chemotherapy

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...

Senator John McCain’s office just released a statement from the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix detailing his newly diagnosed Glioblastoma brain tumor. It had been disclosed he was recovering from a surgical excision of a blood clot performed on Friday, July 14, 2017 that was discovered at a routine annual physical. 

The blood clot was removed through an opening made above his left eye, described as a “minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision.” Craniotomies come in multiple forms— some large while others are small, which is what ...

Let's call progress against cancer a mixed bag. Until 20 years ago, chemotherapy drugs — poisons that kill or stop the division of cells— have been the mainstay of cancer treatment. These cytotoxic drugs, many of which are more than 50 years old, work on the principal that cancer cells divide more rapidly (1). So that anything that poisoned all cells would disproportionately affect cancer cells. It works-- sort of. 

Some commonly used cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs and the year they were discovered or approved. Progress?

Two of the many flaws in the use of cytotoxic drugs are...

You may have noticed a number of headlines referencing the “Tree Man” from Bangladesh with claims he is “cured” after 16 operations for his rare genetic disorder that transformed his hands and feet into bark-like warts and cutaneous horns.  

Also called Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (EV), this debilitating, heritable condition is often referred to as “Tree Man Illness” or “Tree Man Syndrome.” Though it manifests throughout the body via innumerable abnormal growths on the skin, it is considered to be caused by a genetic impairment that triggers a defect in a person’s cell-mediated immunity.  

More than 200 cases have been reported since it was first described in 1922 by two dermatologists, hence, its other name “Lewandowsky Lutz Dysplasia.” (1) Most present in childhood...

I hope you enjoyed Part I of the "Brain Tumors: Fact vs. Fiction" series.  

Welcome to the concluding piece where I continue to enlist Dr. Gregory Riggins, Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology and Director of the Brain Cancer Biology and Therapy Research Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, to help clarify myth from reality:

 

Why is location so critical to a patient's success?  

Dr. Riggins:  Location is critical and the location – along with the neurosurgeon’s skill - dictates how much can be removed, and whether removal will on average...

Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, died from brain cancer.  As did Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.  Brittany Maynard - suffering from a terminal type - became widely known for fighting for her right-to-die.  

Aside from the occasional high profile cases and Hollywood movies, brain tumors rarely make center stage.  And, when they do, it tends to be the most ominous story that gets told.  

Fortunately, there is variability in diagnoses and early discovery can better your chances with certain forms.  Benign (aka not cancerous) masses are common.  As I have previously emphasized, however, location is crucial to many disease states.  When it comes to the brain and tumors, prime real estate exerts tremendous influence on operability, survival, and impairments.  So does...

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A woman who's been diagnosed with breast cancer can reasonably expect to be treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and depending on the type of tumor, hormonal treatments. While surgery is quickly accomplished (though, of course, recovery isn't always), chemotherapy can last a year, and hormonal treatments even longer.

It's also known that chemotherapy, depending on exactly which drugs are used, can be accompanied by some pretty unpleasant side effects. A new...

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Treating breast cancer with a very high dose of chemotherapy doesn’t improve survival any more than if using a standard dose. A recent Cochrane review has put the final nail in the coffin of decades of research debunking the antiquated idea that, if only we could give a high enough dose of chemotherapy, we could cure breast cancer.

Cochrane investigators evaluated 14 randomized controlled trials showing treatment...

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We have all been there, waiting outside the velvet rope peering in – knowing that what keeps us from having a great night are the big, mean bouncers standing guard.  This time, however, we’ve come prepared. We are wearing the outfit – the one that not even the meanest bouncer is immune to.

This is a rather apt metaphor for nanoparticles —microscopic particles that have multiple applications — especially for cancer drug delivery. ...

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It is no secret that cancer is very tough to treat. Cancers that have metastasized and/or developed resistance to chemotherapy are generally considered to be incurable. An additional, and very difficult problem, is drug delivery getting the most drug to the cancer while sparing healthy cells.

This is because the surviving cancer, cancer stem cells (CSCs), tend to be both aggressive most likely to metastasize, or...