Urine test could lead to better treatment of bladder cancer

Researchers at the University of Birmingham believe that a simple urine test could help to guide clinicians in the treatment of bladder cancer patients. Being able to reliably identify those patients with the most aggressive cancers early via urine tests, and expediting aggressive therapeutic strategies, may significantly improve outcomes. The scientists believe that the validation of two urinary biomarkers could spell a new way of tailoring treatment. Patient management has changed little over the last three decades, so it is hoped that this research, published in British Journal of Cancer, will prove to be a step forward for the field with a view to providing improved care for each patient.

Link to the research: Bryan, R.T et al. Protein shedding in urothelial bladder cancer: prognostic implications of soluble urinary EGFR and EpCAM.  British Journal of Cancer Advance online Feb 2015

Statin Use Associated With Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer Among Those in the UK

In a nested-case control study of individuals living in the UK, a part of the world with a relatively low incidence of liver cancer, statin use is associated with a decreased risk of liver cancer, according to a new study published February. Data from the United Kingdom’s Clinical Practice Research Database was analysed and included 1195 liver cancer cases diagnosed between 1988 and 2011 and 4640 control patients. They found statin use was associated with a reduced risk of liver cancer overall. This relationship was strongest among current users. The authors conclude, “the results of the current study suggest that use of statins among persons at high risk of developing liver cancer, even in low-risk settings, may have a net cancer protective effect.”

Link to the research:. Mcglynn, K. A. et al. Statin Use and Risk of Primary Liver Cancer in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. February 2015

Pancreatic cancer has four distinct types

Researchers have found that pancreatic cancer can be split into four unique types, a discovery that could be used to improve treatments for the disease, according to a study published in Nature. The four subgroups were classified as having DNA that was stable, locally rearranged, scattered and unstable. The international team of scientists, including Cancer Research UK researchers, found that these four types were created when large chunks of DNA are shuffled around. The team also identified the genes that could be damaged in this way.

Link to the research: Waddell, N. et al, ‘Whole Genomes Redefine the Mutational Landscape of Pancreatic Cancer’. Nature, 2015.

Study confirms long-term benefits of melanoma immunotherapy

A long-term follow up of people on an international clinical trial has confirmed the benefit of immunotherapy for certain patients with advanced (stage 3 or 4) melanoma. More than 18 per cent of patients were still alive five years after being treated with ipilimumab (Yervoy) in combination with a chemotherapy drug called dacarbazine. This compared to fewer than nine per cent who were treated with chemo alone. Ipilimumab is one of a new class of cancer treatments that target the immune system, and works by homing in on a molecule found on immune cells called CTLA-4.

Link to the research: Maio M. (2015). Five-Year Survival Rates for Treatment-Naive Patients With Advanced Melanoma Who Received Ipilimumab Plus Dacarbazine in a Phase III Trial Journal of Clinical Oncology

More than a third of people with abnormal results drop out of bowel cancer screening

Almost 40 per cent of people who have abnormal results from bowel cancer screening tests and are referred for further investigation ignore their next screening invitation two years later, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

In contrast, just 13 per cent of those who had a normal result did not continue with screening. The Research looked at almost 40,000 people’s behaviour to find out if their experience of bowel cancer screening affected the likelihood of doing the same test two years later.

Link to the research: Lo et al. Predictors of repeat participation in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme. British Journal of Cancer.

New health care delivery model for prostate cancer care results in better patient outcomes

A comprehensive, population-based regional health care management program for men with prostate cancer has led to improved outcomes, according to a study. “While prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men, providing high quality care for men living with prostate cancer presents a challenge,” said the study’s lead author. “Increased survival rates have made prostate cancer similar to other chronic conditions, which means we need ongoing management strategies that span the natural history and clinical course of the disease.”

Link to the research: Loo, R.K. et al The Continuum of Prostate Cancer Care: An Integrated Population Based Model of Health Care Delivery. Urology Practice, 2015; 2 (2)

‘Targeted’ biopsy could better identify aggressive prostate cancers

An experimental biopsy procedure appears to be more effective than the current tests in identifying ‘high-risk’ prostate cancers, according to a US clinical trial. If confirmed in larger studies, the results could lead to fewer men subsequently having more invasive tests that they may not need. ‘Targeted’ biopsies use a combination of ultrasound and MRI scans to try to ensure a more accurate sample, compared with the current biopsy method.

Link to the research: Siddiqui, M., et al. (2015). Comparison of MR/Ultrasound Fusion–Guided Biopsy With Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy for the Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer JAMA, 313 (4)