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Posted - Apr. 23, 2004 at 7:20 a.m.



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Apr 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- AMERICANS URGED TO SCREEN FOR HEAD, NECK CANCER

Baseball star and cancer survivor Brett Butler and the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation urge Americans to get screened for cancer. As part of Oral and Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, free screenings are being offered nationwide Friday. The American Cancer Society says more than 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with these cancers this year, and 12,000 will die. Butler, one of 26 players in Major League history to compile a career record of at least 550 stolen bases and 2,000 hits, was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the tonsil in 1996 after undergoing a tonsillectomy. He was treated with surgery and radiation, and credits his early diagnosis and prompt treatment with saving his life. Doctors say cancers of the head and neck area come with such common warning signs as: red or white patch in the mouth that lasts more than two weeks, change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks, continuing sore throat, pain or swelling in the mouth or neck and a lump in the neck.

SUPPLEMENT MAY HELP BOOST FERTILITY

Researchers say a small study suggests a supplement marketed as FertilityBlend may help boost fertility in women who have difficulty conceiving. Initial results indicate of the women who took the supplement, one-third became pregnant after five months. "This was a small, pilot study, but if the findings hold up in a larger trial, the supplement may be a feasible treatment for some women," said Dr. Lynn Westphal, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her study results appear in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. FertilityBlend contains chasteberry -- an herb that has been shown to improve ovulation and restore progesterone balance, which can be skewed in women having difficulty conceiving -- L-arginine -- an amino acid that improves circulation to the reproductive organs -- green tea, vitamins and minerals.

BLOOD SCREEN MAY HELP CANCER PATIENTS

A blood screen may help doctors determine which cancer patients will react with serious side effects from radiation therapy. The life-saving treatment causes severe side effects in some 5 percent of patients, doctors say. Screening blood for the activity level of 24 genes may identify the patients most likely to suffer such a reaction, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The tool may enable doctors to custom-tailor treatments to individual patients, researchers say. "We've been treating cancer patients as if one treatment fits all," said study leader Dr. Gilbert Chu, professor of medicine and biochemistry. "Cancer patients need to be treated for their particular cancer and their own bodies."

BODY FAT MAY INCREASE RISK OF PREMATURE DELIVERY

A study suggests a hike in pre-pregnancy body fat may increase the risk of preeclampsia, a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and fetal death. Researchers at the Magee-Women's Research Institute at the University of Pittsburgh say their study of 1,179 pregnant women found the risk rose even among women who would not normally be classified as overweight when compared to women with less body fat. Preeclampsia, which affects about 7 percent of first pregnancies nationwide, is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, says researcher Lisa Bodnar. The study showed the higher a woman's body mass index, a method of calculating percentage of body fat, the more likely she was to develop preeclampsia.

(Editors: For more information about CANCER, contact Sara Kassabian at (800) 477-9626 or SaraK@mcspr.com. For FERTILITY, Michelle Brandt at (650) 723-0272 or mbrandt@stanford.edu. For BLOOD, Amy Adams at (650) 723-3900 or amyadams@stanford.edu. For FAT, call (412) 624-4141)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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