Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Facts About Bone Cancer

Did you know that bone cancer rarely is the only location that cancer is seen in the human body? Usually it is spread or metastasized by remote cancers in other organs of the body.

                                              Bone tumor by X-Ray

                                            Bone Cancer under the microscope from biopsy

Notice the abnormal growth of cells in the picture above which indicates cancer.

The Most Common Types of Bone Cancers :

  • Osteosarcoma, which arises from osteoid tissue in the bone. This tumor occurs most often in the knee and upper arm (1).
  • Chondrosarcoma, which begins in cartilaginous tissue. Cartilage pads the ends of bones and lines the joints. Chondrosarcoma occurs most often in the pelvis (located between the hip bones), upper leg, and shoulder. Sometimes a chondrosarcoma contains cancerous bone cells. In that case, doctors classify the tumor as an osteosarcoma.
  • The Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors (ESFTs), which usually occur in bone but may also arise in soft tissue (muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue). Scientists think that ESFTs arise from elements of primitive nerve tissue in the bone or soft tissue (2). ESFTs occur most commonly along the backbone and pelvis and in the legs and arms (3).
Other types of cancer that arise in soft tissue are called soft tissue sarcomas. They are not bone cancer and are not described in this resource.

What are bone cancer symptoms and signs?

The most common symptom of bone tumors is pain. In most cases, the symptoms become gradually more severe with time, including bone pain. Initially, the pain may only be present either at night or with activity. Depending on the growth of the tumor, those affected may have symptoms for weeks, months, or years before seeking medical advice. In some cases, a mass or lump may be felt either on the bone or in the tissues surrounding the bone. This is most common with MFH or fibrosarcoma but can occur with other bone tumors. The bones can become weakened by the tumor and lead to a fracture after little or no trauma or just from standing on the affected bone. This can occur with both benign and malignant tumors. Even benign tumors can spread locally and weaken the surrounding bone. If the tumor compresses the surrounding nerve it can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the extremities. If the surrounding blood vessels are compressed, it can affect the blood flow to the extremities. Fever, chills, night sweats, and weight loss can occur but are less common. These symptoms are more common after spread of the tumor to other tissues in the body.

What are the possible causes of bone cancer?

Although bone cancer does not have a clearly defined cause, researchers have identified several factors that increase the likelihood of developing these tumors. Osteosarcoma occurs more frequently in people who have had high-dose external radiation therapy or treatment with certain anticancer drugs; children seem to be particularly susceptible. A small number of bone cancers are due to heredity. For example, children who have had hereditary retinoblastoma (an uncommon cancer of the eye) are at a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, particularly if they are treated with radiation. Additionally, people who have hereditary defects of bones and people with metal implants, which doctors sometimes use to repair fractures, are more likely to develop osteosarcoma (4). Ewing sarcoma is not strongly associated with any heredity cancer syndromes, congenital childhood diseases, or previous radiation exposure (2).

What are the treatment options for bone cancer?

Treatment options depend on the type, size, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the person’s age and general health. Treatment options for bone cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and cryosurgery.
  • Surgery is the usual treatment for bone cancer. The surgeon removes the entire tumor with negative margins (no cancer cells are found at the edge or border of the tissue removed during surgery). The surgeon may also use special surgical techniques to minimize the amount of healthy tissue removed with the tumor.
    Dramatic improvements in surgical techniques and preoperative tumor treatment have made it possible for most patients with bone cancer in an arm or leg to avoid radical surgical procedures (removal of the entire limb). However, most patients who undergo limb-sparing surgery need reconstructive surgery to maximize limb function (1).
  • Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Patients who have bone cancer usually receive a combination of anticancer drugs. However, chemotherapy is not currently used to treat chondrosarcoma (1).
  • Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used in combination with surgery. It is often used to treat chondrosarcoma, which cannot be treated with chemotherapy, as well as ESFTs (1). It may also be used for patients who refuse surgery.
  • Cryosurgery is the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells. This technique can sometimes be used instead of conventional surgery to destroy the tumor (1).

    This video educates us on how bone cancer is diagnosed.  To learn more about bone cancer then go to the following websites :


Friday, February 24, 2012

Great News For Prostate Cancer

Myriad Prolaris (R) test has shown to significantly predict prostrate cancer outcome from tissue biopsy.

Approximately 241,000 men are diagnosed annually in the U.S. with prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer among U.S. males and is responsible for more deaths in men than any other cancer except lung cancer. Today the most common treatments for men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer include surgery, radiation and active surveillance.
                                         Explanation of Diagnosing Prostate Cancer


Optimal management of clinically localized prostate cancer presents a unique challenge to physicians and patients, because it is a highly variable and often slow growing, nonaggressive cancer. More men will die with prostate cancer than of it. Prolaris was developed to aid physicians in predicting disease aggressiveness in conjunction with clinical parameters such as Gleason score and PSA. Prolaris measures the expression level of genes involved with cell cycle progression to predict disease outcome. The signature has been evaluated in four retrospective clinical studies:

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 24, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Myriad Genetics, Inc. (Nasdaq:MYGN) announced today that a study published in the British Journal of Cancer demonstrated the prognostic ability of the Company's Prolaris test in needle biopsy material. The study entitled, "Prognostic Value of a Cell Cycle Progression Signature for Prostate Cancer Death in a Conservatively Managed Needle Biopsy Cohort," highlighted the ability of the test to significantly and accurately predict prostate cancer aggressiveness and consequent death from the disease.
"The Prolaris test offers men and healthcare providers a tool to make better-informed treatment decisions based on the aggressiveness of prostate cancer," said Jerry Lanchbury Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Myriad Genetics Inc. "We believe this test will provide critical information needed to avoid unnecessary and life altering morbidities associated with treating the disease in men who have a less aggressive form of prostate cancer."
Researchers at the Queen Mary, University of London, and Myriad, analyzed the Prolaris Score of 349 prostate cancer patients who had been diagnosed by needle biopsy and managed conservatively. The authors concluded that the Prolaris test was the most significant predictor of disease aggressiveness and death, and may be a valuable tool in managing prostate cancer. Specifically, they found that the 81 percent of prostate cancer patients with lower Prolaris Scores when left untreated had an excellent five-year survival rate of 93 percent. Unfortunately, the probability of death from untreated prostate cancer increased significantly in men with high Prolaris Scores. In the 19 percent of prostate cancer patients with higher Prolaris Scores, the five-year survival rate was only 63 percent and the ten-year survival rate was 44 percent.
In discussing the results of the study, the authors highlighted the unmet clinical need in this field, namely, the inability of current clinical parameters to distinguish men with a fast-growing form of prostate cancer who are appropriate for aggressive treatment, such as radical prostatectomy or radiation, from those with an indolent or less aggressive form who are candidates for active surveillance. The Prolaris test was developed to provide a solution for this significant unmet clinical need in an effort to provide patients and physicians with the ability to better predict disease outcome, thereby optimizing treatment and decision making. With this fourth clinical study, the Prolaris test has been shown, in a total of over 1450 patients, to consistently be a highly prognostic tool to assess the aggressiveness of a man's prostate cancer.
Cancer Research UK was involved in funding this research.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Astrocytoma Brain Tumors

What is an Astrocytoma brain  tumor?  Astrocytoma tumors are a form of glioma with star-shaped cells. Glioma is is a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spine. It is called a glioma because it arises from glial cells. The most common site of gliomas is the brain.

Astrocytoma tumors often grow very slowly or not at all for long periods of time. Therefore, close observation rather than treatment is possible in some cases (especially ones associated with neurofibromatosis ). They may occur in many parts of the brain, but most commonly in the cerebrum. They occur less commonly in the spinal cord. People of all ages can develop astrocytomas, but they are more prevalent in adults, particularly middle-aged men. Astrocytomas in the base of the brain are more prevalent in children or younger people and account for the majority of children’s brain tumors. In children, most of these tumors are considered low-grade, while in adults most are high-grade.
General symptoms of an astrocytoma tumor are a result of growing pressure inside the skull. These symptoms include headache, vomiting and mental status changes. Other symptoms, such as drowsiness, lethargy, obtuseness, personality changes, disordered conduct and impaired mental faculties show up early in about one out of every four patients with malignant brain tumors.
In young children, the growing pressure of an astrocytoma tumor inside the skull may enlarge the head. Changes (such as swelling) may be observed in the back of the eye, where the blind spot is. Usually there are no changes in temperature, blood pressure, pulse or respiratory rates except just before death. Seizures are more common with meningiomas, slow-growing astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas than with malignant gliomas.
Symptoms of an astrocytoma tumor vary depending on what part of the brain (or which glands or nerves) are affected by the tumor. Sometimes the nature of the seizures can help determine the location of the brain tumor.
Astrocytomas are generally classified (graded) into one of three types: Low grade astrocytomas, anaplastic astrocytomas and glioblastomas. Low grade astrocytomas account for 10 percent of astrocytomas. These tumors are typically slow growing and may not require specific treatment at the time of diagnosis. Many patients with low grade astrocytomas live for prolonged periods of time after their diagnosis. However, these tumors often advance into the higher grades and more rapidly growing forms of brain gliomas. Anaplastic astrocytomas and glioblastomas are the most aggressive and, unfortunately, the most common astrocytomas. Glioblastomas are fast growing astrocytomas that contain areas of dead tumor cells. In adults, glioblastoma occurs most often in the cerebrum, especially in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.


A neurologic evaluation should be conducted if a patient has slowly increasing signs of mental dysfunction, new seizures, persistent headaches or evidence of pressure inside the skull, such as vomiting or swelling or protrusion of the blind spot at the back of the eye.
A neurologist (a doctor who has received special additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves)performs a complete examination, which may include a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a computed.

Treatment Options
Treatment options include surgery, radiation, radiosurgery, and chemotherapy. The main goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible without injuring brain tissue needed for neurological function (such as the ability to speak, walk, motor skills, etc.). However, high-grade tumors often have tentacle-like structures that invade surrounding tissues, making it more difficult to remove the entire tumor. If the tumor cannot be completely removed, surgery can still reduce or control tumor size. In most cases, surgeons open the skull through a craniotomy to best access the tumor site. The goal of radiation therapy is to selectively kill tumor cells while leaving normal brain tissue unharmed. In standard external beam radiation therapy, multiple treatments of standard-dose "fractions" of radiation are applied to the brain. Each treatment induces damage to both healthy and normal tissue. By the time the next treatment is given, most of the normal cells have repaired the damage, but the tumor tissue has not. This process is repeated for a total of 10 to 30 treatments, depending on the type of tumor. This additional treatment provides some patients with improved outcomes and longer survival rates.
Radiosurgery is a treatment method that uses computerized calculations to focus radiation at the site of the tumor while minimizing the radiation dose to the surrounding brain. Radiosurgery may be an adjunct to other treatments, or it may represent the primary treatment technique for some tumors
Patients undergoing chemotherapy are administered special drugs designed to kill tumor cells. Although chemotherapy may improve overall survival in patients with the most malignant primary brain tumors, it does so in only about 20 percent of patients. Chemotherapy is often used in young children instead of radiation, as radiation may have negative effects on the developing brain. The decision to prescribe this treatment is based on a patient’s overall health, type of tumor, and extent of the cancer. Before considering chemotherapy, you should discuss it with your doctor, as there are many side effects.
Because traditional treatment modalities are unlikely to result in a prolonged remission of malignant astrocytomas, researchers are presently investigating a number of promising new treatments including gene therapy, highly focused radiation therapy, immunotherapy and novel chemotherapies. A number of new treatments are being made available on an investigational basis at centers specializing in brain tumor therapies.

                                           Astrocytoma Explained by Dr. Mark Atlas

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Scripps Research Institute Developing New Blood Test To Detect Certain Cancer Cells

This new test will be able to detect certain cancer cells before they spread. The blood test by Scripps Research would find cells not seen with biopsy.

"It's very exciting," said Dr. Kelly Bethel, a pathologist with the Scripps Clinical Group.  Right now the tissue of lung and breast are obtained through biopsy samples.  This procedure can be painful for patients.

Angel O'Brien knows that pain all too well. She is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and received both a biopsy of the breast and her lymph nodes for testing.

"It was a very quick process," O'Brien said. "When they do it, it's just a little injection, very quick. But the lymph node was quite tender and that one hurt."The blood test would find cells not normally seen with a biopsy. Researchers explained that sometimes cancer cells escape from the main tumor, flow through the blood and spread."They're just too elusive. You can't catch them. You can't capture them," said Bethel.Doctors were not able to detect those runaway cells in tissue cancers until now.

"Every time you come to the doctor or every time you get a new therapy … we can check and see what's going on," Bethel said.
"A primary biopsy is a very invasive procedure, whereas a blood sample is something that you can get very easily and it's not just easy, you can take it again and again and again," said Peter Kuhn, a Scripps Research professor of cell biology.O'Brien is hopeful about a blood test to watch her health."I think it's wonderful ... I think every step they make it puts another piece of the puzzle," O'Brien said.Kuhn said the blood test could reach final approval in the next couple of years.


Monday, February 20, 2012

When Does A Patient Need A Stem Cell Transplant?

Let's first give a definition of a stem cell.
Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.

A stem cell transplant is the infusion of healthy stem cells into your body. A stem cell transplant may be necessary if your bone marrow stops working and doesn't produce enough healthy stem cells. A stem cell transplant can help your body make enough healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and reduce your risk of life-threatening infections, anemia and bleeding.
Although the procedure to replenish your body's supply of healthy blood-forming cells is generally called a stem cell transplant, it's also known as a bone marrow transplant or an umbilical cord blood transplant, depending on the source of the stem cells. Stem cell transplants can use cells from your own body (autologous stem cell transplant), or they can use stem cells from donors (allogenic stem cell transplant).

  • Bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation are procedures that restore stem cells that were destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
  • After being treated with high-dose anticancer drugs and/or radiation, the patient receives the harvested stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells.
  • A “mini-transplant” uses lower, less toxic doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation to prepare the patient for transplant.
  • A “tandem transplant” involves two sequential courses of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.
  • The National Marrow Donor Program® maintains an international registry of volunteer stem cell donors.
Other Reasons For Bone Marrow Transplants
  • Replace dysfunctional bone marrow. For instance, in aplastic anemia, a noncancerous condition, your bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells. A stem cell transplant procedure first destroys the dysfunctional marrow with powerful drugs or radiation, and then healthy stem cells are infused. If all goes well, the new stem cells migrate to the marrow and begin working normally.
  • Destroy unhealthy bone marrow that may contain cancer cells. In the case of cancer, such as leukemia, a stem cell transplant procedure may first help rid the bone marrow of cancer cells. When healthy stem cells are then transplanted, normal cell production can resume. In addition, immune factors in the transplanted cells may help destroy any cancer cells that remain in your bone marrow.
  •  For more information about stem cells :  or