Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on January 17, 2020

January 17, 2020

From a weight loss drug’s possible cancer risk to a shocking cancer revelation in the death of ESPN reporter Edward Aschoff, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

It was revealed this week that ESPN reporter Edward Aschoff, who died on Christmas Eve, had an aggressive form of cancer. His fiancée, Katy Berteau, announced via Aschoff’s Twitter account that had stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his lungs — a diagnosis they learned from a lung biopsy after his death.

Prior to his death, Aschoff had pneumonia and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis — a rare disease that attacks the immune system. He was being treated for both in the hospital before he died.

“I hope this information helps people in dealing with this tragedy. It has helped me knowing that his passing was inevitable, and I’m at least grateful he didn’t have to go through the painful treatment and drawn out process of battling the disease,” Berteau wrote.

Aschoff was 34 years old.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the safety of the weight loss drug Belviq (lorcaserin) after discovering a possible increased risk of cancer from using the medication. A clinical trial that included about 12,000 people has been underway over the past five years to study the risk of heart-related problems from Belviq. However, the researchers found that more patients taking Belviq received a cancer diagnosis compared with those who were given placebo.

Patients currently taking the medication should speak with their health care providers, advised the FDA. And health care professionals should consider if the benefits exceed the potential risks.

“At this time, the cause of the cancer is uncertain, and we cannot conclude that lorcaserin contributes to the cancer risk,” the FDA wrote. “However, we wanted to make the public aware of this potential risk. We are continuing to evaluate the clinical trial results and will communicate our final conclusions and recommendations when we have completed our review.”

Olympic gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill will speak next Saturday at the 20th Rally Against Cancer in Des Moines, Iowa. Hamill, who is a breast cancer survivor, will share her story of courage on and off the ice.

“Dorothy Hamill lifted the spirits of America during her amazing run to Olympic Gold. We are so excited to hear her stories of inspiration. She is a perfect fit for this event,” Brenna Finnerty, senior director of development for John Stoddard Cancer Center, said in a press release.

Since its inception, the rally has raised $3.3 million, and funds raised goes to the John Stoddard Cancer Center Oncology Nurse Navigator Program.

Neil Peart, the legendary drummer of Rush, has died following a battle with brain cancer, according to a spokesperson. The 67-year-old passed away in Santa Monica on January 7th.

Peart was famous for his state-of-the-art drum kits, precise playing style and onstage showmanship. He joined Rush in 1974.

Peart is survived by his wife, Carrie Nuttal, and daughter Olivia.


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