Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bowel cancer rate doubles for British men

This is what is to be expected of an ageing population. Old people fall apart in all sorts of ways and there are now a lot more of them. The claims about red meat are just epidemiological garbage

Bowel cancer rates for men have doubled since the 1970s, it was revealed yesterday. More than one in 15 men are at risk of developing the disease compared with one in 29 in 1975. For women, the risk has risen by more than a quarter to one in 19, from one in 26 in the mid-1970s, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.

Experts say a diet rich in red and processed meat and lacking in fruit and vegetables is partly to blame for the soaring levels.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at the charity, said: ‘An ageing population as well as changes in lifestyle have both led to more people developing cancer than a generation ago.

‘But even though the chances of getting the disease have increased in the population there are many ways that people can cut their own risk. ‘You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by keeping a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a healthy diet that’s high in fibre and low in red and processed meat, cutting down on alcohol and not smoking.’

In 2008 there were 21,500 cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in men compared with 11,800 in 1975. For women the numbers have gone up from 13,500 in 1975 to 17,400 three years ago.

The figures, published in the British Journal of Cancer, represent the ‘lifetime risk’ of getting the disease, a new method of calculation taking into account people who get cancer more than once or die from other diseases.

Professor Peter Sasieni, the Cancer Research UK epidemiologist who produced the figures, said: ‘As people are living longer the numbers getting cancer have increased and the lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer has gone up. ‘For some cancers, including bowel, the risk of cancer in the next ten years will be much higher for people in their 50s and 60s.

‘But if someone reaches their late 70s and hasn’t yet developed the disease then their risk of getting it during the rest of their lifetime is lower than their risk at birth.’

Survival rates have improved, however, with 50 per cent of bowel cancer patients now living for at least ten years, double the number in the early 1970s due to earlier diagnosis and improvements in surgical techniques.

Scientists warned earlier this year that eating less red meat could prevent 17,000 cases of bowel cancer in the UK every year.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, urged people who are offered screening to accept the offer. ‘It could save your life,’ he said. ‘But we must look at the positives. In around half of cases bowel cancer can now be beaten.’


A Second Avastin Opinion

Oncologists vs. the FDA on the breast cancer drug. Clinical experience has shown that it helps SOME women a great deal but for most it does nothing. Obama nominees work on the "all men are equal" theory so refuse to admit that some patients are different. Politics threatens to kill women. Not that killing people has ever bothered Leftists

The "humanitarians" urging the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw Avastin for women with terminal breast cancer claim there is no other choice: The evidence shows Avastin doesn't work, so too bad. But how to square that view with the highly respected medical group that —reading the same evidence— recommends preserving Avastin as a treatment option?

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is a consortium of 21 leading U.S. oncology programs that issues practice guidelines on the basis of "sound, evaluative clinical information," according to its mission statement. Last week, the NCCN's breast cancer panel reaffirmed its position that Avastin is "an appropriate therapeutic option" for some patients in combination with chemotherapy. The vote was 24 in favor, with one abstention. No members were opposed.

The FDA's expert panels have now reviewed Avastin three times. All three have rejected it, though the first vote was overruled by the FDA leadership in 2008 to give the biologic drug provisional approval. Cancer division chief Richard Pazdur moved to revoke approval last year after a negative re-review of the evidence, and a final decision is now pending following an unprecedented appeal hearing last month by Avastin's maker, the Roche subsidiary Genentech.

Yet the NCCN has now reviewed Avastin for breast cancer four times since adding it to the compendium in 2005, and each time it has reaffirmed its support. One reason for the group's divergence with government is that it fields practicing oncologists from institutions like Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Texas's M.D. Anderson and Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York. They understand the benefits that Avastin can provide to some (but not all) women in controlling their disease, and the NCCN's advice is appropriately qualified.

The FDA, by contrast, favors statistical purists who think in the abstractions of controlled trials, and its conflict-of-interest rules are meant to exclude doctors who have experience treating specific cancers in the real world. For the FDA, believe it or not, being an expert in breast cancer fatally compromises your objectivity in ruling on a breast cancer drug. The oncologists also don't carry Dr. Pazdur's political agenda to increase his agency's power over cancer drug approvals.

Genentech is merely asking for Avastin to remain available for metastatic breast cancer while it conducts an additional trial to add to the evidence about which patients Avastin does help. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg hasn't said when she'll make a final decision. If you were a patient, would you rather trust a federal regulator or some of the best cancer doctors in the country?


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