Cancer in the headlines, August 27



Michael Douglas, Smoking and Throat Cancer
Cancer does not recognize demographic boundaries. It gets everybody, even the rich and the famous. 65-year old Hollywood legend Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer recently. A tumor was detected in his throat and he will undergo aggressive radiation and chemotherapy that will last for about 8 weeks. There are speculations as to the stage of Douglas’ cancer but experts speculate it would be rather advanced – Stage III or IV. It is mostly that his lifestyle – 20 years of heavy smoking and alcohol abuse – is most likely to blame for his cancer.

In an interview in “Good Morning America”, Dr. Kenneth Hu, co-director of the Head and Neck Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York stated:

“That combination is, unfortunately, a recipe for development of a throat cancer. I think the fact that he’s getting radiation means it’s curable.”

However, he has to initiate a complete lifestyle change for the recovery to proceed.

Beauty and the Cancer Beast
Another celebrity who faces the monster cancer speaks out. Patti Hansen, supermodel and wife of Keith Richards, the guitarist of Rolling Stones was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2007. The 54-year old opened up about her disease in the August issue of Vogue magazine. Hansen underwent surgery to remove her bladder, uterus and appendix at the New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering. She underwent several cycles of chemotherapy.

The chemo is really horrible. I don’t know how people get through it. I have friends who are on that wicked stuff for life. It’s so debilitating, so depressing. The first shot just totally ruined my arm. You have to go get yourself plugged in every week, and you sit there and you think, My God, I take such good care of myself.  I’m so organic. I can’t believe I’m putting this poison in me.  But it shrank the tumor.”

Hansen is now cancer-free.

A new ground zero for prostate cancer
Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have identified a “somewhat overlooked” type of prostate basal cell that is actually the “ground zero” of malignant tumors. According to HHMI researcher Dr. Owen N. Witte:

“We’ve defined one cell type as an originator of prostate cancer. Now we can use that knowledge to find genetic pathways that can be attacked therapeutically to control the disease.”

There are 2 types of prostate cells- the luminal cells and the basal cells. Previous research have concentrated on the luminal cells which coat the inner layer of the prostate tubules. However, the new evidence it is the basal cells which are lining the outer layer that get damaged genetically and turn cancerous.

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