More Reasons to Knock off Smoking

February 15th, 2015

According to Scientific American magazine, cigarette smoke remains “ the single greatest controllable risk factor for lung cancer and the most common preventable cause of all premature deaths in the United States.” Statistics show that half of all smokers die prematurely of diseases that are related to smoking.

And while the figures go on to point out that the risk of lung cancer is greatest among those who begin smoking at an early age, the practice of daily smoking among many young people continues unabated. More shocking still is the number of hospital and health related employees who should know better, but who continue to smoke. You see many parading outside of their institutions, some even in surgical gowns.

For prostate cancer patients, word from a study at New York’s famed Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center could not be more sobering: “ those who were still smoking at the time of their radiation therapy for prostate cancer had worse outcomes following radiation treatment compared to those who had never smoked.”

In that same study on a review of 2,156 prostate cancer patients at MSKCC treated with radiation therapy between 1988 and 2005, compared to non-smokers and smokers had:

  • A 40 percent increased risk for PSA relapse following treatment
  • Double the risk in developing distant metastases
  • Double the risk of death from prostate cancer
  • An 80 percent increase in urinary incontinence, obstruction

According to doctors at Johns Hopkins if you stop smoking, within 24 hours your heart rate returns to normal. Your blood level of carbon monoxide declines. Carbon monoxide cuts down the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Your risk of a heart attack declines. And your lung function improves significantly over time.

Doubters of scientific proof are quick to suggest that e-cigarettes are perfectly safe. E-cigarettes are gaining in popularity in the U.S. Manufacturers, retailers and advertisers are claiming that these cigarettes are “healthier” than ordinary cigarettes and can even help people stop smoking altogether.

The truth is that these battery-operated e-cigarettes heat up a liquid containing nicotine mixed with flavorings and create a vapor or mist that is then inhaled.

But and it’s a big but—there is no scientific long term evidence to support the claims that are made that these products are safe. The jury on e-cigarettes is still out.

And for now, the best advice remains: Stop smoking. FDA strategies to put down those cigarettes include: nicotine-replacement products; oral medications like Chantix; and when all else fails, counseling and support.

 

Nighttime Urintating: What Can You Do About It?

February 15th, 2015

Many prostate patients suffer from what is called nocturia. That’s but a fancy of way of saying they have to run to the bathroom frequently to urinate at night. But you don’t have to be a prostate patient to experience nocturia. In fact, you don’t even have to be a male. Men and women alike suffer from nocturia and find themselves running to the bathroom a lot at night. It can disturb your partner in addition to disrupting your own sleep. So, can anything be done about it or must you go about suffering this indignity? The answer is, yes, Virginia, you can do something about it. But before we tell you what you can do, let’s tell you what’s going on here and why you are on the run at bedtime.

First of all, prostate patients, if you have an enlarged prostate, you may find yourself suffering from nighttime urinary frequency. And many men complain that despite what is called prostate-directed treatment offered by your urologist just isn’t doing the trick.

Nocturia is caused by an aging bladder, and it’s the result of changes in the bladder wall and changes in nerve signals that tell the bladder to relax. So just as we find that our joints and muscles are not as flexible when we are older as they were when we were younger, we find that there is a loss of elasticity in the bladder as we age. And with loss of elasticity in the bladder, pressure within the bladder rises at lower volumes and the brain receives a signal more frequently that the bladder is full! Result: a trip to the bathroom. Besides, there’s our biologic clock messing us up. It’s responsible for the body’s daily rhythms, and while it’s supposed to tell the body to re-absorb water so we can sleep undisturbed, guess what? It slips up and there is no watchmaker in sight. So it’s back to the bathroom once again.

Now that you understand urinary mechanics 101, what can you do about it?

1)    Significantly cut back on all beverages in the evening. Especially, drinks containing caffeine and/or alcohol.

2)    Wear compression stockings. If you are retaining fluid in the lower part of your legs and feet, wearing compression stockings before going to bed could help reduce the fluid retention and the increased urination at night.

3)    If you are on diuretic medications (water pills) for treating high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about changing the time you take the pills. A lot of patients find that when they take their meds in mid to late afternoon—6 hours before bedtime—their nighttime urination problems are resolved.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, speak to your doctor about ways you can adjust your CPAP (continuous positive-flow airway pressure ) device. There are special ways for apnea patients to reduce nocturia.

 

 

No Info Slowdown…We’re Up to Speed

January 10th, 2015

You may be wondering why you haven’t  seen many daily postings with regard to advances in prostate cancer  research of late.  That’s not because we have been derelict or fallen off the wagon, so to speak.  It’s simply because we post what we consider significant advances that you can relate to or we think you might find of interest.  It’s not that a lot of research has not been going on.  But much of it has been in the realm of genetics and is either too esoteric or too nascent to report.  For those who want or need to find out about the disease, we can assure you the information you need is all here.  What you have to do is scroll to the bottom of our blog pages ( older entries ) and read what has been posted.  We believe you can find it all on this site without the need to search the internet.  If you need to know more and don’t  find it posted, please let us know and we will do our best to get you answers. Be assured when there is a major breakthrough, we will post it immediately. Of course, if you want to have the information at hand and in your own hands, please consider buying our book.

The Authors

Prostate Cancer Survivors Speak Their Minds

 

 

Gene Repair Studies Could Lead to Killing Cancer Cells

January 2nd, 2015

Research to discover “killing fields” for cancer cells is in high gear. Latest efforts to find ways to destroy cancer cells comes from laboratories at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. The studies we refer to focus on combining genetic and biochemical components. Here the idea is to increase the presence of a tumor-suppressing protein ( called p53BP1) that, in turn, leads cancer cells to self-destruct. What the protein does is weaken cancer cells, leaving them susceptible to existing cancer-fighting drugs.

Now, the idea is to take the lab findings and test result in animal models, and if the findings hold up in animal studies, they could hold the promise of increasing the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy in shrinking—even  eliminating tumors. ( Details can be found in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Nov 24, 2014 issue. )

The researchers had been trying to figure out how to repair breaks in DNA strands. Breaks that may have been caused by radiation, chemical agents or bodily functions. That’s when they happened upon a surprising circumstance: they discovered a way to increase the protein p53BP1. Next came the idea that increasing this protein intentionally could result into weaking cancer cells. A Eureka moment.

The lead scientist, Dr. Upiwei Zhang, assistant professor of pharmacology at Case Western, said, “ Our discovery one day could lead to a gene therapy where extra amounts of the 53BP1 protein will be generated to make cancer cells more vulnerable to cancer treatment. He explained that the idea is to have the proteins trick the cancer cells to go to a fork in the road and take the wrong turn—one that would lead to their destruction. In layman’s language professor Zhang says ultimately we would eventually want to build up the number of these 53BP1 proteins in patients to make their cancer cells vulnerable to radiation therapy and chemotherapy drugs.

 

 

SWITCHING OFF PROSTATE TUMOR GROWTH

November 15th, 2014

SWITCHING OFF PROSTATE TUMOR GROWTH

 

A new study from the Universities of Nottingham and Bristol in the UK may have found a new way to halt the spread of prostate tumors. The concept works like this: Prostate cancer cells multiply by building blood vessels that, like pipelines, deliver the nutrients that fuel cancer cells that spread. What if you can blow up the pipelines? In this case, halt the ability of the new blood cells to develop.

That’s what researchers have been working on. They’ve found a molecule they call SRPK1 that is needed to form the new blood vessels. The process of building these new blood vessels is known as Angiogenesis. Halting angiogenesis means blocking the SRPK1 molecule—which in turn means blocking the ability of the prostate tumor to grow—which in turn means no growth of the tumor!

Big news if researchers can replicate in humans what they found in mice!  Inhibiting SRPK1 means putting an end to the growth of the prostate tumor.

Chief investigator Professor David Bates (Division of Cancer and Stem Cells at the U of Nottingham) says: “Our results point to a novel way of treating prostate cancer and may have wider implications to be used in several types of cancers.”

Complete discussion can be found in the current journal Oncogene.

 

Prostate Cancer Recurrence

October 6th, 2014

OPINION

 

When the firehouse burns down that is not good news. When you’ve won the lottery but lost your ticket that is not good news. So when you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve licked prostate cancer and you’re mistaken, well, that is hardly good news. Full disclosure, that has happened to me! And I am the guy who’s been touting the progress made thus far in controlling prostate cancer.

But despite the fact that after more than a decade of being cancer-free and the sudden recurrence of the disease I am happy to report that I am quite alive and remain a survivor! In other words, I am living with prostate cancer, am fully functional and leading an active and full life. How can this be? you ask. And how do you carry on, knowing you are living in a kind of shadow of survivability?

When I first learned that my PSA had suddenly re-appeared three years ago and had gone from more than a decade at zero to seven I confess to be somewhat but not overly concerned. Several months later it advanced to 30 and remained there. But when it abruptly jumped to nearly 500 and kept advancing it was truly as Secretary John Kerry suggested in his foreword to our book “a real kick in the stomach.” No doubt about that.

During the rise in PSA, I remained asymptomatic. But as the PSA surpassed 500 I began to experience severe stomach cramps and intestinal problems. Consultation with my oncologist at Johns Hopkins led to a course of hormone injections, the first of which I have recently had. The intestinal issues continued for two weeks following the hormone injection but have significantly lessened. Whether the intestinal incidents have been a result of the cancer or the hormone therapy is still an open question. But I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced any other symptoms other than some but not serious fatigue.

I will say that the initial experience has done a job on my psyche. The first several weeks following the knowledge that the PSA had taken a giant leap plus the hormone treatment I felt suddenly vulnerable and tentative. I suppose that is the result of one’s coming face to face with the idea of our mortality. And then there is the good news: Once you face that ghostly eventuality, you can pull yourself together, as I did, and feel a resurgence of energy. And when you tell yourself you are still a survivor, I can tell you it is a mighty good and salubrious.  The Odyssey continues.

Norman Morris

 

Why you should linger on this site!

September 14th, 2014

I know you want your facts and info fast, short and sweet.  I know you hate to scroll.  But guess what?   You may be missing a lot of key info you want and need to know.  You probably won’t have to hunt all over the internet to find the answers you need.  It’s all here. Save yourself the time and effort and stay a while.

Your Chance to Help in Prostate Cancer Research! Please Join in!

July 18th, 2014

Let us introduce Lee Anne Walmsley.  She is a Registered Nurse working on her PhD dissertation at the University of Kentucky.  Her work is dedicated toward improving the psychological well-being of men with prostate cancer.  As she says, we know very little about the psychological well-being of men as they deal with the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.  Her study is designed to provide new insight into what factors affect a patient’s well-being.  We urge you to join in her research by helping provide information about yourselves.

You can participate in the study if you 1) have been diagnosed with prostate cancer before, 2) are 18 years or older, 3) are married or have a partner, 4) are able to read and write in English, and 4) have not been diagnosed with any other type of cancer. The research study consists of a brief survey that is completed online. Please consider taking the survey and sharing the link with your friends!By participating in the research study, you will help us get a better understanding of how we can intervene to help men with prostate cancer improve their psychological well-being. https://redcap.uky.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=rRwr6bEDgv

To those who take part in this survey we send our heart felt thanks.  We also remind readers that our own book contains interviews with wives and loved ones, all of which should be of great interest.

Vasectomy Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer

July 13th, 2014

A newly released Harvard medical study finds that vasectomy raises the risk of lethal prostate cancer. The findings are the result of a 24-year longitudinal study of 50,000 men. The report, published in the July 7th issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, says the danger appears to be highest among men who have had a vasectomy before the age of 38!

Cancer experts call these findings “extremely important,” suggesting the implications in birth control are now quite significant and suddenly push the issue of birth control on women. As it is, women face many potential side effects in dealing with birth control.

Researchers point out that even though the most dangerous forms of prostate cancer are rare, over the 24-year study, 1.6% of the men developed a lethal form of the disease. They say a 20% increase would raise that figure to less than 2%.

As for why a vasectomy might raise the increased prostate cancer risks, Kathy Wilson, a co-author of the study, says the reasons remain unclear. One possibility, yet to be confirmed in additional research, is that the operation somehow changes the protein composition of seminal fluid made in the prostate.

Even among men who have had regular PSA screenings, those who had vasectomies were said to be 56% at higher risk to develop fatal prostate cancer. They say evidence shows the link is stronger in men who had vasectomy at younger age—earlier than 38 years old.

Malcolm Mason, a research scholar at Cancer Research UK says, “The extra risk of developing prostate cancer after having a vasectomy appears to be small, but of the few that do go on to develop the disease a higher number will develop an aggressive form.”

Among those who counsel caution is Dr. Louis Kavoussi, chairman of urology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde, New York. He calls for more research in a “better controlled fashion” before physicians apply these findings to clinical practice. “It’s not like cigarette smoking causing a large number of people to develop lung cancer.

Support for the study comes from a grant to the Harvard School for Public Health by the U.S. National Cancer Institute among others.

New Finding: Old drug added to new drugs can equal exended life

June 22nd, 2014

In the ongoing race to find drugs that aid prostate cancer survival an important finding has just been reported. Namely, a cheap old drug used in chemotherapy—docetaxel sold under the name of Taxotere—when added to standard hormone therapy for men whose prostate cancer has widely spread can extend life by more than a year! The lead scientist in a nearly decade long study—Dr.Christopher Sweeney of Boston’s Dana-Farber Institute—hailed the discovery as one of the biggest improvements in survival for advanced cancer patients.

Men who received docetaxel lived nearly 58 months vs 44 months for those not given the drug. Dr. Sweeney shared the results at the American Society of Oncologist’s annual conference in Chicago earlier this month. It is the combination of a cheap decades old chemotherapy drug added to a newer drug that has researchers excited.

All  790 men in the study received drugs to block testosterone,which fuels prostate cancer’s growth, and half also were given six infusions of docetaxel, one every three weeks. About 2 ½ years later, 101 of the men given docetaxel had died compared to 136 of the men who did not get it. Dr. Sweeney said most men who received docetaxel were able to tolerate treatment well.

The National Cancer Institute funded the decade long study. Results show the importance of federal funding for research, scientists say, that otherwise might not get done. Dr. Clifford Hudis, a physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York says the pharmaceutical industry is less interested in funding a new use for an old drug because it has lost patent protection long ago.

Genenric docetaxel costs about $1500 per infusion. Compare that with other (newer) drugs that can cost as much as $100,000 or more for a course of treatment.

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Hippocrates

~ Father of Medicine