N.Y's First Proton Therapy Center Set to Open

New York City is set to get a new radiation-treatment center, nearly a decade in the making, that uses proton beams to treat cancerous tumors. Called the New York Proton Center, it is a for-profit partnership of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Health System and Mount Sinai Health System, managed by the ProHEALTH company. Financing for the center was provided in part by the hospitals.
 It will be the first such proton therapy facility in New York state when it starts treating patients in July. It was slated to begin treating patients in 2018 and initially set to cost $300 million. Charles Simone, chief

Survey: Cancer Patients Will Pay Anything for Treatment

by Mike Bassett

As costs for cancer therapy routinely reach into seven figures, and patients demand access to investigational medicines knowing they'll have to pay out of pocket, results of a new survey will surprise no one.

When 300 cancer patients were asked what sacrifices they would make to obtain treatment, many said they would sell their homes and declare bankruptcy if necessary.

In fact, these patients were willing to make such sacrifices even though three-quarters of survey participants had stage IV disease.

Higher Vitamin D Levels Tied to Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk

Higher circulating levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) up to 100 nmol/L are associated with a significantly lower risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) in women and a nonsignificantly lower risk in men compared with concentrations that are considered deficient for bone health, an international collaborative meta-analysis suggests.

Drugmakers struggle in search for cancer cocktails

After decades of frustratingly slow progress in discovering new drugs to battle cancer, the breakthroughs have started to come thick and fast. Futuristic cell therapies from Novartis and Gilead Sciences can reengineer the body to attack tumours, while a drug from Loxo Oncology produces spectacular results by zoning in on cancer genetics.

Carcinogen-DNA Adducts

Carcinogen-DNA adducts result from the covalent interaction of electrophilic chemical carcinogens with nucleophilic sites on DNA. This unifying concept for initiating carcinogens was proposed by Drs. James and Elizabeth Miller. Genotoxic carcinogens may have intrinsic reactivity with DNA or this reactivity may result from metabolic or photochemical activation of otherwise unreactive compounds. The former category most often results from products of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries or pyrolysis where very reactive chemical may be expected to be formed.

Mismatch Repair: Biochemistry and Genetics

Mispaired bases arise in DNA by a number of mechanisms. One of the most important sources of such mispaired bases is misincorporation errors that are made during DNA replication (Fig. 1). If such errors are not repaired prior to the next round of DNA replication, they will be fixed in the DNA as mutations. These misincorporation errors are normally corrected by a process called DNA mismatch repair (MMR). MMR recognizes the resulting mispaired base in DNA and directs the selective degradation of the newly synthesized DNA strand where the error resides.

Melanoma: Cellular and Molecular Abnormalities

The incidence of melanoma is increasing in a number of countries, including the United States. Although in many cases this increase in incidence is associated with an increase in the diagnosis of early lesions, advanced melanoma still accounts for considerable morbidity and mortality. Like many cancers, a proportion of individuals (5-15%) report a family history of melanoma. It is hoped that the identification and characterization of the genes responsible for melanoma predisposition will lead to a greater understanding of the molecular events associated with sporadic melanoma.

Lung Cancer: Molecular and Cellular Abnormalities

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and will be a persistent health crisis worldwide over the next century due to inadequate methods to restrict teenage smoking, the increased marketing of tobacco overseas, air pollution, and the long latency period of the preneoplastic state. Epidemiologic and genetic evidence has proven that lung cancer arises from the sequential accumulation of specific gene alterations that is accelerated following chronic exposure to tobacco smoke and other environmental carcinogens.

Li-Fraumeni Syndrome

Nonrandom aggregations of cancer have been recognized to occur since the middle of the last century. Although almost every type of cancer has been reported to occur in a familial form, evidence of hereditary and familial influences exists in only a few percentages of cases. The actual fraction of human cancers that are causally associated with genetic and familial factors is not known. The Li-Fraumeni syndrome is a rare, yet important, family cancer syndrome.      

Hereditary Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2

The inheritance of a mutation in a tumor suppressor gene confers a greatly increased risk of cancer over the lifetime of an individual. Mutations in tumor suppressor genes that are inherited through the germline thus give rise to cancer susceptibility syndromes, in which a greatly increased risk of cancer is inherited in an autosomal-dominant fashion. Approximately 7% of breast cancer and 10% of ovarian cancer are attributable to such mutations, most of which occur in two specific genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2.