A Survivor’s Guide to Managing the Side Effects of Mesothelioma

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or she must deal with a lot of variables. Choosing a treatment type, and committing to its completion is a job in itself. The treatment often has side effects that patients must deal with on top of the cancer. Doctors and researchers are finding new ways to treat the health effects as successful treatments continue to rise in number. Patients have many medical and palliative choices in today’s care environment.

Try Brain Puzzles

One of the first tips for coping is maintaining a mental balance. Chemotherapy and associated treatments leave a fuzzy mind behind. Patients might forget about things that are normally simple in nature. Use puzzles to keep up with a clear mind. By exercising the brain, these mental side effects can be fought off. As the patient moves forward with other treatments, the mind can still use the puzzles as a way to jog the brain and create new, neural pathways.

Managing Immunotherapy with Medications

According to the U.S. News and World Report, immunotherapy is the wave of the future. By using the body’s own resources, cancer cells can be killed off in record numbers. An unwanted effect from this cancer treatment, however, is inflammation. This reaction is normal. It can get out of hand with immunotherapy pills so doctors normally suggest counter solutions in the form of other medications.

Increase your Calorie Count

When patients have mesothelioma and treatment is ongoing, they may experience a lack of appetite. The American Lung Association suggests that excess calories in the form of good fats must be added to any consumed foods. Drizzle olive oil on a meal so that the patient consumes enough calories to avoid weight loss. Good fats improve the body’s cardiovascular system with cholesterol-fighting power. The extra calories can be used to maintain a healthy weight as treatment continues.

Avoid Infections with Hygienic Solutions

Sores and infections are common during any cancer treatment. Patients must take care of their health as much as possible. Use baking soda every day and rinse out the mouth with some water. This substance fights off germs at the molecular level. Aside from this suggestion, patients should wash their hands and keep their feet covered when they are outdoors. Any infections will impede the success of a medical program.

Breathe Deeply

Mesothelioma patients deal with lung-tissue problems so basic breathing can be problematic. Patients should try to breathe in deeply with a relaxed tone to their muscles. Doctors might suggest breathing techniques that are specific to a patient’s situation. Solid breathing will improve the lung’s flexibility as mesothelioma is being eradicated from the patients’ bodies.

The symptoms of cancer will vary between patients. If a patient discovers an unusual issue, speaking to the doctor must be the first step. There might be a reasonable answer for the issue, or further evaluations may be in order. Prioritize every aspect of a healthy lifestyle so that cancer treatment is not a future option.

Virgil Anderson


Future Science Group announces free access to peer-reviewed journals focused on cancer

Future Science Group today announced that it will provide free access to three of its peer-reviewed, cancer-focused journals for the remainder of 2015. The journals, Hepatic OncologyMelanoma Management, and the International Journal of Endocrine Oncology present the latest findings in their area of research and treatment, together with authoritative reviews, cutting-edge editorials and perspectives that highlight hot topics and controversy in the field.

Given the critical importance of emerging research to every practitioner treating patients with cancer, we are very pleased to provide individuals with better access to new sources of quality information,” said Phil Garner, Managing Director of Future Science Group. “While the journals are relatively new, each offers in depth coverage of an area of cancer that demands more attention and resources.”

Hepatic Oncology publishes original research studies and reviews addressing preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to all types of cancer of the liver, in both the adult and pediatric populations. The quarterly journal also highlights significant advances in basic and translational research, and places them in context for future therapy.

For more details please see: http://www.futuremedicine.com/loi/hep

Melanoma Management launched in August 2014 and focuses on the clinical aspects of melanoma, from prevention to diagnosis and from treatment of early-stage disease to late-stage melanoma and metastasis. Published quarterly, Melanoma Management delivers an accessible overview of current and future melanoma management options in a concise format that is ideal for the busy clinician. The journal welcomes the unsolicited submission of article proposals and original research manuscripts.

For more details please see: http://www.futuremedicine.com/loi/mmt

International Journal of Endocrine Oncology is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that helps the clinician to keep up to date with best practice in a fast-moving field that covers a broad range of diseases, both malignant and benign. It presents research findings in diagnosis and management of endocrine cancer, including tumors of hormone-secreting glands, such as the pituitary, thyroid, pancreatic and adrenal glands, along with neuroendocrine tumors. Independent drug evaluations assess newly approved medications and their role in clinical practice.

For more details please see: http://www.futuremedicine.com/loi/ije

All of the journals welcome the unsolicited submission of article proposals and original research manuscripts. Select content can be accessed from the whole of Future Science Group’s Oncology collection. Plus, via Oncology Central, Future Science Group’s free eCommunity for oncology professionals, users can access breaking news, articles and other essential current information, all aimed and selected by fellow trusted clinicians.

Oncologists reveal reasons for high cost of cancer drugs in the US and recommend solutions

Increasingly high prices for cancer drugs are affecting patient care in the U.S. and the American health care system overall, say the authors of a special article published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Americans with cancer pay 50 percent to 100 percent more for the same patented drug than patients in other countries,” says S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, who is one of the authors. “As oncologists we have a moral obligation to advocate for affordable cancer drugs for our patients.”

Dr. Rajkumar and his colleague, Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., of MD Anderson Cancer Center, say the average price of cancer drugs for about a year of therapy increased from $5,000 to $10,000 before 2000 to more than $100,000 by 2012. Over nearly the same period the average household income in the U.S. decreased by about 8 percent.

In the paper, the authors rebut the major arguments the pharmaceutical industry uses to justify the high price of cancer drugs, namely, the expense of conducting research and drug development, the comparative benefits to patients, that market forces will settle prices to reasonable levels, and that price controls on cancer drugs will stifle innovation.

One of the facts that people do not realize is that cancer drugs for the most part are not operating under a free market economy,” says Dr. Rajkumar. “The fact that there are five approved drugs to treat an incurable cancer does not mean there is competition. Typically, the standard of care is that each drug is used sequentially or in combination, so that each new drug represents a monopoly with exclusivity granted by patent protection for many years.”

Drs. Rajkumar and Kantarjian say other reasons for the high cost of cancer drugs include legislation that prevents Medicare from being able to negotiate drug prices and a lack of value- based pricing, which ties the cost of a drug to its relative effectiveness compared to other drugs.

The authors recommend a set of potential solutions to help control and reduce the high cost of cancer drugs in the U.S. Some of their recommendations are already in practice in other developed countries. Their recommendations include:

  • Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
  • Develop cancer treatment pathways/guidelines that incorporate the cost and benefit of cancer drugs.
  • Allow the Food and Drug Administration or physician panels to recommend target prices based on a drug’s magnitude of benefit (value-based pricing).
  • Eliminate “pay-for-delay” strategies in which a pharmaceutical company with a brand name drug shares profits on that drug with a generic drug manufacturer for the remainder of a patent period, effectively eliminating a patent challenge and competition.
  • Allow the importation of drugs from abroad for personal use.
  • Allow the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and other cancer advocacy groups to consider cost in their recommendations.
  • Create patient-driven grassroots movements and organizations to advocate effectively for the interests of patients with cancer to balance advocacy efforts of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, pharmacy outlets and hospitals.

World’s first-in-human clinical trial of a novel vaccine targeting top cancers

First-in-human clinical trial using adenovirus to receive endorsement from both US Food and Drug Administration and Health Sciences Authority

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) has launched a clinical trial of a new cancer vaccine administered to human patients for the first time in the world. Cancer immunotherapy (the harnessing of the body’s defence system to fight the patient’s cancer, has emerged as one of the most exciting medical breakthroughs in the past two years.

In fact, the prestigious Science journal voted Cancer Immunotherapy the Breakthrough of the Year for 2013. Cancer Immunotherapy includes cancer vaccines, a form of treatment aimed at stimulating the body’s immune cells to attack a target protein on cancer cells. This particular cancer vaccine encodes one of the most common proteins, MUC-1 that is expressed on many cancers, including ovarian, breast, prostate, colon, pancreas and lung cancer, but not expressed on normal cells.

The Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of MOH Holdings, sponsored this clinical trial providing support that included project oversight, study drug importation, quality assurance and providing the medical expertise required in conducting a cancer trial.

Dr Toh Han Chong, NCCS Principal Investigator of the phase I clinical trial, who is also a Senior Consultant in the Division of Medical Oncology, said, “What makes this vaccine unique is that MUC-1 is attached to a protein that is intentionally designed to further enhance and boost the efficiency and power of the body’s immune system.” This protein is called CD40-ligand (CD40L), to form a construct called MUC-1+CD40L.

This construct fits into the backbone of a hardy virus called adenovirus, which further improves the body’s immune system specifically against MUC-1 expressed on the surface of the cancer, as demonstrated in convincingly superior animal study results. This vaccine has been developed by a United States biotech company, MicroVAX, and is injected under the patient’s skin. The Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI) is the sponsor for this clinical study.

So far, four patients have been treated with this cancer vaccine, the first time ever that human patients have been given this novel treatment. Of the four patients, two are diagnosed breast cancer and the remaining two have ovarian cancer. All four patients have tolerated this vaccine well, with no significant side effects. One patient with advanced breast cancer with cancer spread to her skin developed a skin rash about 2 weeks after treatment which disappeared a few days later.

This skin rash may represent an immune reaction of the vaccine against her breast cancer cells which may be a good thing“, explained Dr Toh. CEO of MicroVAX, Mr Jake Frank commented on this first-in-human study, “MicroVAX wishes to express its gratitude to the patients and their families who are participating in the testing of its TAA/ecdCD40L cancer vaccine in the phase I clinical trial currently being carried out under the direction of Dr Toh and his world class team at the National Cancer Centre Singapore with the support of the Singapore Clinical Research Institute.

In preclinical studies, MicroVAX’s TAA/ecdCD40L vaccine was found to induce a potent immune response that surpassed that induced by other immunological strategies. The TAA/ecdCD40L is unique as it can target and destroy pre-existing cancerous tumours as well as prevent the development of cancer. In view of these unique features of the TAA/ecdCD40L vaccine platform, MicroVAX has been committed to bringing this vaccine technology to the clinic, and wishes to recognise the pivotal contributions of the SCRI and the NCCS in making this clinical trial possible.”

Dr Teoh Yee Leong, Chief Executive Officer, SCRI said, “This trial showcases the strong tripartite partnership between an Academic Research Organisation like SCRI with a biotech company like MicroVAX and a prestigious healthcare institution like NCCS in conducting clinical trials in Singapore. It is also the first time SCRI is sponsoring a clinical trial to support the clinical trial community in Singapore and importantly patients participating in these trials are the ones to most benefit.”

One of the cancer patients who received this cancer vaccine is 52-year-old Jane (her anglicised name) who lives in Helsinki, Finland. Jane has stage 4 ovarian cancer. Her husband had found this phase I clinical trial open for patient recruitment on the US National Institute of Health clinical trials website. Jane, who has been flying into Singapore every fortnightly since October last year, remains well and stable with no side effects from the vaccine whatsoever.

Another patient who participated in this trial is 60-year old Mrs Janet Quah who has stage 4 breast cancer. Both patients are happy to be interviewed for this media release.

EMAS publishes position statement on breast cancer screening in Elsevier journal Maturitas

Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the publication of a position statement by the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) in the journal Maturitas on the topic of breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women, with slightly more than ten percent developing the disease in Western countries. Mammography screening is a well-established method to detect breast cancer. However there are concerns about over diagnosis with population-based screening programmes. Some tumors grow so slowly that they will not threaten the health of women during their lifetime. The women will die from another cause and thus it is argued that these tumors should not have been treated. Treatments can be invasive and painful, have major side-effects, especially in those with significant co-morbidities. While this is easy from an epidemiological standpoint, it is a dilemma for the treating physician dealing with individual women. It is virtually impossible to make the diagnosis of breast cancer and to predict the future behavior of that tumor. Thus individualization is proposed so that women may be categorized into ‘low to moderate’ and ‘high’ risk based on familial risk and the first screening mammogram so that further screening can be tailored.

Depypere et al., (2014). EMAS Position statement: Individualized breast cancer screening versus population-based mammography screening programmes. Maturitas, EPub Ahead of Print, DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.09.002 [Article]

14 Inspiring Breast Cancer Quotes

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a life-changing experience. It can be hard to handle the news at first, and even harder to know how to proceed, no matter your prognosis.

While everyone’s journey is unique, knowing that others before you have been through something similar can give you the strength and inspiration you need to keep everything in perspective.

Click through slideshow for the type of wisdom gained from great personal struggle, and know that you’re not alone.

Written by Rachael Maier

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