Vitamin D Boosts Bowel Cancer Survival


Vitamin D Boosts Bowel Cancer Survival

Published: 11 July 2014

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to survive the disease. The scientist says that measuring vitamin D levels in bowel cancer patients could provide a useful indication of prognosis.

The University of Edinburgh team tested blood samples from almost 1600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer. The findings show that patients with the highest levels of vitamin D have half the risk of dying compared with those with the lowest levels. Researchers found that three forth of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years, compared with less than two thirds of those with the lowest levels.

The study is the first to correlate total blood levels of vitamin D in bowel cancer patients after their diagnosis – which includes after exposure to sunlight and that obtained from dietary sources – with their long term survival prospects. The results show that vitamin D is associated with a much better chance of cancer survival, although the nature of this relationship is not clear from this study.

Professor Malcolm Dunlop, Head of Colon Cancer Genetics, MRC Human Genetics Unit said that their findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study. They need carefully designed randomized clinical trials before they can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offer any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients.

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Prostate Cancer Study Praised

Published: 11 July 2014

A report from a three year $900,000 University of Auckland study into prostate cancer care was praised by Health Minister Tony Ryall. The three year study, commissioned in 2010, was funded by the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council. The report shows most men and their families are pleased with the care they received. Minister Ryall said the study made interesting reading and contributed significantly to the evidence base around prostate cancer in New Zealand.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst New Zealand men, around 3,000 New Zealand men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. The study showed good results for men with prostate cancer. There is a high survival rate with a majority of men surviving over ten years. This study was conducted by the Midland Cancer Network in conjunction with researchers from the University of Auckland.

The report made eighteen recommendations which supported the work already underway by the Ministry of Health to improve health outcomes for men with prostate cancer. Minister Ryall congratulated Professor Ross Lawrenson and his team of researchers from the University of Auckland for their excellent work in completing this project and delivering such a comprehensive report.

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US scientists develop blood test that can detect a range of cancer

Published: 15 July 2014

United States scientists have developed a blood test that can detect 14 different types of cancer. The accuracy rate is up to 98 percent according to the researchers. This could mean if some cancers are found earlier, it can potentially save lives.

Professor Philip Stafford of Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University had been putting out papers about immunosignaturing, a technique that can distinguish between people with different types of diseases. Identifying abnormalities in immunosignatures means certain types of cancers can be detected early and precisely through a blood test. The researchers have found the test can be used to identify 14 more common forms of cancer, including lung and prostate cancer.

The technique relies on the building of database of identified forms of cancer to compare samples. If you want to test for four different cancers, you need to find a population of well-diagnosed patients that have those cancers to get their signature. If someone else comes in and their signature looks like someone with cancer then you can give a diagnosis that says you have a high, medium or low probability that your signature matches someone with cancer.
Professor Stafford says there is still work to do to ensure the test is effective for everyone. The researchers hope the findings will mean lives are saved through early detection.

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