Blog – Know Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:53:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This Simple Blood Test Could Detect All Forms of Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/simple-blood-test-detect-all-cancer/ Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:53:26 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17765 Big news coming to us from across the pond, as we’ve learned that British scientists have developed a revolutionary blood test capable of detecting any type of cancer. This test will help doctors take more precise steps with patients …

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Big news coming to us from across the pond, as we’ve learned that British scientists have developed a revolutionary blood test capable of detecting any type of cancer. This test will help doctors take more precise steps with patients who present with specific symptoms that could be caused by cancer or some other disease. That’ll also mean thousands of people who’ll be spared unnecessary invasive procedures and biopsies.

So far, the blood test has been used with patients that had melanoma, lung cancer, and colon cancer. Blood was taken from each and the test was able to diagnose cancer and pre-cancerous conditions with a significant level of accuracy.

The research team, who’ve been developing the test at the University of Bradford, are already testing it’s wide range of applications. There are still plenty of cancers that are very difficult to diagnose, but this simple test could be a significant asset.

How Does this Simple Test Work?

The blood test is called Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS), and it works by assessing the level of damage that has been caused to the DNA of the white blood cells. The cells are exposed to varying levels of ultraviolet light (UVA), which we know can cause irreparable damage to our DNA.

The Bradford team claims that there is a distinct difference between the damage they’ll witness in people who are healthy and those who are cancerous. Our white blood cells are a crucial aspect of the human body’s ability to protect itself from foreign invaders.

“We know that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases, so I wondered whether anything measurable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light,”explained research leader Diana Anderson. “We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people.”

An Impressive First Showing for LGS Test

The data was compiled after the researchers examined 208 blood samples (94 of which were taken from healthy volunteers at the University). The team got the rest of their blood samples from patients who’d been referred to specialist clinics within Bradford Royal Infirmary before they were diagnosed or treated.

Impressive First Results from Revolutionary Blood Test

The UVA damage was seen as pieces of DNA being pulled through an electric field towards the positive end. This created an effect reminiscent of what you might see trailing a comet through space (comet’s tail). A longer tail meant the UVA had caused more damage to the DNA. Ultimately, the longest tails correlated accurately with the patients’ final results:

  • 58 diagnosed with cancer
  • 94 who were healthy
  • 56 diagnosed with pre-cancerous conditions

“These are early results completed on three different types of cancer and we accept that more research needs to be done; but these results so far are remarkable,” said Anderson.

These early results are certainly impressive, even if the initial test cohort was pretty small overall. The LGS is now being tested in a full-size clinical trial at the Bradford Royal Infirmary with selected patients who are at risk for colorectal cancer.

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Don’t Ignore that Itchy Skin Lesion– It Might Be Skin Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/itchy-skin-lesion-skin-cancer/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:00:35 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17761 It’s summer time and that means that we’re going to be talking about skin cancer and how you can take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones while spending time outdoors. Now I know that putting on sunscreen every …

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It’s summer time and that means that we’re going to be talking about skin cancer and how you can take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones while spending time outdoors. Now I know that putting on sunscreen every time you want to hang outside is probably not something you’d list on your all time favorite summer activities, but the raw truth is that it saves lives.

Research shows us that skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer amongst both men and women. So maybe people were ignorant of the risks of excessive sun exposure a few decades ago, but that excuse no longer applies.

When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is key. You should read last month’s post about monthly self exams if you missed it. Skin cancer is much easier to treat when it’s identified early on. But a more aggressive disease like melanoma can quickly become deadly if given the opportunity to metastasize.

Don’t Ignore those Itchy Skin Lesions

This brings us to the main point of today’s post which is improving our ability to diagnose skin cancer, and it seems like a group of researchers at Temple University may have done just that. They’re suggesting that early diagnostic rates could be improved if patients are asked if their skin has been unusually itchy or painful in some places.

Background research conducted by the Temple team uncovered some significant findings:

  • Nearly 36.9 percent of skin cancer lesions cause itching
  • 28.2 percent are painful
  • Lesions that do not represent melanoma have a higher likelihood of being itchy or painful

(When we say non-melanoma skin cancer, this refers to squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.)

“The study highlights the importance of a simple bedside evaluation for the presence and intensity of pain or itch as an easily implementable tool for clinicians in evaluating suspicious skin lesions,” explained the team.

Real Red Flag for Doctors and Patients

Most cases of skin cancer (this includes melanoma) begin their development as an unusual looking skin lesion. A persistent lesion that has been particularly itchy and bothersome should be a red flag for patients and doctors alike.

“Patients sometimes have multiple lesions that are suspicious looking, and those that are itchy or painful should raise high concerns for non-melanoma skin cancers,”stated Dr. Yosipovitch, Director of the Temple Itch Center.

The research team ranked the three most common forms of skin cancer by order of which tends to be itchiest:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (also tends to produce the most painful lesions)
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

(Quick Note: the pain and itchiness seem to coincide for most of these lesions.)

Dr. Yosipovitch has provided a great insight with this research, one that can be implemented right away. He thinks that a ranking scale for pain and itchiness should be developed for dermatologists. Indeed, we agree that at least a heightened awareness of unusual skin lesions will help identify early warning signs sooner.

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Sorry, Smelling a Fart Won’t Help Prevent Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/smelling-fart-wont-prevent-cancer/ Wed, 16 Jul 2014 02:52:04 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17753 Over the weekend, you may have stumbled across a few headlines that left you scratching your head. Several stories from reputable sources with titles along the lines of “Scientists say sniffing farts could prevent cancer” went viral for obvious reasons. …

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Over the weekend, you may have stumbled across a few headlines that left you scratching your head. Several stories from reputable sources with titles along the lines of “Scientists say sniffing farts could prevent cancer” went viral for obvious reasons. The truth of the matter is that smelling flatulence will not prevent cancer.

This fairly bizarre and frankly comical headline was the result of several reporters that couldn’t twisting some information taken from a University of Exeter press release titled: “Rotten egg gas holds key to healthcare therapies.”

Say What???

Delving further, we can see that some of the confusion may have been sparked by an observation made by Dr. Mark Wood of Exeter’s biosciences department. The good doctor had remarked on hydrogen sulfide’s (the gas that gives flatulence its foul smell) potential as an agent in future cancer therapies.

The press release was based on an article published in Medicinal Chemistry Communications, but it was not about sniffing a fart or preventing diseases for that matter. The original story was about a compound labeled AP39. Scientists had gotten AP39 to transport small levels of hydrogen sulfide to mitochondria.

The mitochondria makes use of extremely small doses of hydrogen sulfide to keep functioning optimally when under threat from a disease. Without access to hydrogen sulfide, the mitochondria will lose their ability to function and perish.

“Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive,” explained co author Professor Matt Whiteman.

There’s Actually Real Promise in Hydrogen Sulfide Research

Researchers looking into the regulatory role of hydrogen sulfide have only been able to use cells from mice or those grown in petri dishes, but the research has shown a lot promise already. Dr. Csaba Szabo, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Texas in Galveston has been adamant about its potential.

Hydrogen Sulfide Potential for Cancer Therapy

But he is worried that social media could turn this work into a joke pretty quickly. Dr. Szabo worked with the team at University of Exeter and has conducted his own experiments with hydrogen sulfide.

“Hydrogen sulfide regulates vascular function, inflammatory responses, neurotransmission in the brain, many different things,” says Szabo. This also includes potential for cancer treatment.

“If you incubate cancer cells in the laboratory with hydrogen sulfide or a compound that produces hydrogen sulfide, you can do two things. At lower concentrations, you can stimulate the cells, and at the higher concentrations, you can kill the cells,” claims Szabo.

Forget About the Flatulence

Of course its never that simple, not when you’re facing something like cancer. Studies have already shown that certain cancerous cells (like ovarian and colon cancer) produce large quantities of hydrogen sulfide to help them survive and multiply. Dr. Szabo says that it has a lot to do with the sheer complexity of hydrogen sulfide’s own biology. There’s potential at both low and high concentrations.

We invite you to delve more into this research yourself, but you aren’t going to find any scientific notes suggesting that we should start inhaling more farts.

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Dogs Prove More Effective than Machines at Detecting Early Stage Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/dogs-machines-detecting-early-cancer/ Tue, 08 Jul 2014 20:06:17 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17749 It’s certainly not news that dogs have an exceptionally keen sense of smell. We’ve been studying and testing the capabilities of these super noses since we initially seeked to tame the wild wolf. Thousands of years later, we may have …

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It’s certainly not news that dogs have an exceptionally keen sense of smell. We’ve been studying and testing the capabilities of these super noses since we initially seeked to tame the wild wolf. Thousands of years later, we may have found one of the most beneficial uses for this ability yet– sniffing out early stage cancers.

(Just as a point of comparison: the human nose has 5 million scent receptors while a dog’s has about 300 million.)

Not long ago, we covered a news story about dogs being used to sniff out ovarian cancers. A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania had been training retrievers and German shepherds to identify a particular tumor plasma using a technique known as imprinting. The success of this endeavor means that experts could develop a device (essentially some form of mechanical nose) that could identify various forms of cancer and other diseases.

To do this correctly, specialists first have to fully understand what dogs are actually picking up on to detect cancer at such an early stage. This of course requires an extensive level of research which has highlighted one particular challenge– contemporary machines can’t even hold a candle to a dog’s smelling abilities. It’s why each plane that takes off from the airport has been cleared by a trained explosives detection dog.

(The U.S. Government spent billions developing machines that can identify concealed explosives, but dogs are still significantly more accurate.)

What Gives Dogs the Advantage?

Dogs have the ability to “layer scent”, this is what allows them to pick out the scent of illegal narcotics when they are wrapped up and dunked in sealed barrels of oil. Machines are usually designed to be “specific” or “sensitive”, but our four legged friends can be specific and acutely sensitive. This means that a trained dog can not only tell identify if cancer is present, but they can also tell when its not. This is why advanced medical imaging tests can still return some false positives– leading to unnecessary invasive treatments.

(Don’t forget that dogs can also develop cancer– here’s some more information if you’re interested.)

Why Aren’t More Dogs Being Used Now?

As it stands, we don’t have any machine that can go toe for toe with dogs at detecting early stage cancer. Studies have shown that dogs are more than 90 percent accurate at sniffing out these diseases. So the question right now is are we effectively utilizing a proven diagnostic utility as well as we could?

It seems that the major push is to pinpoint the unique odor signature of diseases like ovarian cancer. This way the “e-nose” could be designed to specifically find that signature. However, we have to wonder why we haven’t heard more about cancer-sniffing dogs being utilized in hospitals. All the research suggests that this could save lives right now.

(Did you know that dogs have also proven extremely effective at raising cancer? Check out the story of Randolph Westphal.)

It’s certainly exciting to think of a new diagnostic machine that could identify early-stage cancers with such a high rate of accuracy. At the same time, it seems foolish to pass on a highly efficient, low cost and non-invasive detection method that is available now. We agree with foundations like dogsdetectcancer.org that the dogs should be given their chance right now.

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This Blood Test May Predict Breast Cancer Risk Years Before Diagnosis https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/blood-test-predict-breast-cancer-risk/ Fri, 27 Jun 2014 23:01:22 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17742 Some exciting news has broken as specialists may have a new test for breast cancer risk. Unlike other conventional methods, this test isn’t looking for inherited genetic mutations. It’s looking for specific alterations in DNA functions– namely the …

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Some exciting news has broken as specialists may have a new test for breast cancer risk. Unlike other conventional methods, this test isn’t looking for inherited genetic mutations. It’s looking for specific alterations in DNA functions– namely the BRCA1 breast cancer gene.

Cancer research has shown that inherited genetic mutations are not the primary cause of most breast cancer cases. Just about 60 percent of cases are linked to outside risk factors such as:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor overall diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking cigarettes

“Women who carry the signature are at particularly higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future,” explains Martin Widschwendter from the University College London. Martin was the lead investigator in evaluating this new breast cancer test.

Predicting Breast Cancer Risk Years Earlier

Widschwendter’s team looked for alterations produced as a result of methylation, a process which speed up or slow down a gene’s function. BRCA1 prohibits cell growth, discontinuing the out-of-control proliferation that mutates healthy cell clusters into tumors.

Predicting Breast Cancer Risk in the Future

The goal was to test blood extracted from participants who did and didn’t have BRCA1 mutations before cancer had begun to form. According to the report, the tests from both groups exhibited homogeneous changes in the DNA methylation.

“It was able to predict breast cancer risk several years before diagnosis,” confirms Widschwendter. He acknowledged that the changes could be caused by risk factors such as frequent alcohol consumption and obesity.

The “signature was tested with three unique groups of female volunteers, and it consistently identified the women who’d develop cancer anywhere from 5 to 12 years later.

A New Direction for Breast Cancer Research?

“I think this is a productive direction,” notes Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, the head of clinical cancer genetics at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California.

Breast cancer still ranks as the most common cancer amongst the female population here in the U.S:

  • At least 200,000 will be diagnosed with this disease over 2014
  • An estimated 40,000 will succumb to their illness in 2014

New Blood Test for Breast Cancer Risk

Anyone who’s read our blog before probably knows that breast cancer screening guidelines are the topic of much heated debate. Women are faced with conflicted recommendations when it comes to mammograms. Leading institutions are releasing competing data that are leaving many unsure what to do.

This new test could help provide some clear direction for untold numbers of women. “A test could help us tailor screening and risk reduction for women,” explains Weitzel. “We know that we can change risk.”

At the moment, there is still a lot more work to be done before this test is ready for widespread use. The test has only been used on a handful of volunteers, and there’s speculation that it might be better served testing for cervical cancer (maybe accompanying an annual Pap smear).

(Cervical cells tend to react in a similar way to the hormones commonly linked to breast cancer.)

There is still much we don’t understand about the underlying causes of breast cancer. Results released just a couple weeks ago suggest that the presence of many moles could be a red flag for above average breast cancer risk (although this is nothing more than correlational at this point).

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Skin Cancer Prevention Tips: Monthly Self-Exams https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/skin-cancer-prevention-tips-monthly-self-exams/ Mon, 23 Jun 2014 00:55:14 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17737 We’re in the thick of summer, and inevitably that means we need to have a discussion about protecting yourself from skin cancer. Recent studies have shown that skin cancer cases (both for melanoma and nonmelanoma types) are on the …

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We’re in the thick of summer, and inevitably that means we need to have a discussion about protecting yourself from skin cancer. Recent studies have shown that skin cancer cases (both for melanoma and nonmelanoma types) are on the rise. From 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma has jumped up:

  • 800 percent in women ages 18 to 39
  • 400 percent in men ages 18 to 39

Now, there are several identifiable factors which have led to this increase in skin cancer rates, including:

  • A senior population that is larger than ever
  • Significant unprotected exposure to the sun at an early age
  • Widespread popularity of tanning booths

On a more positive note, more people are aware of the dangers of unprotected exposure to UV rays. Continued engagement from local communities in awareness programs should help younger people think twice about buying that tanning bed membership.

(Further studies have also shown that manicures could also be increasing skin cancer risk for young people.)

The True Risk of Using Tanning Beds

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who use tanning beds regularly are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than people who’ve never been in one. In fact, studies have shown that using a tanning bed just four times a year will increase your risk by as much as 11 percent.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has already taken significant steps to cast a more realistic light on the usage of tanning beds. The foundation filed a complaint against the reality show “The Jersey Shore” saying that it promotes the usage of tanning beds without a disclaimer of its potential skin cancer risks.

“The fact is, tanning beds cause skin cancer,” explains Dr. Perry Robins, president and founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation. “Jersey Shore’s repeated and ongoing references to tanning as a harmless activity are dangerous and hazardous to the public’s health.”

Summertime Skin Protection Tips

Any dermatologist or oncologist will tell you to avoid using these devices and put on protection when going out in the sun for significant periods of time. Here’s some summertime advice from the experts:

  • Shoot for being outside before 10 am or after 4 pm
  • Make sure to put on sunscreen (go for at least 30 spf and make sure to re-apply after 2 hours)
  • Bring protective clothing and hats

(Keep in mind that when you’re in the sand or even snow, you’re getting exposed to about 80 percent more UV rays due to the reflected surfaces.)

Performing a Monthly Self-Exam

The other important thing you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer is perform a monthly self-exam. Similar to the advice many specialists give to women for breast cancer, it’s important to become familiar with the normal state of your skin. It means you’ll be more likely to notice something new or unusual. The prognosis for skin cancer (especially melanomas) is significantly better if it’s identified early.

If melanoma is not identified early enough, this aggressive cancer tends to metastasize to other parts of the body. Patients will face a much more grim prognosis if this happens.

There are body maps that you can download directly from the Skin Cancer Foundation’s site which include step-by-step guidelines for your monthly self-exam.

During the exam, make note of any of the following potential warning signs:

  • New or lingering sores
  • Abnormal growths or pimples
  • Lingering dark spots

(For more information, please see our page on skin cancer symptoms.)

The Ugly Duckling Technique

You can also use the ugly duckling technique to spot early-stage melanomas. Most moles on the body tend to look similar, so be wary of any that look peculiar or different. These should be checked out by a dermatologist right away.

You should also consider getting a professional examination if you have any of the following risk factors for skin cancer:

  • Fair skin
  • Been in the tanning beds a few times
  • Family history of skin cancer

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That Extra Hour of TV Could Put You at Greater Risk for Cancer https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/extra-hour-tv-greater-risk-cancer/ Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:47:14 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17732 The epidemic of sedentariness is a problem, being made all the more challenging with the advent of tablets and streaming movies that make it even easier to spend countless hours on the ol’ derriere. Studies have already linked this …

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The epidemic of sedentariness is a problem, being made all the more challenging with the advent of tablets and streaming movies that make it even easier to spend countless hours on the ol’ derriere. Studies have already linked this issue to higher rates of:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Early mortality

Now the latest study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute claims that sitting for long periods of time could heighten a person’s risk for endometrial cancer and colon cancer. What’s even more shocking is that it appears that exercise does not mitigate the risk from sitting for long periods of time (exercise is regarded as one of the best ways to prevent cancer).

It would seem that there is a deep-rooted connection between too much sitting and these cancers that stands apart from lack of exercise.

More Time Sitting Could Mean Bad News

While conducting the study, the research team from the University of Regensburg decided to focus on the results obtained in 43 previous studies which had probed the connection between sitting and almost 70,000 different cases of cancer. Earlier teams had obtained extensive information on the respondents sedentary habits, such as time spent watching TV and sitting for work.

The Regensburg team utilized a specific statistical tool to uncover potential trends within the data— they got both good and bad news.

The good news was that being sedentary was not linked to every form of cancer. The research team found no connections to any of the following diseases:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Esophageal cancer

However, large amounts of sitting correlated with a higher risk for endometrial and colon cancer:

  • Largely sedentary people had about a 24% higher risk for colon cancer
  • Largely sedentary people had about a 32% higher risk for endometrial cancer

Even more shocking was the observed increase for just two hours of additional sitting time:

  • + 8% for colon cancer
  • +10% for endometrial cancer

The team also found that sitting while watching TV was linked to the greatest hike in risk:

  • + 54% risk for colon cancer
  • + 66% risk for endometrial cancer

Your Weight May Also be Putting You at Risk

Researchers theorize that a given person’s body weight plays a very important role here, since its not uncommon for people to snack on unhealthy foods while sitting in front of the tube. Additionally, excess weight has already been linked to higher risks for certain types of cancer.

“We found that TV viewing was associated with an increased risk of cancers of the colon and the endometrium,” explained lead author Daniela Schmid. “We further observed that the results were independent of physical activity, showing that sedentary behavior represents a potential cancer risk factor distinct from physical inactivity.”

The findings showing that exercise didn’t seem to mitigate a person’s risk remain the most shocking. Even the most active couch potatoes are still at risk. The issue seems to be inherent when it comes to sitting. Luckily, we’ve gotten better at screening for diseases like colon cancer.

Active Couch Potatoes Still At Risk for Cancer

The new findings aren’t very surprising for people like Dr. Graham Colditz, the associate director for prevention and control at Washington University’s Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis.

“High blood sugar and high insulin is a clear sort of pathway to colon cancer, and we know from intervention studies that walking lowers insulin and getting up after meals lowers blood sugar compared to sitting,” explains Dr. Colditz.

Solutions to Overly Sedentary Lifestyles

(Quick Fact: Colditz was not involved in this cancer clinical study.)

“Obesity is a phenomenally strong cause. In fact, it is the main modifiable risk factor for endometrial cancer,” says Colditz. “So for me, the likely scenario there is that the sitting, the weight gain and obesity really go together and exacerbate the risk of endometrial cancer.”

Now before you decide to boycott any and all sitting, please take into account that this type of study does have its limitations. The reviews only took into account broader relationships. This study could not definitively prove that sitting on its own causes cancer. Colditz on the other hand believes that the consistency across studies means they should be taken seriously.

Daniela Schmid and her team concur.

“Cutting down on TV viewing and sedentary time is just as important as becoming more active,” explains Schmid. “For those whose jobs require them to sit at a desk most of the day, we recommend breaking up the time spent sitting by incorporating short bouts of light activity into the daily routine.

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Could Circumcision Have an Impact on Prostate Cancer Risk? https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/circumcision-impact-prostate-cancer-risk/ Fri, 06 Jun 2014 17:15:43 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17725 If you suddenly start hearing more Canadians saying they’re glad they were circumcised, don’t be too surprised. A new Canadian study has produced data which suggests this ancient practice may actually offer men some protection against prostate cancer.

The …

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If you suddenly start hearing more Canadians saying they’re glad they were circumcised, don’t be too surprised. A new Canadian study has produced data which suggests this ancient practice may actually offer men some protection against prostate cancer.

The experts involved in the study theorize that this connection may be the result of a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among men who’ve been circumcised. Related cancer studies have shown that men with a history of STDs are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Of course, more research will be required to confirm this theory.

“It’s still premature to say go ahead with circumcision to prevent prostate cancer,” explained lead author Marie-Elise Parent. “But, we think it could be helpful.”

A New Theory on Circumcision

Her team interviewed more than 3,000 men and found that those who were circumcised during infancy were 14 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer compared to uncircumcised men. Those who’d undergone the procedure in adulthood were 45 percent less likely to get this cancer (a disease that does not produce many noticeable symptoms) than their uncircumcised counterparts.

Studies have already shown that Jewish and Muslim men exhibited lower rates of prostate cancer compared to men in the West. This team of experts theorized that circumcision could have some impact on their risk for cancer.

Parent knew that she’d need to recruit a large number of participants in order to get an accurate assessment of this association. She and her colleagues from the University of Quebec’s INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier found approximately 3,208 cooperative subjects in the Montreal area.

Here’s some quick specs on the participant population chosen for this study:

  • The participants were all between 40 and 75 years old when recruited
  • 1,590 of these men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • 1,618 men were of comparable health and age, but they were cancer free

The cancer clinical study spanned more than 5 years (2006 to 2011). Each participant was asked in-depth questions about the following topics:

  • Medical history
  • Family history of cancer
  • Health
  • Lifestyle
  • Work history

(40 percent of the white participants and 30 percent of the black participants in the study were circumcised.)

Mixed Conclusions from this Prostate Cancer Study

Parent and her team concluded that the circumcised men exhibited an 11 percent lower risk for prostate cancer when accounting for the entire study group. Unfortunately, this is not a large enough difference, as it could still be explained by a coincidental difference.

At the same time, they found that circumcised black men were 60 percent less likely to developed prostate cancer than uncircumcised men.

Prostate cancer is a serious problem here in the U.S., with more than 3 million men living with the disease. It’s currently the second leading cause of cancer related death among men.

Looking at the Current Rate of Circumcision

Most of the men born in the 70’s and 80’s were circumcised as infants according to specialists like Dr. Aaron Tobian of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. But it appears that this rate has been declining in recent years.

A reported 62.5 percent of male infants born in 1999 were circumcised, compared to nearly 80 percent a decade earlier. As of 2010, the rate of circumcision has fallen below 55 percent. Tobian remarks that this procedure is not usually covered by most healthcare plans.

Was This Study Actually Conclusive?

Other specialists like Dr. Christopher Cooper, a urologist at the University of Iowa, don’t believe that this cancer clinical study has provided enough clear-cut evidence to draw any conclusions on the role circumcision may play here. Cooper claims the patient pool was not large enough to justify circumcision as a method of prostate cancer prevention.

Too Early To Recommend Circumcision as Cancer Prevention

Studies of this kind can be difficult as many of these inferences rely on the participants’ honesty— something that the research team cannot control.

Parent defends the work that her team has done, and she believes that this is now a factor that should be kept in mind during future studies on prostate cancer.

“We are too early in the game to make it a public recommendation. It could be that in the future it will be confirmed that it’s a good thing and may have an added protection from other diseases,” adds Parent.

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Can You Guess Which Cancers will be the Most Dangerous by 2030? https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/guess-cancers-dangerous-2030/ Fri, 23 May 2014 20:48:14 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17721 The American Association for Cancer Research just released a report which predicts the most deadly cancers for 2030. These top killers are:

Lung cancer already claims more lives here in America than any

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The American Association for Cancer Research just released a report which predicts the most deadly cancers for 2030. These top killers are:

Lung cancer already claims more lives here in America than any other, but liver and pancreatic cancer are predicted to surpass the likes of prostate and breast cancer in the next two decades.

Breakdown of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. as of 2014:

  • Lung cancer is no. 1 for both men and women
  • Breast cancer is second most dangerous for women
  • Prostate cancer is second most dangerous for men
  • Colorectal cancer is the third most dangerous for men and women

Which Cancers are the Most Deadly?

Researchers scrutinized data collected on cancer incidence and overall death rates between 2006 and 2010. After accounting for expected demographic alterations over the next 16 years, they were able to come up with their predictions.

On a more positive note, cancer-death rates overall have been dropping steadily for the last few decades due to improved methods of screening and treatment. We’ve seen significant success in our fight against common diseases like breast and colon cancer. Unfortunately, there are several cancers whose death rates are still expected to increase, including:

  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Liver Cancer

“We’ve been able to turn the tide in other cancers, with an investment in (research),” stated Lynn Matrisian, VP of affairs at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and lead author on the report. “We’re hoping that with increased effort … we will be able to impact and change those projections.”

The reported incidence of pancreatic cancer has been slowly climbing for the last 15 years. Experts believe that the epidemic rate of diabetes and obesity has played a strong role in this.

“Many Americans are not aware that the combination of obesity, high-caloric intake and lack of physical activity is the second-leading cause of cancer in the U.S.,” explained Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “It is linked to at least 12 types of cancer, of which these are two. This is an American problem … the rise in pancreatic cancer is not as severe as in Europe where obesity is less of an issue.”

(Quick Fact: Researchers also theorize that obesity could affect a patient’s prognosis as well.)

Experts all agree that the number of cancer patients will steadily increase over the next 16 years, given the steadily growing senior population. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Reported cancer cases in 2010 for the U.S. – 1.5 million
  • Expected cancer cases by 2030 – 2.1 million

“We’re living much longer in the United States, so the number of people 65 age and older will be much greater,” explained Matrisian. “And that’s, of course, one of the biggest risk factors for cancer: Age.”

The Big Four in America

Currently, the cancers that have the highest incidence rates in the U.S. are known as the “big four”. These are:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer

(Quick Fact: The big four also receive the most research funding from the National Cancer Institute.)

Researchers don’t expect these two be much different (aside from melanoma and thyroid cases potentially surpassing colorectal cancer) by 2030.

“The decrease in colorectal cancer, falling from the top four incidence and top two in deaths, seems to be primarily the result of advances in colorectal cancer screening,” writes the authors of the report.

Why Is Pancreatic Cancer so Dangerous?

The increased number of thyroid cases is going to be the result of better screening methods and more people being diagnosed. Thyroid cancer also has a comparatively high five-year survival rate (98%) especially compared to pancreatic cancer (only 6%).

Even with contemporary medical imaging, it’s hard to scan a person’s pancreas due to it’s location. The tumors that develop in this organ are often enveloped in dense tissue which renders most drugs ineffective. Surgery is are best method of treating pancreatic cancer patients, but only 20% of diagnosed cases are even still operable.

The report concludes that best way to save more patients with pancreatic cancers is to invest more funding into identifying earlier methods of detection and gaining a better understanding of the disease as a whole.

The post Can You Guess Which Cancers will be the Most Dangerous by 2030? appeared first on Know Cancer.

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Keep Your Skin Safe this Summer with these Cancer Prevention Tips https://www.knowcancer.com/blog/keep-skin-cancer-prevention-tips/ Fri, 16 May 2014 19:21:49 +0000 http://www.knowcancer.com/?p=17718 Did you know that one in five Americans are expected to develop some form of skin cancer during the lifetimes? That’s an incredible statistic, especially considering that these diseases are often preventable. It’s for this reason that we’d like to …

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Did you know that one in five Americans are expected to develop some form of skin cancer during the lifetimes? That’s an incredible statistic, especially considering that these diseases are often preventable. It’s for this reason that we’d like to remind our readers that May is National Skin Cancer Prevention Month.

Since it has become the most common form of cancer, health care specialists have taken it upon themselves to inspire more communities to get involved during the month of May. We figured that we could do our part to get involved, so we’d like to share with you some tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from skin cancer while spending time in the sun this summer.

Before we share some of these prevention tips, there’s one thing we need for you to do– get to know the skin you’re in. It may sound cliche, but this is the best way to identify potential problems early on. That way you can schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you notice a suspicious looking mole, bump or spot that wasn’t there before.

Take Action Against Skin Cancer this Summer

Here are a few skin cancer prevention tips to put into practice this summer:

  • Make sure that you apply sunscreen (going for an SPF of at least 30 is recommended) to all parts of your body that are going to be exposed to the sun. Even if it’s cloudy outside, experts suggest that you reapply the sunscreen every two hours (you might also consider wearing sunscreen regularly throughout the year, not just during the summer).
  • Protective clothing (sunglasses, pants, long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats) should be worn when possible. We aren’t going to ask you to never sunbathe, but you should take precaution when spending time laying in the sun. We do highly recommend avoiding tanning beds as these have proven to be quite dangerous.
  • You should be getting your skin checked once every year by a dermatologist, and you should also be performing self-checks every month or so. This is a really great way to keep tabs on any pesky freckles or moles (especially if they are on a part of the body that is exposed often). Some have even taken to body photography, so they can provide a photographic record of these “to watch” spots to their doctor.

Learn Your ABCDEs for Melanoma

The American Academy of Dermatology also spends a lot of time teaching people about the “ABCDE Rule” during Skin Cancer Prevention Month. This relatively simple rule helps to outline the warning signs for melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

So when you check out a mole on your body, keep your ABCDEs in mind:

  • A stands for Asymmetry – Does one portion of the mole not match the other? This could be a sign for melanoma.
  • B stands for Border Irregularity – Are the edges of the mole notched, blurred or even ragged in appearance? Irregular borders on a mole should be reported to your doctor.
  • C stands for Color – Do you see color variations between different spots on the same mole? Look for different shades of brown or tan, even red, white or blue.
  • D stands for Diameter – Melanoma is usually about the size of a pencil eraser (6 millimeters) when it is diagnosed, but it could be smaller. Stay sharp!
  • E stands for Evolving – Keep an eye out for a mole that seems different than usual or has been changed in size, shape or color.

Studies have shown that people with light or fair skin are more at risk for these diseases, but the truth is that anyone with skin can develop skin cancer. So remember to take the time to learn about your skin and stay vigilant. Don’t ignore changes or new spots, because catching skin cancer early on means that it can be treated much more easily.

If you’d like to learn more about skin cancer, please see our pages on basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Have a safe and happy summer!

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