Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: November 29


Swedish researchers have found a drug that inhibits a dangerous cell pathway while leaving a protective one intact pointing the way to preventing colon polyps from becoming cancerous.  In a large study, 8 out of 10 chemotherapy patients experienced symptoms of insomnia or outright insomnia after their first cycle of chemo.

A work team from the United Kingdom will help restore an elementary school in South Africa while simultaneously raising money for colon cancer research.

Connect to a poem by Elspeth Murray asking doctors to communicate clearly but with empathy and to an article about coping with cancer during the holidays.

Research Updates

  • Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered a group of signalling proteins that both promote the growth of cells in the colon into polyps (adenomas) and, paradoxically, also inhibit the development of polyps into cancer.  EphB controls two pathways in the cell — one leading to cell division and another that curbs the cell’s progress toward cancer.  They have also found that imatinib (Gleevec®) can inhibit the first dangerous pathway while leaving the protective one in place.  So far the drug has kept cells from dividing in test tubes and in mice, but no human trials have been done.   Their studies were published in the November 13, 2009 issue of Cell.
  • Nearly 8 out of ten patients receiving their first cycle of chemotherapy reported either symptoms of insomnia (36.6 percent) or insomnia syndrome (43 percent), where symptoms occurred at least 3 days a week for more than three weeks.  The combined rate  is three times what is seen in the general population. Insomnia symptoms included difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night for long periods, or waking up early.  There was no difference between men and women, but younger patients had more sleep problems. Lung cancer patients had the highest rates of insomnia while patients with colon cancer had the lowest.   Insomnia was connected to both fatigue and depression.   Oxana G. Palesh, PhD from the University of Rochester published the team’s results in the Journal of Clinical Oncology early release November 23, 2009.

Other Headlines

  • Our friends in the UK will help raise funds for bowel cancer research and also aid children in South Africa. Forty people will work together to restore the Sandeberg primary school near Leipoldtsville.  During their  ten-day stay professional soccer players Luther Blissett and George Parris will coach local children. Money raised by trip participants will benefit the Bobby Moore Fund which raises money specifically for colorectal cancer research.  Moore led England to its only World Cup.  He died of colon cancer in 1993 at the age of 51.
  • Poet Elspeth Murray recites her poem This is Bad Enough on YouTube, asking that doctors not give her gobblydegook but the information she needs to know because she says, “This is bad enough and hard and tough enough.” She also asks that they, “Show us the facts, some figures, and don’t forget our feelings.”
  • Cancer.Net, ASCO’s website for people living with cancer, has a good article about coping with cancer during the holidays. They answer common questions like dealing with fatigue, honoring the memory of someone who died, coping with anxiety about cancer recurrence, and finding a gift for someone with cancer.  Some people worry about weight loss or thinning hair and how to explain it to visitors.  Others are looking for places to volunteer.  Cancer.Net says, “Make this holiday season about rediscovering peace and happiness in old and new ways.

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