Brain cancer is a very serious form of cancer. Recently, Sen. John McCain revealed he has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive type of brain tumor. GBMs originate in the brain; it does not spread there from another part of the body. The cause is not known. This tumor has no relation to melanoma, the skin cancer for which McCain was treated in the past.



Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for cancer. It kills healthy cells along with cancer cells, inflicting damage on the body and seriously compromising the immune system. Chemotherapy also kills most rapidly dividing healthy and cancer cells, but not all the cells are fast growing. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small population of cancer cells that are slow growing and thus resistant to treatment, do not die. Chemotherapy makes these cells even more numerous as the ratio of highly malignant cells….



For many women facing cancer, the most devastating aspect is learning they may lose their hair due to chemotherapy.  “Most women tell me that as soon as they hear the oncologist say, ‘You’re going to lose your hair,’ that’s the last thing they remember hearing,” said Eric Johnson, co-owner, with his wife, Jeletta, of Hair Institute in Lexington. “They can deal with the sickness; they can deal with the treatments; but it’s the hair loss that gets them the most.


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Experts have found cells within the malignant brain tumor, called glioma, rely on fats to fuel growth, which contradicts previous scientific belief that tumor cells require mainly sugars to make energy. Glioma is the most common form of primary malignant brain tumor in adults and remains one of the hardest-to-treat cancers. Dr. Elizabeth Stoll with Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience is the lead author of the groundbreaking study. In the study, scientists showed glioma cells grow more slowly if they are treated with a drug known as etomoxir, which prevents the cells from making energy with fatty acids.

Australian researchers claim they have discovered an existing medication (denosumab) that could potentially prevent breast cancer in women carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene. This would mean women with high genetic risk of breast cancer have the option to delay or prevent the disease without making the big decision to have their breasts surgically removed. The identification of these cells means doctors can try to inactivate them before they become cancerous by targeting them with denosumab.

Dr. Shana Kelley at the University of Toronto developed an extremely sensitive blood test that uses sensors on a chip to detect cancer mutations. This non-invasive test is fast and simple to perform. It is now being developed as an alternative to tissue biopsies to detect cancer, monitor how patients respond to therapy and personalize treatment decisions.

Pain from advanced cancer that has spread to the bone can be treated with radiation therapy; however, the pain can temporarily get worse before getting better. Dr. Edward Chow of the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto and the NCIC Clinical Trials Group based at Queen’s University in Kingston led a clinical trial showing the steroid dexamethasone could prevent pain flare-ups from radiation therapy.


According to experts, a drug made from tree bark is being combined with radiation therapy to cure cancer. The drug, called combretastatin, is derived from the bark of an African bush willow and leaves normal blood vessels untouched. It works by destroying developing blood vessels, which tumors generate to supply themselves. Used on its own, however, it leaves a “rim” of cancerous cells at the edge, allowing the disease to return.

The results were published in the journal Cancer Research. Dr. Barbara Pedley, head of tumor biology at the Cancer Research Campaign’s targeting and imaging group at the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School in London, said, “This combination can produce long-term cures. Scientists believed the outer tumor cells might rely on the body’s normal blood vessels, which is why combretastatin could not kill them.” Experts now hope to start human trials of the combination therapy as the next stage.

An international study found a combination of two drugs that helped allow the immune system to fight cancer, ipilimumab and nivolumab, stopped the deadly skin cancer melanoma from advancing for nearly a year in 58 percent of cases. (Though a skin cancer, melanoma can spread to the lungs, liver, bone, lymph nodes and brain.) The study was designed and led by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.


New research on prostate cancer sufferers shows stopping the disease could be as simple as “switching off ” a molecule known as DNA- PKcs, which could knock out major pathways that control metastasis before it begins. It is a type of enzyme known as a repair kinase that fixes broken or mutated DNA strands in cancer cells. Because of this enzyme, defective cells that should normally self-destruct are kept alive.

A recent study appears to show that a revolutionary approach to treating cancer using DNA tests can shrink tumors at six times the rates of conventional medicine. This means around one in three women who are currently undergoing grueling rounds of chemotherapy could be spared this drastic treatment because of clues in their genetic profile. The findings, presented at the latest American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, come from 346 early stage clinical trials, which used precision methods. Experts said treatment on the basis of DNA tests could become the norm within five years. Clinical trials involving more than 13,000 patients found those given treatment using the targeted methods saw their disease stalled and tumors shrink at rates far beyond those of standard treatment.


Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer with a background in teaching and education. She has a keen interest in food and health related issues and can be approached through her website Checkout her blog and network with her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

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