[MOL] DNA/Tumor Markers/Surgery alone?/Soy/Sigmoidoscopy/Pancreatic/Abst [01413] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] DNA/Tumor Markers/Surgery alone?/Soy/Sigmoidoscopy/Pancreatic/Abstracts

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DNA and Cancer
by: Michael Guthrie, R. Ph.

Cancer is fundamentally genetic, in that it arises from mutations distorting the information contained in genes. For the most part, the genetic dysfunction is not inherited, but acquired during life. In fact, probably less than 10% of cancer patients have a strongly predisposing inheritance and another 20% to 30% have a moderately predisposing inheritance (Ross, 1998).

All of this genetics talk can become quite confusing, so we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. There is no doubt that some cancers are strongly associated with a genetic predisposition…and let’s reemphasize the word predisposition. Along with the predisposition, there almost always has to be subsequent events that damage the DNA of a cell for that cell to begin its course towards malignancy. In fact, the damage occurs with specific genes that you will be hearing much more about: proto-oncogenes, and tumor suppressor genes.


Tumor Markers: the Short Course
by: Michael Guthrie, R. Ph.

Most cancer patients are familiar with the term "tumor marker." Such terms as PSA, CEA, CA-125, CA19-9 are thrown around by oncologists quite frequently, but what exactly do these terms mean?

First of all, tumor markers are substances that can be detected in elevated amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues of some patients with certain types of cancer. Tumor markers are produced by cancer cells themselves, or by the body’s response to cancer.

Tumor marker levels alone are not sufficient to make a cancer diagnosis. Therefore, at present, it is not possible to have a blood test to determine if one has cancer. The National Cancer Institute lists at least four reasons why this is so:


In the News!!

Surgery Alone as Effective as Surgery Plus Radiotherapy to Treat Disease

Radiotherapy combined with surgery appears to be no more effective than surgery alone in improving survival rates of patients with locally advanced laryngeal carcinomas.

"During the past few years, radiotherapy (RT) has been increasingly used in combination with surgery in the treatment of locally advanced laryngeal carcinomas to improve survival rates in patients with more extensive tumors," noted G. Cortesina and colleagues from the University Turin in Italy.


Sigmoidoscopy May Miss Cancer

Sigmoidoscopy, the most widely used fiber-optic screening exam for colon cancer, is likely to miss diseased growths as much as one-third of the time, researchers say in a study that could lead to wider use of a more thorough method, colonoscopy.

The findings, along with a second study reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, deepen doubts about the reliability of sigmoidoscopy.


The Joy of Soy

This bland, unassuming little bean and its by-products may not knock your taste buds out, but it certainly packs a punch against certain forms of cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease, and it can ease the symptoms of menopause. Its lack of flavor can actually serve as a big plus, allowing you to hide soy in everything from milkshakes to chili. Your body will cheer while your taste buds won't even notice it's there.


Pancreatic Cancer Detection

To document the accuracy of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) in differential diagnosis between pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis, researchers conducted a large prospective controlled trial.

In all, 124 patients with an average age of 55 years and a strong suspicion of pancreatic cancer were recruited for the study. A radiologist and a gastroenterologist who were unaware of the clinical diagnosis of patients interpreted the MRCP images. Exact diagnosis was based on histological evidence from surgical and fine needle biopsy or a follow-up of 12 months.