Dr. Henry Marsh has performed 400 "awake craniotomies" -- a surgical procedure he helped pioneer -- in which a specific kind of brain tumor that looks just like the brain itself is identified through electric stimulation and removed. Without surgery, 50 percent of patients die within 5 years; 80 percent within 10 years, and the operation can prolong their lives by 10 to 20 years or more. He was profiled in a 2007 documentary: The English Surgeon as well as this article by Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Terrible Beauty of Brain Surgery. Images in some links in this post may be disturbing to some viewers.
What we currently call breast cancer should be thought of as 10 completely separate diseases, according to an international study which has been described as a "landmark". The categories could improve treatment by tailoring drugs for a patient's exact type of breast cancer and help predict survival more accurately. The study in Nature analysed breast cancers from 2,000 women [Abstract] . It will take at least three years for the findings to be used in hospitals. [more inside]
A memoir of living with a brain tumour: "For art critic Tom Lubbock, language has been his life and his livelihood. But in 2008, he developed a lethal brain tumour and was told he would slowly lose control over speech and writing. This is his account of what happens when words slip away." [more inside]
"Angiogenesis is critical for tumors to grow beyond a few millimeters, and for cancer to metastasize to other parts of the body. Cancer cells use the blood vessels as conduits to other areas of the body, where a single cell can set up camp and begin forming a new tumor. Stop angiogenesis, and you stop cancer." (via) [more inside]
1999: Researchers at Wake Forest University discover an incredible oddity: a mouse resistant to many forms of cancer. The resistance is found to be inherited (Pubmed link). 2006: They show that cancer resistance can be transferred (Pubmed link) to non-resistant mice. 2008: They've found that the resistance is mediated through blood cells called granulocytes, and that some humans potentially have the same ability to resist cancer. Now they need your help. [more inside]
Devil facial tumor disease has ravaged the population of Tasmanian Devils in the last decade. DFTD is a transmissible cancer, i.e. the tumor cells themselves (which differ genetically from their host animal) are the agent responsible. The disease is spread by biting and other contact, and the resulting grotesque tumors interfere with feeding and lead to starvation. Poor immune response may be partially responsible. This is actually not the only such disease: canine transmissible venereal tumor is an analogue that has been known to be contagious since the 19th century. (CTVT, however, gets a proper immune response.) [more inside]
Ivan Noble's Tumour Diary The BBC's Ivan Noble has been keeping an online diary of his fight against a malignant brain tumour. Alas, his illness is now getting the better of him, and this will be his final column. He has been, at times, an inspiration, incredibly brave and totally honest about his illness. As a former colleague, he shall also be remembered fondly. Start from the beginning, it's a must read.