Every week, the editors of Cancer Today magazine bring you the top news for cancer patients from around the internet. For more news and features, read our summer issue, available now.

Exercises Found to Prevent Nerve Damage by Chemotherapy

Certain exercises may help prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a type of nerve damage that is a side effect of many chemotherapies used in cancer treatment. A study published online July 1 in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 158 cancer patients taking oxaliplatin or vinca alkaloids, two chemotherapies associated with high rates of neuropathy. Participants were randomly assigned to get whole body vibration treatment, a type of balance exercise program called sensorimotor training, or standard treatment. The vibration group had a 41.2% incidence of neuropathy compared with the standard care group’s 70.6% incidence, but the lowest rate was found in the exercise group, with neuropathy observed in just 30% of participants. “Exercise therapy is currently the most promising treatment option available for CIPN, with no additional side effects; it should therefore be implemented into supportive therapy,” study author Fiona Streckmann, a research associate at University of Basel in Germany and the German Sport University Cologne, told Healio. “Furthermore, patients can be empowered to contribute to their own health.”

Current Screening Standards May Miss Prostate Cancer in Transgender Women

Transgender women taking estrogen have much lower levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein found in the blood that is used to screen for prostate cancer. A July 1 story in HealthDay reported on a study of 210 transgender women taking estrogen who did not have prostate cancer that found a median PSA level of .02 ng/mL, compared with a historically observed median in cisgender men of 1 ng/mL. In 36% of the women studied, PSA was undetectable. The results were published online June 26 in JAMA. The drastically lower PSA in healthy transgender women means applying the standards used to judge PSA tests in cisgender men could result in missing elevated levels in the transgender population that would trigger doctors to order further testing for cancer. What isn’t currently known is whether routine prostate cancer screening is appropriate for transgender women, HealthDay reported. “We know that PSA screening reduces the risk that cisgender men ages 55 to 69 will die of prostate cancer, but we don’t know that it does the same thing for transgender women taking estrogen,” Stephen Freedland, the study’s senior author and chair of prostate cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said in a news release. “However, because some of these women are being screened, we want to raise awareness that their typical PSA levels are different.” Freedland suggests that transgender women who have been screened with the PSA test discuss their results with a urologist and consider bringing the JAMA study as well.

Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Heart-related Death in Cancer Patients

Cancer patients keeping to a Mediterranean diet lived longer and had a lower risk of dying from heart-related conditions, according in a study published online July 2 in JACC: CardioOncology. The study analyzed the diets of 802 people with cancer from a cohort based in the Italian region of Molise and scored them on adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and olive oil, HealthDay reported July 3. Cancer patients whose eating habits more closely aligned with the Mediterranean diet were found to have a 32% lower risk of premature death and a 60% lower risk of heart-related death. Researcher Chiara Tonelli, president of the Scientific Committee of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation, which conducted the study, said in a news release that most of the foods in the Mediterranean diet are high in antioxidants, “which could explain the advantage observed in terms of mortality not only from cancer, but also from cardiovascular diseases, that can be reduced by diets particularly rich in these bioactive compounds.”