Prostate Cancer and Supplements

Louis Potters, MD, Chair of Radiation Medicine
Louis Kavoussi, MD, Chair of Urology

Prostate Cancer and Supplements

Last week, results from the SELECT Trial were released. This randomized study of 35,533 men tested the hypothesis that Vitamin E and selenium could prevent prostate cancer. Surprisingly, the results just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association not only found that the supplements had no effect on the development of prostate cancer, but also that there was a 17 percent increased incidence of cancer in men taking the supplements. Full Post - to Detail View

Lung Cancer Vaccine Needs More Study

Harry Raftopoulos, MD

The compound Cima-Vax has been receiving attention online recently. A vaccine therapy for lung cancer with minimal side effects, Cima-Vax was approved in Cuba in 2008 based on Cuban investigators’ efficacy data indicating a four- to five-month improvement in survival in lung cancer patients.

It is interesting that there has been very little work on the vaccine outside Cuba since then and the announcement of sales of the vaccine three years after the approval is even more curious. Nevertheless, new treatments for lung cancer are needed and the vaccine approach holds a lot of promise.

While this is a promising compound, I would be very cautious before using it without evidence from larger multinational studies to confirm both the safety and efficacy.

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Rare Cancer Affects Steve Jobs

Craig Devoe, MD

Neuroendocrine tumors are uncommon, with only a few thousand cases a year. The most well-known case may be that of Steve Jobs, who just resigned as CEO of Apple Inc.

A neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system, which is made up of cells that are a cross between traditional endocrine cells (or hormone-producing cells) and nerve cells. Neuroendocrine cells are found in organs like the lungs, stomach and intestines, and perform such functions as regulating the air and blood flow through the lungs and controlling the speed at which food is moved through the gastrointestinal tract, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Cases like Mr. Jobs’, which affect the pancreas, number fewer than 1,000 a year in the United States. In contrast, there are around 40,000 cases of other pancreatic cancers a year. Mr. Jobs’ cancer began in the pancreas then spread to the liver, which prompted his January medical leave from Apple following a liver transplant.

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Hope for Cancer Patients

Daniel Budman, MD

The field of cancer care has undergone many positive changes in the last decade due to the maturing of informatics (methods to deal with vast quantities of information), powerful computers, the Human Genome Project (which identifies all the genes in a human being) plus radical advances in molecular biology and an appreciation of the complex interplay between a tumor and the normal host tissue. Consequently, cancer treatment is becoming more rational, the need for individualization of the approach to a patient’s cancer is better appreciated, and outcome has improved for many forms of cancer.

There are currently more than 400 anti-cancer drugs in development. Recent advances in the understanding of how tumors grow and what substances stimulate the growth and spread of tumors has led to a wide variety of new drugs to treat malignancy. The combined Medical Oncology Division of North Shore University Hospital and LIJ Medical Center is at the forefront of new drug development. In addition, the division works closely with The Feinstein Institute of Medical Research to develop a better understanding of cancer—thus leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

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Pediatric Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk of Certain Tumors as Adults

Jonathan Fish, MD

In a study that included nearly 18,000 children who had cancer, with follow-up of about 25 years, the greatest excess risk associated with a new tumor at older than age 40 years was for digestive and genital or urinary tract organs, according to the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their risk is three- to six-fold what would typically be expected.

As children cured of cancer have survived and grown into adults, it has become clear that the cure is not the end of the journey. There are more than 350,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the US; more than two-thirds of them have a chronic illness caused by their treatment, and many have multiple medical problems. Second cancers caused by the radiation and chemotherapy used to treat the original disease are among the most serious concerns for childhood cancer survivors.

Understanding which second cancers happen, when they happen, and what treatment may have led to them are critical to designing and implementing targeted, risk-based screening programs for this high-risk population. This study contributes to this understanding.

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