Monday 25 March 2013

Obesity and exercise may affect bowel cancer risk

People who are obese could be at a higher risk of developing a certain type of bowel cancer while exercise lowers the risk, a study suggests.

Researchers in the US analysed data from thousands of men and women to determine if there was a link between weight, exercise and the risk for CTNNB1-positive or CTNNB1-negative bowel, or colorectal cancer.

A higher body mass index (BMI) was linked to an increased risk of CTNNB1-negative colorectal cancer, while physical activity was associated with a lower risk.

Both BMI and physical activity had no effect on the risk for CTNNB1-positive colorectal cancer, according to the research pubished in the journal Cancer Research.

Dr. Shuji Ogino, an associate professor of pathology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said the results provided further evidence for a causal role of obesity and a physically inactive lifestyle in this specific type of bowel cancer.

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Could fitness be key to cancer surgery success?

A new keep fit regime might be last thing on the minds of many people diagnosed with cancer - but not Harry Johnstone.

He faced a daunting regime of scans, X-rays, biopsies and five intensive weeks of chemo-radiotherapy.

But with just six weeks to go until surgery Harry is the fittest he has been for years and feeling positive about the outcome.

Inspired by his doctors, Harry is the proud owner of a new exercise bike and sweats it out at home four times a week.

"They kept saying the fitter you are the better you'll recover from surgery so I wanted to be as fit as I can be going into surgery," he said.

Harry was motivated to buy his bike after taking part in a pilot study at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool. Patients are invited by Malcolm West, surgical registrar and expert in bowel cancer, to jump on exercise bikes to get into shape for surgery.

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Monday 18 March 2013

CT scans are the best alternative to colonoscopy to investigate bowel cancer

Study finds that 'virtual colonoscopy' using CT scans is more effective for investigating patients with possible bowel cancer than traditional tests. 

Based on a news release by Cancer Research UK

A less invasive ‘virtual colonoscopy’ using CT scans is more effective for investigating patients with possible bowel cancer than the traditional X-ray test, according to a new study.

The researchers say CT colonography (CTC) should now be considered alongside the ‘gold standard’ of colonoscopy. However, they caution that guidelines are needed before this type of scan is used more widely because its ability to detect relatively unimportant issues can result in patients being referred for unnecessary follow-up tests.

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When is best to screen for bowel cancer?

The Daily Mail reported today that, “thousands of lives could be saved if the age at which men are screened for bowel cancer is lowered by 10 years.”

This news story is based on a large Austrian study that aimed to determine the correct age to screen men and women for bowel cancer. It found that the number of screening colonoscopies needed to detect one case of bowel cancer (called the number needed to screen or NNS) was significantly lower in men compared to women across all ages. The NNS in men who were 55-59 years old was similar to women 10 years older (75 versus 81.8 colonoscopies respectively). This and other similar findings led the authors to suggest a need to reduce the screening age in men by approximately 10 years.

This robust study provides important information about the difference in prevalence of bowel cancer in men and women of different ages who took part in a national colonoscopy screening programme.

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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Bowel cancer survival 'more likely'

People are almost 50% more likely to survive bowel cancer compared to 30 years ago, according to Scottish government statistics.

The figures show the five-year survival rate for bowel cancer increased from 38% between 1983 to 1987, to 55% between 2003 and 2007.

The Scottish government will launch a new awareness campaign on Monday.

From April the bowel screening programme will be extended to those over the age of 74.

Currently, men and women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to participate in screening every two years.

The bowel cancer drive will focus on the importance of screening in increasing the early detection of bowel cancer, and encourage all men and women aged over the age of 50 to participate in the screening programme.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "These statistics are encouraging and show that today people are far more likely to survive bowel cancer than they were 30 years ago.

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Monday 11 March 2013

Bowel cancers reshuffle their genetic pack to cheat treatment

Bowel cancer cells missing one of three genes can rapidly reshuffle their genetic ‘pack of cards’ – the chromosomes that hold the cell’s genetic information. This reshuffling has been previously shown to render tumours more resistant to treatment.

Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that this genetic ‘card trick’ can be caused by the deletion of three genes found on one particular chromosome, a region known as ‘18q’.

Loss of this region is well-known in bowel cancer and the new findings help shed light on the role it plays.
The research is published in Nature today (Wednesday)1.

Normal human cells have 46 chromosomes, each of which is a long string of DNA. But in certain bowel cancers, this number can change over time - a process called chromosomal instability. This makes the cells in a tumour incredibly diverse, and helps it become resistant to treatment.

Patients whose bowel cancer cells contain particularly unstable chromosomes are known to do worse.

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New drug for advanced bowel cancer can increase patients' lives by six weeks

  • Patients on Zaltrap lived 13.5 months compared to 12 months with a placebo
  • Zaltrap will be offered to patients who have not responded to chemotherapy
  • At 30 months, survival rates were almost double for those on the drug
  • It also improves the time patients lived before their cancer progressed
  • Beating Bowel Cancer CEO hails the findings as 'excellent news'

  • A drug can prolong the lives of patients with advanced bowel cancer by six weeks.
    Patients taking the medication lived an average of 13.5 months compared to 12 months if given a placebo.

    Zaltrap, which cuts off the blood supply to tumours, has now been licensed for use in the late stages of the disease. It will be offered to people who have not responded to chemotherapy.

    Mark Flannagan, CEO of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: 'This is excellent news. We welcome any treatment which gives new hope to and improves the prospects of patients living with metastatic colorectal cancer in the UK. '

    Results from the study of 1,266 patients also found those given the drug also had an improvement in the time they lived before their cancer progressed - 6.9 months compared with 4.7 months for those on a placebo.

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