Amino acids in diet could be key to starving cancer

Cutting out certain amino acids from the diet of mice slows tumor growth and prolongs survival, according to new research | ScienceDaily
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Image shows glycine; a white crystalline solid

Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and the University of Glasgow found that removing two non-essential amino acids — serine and glycine — from the diet of mice slowed the development of lymphoma and intestinal cancer.

The researchers also found that the special diet made some cancer cells more susceptible to chemicals in cells called reactive oxygen species.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy boost levels of these chemicals in the cells, so this research suggests a specially formulated diet could make conventional cancer treatments more effective.

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The original research abstract is available here

Effect of low-dose aspirin use on survival of patients with gastrointestinal malignancies

Frouws, M.A. et al. (2017) British Journal of Cancer. 116, pp. 405-413


Background: Previous studies suggested a relationship between aspirin use and mortality reduction. The mechanism for the effect of aspirin on cancer outcomes remains unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate aspirin use and survival in patients with gastrointestinal tract cancer.


Conclusions: Post-diagnosis use of aspirin in patients with gastrointestinal tract malignancies is associated with increased survival in cancers with different sites of origin and biology. This adds weight to the hypothesis that the anti-cancer effects of aspirin are not tumour-site specific and may be modulated through the tumour micro-environment.

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Survivorship after lower gastrointestinal cancer

Frick, M.A. et al. Cancer. Published online: 5 January 2017

Background: There is significant need for quality follow-up care to optimize long-term outcomes for the growing population of lower gastrointestinal (GI) cancer survivors. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) provide valuable information regarding late and long-term effects (LLTEs).

Conclusions: For lower GI cancer survivors, it is feasible to obtain PROs from an Internet-based survivorship tool. Survivors report a wide spectrum of LLTEs, and these can be used to inform counseling at the time of diagnosis and to help anticipate and respond to disease-related and treatment-related sequelae during follow-up. The authors are among the first to report on PROs in anal cancer survivors. Further investigation on the impact of SCPs on health care communication and use is needed.

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Early palliative care improves coping & quality of life for patients with incurable cancers

ScienceDaily | Published online: 7 September 2016.

A randomized clinical trial found that introducing palliative care shortly after a diagnosis of certain metastatic cancers greatly increases a patient’s coping abilities, as well as overall quality of life. Researchers also found that early integration of palliative care results in an increase in discussions about patient end-of-life care preferences.

The findings are part of a growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of palliative care on patient quality of life. This study will be presented at the upcoming 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in San Francisco.

To explore the effects of early palliative care, researchers randomly assigned 350 patients, who had been recently diagnosed with incurable lung or non-colorectal gastrointestinal cancer, to receive early palliative care integrated with oncology care or oncology care alone.

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Which is better for gastric cancer patients, perioperative or adjuvant chemotherapy: a meta-analysis

Zhao, J-H. et al. BMC Cancer | Published online: 12 August 2016

N0007047 Cancer of stomach; photomicrograph
Image source: Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows photomicrograph of mucoid carcinoma of the stomach.

Background: The preferred chemotherapy method for gastric cancer continues to be matter of debate. We performed a meta-analysis to comparing prognosis and safety between perioperative chemotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy to identify the better chemotherapy option for gastric cancer.

Methods: We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and Ovid databases for eligible studies until February 2016. The main endpoints were prognostic value (hazard ratio [HR] for overall survival [OS] and 1-, 2-, 3-, and 5-year survival rate), response rate of chemotherapy, radical resection rate, post-operative complication rate, and adverse effects of chemotherapy.

Results: Five randomized controlled trials and six clinical controlled trials involving 1,240 patients were eligible for analysis. Compared with the adjuvant chemotherapy group, the perioperative chemotherapy group had significantly better prognosis (HR, 0.74; 95 % CI, 0.61 to 0.89; P < 0.01). The difference between the two groups remained significant in the studies that used combination chemotherapy as the neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimen (HR, 0.59; 95 % CI, 0.46 to 0.76; P < 0.01) but were not significant in the studies that used fluoropyrimidine monotherapy (HR, 0.93; 95 % CI, 0.56 to 1.55; P = 0.84). Furthermore, the two groups showed no significant differences in the post-operative complication rates (relative risk, 0.98; 95 % CI, 0.63 to 1.51; P = 0.91) or adverse effects of chemotherapy (P > 0.05 for all adverse effects).

Conclusion: Perioperative chemotherapy showed improved survival compared to adjuvant chemotherapy for gastric cancer. In addition, combination chemotherapy resulted in better survival compared to monotherapy in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens.

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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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Long term aspirin may reduce overall cancer risk

Wise, J. BMJ 2016;352:i1319

Image source: Shannon

Taking low dose aspirin regularly for at least six years is associated with a modest but significant reduction in the risk of cancer, especially cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, research published in JAMA Oncology has shown.1

The study found that taking aspirin at least twice a week was associated with a 3% lower incidence of developing any type of cancer. This was primarily due to a 15% lower risk of gastrointestinal tract cancers and a 19% lower risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. But regular aspirin use was not associated with a lower risk of breast, advanced prostate, or lung cancer.

The new study used data from two large prospective studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Among the 88 084 women and 47 991 men who underwent follow-up for as long as 32 years, the researchers found 20 414 cancers in women and 7571 in men.

The study found that, compared with non-regular use, regular aspirin was associated with a lower incidence of gastrointestinal tract cancers (relative risk 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.80 to 0.91)), especially colorectal cancers (0.81 (0.75 to 0.88)). The benefit of aspirin in patients with gastrointestinal tract cancer was seen with the use of at least 0.5-1.5 standard aspirin tablets a week. The minimum duration associated with benefit was six years.

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Read the original research abstract here