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News Briefs

BAP1 Inherited Genetic Mutation  May 
Set Stage for Malignant Mesothelioma

Asbestos is the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that develops in the cells that line the internal organs. Researchers found that mice with a BAP1 genetic mutation are at greater risk of developing malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos than mice without the mutation. These findings suggest that individuals who inherit a BAP1 genetic mutation may face a similar risk.
Learn more in the 
Aug. 15, 2014, Cancer Research.

Using Gut Microbiome Bacteria to Screen for Colorectal Cancer
Researchers identified certain types of gut microbiome bacteria in stool samples from women and men who were healthy or had precancerous polyps or invasive colorectal cancer that could be used to differentiate the three groups from one another. These findings suggest that it may be possible to use microbiome analysis in conjunction with known clinical risk factors and other fecal tests to screen for colorectal cancer.
Learn more online in the Aug. 7, 2014, Cancer Prevention Research.

Doctors Don’t Often Share Decision Making 
Over Cancer Screening, Survey Finds

A survey of more than 1,100 individuals age 50 and older who had to decide within the previous two years to be screened for breast, colorectal or prostate cancer found that most patients did not experience the shared decision making between patient and doctor that screening guidelines encourage. Shared decision making was reported by 27 percent of women considering screening for breast cancer, 38 percent of men and women considering screening for colorectal cancer and 34 percent of men considering screening for prostate cancer.
Learn more in the September 2014 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


Radiation Oncology Group Weighs In on Proton Therapy
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued a model reimbursement policy for proton therapy in June 2014 that supports insurance reimbursement for proton therapy for ocular, skull and spine tumors; liver cancer treated with certain regimens; tumors in children; some patients with genetic syndromes; and some patients enrolled in clinical trials. ASTRO says there is currently no clear evidence showing that proton therapy is better than other types of radiation for prostate cancer.

Learn more at



Screening Prevented More Than Half a Million Colorectal Cancers

Using data from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Program database and the Cancer Trends Progress Report, researchers found that between 1976 and 2009, an estimated 550,000 colorectal cancers were prevented by screening with fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Between 1987 and 2010 (the years data about screening were available), the percentage of adults age 50 and older who underwent colorectal cancer screening rose from close to 35 percent to more than 66 percent.
Learn more in the Sept. 15, 2014, Cancer.


Patients Treated With BRAF Inhibitors at High Risk for New Melanomas
A study of 22 men and women being treated for malignant melanoma with a BRAF inhibitor found that these patients are at high risk for developing new primary melanomas that do not carry a BRAF mutation and would not respond to a BRAF inhibitor. The researchers say this suggests doctors should monitor patients taking a BRAF inhibitor with full-body photography and dermoscopy, in which a special microscope is used to help identify moles that are melanomas.
Learn more in the September 2014 JAMA Dermatology.

A Tamoxifen Gel for Breast Cancer Treatment
Tamoxifen is an oral anti-estrogen therapy used to treat ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and breast cancer and to reduce breast cancer risk in high-risk women. A phase II study comparing a tamoxifen gel applied to the breast to standard oral tamoxifen in women scheduled to have surgery for DCIS found that the gel form is as effective as the oral form and causes fewer side effects. These findings suggest additional research should be done on transdermal breast cancer treatments.
Learn more in the July 15, 2014, Clinical Cancer Research.


Researchers Find Inherited PALB2 Mutation Increases Breast Cancer Risk

An analysis of 154 families with at least one family member who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had tested negative for a BRCA mutation and positive for a PALB2 mutation found that women with a PALB2 mutation and no family history of breast cancer have a 33 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 70, while those with two or more first-degree relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50 had a 58 percent risk. These findings suggest PALB2 testing should be done along with BRCA testing.
Learn more in the Aug. 7, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine.


Common Chemotherapy Drug 
Causes Patients to Feel Intoxicated
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is revising the label for the chemotherapy drug docetaxel to indicate that it contains alcohol and may cause patients to feel drunk during and after treatment. Docetaxel products, such as Taxotere, Docefrez and docetaxel injection, are used to treat cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, lung, and head and neck. The FDA says patients should avoid driving after an infusion and warns that pain relievers and sleep aids may interact with the alcohol, worsening the intoxicating effects.
Learn more at


Testicular Cancer Rates Increasing in Young Hispanic American Men
The rate of testicular cancer in 15- to 39-year-old Hispanic American men increased by 58 percent, from 7.18 cases per 100,000 in 1992 to 11.34 cases per 100,000 by 2010, according to data from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Program. In comparison, the incidence rate among non-Hispanic young white men increased by 7 percent during the same time period. The findings demonstrate a need for more outreach about testicular cancer among young Hispanic men and more research into reasons for the disparity.
Learn more in the Sept. 1, 2014, Cancer.


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