cancer

Recently, I had the pleasure of filming a segment on the top medical, science and technology innovations of 2017 at Reuters TV in Times Square, New York with host of CCTV Bianca Chen (video clip forthcoming).

It was an exciting year in the pursuit of the once impossible when it comes to medical developments. Here are some top picks that genuinely are changing the landscape:

1) Cancer

Immunotherapy takes the top spot as personalized treatments approach cancer cure in a whole new way. This year, there has been success in its use in leukemia and lymphoma, and now solid tumors are being added to the slate. Time will tell if the latter group will yield similar promising results. Though in its relative infancy, the achievements are being...

It's because of the stem cells.

Cornell University researchers determined that for testicular cancer, those cells are more capable of responding to chemotherapy, and they do so better than stem cells in other forms of cancer. And this effectiveness takes place with testicular cancer even after it metastasizes.

"We conclude that the chemosensitivity of TGCTs," or testicular germ cell tumors, the authors wrote in their study, "derives from the sensitivity of their cancer stem cells to DNA-damaging chemotherapy." The paper was published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.

Additionally, the findings, which used mouse models, are significant because determining why these...

Norwegian researchers just reported that the anticoagulant drug warfarin may have another important health benefit in addition to its traditional role— reducing the risk of cancer. Their report was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Millions of people around the world take warfarin — a drug that reduces the ability of blood to clot by interfering with vitamin K-requiring clotting factors. It has saved many lives by preventing the formation of clots that could travel to the brain and cause strokes or to the heart where they could cause heart attacks. People at high risk for clots include those who have had heart valves replaced or repaired or those with atrial fibrillation.

...

Using a Twitter post, actress of Seinfeld and VEEP fame, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, announced she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer:

     

 

As is included above, the information revealed is quite limited (though this will likely change with time). Breast Cancer comes in many shapes and sizes in terms of tumor type, extent of spread, hormone-sensitivity, aggressiveness and so forth. The treatment options vary depending on these and a host of other factors. The therapeutics involved in...

Yes, it's well-known that you can't make a horse drink if he or she doesn't want to, and apparently you can't get a man to stop taking a dangerous supplement — say one that produces cyanide when ingested — even when you tell him that it does so. It's kind of hard to believe, but that's what was reported in BMJ Case Reports.

The Australian man, 67 years old (surely old enough to know better) visited a hospital for a routine procedure — a cystoscopy — requiring general anesthesia. While he...

My heart sank when I received the news.

Nearly two years ago, my friend and colleague, Sam Chi, called to tell me that he had pancreatic cancer. I knew that was a death sentence.

There are various kinds of pancreatic cancer, and his was the most common type: adenocarcinoma. It was stage III, which meant that even though the cancer had not metastasized to other organs, it was locally advanced. The cancer had engulfed nearby blood vessels, making it inoperable.

Even under the best of circumstances, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is devastating. According to the...

In the rich world, cancer therapy is expensive. In the developing world, it may not be available at all. Not only is cutting-edge technology in short supply, but so are things like electricity and medical personnel. The lack of necessary resources for basic healthcare is made obvious by the fact that, if diagnosed with cancer, a person in the developing world is more likely to die from it than a person in the developed world.

To help alleviate this problem, cheap, uncomplicated, portable, and preferably non-surgical treatments that do not require electricity are needed. Now, a team of researchers from Duke University has shown that injecting an ethanol-based gel directly into a specific type of tumor, called squamous cell carcinoma, resulted in a 100% cure rate in a hamster...

Imagine a world where it is as easy to check for cancer as it is high cholesterol. New research out of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine may lead to just that. The work is published in the August 16th issue of Science Translational Medicine.

There is normally some DNA floating around in our blood. It's referred to as cell free DNA (cfDNA). People with cancer not only have more of this cfDNA, but, some of it is specifically from the tumor. This DNA is called circulating tumor DNA (...

Cancer is most easily "cured" when it's caught early. That's the rationale behind Pap tests for cervical cancer, PSA tests for prostate cancer, and mammograms for breast cancer. But there aren't similar screening tests for all cancers — and some, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer  are often not found until they're well-advanced, which makes them particularly lethal. Lung cancer, too, may not be found — especially in non-smokers — until it's too advanced to treat successfully, or requires extensive surgery to control. My colleague, Dr. Julianna LeMieux, has described a new type of screening tool that hopefully could find a number of types of cancer while they're in the early stages, using DNAs shed...

Given modern medical advances extending survival rates for chronic diseases like cancer along with the population aging at an exponential rate, companies are seeing opportunities for niche markets. Hormel —of Dinty Moore stews and Spam canned meat fame—has designed its Vital Cuisine meal line specifically to target cancer patients, for example. 

This veil of social responsibility manages to obscure what is likely at its core an economic decision. Patients are more and more frequently being managed as outpatients for cancers, so hospitals and long-term care facilities are no longer the only avenue to access them. Enduring chronic illness while living at home and still going to work is very much a...