Tag Archives: cancer

Doctors tried to lower $148K cancer drug cost; makers triple price of pill

(credit: Wellness GM)

A drug that treats a variety of white blood cell cancers typically costs about $148,000 a year, and doctors can customize and quickly adjust doses by adjusting how many small-dose pills of it patients should take each day—generally up to four pills. At least, that was the case until now.

Last year, doctors presented results from a small pilot trial hinting that smaller doses could work just as well as the larger dose—dropping patients down from three pills a day to just one. Taking just one pill a day could dramatically reduce costs to around $50,000 a year. And it could lessen unpleasant side-effects, such as diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and tiredness. But just as doctors were gearing up for more

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As we age, cancer rates go up as immune system winds down

Enlarge / T cells are central to the immune system’s response to cancer. (credit: NIAID)

The dominant idea about how cancer gets started is called the “two-hit hypothesis.” First proposed by Alfred Knudson in 1971, it holds that a cancer starts when one cell gets a mutation in both of its copies of a gene that normally blocks cancer formation (two hits). These two mutations disable the tumor-suppressing function in that cell, which then becomes cancerous. Eventually, the idea was expanded to include two hits not necessarily in the same gene but, rather, in genes controlling the same tumor-suppressing pathway.

But a new idea is challenging the two-hit hypothesis, shifting the focus to the role of the immune system in suppressing cancers. It’s an idea

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107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

Enlarge (credit: flickr user: 派脆客 Lee)

The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason.

It’s possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t

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Experts walk back on prostate screening: Men aged 55-69 should consider it

Enlarge (credit: skynesher)

Men aged 55 to 69 should talk with their doctors about the possibility of taking a blood-based prostate cancer test. The test comes with many potential problems but brings the benefit of ever so slightly reducing the chance of dying from the cancer. That’s according to a new draft guidance out Tuesday from the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts appointed by the government to make evidence-based medical recommendations.

The new guidance is a bit of a walk-back from the USPSTF’s 2012 recommendation that all men take a hard pass on the blood screening, called a PSA test. Men younger than 55 and those 70 or older are still advised to skip, according to the USPSTF. But, the

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Bad luck may play a big role in cancer—but prevention tactics still matter

(credit: NCI, Dr. Cecil Fox)

What causes cancer? High-profile culprits obviously include bum genes inherited from parents and harmful environmental and lifestyle factors, such a smoking or not wearing sunscreen. But in a new study in Science, researchers yet again say a big factor is random mutations—those that naturally and unavoidably occur as our error-prone cells go about the normal process of replication.

In fact, two-thirds of the mutations behind cancer are random—not inherited or induced by our environment—researchers at Johns Hopkins conclude from a fresh statistical analysis. But, they caution, the contribution of genetic bad luck doesn’t mean that many cancers aren’t preventable. It’s a point they emphasize carefully after their previous work set off fiery controversy on the matter.

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