One of the issues critical to improving outcomes for people with ovarian cancer is early detection and screening. Currently, genetic testing is a reimbursable service but genetic counseling, a key component of the early detection screening process, is not unless a physician is present. The Partnership is pleased to support legislation drafted by Paul A. DiSilvestro, MD, Director of the Program in Women’s Oncology and Women & Infants Hospital which would establish a licensure program for genetic counselors. This would increase access to this service by allowing genetic counselors to work independently and receive reimbursement without a physician present.
State of Lung Cancer Report
Lung cancer impacts the lives of families across the nation. Learn more about how states can address the #1 cancer killer in the newly released State Of Lung Cancer report by the American Lung Association: Lung.org/solc
Study Finds Nicotine Vapes Linked to Lung Cancer
The study found that some mice exposed to vape smoke containing nicotine developed cancer.
October 12, 2019
Smoke from e-cigarettes has been found to cause lung cancer in mice, according to a study published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Prof Moon-shong Tang of New York University led the research in which 9 out of 40 mice (22.5%) exposed to vape smoke containing nicotine for 54 weeks developed lung cancer. In contrast, none of the 20 mice exposed to nicotine-free vape smoke developed cancer.
“Tobacco smoke is among the most dangerous environmental agents to which humans are routinely exposed, but the potential of vape smoke as a threat to human health is not yet fully understood,” said Tang.
He urges caution when it comes to interpreting his study’s findings, though, as it was conducted with a relatively small sample of mice susceptible to developing cancer over their lifetimes. The mice also did not inhale the smoke in the same way a human would, but instead were surrounded by a cloud of it.
“Our study’s results in mice were not meant to be compared to human disease, but instead argue that vape smoke must be more thoroughly studied before it is deemed safe or marketed that way,” Tang said.
Scientists Identify Genes Tied to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer
August 14, 2019
A team of Dana-Farber scientists and their associates has identified 34 genes associated with an increased risk of developing earliest-stage ovarian cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will both help identify women who have the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer and pave the way for identifying new therapies that can target these genes.
Currently, there is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer and the disease is notorious for being detected in later stages when survival rates are poor. However, if ovarian cancer is caught early, survival rates increase dramatically, underscoring the need to identify those who may be at risk for developing the disease.
The study, led by Dana-Farber’s Alexander Gusev, PhD, Simon Gayther, PhD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Bogdan Pasaniuc, PhD, of the University of California at Los Angeles, drew on genetic data gathered over more than a decade by the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. The researchers compared the genetic profiles of about 25,000 women with ovarian cancer and 45,000 women without the disease and found more than 30 regions of the genome associated with ovarian cancer.
The next task was to pick out the specific genes within those regions that are responsible for the increase in ovarian cancer risk.
“The main challenge has to do with the number of genes that are in one region of the genome,” explains Pasaniuc. “Whenever you inherit a piece of DNA from your parents, you don’t inherit just every base pair of the genome, you inherit big chunks. That means that if you inherit a gene mutation in a given region, you inherit the entire region, which can carry 10 to 20 genes at a time. This makes it very hard to pinpoint specific genes from specific regions.”
The team compared the large-scale genetic data from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium with data on mutations that disrupt the genes in ovarian and other tissues. By putting these two pieces of information together, the researchers were able to identify 34 genes associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The study discovered that in women at greatest risk of ovarian cancer because of their genetic blueprint, “there is an interplay between their genetics and the specific genes that drive the very earliest stages of cancer development,” said Gayther. Ultimately, the findings may provide a basis for stratifying women based on their likelihood of developing the disease.
“One novelty of this work is that we looked at risk variants that operate through alternative splicing rather than just the total abundance of a gene, which led us to genes we would not have otherwise identified,” Gusev observes. “Beyond a better understanding, mechanisms that operate through splicing open up new drug-target opportunities.”
Melanoma: What It Is, How to Spot It, and Treatment Options
August 5, 2019
Melanoma is a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that originates in melanocytes, the cells that create pigment (melanin) to protect us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Melanoma is categorized into one of three subtypes, depending on its location:
Cutaneous melanoma: Melanoma of the skin. Common affected areas include the face, neck, hands, and arms, all of which are often exposed to sunlight.
Mucosal melanoma: Melanoma that occurs in a mucous membrane, including the throat, nasal passages, or the mouth.
Ocular or uveal melanoma: A rare form of the disease that originates in the uvea, the pigmented layer of the eye.
Not all skin cancers are melanoma, and while the disease is aggressive, it’s also quite rare: according to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for 1% of all skin cancers.
What causes melanoma?
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor for melanoma. UV rays are present in sunlight and are also produced by artificial sources such as tanning beds. UV rays are hazardous because they damage the DNA of skin cells; when the genes controlling cell growth are affected by this damage, cancer can develop.