Tag Archives: Health Insurance

Thyroid Cancer Deaths Are Increasing in U.S.

Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid Cancer

Over the past 20 years, the rate of cancer death in the U.S. has dropped a gratifying 20%, with the exception of thyroid cancer. Bucking the general trend, thyroid cancer deaths have increased slightly over the last two decades with the number of new thyroid cancer diagnoses climbing steadily, particularly among women.

Thyroid cancer accounts for only 3.6% of all new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. and just 0.3% of cancer deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute. Considered a highly treatable form of cancer, thyroid cancer has a 97.7% five-year survival rate. Even so, that thyroid cancer cases have doubled during a period when other cancer diagnoses have declined has researchers puzzled – and concerned. While better diagnostic tools and early detection certainly account for a portion of the increase, many cancer researchers believe that something else may be behind thyroid cancer’s increasing incidence and mortality. As the New York Times explained, of particular concern is the fact that thyroid cancer mortality among men, who are 3 times less likely than women to develop the disease, increased an alarming 2.4% between 1992 and 2000, the greatest increase of any type of cancer.

An additional issue is overtreatment of so called “small tumors,” tiny thyroid tumors that are unlikely to cause a problem during the patient’s lifetime. Questioning the need for surgical removal, the typical treatment for thyroid tumors, in such cases, Dr. Bryan McIver of the Mayo Clinic told the Times, “Even though the evidence does not support that it is beneficial, there is an increasing trend in the U.S., and probably worldwide, to treat all thyroid cancers in the most aggressive way.”

Integrated immunotherapy offers thyroid cancer patients a non-toxic treatment option that may be particularly effective in the treatment of small tumors.

Immunotherapy May Improve Adult Outcomes for Childhood Cancer Survivors

From Childhood to Being an Adult: Cancer Problems
From Childhood to Being an Adult: Cancer Problems

One in every 640 adults between the ages of 20 and 39 is a childhood cancer survivor, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine. About 70% of those cancer survivors will experience serious, life-altering health problems as adults that are directly related to their cancer battle and, more often, the cancer treatment they underwent decades ago. To these childhood cancer survivors it seems a cruel twist of fate that cancer up-ends their lives not once, but twice.

A recent University of Florida study on the long-term effects of childhood cancer found that many survivors suffer physical, mental or social effects as adults that can drastically impair daily function and quality of life. Working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Florida researchers analyzed data from 1,667 childhood cancer survivors.

According to a report on Medical News Today, “The most common symptoms the survivors reported were head pain, back and neck pain, pain in other parts of the body, sensation abnormalities, and disfigurement” (such as hair loss). Other symptoms included heart problems, lung problems, mobility issues, learning and memory issues, depression and anxiety. Seventy percent of childhood cancer survivors reported at least one negative adult-onset symptom with 25% reporting six or more. With each additional symptom, survivors reported a noticeable decrease in their quality of life.

It is possible that using integrated immunotherapy to bolster the immune system during and after childhood cancer treatment, either as a primary treatment or with traditional treatment may decrease adult-onset symptoms for childhood cancer survivors. There may also be benefit in continuing immunotherapy treatments beyond initial cancer treatment to optimize immune system benefits throughout life.


Childhood Cancer Survivors at Risk of Adult Health Problems

Childhood Cancer
Childhood Cancer

In 2003, the U.S. Institute of Medicine released a report on the special challenges faced by childhood cancer survivors after they entered their adult years. While citing a remarkable 78% improvement in survival rates since 1970, the report noted that, “More than two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will face complications, disabilities or adverse outcomes directly related to their cancer, its treatment or both.”

As we’ve been discussing in social media lately, childhood cancer survivors frequently face serious medical problems and chronic illnesses during their adult years that can significantly diminish their quality of life and even decrease their life expectancy. A new movement designed to call attention to the unique challenges faced by survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer is building steam. The Society of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO) recently held its first annual meeting at the University of California at Irvine with the goal of building awareness and improving the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors.

Not long ago, we reported on a new St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital study that linked the use of chemotherapy to treat childhood cancers to the survivors’ development of chronic, life threatening diseases during their adult years. Increasing the severity of the threat, the St. Jude’s study found that 90% of the heart conditions and 55% of the lung problems that childhood cancer survivors developed went undetected until the condition had reached an advanced stage.

SAYAO is calling on the cancer community to address the long-term issues of cancer survival. Non-toxic immunotherapy treatment at an alternative cancer treatment center may offer an important avenue not only to effective initial treatment but also to improved lifelong outcomes.

Same Genetic Mutations Appear in Multiple Cancers

Image of cells
Same Genetic Mutations Appear in Multiple Cancers

Researchers working on the Cancer Genome Atlas have identified a number of genetic mutations that commonly occur in 12 different types of cancer. The discovery supports other recent findings on the nature of cancer tumors and the importance of the tumor microenvironment. As scientists expand our knowledge of cancer tumors, there is increasing evidence that tumors are defined less by where they occur within the human body than by their own biology and the microenvironment that contributes to their growth. Issels alternative cancer treatment center is unique in using immunotherapy to treat both cancer tumors and the tumor microenvironment.

As research into the cancer genome continues, scientists expect to discover additional commonalities between tumors located in disparate areas of the body. Scientists believe an estimated 200 to 400 gene mutations could govern all cancers. Eventually, cancers may be identified by tumor type rather than body location; for example, squamous cell cancer rather than uterine cancer or breast cancer. Such a change in our approach to cancer holds promise for the development of common therapeutic strategies that could be used to treat multiple types of cancer.

The search for tumor commonalities is just beginning. A recent report published in Nature, identified genetic mutations that trigger tumor development and progression that are shared by 12 distinctly different types of cancer. For example, breast, head and neck and ovarian cancer were found to share the same cluster of mutated genes. In most cases, tumors contained just two to six genetic mutations, leading researchers to believe that only a small number of genetic abnormalities are necessary to provoke cancer development.

Scientists Find Similar Patterns in Multiple Types of Cancer Tumors

Genome Mapping

Scientists mapping cancer genomes have found surprising similarities between cancer tumors that originate in different organs. Their findings could one day lead to genetically engineered cancer treatments capable of targeting specific cancer genes. Advanced targeted cell therapy now allows cancer treatment specialists to target specific types of tissue at the cellular level; but this research breakthrough could lead to treatments that can turn on or off specific genes that initiate cancer and govern the growth of cancer cells. The discovery was made by biomolecular engineers working on the National Institutes of Health sponsored Cancer Genome Atlas which seeks to catalog the DNA of the thousands of tumor types included in the many varieties of cancer.

Shifting the focus of cancer research and treatment from the cellular to the genetic level could also lead to new treatments for cancers that have so far failed to respond to treatment, study co-author Josh Stuart of the University of California-Santa Cruz told the Los Angeles Times. Typically, the cancer drugs currently used in traditional medicine are designed to treat cancers of a specific organ or tissue type, such as breast cancer or lung cancer. Based on this new research, scientists hope to develop cross-cancer treatments that can cross organ and tissue boundaries to attack tumors with genetic similarities no matter where in the body they are located. In the future, cancer may be identified and treated by tumor type rather than body location.

The Cancer Genome Atlas project is expanding our knowledge of how cancerous tumors form and grow; but perhaps more importantly, it is allowing scientist to see connections between different types of cancer that could eventually lead to a cure for cancer.