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This Week in BMC Cancer: May 14, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the US and Switzerland report results from a study of image-guided radiotherapy based on helical tomotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer. The team retrospectively reviewed 52 patients undergoing radiation for head and neck cancer to see whether evaluation of these patients with image-guided radiotherapy based on helical tomotherapy could help clinicians determined if the contralateral parotid gland could be spared. They found that the use of tomotherapy minimized radiotherapy dose to the contralateral parotid gland "without sacrificing target coverage."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Taiwan and the US report on survival rates in lung cancer patients with co-morbid tuberculosis and diabetes. The team evaluated the medical records of 1,111 lung cancer patients and found that average survival time was slightly longer in women compared to men, and that survival increased with age and decreased with disease stage. Further, lung cancer patients with tuberculosis had a significantly shorter average survival time, compared with patients with no tuberculosis, and the researchers observed a similar trend in diabetic lung cancer patients. "Lung cancer patients with co-morbid tuberculosis or diabetes are at an elevated risk of mortality," the authors write. "These patients deserve greater attention while undergoing cancer treatment."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health report that the cytokine receptor DcR3 binds to ovarian cancer cells and modulates their response to platinum-based therapies. In previous work, the team had found DcR3 to be associated with platinum resistance. In this study, the researchers studied epithelial ovarian cancer cell lines and primary cultures, and cultured the cells with DcR3, then exposed them to platinum. They found that high DcR3 in the peritoneal cavity of women with epithelial ovarian cancer was associated with a significantly shorter time to disease recurrence after the administration of platinum-based therapy. "The cell lines studied do not secrete DcR3; however they all bind exogenous DcR3 to their surface implying that they can be affected by DcR3 from other sources," the authors write. Further, the researchers found that ovarian cancer cell lines became more resistant to platinum after DcR3 exposure, with 15 percent more cells surviving at high doses. "Although the mechanism behind this is not completely known alterations in DNA repair pathways including the expression of BRCA1 appear to be involved," the team adds.

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