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23 December 2016
The Sydney Morning Herald: New drug gives Elly hope after cruel cancer blow
Elly Calabia knows the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) she was diagnosed with two years ago has spread to her stomach and brain. She knows her tumours have developed a resistance to treatment. In September Mrs Calabia tested positive for an epidermal growth factor receptor mutation – a protein involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells – resistant to treatment. NSCLC patients who have an EGFR mutation are usually treated with a type of targeted cancer therapy called EGFRTyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs), which muddle the signals that cause the tumour cells to grow. But between half and two-thirds of those patients, whose cancer continues to grow after being treated with TKIs, are dealt another setback; they develop a resistant mutation known as T790M. Mrs Calabia is one of those patients. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Australia, accounting for 18.8 per cent of all cancer deaths in 2016. An estimated 8839 people will die of the disease this year, according to Cancer Council Australia. The chance of surviving lung cancer past five years is 15 per cent. The Therapeutics Goods Administration announced on Thursday that it had approved a new TKI, osimertinib (Tagrisso), to treat cancer patients with this specific mutation. Drug trials have shown promising results, with marked improvements in slowing tumour growth and spread.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Asbestos cases skyrocket in Sydney homes
Reports of asbestos in residential and commercial construction sites have almost doubled in the past five years, data from SafeWork NSW shows. This year alone, the regulator has received 25,069 reports of licensed asbestos and demolition work, up from 12,942 in 2012. SafeWork’s figures come as an Australian online marketplace for tradespeople, Hipages, reports a 32 per cent increase in the number of job requests for licensed asbestos removal in NSW in the past year, a rise it links to the state’s surge in home renovations. In April a report commissioned by the federal government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency projected there would be about 19,400 new cases of mesothelioma in Australia before the end of the century. Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. The agency suggests 58 per cent of future diagnoses will be attributed to industrial exposures, with 42 per cent coming from third-wave exposures such as home renovation or environmental exposure. ‘‘The rising incidence of thirdwave exposure means it’s critically important that we all put in place measures now to reduce the risks of asbestos exposure [including] proper identification, removal and disposal of asbestos homes,’’ ASEA chief executive Peter Tighe said.
The Herald Sun: Sniffing out illness
Scientists have developed a “breathalyser” that can sniff out a range of diseases. The breath test, which costs as little as $40, was found to detect conditions such as Parkinson’s and ovarian cancer with 86 per cent accuracy. It also correctly diagnosed multiple sclerosis, pre-eclampsia in pregnant women and eight separate types of cancer by their unique “breath print”.
22 December 2016
Researchers are looking for palliative care cancer patients to take part in a medicinal cannabis trial. Palliative cannabis trials to start in NSW, Interview with the Minister for Medical Research and Lucy Haslam whose son died last year of bowel cancer.
Women with breast implants have a greater risk of developing a rare cancer than previously thought, Australian health authorities have warned. As many as 1000 Australian women who received breast implants will be diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), the Therapeutics Goods Administration has warned.On Tuesday the national watchdog advised women with breast implants to talk to their doctor if they notice any changes in their breasts, after 46 cases of rare anaplastic large cell lymphoma in Australia were linked to breast implants, three of which led to death. Health advisers and clinicians had previously thought the risk of developing ALCL was remote: between one in three million and one in 50,000. But the TGA has now updated its estimate to one in 1000 women with breast implants. ALCL is still classified as a rare cancer.
Australians have been urged to put donating blood on their Christmas to-do lists, to ensure there is enough for those patients undergoing life-saving cancer treatment over the holidays. The Red Cross Blood Service said it needed hundreds of people to fill vacant appointments to avert a shortage caused by regular donors either being away on holidays or busy with festivities. Among those in need of regular blood transfusions is seven-year-old Sadie Aird from Nuriootpa, who was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year.
AFR: Breakthrough in prostate cancer
West Australian researchers have found a way to protect a proportion of men from a recurrence of cancer following removal of their prostate gland. After surgery, some men show a “positive margin” – cancer cells inadvertently left behind. In the laboratory, the pathologist can see where the cancer escaped the prostate. In 20 to 30 per cent of such cases, the positive margin occurs at the neck of the bladder, where it meets the prostate. The Perth researchers have devised a method that reduces the rate of positive margins at the bladder neck to 4 per cent Their method does not apply to margins in other areas of the prostate. Their world-first findings have been published in the journal Human Pathology.
21 December 2016
Painkillers containing codeine will no longer be available over the counter from 2018, the federal drug regulator has announced. The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) principal medical officer, Dr Tim Greenaway, said the medication will change from Schedule 2 or 3 to Schedule 4 in February 2018 because consumers frequently became addicted to codeine. “It’s important that people realise that the decision’s been taken based on safety predominantly and based on the risk of abuse,” Dr Greenaway said. “Medication that are available over the counter or through pharmacies should be substantially safe and not subject to abuse.” “This is clearly not the case with codeine.” The move will bring Australia into line with the United States, Japan and most of Europe. The decision has been criticised by a peak pharmaceutical group, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI), which argued the drug should be kept available over the counter but with real-time monitoring system in place.
Health experts are urging consumers to think twice about sugar-free claims made by beer giant Lion in its advertising campaign “Beer: The Beautiful Truth”, seen on television and bus shelters. The LiveLighter campaign, run by the Cancer Council Victoria and Heart Foundation, said the claim “99.9 per cent sugar free” was a “sneaky” tactic, not because it wasn’t true, but because it diverted the attention away from the impact of alcohol. “It’s a sneaky strategy, a half-truth. They’re telling you one side of the story, that it’s low in sugar, which it is, but they haven’t told you it actually is still high in alcohol, which contributes to weight and is a risk factor for cancer,” said Alison McAleese from LiveLighter, which is also funded by the Victorian Government. “Alcohol has 29 kilojoules per gram, a standard drink is 10 grams of alcohol, and the beers being advertised are regular strength, so most of the kilojoules are coming from the alcohol and can lead to weight gain.”
Australian scientists from CSIRO and Flinders University have developed a new, more accurate blood test to detect bowel cancer. The test is called Colvera, launches in the US from today, and is expected to be available in Australia from early next year… 15,000 people are diagnosed every year in Australia alone. In 30 to 50 per cent of cases the disease will recur, usually in the first two to three years following initial diagnosis and treatment, and testing for recurrence is traditionally done with a blood test for CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) along with CT scans. “By providing clinicians with a new blood test that is more sensitive for recurrence than CEA, Colvera increases the likelihood of detecting curable recurrences of CRC, with the ultimate aim of saving lives,” CSIRO Scientist Dr Trevor Lockett said. Dr Lockett said today’s announcement is the result of a highly successful collaboration between the CSIRO, Flinders University and Clinical Genomics – an Australian founded, global biotechnology company aiming to reducing the impact of colorectal cancer through the early detection of disease. The company has partnered with CSIRO since 2003 “There was a clear alignment between Clinical Genomics with its product, CSIRO’s technologies and the clinical expertise of Flinders University,” Dr Lockett said. “It’s a real success story of science partnering with industry to create impact, and has provided an excellent learning opportunity for researchers to see science being applied with a business and intense product focus.”
St George and Sutherland Shire Leader: Sun safety jingle for beach
A jingle will be played at Cronulla Beach this summer, as well as at pools across the Sutherland Shire, to help raise awareness about sun safety. The Sun Sound jingle is a short, catchy seven-second jingle played every hour between 11am to 3pm from December to February, at Sutherland Shire leisure centres and beaches. The words of the jingle are ‘hear sun sound, be sun sound’. Over 100 beach and pool sites across the state have implemented the Sun Sound jingle this summer, reminding especially young people to protect their skin. Cancer Council NSW representatives, Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce, and mascots Larry and Sonny the lifeguards were on hand at Cronulla Beach earlier this month to launch the program in the area. In the south-eastern Sydney region alone, it’s estimated 530 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2016. Cancer Council NSW Metro Sydney community programs co-ordinator Alex Koukoumas said the prevention program is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection. “It’s great to see Sutherland Shire come on board to protect youth in our community, as research shows young people often forget to protect their skin.
A Clovelly resident who battled thyroid cancer has opened up about the anxiety she experienced after the shocking diagnosis and is urging others to seek help from an online forum. Emma Grant-Williams said the Cancer Council NSW’s new Online Community provided emotional support to cancer patients, particularly over Christmas and New Year when a lot of services would be closed. Having cared for her mother who battled breast cancer twice, Ms Grant-Williams said her own worst health fears often surfaced in the night.
A Cremorne, Sydney woman has granted a boy his wish to turn her home into the North Pole. Money is being raised for the Cancer Council of NSW. They are aiming to raise $5000-6000. The electricity bill will cost around $1500.