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Just 1 percent of women know of this common ovarian cancer symptom, study says

Published: Friday, October 27, 2017 @ 8:51 AM



Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. However, many are unaware of the red flags, according to a new report.

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Target Ovarian Cancer, a cancer charity in Europe, recently conducted an experiment to determine how the disease has affected women in recent years. 

To do so, they interviewed nearly 1,400 women of the general population in the United Kingdom to measure awareness of ovarian cancer. They then surveyed about 500 practicing general practitioners across the U.K. to measure awareness and their experience with ovarian cancer.

Lastly, they handed out questionnaires to about 400 U.K. women with ovarian cancer. It focused on their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

>> Related: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

After analyzing the results, they found that ovarian cancer affects about 7,300 women in the U.K., and 11 women die every day from the disease.

Despite the statistics, not many know about the warnings signs. 

Just 1 percent know that “increased urinary urgency” is one of the four main symptoms of ovarian cancer, and only 21 percent are able to name bloating as a symptom.

Furthermore, 30 percent of women incorrectly believe cervical screenings also detect ovarian cancer.

>> Related: Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

As for doctors, 45 percent of them wrongly think symptoms are only present in the later stages of the disease, and about 43 percent of women visit their general practitioner three times or more before being referred for a diagnostic tests. 

“The findings ... show what is working when it comes to diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer in England, but they also show where more remains to be done,” the authors concluded in the study

To heighten awareness, researchers recommend general practitioners complete accredited training on ovarian cancer. They also hope to highlight the Be Clear on Cancer campaign, which aims to educate women on the symptoms and the importance of visiting the doctor. 

Want to learn more about the results? Take a look at the full report here

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Tanning beds costing millions in U.S. medical bills, study finds

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 9:41 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 9:41 PM

Tanning Beds Causing Millions In Medical Bills

The rosy glow of indoor tanning pales in comparison to the millions of dollars in medical costs associated with tanning beds.

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study, published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, found that tanning beds caused more than 250,000 cases of skin cancer and 1,200 deaths in 2015, at a cost of more than $340 million in medical bills.

“The use of tanning devices is a significant contributor to illness and premature mortality in the U.S., and also represents a major economic burden in terms of the costs of medical care and lost productivity,” researchers from the University of North Carolina concluded.

Previous studies have found significant health risks in the use of tanning beds because they emit UV-A and UV-B rays, which have been linked to cell damage, including DNA mutations and skin cancers.

Scientists called indoor tanning “a public health hazard in the United States,” estimating that some 30 million people use tanning devices at least once a year and an estimated 35 percent of adults in the U.S. have used the devices.

A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some 13 percent of students in the 9th through the 12th grades used a tanning bed at least once a year, too.

Ultimately researchers said they hoped information in this study and others like it will help reduce the use of tanning beds.
    

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World's oldest spider, 43, killed by wasp sting

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 10:55 AM

Things You Didn’t Know about Spiders

“O death, where is thy sting?”

For the world’s oldest known spider, that biblical verse took on new meaning after the arachnid was killed by a wasp sting, Time reported.

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The spider, tabbed as Number 16 by Australian scientists, died after a record 43 years, researchers said Monday.

The female trapdoor tarantula lived in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt area, according to Agence France-Press reports. The spider broke the record of the previous spider, a tarantula that lived for 28 years in Mexico, according to a study published in January in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology. Number 16 was observed during a spider population study in 1974, Time reported.

“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” said Curtin University’s Leanda Mason, the study’s lead author.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mason said team members were “really miserable” over the spider’s death, TheTelegraph reported.

Trapdoor spiders are common in Australia and typically live between five and 20 years, according to the Australian Museum.

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Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 3:54 PM

Chemotherapy drugs are shown at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chemotherapy drugs are shown at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for lung cancer. However, immunotherapy may be able to help double a patient’s survival, according to a new report.

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Researchers from New York University’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to determine which treatments were most effective for those newly diagnosed with lung cancer.

To do so, they examined 616 people with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer from 118 international sites. The participants did not have genetic changes in the EGFR or ALK genes, which have both been linked to the rapid reproduction of cells. 

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About 400 of the subjects underwent pembrolizumab, a form of immunotherapy that helps destroy cancer cells; platinum therapy, a procedure that uses cell damaging agents; and pemetrexed, a chemotherapy drug that targets the lungs. The other 200 only received platinum therapy and pemetrexed with a saline placebo. 

After analyzing the results, they found the risk of death was reduced by 51 percent for those treated with pembrolizumab, platinum therapy and pemetrexed, compared with those who only got chemo. Furthermore, those with the combined therapy also had a 48 percent decreased chance of progression or death. 

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Suresh Ramalingam, deputy director at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the finding is “very important” as “it moves the milestone forward.”

“This study shows that by combining the two treatments, you can maximize or even improve patient outcomes. From that standpoint, it does shift the treatment approach to lung cancer in a positive way,” said Ramalingam, who was not a part of the trial.

By using both approaches together, doctors can create a multiplying effect. During chemotherapy, cells die and leave behind protein. Immunotherapy activates the immune system, aiding its ability to kill any remaining cancer cells.

>> Related: New cancer 'vaccine' completely wipes out tumors in mice -- human trials are on way

The NYU researchers did note there are severe side effects to the combination treatment, including nausea, anemia, fatigue and an increased risk of acute kidney injury. 

However, Ramalingam believes the trial gives experts the ammunition to test the approach in many other cancers. He also said there are several ways to treat different types of the disease, and people should understand that some tumors may need to be tackled differently.

For example, he recently led a separate, large clinical trial that targeted lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation, unlike the NYU analysts. As a result of his findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the use of a lung cancer pill called Tagrisso to those with the EGFR gene.

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While it was initially only used for individuals whose lung cancer worsened after treatment with other EGFR therapies, Ramalingam and his team proved the medication almost doubled the survival outcome for newly diagnosed lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation. In fact, it resulted in better outcomes than chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

“Given all these exciting advances that there are in lung cancer, patients should not settle for what’s been told,” Ramlingam recommended. “Basically get a second option or go to a major center that specializes in lung cancer to make sure they’re getting the cutting-edge treatment options that are out there.”

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Scientists accidentally discover enzyme that could 'eat' plastic pollution

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 11:07 AM

Giant Garbage Patch in Pacific 16 Times Larger Than Estimates

Pollution has negative effects on our health, but scientists may be able to better combat the issue with a plastic-eating enzyme they discovered accidentally

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Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently conducted a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to examine the natural molecules and chemicals found at a waste recycling center in Japan. 

During their assessment, they discovered that the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, can “eat” polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the material used to make plastic bottles. 

While they intended to better understand the structure of it, they actually engineered an enzyme that breaks down PET products

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“This unanticipated discovery suggests that there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics,” co-author John McGeehan said in a statement

The scientists said PET can persist in the environment for hundreds of years. The chemicals can seep into the soil, affecting the groundwater and infecting drinking water.

>> On AJC.com: Climate change will internally displace 143 million people by 2050, scientists warn

While the analysts called their discovery a “modest” improvement, they hope to continue their investigations to improve the enzyme with the help of protein tools. They said they believe their work will be used to industrially break down plastics in a fraction of the time. 

“We can all play a significant part in dealing with the plastic problem,” McGeehan said, “but the scientific community who ultimately created these ‘wonder-materials’ must now use all the technology at their disposal to develop real solutions.” 

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