Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on January 31, 2020


From NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner leading a recognition service for cancer caregivers during the Super Bowl to Tylenol’s key ingredient possibly being added to California’s proposition 65 list for chemicals that may cause cancer, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

This Super Bowl Sunday, NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner will be giving the spotlight to cancer caregivers, as he will be leading the nation in a virtual prayer service. It’s part of the 30 Days of Cancer Prayer event, sponsored by Cancer Companions.

“We understand that they take their own journey,” said Warner in a press release. “They take on their own pain. They take on their own suffering. They are unselfishly giving of themselves in so many ways solely to have impact on so many that they are caring for.”

Participants in the 30 Days of Cancer Prayer event are sent daily cancer prayer videos by phone, email or Facebook by well-known Christians, like Warner. The range of topics discussed and prayed over in the videos include finances, chemotherapy and multiple tumor types.

“We live in a society where I feel like so many give simply due to an expectation of what they are going to receive,” Warner explained. “With caregivers we know that there is very little that they receive. That it is so much giving.”

TrialJectory announced a new partnership with specialty cancer diagnostics company Precipio, Inc., to provide patients with cancer worldwide with a first-of-its-kind diagnostic and clinical trial-matching service combining the companies platforms.

“While this partnership offers enormous benefits for both patients and physicians, it ultimately allows patients to take back control of their health and empowers them to make decisions that are right for them based on accurate information from advanced new technologies,” said Tzvia Bader, TrialJectory’s CEO and co-founder, in a press release.

TrialJectory is an A-based clinical trial matching platform that helps facilitate clinical trial searches and enrollment for patients with cancer and their physicians. Precipio is a platform that helps to create accurate diagnostic platforms by using all of the data from academic institutions, and providing that information to patients and physicians. The two combines are looking to their merger to help patients throughout the entirety of their cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment.

“Not only are patients entitled to receive an accurate diagnosis at the start of their battle with cancer, but they also deserve access to match and enroll in the best clinical trials available for their unique situation — without having to struggle through the complex matching and enrollment process,” explained Ilan Danieli, CEO of Precipio.

Five years after a group of patients were given synthetic psilocybin, the psychedelic compound of “magic mushrooms”, to help with cancer related depression and anxiety new research shows that they are still feeling the positive effects.

In the initial 2016 study, 80% of the patients reported their symptoms faded and the effects lasted up to 6 months — a landmark finding at the time. In the follow up study, which included 15 patients, 80% were still experiencing significant improvement in their cancer-related depression and anxiety and nearly all of them attributed it to the psychedelic-assisted therapy.

“It’s a powerful experience that creates a lasting memory that involves them dealing with the demons of their cancer or their mortality,” explained Dr. Stephen Ross, director of addiction psychiatry at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, who led the 2016 study and co-authored the new research.

Although some patients in the follow up study noted the return of social anxiety, their fear of their cancer and own mortality did not.

Next Generation Sequencing for people with inherited ovarian or breast cancer will now be covered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“We recognize that cancer patients shoulder a heavy burden, so we’re leaving no stone unturned in supporting women’s health and getting all patients the care, they need,” stated CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a press release. “Next Generation Sequencing testing provides clinically valuable information to guide patients and physicians in developing a personalized treatment plan.”

Patients with inherited ovarian and breast cancer have a limited number of treatments, and for patients on Medicare even more so. Now, patients will have access to the genetic testing that allows patients access to personalized treatments that can better target their cancers.

This spring, California lawmakers will hold a public hearing to determine whether acetaminophen, the key active ingredient in Tylenol, should be added to the state’s list of chemicals that are “known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”

This falls under the state’s Proposition 65, otherwise known as the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.” The list includes arsenic, asbestos, cocaine, coke oven emissions, wood dust and over 900 other chemicals. However, acetaminophen marks a major possible addition to the list as it’s a key ingredient in drugs meant to relieve pain or reduce fever.

In addition to Tylenol, acetaminophen is also found in other over-the-counter medications, such as Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels, Dayquil, Dimetapp, Excedrin, Midol, Nyquil, Sudafed and Theraflu.

Cancer risk associated with acetaminophen have only been associated in animal studies where mutations have been observed and indirect evidence in other studies where further study is ongoing. The Food and Drug Administration has not seen fit to issue a warning.

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