Flexible new method for early cancer diagnosis

Earlier discovery of cancer and greater precision in the treatment process are the objectives of a new method recently developed. | ScienceDaily

Screening of at-risk groups for certain types of cancer, leading to earlier diagnosis, is being described as an area with major potential, both with regard to saving lives and saving money within healthcare. No tissue samples are needed for the method, and the tumor does not even need to be located. Investments are now being made to roll out this innovation across healthcare and broaden the scope of the research in this field.

The technique was created based on the fact that people with cancer also have DNA from tumor cells circulating in the blood, molecules that can be discovered in a regular blood sample long before the tumor is visible via imaging such as tomography, MRI, X-ray and ultrasound.

The researchers have now increased the sensitivity of detecting tumor DNA in blood thousand-fold by eliminating the background noise from the measurements using “DNA barcoding.”

Full story at ScienceDaily

Link to the research: Anders Ståhlberg, et al. Simple multiplexed PCR-based barcoding of DNA for ultrasensitive mutation detection by next-generation sequencing.  Nature Protocols, 2017; 12 (4): 664

A new way to slow cancer cell growth

A new way to slow cancer cell growth. | University of Rochester Medical Center | ScienceDaily

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Researchers have identified a new way to potentially slow the fast-growing cells that characterize all types of cancer. By removing a specific protein from cells, they were able to slow the cell cycle, which is out of control in cancer.

The findings, reported in the journal Science were made in kidney and cervical cancer cells and are a long way from being applied in people, but could be the basis of a treatment option in the future.

Researchers identified a protein called Tudor-SN that is important in the “preparatory” phase of the cell cycle – the period when the cell gets ready to divide. When scientists eliminated this protein from cells, using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, cells took longer to gear up for division. The loss of Tudor-SN slowed the cell cycle.

More on this story:     ScienceDaily

University of Rochester Medical Center

Drinking coffee may help prevent liver cancer, study suggests

People who drink more coffee are less likely to develop liver cancer, an analysis of data from 26 studies has found | Story via The Guardian | BMJ

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Researchers have found that people who drink more coffee are less likely to develop hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the most common form of primary liver cancer – and the effect was also found in decaffeinated coffee.

Experts from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh examined data from 26 studies involving more than 2.25 million participants.  Compared with people who drank no coffee, those who drank one cup a day had a 20% lower risk of developing HCC, according to the study, published in the journal BMJ Open.

Those who consumed two cups a day had a 35% reduced risk and for those who drank five cups, the risk was halved. They found the protective effect for decaf was “smaller and less certain than for caffeinated coffee”

Full story via The Guardian

Full reference: Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Buchanan R, et al. Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose–response meta-analysis

Tracking cancers signaling pathways

Scientists investigate how and why brown pigmented moles turn into malignant melanoma | via ScienceDaily

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Malignant melanoma is one of the most common and dangerous types of cancer. Researchers have investigated how and why brown pigmented moles turn into malignant melanoma using innovative robot technology. The insights gained can simplify methods of diagnosis in the future; furthermore, they suggest that certain cosmetic products and creams should be avoided.

Until now, researchers only knew which genetic mutations were responsible for triggering the transformation of benign pigmented moles into malignant tumours. But little was known about what happens to proteins and signalling pathways when a malignant melanoma develops.

The research group have now discovered that the ADAM10 signalling pathway is activated during the transformation. This pathway is a protein chain that passes the signal from one protein to the next, similar to chasing LED lights. This protein chain is normally inactive in healthy skin and is only activated in an immune response. It is known for its role in psoriasis, rosacea and inflammation, i.e. when the immune system is activated but is also key in the development of malignant melanoma.

Read more at Science Daily

Full reference: Christian Ostalecki, et al. Multiepitope tissue analysis reveals SPPL3-mediated ADAM10 activation as a key step in the transformation of melanocytes. Science Signaling, 2017; 10 (470)

 

Where body fat is carried can predict cancer risk

Study finds men with over 40in waist and women with over 35in waist are more at risk of cancer as waist size is as good at predicting cancer risk as BMI | via Cancer Research UK 

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Scientists have found that carrying fat around your middle could be as good an indicator of cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer . 

The study combined data from around 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of 12 years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer.

The study found that adding about 11cm to the waistline increased the risk of obesity related cancers by 13 per cent. For bowel cancer, adding around 8 cm to the hips is linked to an increased risk of 15 per cent.

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreas.

Full reference: Freisling et al. Comparison of general obesity and measures of body fat distribution in older adults in relation to cancer risk: meta-analysis of individual participant data of seven prospective cohorts in Europe. British Journal of Cancer. (2017) 116, 1486–1497

Read more at Cancer Research UK

Diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer

The report analysed 119 studies and including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer | World Cancer Research Fund

WCRF

Image source: WCRF

Many epidemiologic studies have classified breast cancer cases by menopausal status at time of diagnosis, and therefore in this report we chose to highlight associations between diet, weight, and physical activity separately in premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, where possible.

Key findings: premenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • undertaking vigorous physical activity decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese in adulthood before the menopause decreases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • factors that lead to greater birthweight, or its consequences, increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image Source: WCRF

Key findings: postmenopausal breast cancer

There is strong evidence that:

  • consuming alcoholic drinks increases risk
  • being physically active (including vigorous physical activity) decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese between the ages of about 18 and 30 years decreases risk
  • being overweight or obese throughout adulthood increases risk
  • greater weight gain in adulthood increases risk
  • developmental factors leading to greater linear growth (marked by adult attained height) increase risk
  • breastfeeding decreases risk (breast cancer type unspecified) in the mother
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Image source: WCRF

Benefits and harms of breast cancer screening in women aged 40-49 years

Early detection of breast cancer through screening can lower breast cancer mortality rates and reduce the burden of this disease in the population | International Journal of Cancer

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In most western countries, mammography screening starting from age 50 is recommended. However, there is debate about whether breast cancer screening should be extended to younger women. This systematic review provides an overview of the evidence from RCT’s on the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening with mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years. The quality of the evidence for each outcome was appraised using the GRADE approach.

Four articles reporting on two different trials, the Age trial and the Canadian National Breast Screening Study-I (CNBSS-I), were included. The results showed no significant effect on breast cancer mortality (Age trial: RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.80-1.09; CNBSS-I: HR 1.10 (95% CI 0.86-1.40) nor on all-cause mortality (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.93-1.03) in women aged 40 to 49 years offered screening. Among regularly attending women the cumulative risk of experiencing a false-positive recall was 20.5%. Overdiagnosis of invasive breast cancer at five years post cessation of screening for women aged 40to 49 years was estimated to be 32%; 20 years post cessation of screening 48%. Including ductal carcinoma in situ, these numbers were 41% and 55%.

Based on the current evidence from randomised trials, extending mammography screening to younger age groups cannot be recommended. However there were limitations including relatively low sensitivity of screening and screening attendance, insufficient power, and contamination, which may explain the non-significant results.

Full reference: van den Ende, C. et al. (2017) Benefits and harms of breast cancer screening with mammography in women aged 40-49 years: A systematic review. International Journal of Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.30794