Prostate cancer


Roundup: Monitoring vs. Treating Some Prostate Cancer Cases; CDC Urges Hepatitis B Screenings for All Adults; and More News

For Some Men, Monitoring Low- to Moderate-Risk Prostate Cancers is Considered Safe, New Research Finds

New research finds that treatment decisions following diagnosis for “low and intermediate risk” prostate cancer do not need to be rushed. Men who partner with their doctors to closely monitor prostate cancer reduce the risks of extreme complications from surgery, radiation or other treatment therapies.

The complications from treatments included “negative effects of surgery or radiotherapy on urinary, bowel and sexual function” that were found “to persist much longer than previously thought,” states a news release from researchers at the University of Oxford in England.

By delaying treatment, the men in the study did not harm their chances of survival, according to the long-running study in the United Kingdom. The findings do not apply to men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that is deemed through testing to be high-risk and high-grade. Those aggressive cancers require immediate treatments.

The results from the ProtecT trial are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trial was led by researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol. As part of the study, which was funded by the British government, more than 80,000 men, aged 50 to 69, were screened for prostate cancer between 1999 and 2009. More than 2,600 were diagnosed with the disease, and 1,643 were enrolled in the trial.

“It’s clear that, unlike many other cancers, a diagnosis of prostate cancer should not be a cause for panic or rushed decision making,” said lead investigator, Freddie Hamdy, professor at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, in a statement. “Patients and clinicians can and should take their time to weigh up the benefits and possible harms of different treatments in the knowledge that this will not adversely affect their survival.”

Researchers found that about 97 percent of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer survived 15 years after diagnosis, regardless of which treatment they received. About a quarter of the men on active monitoring had not had any invasive treatment for their cancer after 15 years.

“Active monitoring and biopsy protocols today are much more advanced than at the time this trial was conducted, so it’s possible we could improve on these outcomes still further,” states the news release from the University of Oxford.

CDC Urges All Adults to Get Screened for Vaccine-Preventable Hepatitis B to Prevent Liver Disease, Cancer

All adults should be screened at least once for hepatitis B (HBV), a vaccine-preventable liver infection that’s linked to liver disease and cancer, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a new recommendation.

An estimated 580,000 to 2.4 million persons are living with HBV infection in the U.S., with about two thirds of them not being aware of their infection, says the CDC.

"Hepatitis B vaccination is highly effective in preventing HBV infection and subsequent liver disease," states the CDC in its recommendation. "However, 70 percent of adults in the United States self-reported they were unvaccinated as of 2018."

HBV is transmitted through contact with infected blood or body fluids, such as during pregnancy or delivery, through sex, or by injection drug use, with the greatest risk for chronic infection occurring during perinatal infection -- which occurs a number of weeks immediately before and after birth, states the CDC.

For many people, HBV is a short-term illness. But for others, it can develop into a chronic infection that can lead to serious or life-threatening health issues, such as liver disease or liver cancer. Age plays a role in whether HBV becomes chronic. The younger a person is when infected with the hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance of developing chronic infection, the CDC states.  About 9 in 10 infants who become infected go on to develop chronic infections.

The CDC stresses that the best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. The public health agency says all adults aged 18-59 should receive the vaccine, and any adult who requests it may get the vaccine.  All adults 18 years and older should get screened at least once in their lifetime, adds the CDC.

Healthy Diets May Lower Risk of Brain Molecules Tied to Alzheimer’s Disease, Research Finds

Nutrition and medical experts usually place diets that focus on fruits, vegetables, fish, and prepared foods low in sugar and salt at the top of the list of best diets for overall health.

A new study finds that people who consumer such diets, including the MIND and Mediterranean diets, may have fewer amyloid plaques and tau tangles in their brain, which are signs of Alzheimer’s Disease -- compared to those who do not consume such diets. Amyloid plaques and tau tangles are the two molecules associated with brain damage in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published this month in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, tracked how closely study participants followed the two diets. The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole vegetables, fruit, and three or more servings of fish per week. The MIND diet recommends green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, along with other vegetables. The MIND diet also promotes berries over other fruits, and also recommends one or more servings of fish per week.

Researcher reviewed data on 581 people with an average age of 84 at the time of diet assessment. They agreed to donate their brains at death to advance research on dementia. Participants completed annual questionnaires on much they ate of different food items in various categories.

The study's authors emphasize that the findings show a link between regularly consumption of these with fewer Alzheimer’s disease plaques and tangles. But the data do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

“These results are exciting," said study author Puja Agarwal, Ph.D., of RUSH University in Chicago, in a statement. “Improvement in people’s diets in just one area, such as eating more than six servings of green leafy vegetables per week, or not eating fried foods, was associated with fewer amyloid plaques in the brain similar to being about four years younger.

“While our research doesn’t prove that a healthy diet resulted in fewer brain deposits of amyloid plaques, also known as an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, we know there is a relationship and following the MIND and Mediterranean diets may be one way that people can improve their brain health and protect cognition as they age.”

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