Tuesday October 16, 2018

Ultrasound, Blood Test Together May Boost Liver Cancer Detection

Cancer screening guidelines for patients with cirrhosis vary, with some guidelines calling for just imaging and other guidelines calling for both imaging and AFP measurement

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AFP is a plasma protein that is produced in abundance by the liver cells in the foetus. In adults, AFP levels are normally low, but liver cancer can cause AFP levels to rise. Pixabay
AFP is a plasma protein that is produced in abundance by the liver cells in the foetus. In adults, AFP levels are normally low, but liver cancer can cause AFP levels to rise. Pixabay
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Earlier detection is important to improving survival of patients with liver cancer, and combining an ultrasound imaging with a blood test can help achieve that, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

Using ultrasound and a blood test for high alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels together improves detection of early-stage cancer significantly, said the study published in the journal Gastroenterology.

ALSO READ: All Women Can Be Screened For Cancer!

“Liver cancer screening in patients with chronic liver disease has traditionally been performed using an abdominal ultrasound. While ultrasound is readily available and noninvasive, it misses many cancers when they are small,” said Amit Singal, associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre.

Risk factors for this cancer — also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) — include hepatitis C infection, chronic heavy alcohol consumption, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease related to diabetes and obesity.

Symptoms can include upper abdominal pain or swelling, loss of weight or appetite, white chalky stools, and general fatigue, the researchers said. Pixabay
Symptoms can include upper abdominal pain or swelling, loss of weight or appetite, white chalky stools, and general fatigue, the researchers said. Pixabay

“Our study found that adding the blood biomarker alpha-fetoprotein increased detection of early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma from 45 percent with ultrasound alone to 63 percent using the two tests in combination,” Singal said.

ALSO READ: Research Yields Possible Blood Test for Cancer

“Our results support a change in clinical practice and the routine use of ultrasound and biomarkers together for liver cancer screening,” Singal said.

The results were based on a meta-analysis of 32 previous studies. Meta-analysis refers to a technique of combining the results of multiple scientific studies.

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Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine Goes To Cancer Therapy Researchers From US, Japan

The prize comes with an award of $1.1 million.

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Nobel Committee of the Karolinska Institute announces 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden. VOA

The 2018 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James Allison of the University of Texas and Tasuku Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University for their discoveries in cancer therapy.

“Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said in a statement on awarding the prize.

The prize for physiology or medicine is first Nobel Prize awarded each year.

Nobel Prize
Nobel Peace Prize Bearing Likeness of Alfred Nobel

The prizes for physics, chemistry, and peace will also be announced this week. The literature prize will not be given this year because of a sexual misconduct scandal at the body that decides the award. The Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences will be announced on Monday, October 8.

The prize comes with an award of $1.1 million.

Nobel Prize
A combination photo shows Ph.D. James P. Allison of MD Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas in this picture obtained from MD Anderson Cancer Center (R) and Kyoto University Professor Tasuku Honjo in Kyoto, in this photo taken by Kyodo.. VOA

Who are they?

James P. Allison was born 1948 in Alice, Texas, USA. He received his PhD in 1973 at the University of Texas, Austin. From 1974-1977 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California. From 1977-1984 he was a faculty member at University of Texas System Cancer Center, Smithville, Texas; from 1985-2004 at University of California, Berkeley and from 2004-2012 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York. From 1997-2012 he was an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Since 2012 he has been professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas and is affiliated with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Also Read: Ovarian Caner Risks Cut in Half With a New Birth Control Pill: Study

Tasuku Honjo was born in 1942 in Kyoto, Japan. In 1966 he became an MD, and from 1971-1974 he was a research fellow in the USA at Carnegie Institution of Washington, Baltimore and at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. He received his PhD in 1975 at Kyoto University. From 1974-1979 he was a faculty member at Tokyo University and from 1979-1984 at Osaka University. Since 1984 he has been professor at Kyoto University. He was a faculty dean from 1996-2000 and from 2002-2004 at Kyoto University. (VOA)