Combination therapy may be better than radiotherapy alone to treat brain cancer

Radiotherapy with panobinostat is more effective on aggressive, recurrent brain cancer

panobinostat drug combined with radiotherapy

Radiotherapy effectively damages brain tumours but the cancer cells can repair themselves in order to live on.

Now, researchers at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center have tested a strategy that combines radiotherapy with a drug that shuts down the ability of a tumour to mend themselves.

The research was conducted on 12 patients and will be published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

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Pancreatic cancer formed of at least four separate diseases, study finds

Pancreatic cancer pain

Pancreatic cancer is at least four separate diseases each with a different cause and needing a different treatment, scientists have discovered.

The researchers say the knowledge will lead to new drugs targeting the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of each patient’s cancer and that they have already seen some “exceptional” results.

The researchers believe this will allow for new drugs which target the individual diseases, resulting in more successful drugs for pancreatic cancer.

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Laughter as Medicine: A Mirror Designed to Help Cancer Patients

Laughter as Medicine: A Mirror Designed to Help Cancer Patients - School of Visual Arts

Salih Berk Ilhan, a student at the School for Visual Arts (SVA) in the USA, has created a “Smile Mirror” as part of a project called Uplifting aimed at improving the quality of life of cancer patients. The mirror shows your reflection only when smiling, by recognising the movement of facial muscles used to smile. It based upon the idea that when people physically smile it evokes feelings of emotional happiness. Many cancer patients experience clinical depression and it is thought that projects like the Smile Mirror may help combat this. The mirror is currently being developed for batch production and is hoped to be launched for sale to hospitals by the end of 2016.

Other products part of the Uplifting project include an app called All Together. The app allows friends and family to see and assign tasks the patient may need help with. One example is if during a chemo session children need to be collected from school, the task is posted on the app and then friends have the opportunity to volunteer to do the task. The aim of this app is to make it easier for patients to ask for help when needed.

The SVA’s blog explains the projects in more detail, including the Smile Mirror for cancer patients.


Online puzzle exercises used to tackle chemo brain

Study finds chemo brain exercises help with symptoms

chemo brain exercises

People experiencing problems with their memory and concentration following chemotherapy treatment can help overcome symptoms using simple online brain training exercises.

Cancer survivors often comment on both memory and concentration problems after having had chemotherapy treatment, this is often refered to as ‘chemo brain’.

A group of researchers found that 40 minutes a day, four times a week for 15 weeks of online brain training resulted in a significant improvement of these cognitive symptoms.

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Researchers working on ‘less painful’ prostate cancer test

Prostate Cancer Test

Researchers have begun using a new diagnostic tool to detect prostate cancer in urine samples.

This may eliminate the need for the current diagnostic tools which use painful probes or the prostate-specific antigen exam, according to Healthline. They are hoping that in a decade this sort of diagnostic test will be the standard, and will help with diagnosing cancer as soon as possible.

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Hope that a blood test could diagnose five types of cancer

Blood tests are the latest tool in cancer treatment. By taking blood, scientists can detect changes in DNA that can help to assess the presence of cancer cells in the body. 

Cancer blood test

A blood test with the ability to detect five different forms of cancer by looking for abnormal DNA signatures may be close to becoming a reality.

Researchers were able to identify womb, lung, stomach, colon and breast tumours from normal tissue by the DNA signature around the gene ZNF 154.

There is hope that the potential of this diagnostic technique will lead to earlier diagnosis in people resulting in a higher survival rate.

The research has been carried out by the National Human Genome Research Institutes in the US and published by the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.


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Anti-Cancer Drug Made More Effective To Reduce Side Effects

An exciting development in chemotherapy drug delivery means that targeting tumours will soon be easier. 

Cancer Injection

Scientists have found a way to reduce the necessary dose of an existing chemo drug by making sure the full amount of the drug reaches the tumour rather than being partially destroyed as it travels through the body.  “That means we can use 50 times less of the drug and still get the same results – more effective treatment with fewer and milder side effects.”

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The kind of cancer that may not need chemo

It’s early days, but researchers are making great strides in the search for alternatives to chemo.

Cancer that won't need chemo

The latest study, led by scientists from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, has found that some people with the most common kind of leukaemia – chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – did better with an anticancer drug called ibrutinib than those who were given chemo.

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