Monday, June 07, 2010

Some Sunscreens Speed Up Skin Cancer

I can't trace the research behind this note in a popular newspaper but it seems worth a mention

The Environmental Working Group advises checking for ingredients such as Vitamin A and its derivatives such as retinol and retinyl palmitate, which a study said can speed up skin cancer.

The study said to also check for oxybenzone, which can penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream. "We now have some evidence in laboratory conditions that they may actually potentiate cancer in lab animals," said Adrian Guevara, a dermatologist with Sun City Dermatology.

Guevara is quick to point out that no human studies have been done, so he believes sunscreen is still a must. "We have a very clear benefit for using sunscreen, it's going to reduce the risk that you get any sort of skin cancer," Guevara told KFOX. "Those clear benefits out weigh any unknown theoretical risk of the current sets of sunscreens."

He said what's much more dangerous is that few people use sunscreen correctly. "Use more than you think you should use. They say a shot glass to cover your exposed skin. That's a whole lot more than anybody uses," he said.


Ovarian cancer drug Avastin could extend life by four to six months

A promising drug used in the treatment of bowel, breast and lung cancer could also help to extend the lives of women with advanced ovarian tumours, a landmark study suggests. Results released at a major cancer conference in the United States indicate that taking bevacizumab (Avastin), in combination with standard chemotherapy, can offer women an extra four to six months of life without their disease getting worse.

The drug is the first promising treatment for ovarian cancer — considered a “silent killer” as it is difficult to diagnose and treat — for almost 20 years. Ovarian cancer is the fifth-most common cancer in women, with 6,800 new cases each year in Britain and 4,300 deaths. Survival rates are above 70 per cent if it is caught early, but only about one in three is diagnosed in the early stages.

Bevacizumab, which works by starving tumours of their blood supply, has already emerged as a key weapon in the fight against colon, lung, breast and other cancers. The drug will be licensed as a treatment for ovarian cancer this year, but will have to be approved for routine NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which is considering the drug’s benefits for bowel and breast cancer.

For those diseases, Roche, the manufacturer, has proposed a discount to the NHS that would cap the cost of treatment at £23,100 per patient.

The latest trial of nearly 1,900 women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer — the most common form of the disease — was funded by the National Cancer Institute in the US. Those who took bevacizumab as well as undergoing chemotherapy for 15 months had a 35 per cent higher chance of living longer, without their cancer progressing, than those who did not, researchers found.

A second clinical trial of Avastin in women with ovarian cancer is under way in Britain and due to report its findings this autumn.

The main treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible but, where disease is diagnosed late, there is a high chance that the cancer will have spread.

Although advanced cases will still be terminal in many cases, researchers said that the chance of extra months of good-quality life “offered real hope” for women in Britain, who presently receive the same chemotherapy regime as was given in the mid-1990s.

Professor Chris Poole, a consultant medical oncologist at University Hospital Coventry, said: “These results provide the most clinically significant advance in the treatment of this disease since I was appointed a consultant 16 years ago. “We know how important it is for the success of subsequent treatment that we keep ovarian cancer under control for as long as possible after initial chemotherapy. In so far as bevacizumab evidently helps us achieve this critically important objective, it offers real hope for women with this dreadful disease.”

Ovarian cancer can run in families, and more than 50 per cent of cases occur in women over 65. More than a third of women with cancer wait more than six months from first visiting their GP to receiving their diagnosis.

The five-year survival rate, at 30 per cent, is one of the lowest in the Western world. In the trial, presented yesterday at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual conference in Chicago, disease progression was checked by either testing for levels of blood protein which provide evidence of the cancer’s growth, or through radiological scans to assess the size of the tumour.

Annwen Jones, the chief executive of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, welcomed the results. “This means that the period that women are well and not having treatment appears to be extended. “They are better able to lead more normal lives for a longer time, spending time with their families and being well enough to do things they want to do,” she said.


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