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A four-drug chemotherapy regimen combined with surgical resection increased survival of patients with pancreatic cancer, a new study shows. The regimen was tested in a small study at the University of California, Los Angeles. The results, reported at the 2003 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, need to be duplicated "before people ... get excited about them," cautioned Dr. Howard Reber, professor of surgery and chief of gastrointestinal surgery. Nevertheless, the treatment produced impressive results for 12 patients with pancreatic cancer that had been pronounced inoperable, he said. "If you look at the population of patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer who are treated the traditional way, the median survival is usually 10 months; so these patients have a 50 percent statistical probability of dying in eight to 10 months. We took such patients, put them on this regimen, and tripled their survival rate," said Dr. William Isacoff, assistant clinical professor of hematology and oncology at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Implanting radioactive seeds in cancerous tissue was shown to be safe and effective in a preliminary test of men with prostate cancer confined to the gland. The results, presented at the 2003 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, show brachytherapy also may be effective in treating selected men with recurrent prostate cancer, doctors said. A review of 20 prostate cancer patients who underwent brachytherapy showed most had no evidence of disease four years after treatment and none suffered a major complication, study authors said. The men had first been treated with external beam radiation aimed at the cancerous tissue. Urologists traditionally have not used brachytherapy in men with recurrent prostate cancer because they thought combining the beam radiation with the seed implant would produce too many undesirable side effects, said Dr. Robert Weiss, associate professor of surgery at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J. The study showed, however, only one complication occurred in more than half the study participants: urinary obstruction affected 55 percent of the men. In all but one man, the problem ceased on its own, Weiss reported.


A larger than expected percentage -- 22 percent -- of those 75 and older suffers mild cognitive impairment, studies show. The findings, reported in the journal Archives of Neurology, come from a study of 3,608 seniors by Dr. Oscar Lopez, associate professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues. They found most mental difficulties result from multiple problems, such as small "silent" ischemic lesions in the brain, depression, use of psychiatric medications or other disease processes that can affect the brain -- including chronic liver and kidney failure -- rather than the onset of Alzheimer's. Mild cognitive impairment affects the areas of the brain that process memory and language and help maintain attention and focus. "We were surprised at how prevalent the condition was and how other medical conditions increased people's risk (of) MCI," Lopez said. "This emphasizes the importance of good medical care in preventing the development of brain disease."


Imperial College London researchers have found a novel treatment can minimize the symptoms of the most deadly type of flu. They report in the Journal of Experimental Medicine the treatment eliminated the symptoms of influenza A virus by reducing by a third the response of the immune system's active T white blood cells in mice. This type of flu has been responsible for pandemics, such as the 1919 outbreak of "Spanish flu," which killed more than 20 million people worldwide. Unlike current attempts to prevent or treat flu, which rely on either yearly vaccinations that attempt to predict how the virus might mutate, or anti-viral drugs, which must be administered as soon as there is contact with the virus, the new treatment can be given after symptoms occur, said study author Dr. Tracy Hussell of the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection.

(Editors: For more information about PANCREATIC, contact Sally Garneski at (312) 202-5409. For PROSTATE, Cory Petty at (312) 202-5328. For MILD, Alan Aldinger at (412) 624-2607 or For FLU, Judith Moore +44 (0)20 7594 6702 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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