Monday, July 18, 2016

“New Liquid Aspirin Found To Be Ten Times More Effective In Killing Cancer Cells Than Chemotherapy”

This headline in “Science World Report” my eyeballs and didn’t let go until I read the very short article -
I then tracked down an article posted on - that gave more details. The article’s headline reported that “At a scientific meeting this week, researchers hail their evidence about a new soluble drug containing liquid aspirin as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of brain tumors.”

In this article, by Catharine Paddock PhD, reports that at the “Brain Tumours 2016 - From Biology to Therapy” meeting, held in Warsaw, Poland, 27-29 June, 2016 the news was announced.

An important part of the announcement was the claim that Prof. Geoff Pilkington and Dr. Richard Hill have figured out how to cross the “blood-brain barrier.”
Paddock writes that, “Researchers trying to develop cancer drugs for treating brain tumors have found it very difficult to create compounds that pass through the blood-brain barrier. Many cancer drugs that can defeat tumors in other parts of the body cannot pass through.”

Apparently, this new breakthrough enables cancer drugs to do just that.

Paddock goes on to report that “They ( i.e. Prof. Geoff Pilkington and Dr. Richard Hill) say their findings suggest the new drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma, one of the most devastating and most common type of brain tumor in adults say their findings suggest the new drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma, one of the most devastating and most common type of brain tumor in adults.

I suggest you read the entire article.

Monday, July 11, 2016

“Useless treatments common in young, terminal cancer patients”

That’s the headline of a story I’ve just reread that was written by Dennis Thompson of HealthDay -
This news makes me wince uncomfortably.

Thompson reports that “An analysis of insurance records found that cancer patients often undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery in their final 30 days.”
I’m trying to better understand this and having trouble. Does this mean that concerned doctors are trying to save patients right up to the last second? Or does it mean that doctors are giving patients medicine that cannot help them, but makes $$$ for ______ (I’ll let you fill in the blink).

Thompson further reports that “In 2012, ASCO issued a set of guidelines for physicians that recommended against using aggressive measures in patients with advanced cancer who are unlikely to benefit from such treatment. Instead, doctors should focus on easing the patient's pain and symptoms, the guidelines say.

He also quotes Dr. Andrew Epstein, an ASCO expert in palliative care, saying, "Much more often than not, these types of care at the end of life are not helpful, and they are emotionally and physically harmful for patients, and emotionally harmful to the patients' loved ones." Epstein is a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.”

To see if these guidelines are being followed, researcher Dr. Ronald Chen -  associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - and his colleagues reviewed claims data for more than 28,000 terminally ill cancer patients younger than 65 who died between 2007 and 2014. The patients lived across 14 different states and had been diagnosed with advanced lung, colon, breast, pancreatic or prostate cancer.

Guess what?

The investigators found that between 71 percent and 76 percent of patients received some form of aggressive care at the end of life, depending on their type of cancer.

Somehow this just makes me sad. Not only are these victims dying, it seems like they aren’t allowed to go peacefully.

I could be wrong. Maybe all of these victims want to fight to their last breadth no matter what the odds are.

Read the article and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Crossing the blood-brain barrier to better combat brain cancer

Here’s some potentially good news from Ryan Cross who wrote about Alexandre Carpentier (pictured above), a neurosurgeon at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, who used “ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, the most common and deadly tumor originating in the adult brain—allowing for delivery of chemotherapy that would otherwise reach the tumor in minuscule amounts” -

As background, you should know that the protective sheath surrounding the brain’s blood supply—known as the blood-brain barrier—is a safeguard against nasty germs and toxins. But it also prevents existing drugs that could potentially be used to treat brain cancer or Alzheimer’s disease from reaching the brain.

According to Cross, “the procedure works by first injecting microbubbles into the bloodstream and then using a device implanted near patients’ tumors to send ultrasonic soundwaves into the brain, exciting the bubbles. The physical pressure of the bubbles pushing on the cells temporarily opens the blood-brain barrier, letting an injected drug cross into the brain.”

Here’s a link to the abstract:

Picture: Alexandre Carpentier holds the SonoCloud device, which he has implanted in 15 brain cancer patients.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Research Study: benign brain tumors less likely with high blood sugar

I’ve always thought that obesity and diabetes were risk factors for meningioma.

But the results of a research study in The British Journal of Cancer reports findings that contradict that belief and previous studies. Here’s a link to the abstract:

Science Daily highlighted this contradiction writing “In a surprising twist, benign brain tumors that have previously been tied to obesity and diabetes are less likely to emerge in those with high blood sugar, new research has found.

The Science Daily article provided context noting that “… previous research had established that the slow-growing tumors are more common among people who are obese and those who have diabetes, researchers led by The Ohio State University's Judith Schwartzbaum set out to look for a relationship between meningiomas and blood markers, including glucose.

This relationship made sense to me as a non-scientist and a meningioma survivor: if I lead an unhealthy lifestyle, I could get whacked with a brain tumor. The unexpected finding seems to have also confused Schwartzbaum who said: "It's so unexpected. Usually diabetes and high blood sugar raises the risk of cancer, and it's the opposite here."

And she should know, Schwartzbaum is an associate professor of epidemiology and a researcher in Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

This confusion or unexpected result has dampened my sense of control, or at least my hope that I can improve my odds of avoiding a meningioma reoccurrence by doing what I thought made sense – staying thin. Now another weapon/practice/solution has been deleted from my arsenal.


Copyright: <a href=''>kwanchaichaiudom / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Monday, June 6, 2016

A great conference for patients, caregivers, friends & family members

I highly recommend this conference. 

You will find great brain tumor surgeons, researchers, victims, caregivers, and friends and family members. I’ve found everybody who attends to be good listeners and full of honest advice and time to listen to you and your concerns.

The opening sentence of the email from the ABTA about the conference says “The ABTA’s annual Patient and Family Conference is where patients, families and caregivers come together to learn more about the latest advances in brain tumor research, treatment and care.” I want to highlight two important words “latest advances.”

If you haven’t been reading all the brain tumor news that’s been spilling out of research studies of late, here’s a good place to get a sense of all the new tools we have to fight brain tumors. The ABTA marketing folks have highlighted that in their first two bullet points saying:

  • “Physicians will present the latest precision medicine treatment options and symptom management techniques for low-grade glioma, high-grade glioma and metastatic brain tumors

  • Researchers and doctors will highlight treatment advances in neurosurgery, radiation and immunotherapy”

Importantly the conference includes “A special session for the newly diagnosed will cover how to navigate the early days of a brain tumor diagnosis and what information patients, families and caregivers would need to know in order to be empowered with information and resources to make informed decisions throughout their treatment and care.”

Please know that the conference costs $100. If you are a victim, caregiver or love one, I believe that you will find this to be a particularly good investment.