A cancer diagnosis is one of the most life-altering events an individual can face. It comes with a wave of emotions, questions, and decisions that can be overwhelming. In this context, seeking a second medical opinion is not only a right but a valuable step to consider. Second opinions in cancer care can provide critical information, clarity, and peace of mind during a time of uncertainty. The Emotional Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally devastating. Patients often experience fear, anxiety, and a sense of urgency to make decisions about their treatment. At this point, emotions can cloud judgment, and it becomes even more crucial to have a clear understanding of your diagnosis and treatment options. Why Seek a Second Opinion? Confirming the Diagnosis: Mistakes can occur in the diagnosis process. Seeking a second opinion can confirm the diagnosis, ensuring that the right type and stage of cancer are accurately identified. Understanding Treatment Options: Cancer treatment is complex and rapidly evolving. A second opinion can provide a fresh perspective on the best treatment options available, which may include different types of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or clinical trials. Exploring Alternative Approaches: Different cancer centers may have access to varied treatment approaches, including innovative therapies and clinical trials. A second opinion can help you explore alternative treatments not considered in your initial evaluation. Optimizing Your Treatment Plan: In some cases, a second opinion can lead to treatment plan adjustments that offer improved outcomes. This can involve refining the timing of treatments or integrating multiple modalities for a more comprehensive approach. When to Seek a Second Opinion The decision to seek a second opinion in cancer care is highly personal. However, there are specific scenarios where it's particularly advisable: Rare or Aggressive Cancers: For rare cancers or those with an aggressive nature, multiple perspectives can help guide treatment decisions. Complex Cases: Complex cases involving multiple types of cancer or tumors in challenging locations can benefit from additional expert insights. Discrepancies in Diagnosis: If you receive conflicting diagnoses or are unsure about your treatment options, a second opinion can clarify the situation. Prior to Starting Treatment: Seeking a second opinion before initiating treatment is a common practice and can provide peace of mind and ensure the chosen approach aligns with the best available evidence. The Process of Obtaining a Second Opinion Consult with Your Current Healthcare Provider: Begin by discussing your desire for a second opinion with your current oncologist. They should be supportive of your decision and can provide you with medical records, test results, and any relevant information. Research and Identify Specialists: Identify cancer centers, specialists, or oncologists with expertise in your type of cancer. Consider seeking out National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, which are at the forefront of cancer research and treatment. Request a Consultation: Contact the selected specialists or cancer centers to request a consultation. Many institutions offer remote or virtual second opinions, making the process more accessible. Consultation and Review: During the consultation, the specialist will review your medical records and may conduct additional tests or assessments. They will then discuss their findings and recommendations with you. Discussion and Decision: Engage in open and honest discussions with the specialist about your diagnosis and treatment options. Take time to ask questions and make an informed decision. Challenges and Considerations While second opinions in cancer care can be highly beneficial, they come with certain challenges and considerations: Insurance Coverage: Check with your health insurance provider to understand coverage for second opinions. In many cases, insurance will cover the cost. Coordination of Care: Ensure that your primary oncologist and the specialist providing the second opinion communicate effectively to create a cohesive care plan. Emotional Impact: Seeking a second opinion can be emotionally taxing, as it involves confronting the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation. Final thoughts A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, and the decisions made in the initial stages can significantly impact the journey ahead. Seeking a second opinion in cancer care is a proactive and wise step to ensure the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. It offers valuable insights, clarity, and confidence during a time when these aspects are most needed. While it may seem challenging, remember that the goal of seeking a second opinion is to make well-informed choices about your health, with the ultimate aim of achieving the best possible outcome in your cancer journey. Here at France Surgery, we can provide you with a second medical opinion in France from just €450. If you’ve recently had a diagnosis and you’ve got some doubts, contact us now to benefit from a second medical opinion. *Photo by Chokniti Khongchum via Pexels
Medical tourism and health and wellness tourism are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same. While both involve traveling to another country for healthcare purposes, there are important differences to note between the two. Primarily, medical tourism refers to traveling abroad for medical procedures and treatments that are not available, affordable, or accessible in the home country. These procedures are typically focused on diagnosing and treating specific medical conditions or illnesses, such as heart surgery, cancer treatment, or organ transplants. Medical tourism is often seen as a way for patients to save money on expensive medical procedures, while also receiving high-quality care from qualified professionals. On the other hand, health and wellness tourism is focused on preventative care and promoting overall health and wellbeing. This type of tourism typically involves activities such as spa treatments, yoga retreats, and fitness programs that aim to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Health and wellness tourism is becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to take a break from their busy lives and prioritize self-care. While medical tourism and health and wellness tourism may seem like two completely different things, there are some areas where they overlap. For example, some medical tourism destinations also offer health and wellness programs, such as nutrition counseling, stress management, and mindfulness training, to help patients recover and maintain their health after medical procedures. Another area where the two types of tourism intersect is in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Many medical tourism destinations offer CAM therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage therapy, as part of their treatment programs. Similarly, many health and wellness tourism destinations incorporate CAM practices into their programs as well, to provide a more holistic approach to health and wellness. In conclusion, medical tourism and health and wellness tourism are two distinct types of tourism that serve different purposes. Medical tourism is focused on treating specific medical conditions, while health and wellness tourism is focused on promoting overall health and wellbeing. However, there are some areas where the two types of tourism intersect, such as the use of CAM therapies and the incorporation of health and wellness programs into medical tourism destinations. It’s important for travelers to understand the differences between these two types of tourism to ensure they choose the right type of travel experience for their needs. *image credit: Couleur from Pixabay [Related reading: The benefits of partnering with a reputable company for medical treatment abroad]
Medical tourism has come a long way since its early days, when it was predominantly a niche industry catering to wealthy clients seeking spa retreats in exotic locations. Today, medical tourism encompasses a wide range of medical procedures, from cosmetic surgery to complex organ transplants, and is a booming global industry estimated to be worth $11.56 billion in 2020. The origins of medical tourism can be traced back to ancient Greece, where pilgrims traveled to temples dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, to seek healing. In modern times, medical tourism began to gain popularity in the 1990s, as patients from developed countries started to seek affordable healthcare options in developing countries like Thailand, India, and Mexico. In its early days, medical tourism was primarily focused on cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, and elective treatments like weight loss surgeries. Patients were attracted to the lower costs of these procedures, as well as the opportunity to combine medical treatment with a vacation or retreat. However, as medical tourism became more mainstream, it began to encompass a wider range of medical procedures, including complex surgeries like heart transplants, liver transplants, and cancer treatments. Patients from developed countries were attracted not only to the lower costs of these treatments, but also to the high-quality medical care provided by experienced and well-trained doctors. Today, medical tourism is a global industry that spans the globe, with patients traveling from all corners of the world to seek medical treatment in countries like France. The industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by factors like rising healthcare costs, increased globalization, and advances in medical technology. Despite its many benefits, medical tourism is not without its challenges. Patients who choose to travel abroad for medical treatment must navigate complex legal, logistical, and cultural barriers, and must carefully research the quality and reputation of the medical providers they are considering. [Related reading: The benefits of partnering with a reputable company for medical treatment abroad] Overall, medical tourism has come a long way since its early days as a luxury retreat for the wealthy. Today, it is a global industry that is transforming healthcare, providing patients with affordable, high-quality medical care and driving innovation in the field of medicine. If you'd like to find out more about our own Medical Tourism services, contact us now. *Image by Tesa Robbins from Pixabay
A virus that infects and kills cancer cells has been injected into a human patient for the first time as part of a new clinical trial. The novel therapy, CF33-hNIS, also called Vaxinia, is what is known as a oncolytic virus i.e. one that deliberately targets cancel cells while avoiding healthy cells. It infiltrates the cancer cells and rapidly replicates, killing its host. At low doses, the therapy has been shown to reduce the size of a broad range of cancers in animal and laboratory models. And according to Imugene Limited, a clinical cancer research company, it can also help prime peoples' immune systems against cancer. For the phase one clinical trial, Vaxinia will be injected into people who have solid tumors and have received at least two types of prior treatment. The virus is either injected directly into the tumor itself or via the patient's vein. This phase of the trial is designed to judge Vaxinia's safety and tolerability in human patients. "Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies," says City of Hope oncologist and principal investigator Daneng Li. "We believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients." *Image courtesy of PIRO4D from Pixabay
More is being discovered all the time about the significant role of the bacteria, fungi and other microbes that live in our stomachs and intestines when it comes to our health. Now, the largest study of its kind to date has confirmed the link between the gut microbiome and the response to cancer immunotherapy therapy for melanoma. The study, the findings of which are published in the journal Nature Medicine, was co-ordinated by King's College London, CIBIO Department of the University of Trento and European Institute of Oncology in Italy, University of Groningen in the Netherlands and funded by the Seerave Foundation. Dr Karla Lee, clinical researcher at King's College London and first author of the study, said: "Preliminary studies on a limited number of patients have suggested that the gut microbiome, as an immune system regulator, plays a role in the response of each patient to cancer immunotherapy, and particularly in the case of melanoma. This new study could have a major impact on oncology and medicine in general." It's known that dietary changes can alter the microbiome, as can next generation probiotics and faecal transplantation. This change is in turn modifying the microbiome's action on the immune system. With this new understanding of the microbiome's impact on cancer therapy effectiveness, clinicians can potentially look to alter a patient's microbiome before beginning treatment. This is potentially important because less than 50% of immunotherapy patients respond positively to treatment for melanoma. *image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license
Cancer is like a 100,000-piece jigsaw puzzle and until now, 99% of the pieces have been missing. But a new landmark cancer study, involving more than 1,300 scientists, has built the most detailed picture of the disease ever, providing an almost complete picture of every type of cancer. Published in the journal Nature, the studies could lead to individual treatments being developed based on a patient’s unique situation, as well as the development of new ways to find cancer earlier. Historically, doctors have been left frustrated when two patients with seemingly identical cancers respond differently to the same treatment. It’s proof of cancer’s complexity and something that has challenged doctors for years. With the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project, though, scientists now have a much better understanding of why cells in cancerous growths keep growing uncontrollably. The specific set of DNA changes that cause this to happen are known as “driver mutations”. The project found between four and five fundamental mutations that drive a cancer’s growth. These are potential weak-spots that could be exploited with treatments that attack these driver mutations. “Ultimately, what we want to do is to use these technologies to identify treatments that are tailored to each individual patient,” said Dr Peter Campbell, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. The study also uncovered some surprising similarities between cancers found in different types of tissue.
Scientists from Cardiff University in the UK have discovered a part of our immune system that could be harnessed to kill all types of cancer. Despite their work being at an early stage, the team says the newly-discovered technique killed prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. The findings of their research, which are published in the journal Nature Immunology, have not yet been tested in humans, but, nevertheless, the researchers say they hold “enormous potential.” The scientists made their potentially game-changing discovery while looking for “unconventional” ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours. They found a T-cell in blood that could find and kill a wide range of cancers, while leaving normal tissues untouched. Speaking about their findings, researcher Prof Andrew Sewell said: “It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.” While T-cell cancer therapies are nothing new, with treatments like CAR-T already being used to seek out and destroy cancer, the Cardiff researchers’ discovery is exciting because it could lead to treatments being developed that are more effective against solid cancers (those that form tumours). The researchers say their discovery has the potential to lead to a "universal" cancer treatment.
A British woman has become the first in the world to receive a revolutionary new cancer therapy which involves injecting a high dose of chemotherapy directly into cancer cells. Karen Childs, from north-west London, is the first patient on the clinical trial for acoustic cluster therapy to treat cancer that has spread to her liver. During the therapy, clusters of microdroplets and microbubbles are injected into the patient at the same time as chemotherapy, which experts say will enhance its delivery. Ultrasound scans are then used to ensure the clusters “pump” the drug directly into the tumour, which should result in substantially more chemotherapy reaching cancer cells. Experts hope the technique will mean fewer doses of chemotherapy for cancer patients going forward, which should reduce side-effects. The new treatment is being trialled by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London. Ms Childs, who was diagnosed with cancer in November 2013, said: “I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet that I’m the very first patient in the world to be receiving this new treatment. This trial is an exciting step for the hospital and a huge step for patients like me.” The aim of the clinical trial at this stage is to establish if the new therapy is safe and to provide data on its effectiveness. Eventually, it is hoped the treatment could be used to reduce the size of tumours prior to surgery, making them easier to remove and potentially offering more patients a cure.
Male breast cancer is pretty rare. In fact, it accounts for just 1% of all breast cancer cases. That’s why very few studies have looked at what factors can lead to more positive outcomes for patients. To address this reality, researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have conducted one of the largest male breast cancer studies to date, the findings of which are published in the journal Cancer. The researchers found that 51% of male breast cancer diagnoses occurred between the ages of 50 and 69, and that the average age of diagnosis was 64. In fact, only 15% of the patients were diagnosed before the age of 50. Interestingly, the study authors found that black men, older patients, individuals with other ongoing health issue and those with higher tumor grade and stage had poorer prognoses. Furthermore, they found that patients who underwent a full mastectomy also had poorer outcomes. The prognosis was better for patients who lived in wealthier areas, whose tumors carried the progesterone receptor and men who received radiation therapy, chemotherapy or anti-estrogen therapy. While female breast cancer treatment has improved dramatically over the years, the study authors say it is unclear whether these advancements have been applied to the management of male breast cancer too. Two of the reasons for this are because male breast cancer usually occurs later in life and it commonly spreads to the person’s lymph nodes. The researchers hope their paper will shine some more light on this little known condition and lead to better outcomes for patients going forward.
A new tumour-agnostic drug has been approved for use in Europe. The revolutionary drug, experts say, has the potential to cure more cancer patients and reduce side-effects. Called larotrectinib, the new drug does not care where the cancer is growing in the body and instead looks for a specific genetic abnormality, which means it can be used to treat a wide range of tumours. Doctors in the UK have said the new drug is “a really exciting thing” and marks a move away from having ‘drugs that treat breast cancer’, ‘drugs that treat bowel cancer’ and ‘drugs that treat lung cancer’, to having drugs that target the genetic make-up of each patient’s tumour. However, the decision by European regulators does not mean that any cancer patient can take advantage of larotrectinib right away. Its approval for use right now only applies to patients with solid tumours that have been caused by a genetic abnormality known as an NTRK gene fusion. This rare abnormality happens when part of an individual’s DNA accidentally merges with another, leading to an alteration in the body’s blueprint that allows cancer to grow. Speaking about the drug development, Dr Julia Chisholm, a children's cancer consultant at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said: “It is a really exciting thing, as is it works across a range of cancers. It's not confined to one.”
A small study in the UK has found an unlikely ally in a strain of the common cold virus in the fight against bladder cancer. For the study, the findings of which appear in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, 15 patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer were intravenously given coxsackievirus (CVA21) ahead of scheduled surgery to remove their tumours. Post-surgery, when tissue samples were examined, there were signs the virus had targeted and killed cancer cells in the bladder. Furthermore, after the cancer cells had been killed, the virus reproduced and targeted other cancer cells. All other healthy cells were left intact. “The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein - and that leads to signalling of other immune cells to come and join the party,” said study leader Prof Hardev Pandha, from the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital. The researchers from the University of Sussex who carried out the study said their findings could “help revolutionise treatment” for bladder cancer and reduce the risk of it recurring. Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK and affects around 10,000 new people every year. At present, treatments are either invasive, or cause toxic side effects. Moreover, constant, costly monitoring is required to ensure the cancer has not returned. Bladder cancer costs the NHS more per patient than any other cancer because of its high rate of recurrence.
Hundreds of men in the UK are trialling a new prostate cancer screening scan to see if it could eventually be offered on the NHS. Right now, there is no routine prostate cancer screening performed in the UK. Blood tests and biopsies are the most reliable ways to determine if a man has prostate cancer. The new test involves a non-invasive MRI scan that checks the inside of the body for any abnormal growths. It will be a few years yet before we know if the new scan is better than the current blood tests, scientists say, but NHS England is, nevertheless, hailing the breakthrough as a “potentially exciting development”. In the UK alone, prostate cancer claims the lives of around 11,800 men every year. It usually develops slowly, so there are often no associated signs or symptoms for many years. Prostate cancer treatment depends on its development. Doctors may suggest to monitor the situation first, while surgery and radiotherapy will be advised for others. Speaking about the new test, Karen Stalbow, from Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This trial could provide an exciting step towards our ambition for a national screening programme that enables men to get the early prostate cancer diagnosis that can save more lives.”
Scientists have dismantled cancer piece-by-piece and revealed its weaknesses in the hope that new treatments can be developed. The team of scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England, disabled every genetic instruction, one at a time, inside 30 different types of cancer. Their work revealed 600 new cancer vulnerabilities, each of which could be the target of a drug. The study is being praised in particular not only for its sheer scale, but also because it could open the doors to more personalised medicines being developed. Right now, much cancer treatment involves chemotherapy, which is far from ideal due to the damage it causes throughout a patient’s body. One gene that was identified as being essential for the survival of some of the most genetically unstable cancers is "Werner syndrome RecQ helicase" also known more simply as WRN. It plays a vital role in around 28% of stomach cancers and 15% of colon cancers, yet there are no drugs that currently target it. The ultimate goal is to create a “Cancer Dependency Map”, which could be used to highlight every cancer vulnerability. Medical professionals would then be able to prescribe a cocktail of precision drugs to kill a patient’s cancerous cells. Speaking about the research, prominent UK-based cancer charity, Cancer Research UK, said that what makes the research so powerful is its sheer scale.
We recently wrote about how an exotic fish could help heal human hearts. Now, new research suggests that a rainforest vine compound is highly effective at killing treatment-resistant pancreatic cancer cells. Known for their ability to survive even the most inhospitable conditions, pancreatic cancer cells are notoriously difficult to kill. It’s one of the reasons why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat and why the condition usually has a poor outlook. Indeed, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is just 12-24 percent. However, researchers from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany and the Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama in Japan have discovered that a compound found in a Congolese rainforest plant can make pancreatic cancer cells susceptible to nutrient starvation. The compound, ancistrolikokine E3, has anti-austerity properties and inhibits the Akt/mTOR pathway of pancreatic cancer cells. It’s this pathway that enables these cancer cells to thrive even under conditions of low nutrients and oxygen – an ability in the cancer field known as ‘austerity.’ While more research is needed, the compound is seen as promising for the development of future anticancer drugs.
Ovarian cancer treatment is much more effective if it’s administered during the early stages of the disease. In fact, when ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, approximately 94% of patients have a good prognosis post-treatment. However, the reality is that relatively few cases (about 20%) of ovarian cancer are diagnosed early, which makes treatment less effective. But a newly developed blood test could change this. Beyong a full pelvic exam, medical professionals, at present, have two options when it comes to testing for ovarian cancer: a transvaginal ultrasound and a cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) blood test. Unfortunately, both have significant limitations. For example, while the ultrasound can detect growths, it cannot determine whether they are cancerous. The CA 125 test looks for a specific ovarian cancer marker, but people with unrelated conditions also have high levels of this particular antigen. These limitations of the existing tests are one of the driving forces behind the development of the new blood test. The new test, developed by a team from Griffith University and the University of Adelaide (both in Australia), looks for telltale sugars associated with ovarian cancer cells. According to the findings of the team’s study, the new blood test detected large levels of the sugars in 90% of people with stage 1 ovarian cancer and 100% of people with later stage ovarian cancer. Moreover, the test detected none of the telltale sugars in healthy participants. Prof. James Paton, one of the study authors, said the test is a huge step toward diagnosing ovarian cancer in its early stages. “Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect in its early stages, when there are more options for treatment and survival rates are better. Our new test is therefore a potential game-changer,” he said.
NHS England is in the process of introducing ‘one-stop cancer shops’ across the country, the aim of which is to afford quicker diagnoses for patients. At present, patients often face delays as they are sent for several tests to check for different forms of the illness. Despite cancer survival rates having increased over recent decades, patients who do not display obvious signs of cancer often face treatment delays. For example, individuals who have experienced unexplained weight loss, reduced appetite or abdominal pain can be referred several times for different tests, which delays valuable opportunities to begin treatment. The approach NHS England is now adopting was first introduced in Denmark and allows patients to undergo all the necessary tests under one roof. Cally Palmer, national director for cancer at NHS England, said: "Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind for patients, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer in this country. "These new one-stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated." The bottom line is that the rapid diagnosis and subsequent fast treatment of cancer is vital for saving lives. Initially, there will be 10 such centres spread across England at the following locations: Royal Free Hospital, London North Middlesex Hospital, London, University College Hospitals London Southend University Hospital Queens Hospital, Romford St James University Hospital, Leeds Airedale General Hospital, West Yorkshire University Hospital, South Manchester Royal Oldham Hospital, Greater Manchester Churchill Hospital, Oxford More centres will be added if the project is a success.
New figures show that for the first time ever the number of men dying from prostate cancer in the UK has overtaken female deaths from breast cancer. While lung and bowel cancer remain the top cancer killers, prostate cancer is now third, according to figures released by Prostate Cancer UK. In 2015, 11,819 men died from prostate cancer, compared to 11,442 women from breast cancer – a reality that Prostate Cancer UK says is due to advances in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The charity says that the UK’s aging population is one of the reasons why more men are developing and dying from prostate cancer. Angela Culhane, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said prostate cancer survival rates could be increased by developing better diagnostic tests and using them to form a nationwide screening programme. At present, there is no single, reliable test for prostate cancer. Also, men with the disease can live for decades without showing any symptoms. Those most at risk are men with male relatives who have had the disease, black men and men aged over 50. Ms Culhane said: “It's incredibly encouraging to see the tremendous progress that has been made in breast cancer over recent years. “The good news is that many of these developments could be applied to prostate cancer and we're confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade.” You can find out more about prostate cancer treatment with us here at France Surgery by visiting the oncology section of our website and selecting the prostate cancer link.
A new type of breast cancer treatment could help up to 10,000 women in the UK, according to scientists. Historically, biological therapies have been used to help fight rare, inherited genetic errors which can lead to cancer, such as the BRCA one actress Angelina Jolie carries. However, a new study has found that such therapies could also help women diagnosed with breast cancer who do not have these genetic errors. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute study suggests that such therapies could be effective in one in five breast cancers (20%). For comparison, the number of women who develop cancer and have faulty BRCA genes is 1 to 5%. For the study, the researchers analysed the genetic make-up of breast cancer in 560 different patients. They found that a significant proportion had "mutational signatures" that were very similar to faulty BRCA. Therefore, given the close similarities, these cancers could also potentially be treated with biological therapies. Clinical trials are now being called for to confirm the researchers' theory. Baroness Delyth Morgan, from Breast Cancer Now, said the initial results were "a revelation". "We hope it could now lead to a watershed moment for the use of mutational signatures in treating the disease," she said. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight can all help to reduce a woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
A new treatment for early stage prostate cancer has been described as "truly transformative" by surgeons. The approach, which has been tested across Europe, uses lasers and a drug made from deep sea bacteria to eliminate tumours, without any severe side effects. The results of clinical trials on some 413 men, which were published in The Lancet Oncology, showed nearly half of them had no remaining trace of cancer. One of the biggest issues for men with early stage prostate cancer is that treatment often leads to lifelong impotence and incontinence. That's why many men choose the "wait and see" approach when they are diagnosed in the early stages and only opt for treatment if their cancer starts growing aggressively. These new findings turn that approach on its head and "change everything," according to Prof Mark Emberton, who tested the technique at University College London. The bacteria that the drug is made from live in total darkness and become toxic when exposed to light. This is how the new treatment works. Fibre optic lasers are inserted through the perineum (the gap between the anus and the testes) and into the cancerous prostate gland. When they are activated the drug kills the cancer and leaves the healthy prostate behind. While the fact that 49% of patients went into complete remission is remarkable in itself, the additional finding that impact on sexual activity and urination lasted for no more than three months makes the treatment even more amazing. Even though more research is needed, the findings of the study are being hailed as "truly transformative" for prostate cancer patients.
Our immune systems are able to fight bacteria, viruses and microbes. Therefore, you'd like to think that they could play a vital role in the fight against cancer too. Over the past 30 years, immunotherapy has emerged and grown as a therapeutic strategy in the field of oncology. This new class of cancer treatment harnesses the power of the immune system and its unique properties to fight cancer in a way that is more powerful than many that have come before it. Immunotherapy is also an exciting weapon for fighting cancer because of the potential long-term protection it gives against the disease; the fact that it causes fewer side effects than other traditional therapies; and can benefit more patients with different types of cancer. With this in mind, a team in Toulouse is looking to build upon the already fantastic base that immunotherapy has to make it an even more potent cancer therapy. They are looking to discover which patients respond to the treatment best, and Dr. Michel Attal, managing director of the Cancer Research Centre of Toulouse, said: "This is just the beginning. In the coming years, all cancer patients will, at one time or another, be treated with immunotherapy."
Scientists have developed a way of flushing HIV out of its hiding places in the body using a cancer drug, combating its survival mechanism and killing it in the bloodstream. Dormant HIV reservoirs are targeted by the “highly potent” cancer drug and while more testing is needed, experts have described the treatment as “interesting”. Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine in California believe that a skin cancer drug known as PEP005 may be able to “kick and kill” these hidden HIV reservoirs. At present, anti-retroviral therapy – the “cornerstone” of cancer treatment – kills HIV in the bloodstream, but leaves its reservoirs untouched. According to their report, "PEP005 is highly potent in reactivating latent HIV". It’s one of a number of "lead compounds for combating HIV". It’s the “kick and kill” strategy that interests scientists the most. The kick effectively wakes up the dormant virus allowing the drugs to kill it. Dr Satya Dandekar, who led the research study, said: "We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients. "This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies." The down side is that the drug has still not yet been tested in people who are HIV-positive. So while the research carries immense amounts of potential, a significant amount of testing and further investigation is needed.
A low dose of aspirin on a daily basis can halt the growth of breast cancer tumours and even prevent deadly relapses, according to a new study. Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid as it’s otherwise known, produces conditions in the human body which inhibit the reproduction of cancer stem cells. In the past, research has shown that aspirin can be used to effectively stop the spread of prostate, gastrointestinal and colon cancer, as well as other types. Dr Sushanta Banerjee, research director of the Cancer Research Unit at Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Centre, said: "In cancer, when you treat the patient, initially the tumour will hopefully shrink. The problem comes five to 10 years down the road when the disease relapses." He added: “These cells have already survived chemotherapy or other cancer treatment and they go dormant until conditions in the body are more favourable for them to again reproduce. “When they reappear they can be very aggressive, nasty tumours.” The research team exposed incubated breast cancer cells to differing levels of acetylsalicylic acid and recorded the results. They found that exposure to aspirin dramatically increased the rate of cell death. Furthermore, the cells that didn’t die were left in a state which meant they were unable to grow. The full findings of the research will be published in next month’s issue of Laboratory Investigation. Photo credit: Irish Examiner
A study of 582 people, conducted in Europe and the US, has found that Nivolumab leaves cancer cells open to attack from the body’s immune system by preventing them from being able to hide. Lung cancer kills almost 1.6 million people worldwide every year and is particularly difficult to treat as it is usually diagnosed late and sufferers often have other smoking-related diseases which make them unsuitable for surgery. The trial involved patients who had advanced lung cancer and had already tried other treatments. Individuals who were on standard therapy at this stage lived for another 9.4 months, but those being treated with Nivolumab lived for an average of 12.2 months. However, patients whose tumours were producing high levels of PD-L1 – a protein that inhibits the body’s natural defences – lived for another 19.4 months after taking Nivolumab. The study’s lead researcher, Dr Luis Paz-Ares from the Hospital Universitario Doce de Octubre in Madrid, Spain, said: "[The results] mark a milestone in the development of new treatment options for lung cancer." The data was presented by pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the findings were described as "giving real hope to patients". Cancer Research UK welcomed the results of the study and said that harnessing the power of the body’s immune system would be an "essential part" of cancer treatment. Photo credit: Phys.org
Even if you feel absolutely fine and a picture of health, there are a number of routine medical tests that you should have later in life. In one of our previous posts we focussed on important medical tests for men and women over 40. Today’s post will look at specific guidelines for men aged over 40-years-old and should be considered in addition to the tests outlined in our aforementioned post above. Colon Cancer Screening Men aged under 50 do not necessarily need to undergo colon cancer screening unless there is a strong family history of the disease or if you have had inflammatory bowel disease in the past. If you are between 50 and 75, however, you should get routinely checked for colon cancer, which could involve a stool test every year or a colonoscopy every 10 years. Prostate Cancer Screening Most men should undergo prostate cancer screening when they reach the age of 50. However, men with a family history of the disease should consider prostate cancer checks earlier in life as a precaution. European-wide trials have shown that prostate cancer screening can reduce deaths from the disease by as much as 20%. Testicular Examination Examining your own testicles can identify abnormalities but the fact remains that most testicular lumps are not cancerous. However, if you do find any testicular lumps it is important to get them examined by a medical professional. Testicular cancer treatment is much more effective when started earlier, so consult medical advice if you find anything untoward.
Clinique des Cèdres, Toulouse Clinique des Cèdres was created in 1966 thanks to Dr Anduze-Acher. Since then it became the biggest private hospital in France with 603 beds and places. In 2003, its acquisition by Capio group – already settled in Toulouse with Polyclinique du Parc, Clinique St Jean du Languedoc, Clinique de Beaupuy – helped its development. Clinique des Cèdres provides state-of-the Art equipment to its medical teams. Amongst the mini invasive surgical techniques: Robotic: In urology for the prostate cancer treatment, the kidney and bladder surgery In gynaecology for the uterus cancer surgery and the pelvic node dissection In ENT for the oral cavity, pharynx surgery, for the cellulo-node, nasopharyngeal surgery (cavum) Coelio-surgery for bariatric surgery Computer-aided surgery and strereotactic for the treatment of brain tumors Mini-invasive surgery for spine surgery (disc prothesis), orthopaedic surgery (perecutaneous foot surgery & trauma surgery) and rectal surgery (haemorrhoidal Doppler-assisted dearterization) 2. Advanced diagnosis techniques: Fluorescence technique in endoscopy for the early detection of lung cancers and bladder tumors 3D plan sensor in cardiology for the diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks and thoracic pains and in neuro radiology for the brain exploration and the therapeutic treatment of some brain vascular anomalies Non invasive Diagnosis-Imaging system: 64 strips scan Computerised diagnosis, evaluation, and follow-up care for knee cruciate ligament UNITS: 1. SURGICAL UNITS: more than 20 theatres covering a extremely wide variety of surgeries: Digestive surgery: ceolioscopy - endoscopy Orthopaedic surgery: arthroscopy Neurosurgery: neuronavigation device (O-arm concept) Ophthalmology ENT Outstanding surgical equipments include a stereotactic frame, a laminar flow, a laser, electronic microscopes and a DaVinci robot. 2. RECOVERY UNITS: the rooms are equipped with modern monitoring equipments and are under permanent anaesthetis supervision. Specialized nurses have the responsability of the post-operation personal follow-up care of the patient. 3. DIAGNOSIS AND MEDICAL IMAGING DEPARTMENT Angiography - Coronarography - Echigraphy - MRI - Mammography - Conventional and interventional radiology - Scan 4. NUCLEAR MEDICINE Functional and metabolic medical imagining, not accessible with conventional imaging equipment is performed in this department. 5. MEDICINE 6. INTENSIVE-CARE AND CONTINUOUS MONITORING UNIT 7. EMERGENCIES 8. HELIPAD 9. FUNCTIONAL PHYSIOTHERAPY 10. PSYCHIATRY 11. ONE-DAY HOSPITALISATION
And what about French quality standards : The entire healthcare system is regulated by government The majority of specialty activities are submitted to government authorisation, regarding equipment and qualification of medical teams such as for surgery, cancer treatment, interventional cardiology and many others. Regular assessment is operated by French Ministry of Health. The results of physicians practice, procedure numbers, morbidity ,complications are monitored and assessed. All facilities are certified every 3 years by the High Authority of Health – HAS with public access to findings and conclusions. Risk management and quality are a main preoccupation and the proof of this policy is mandatory in the certification process. One of the main concerns about Medical Travel is the control of Health Care associated infection. The French HAS publish annual results and statistics for every hospital in France, data is made public and may be viewed on the French HAS Web Site. All data is validated by European centre for disease prevention and control. Public and private hospitals are of course liability insured for International patients. All physicians need to register with the French Medical Council. Depending on their diplomas and degree course, the French Medical Council authorises the practice of a speciality within strict guidelines. The particular aspect of liability in private practice imply that French doctors have to be a graduate in France, otherwise they cannot obtain insurance against Malpractice. French medical graduation is one of the most famous and is very demanding. The level of training is very high, with at least six years for general medicine, five more years of residency to qualify as a medical specialist and at least 3 more years for a Surgeon. All professionals have a personal professional liability insurance with very high coverage standards. Subscription to this insurance is mandatory to join any hospital or medical team. An essential requirement is made to continuous medical education. France has a very ancient culture of CME to adapt practices to progress and to advance new technologies. So all physicians are really up to date in their technique and practice. State regulation and regional competition have led to very homogeneous standards all over the territory. The same quality of care may be found from Britain to Italian borders. Pluridisciplinary facilities are mainly very modern and fully equipped responding to the highest standards of certification.
ONCOLOGY AND HAEMATOLOGY PERSONALISED CARE ADHERING TO THE LATEST CANCER TREATMENTS PROTOCOLS The medical team that supports you is made up of internationally renowned healthcare professionals from different areas of specialty. They work within the health care facility where you receive your treatment and in connection with your doctors. Your support is comprehensive and includes care and additional support you may need during and after your treatment (psychological, fatigue management, advice on your diet ...). Cancer Screening and Early Detection Screening is a process that aims to identify, at the earliest and in the absence of symptoms, lesions that may be cancerous or develop into cancer. The value of screening is that cancer can be detected earlier, patients can be provided with better care and the impact of treatment is reduced. For all requests, you must first send us a completed medical record via our secure platform as well as your medical history. This will allow us to put you in touch with the best French specialists who can discuss the treatments options suitable for you. Incomplete or unreadable medical documents will not be accepted. Choose an institution To be allowed to treat cancer, French healthcare institutions have to meet a number of conditions that are a guarantee that you to be well supported. You are free to choose the institution where you want to be treated.
Everybody dreads being told that they, or someone close to them, has cancer. Even with fantastic developments in detection and treatment it is still a very scary prospect and having the best medical care available can make people more at ease and able to fight the illness as best they can. In France healthcare institutions have to meet certain conditions that ensure any patient with cancer has the guarantee that they will be very well supported. If the institutions do not meet these conditions then they cannot provide cancer treatment. You can therefore be certain that is you have been given the diagnosis that no-one wants to hear that you have options to be able to access the healthcare system that has been ranked number one by the World Health Organisation. Travelling to France to receive treatment may seem like a unnecessary journey, however, the treatment you receive will be first rate and comprehensive. France Surgery offers a medical team to support you that is made up of internationally renowned healthcare professionals that will provide comprehensive care both during and after your treatment, which includes psychological support, fatigue management, dietary advice.