Friday, July 11, 2014

Study: Increase In Thyroid Cancer Likely Linked To Environment, Behavior -

Study: Increase In Thyroid Cancer Likely Linked To Environment, Behavior -

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Stress of cancer diagnosis eased with yoga, meditation

More patients, doctors are embracing complementary cancer therapies, including yoga and mediation to ease stress and promote healing.

For our series on complementary cancer care, we spoke to five local women who tried different therapies.
Yoga and meditation
Her cancer story: Debra Richardson always tried her best to stay healthy — eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, cutting out dairy products, getting regular exercise — so that made her 2005 cancer diagnosis all the more shocking. In fact, she was about to leave for a two-week detoxification and cleansing program in Thailand when her doctor noticed a lump on her neck during a checkup. Soon afterward, the Upper Grandview resident had surgery to remove a plum-sized tumor from the left lobe of her thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that secretes hormones that influence the body's metabolism. Richardson had wanted to leave at least part of the thyroid intact, in case the mass wasn't malignant. Unfortunately, it was — so she underwent another procedure two months later to take out the rest of the gland. The cancer was advanced enough that she needed radioactive iodine therapy to kill any remaining cells. Though thyroid cancer is uncommon, most people who get it do very well. "It's pretty treatable," says Richardson. Even with those reassurances, she remembers feeling very scared. "This was one of the most difficult and terrifying times of my life."
The complementary therapy: Richardson, who's 58, had taken up yoga about six years before her cancer diagnosis, but after that, she became much more devoted. Now, she goes to classes at Nyack's Birchwood Center at least four times a week, although she's had to change her practice. Before, she preferred a brisk, flowing vinyasa yoga; as her throat healed from surgery, she switched to hatha yoga, which has easier movements and a slower pace, and which she continues to practice. "It's still powerful when you have to hold those positions for a long time," she says. "I feel strong and balanced."
The real change, however, has been adding meditation to her daily routine. A model and actress who travels frequently, Richardson felt a lot of work-related stress; at the time she found out about the cancer, she also had a second job at a salon and beauty boutique in Piermont. "I said, 'I have to calm down. I know about taking care of myself, but I have to do something more,'" she recalls. The Birchwood Center's owners suggested that she try one of the free meditation classes offered there throughout the week. A key component of ancient Eastern religious practices, meditation is a process that uses concentration to bring the body and mind to a peaceful state. "It's very difficult to quiet the chatter in the mind," says Richardson. Even after years of practice, she says it's sometimes harder to meditate than to achieve the toughest yoga pose. "Some days are better than others," she adds. "It's all about how you are on that day." Good day or bad, Richardson says, "I can't imagine my life without it."

Debra Richardson, 58, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2005 and had surgery to remove her thyroid. She deepened her yoga practice and took up mediation in order to reduce stress and anxiety. ( Video by Tania Savayan / The Journal News ) Video by Tania Savayan / The Journal News
How it helped: Many cancer centers and support groups offer yoga and meditation; it's not fully known exactly how these age-old practices help those who are ill, but research is starting to provide stronger evidence of the physical and mental health benefits. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in March found that yoga lessened pain, fatigue and depression among breast cancer patients; new research from the University of Montreal shows that meditation improved mood and sleep problems in teens with cancer. Richardson tries to meditate for an hour every day, whether it's on the road or in the yoga-meditation room she's set up at home, a tranquil space with candles, crystals and statues of Buddha. For her daily practice, she lies down or sits comfortably, closes her eyes and focuses on breathing. When asked how to describe how she feels afterward, she says: "I feel like I'm almost out of my body. Your blood pressure lowers. You feel so clear and awake, like you had a great nap. It's amazing how it calms you down, and fast. I feel really revived and refreshed."
Her health now: Richardson is currently on Synthroid, a medication that replaces the hormones produced by the thyroid, though her doctor recently reduced her dosage because it could affect her bone density. "It's still a nice amount," she says. "I'm never tired." The American Thyroid Association notes that for patients over 45, or those with larger, more aggressive tumors, the prognosis for those with thyroid cancer remains very good, but the risk of a recurrence is high. Despite her earlier fears, Richardson has adopted a bright outlook. "With cancer, people just have to live like every single day is a gift. You have to live in the moment, and you can't think too far ahead."
About this project
Learn more about complimentary cancer care on our special page at Find stories like:
Retired Spanish teacher Gloria Esteves turned to therapeutic massage to manage the weakness, numbness, pain and extreme sensitivity.
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A relapse isn't the only health problem that plagues cancer survivors like Leslie Boxer. A holistic approach to treating and preventing chronic diseases can be key to maintaining a health life.
Life with cancer is stressful. Upper Grandview's Debra Richardson turned to a combination of yoga and meditation to bring the body and mind to a peaceful state, and provide a focus in the battle against the disease.
Breast cancer didn't stop New City's Kirsten Rota from pursuing her dreams: marriage, a family, a happy life. She found mental and physical relief through customized acupuncture treatments.
Equine therapy has brought joy to many people with disabilities. Why not cancer patients? The Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Cold Spring aids women with breast cancer by engaging them in horse-related activities.

ASCO 2014 kicks off with news on lenvatinib,....

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) began on Friday in Chicago, providing a platform for the release of thousands of scientific abstracts and highly anticipated cancer research news. The meeting continues through Monday June 2, but here are some highlights from the earlier sessions.
Eisai’s lenvatinib shows promise in differentiated radioiodine-resistant thyroid cancer
Results from a recent study show that the drug lenvatinib could become a new, effective treatment option for patients with differentiated thyroid cancer that is resistant to standard radioiodine (RAI) therapy. Lenvatinib (E7080), produced by Japanese drug major Eisai (TYO: 4523) is a multi-kinase inhibitor being investigated for the treatment of various types of cancer.
In this study, 392 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer that was RAI resistant and had worsened within a year received either lenvatinib or an inactive treatment called a placebo. Patients receiving the placebo were offered treatment with lenvatinib if the cancer worsened.
About 65% of the patients receiving lenvatinib had the tumors shrink, usually within the first two months of treatment. Only 3% of patients receiving the placebo had the tumors shrink. In addition, researchers found that it took about 18 months for the disease to worsen for patients who received lenvatinib, compared with about four months for those who received the placebo.
The side effects of lenvatinib include high blood pressure, diarrhea, decreased appetite, decreased weight, and nausea. About 79% of patients needed to have their doses of lenvatinib reduced due to the side effects, although the lead author noted that these patients still benefitted from the lower doses.
“We are confident that, based on our findings, lenvatinib will eventually become a standard treatment for radioiodine-resistant thyroid cancer,” said lead study author Martin Schlumberger, a professor of oncology at the University Paris Sud in Paris, France. “As little as a year ago, this group of patients had no effective treatment options. It’s remarkable that today we now have two targeted therapies that could be potential options.” The targeted therapy sorafenib (Nexavar, from Bayer) is currently the only option outside of clinical trials available for patients with this type of thyroid cancer. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2013 and by the European Commission last week. Lenvatinib is not currently approved by the FDA.


Results from a new study show that combining the targeted therapy ramucirumab (Cyramza) with standard chemotherapy lengthens the lives of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Cyramza is under development by US pharma major Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and was approved in the USA for gastric cancer. Investment bank Cowen and Co forecast annual sales for the drug will reach $1.2 billion by 2020.
In this study, ramucirumab was combined with a current standard chemotherapy, docetaxel (Docefrez, Taxotere), as a second-line therapy, ie, after the first treatments, called first-line therapy, stop working. There are few treatments approved as second-line therapy for NSCLC, and those that are currently available do not often work very well, with patients living about seven to nine months.
The 1,253 patients who participated in this study had stage IV NSCLC that had worsened while receiving chemotherapy. They received either ramucirumab plus chemotherapy with docetaxel or an inactive treatment called a placebo plus docetaxel. Researchers found that almost 23% of patients who received ramucirumab plus docetaxel had the tumors shrink, compared with about 14% of those who received the placebo plus docetaxel. In addition, patients who received ramucirumab plus docetaxel lived about one and a half months longer than those who received the placebo plus docetaxel, ten and a half months compared with nine months.
“This is the first treatment in approximately a decade to improve the outcomes for patients in the second-line setting,” said lead study author Maurice Perol, head of Thoracic Oncology at Cancer Research Center of Lyon in France. “The survival improvement is significant because patients with advanced NSCLC typically have a very short survival time following second-line therapy,” he added,


In a recent study, researchers found that the combination of olaparib and cediranib (Recentin) - both from Anglo-Swedish drug major AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) - kept recurrent ovarian cancer from worsening for almost nine months longer than treatment with olaparib alone. Recurrent ovarian cancer is cancer that has come back after the initial treatment.
The current standard treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer is chemotherapy, which can cause severe side effects and may not work very well because the cancer often develops a resistance to chemotherapy, meaning that the chemotherapy that was used initially can no longer control the cancer’s growth. This is why researchers have been studying other ways to treat recurrent ovarian cancer, such as the use of olaparib and cediranib.
“The significant activity that we saw with the combination suggests that this could potentially be an effective alternative to standard chemotherapy,” said lead study author Joyce Liu, an instructor in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA, adding: “At the same time, this approach is not yet ready for clinical practice as neither of these drugs is currently FDA approved for ovarian or any other cancer. We also need additional clinical trials to confirm the findings of this study to see how this combination compares to standard treatment.”
In a Phase III ICON 6 trial, also presented at ASCO, cediranib demonstrated significant improvements in progression free survival and overall survival in platinum sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer, when given during and after chemotherapy, compared to chemotherapy alone.
AstraZeneca has consulted with regulatory agencies in the USA and European Union to understand how the results of the ICON 6 study conducted by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) can best support a potential regulatory submission for approval of cediranib in ovarian cancer. As a result of these interactions, AstraZeneca is working with the MRC to conduct relevant analyses of cediranib data with a view to potential regulatory submissions later this year.
Eisai, Lenvatinib, Eli Lillly, Cyramza, Ramucirumab, AstraZeneca, Olaparib, Recentin, ASCO 2014

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