Wednesday January 16, 2019

Deadliest Brain Cancer: Glioblastoma

At Texas A&M University in College Station, researchers are looking to see whether they can disrupt the body's production of a protein associated with tumor growth.

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Liver Cancer, Cancer, Artificial Intelligece
A high-magnification image from a 2012 glioblastoma case is seen as an example in this College of American Pathologists image released from Northfield. VOA

U.S. Senator John McCain’s death from glioblastoma on Saturday brought new attention to the most deadly type of brain cancer.

The National Brain Tumor Society says 80 percent of brain tumors are benign, but a glioblastoma tumor grows rapidly, and it returns after treatment. It usually affects adults, especially men over age 50, but women and even children can develop this type of cancer.

Glioblastoma begins in glial cells that surround and support nerve cells. Because glioblastoma spreads so quickly, the sooner the cancer is diagnosed, the more treatment options a patient has.

Symptoms can include headaches, seizures, memory loss, changes in personality, changes in vision, and difficulty speaking or understanding conversations. The tumor can also affect coordination.

Glioblastoma is generally considered incurable because it is difficult to remove all of cancer during surgery, which is why it can grow back. Surgery is usually the first treatment, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. McCain’s treatment included these three options.

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Drugs used to treat patients with this type of cancer have lengthened patients’ lives over the past two decades. The National Cancer Institute reports that in the mid-1990s, the average survival rate was eight to 10 months. With new drugs patients now live between 15 and 18 months on average. McCain’s tumour was diagnosed in July 2017. He died little more than a year later.

The National Cancer Institute says survival has also improved slightly. In the mid-1990s, essentially no one with glioblastoma survived five years after diagnosis, now 15 per cent of patients do, a very small proportion compared with survival rates for most other types of cancer.

Researchers are looking for new ways to treat glioblastoma. Those at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, are using a modified polio vaccine with promising results. In the first part of a clinical trial, 21 percent of the patients survived for three years after being treated.

At Texas A&M University in College Station, researchers are looking to see whether they can disrupt the body’s production of a protein associated with tumor growth.

Also Read: USA Sees a Significant Rise in STD Cases

Other research involves seeing whether the body’s own immune system could fight off the cancer cells.

The National Brain Tumor Society issued a statement on McCain’s death. It said the society was “profoundly saddened” and called for a national effort to combat the disease. (VOA)

Next Story

Democrats Decide Investigation Topics To Look Into Donald Trump

The Oversight and Reform committee will look at a host of other domestic issues, including the use by Trump daughter Ivanka Trump of a private email account

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Flags fly in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

When the Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, the new committee chairs said they would use their role of oversight to begin investigating the controversies and scandals regarding President Donald Trump’s businesses, campaign and administration.

Russia inquiry

*At least four House committees plan to look into aspects of the Russian election interference investigation — Intelligence, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary. However, none plan to reopen a full-scale investigation, since Democratic officials say special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is already doing that. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says he will wait for Mueller to conclude his investigation before considering any possible impeachment inquiry.

The lines of questioning by the committees reflect their particular purview. For example, the Foreign Affairs Committee will look into what Trump said to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their private meeting last summer in Helsinki, Finland, while the Financial Services Committee plans to seek financial records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to the Trump Organization.

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Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2017. VOA

Trump’s taxes

* Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal says he wants to try to build a public case for why Trump’s tax returns should become public before he makes any formal request for the returns to be released. He says he will hold hearings on the matter and will propose legislation that would require all presidents and candidates for the office to make their returns public. If Neal does request the tax returns from the Treasury Department, he has the authority under the tax code to be granted them as chairman of a House committee, however it is not clear if the Trump administration would challenge the matter.

Immigration policies

* Top Democrats have made clear they want to investigate the Trump administration’s immigration policies, with several committees planning to look into the matter of family separations and detentions at the border.

* The House Judiciary Committee plans to investigate the recent deaths of two migrant children held in detention — Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8. Three committees have ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to preserve evidence related to their deaths.

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A man looks at a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands before their meeting in Singapore, in Tokyo, June 12, 2018. VOA

Foreign issues

* In addition to Russia, the Foreign Affairs Committee plans to investigate issues involving several countries, including North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The committee plans to look at Trump’s relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as his family’s close ties with the Saudi crown prince.

* It also wants answers to why Trump abruptly announced in December the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria, which led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

* The new chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, says he plans to create an entire subcommittee devoted to investigating Trump.

Domestic issues

* The House Judiciary Committee wants to look into Trump’s decision to fire former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and what his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker knew about the decision.

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President Donald Trump speaks at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans, Jan. 14, 2019. VOA

* It also wants to investigate Trump’s involvement in payments before his 2016 election to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, a possible campaign finance violation.

Also Read: FBI Probes Into Donald Trump’s Relationship With Russia

* The Oversight and Reform committee will look at a host of other domestic issues, including the use by Trump daughter Ivanka Trump of a private email account for government business, the Trump administration’s response to hurricanes Irma and Maria, and some Trump Cabinet officials’ use of government jets for personal travels. (VOA)