To help boost our understanding of cancer and help in the search for new treatments, scientists in Cambridge, UK have built a Virtual Reality (VR) 3D model of a tumour. The ‘virtual tumour’, which was created using a real tumour sample extracted from a patient, can be studied in detail from all angles, allowing its individual cells to be explored. And despite the fact the human tissue sample was only about the size of a pinhead, within the virtual laboratory it can be enlarged to appear several metres across. Forming part of an international research scheme, the 3D tumour model is the product of a £40 million grant awarded to the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre by Cancer Research UK last year. Multiple users from anywhere in the world can take advantage of the VR system simultaneously and fly through the tumour cells to afford a much more in-depth understanding of them. Talking to the BBC, Prof Greg Hannon, director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (part of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre), said: “No-one has examined the geography of a tumour in this level of detail before; it is a new way of looking at cancer.” [Recommended reading: Rainforest vine compound starves resilient pancreatic cancer cells]
We are often told that being overweight increases our risk of cancer. In fact, in the UK, obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, according to Cancer Research UK. But why does being overweight increase a person’s likelihood of developing cancer? A group of scientists say they now know. The team from Trinity College Dublin say the reason overweight people are at greater risk of developing cancer is because a certain cell in the body that’s used to destroy cancer gets clogged with fat and stops working as a result. Publishing their findings in the Nature Immunology journal, the team said they were able to show that the body’s natural cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat. They are hopeful that new drug treatments can be developed that will reverse the effects and restore the cancer-killing ability of said cells. Until then, though, the best advice remains to stay a healthy weight, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don't fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link. “This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments.” [Related reading: Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer]
Patients with aggressive brain tumours could benefit from improved surgery outcomes by drinking a substance that makes their cancer glow pink, a trial suggests. For the trial, scientists gave patients with suspected glioma (a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord) a drink containing 5-ALA, a substance that accumulates in fast-growing cancer cells and makes them glow pink. The hope is that the glowing tumours will be easier for surgeons to safely remove, as they can be more easily distinguished from healthy brain tissue. Glioma is the most common type of brain cancer and treatment usually involves removing as much of the tumour as possible. The prognosis for patients, however, is usually poor. Speaking about the trial, Dr Kathreena Kurian, study author and associate professor in brain tumour research at the University of Bristol, said: “There's an urgent need to have something while the patient is on the table, while the neurosurgeon is operating, which will guide them to find the worst bits. “The beauty of 5-ALA is that they can see where high-grade glioma is, while they're operating.” The results of the trial have not yet been published, but were presented at the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow over the weekend. The next step, the researchers say, is to test 5-ALA in children with brain tumours.
It’s a widely accepted fact that cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are good for the gut, but scientists say they have now discovered why. The work by the team from the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre in London, focussed on the way cruciferous vegetables alter the lining of the intestines. As they are digested, anti-cancer chemicals, including indole-3-carbinol, are produced. Indole-3-carbinol changes the behaviour of stem cells in the lower bowel and the study involving mice showed it protected them from cancer – even mice whose genes put them at a very high risk of developing the disease. Speaking about the findings of the study, one of the researchers, Dr Gitta Stockinger, said: “Even when the mice started developing tumours and we switched them to the appropriate diet, it halted tumour progression.” Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.” Interestingly, Dr Stockinger added that cruciferous vegetables should not be overcooked to get the most benefit. According to the charity Bowel Cancer UK, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, affecting almost 42,000 people every year.
In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. It’s also overtaken breast cancer in recent years to become the third most common type of cancer. That’s why any news when it comes to potential prostate cancer breakthroughs is always exciting. Immunotherapy has been revolutionising the treatment of cancer and now a team from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London have conducted a trial, the results of which they say are "spectacular" and a "big deal". The trial focussed on drugs that boost a patient’s immune system, saving the lives of some men with terminal prostate cancer. Immunotherapy works by helping a person’s immune system recognise and subsequently attack cancer cells. One of the study participants, Michael English, 72, was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone-based therapies did not kill his cancer, however. Then, two years ago, he started taking the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab. Today, he is effectively cancer free, with scans no longer showing any signs of the tumour. However, it’s an approach that will not, unfortunately, help all men. In fact, only between 10% and 15% of patients had any response to the therapy at all. This is not something that’s unusual for immunotherapy. Nell Barrie, from Cancer Research UK, said: "The next step will be to find out how to tell which men will benefit from taking this drug. "This is important as although immunotherapy is exciting, it can have severe side effects".
Around 70% of women with the most common type of breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy, a new study has found. Following trials of a genetic test that analyses the danger of a tumour, it was discovered that thousands of women could avoid chemo using under a new “precision medicine” approach. The genetic test, Oncotype Dx, gives women a score between 0 and 100. Currently, women who get a low score are advised they do not need chemo. Those with a high score are told they definitely do. However, most women get a mid-range score and generally have chemotherapy. But the new study has revealed that these women have the same survival rates with or without chemo. This was particularly the case for women aged over 50. The nine-year-survival-rate was 93.9% without chemotherapy and 93.8% with chemotherapy. Cancer doctors said the findings would change practice in UK clinics on Monday, while charities said the news, affecting 3,000 UK women a year, was "wonderful". Speaking about the findings of the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Rachel Rawson, from the charity Breast Cancer Care, said: "Every day, women with certain types of breast cancer face the terrible dilemma of whether or not to have the treatment, without hard facts about the benefit for them. "This life-changing breakthrough is absolutely wonderful news as it could liberate thousands of women from the agony of chemotherapy."
The food you eat could influence the growth rate and spread of cancer, a new study has found. According to scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, breast tumours in mice struggled to grow without the dietary nutrient asparagine, which is found in asparagus, poultry, seafood and many other foods. When mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer were placed on a low-asparagine diet or given drugs to block the amino acid, their tumours struggled to spread. Scientists hope to be able to take advantage of cancer’s so-called culinary addictions in the future and develop new treatments based on certain foods. Prof Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Interestingly, the drug L-asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is dependent on asparagine. "It's possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients." But before you ban asparagus from your home, be aware that more research is needed, including trials in humans. Also, because asparagine is present in so many foods, it is almost impossible to avoid. Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said people should not drastically alter their diets as a result of this research. "We don't recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors,” she said.
Developing a universal blood test for cancer has been one of the biggest goals in medicine ever and now scientists at John Hopkins University have taken a huge step towards achieving it. The team have trialled a test that can detect eight common forms of cancer, with the ultimate goal being to develop an annual test that can catch cancers early and save lives. While more work is needed, experts in the UK have described the breakthrough as “enormously exciting”. The test works by picking up on tiny traces of mutated DNA and proteins released into a person’s bloodstream by tumours. The CancerSEEK test, as it is known, looks for mutations in 16 genes and eight different proteins released by tumours. In a trial involving 1,005 patients with cancers in the stomach, liver, ovary, pancreas, colon, oesophagus, lung or breast, which had not yet spread to other tissues, the test was able to successfully detect 70% of the cancers. The test is particularly exciting as it was able to detect some cancers that currently have no early detection screening programmes. Pancreatic cancer is one area where the test could really make a big difference. At present, four in five pancreatic cancer patients die within the year they are diagnosed. That’s because the disease emits so few symptoms and sufferers are often diagnosed too late. The CancerSEEK test will now be trialled on individuals who have not been diagnosed with cancer. This will be the real measure of its effectiveness and usefulness.
Overweight or obese women may not detect cancerous breast lumps until they are much larger and more difficult to treat, a Swedish study has found. Researchers from the Karolinksa Institute studied more than 2,000 women who developed breast cancer between 2001 and 2008, all of who had been receiving mammograms every 18 months to two years, as is standard in Sweden. They found that women with higher body mass indexes (BMIs) were more likely to have a larger tumour when detected than women who were slimmer. Lead author of the study, Fredrik Strand, said this was either because the tumours were harder to detect because overweight women have larger breasts or because their tumours grew faster. Women who are overweight are already at greater risk of developing breast cancer and, unfortunately, larger tumours carry a worse prognosis. Therefore, these women may need more frequent mammograms to help spot tumours early, say the researchers. Women who are judged to be at greater risk of developing breast cancer – such as those with a family history – are already offered more frequent screening. Speaking about the findings of the study, Strand said: “Our study suggests that when a clinician presents the pros and cons of breast cancer screening to the patient, having high BMI should be an important 'pro' argument”.
When it comes to diagnosing cancer, speed has always been of the essence. But now a new handheld device, which looks very much like a pen, can identify cancerous tissue in just 10 seconds. Its inventors say that tests have shown it to be accurate 96% of the time. According to scientists at the University of Texas, the device could make surgery to remove tumours faster, safer and more precise. Furthermore, they say the pen would significantly reduce the chances of leaving any cancerous tissue behind, avoiding the “heartbreak” that such a situation brings. The internal chemistry of cancer cells is very different to that of healthy tissue. That’s because their unique metabolism makes them strive to grow and spread furiously, and that’s what the MasSpec Pen, as it’s known, uses to identify them. When touched onto a piece of tissue, the pen releases a tiny droplet of water. Chemicals inside the living cells pass into the water droplet, which is then sucked back up inside the pen for analysis. Within seconds, doctors know whether they are looking at healthy or cancerous tissue. It’s thought the pen will greatly help surgeons find the border between healthy and cancerous tissue, allowing them to remove all of the cancer. Dr James Suliburk, head of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the researchers, said: "Any time we can offer the patient a more precise surgery, a quicker surgery or a safer surgery, that's something we want to do. "This technology does all three."
The harmful Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes devastating brain damage in babies, could be used to treat aggressive brain cancer in adults, according to US scientists. Up until now, Zika has only been seen as a major global health threat, but the new research could see it become a remedy. The scientists say the virus can be used to selectively infect and destroy hard-to-treat cancerous cells in adult brains. In mice studies, the Zika virus was seen to successfully shrink aggressive tumours, yet left other brain cells unscathed. While human trials are still quite a way off, laboratory tests show that the virus works on human cells, and experts believe the Zika virus holds a huge amount of potential. They say it could be injected into a human brain at the same time as surgery to remove life-threatening tumours. Some brain cancers are fast growing and spread quickly through the brain. This makes it very difficult to see where the tumour finishes and healthy tissue begins. As an extra precaution, the team from Washington University School of Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have already begun modifying the Zika virus to make it less potent than the regular strain. Researcher Dr Michael Diamond said: "It looks like there's a silver lining to Zika. This virus that targets cells that are very important for brain growth in babies, we could use that now to target growing tumours."
A pilot scheme in the UK has shown that speeding up access to surgery for pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed early enough boosted success rates by a third. The team from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust that conducted the trial reduced the time to surgery for 32 patients from two months to just over two weeks. All but one had their tumours successfully removed. However, it will be two years before anyone knows if operating sooner extends lives. Nevertheless, the team said it had saved the NHS £3,200 per patient and could help hundreds of patients all over the UK. Very little progress has been made in treating pancreatic cancer since the early 1970s. Around 9,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with it each year, of which just 7% will live beyond five years. At present, only 8% of pancreatic cancer patients in the UK undergo surgery to remove their tumours. That’s because the majority are diagnosed too late and surgery is no longer an option. Keith Roberts, who led the team from Birmingham, said: “We have shown that it is possible to create a much faster path to surgery for pancreatic cancer patients within the NHS, which could have a significant impact on survival. “We carried out surgery earlier, avoided unpleasant and costly pre-surgery treatment, and yet there was no significant increase in complications post-surgery.”
A simple blood test that accurately detects several different types of cancer years before symptoms even appear could revolutionise how the disease is treated, scientists have said. Researchers hope the non-invasive test will pave the way for a future where the straightforward procedure could form part of routine health check-ups. It’s thought that thousands of deaths each year could be prevented with the tests as they can detect tumours at an early stage, when treatment is most effective. At present, the best method for detecting cancer is a biopsy, which involves cutting out a small piece of tumour tissue for lab analysis. However, biopsies are invasive and often painful, and a person already needs to have a tumour or at least a suspected tumour to have something cut out of it. That’s why scientists have been working to develop blood tests that can do the same, without the need for surgery. Speaking about the breakthrough, Dr Bert Vogelstein, a professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told The Guardian: “It’s fair to say that if you could detect all cancers while they are still localized, you could diminish cancer deaths by 90 per cent.”
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.
The European Cancer Congress has heard that an immunotherapy drug is a potential "game-changer" for cancer patients; especially those suffering with head and neck cancer. In one study of head and neck cancer, more patients taking immunotherapy drug nivolumab survived for longer compared with counterparts who were treated with chemotherapy. Another study found that when combined with another drug, nivolumab reduced the size of tumours in advanced kidney cancer patients. The findings of the studies are welcome news in the battle against head and neck cancer, which historically has a very poor survival rate. In a trial of more than 350 patients, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 36% of patients treated with nivolumab were still alive after one year, compared to 17% of chemotherapy patients. The immunotherapy patients also experienced far fewer side effects. However, the benefits of nivolumab were even more pronounced for patients whose tumours had tested positive for HPV (human papillomavirus). These individuals survived for 9.1 months on average, compared to 4.4 months for patients treated with chemotherapy. Professor Kevin Harrington of the Institute of Cancer Research and consultant at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, who led the head and neck cancer trial, said immunotherapy drug nivolumab could be a real "game changer" for patients with advanced head and neck cancer. "This trial found that it can greatly extend life among a group of patients who have no existing treatment options, without worsening quality of life," he said.
New research suggests that bowel cancer patients who eat oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, could reduce their chances of dying from the disease. In fact, the research, which was published in the journal Gut, says that a bowel cancer patient's chance of death could be reduced by as much as 70% simply by upping their consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish). What's more exciting is that even small amounts seemed to make a difference. For example, while a normal portion of oily fish contains around 1.8g of Omega-3, the researchers found that just 0.3g a day can reduce a bowel cancer patient's chance of death within 10 years by 41%. This means that even a few mouthfuls of oily fish each day, or a couple of portions each week, can make a significant difference. Previous research has shown that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) suppress tumour growth and restrict blood supply to cancer cells. The researchers said that even though more studies are needed to allow for more firm conclusions to be drawn, there is strong evidence to suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids do indeed impact bowel cancer survival. “If replicated by other studies, our results support the clinical recommendation of increasing marine omega-3 fatty acids among patients with bowel cancer,” said lead researcher Dr Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
The government of France is set to invest 670 million euros in setting up 12 bespoke centres for genome sequencing, which will help with the ongoing battle against cancer, diabetes and other rare illnesses. It follows the submission of a report to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday, in which health experts outlined recommendations for developing "personalised medicine". Recent developments in genome decoding have allowed suitable treatments to be developed for tumours that have resisted previous treatment attempts, and help patients benefit from cures for unusual diseases. Announcing the investment plans, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that some of the investment money will come from companies. When the first-ever DNA sequencing was started in 2003, it took over 10 years to complete at a cost of some three billion dollars. Nowadays, though, analyses of the most important of the genome can be completed in just a few days and cost as little as 1,000 euros. Experts say that DNA sequencing can uncover the disposition of individuals to certain complaints and provide insights into how they react to specific medications. The ultimate goal is to allow patients to find more suitable treatments more quickly. Google, Apple and Facebook are just some of the companies that have shown an interest in the sector, and China, the US and the UK have all already made similar investments.
France is world-renowned for its excellent healthcare facilities, and that's why so many people each year take the decision to come here and undergo a medical procedure with our help. But did you know that a team of French cancer researchers was one of the first in the world to develop a blood test that can detect lung cancer? Lead by Prof. Paul Hofman from Nice University Hospital and the Inserm research centre at Nice Sophia-Antipolis university, the simple test developed by the team can highlight circulating tumour cells years before any signs of a tumour appear. The team of French researchers conducted tests on a total of 245 cancer-free patients. Of these patients, 168 were heavy smokers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - a risk factor for lung cancer - and 77 without COPD (42 smokers and 35 non-smokers). Circulating tumour cells were discovered in five of the 168 patients with COPD, all of who subsequently developed cancer. Fortunately, swift surgery to remove the cancer was successful and follow-up CT-scans a year later showed them to be in remission. Prof. Hofman said that the blood test allowed them to gain about four years on the cancer, which significantly increased the patients' chances of a positive outcome. The results of the "world first" tests were first published in late 2014 in the US open access peer-reviewed scientific journal Plos One.
Cancer Research UK has warned that rising levels of obesity could be fuelling an increase in the number of women diagnosed with cancer of the womb. According to figures released by the charity, 19 in every 100,000 women in the UK were found to have the disease in the 1990s. However, this figure had risen to 29 in 100,000 by 2013. It's thought that hormones associated with carrying extra fat could be playing a part in this rise, but researchers have acknowledged that this still remains unclear and that more studies are needed. Each year in the UK, approximately 9,000 women are diagnosed with womb cancer and 2,000 die from the disease. Nevertheless, treatments are improving and higher survival rates today reflect this. But researchers are still concerned why more women are getting the disease nowadays than before. Cancer Research UK's Prof Jonathan Lederman said: "It is worrying that womb cancer cases are going up so sharply. "We don't know all the reasons why, but we do know that about a third of cases are linked to being overweight - so it is no surprise to see the increases in womb cancer cases echo rising obesity levels." The exact causes of womb cancer remain unclear, but experts believe that extra fat may produce hormones which could increase the chances of tumours forming. Other risk factors include: lack of exercise, age and genetics. Being overweight increases a person's risk of developing some cancers, which is why it's important to get regular exercise and keep an eye on portion sizes, as well as sugar and fat intake.
A new study suggests that hundreds of thousands of cancer patients could be spared from risky surgery if scanners rather than scalpels are used to check tumours. At present, head and neck tumours are treated using chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, once treatment has finished, surgery is required to visually check whether the growth has disappeared. This involves an operation that can take up to three hours and sees patients needing at least a week in hospital to recover. Furthermore, the operation can leave patients disfigured and/or risk nerve damage, which can lead to movement problems in the arms. A study of 564 patients, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 80% of patients could be spared surgery by undergoing cancer scans instead. Even more intriguing is the fact that survival rates remained the same. Using a radioactive dye, which is picked up by rapidly-dividing cancer cells, Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) can see if cancer in the head or neck is still active following treatment. Speaking to the BBC, Prof Hisham Mehanna, from the University of Birmingham, said: "We can now use this new technology to save patients having a debilitating operation and identify those that need the operation rather than give it to everybody." The scanning approach is also good news for the NHS as it saves around £1,492 per patient.
A new breast cancer combination drug treatment, which eradicated tumours in just 11 days, has been hailed as "staggering" by doctors, after it was recently reported at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam. Furthermore, experts say that the new two-pronged technique could mean that thousands of women do not need to undergo gruelling chemotherapy going forward. The drugs were tested on 257 women across 23 hospitals in the UK and target a specific weakness found in one-in-10 breast cancers. And despite the team behind the study not expecting such striking results, many experts are lauding the results as a potential stepping stone towards the development of a tailored cure for cancer. Specifically, the research team wanted to investigate how drugs could affect a tumour from the time it was discovered to the operation to remove it. In some cases (approximately 11%), when they went to operate, there was no sign at all that any tumour had even existed. In others, the tumours were found to have significantly shrunk. The drugs used were Tyverb and Herceptin, which both target a protein - known as HER2 - that fuels breast tumour growth in some women. Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, the UK's largest breast cancer charity, said: "We hope this particularly impressive combination trial will serve as a stepping stone to an era of more personalised treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer."
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
A ground-breaking new cancer vaccine, which is tailored for the individual and targets specific genetic errors in a patient’s tumour, has been developed in the US. According to a new report published in the journal Science, safety tests on three people showed that their immune systems could be ‘trained’ to fight skin cancer. The American team behind the findings say that the early results are a “significant step” towards developing personalised cancer vaccines. Harmful UV rays can turn otherwise healthy skin cells into potentially-lethal melanomas by damaging their DNA. The resulting tumours are a genetic mess, which differ from patient-to-patient and contain hundreds of random mutations. These genetic mutations were then analysed by the research team with the intention of predicting the new and unique flags that would be displayed by the cancer cells. These were then fed into a computer and an algorithm decided the best targets for a vaccine. The resulting personalised vaccines were then given to three test patients back in 2013 who all had advanced tumours and all of who had previously been treated with ipilimumab. One of the patients was in remission and has remained free from cancer; one still has tumours but they are stable; and the third’s tumours shrank after being given the vaccine before enlarging again but remaining stable. At this stage, the research was purely to see if the vaccines were safe and provoked an immune response. It has been hailed as successful on both counts.
KNEE ARTHROSCOPY If you’ve landed here then chances are you’re considering undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in France. If that’s the case, then you’ve definitely come to the right place! Here at France Surgery we are committed to opening up the French healthcare system to the rest of the world and making it truly accessible to people wanting to realise all the benefits that it offers. Knee arthroscopy is one of many procedures that we can help you with and our overall aim is for you to have the best surgical experience possible. Furthermore, with our established network of approximately 120 hospitals and more than 1,500 highly experienced medical specialists across France, you can be sure that you’ll be in the best possible care. But what is arthroscopy? Well, it’s a way for orthopaedic surgeons to visualise, diagnose and treat medical problems inside a joint. The term stems from the Greek words, “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). So it literally means to look inside the joint. This technique allows the surgeon to look, palpate and precisely evaluate anatomical lesions before treating them through two or three punctiform skin incisions. Conditions that can be treated with this technique include, arthrosis, inflammatory arthritis, sports trauma, synovial tumours and torn or damaged anterior cruciate ligaments to name but a few. How is it performed? Although it is sometimes carried out with a local anaesthetic, knee arthroscopy usually happens under a general anaesthetic. A small, button hole-sized incision is made to allow for the insertion of the arthroscope but two or three further incisions may be required to access other parts of the joint, or to allow access for other instruments. Corrective knee surgery can actually be performed arthroscopically through the same incisions. Is an overnight stay necessary? The beauty of arthroscopic knee surgery is that most patients undergo it on an outpatient basis. This ambulatory surgery means that people often go home on the day of their surgery. However, evaluations are made on a case-by-case basis and your surgeon may decide that an overnight stay is required. Either way, you’ll find yourself recovering from your arthroscopic knee surgery in no time and if a overnight stay is required you can be sure it will be in a top-class French clinic. What happens after surgery? Recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery is much faster than traditional knee surgery. However, you will still need to take things steady for the first couple of days to allow the knee to start to repair, but many patients actually leave hospital on the day of their surgery. Why France? Simply because you can receive world-class medical care, without the long waiting times at very affordable prices. Furthermore, with France Surgery’s assistance, you can rest assured that you are in the safest possible hands throughout the entirety of your stay.
THYROIDECTOMY What is a Thyroidectomy? The thyroid is an endocrine gland which produces hormones controlling different bodies’ functions. To some extent it can be compared to the body’s general thermostat: When over performing, it triggers pulse acceleration, bowel movement acceleration, weight loss, excitation and aggressiveness. When Under performing, it triggers pulse slowdown, constipation, weight increase, Memory troubles and dépression signs. The thyroid gland can suffer from minor disease or cancer. Up to 10% of people may suffer from a minor thyroid disease (goitre, nodule, hypo or hyperthyroidism) Cancer represents 10 to 12 % of thyroid’s tumour, which explains complete screening prior of deciding for a surgery. Prognostic is very good in more than 90% of cases. The surgery called “thyroidectomy” is performed under general anaesthesia. It consists in removing part or all of the thyroid gland. Incision is done in the neck’s fold to hide the scar as much as possible. If a cancer is suspected, an anatomo-pathologist doctor present during surgery will perform an immediate preliminary analysis of the removed nodule which will help the surgeon decide if a total gland removal is required, reducing the risk to have to perform another surgery later on. If it only is a toxic nodule (e.g. which over produces hormones), only half of thyroid removal will be necessary.