Prostate awareness ‘dangerously low’ in British men

Gallagher, J. BBC News. Published online: 22 April 2016

B0006973 Prostate cancer cell
Image source: Anne Weston, LRI, CRUK – Wellcome Image // CC BY-NC0ND 4.0

Image shows scanning electron micrograph of a single prostate cancer cell.

British men are dangerously ignorant of the prostate gland, according to a men’s health charity.

It is crucial for sex as it helps produce semen and is involved in ejaculation. But it is also the leading cause of cancer in men, with 40,000 diagnosed each year, Prostate Cancer UK says.

A survey by the charity showed nearly one in five men did not even know they had a prostate and men were “blind” to the risk of cancer. The gland, which is about the size of a walnut, sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces the fluid that nourishes sperm.

The survey of 1,900 men found:

  • 92% were clueless about the gland’s role
  • 54% did not know where it was
  • 17% did not know they had a prostate

Read the full news story here

Relevance of internal time and circadian robustness for cancer patients

Ortiz-Tudela, E. et al. BMC Cancer2016. 16:285
Image source: Rowena Dugdale, Wellcome Images // CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Background: Adequate circadian timing of cancer treatment schedules (chronotherapy) can enhance tolerance and efficacy several-fold in experimental and clinical situations. However, the optimal timing varies according to sex, genetic background and lifestyle. Here, we compute the individual phase of the Circadian Timing System to decipher the internal timing of each patient and find the optimal treatment timing.

Methods: Twenty-four patients (11 male; 13 female), aged 36 to 77 years, with advanced or metastatic gastro-intestinal cancer were recruited. Inner wrist surface Temperature, arm Activity and Position (TAP) were recorded every 10 min for 12 days, divided into three 4-day spans before, during and after a course of a set chronotherapy schedule. Pertinent indexes, I < O and a new biomarker, DI (degree of temporal internal order maintenance), were computed for each patient and period.

Results: Three circadian rhythms and the TAP rhythm grew less stable and more fragmented in response to treatment. Furthermore, large inter- and intra-individual changes were found for T, A, P and TAP patterns, with phase differences of up to 12 hours among patients. A moderate perturbation of temporal internal order was observed, but the administration of fixed chronomodulated chemotherapy partially resynchronized temperature and activity rhythms by the end of the study.

Conclusions: The integrated variable TAP, together with the asynchrony among rhythms revealed by the new biomarker DI, would help in the personalization of cancer chronotherapy, taking into account individual circadian phase markers.

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Stomach cancer diagnostics: New insights on stage of tumor growth

Kazan Federal University. ScienceDaily. Published online 20 April 2016.
Image source: Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Photomicrograph showing signet ring carcinoma of stomach.

Correlations have been found between the superoxide and nitric oxide generation rates, levels of active forms of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in tumor and adjoining tissues between each other and with the disease stages for gastric cancer patients.

Despite the reduction in incidence, stomach (gastric) cancer (SC) is still the second most frequent cause of cancer related death worldwide. According to the Russian national statistics, 38 318 new SC cases were diagnosed in 2011, and the most of them on the latest disease stages III-IV. In Ukraine in 2013 SC took the second and third places in the structure of men and women cancer related mortalities, correspondingly, though only the fourth (men) and the eights (woman) incidence places in the hierarchy of tumor diseases.

High levels of reactive oxygen (ROS) and nitrogen (RNS) species can lead to the destruction of extracellular matrix facilitating tumor progression. ROS can activate matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), damage DNA and RNA. Therefore, the levels of MMP, ROS and RNS can serve as additional prognostic markers and for the estimation of the effectiveness of tumor therapy.

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Precision prevention of colorectal cancer

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. ScienceDaily. Published online: 18 April 2016.

In work presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in New Orleans, Hsu and other researchers from Fred Hutch, the University of Michigan and other research groups debuted their latest progress in precision prevention — an in-the-works method to predict risk of colorectal cancer that integrates genetic, lifestyle and environmental risk factors.

This research is not yet ready to move into clinical practice, said Fred Hutch epidemiologist Dr. Ulrike “Riki” Peters, one of the study authors. But it’s the first attempt at combining so many different areas of colorectal cancer risk into one convenient risk predictor.

Read the commentary here

Taking aspirin could increase cancer survival by 20 percent

Study prompts call for more research into aspirin as an additional cancer treatment – ScienceDaily, 20 April 2016

Patients receiving cancer treatment could increase their chance of survival by up to 20% and help stop their cancer from spreading by taking a low-dose of aspirin, new research suggests.

In a systematic review of the available scientific literature a team from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine found a significant reduction in mortality and cancer spread by patients who took a low-level dose of aspirin in addition to their cancer treatment (average study follow-up length over 5 years).

The review looked at all of the available data including five randomised trials and forty two observational studies of colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.

As a result of the review, the team say their study highlights the need for randomised trials to establish the evidence needed to support low-dose aspirin as an effective additional treatment of cancer.

B0006253 Aspirin crystals
Image of aspirin crystals. Source: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images.//CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Professor Elwood added: “While there is a desperate need for more detailed research to verify our review and to obtain evidence on less common cancers, we’d urge patients diagnosed with cancer to speak to their doctor about our findings so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they should take a low-dose aspirin as part of their cancer treatment.”

Full reference: Elwood, P. et al. Aspirin in the Treatment of Cancer: Reductions in Metastatic Spread and in Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Published Studies. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (4):


Commissioning better cancer services

Image source:

NHS England has published guidance to support commissioners and strategic clinical networks to ensure every person affected by cancer will have access to a recovery package and follow-up pathways by 2020, as set out in the cancer strategy.

The guidance includes checklists for developing service specifications, practical examples and templates to use and adapt locally.

Full reference: Implementing the Cancer Taskforce Recommendations: Commissioning person centred care for people affected by cancer

Monitoring sugar metabolism in liver may be a key to cancer diagnosis

ScienceDaily. Published online: 18 April 2016

Scientists may have discovered a significant new diagnostic marker for liver cancer, according to a paper published in the April 18 online issue of Nature Cell Biology.

A study led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that a gene known as KHK (ketohexokinase or fructokinase) is expressed differently in normal liver tissues versus liver tumors. The findings reveal that liver cancer cells had a much reduced level of fructose metabolism versus healthy cells.

View the full commentary here

View the original research abstract here