Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the United States today.

Among women, breast cancer is a leading cause; among men, prostate cancer is a leading cause. But thankfully researchers are coming up with new advancements to help people prevent and/or treat these diseases.

Fox news reports on new information regarding breast and prostate cancer.

Researchers have been looking into mutations in two genes well known for increasing the threat of breast and ovarian cancer may also play an important role in advanced prostate cancer, which is a surprising discovery that could lead to new treatments for some men suffering from prostate cancer.

Scientists did an analysis of DNA from tumor tissue taken from 150 men with advanced prostate cancer revealed mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes in around 15% of cases, according to a study published Thursday by the journal Cell. Another 5% of the men had aberrations in genes with functions that were somewhat similar.

Did other studies on this topic heed similar results?

“Previous studies had turned up such mutations in a small fraction of men with early-stage disease, but “we had no idea they were that common” in advanced prostate cancer,”

said Charles Sawyers, who is the chairman of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and one of the leaders of this particular study.

The results show that around 20% of men who have stopped responding to conventional hormone therapy might be candidates for an emerging class of drugs called PARP-inhibitors according to the researchers. One of these drugs, known as olaparib from AstraZeneca PLC, was approved by regulators in December for advanced ovarian cancer in women who have BRCA mutations. Cisplatin based therapy could be an option for men with cancer.

Dr. Sawyers said, “Prior to this no one would have entertained treating these patients with those drugs, clinical trials would be required to confirm their effectiveness and role in the disease.”

What were the comprehensive results of the study?

The team’s broader analysis concluded that around 89% of the patients had culprit genetic anomalies that could be vulnerable to either drugs already on the market or experimental compounds now being tested by drug companies. The team called this finding remarkable.

In general the study shows that patients who have advanced prostate cancer should get some level of molecular profiling done to potentially increase and improve their treatment options, according to Mr. Chinnaiyan, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Translational Pathology, who helped lead the study.

CNN news also reported on new advancements in breast cancer. Some researchers are questioning the efficacy of mammograms and how often they are needed.

Many experts are saying that mammograms should be used with caution.

Some of the trials have failed to show an advantage to mammography when compared with a population getting clinical breast examination. “Some of the studies show a benefit with mammography screening decreasing risk of death by 15%. Others say it's 35%,” according to CNN. Early detection or over screening sometimes lead to false positives, which is why many experts are saying to be cautious.



Gerry Oginski
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