Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Supplements / 30.01.2019 Interview with: Dr. Scott Litofsky, MD Division of Neurological Surgery University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine Columbia, MO 65212 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many patients take over-the-counter medications to held their cancers. Some of these remedies may be helpful; others are potentially harmful. Anti-oxidant medications are frequently selected by patients as they are inexpensive and available. We were approached by a high school student, Macy Williams (one of the authors) to do some research in our laboratory when she won a research scholarship (the 2016 Emperor Science Award) from Stand Up to Cancer. She worked with us several times per week doing experiments during her senior year of high school. When she graduated, we continued the work that she started. We studied effects of Vitamin D3, Melatonin, and alpha-Lipoic Acid on glioblastoma cells, a highly malignant brain tumor. We included experiments of these agents alone and in combination with Temozolomide, a chemotherapy agent used as standard of care in glioblastoma. The work was done in cultured cells, measuring growth and survival of cells. We used concentrations that could be achieved by oral intake of the drugs. We found that antioxidant medications, particularly alpha Lipoic Acid, had synergistic effects with Temozolomide – that is Temozolomide impair glioblastoma cell growth and survival better when combined with an antioxidant. The mechanism of action may be through reactive oxygen species.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, CDC, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 07.12.2017 Interview with: “Family Weekend 2014-Breast Cancer Walk” by Nazareth College is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Jacqueline Miller, MD Division of Cancer Prevention and Control CDC What efforts have proven successful in reducing racial disparities like these? Response: While some racial disparities will exist due to differences in tumor types, improving early diagnosis and providing specific treatment based on tumor characteristics in a timely fashion would result in reducing breast cancer disparities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, CDC, Ovarian Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 06.12.2017 Interview with: Dr. Sherri Stewart, PhD Division of Cancer Prevention and Control CDC What do women most need to know about ovarian cancer detection and treatment? Response: There is no effective test to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage where treatment is most likely to be effective.  Many women mistakenly believe that the Pap test can detect ovarian cancer, but it does not. The Pap test is recommended only for the detection of cervical cancer.  Recognizing early symptoms of ovarian cancer and seeking timely care may help lead to detection of the cancer at an earlier stage, where treatment is likely to be more effective.  Symptoms – such  as abdominal and back pain, feeling full quickly after eating, and frequent urination – are often present among women with ovarian cancer.  Women should talk with their doctors if they experience any of these symptoms for 2 weeks or longer and the symptoms persist or worsen. If a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she should seek treatment from a gynecologic oncologist, a physician specially trained to treat ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer patients who have been treated by gynecologic oncologists have been shown to survive longer than those treated by other physicians.           (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Opiods / 09.08.2017 Interview with: Rinku Sutradhar, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • We suspected that pain was prevalent among survivors of cancer, but there were no comprehensive estimates on the magnitude of this prevalence. For example, recent work had reported pain prevalence among cancer survivors to be anywhere from 5% to 56%, which is quite a wide range.
  • To our knowledge, there has been no prior research conducted at the individual-level that specifically examines opioid prescribing rates for cancer survivors, compared to matched control groups who have no prior cancer diagnosis.
  • We also know that socio-economically disadvantaged populations are more at risk for opioid dependency, but previous studies have not examined cancer survivors who a part of this disadvantaged group, so this is an important knowledge gap to fill.
  • We found that cancer survivors have significantly higher rates of opioid prescriptions compared with their matched controls (who had no prior cancer diagnosis). In fact, after adjusting for other study factors, we found that the rate of opioid prescriptions was 22% higher among survivors.
  • MOST SURPRISING: This higher rate of opioid prescriptions persisted even among survivors who were 10 or more years past their cancer diagnosis (compared to matched control individuals who had no prior cancer diagnosis).
  • When we broke the cohort down based on the type of cancer, we didn’t see a significant spike in opioid prescriptions for breast cancer survivors compared to their non-cancer controls, but we did see higher opioid prescriptions for survivors of lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, or gynaecological cancers, compared to their controls.
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 12.06.2017 Interview with: Farhad Islami, MD PhD Strategic Director, Cancer Surveillance Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Liver cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States, accounting for nearly 29,000 deaths per year, with variations in occurrence by race/ethnicity and state. We examined trends in liver cancer incidence, survival, and mortality in the United States and provided liver cancer mortality rates by race/ethnicity at the national and state level. State-level statistics are particularly important as they can inform state cancer control and prevention planning. We also provided detailed information on prevalence and trends in major risk factors for liver cancer and interventions to prevent or reduce their burden, to make our article a comprehensive yet concise source of information on liver cancer statistics, risk factors, and interventions in the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 16.02.2017 Interview with:: Margaret Q. Rosenzweig PhD, CRNP-C, AOCNP, FAAN Acute and Tertiary Care Department University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing What is the background for this study? Response: A significant survival disparity still exists between African American and non-Hispanic white women diagnosed with breast cancer. There is evidence that symptom incidence, associated distress, and overall cancer-related distress may be unexplored, important contributing factors. The current study was a secondary, exploratory aim from the Attitudes, Communication, Treatment, and Support (ACTS) Intervention to Reduce Breast Cancer Treatment Disparity study, which is a randomized controlled trial of a psychoeducational intervention to encourage acceptance and adherence to chemotherapy compared with usual care for  African American women with breast cancer. The purpose of the current study was to: 1) describe and compare the number of chemotherapy-related symptoms and associated distress among AA women with breast cancer over the course of chemotherapy at 3 time points (at baseline before initiating chemotherapy, midpoint, and at the completion of chemotherapy); and 2) to describe the relationship between the number of chemotherapy-related symptoms and overall cancer distress compared with the ability to receive at least 85% of the prescribed chemotherapy within the prescribed timeframe. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer, Cancer Research, University of Pennsylvania / 28.10.2016 Interview with: Eric Ojerholm, MD Resident, Radiation Oncology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? Response: Multiple studies reported that a blood test —the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR)—might be a helpful biomarker for bladder cancer patients. If this were true, NLR would be very appealing because it is inexpensive and readily available. However, previous studies had several methodological limitations. What did you do in this study Response: We therefore put NLR to the test by performing a rigorous “category B” biomarker study—this is a study that uses prospectively collected biomarker data from a clinical trial. We used data from SWOG 8710, which was a phase III randomized trial that assessed surgery with or without chemotherapy for patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We tested two questions. First, could NLR tell us how long a bladder cancer patient would live after curative treatment? Second, could NLR predict which patients would benefit from chemotherapy before surgery? (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer, Prostate Cancer, UT Southwestern / 08.10.2016 Interview with: Dr Ryan Hutchinson MD and Yair Lotan MD Department of Urology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommendation against PSA screening generated significant controversy. Research since then has relied heavily on survey data to examine the impact of the recommendation on PSA screening practices. In a hotly charged issue such as this, such data can carry significant bias. We examined a large, whole-institution data in the years before and after the USPSTF recommendations reflecting actual practice and found that the changes in PSA use at our institution, if any, were small. This is more consistent with behavior seen after the vast majority of practice recommendations. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Genetic Research, UT Southwestern / 23.09.2016 Interview with: Roshni Rao, M.D Breast Surgery University of Texas Southwestern What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by not having estrogen, progesterone, or Her2Neu receptors. Although a less common type, it is aggressive, and leads to a disproportionate number of deaths from breast cancer. TNBC is more common in young, African American women, but can be found in other ethnic groups as well. This study performed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, to evaluate for patient genetic ancestry, in 92 patients with TNBC. In regards to self-identified ethnicity, there were 31 African-Americans, 31 Whites, and 30 Hispanics. Utilizing mtDNA, 13% of patients had discordance between self identified ethnicity and mtDNA analysis. Discordance was highest in the Hispanic group. The Hispanic patients were also much younger at initial age of diagnosis, and less likely to have a family history of breast cancer. Ancestry from Nigeria, Cameroon, or Sierre Leone were most common in the African-Americans with triple negative breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 14.09.2016 Interview with: Pooja Rao, MD, MSCE Assistant Professor Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Penn State College of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although many chemotherapy drugs can cause birth defects, no standardized guidelines exist for pregnancy screening in adolescent female patients with cancer. Additionally, little is known about how often they are screened prior to receiving treatment. Our study found that adolescent girls are not adequately screened for pregnancy prior to receiving chemotherapy or CT scans that could potentially harm a developing fetus. Adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, had the lowest pregnancy screening rates of the patients studied. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Cancer, Cost of Health Care / 12.08.2016 Interview with: Wuyang Yang, M.D., M.S. Research Fellow Department of Neurosurgery Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD 21287 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The treatment for glioblastoma (GBM) patients involves a combined approach of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Despite advancement in the therapeutic approaches for GBM, differing socioeconomic status result in disparities in health-care access, and may superimpose a significant impact on survival of glioblastoma patients. Insurance status is an indirect indicator of overall socioeconomic status of a patient, and has been shown to correlate with survival of patients with malignant tumor in other parts of the body. We conducted the first study to determine a relationship between different types of insurance and survival of GBM patients. In our study of 13,665 cases of GBM patients, we found that non-Medicaid insured patients have a significant survival benefit over uninsured and even Medicaid insured patients. This is the first time a study describes this relationship in glioblastoma patients, and also the first to compare and quantify the likelihood of poor prognosis between different insurance categories. A difference in insurance coverage was also uncovered, and patients with insurance were more likely to be older, female, white, and married. In addition, we found that younger, female, married patients with smaller tumor size survive longer than other patients, which confirmed findings in existing literature. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Lung Cancer / 15.07.2016 Interview with: Jan Marie Eberth, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Deputy Director, SC Rural Health Research Center Core Faculty, Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Large, randomized clinical trials have shown that chest x-rays do not reduce mortality from lung cancer. Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening, however, was shown to reduce lung cancer mortality by 20% in the National Lung Screening Trial. The most significant risk of LDCT screening is the high rate of false-positives (about 25%), which subsequent studies have shown can be reduced by using new nodule management criteria such as Lung-RADS. Less than half of the physicians surveyed in our study reported reduced lung cancer mortality as a benefit of LDCT screening. Many also reported concerns about radiation exposure (50%) and unnecessary follow-up procedures (88%) as risks. Since the majority of family physicians surveyed did not know that organizations such as the US Preventive Services Task Force or National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend high-risk individuals receive annual LDCT screening, it is not surprising that some family physicians would continue to order a chest x-ray for screening, despite the lack of scientific evidence. Similarly, only 36% of physicians reported that high-risk patients should be screened annually (vs. every 6 months, 2 years, or 3 years). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, UCLA / 11.07.2016 Interview with: Karim Chamie MD, MSHS Department of Urology Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center David Geffen School of Medicine University of California at Los Angeles Los Angeles, California What is the background for this study? Response: With improved cancer outcomes, there are 14 million cancer survivors alive in the United States in 2012. That number is expected to increase to nearly 20 million by 2024. With such a large population, many of these cancer survivors are at risk for developing a second primary malignancy. Multiple primary cancers now account for approximately 17% of all incident cancers reported each year in the United States. Cancer survivors may be especially susceptible to developing second primary malignancies due to a variety of unique factors, including genetic syndromes, common etiologic exposures, and the late effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Given the longer duration of cancer survivorship and the substantial proportion of survivors at risk for developing second primary malignancies, the incidence and mortality from second primary malignancies are likely to increase. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Nutrition / 23.06.2016 Interview with: Lindsay Kohler MPH Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health Tucson, Arizona What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Several studies have reported that following health promotion guidelines for diet, physical activity, and maintenance of a healthy body weight may reduce the risk of getting cancer or dying from cancer. We performed a systematic review to examine the associations between established cancer prevention guidelines for diet and physical activity and cancer outcomes. We found that adhering to cancer prevention guidelines set forth by the American Cancer Society or the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research consistently reduced the risk of overall cancer incidence and mortality (10-61%) in the studies included in this review. In addition, higher adherence to the guidelines consistently reduced the risk of breast, colorectal, and endometrial cancers. Adherence to a pattern of healthy behaviors may significantly reduce cancer incidence and mortality. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research / 10.05.2016 Interview with: Corinne Leach, MPH, MS, PHD Strategic Director, Cancer and Aging Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Leach: Using linked data from cancer registries and the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey, we prospectively examined the short-term impact of cancer on the functioning, development of and worsening of age-related health conditions among 921 older adults who developed cancer compared to 4,605 propensity score matched controls. We found that cancer groups demonstrated greater declines in activities of daily living and physical functioning compared to controls with the greatest change for lung cancer patients. Having a cancer diagnosis increased risk for depression but did not increase the odds of developing arthritis in the hand/hip, incontinence (except for prostate cancer), or vision/hearing problems. Having a cancer diagnosis also did not exacerbate the severity of arthritis or foot neuropathy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, End of Life Care / 06.04.2016 Interview with: Holly G. Prigerson, Ph.D. Irving Sherwood Wright Professor in Geriatrics Professor of Sociology in Medicine Director, Center for Research on End of Life Care Weill Cornell Medicine New York Presbyterian Hospital New York City, New York 10065 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Prigerson: Patients need to know their prognosis to be informed consumers of end-stage cancer care. We found that most patients have an overly optimistic view of their life-expectancy and that few patients base their life expectancy estimate on communications with their healthcare providers. It was striking that 0% of black patients said their prognostic estimate was based on a medical professional. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care / 14.03.2016 Interview with: Hrishikesh Kale School of Pharmacy Virginia Commonwealth University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The cost of cancer care in the United States is extremely high and escalating every year. Because of increased cost sharing, patients are paying higher out-of-pocket costs for their treatments. Along with high medical expenses, cancer survivors face problems such as loss of employment and reduced productivity. It has been well-established in the literature that because of high out-of-pocket costs, many cancer survivors forgo or delay medical care and mental health-related services and avoid filling prescriptions. This puts their physical and mental health at risk. A related issue is the growing number of cancer survivors in the U.S. As of January 2014, there were approximately 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. By 2024, this number is expected to reach 19 million as a result of improved survival among patients with cancer along with an aging population. Therefore, we decided to investigate the prevalence and sources of financial problems reported by a nationally representative sample of cancer survivors from the 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. We also studied the impact of cancer-related financial burden on survivors’ health-related quality of life and psychological health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Colon Cancer, Surgical Research / 29.01.2016

More on Colon Cancer on Interview with: Samantha Hendren, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Surgery Colorectal Surgery University of Michigan  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We studied colorectal cancer nationally, and found that about 1 in 7 colorectal cancer patients in the U.S. (that is, 14.7%) is diagnosed before the age of 50.  We also found that these younger colorectal cancer patients were diagnosed when their cancers were more advanced (higher “stage”, meaning more of them had spread to lymph nodes and/or to other organs).  Part of the reason for this is that these young patients are often diagnosed only after their cancers start to cause symptoms such as anemia, bowel bleeding or a blockage in the colon. The age of 50 is when screening for colorectal cancer is started in the U.S.  This study means that a pretty large proportion of colorectal cancers are  happening in people who are too young to receive screening tests.  To put this in context, breast cancer screening often begins at age 40, and less than 5% of invasive breast cancers occur in women under that age. Our study found that about 15% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed before the screening age of 50. Fortunately, the young patients with colorectal cancer do a little better than you might predict, knowing that they are diagnosed at a worse cancer “stage”.  For the young patients under 50, about 68% survived 5 years, while about 67% of the patients 50 and older survived 5 years.  It looks like patients’ young age helps them in their cancer treatment and survival; our study found that treatment may be a bit more aggressive in the younger patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Genetic Research / 07.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Jane E. Churpek, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Co-Director, Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Program The University of Chicago Medicine Chicago, IL 6063 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Churpek:   We designed this study to try to understand whether damaging, inherited changes in genes known to cause an increased risk of breast cancer are common in those who develop leukemia after getting chemotherapy and/or radiation for treatment of breast cancer. Leukemias that occur in this setting are called “therapy-related.” This means that chemotherapy or radiation, or both, may have been involved in causing the leukemia.  This is an uncommon but serious complication of cancer treatment, and the factors that put women at risk for this complication are not well understood. We looked at the clinical histories of 88 such women. We found that most of them have relatives who also had cancer, suggesting they may be cancer-prone to begin with. Because we did not have a group of women who had similar breast cancer treatment and who did not get a therapy-related leukemia, we cannot definitively prove that more women with therapy-related leukemia than expected had these mutations. However, this study gives us reason to further study the role of these genes in therapy-related leukemia. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, University Texas / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D, Professor, Epidemiology Stephanie Melkonian, Ph.D University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study examines dietary intake of meat-cooking mutagens and genetic risk factors associated with kidney cancer in a population of 659 kidney cancer patients and 699 matched healthy control subjects from the community. We calculated the intake of several cancer-causing carcinogens that are produced when certain types of meat are cooked over an open flame and at high temperatures resulting in the burning, smoking or charring of the meat (for example, during barbequing or pan-frying). We found that kidney cancer patients consumed more red and white meat when compared to the healthy individuals, and also had higher intake of these cancer-causing chemicals created through the meat cooking process. These results suggest that meat intake, and the way we cook our meat, may potentially be linked to risk of kidney cancer. Additionally, we found that individuals with certain genetic variants were more likely to be susceptible to the harmful effects of the cancer-causing mutagens created during the process of cooking meat. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, JAMA / 29.10.2015

Jiemin Ma, PhD, MHS Director of Surveillance and Health Services Research American Cancer Interview with: Jiemin Ma, PhD, MHS Director of Surveillance and Health Services Research American Cancer Society Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ma: This study is an analysis of long-term trends in mortality for all causes combined and for 6 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), unintentional injuries, and diabetes, in the United States from 1969 through 2013. We found that death rates for all causes and for five of these 6 leading causes (except COPD) decreased during this time period, although the rate of decrease appears to have slowed for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. COPD death rates doubled during this time period, although the rate began to decrease in men since 1999. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy / 10.07.2015 Interview with: Junichi Nishimura MD, PhD Assistant professor Osaka University in Japan Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Nishimura: Oxaliplatin is classified as moderately emetogenic chemotherapy and 2-drug combination antiemetic therapy is recommended for Oxaliplatin based chemotherapy including FOLFOX and XELOX in all guidelines for antiemesis. Nausea and vomiting are still frequent adverse events which decrease the patient’s QOL. However, there was no study investigating whether 3-drug combination antiemetic therapy (5HT3 receptor antagonist+dexamethasone+aprepitant) reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In this study, we conducted a multicentre, randomized phase III study to evaluate the usefulness of the combined use of aprepitant in colorectal cancer patients treated with Oxaliplatin based chemotherapy. In this phase III study, 3-drug combination therapy significantly increased the inhibition rate of vomiting which was the primary endpoint of this study. Moreover, the inhibition rate of nausea, complete response (no vomiting and no rescue medication use), and complete protection (no vomiting , no rescue medication use and no moderate or worsened nausea) was significantly higher in aprepitant group in overall and delayed phase. We, next, compared the inhibition of vomiting and nausea between males and females in delayed phase. When patients were grouped by sex regardless of the assigned treatment group, females were more affected by nausea and vomiting than males. Finally, in female, aprepitant did significantly prevent nausea and vomiting as well as increased chance of complete protection. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research / 15.04.2015

Josée Savard, Ph.D. School of Psychology, Laval University Cancer Research Center Quebec City, Quebec, Interview with: Josée Savard, Ph.D. School of Psychology, Laval University Cancer Research Center Quebec City, Quebec, Canada MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Savard: This paper reports on a secondary analysis of an 18-month longitudinal study initially conducted in 962 patients about to receive surgery for various types of cancer. The main results of this larger study indicated that insomnia is a significant problem in cancer patients. More precisely, it was found to affect up to 59% of patients at the peri-operative period. In addition, 32% of patients who were good sleepers developed insomnia symptoms at some point during the study (Savard et al., 2009; Savard et al., 2011). The goal of this particular analysis was to determine the role of cancer treatments and their side effects in triggering/aggravating insomnia symptoms during the 18-month follow-up. Study participants completed questionnaires assessing insomnia severity and somatic symptoms at baseline, as well as 2, 6, 10, 14 and 18 months later. This analysis was conducted separately in women treated for breast cancer (n=465) and men treated for prostate cancer (n=263). In breast cancer patients, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but not hormone therapy, were found to be associated with increased insomnia severity. This deleterious effect appeared to be due to a number of side effects (e.g., nausea, night sweats, urinary symptoms). In prostate cancer patients, androgen-deprivation therapy was associated with aggravation of insomnia, an effect that was mainly due to the occurrence of night sweats. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer / 28.01.2015

Rachel A. Freedman MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Department of Medical Oncology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Interview with: Rachel A. Freedman MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Department of Medical Oncology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Freedman: Studies have previously looked at how general cancer knowledge may impact health conditions and rates of screening but none (to my knowledge) have focused on one’s knowledge about his/her own breast cancer. We surveyed 500 women who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer within the Northern California Cancer Registry and asked questions about their breast cancer subtype (I.e. Hormone receptor status and HER2 status), tumor grade, and stage. We then matched women’s answers to those collected by the registry to examine the correctness of the answers given. We found low overall rates of having knowledge about one’s disease and this was even more apparent for black and Hispanic patients. When education and health literacy were accounted for, disparities in knowledge remains for black women but were narrowed for Hispanic women in some cases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Duke / 12.12.2014

Rachel Blitzblau, M.D., Ph.D. Butler Harris Assistant Professor Department of Radiation Oncology Duke University Medical Center Durham, NC Interview with: Rachel Blitzblau, M.D., Ph.D. Butler Harris Assistant Professor Department of Radiation Oncology Duke University Medical Center Durham, NC 27710

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Blitzblau: Radiation reduces the risk of loco-regional recurrence. Data from the CALGB 9343 study suggests that the local benefit from adjuvant radiation is less in older women with small, . The potential acute and late toxicities of radiotherapy, patient inconvenience and healthcare costs must be considered given the small clinical benefit associated with adjuvant radiotherapy in this patient group. We looked at rates of radiotherapy in women fitting the entry criteria of this trial before and after publication of 5 year results of the CALGB trial. We found an approximately 5% decrease in use of radiotherapy overall, and noted that there seemed to be a small but significant shift in the type of radiotherapy used for these patients. Less patients received standard whole breast radiotherapy, and more received a short course of treatment to just the tumor bed plus margin called accelerated partial breast irradiation. We concluded that the publication of the trial therefore had only a very small impact on practice patterns. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Psychological Science / 04.11.2014

Linda E. Carlson, Ph.D., R.Psych.                Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions Health Scholar Professor, Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine    Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts University of Calgary Clinical Psychologist, Director of Research Department of Psychosocial Interview with: Linda E. Carlson, Ph.D., R.Psych.                Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions Health Scholar Professor, Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts University of Calgary Clinical Psychologist, Director of Research Department of Psychosocial Resources Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Carlson: We have been investigating the effects of cancer support programs including the two in this study, Mindfulness-based cancer recovery, an 8-week group program in which patients learn mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga, and supportive-expressive therapy, a 12-week program where patients share difficult emotions in a supportive group environment. We know there is psychological benefit of these programs, but what about effects in the body? Telomeres are the protective caps on the end of chromosomes (like the tips on shoelaces) that protect them from damage and degredation. They are longest when we are young and naturally get shorter as we age. Shorter telomere's are associated with higher risk for many diseases, including cancer, and people with higher stress levels tend to have shorter telomeres. This is the first study to investigate whether short psychosocial interventions can affect telomere length in cancer pateints. We randomly assigned breast cancer survivors with cancer-related distress, feelings such as anxiety, fear, worry, and depression, to either mindfulness-based cancer recovery, supportive expressive therapy or a control group that just had a minimal intervention. We took blood samples before and after the groups (or at equal time points for those in the control condition) and measured the length of the telomeres. Women in both of the active support groups maintained the length of their telomeres over time, but the telomere length of women in the control group became shorter. This is the first controlled study to show that short-term interventions can actually have some effect on cellular aging in the telomeres. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Pancreatic / 24.10.2014 Interview with: Jeremy L. Humphris MBBS The Kinghorn Cancer Center, Cancer Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia and Andrew V. Biankin Regius Professor of Surgery Director, Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, University of Glasgow Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow Scotland United Kingdom Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Response: Familial pancreatic cancer (FPC) is a family with at least 2 first degree (parent-child or siblings) with pancreatic cancer. We found these patients represent nearly 9% of our cohort. In addition we found those with familial pancreatic cancer were more likely to have other first degree relatives with a history of extra-pancreatic cancer, in particular melanoma and endometrial cancer. Patients with familial pancreatic cancer had more high grade precursor lesions in the pancreas adjacent to the tumour but the outcome was similar. Smoking was more prevalent in sporadic pancreatic cancer and active smoking was associated with significantly younger age at diagnosis in both groups. Long-standing diabetes mellitus (> 2 years duration) was associated with poorer survival in both groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer / 15.10.2014

Cathryn Bock, PhD Associate Professor, Oncology Department Karmanos Cancer Institute Wayne State University School of Medicine Detroit, MI Interview with: Cathryn Bock, PhD Associate Professor, Oncology Department Karmanos Cancer Institute Wayne State University School of Medicine Detroit, MI 48201 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Bock: This study examined the association between dietary antioxidant micronutrients and risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) among a cohort of 96,196 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). During follow-up (median follow-up time was 12 years), there were 240 cases of confirmed renal cell carcinoma in the cohort. Dietary lycopene intake, measured at  baseline, was associated with a decreased risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Women with the highest quartile of lycopene intake (>6427.7 mcg/day) had approximately 40% lower risk of RCC compared to those women in the lowest quartile of lycopene intake (<2727.6 mcg/day). There were no statistically significant associations observed between intake of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein + xeazanthin, vitamin C, or vitamin E and renal cell carcinoma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, End of Life Care / 09.09.2014 Interview with: Karin Jors MA Department of Palliative Care, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: The findings of our study shed light on the current circumstances for dying in cancer centers. Physicians and nurses in our study reported that they rarely have enough time to care for dying patients. In addition, only a minority of staff members felt that they had been well-prepared during their training to care for dying patients and their families. Overall, only 56% of participants indicated that it is usually possible for patients to die in dignity on their ward. This is likely the result of various factors such as: inadequate rooms for dying patients and their families (i.e. shared rooms), poor communication with patients regarding burdensome treatments, an overuse of life-prolonging measures, etc. Striking differences were found between the responses of palliative care staff and staff from other wards (e.g. general care, oncology, intensive care). For example, palliative care staff reported that they usually have enough time to care for dying patients. In addition, 95% of palliative care staff indicated that it is usually possible for patients to die in dignity on their ward. Overall, nurses perceived the situation for dying patients more negatively than physicians. Whereas 72% of physicians reported that patients can usually die a dignified death on their ward, only 52% of nurses shared this opinion. Although only slightly more than half of participants believed that patients can usually die in dignity on their ward, this is a considerable improvement to the situation 25 years ago. In a similar study published in 1989, researchers found that 72% of physicians and nurses experienced the situation for patients dying on their hospital ward as undignified. (more…)