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Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: August 31

Clinical features of colon tumors can predict survival, acupressure bands reduce nausea during radiation therapy, and there was no connection between the amount of fish a person ate and risk for colorectal cancer.  Although blacks have an increased risk for colon and breast cancer, hospitals matter.  All patients — white or black — did worse in hospitals that treated a majority of black patients.

Surgical robots are being developed with a light touch that can tell the difference between normal and tumor tissue.

Research Reports

  • About 12 percent of stage I and II colon cancer patients in a German study had one or more clinical characteristics that increased their risk of dying from their cancer.  Overall, cancer-specific survival for the group was 94.8 percent at 5 years and 91 percent at ten years.  However, invasion of lymphatic vessels, poor tumor grade, or length of tumor greater than 6 centimeters reduced survival.  With one poor characteristic, five and ten year cancer-specific survival was 94.8 percent and 88.9 percent.  With all three, survival fell to 87.5 percent at 5 years and 72.9 percent at ten years.  Patients with none of the characteristics had a five year survival of 96 percent.  None of the patients in the study had chemotherapy after their surgery. The study of a prospective Munich database was reported by surgeon Ralf Gertler in the European Journal of Cancer online August 19, 2009.
  • Colorectal and breast cancer patients of any race who are treated in hospitals where more than half of patients are black have higher death rates.  For colorectal cancer, the increased risk was almost 30 percent even after adjusting for other risks like age, stage, race, and socioeconomic factors.  “Efforts aimed at increasing early detection through screening and decreasing incidence with preventative services are essential for decreasing racial disparities in mortality, but where a patient receives care after a cancer diagnosis may be equally important,” senior study author Arden M. Morris, MD, MPH said.  The study was published in the July 20, 2009 issue of the Journal of Oncology.
  • Acupressure wristbands reduced nausea from radiation therapy.  However, there was no additional effectiveness if patients were given information before using the bands that led them to expect results. Joseph Roscoe, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Rochester reported their on their study in the Journal of Symptom and Pain Management online March 31, 2009.
  • Researchers in Japan found no connection between how much fish an individual eats and colorectal cancer.  Following nearly 40,000 people for 9 years, the scientists found 566 cases of colorectal cancer but no difference in risk between those who ate the most fish and those who ate the least. Y. Sugawara reports study results in the British Journal of Cancer on August 25, 2009.

Other Headlines

  • Robots may have a lighter — and better — touch than surgeons.  Tumors usually feel stiffer than surrounding tissue, and in open surgeries, doctors put light pressure on organs to identify areas with potential cancer.  With minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery, they cannot feel tissue.  A new robotic system is being developed to replace the surgeon’s hand, systematically putting light pressure on organs to locate tumors.  The robots use less pressure and use it consistently.  Medical News Today on August 22 had an article about the Canadian CSTAR project that is developing the robots.

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