The research is an ongoing project between the Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, the physics and astronomy departments at Penn as well as the school’s Gynecologic Oncology division.
The dogs trained in detection have a 90% accuracy rate, and with their ability to find odorants at such a low level makes them very valuable for early detection. Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death among women, but with early diagnosis, the survival rate is more than 90% over a 5-year period. With more 80% of patients being diagnosed in the late stages, all forms of detection can be a valuable weapon towards fighting the disease.
What a group of researchers have found that a dog’s sense of smell alongside DNA analysis as means of detecting ovarian cancer in its early stages. The dogs were trained within a laboratory setting to smell for cancer, receiving a reward upon successful detection. Material known as volatile organic compounds (VOC), or odorants are changed in the early stages of ovarian cancer. Trained dogs working in tandem with electronic detection devices have been able to pick upon these odorants in very small quantities.
One of the primary dangers of ovarian cancer is with the lack of early detection. As a result, researchers are looking for possible detection techniques in all manner of places, some of them highly unusual. A report on Consumer Affairs tells of new research that shows that dogs have the ability to detect cancer by sense of smell.
Baptist Health Center of Robotic Surgery offers a treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer that is a combination of robotic surgery and heated chemotherapy. The procedure, the Miami Herald reports, is designed to begin applying treatment immediately instead waiting the sometimes weeks long recovery period between surgery and chemotherapy treatment.
After a patient has undergone robotic surgery for the removal of their cancer, heated chemotherapy is then infused into the belly of the patient while they are still in the operating room. Dr. John Diaz, a gynecologic oncologist at the center, believes that the experimental procedure will yield benefits. Not waiting the usual three weeks between robotic surgery and the beginning of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer patients allows for optimum penetration into cells.
“We can give higher doses of chemo into the belly than we could into the veins because we are eliminating some of the toxicities,” Diaz said. “The chemotherapy is in direct contact with the area where the cancer tends to recur, which is in the belly.”
While know that treatment is possible and safe, it is not yet clear whether heated chemo injected into the belly post-robotic surgery is better than the standard surgery. Clinical trials showed that a similar procedure using non-heated chemo gave initial remission, with about half have a recurrence.
“We are not yet sure if it is better than the standard surgery.” Diaz said, “We think it is but we don’t have that data yet.”
A similar style of robotic surgery helped cancer patients by directly applying radiation to cancerous tumors.
To read more about the potential of robotic surgery to help ovarian cancer patients, check out the original article in the Miami Herald.
May 8 of this year was World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day. The day is a global effort to educate people on a cancer that will affect one in every 57 women in the United States. The awareness effort is aimed at prevention, early detection and, of course, research for treatment.
Katu.com reports that ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. While ovarian cancer cases normally occur in women over 50, it can affect women of any age. Like most cancers, ovarian cancer cannot be prevented completely, but the the American Cancer Society does recommend some steps women can take to decrease their risk.
1. Exercise – moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day greatly improve cardiovascular health which has been shown to decrease the risk of some cancers, including ovarian cancer.
2. Maintain a healthy diet – Paying attention to the food groups and avoiding excess fat and sugar helps maintain your body’s natural defenses.
3. Maintain a healthy weight – A healthy BMI has been shown to help prevent a number of diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and many cancers.
4. Don’t smoke – Smoking is tied to a great many cancers, including ovarian cancer.
5. Visit the doctor – Frequent checkups can aid in early detection. Women should have an annual exam that includes a pelvic exam and pap test.
Knowing the symptoms is important for all women. Women who experience pain in the pelvis, back or lower abdominals, vaginal bleeding, weight fluctuation, and digestion dysfunction should contact their doctors right away.
Beyond education and awareness, World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day is about hope for the future. Spread the word to family and loved ones to help beat ovarian cancer.
To read the original article, visit Katu.com.
Photo by Bill Branson
Scientists are constantly working on discovering treatments and ways to detect ovarian cancer earlier. Curing the cancer could be made easier if doctors detect it sooner in a patient. A national repository for blood and tissue samples from ovarian cancer patients is being created to aid in the studies researchers are doing. Researchers are using this repository to test the pattern of protein in the blood to see if that has an impact on the development of ovarian cancer.
Past tests that have looked at protein structures were OvaSure and OvaCheck. The FDA requested that these tests were taken off the market. The tests were unproven to be completely effective.
Since these two tests have been removed from the market, two large studies of screening have been completed. One of the screenings was in the US while the other took place in the UK. Both of these tests looked at utilizing the CA-125 blood test along with an ovarian ultrasound to detect ovarian cancer. These tests proved to find more cancers in women and at an earlier stage. However, the women screened with this new test did not experience a better outcome than the women who were not. The screened women did not live longer and were also not less likely die from ovarian cancer.
OVA1 is a test that is meant to be used on women who have an ovarian tumor. This test takes into consideration the levels of four proteins in the blood. These levels then separate women with tumors into two groups: low risk and high risk. Those who are labeled as low risk are not likely to have cancer while those labeled as high risk are much more likely to. Those that are labeled “high risk” typically should have surgery by a specialist to remove the tumor. Women without an ovarian tumor do not undergo this test.
Scientists are continually studying the genes that cause ovarian cancer. There is little knowledge as to how these genes normally work and what part of them leads to cancer. Once this information is determined however, treatments and drugs for prevention will be able to be manufactured. The research in this area has not been completely futile. There are already better ways to detect high-risk genes and assess a woman’s ovarian cancer risk. Scientists are also working on understanding how genetic and hormonal factors (such as oral contraceptive use) interact with each to discover ways to prevent ovarian cancer as discussed in this article.
There is new information about how much BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations increase ovarian cancer risk. This information enables women to make decisions about prevention such as the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes. BRCA gene mutations make women more prone to fallopian tube cancers, so the detection of a mutation would allow a woman to make an educated decision on whether she should have the fallopian tubes removed or not. However, it is still impossible to accurately predict the outcome of a gene mutation for any individual woman.
Studies show fallopian tubes are often the site of origin for many primary peritoneal cancers and some ovarian cancers. Cells from early fallopian tube cancer can become detached and then stick to the surface of the peritoneum or the ovaries.
In these new locations the cells can grow more and more rapidly. The theory behind this idea has become important in determining the implications for preventing ovarian cancer. Having the ovaries removed early can cause issues in the female body, due to a lack of estrogen. These problems include bone loss, cardiovascular disease, and menopause syndrome. This is why scientists have started suggesting the removal of the fallopian tubes instead of the ovaries for females with a family history or BRCA gene mutations. This area continues to be researched as scientists constantly search for other factors that may affect the likelihood of ovarian cancer.
Rutgers University scientists developed a targeted drug delivery system that could make ovarian cancer more treatable and help to increase the survival rate for the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States.
Most women who have ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until after the disease has metastasized on to other organs. By that time surgery and chemotherapy are not nearly as effective.
“Once the ovarian cancer becomes drug resistant we cannot cure it,” says Rodriguez who is a gynecologic oncologist who has been providing treatment to ovarian cancer patients. She is also the director of the precision medicine initiative at Rutgers Cancer institute of NJ.
Advanced stage ovarian cancer is caused by an out of control protein CD44. This enables cancerous tumors to proliferate and become resistant to conventional drug treatments. Only 30 percent of advanced ovarian cancer patients survive for five years.
A new study published in “Clinical Cancer Research,” Professor Tamara Minko and Lorna Rodriguez reveal the outcome of research on animals with cancer. They use small, inhibiting RNA molecules that directly target and decrease the overproduced CD44 protein cancer cells while also simultaneously treating patients with the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. This allows even advanced cancerous tumors to be successfully treated.
“We expect that the proposed treatment will be especially effective in advanced stages of ovarian cancers, where there are many cancer stem cells in the tumors that resist conventional drug treatment,” says Minko.
Because the CD44 protein is expressed on the surface of most cancer stem cells, these measures and advances developed by the Rutgers scientists may help in treating other types of cancers as well. The next step is to create a drug for humans to consume that could be used in clinical trials. Which, in time could lead to new pharmacological cancer treatments and perhaps increased survival rate from ovarian cancer.