership, will make up more than 30 per cent of deaths worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found.

Meanwhile, deaths from factors currently associated with the developing world, such as nutritional deficiencies, malaria and tuberculosis, will fall, the Geneva-based organisation said in its “World Health Statistics 2008.”

“Globally, deaths from cancer will increase from 7.4 million in 2004 to 11.8 million in 2030, and deaths from cardiovascular diseases will rise from 17.1 million to 23.4 million in the same period,” the survey stated.

“Deaths due to road traffic accidents will increase from 1.3 million in 2004 to 2.4 million in 2030, primarily owing to increased motor vehicle ownership and use associated with economic growth in low- and middle-income countries.

The WHO statistics found that this increase in deaths from noncommunicable diseases will be accompanied by “large declines in mortality for the main communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional causes, including HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria.”

However, deaths worldwide from HIV/AIDS are expected to rise from 2.2 million in 2008 to a maximum of 2.4 million in 2012 before declining to 1.2 million in 2030.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/20/2249649.htm

Brisbane scientists close to pain-free chemo

Side effects from traditional cancer treatments could soon be a thing of the past thanks to the work of a group of Brisbane scientists.

Doctor Nick Saunders from the University of Queensland says it should soon be possible to treat cancer patients with pain-free, highly-effective and selective chemotherapy.

Traditional chemotherapy kills any dividing cells in the body, not just cancerous ones, and can cause severe side effects.

Dr Saunders says the new developments should also help ease the community’s fears about cancer and its treatments.

“Unfortunately, because of the fear of cancer, people have a tendency to not present as early as they should,” he said.

“If people start to realise that the drugs that are coming through are going to be effective and not going to be associated with these side effects, then I think we’ll see people presenting a lot earlier.”

He says the improvements should lead to a significant reduction in the number of people dying from cancer.

“Whilst we certainly haven’t cured cancer, I think over the next decade we’re going to see some real advances in cancer treatments, and that should lead to a great deal more optimism amongst the community.”

Dr Saunders will present his research at a Brisbane Institute seminar today.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/09/2212348.htm

Researcher to develop extra cervical cancer vaccine

The man who pioneered the cervical cancer vaccine is working on another one, to help women who already have the cancer or the infection that causes it.

Professor Ian Frazer developed the vaccine Gardasil, which is used to prevent cervical cancer, but it can only be given to women who do not have the human papilloma virus (HPV).

He told a vaccine conference in Canberra he is hoping that soon he will have a second vaccine for those with the virus.

“Our research work’s focused very heavily on cervical cancer, because there are a very large number of women in the developing world who have been infected with the papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer,” he said.

“And the vaccines that we have to prevent infection can’t help them.”

Professor Frazer says he is cautiously optimistic the new vaccine will be available within the next decade.

“We’re really hoping to develop vaccines that will be able to treat people who have either got cancer, or who are very much at risk of it because of infections they already have,” he said.

“These vaccines are very different from the vaccines that we have at the moment, which are designed to prevent infection, rather than treat something that’s already there.”

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/08/2210869.htm

Breast cancer drug to be added to PBS

Australian women with advanced breast cancer will have cheaper access to the drug Tykerb from next month.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the drug will soon be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Ms Roxon says the medicine currently costs patients up to $4,000 each month.

“That’s a lot of money for most people to try to find and impossible for some,” she said.

“Putting it on the PBS means it will be available just with the general co-payment that patients pay and will put it within reach of many, many women who might otherwise not have been able to get this drug.”

Meanwhile, Ms Roxon says Government-subsidised immunisations will be spared from any budget cuts.

She has launched an updated immunisation guide for health workers and parents, five years since the previous guide, and she says it is an important step in preventative health.

Ms Roxon says she has guaranteed existing immunisation funding will not be touched in the May budget.

“There’s no plans for us to be cutting any funding to immunisation programs,” she said.

“These are well-established parts of the health system, they’ve been strongly supported by Liberal and Labor governments in the past; this is core work for us.”

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/01/2204679.htm

Starvation could kill tumours: study

By Jennifer Macey

Researchers starved mice for two days before giving them higher doses of anti-cancer drugs and found an improvement in their response to the treatment (file photo).

Chemo boost: Researchers starved mice for two days before giving them higher doses of anti-cancer drugs and found an improvement in their response to the treatment (file photo). (Getty Images: Simon Baker)

Most cancer research is focused on killing tumour cells, but scientists from the University of Southern California have tried a new approach.

The researchers have found that starvation could potentially boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy used on cancer patients.

They starved mice for two days before giving them higher doses of anti-cancer drugs and found an improvement in the animals’ response to the treatment.

They wanted to increase the body’s protection against the toxicity of chemotherapy while ensuring the cancer cells are still targeted.

But an Australian palliative care expert says patients undergoing chemotherapy need to be well-nourished to cope with the toxic drugs.

The University of California’s assistant professor of gerontology and biological science, Valter Longo, says the mice were given a much higher dose of chemotherapy.

“On the mice, we used a very high dose of chemo about three-fold, at least, higher than the maximum allowed for human studies,” he said.

“The mice basically seemed like they were completely unaffected by the chemo, but the cancer cells that we injected in the mice were still killed by the high-dose chemo.”

Dr Longo says healthy cells that had been artificially starved were 1,000 times better protected compared to those that were not.

“In simple systems in the baker’s yeast, we got to 1,000 fold separation between normal cells and cancer-like cells in the response to chemotherapy,” he said.

“So if we can just get to say 10 to 20 fold separation in clinical patients, you see how it is a completely different story for the toxicity of chemotherapy in humans, but also for the ability to go after more aggressive cancers that usually kill the patient.”

Contrary findings

Australian cancer experts are more cautious about the study’s findings.

Doctor Paul Glare heads the Palliative Care Department at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and has studied nutrition in cancer patients.

He says it is difficult to transfer laboratory test results into humans.

“As I say, I haven’t seen the research and I believe they’re talking about short-term starvation for 48 hours or whatever before the chemotherapy is given,” he said.

“[I] couldn’t comment on that so much, but I think people really need to be very well-nourished to tolerate chemotherapy and often malnutrition is a reason why oncologists can’t give people chemotherapy because their body can’t cope with the toxicity of the chemotherapy.

“So all our oncology nutritional guidelines around the world, including in Australia, are really trying to get people to eat as well as possible and maintain their weight as well as possible throughout their treatment and I think, you know, unless we really had clear evidence that in humans it made a difference to the outcomes of the treatment to starve them, I think it would be contrary to everything that’s been understood so far in this field.”

Dr Longo says he will soon be conducting clinical trials to starve bladder cancer patients two days before their treatment.

But he also warns that these latest findings cannot yet be applied to humans.

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