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
World Cancer Day Survey Examines Gaps in Cancer Knowledge
By Brielle Benyon
February 4, 2020
Today, Feb. 4, 2020, is the 20th Annual World Cancer Day, led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Each year, the UICC uses the day to promote action from individuals, governments and the global cancer community, with a focus on disparities in risk awareness and health-promoting behaviors between socioeconomic groups.
“It is unacceptable that millions of people have a greater chance of developing cancer in their lifetime because they are simply not aware of the cancer risks to avoid and the healthy behaviors to adopt – information many of us take for granted,” Dr. Cary Adams, CEO of the UICC, said in a press release. “And this is true around the world.”
In honor of World Cancer Day, the UICC commissioned a global survey about people’s views and behaviors about cancer. The survey included more than 15,000 adults representing 20 different countries.
Results showed that there is a high level of awareness for certain cancer risks, namely tobacco use (63% of respondents recognized it as a risk), exposure to harmful UV rays (54%) and second-hand tobacco smoke exposure (50%). However, other risk factors, including lack of exercise (28%), exposure to certain viruses and bacteria (28%) and being overweight (29%) were not nearly as well recognized.
Medicare to Cover Gene Tests in InheritedBreast and Ovarian Cancer
By Kerry Dooley Young
Janurary 29, 2020
Medicare will pay for certain genetic tests for people with inherited ovarian and breast cancer while allowing Medicare administrative contractors (MACs) flexibility to decide whether to cover these tests for other uses.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday released an update of its payment rules for diagnostic tests using next-generation sequencing (NGS).
It was just in 2018 that Medicare issued its first national coverage policy for this kind of testing, opting to cover NGS for recurrent, relapsed, refractory, metastatic, or advanced cancers (stage III or IV). But the giant federal health program has faced calls to revise its coverage of NGS, even as researchers continue to try to prove strong clinical benefits for this testing.
"The evidence for ovarian and breast cancer suggests that using NGS to identify germline mutations can lead to better stratification of patients in the physician management of inherited cancers of the breast and ovary," CMS staff wrote in the decision memo.
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.”
What is the JUUL?
Medically reviewed by Andy Tan, MPH, PhD
August 7, 2019
JUUL is a brand of electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, that enables users to inhale vapor infused with nicotine, flavorings, and other compounds. Introduced in 2015, JUULs work much as other e-cigarettes do, but because they’re small and sleek — resembling a USB flash drive — and come in a variety of flavors, critics have charged that they’ve been specifically targeted to young people.
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows them to be the most popular brand of e-cigarette on the market.
Because they deliver a hit of nicotine — an addictive drug that provides a pleasurable sensation — without the cancer-causing tar found in tobacco products, JUULs (pronounced “jewels”) have been touted as a safer alternative to smoking. Juul Labs, Inc., the maker of JUULs, defines its mission as “improving the lives of one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.”
Research shows, however, that not only do most e-cigarette users continue to smoke traditional cigarettes, but that e-cigarette use can actually make young people more likely to take up smoking, according to the American Lung Association.
JUULs consist of a battery-powered vaporizer that connects to a cartridge, or “pod,” filled with liquid containing nicotine salts, flavorings, and other substances such as glycerol, propylene glycol, and benzoic acid. One of the features that distinguishes JUULs from similar products is their small size — easily enclosed in the palm of the hand — compact design, and relatively small plume of vapor. They initially gained notoriety for the high nicotine content in their pods, although other manufacturers have largely caught up, research by investigators at Stanford University has shown.
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.