Tag Archives: cancer treatment

New prostate surgery not necessarily better: study


New prostate surgery not necessarily better: study

Men who have less invasive prostate cancer surgery — often done robotically — are more likely to be incontinent and have erectile dysfunction than men who have conventional open surgery, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Many men, especially those who are wealthy and highly educated, favor minimally invasive surgery because they assume the high-tech approach will yield better results, but the evidence on that is mixed, the team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We found men undergoing minimally invasive versus open surgery were more likely to have a diagnosis of incontinence and erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Jim Hu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said in a telephone briefing.

Hu said use of minimally invasive surgery has taken off since the introduction and heavy marketing of robot-assisted surgery, such as the da Vinci system made by Intuitive Surgical Inc.

The system consists of robotic arms, controlled from a console, that allow surgeons to perform less invasive surgeries. Hospitals advertise the systems as being able to reduce trauma, blood loss, risk of infection, scarring and often pain.

Hu said so far, there have been few studies that compare minimally invasive surgery with open surgery.

To do that, he and colleagues used billing data from the Medicare insurance program for the elderly on procedures done from 2003 to 2007. During that time, use of minimally invasive surgery for prostate cancer increased fivefold.

While both approaches fared equally well as a cancer treatment, they found that men who got the minimally invasive approach had shorter hospital stays, were less likely to need blood transfusions, and had fewer breathing problems after surgery than those who got conventional surgery.

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Childhood cancer survivors less likely to marry


Childhood cancer survivors less likely to marry

The scars of childhood cancer may go beyond the physical: Adults who survived cancer as children may have lower-than-average likelihood of getting married, a new study suggests.

Childhood cancer survivors are known to be at risk of long-term health effects from their cancer treatment — including hormone deficiencies, learning impairments and elevated risks of a second cancer or heart disease in adulthood.

The new findings suggest that some of these effects may also influence survivors’ odds of getting married, researchers report in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Using data from a U.S. study of nearly 9,000 childhood cancer survivors, the investigators found that these adults were about one-quarter more likely than either the general population or their own siblings to have never been married.

Radiation for childhood brain cancer was the treatment most closely linked to marriage rates. The researchers also found that certain lingering effects of radiation — including problems with thinking and memory, impaired growth and poorer physical functioning — seemed to be involved.

“Many childhood cancer survivors still struggle to fully participate in our society because of the lasting cognitive and physical effects of their past cancer therapy,” senior researcher Dr. Nina S. Kadan- Lottick, of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a written statement.

“Our study,” she added, “pinpointed what aspects of the survivor experience likely contribute to altered marriage patterns: short stature, poor physical functioning and cognitive problems.”

The findings are based on almost 9,000 survivors of childhood cancers between the ages of 18 and 54, plus close to 3,000 of their siblings. Compared with those siblings, cancer survivors were 21 percent more likely to have never married.

Based on U.S. census data, survivors were also 25 percent more likely to have never married than other Americans their age, race and gender.

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A young woman exhales cigarette smoke in Shanghai, China. The People’s Republic of China is both the world’s largest producer and largest consumer of tobacco, which has led to an impending cancer epidemic in the most populous country on Earth.

Cancer is a disease that begins as a renegade human cell over which the body has lost control. In order for the body and its organs to function properly, cell growth needs to be strictly regulated. Cancer cells, however, continue to divide and multiply at their own speed, forming abnormal lumps, or tumors. An estimated 6.7 million people currently die from cancer every year.

Not all cancers are natural-born killers. Some tumors are referred to as benign because they don’t spread elsewhere in the body. But cells of malignant tumors do invade other tissues and will continue to spread if left untreated, often leading to secondary cancers.

Cancers can start in almost any body cell, due to damage or defects in genes involved in cell division. Mutations build up over time, which is why people tend to develop cancer later in life. What actually triggers these cell changes remains unclear, but diet, lifestyle, viral infections, exposure to radiation or harmful chemicals, and inherited genes are among factors thought to affect a person’s risk of cancer.

Lung cancer is the world’s most killing cancer. It claims about 1.2 million victims a year. Most of those victims are smokers, who inhale cancer-causing substances called carcinogens with every puff. Experts say around 90 percent of lung cancer cases are due to tobacco smoking.

Breast cancer now accounts for almost one in four cancers diagnosed in women. Studies suggest the genes you inherit can affect the chances of developing the illness. A woman with an affected mother or sister is about twice as likely to develop breast cancer as a woman with no family history of the disease. Lifestyle may also have an influence, particularly in Western countries where many women are having children later. Women who first give birth after the age of 30 are thought to have a three times greater risk of breast cancer than those who became mothers in their teens.

Geographical Distinctions

There are also stark geographic differences, with incidence rates varying by as much as thirtyfold between regions. In much of Asia and South and Central America, for example, cervix cancer is the most deadly in females. However, in North America and Europe another kind of gynecological cancer, ovarian cancer, is a more serious threat.

Among males, southern and eastern Africa record the second and third highest rates of oesophageal, or gullet, cancer after China, but western and central regions of Africa have the lowest incidence in the world. Differences in diet may explain this.

Nevertheless, the reasons why many cancers develop remain elusive. Brain cancer, leukemia (blood cancer), and lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands) are among types that still mystify scientists.


Yet ever more people are surviving diagnosis thanks to earlier detection, better screening, and improved treatments. The three main treatment options are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, involves blasting tumors with high-energy x-rays to shrink them and destroy cancerous cells. Chemotherapy employs cancer-killing drugs.

Even so, future cancer cases are predicted to climb, since the world’s population is aging. The proportion of people over age 60 is expected to more than double by 2050, rising from 10 percent to 22 percent. This will add an estimated 4.7 million to the cancer death toll by 2030.