Top Cancer Headlines from 2023

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From Jimmy Buffett's death to the chemo shortage and cannabis use in cancer care, here is a look back at some of our most popular oncology stories from 2023.

The year 2023 has come and gone, and we figured that now is the perfect time to look back on some of the top cancer-related stories from the year.

Topics Discussed:

  • 0:45 Vitamin D may improve colorectal cancer outcomes
  • 2:00 Jimmy Buffett dies from a rare type of skin cancer
  • 2:51 Chemotherapy shortage required a “holistic approach”
  • 4:47 Cannabis users reported worse side effects, less perceived harm

Vitamin D May Impact Colorectal Cancer Outcomes

In June, we spoke to an expert about research that analyzed 14 studies on vitamin D and colorectal cancer outcomes. Findings showed that people who had a vitamin D deficiency tended to have poorer mortality outcomes than those who supplemented with vitamin D.

Laura Bolte, of the department of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen, explained that the use of corticosteroids and being underweight or malnourished — which are all things that can happen during cancer treatment — can increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency, so it is essential that patients speak with their health care team to determine if a vitamin D supplement will be appropriate and beneficial to them.

Jimmy Buffett Dies of Cancer at 76

Every now and then, major celebrity news makes cancer headlines. On Sept. 1, “Margaritaville” singer, Jimmy Buffett died of cancer at the age of 76.

Buffett had a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma, which is much more common to spread to other parts of the body, and can be very difficult to treat if it spreads, according to the American Cancer Society.

Shortly after Buffett’s death, we spoke to Dr. Manisha Thakuria, who is the director or Merkel cell carcinoma at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She said, “It's always hard to see any silver linings in losses. I am glad to see Merkel cell having a little bit of a spotlight on it, and I hope that (the media interest) will increase research funding for Merkel cell carcinoma and help more patients,” said Thakuria.

Chemo Drug Shortage Requires a ‘Holistic Solution’

Perhaps one of the biggest headlines in the cancer space from 2023 was the chemotherapy shortage. The shortage of cisplatin and carboplatin required a “holistic solution,” according to Dr. Anjan J. Patel.

In a June article, I spoke with Dr. Patel and other oncology experts about the shortage, what it meant for patients taking these drugs and what was needed from a systemic level to ensure that these types of shortages never happened again.

Patients Using Cannabis Experienced Worse Symptoms, Perceive Less Harm

Patients with cancer who use cannabis reported more severe symptoms and perceived less potential harm from cannabis than patients with cancer who did not use the drug within the last 30 days, according to study findings published this summer.

Findings showed that study participants who used cannabis experienced significantly poorer physical and social functioning as well as higher pain intensity, pain interference, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

“People are using it, we should study it, and we need to know more to be able to guide physicians and cancer patients and survivors as well,” Gregory Giordano of the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder told CURE®

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