Cancer Research Suggests a New Genetic Frontier in Treatment
Previously, treating a patient’s cancer meant treating the type of cancer: breast, prostate, skin, etc. Some types call for specialized surgeries, others for specifically developed medications, others for finely tuned chemotherapy or radiation regimens. But the field of cancer research is changing, with efforts increasingly focused on the genes that cause the cancer or help it to spread. And thanks to a new drug trial, reportedly the first of its kind, this approach could be gaining traction.
Previous findings had uncovered a common gene mutation found in both skin cancer and lung cancer. Researchers hypothesized that because of this similarity, a drug already approved for skin cancer might have a crossover effect on the other cancer type. Indeed, a substantial proportion of lung cancer patients responded to the drug. Other cancer types did not exhibit such promising results, which may be the result of fewer of those patients having the targeted mutation — the key may be narrowing down the right commonalities. Future studies along these lines are already in the works, and signs are pointing to new, more specific cancer treatments that are based on gene mutation rather than type.
Exercise: Don’t Get Discouraged, Just Get Moving
The prospect of exercise can be dispiriting, especially for individuals who aren’t already active or are managing new or ongoing chronic conditions. But a large-scale review of past research now indicates that exercise for essentially any duration — even well below the recommended 150 minutes per week — is better than nothing. Be it a 15-minute walk around the block or a slow pace around the room, getting up and moving marks the tipping point toward better health, strength, and endurance.
For those needing more exercise motivation, here are some recommended activities tailor-made for splendid late-summer and early-fall weather.
(Outdoor Activities for Senior Citizens; Inside Elder Care)
While Not a Cure-All, Supplements and Nutrients Are Something to Consider
Although antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to brain health, one recent study did not discover a specific benefit of supplement pills in patients with cognitive decline. However, this shouldn’t altogether discount supplement use or nutrient-rich food choices; talk to your doctor or clinician about what tactics make sense for your specific situation.
(Supplements Don’t Fight Cognitive Decline, N.I.H. Study Says; NYT Well blog)
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, risk factors such as smoking, excess weight, and high blood pressure add up to higher ‘heart age’ in as many as 3 in 4 Americans. But lifestyle changes that reduce these risks can reverse the trend. (Most adults’ ‘heart age’ exceeds their actual age: U.S. CDC; Reuters)
- A common consequence of quitting smoking is weight gain, and researchers have found that those who smoked the most are likely to gain the most weight. However, experts stress that the positive impact of quitting generally outstrips the negative impact of added weight — which can be addressed later. (Heaviest smokers may face biggest weight gain after quitting; Reuters)
- Tooth and gum health can have an impact on chronic disease and overall health. This piece has excellent tips about food and drink habits as well as oral hygiene practices. (How to take care of your teeth and gums; MNT)
- Author Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D., shares her personal insight from managing her mother’s care as well as her expectations of recovery and regained independence. (The Juggling Act of a Caregiver; Huffington Post)
- When a loved one has a stroke, caregivers are profoundly affected, mentally and physically. A recent study found that caregiver health issues may persist for up to seven years after a spouse’s stroke, underlining the dual difficulty and importance of caregiver self-care. (Spouses of stroke survivors face lingering health issues; Reuters)
- This interview with skin cancer specialist Dr. Elizabeth Buchbinder offers plain-language explanations of some cutting-edge treatments, in particular the growing field of ‘immunotherapy.’ (Explosion Of New Cancer Treatments Presents A ‘Very Exciting Time’; NPR)
- With treatment options for cancer ever expanding, it’s difficult to weigh options — especially in light of sometimes-high prices. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network aims to help consumers get a more comprehensive way to compare literal costs with expected benefits. (New tool will compare costs and benefits of cancer treatments; Reuters)
- Modern medicine and public health are adding years to the average life, but a recent study highlights the distinction between ‘life expectancy’ and ‘healthy life expectancy’ — that is, chronic illness and advancing age add up to slow declines for many seniors. In the Home Health Blog’s recommended book for September, Dr. Atul Gawande makes the same observation, raising questions about whether medicine’s resolute gung-ho approach to patient care is the best avenue for this fragile population. (Global life expectancy rises, but people live sicker for longer; Reuters)
- This first-person account from a Cleveland Clinic oncologist also echoes Dr. Gawande’s concerns about the point when treatment may no longer align with a patient’s best interests. (Wondering If I Hastened a Patient’s Death; NYT Well blog)
Click to edit your new post…