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Breast Cancer
Study questions 'cancer stem cell' hypothesis in breast cancer
By Dross at 2007-03-13 22:17

BOSTON -- A Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study challenges the hypothesis that "cancer stem cells" – a small number of self-renewing cells within a tumor – are responsible for breast cancer progression and recurrence, and that wiping out these cells alone could cure the disease.

Instead, the scientists report in the March issue of Cancer Cell that they have identified two genetically distinct populations of cancer cells in samples of human breast tumors – one of the types being a cell recently proposed by other scientists to be a true breast cancer stem cell.

"If the breast cancer cells were all coming from a single cancer stem cell, you might be able to cure the disease with just one drug," said Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber, senior author of the paper. "But our findings suggest that the tumor cells come from a ‘stem-like’ progenitor cell, and then diverge genetically, so I think you have to treat both cell types."

read more | 2656 reads

Study aims to find which breast cancer patients need chemotherapy
By Dross at 2007-03-13 22:06

Most postmenopausal women with small breast tumors don’t need chemotherapyterm to reduce their recurrence risk after lumpectomy.

To try to determine who does, a test that measures a tumor’s aggressiveness based on its DNA will be tested nationally in more than 10,000 of these women.

“The dilemma physicians have with these patients is, because they have such small tumors, it’s hard to tell who needs chemotherapy,” said Dr. Thomas A. Samuel, Medical College of Georgia hematologist/oncologist specializing in breast cancer and a study principal investigator.

read more | 1001 reads

Mechanisms Involved with Tumor Relapse Identified
By Dross at 2007-03-13 21:46

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center studying the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells have identified interferon gamma as one of the signaling proteins involved with tumor relapse.

The findings may help researchers develop tailored vaccines and other immunotherapeutic strategies to fight a number of cancers. Immunotherapy involves the manipulation of the immune system – by introducing an antibodyterm or lymphocytes, or immunization with a tumor vaccine – to recognize and eradicate tumor cells.

Using a transgenic mouse model of breast cancer, researchers found that interferon gamma, a cytokine or chemical messenger that is produced by cells of the immune system upon activation, plays a role in tumor relapse. In humans, interferon gamma is also produced by white blood cells of the immune system in response to invasion by pathogens or tumors in order to protect the host against infection or cancers. Production of interferon gamma by lymphocytes against tumors is considered a sign of good prognosis; however, recent study findings indicate that this may not be the case. The findings were reported in the March 2007 issue of the European Journal of Immunology, the official journal of the European Federation of Immunological Societies.

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Breast Cancer Treatment Heats Up
By Dross at 2007-03-07 05:22



In the March Journal of Nuclear Medicine, researchers demonstrate that miniscule bioprobes could be produced and used with molecularly targeted therapeutic heat to kill malignant breast cancer cells—without damaging nearby healthy tissue.

While many researchers have studied using heat in treating cancer, “the inability to deposit effective doses of heat in a tumor without applying similar heat to nearby normal tissue has prevented widespread clinical use,” said Sally J. DeNardo, professor of internal medicine and radiology with the School of Medicine at the University of California Davis in Sacramento. “Our animal study, which combined the future-oriented sciences of nanotechnology and molecular imaging, shows that a method for delivering thermal ablation—removing or destroying cancer cells by using heat—is feasible,” added the co-director of the university’s radiodiagnosis and therapy section. “This exciting study—combining radiolabeled antibodies with nanoparticles or bioprobes—provides a new approach to direct thermal ablation specifically to tumor cells,” she noted. DeNardo stressed that this heat treatment is in the preclinical, developmental stage, having been used only in lab mice; additional tests will need to be performed with cancer patients.

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Breast cancer survivors experience long-term heart disease risk from radiotherapy
By Dross at 2007-03-07 05:20



Women who were treated with radiation for breast cancer during the 1980s may be at an increased risk for heart disease compared with the general population, according to a new study in the March 7 Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Despite this increased risk of heart disease, radiation therapy has been previously shown to improve the chances of surviving breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients treated with radiation therapy during the 1970s are thought to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but those treatment procedures are now considered obsolete. However, studies on the association between more modern radiation therapies and cardiovascular disease in breast cancer survivors have been inconclusive.

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UC Davis researchers use heated nanoprobes to destroy breast cancer cells in mice
By Dross at 2007-03-07 05:06

In experiments with laboratory mice that bear aggressive human breast cancers, UC Davis researchers have used hot nanoprobes to slow the growth of tumors -- without damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The researchers describe their work in the March issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

"We have demonstrated that the system is feasible in laboratory mice. The next step will be clinical testing in patients," said Sally DeNardo, a professor of internal medicine and radiology at UC Davis and lead author of the study.

Many researchers have studied heat as a potential treatment for cancer, but the difficulty of confining heat within the tumor and predicting an effective heat dose has limited its use. The UC Davis research, carried out in collaboration with scientists from Triton BioSystems in Boston, seeks to solve this problem.

read more | 1308 reads

Probe to detect spread of breast cancer co-developed by UH scientist
By Dross at 2007-03-07 05:05

HOUSTON, March 6, 2007 -- High-temperature superconductors hold the key to a handheld tool for surgeons that promises to be more accurate, cost-effective and safer than existing methods for staging and treating various cancers, including breast cancer. Audrius Brazdeikis, research assistant professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Houston, and Quentin Pankhurst, a professor of physics from the University College of London (UCL), have developed a novel detection procedure combining nanotechnology and advanced magnetic sensing based on high-temperature superconductors.

read more | 1025 reads

Depression in moms with breast cancer may exacerbate related anxieties in their children
By Dross at 2007-03-06 00:26

A woman's breast cancer diagnosis can wreak as much havoc on her emotions as it does on her physical health. Mothers who experience bouts of depression during their battles with breast cancer may find that the effects reach beyond their own psyches to those of their children. According to data analyzed by University of Pittsburgh researchers and reported this weekend at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society's Fourth Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, children of depressed breast cancer patients were more likely to be concerned or anxious about their mother%' cancer and its implication for their families. While children's emotional responses to their own illnesses are well-documented, this study, "The Effect of Depressed Mood in Mothers with Breast Cancer on Their Childrens' Illness-Related Concerns," is the first to examine the relationship between childrens' concerns and a mothers' cancer-related depression.

read more | 1088 reads

Genetic Breast Cancer test gets FDA approval
By Dross at 2007-02-28 23:38

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new genetic test that could help patients with early-stage breast cancer predict their chance of relapse within 5 or 10 years, information that could save many patients from the discomfort of unnecessary chemotherapyterm.

The MammaPrint test, developed by Agendia in the Netherlands, measures the activity of 70 genes to create a genetic profile of an excised tumour. This profile is converted into a prognostic index of recurrence or metastasistermterm, which can then be used in conjunction with other information, such as medical history, to determine the most suitable course of therapy. Although the test accurately predicted which women were at a low risk of recurrence around 95% of the time, only 23% of women predicted to be at a high risk experienced recurrent disease. Steven Gutman, head of the FDA's Office of In vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety cautioned: "This information has to be used very carefully by physicians. It is a complex test and requires use by people who know their business" (, 9 February 2007). But he acknowledged that the test could help tailor treatments to individual patients: "I think it's better than no information at all. It does provide a risk profile for patients" (http//, 9 February 2007). Genetic tests for breast cancer, the most widely used of which is the Oncotype DX test, are already on the market in the US, but MammaPrint is the first such test to be approved by the FDA under a scheme that the agency might extend to all such diagnostics. "This test clearance takes into account the development of these innovative technologies and ensures public health by carefully evaluating their performance," said Gutman (, 9 February 2007).

read more | 2 comments | 1774 reads

Creating New Life Forms That May Help Eradicate Cancer Affecting Women
By Dross at 2007-02-27 01:43

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J., -- Instead of using the usual cancer-fighting modalities, surgery, chemotherapyterm, or radiation, researchers from a drug development company called Advaxis, have embarked on a novel approach to fighting cancer: Engaging the immune system to attack cancer in the same the way it would a flu vaccine, by creating new life forms. Dr. Vafa Shahabi, Advaxis' Director of Research and Development, reports that because the human immune system is not designed to fight cancer on its own, she and her colleagues are trying to harness its power through a new kind of life form: specifically a family of vaccines, which they call Lovaxin. The vaccines are comprised of new strains of bacteria created in Advaxis' laboratory that are programmed to kill off specific cancers.

read more | 1505 reads

Drug Industry Increasingly Influences Breast Cancer
By Dross at 2007-02-25 12:34

Breast cancer treatment trials supported by the pharmaceutical industry are more likely to report positive
results than non-sponsored studies, according to a study to be published in the April 1, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-
reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. In addition, there are significant differences in the design
of trials and types of questions addressed by pharmaceutical industry sponsored trials compared to non-
sponsored trials. The study is the first to examine the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on breast cancer

Research and development (R&D) is critical to developing new therapies. The drug industry is a significant

read more | 2034 reads

'Bridge' protein spurs deadliest stages of breast cancer
By Dross at 2007-02-22 22:28

New role for protein yields promising lead for metastasistermterm prevention A protein known for its ability to "bridge" interactions between other cellular proteins may spur metastasis in breast cancer, the disease's deadliest stage, a study from Burnham Institute for Medical Research has found. Led by professor Gen-Sheng Feng, Ph.D., and colleagues at Burnham and Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, the study ranks among the first to more precisely define the cancer role for the protein known as Gab-2. These results, to be published in the journal Oncogene, have been made available to the worldwide medical research community by priority posting online at the journal's website. The protein has been of keen research interest for its role in breast cancer, but whether it controlled metastasis or initial tumor growth was unknown. Gab-2 is one of a group of proteins known as "scaffold" or "bridge" proteins, which provide a molecular intermediary to help cell signal proteins interact.

read more | 1990 reads

Protein identified that regulates effectiveness of Taxol chemotherapy in breast cancer
By Dross at 2007-02-22 11:32

Washington, DC -- Cancer researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have taken a step towards understanding how and why a widely used chemotherapyterm drug works in patients with breast cancer. In laboratory studies, the researchers isolated a protein, caveolin-1, showing that in breast cancer cells this protein can enhance cell death in response to the use of Taxol, one of two taxane chemotherapy drugs used to treat advanced breast and ovarian cancer. But in order to work, they found the protein needs to be "switched on," or phosphorylated. The results were reported in the current (February 23) issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Their finding suggests it may eventually be possible to test individual breast cancer patients for the status of such molecular markers as caveolin-1 in their tumors to determine the efficacy-to-toxicity ratio for Taxol, said the study%u2019s first author, postdoctoral fellow Ayesha Shajahan, Ph.D., of Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown. "Because breast tumors are not all the same, it is important to know the cancer%u2019s molecular makeup in order to increase the efficiency, and lower the toxicity, of chemotherapy drugs, and this work takes us some steps forward in this goal," she said. "It also offers insights into why some breast cancer cells can become resistant to therapeutic drugs."

read more | 1642 reads

A black and white look at breast cancer mortality
By Dross at 2007-02-21 23:03

African and African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than their white counterparts because they tend to get the disease before the menopause, suggests new research from the University of East Anglia and the Children's Hospital Boston in collaboration with researchers in the US and Italy. A racial disparity in mortality rates from breast cancer in the US first appeared in the 1970s coinciding with the introduction of mammography. The new research, published in The International Journal of Surgery, posits that the reason for this is not reduced access to medical care, but because surgery in pre-menopausal women could encourage growth of the cancer. The average age of breast cancer diagnosis in African American women is 46, compared with 57 for European Americans. A previous study by one of the article's authors, Dr Isaac Gukas, of the University of East Anglia's School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, identified a mean age of 43 for diagnosis of breast cancer in Nigerian women compared with a mean age of 64 in the United Kingdom. Over 70% of the Nigerian cases were aged below 50, compared to less than 20% of cases in the UK. Further research published in 2005 suggested that those who underwent surgery for the disease before the menopause were more likely to relapse. "Surgery to remove a primary tumour induces the formation of new blood vessels %u2013known as angiogenesis. In pre-menopausal women who have high levels of oestrogen and other hormones, this may encourage the growth of the tumour," said Dr Gukas. "Early detection, through mammography, is more effective in post-menopausal women, and more white women are diagnosed after the menopause. This could explain the disparity in mortality."

read more | 1148 reads

Active lifestyle reduces risk of invasive breast cancer
By Dross at 2007-02-15 23:55

PHILADELPHIA -- Six or more hours per week of strenuous recreational activity may reduce the risks of invasive breast cancer by 23 percent, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center (UWCCC). Their report in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, based on a survey of over 15,000 women, shows that exercise has a protective effect against invasive breast cancer throughout a woman's lifetime.


The results provide further evidence that for most women physical activity may reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer, the researchers concluded. To gain further insights into the mechanisms of risk reduction for breast cancer, the researchers investigated the relationship between physical activity and breast cancer risk in a population-based case control study in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. During structured telephone interviews, the researchers questioned 7,630 women without breast cancer, 1,689 survivors of in situ, or non-invasive, breast cancer and 6,391 survivors of invasive breast cancer, all between the ages of 20 and 69. They asked detailed questions about physical activity, occupation, family history of breast cancer, menopausal status, and body mass index. According to the researchers, women who exercised had a reduced risk of developing invasive breast cancer provided they didn't have a family history of breast cancer. This reduction in risk was apparent whether the physical activity took place early in life, in the postmenopausal years, or in the recent past. "A woman's hormone levels naturally fluctuate throughout her life, and we have found that exercise likely offers protection against breast cancer regardless of a woman's stage in life," said Brian Sprague, a UWCCC research assistant and lead author of the study.

read more | 1070 reads

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