Improving care through clinical trials

Where would we be without medical advances? Think about medical care 100 years ago. Since then, there’s been an explosion in vaccine development, antibiotics, surgical techniques, medical devices and discovery of medications to treat and control disease. You can look at any medical specialty and ClinicalTrial.fwsee the advances that have been made. Clinical trials represent our era’s research frontier for medical advances.

Why are clinical trials so important?  It’s how we move forward in health care. We can discover what works and what doesn’t. Clinical trials save and improve lives.

April is Cancer Control month and one of the goals of cancer control is improving the care for cancer patients. How is this accomplished?  Advancements in cancer treatment happen through clinical research. The milestones that have been made over the last 40 years in cancer care are due to research and a patient’s willingness to participate.

These are just a few of the advancements that have been made over the last four decades:

  • The 5-year survival rate for all childhood cancer combined is now approximately 81%, compared to 62% in 1975
  • 5-year survival for adults is now 68% compared to 50% in 1975
  • Approval of cancer vaccines: The FDA Continue reading

When are biopsies important in detecting kidney cancer?

kidney cancermCancerPartner sat down recently with Khaled S. Hafez, M.D., a surgeon and associate professor of urology, to discuss how kidney cancer is detected and the role biopsies play.

mCancerPartner: What are the symptoms of kidney cancer?

Dr. Hafez: The three symptoms that normally indicate kidney cancer are pain in the abdomen, blood in the urine and a mass, or growth, in the side. But how physicians find kidney cancer has changed in recent years. Today, most kidney cancer is found accidently, before the symptoms Continue reading

U-M researchers develop new strategy for attacking aggressive cancer mutation


Human KRAS protein. Mutant RAS proteins may play a role in one third of all human cancers.

Mutation of the KRAS gene drives up to 30% of all human cancers, and is especially prevalent among aggressive and hard-to-treat forms — like pancreatic, colon and lung cancers. For decades, researchers have tried to develop drugs to shut down the mutated gene, but a lack of success by pharmaceutical, biotech and academic laboratories has earned this cancer mutation a reputation for being “undruggable.”

New research conducted at the University of Michigan, however, offers a new strategy for disrupting the mutations’ unchecked spread — by attacking a protein complex that protects and supports it. The approach, detailed in a forthcoming article in Neoplasia[DI1] , comes as efforts to combat the mutation have been in the national spotlight. Recently, the National Cancer Institute announced a $10 million-a-year initiative to target KRAS, for which it is repurposing a new high-tech lab at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. Continue reading

The “other” cancer treatment side effect: Paying attention to your mouth

cancer treatment side effectMost of us are aware of the common cancer treatment side effects like nausea or hair loss. Many don’t realize that more than one-third of people treated for cancer develop complications that affect the mouth. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy slow or stop growth of fast growing cells, such as cancer cells. Normal cells in the lining of the mouth also grow quickly, so these cancer treatments can stop them from growing too. In turn, this slows down the ability of oral tissue to repair itself by making new cells.

The most common oral complications as cancer treatment side effects: Continue reading

U-M Cancer Center to offer free throat cancer screenings April 26

throat cancerThroat cancer can take away your voice, your jaw and your ability to swallow food, but it also can be treated if caught early enough.

What are the risk factors for throat cancer?

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol

What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Mouth and/or throat soreness
  • A persistent hoarseness
  • Neck lump(s) Continue reading

New test better predicts prostate cancer

More than 1 million men will undergo a prostate biopsy this year, but only about one-fifth of those biopsies will result in a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The reason is that the traditional prostate cancer screening test - a blood test to measure prostate specific antigen, or PSA – does not give doctors a complete picture.

A new test developed at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center improves upon PSA. It adds two more markers that might indicate prostate cancer. Studies have shown the urine-based test, called Mi-Prostate Score, is far more accurate than PSA alone. Continue reading