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Latest cancer Policy News from ecancer.org

Researchers identify a mechanism that stops progression of abnormal cells into cancer

​Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) report that a tumour suppressor pathway, called the Hippo pathway, is responsible for sensing abnormal chromosome numbers in cells and triggering cell cycle arrest, thus preventing progression into cancer. Although the link between abnormal cells and tumour suppressor pathways—like that mediated by the well known p53 gene—has been firmly established, the critical steps in between are not well understood. According to the authors, whose work appears in Cell, this work completes at least one of the missing links. Normal human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, but this number doubles to 46 pairs as a cell prepares to divide.

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Aspirin may slow recurrence in breast cancer patients

​New findings published in Cancer Research reveal that some postmenopausal overweight breast cancer patients who use common anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen have significantly lower breast cancer recurrence rates. Researchers from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Texas at Austin began by examining blood serum from CTRC breast cancer patients, said CTRC oncologist Andrew Brenner, M.D., Ph.D. Studying Blood Serum They placed the serum in a culture of fat cells that make oestrogen, and then placed the serum on breast cancer cells.

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NICE rejects abiraterone for advanced prostate cancer pre-chemotherapy

​The Institute of Cancer Research gives a comment on NICE’s decision: Commenting on today’s rejection of abiraterone before chemotherapy in final draft guidance from NICE, Professor Paul Workman, Interim Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “We’re very disappointed that men with prostate cancer will miss out on the chance to have abiraterone much earlier in their course of treatment as a consequence of this decision. There is clear evidence that use of abiraterone before chemotherapy is beneficial for patients, and gives them longer, healthier lives. We urge NICE and the drug’s manufacturer to get back to the table, and explore every option for making abiraterone available to these men at a price that is affordable for the NHS.

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Researchers identify priority targets for immunotherapy in epithelial ovarian cancer

​Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have found that the expression pattern of a unique class of tumour-associated antigens, known as the MAGE cancer-testis antigens (CTAs), correlates with clinical outcome in epithelial ovarian cancer. Based on their findings, the researchers have identified priority targets for ovarian cancer immunotherapy. Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecologic cancer in women and has a relapse rate of 85%. “The MAGE family of proteins is part of a class of CTAs that may serve as a target for directed immunotherapy in ovarian cancer and other types of cancer,” said senior author Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, M. Steven Piver Professor of Gynaecologic Oncology and Executive Director of the Center for Immunotherapy at RPCI.

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FDA approves IV bevacizumab for recurrent metastatic cervical cancer

​The US Food and Drug Administration has approved bevacizumab solution for intravenous infusion (Avastin, Genentech, Inc.) for the treatment of persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, in combination with paclitaxel and cisplatin or paclitaxel and topotecan. The approval is based on the results of an international, randomised, four-arm, two-by-two factorial design trial with two primary comparisons of overall survival (OS). The first comparison was between bevacizumab plus chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone. The second comparison of OS was between the platinum doublet versus the non-platinum doublet chemotherapy irrespective of addition of bevacizumab.

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Microchip reveals how tumour cells transition to invasion

​Using a microengineered device that acts as an obstacle course for cells, researchers have shed new light on a cellular metamorphosis thought to play a role in tumour cell invasion throughout the body. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process in which epithelial cells, which tend to stick together within a tissue, change into mesenchymal cells, which can disperse and migrate individually. EMT is a beneficial process in developing embryos, allowing cells to travel throughout the embryo and establish specialised tissues. But recently it has been suggested that EMT might also play a role in cancer metastasis, allowing cancer cells to escape from tumour masses and colonise distant organs.

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Death rates in top four cancer killers fall by a third over twenty years

​Death rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer combined have fallen by almost a third (30 percent) in the last 20 years according to the latest Cancer Research UK figures. The figures1 during this period highlight how research has had a powerful impact in beating cancer. Death rates for breast cancer have fallen by 38 per cent, bowel cancer by 34 per cent, lung cancer by 27 per cent and prostate cancer by 21 per cent. Breast cancer scientists have been responsible for improving detection of the disease through screening, developing more specialist care and more effective treatments – such as improved surgery, radiotherapy and drugs like tamoxifen and, more recently, anastrozole and letrozole.

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Cetuximab delivers better overall survival than bevacizumab in metastatic colorectal cancer

Patients with KRAS exon 2 wild type metastatic colorectal cancer achieve longer overall survival with FOLFIRI plus cetuximab than FOLFIRI plus bevacizumab, concluded the FIRE-3 trial published in Lancet Oncology. While cetuximab and bevacizumab have both been shown to improve outcomes in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer when added to chemotherapy regimens, their comparative effectiveness when partnered with first-line fluorouracil, folinic acid, and irinotecan (FOLFIRI) is unknown. In the open-label, randomised, phase 3 FIRE- 3 trial Professor Volker Heinemann, from the University of Munich, and colleagues set out to explore whether cetuximab or bevacizumab was a more effective partner for FOLFIRI in first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

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