Chemotherapy doesn’t work very well because you’re fat!

No, seriously. It’s your own fault your chemotherapy didn’t work very well. According to a September research study in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Journal of Clinical Oncology, the amount of chemotherapy drugs should increase with body weight.

The fatter you are, the more drugs you will need. At least that’s what Big Pharma is now saying ably supported by a number of top oncologists in America. Apparently, their concern is that as waistlines increase, people are being ‘under-treated’ by as much as 85 per cent!! No wonder the drugs didn’t work.

There’s a slight biochemical hic-cough with this view. You may be fatter, but it is unlikely that your tumour will be much bigger than a thin person’s, nor that it is growing any faster, and the organ it has attacked may be no bigger either. If it is growing faster, all the recent research suggests that this is because a fat person’s blood glucose levels are likely to be higher than those of a thin person – but that’s a different issue requiring a different solution. Conversely, Calorie Restriction seems to make chemo more effective as we covered earlier in 2013. But there again, as CANCERactive covered at the time, Big Pharma thinks doses of chemo should be higher with Calorie Restriction too (?).

So, what the heck?! Fat and high blood glucose, or, thin and low blood glucose? ‘Supersize’ them now’ is the cry from Big Pharma.

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New blood test tracks cancer development

Scientists at the CRUK Institute at Cambridge University have managed to follow the progress of cancer in people by following traces of tumour DNA circulating in patients’ blood (ctDNA).

Importantly this also allows scientists to identify tumour changes and chemotherapy drug resistance (Nature).

The scientists followed 6 patients with advanced breast, ovarian and lung cancers over two years taking blood samples at regular points, and by looking for changes in the tumour ctDNA before and after each course of treatment, they were able to identify which changes in the tumour’s DNA were linked to drug resistance following each treatment session.

Using this new method they were able to identify several changes linked to drug-resistance in response to chemotherapy drugs such as paclitaxel (taxol) which is used to treat ovarian, breast and lung cancers, tamoxifen which is used to treat oestrogen-positive breast cancers and trastuzumab (Herceptin) which is used to treat HER2 positive breast cancers.

Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld one of the study authors, said: “Tumours are constantly changing and evolving which helps them develop a resistance to many of the drugs we currently give patients to treat their disease”.

“We’ve shown that a very simple blood test can be used to collect enough tumour DNA to suggest to us what parts of the cancer’s genetic code is changing and creating tumour resistance to chemotherapy or biologically-targeted therapies”.

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