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Recent Publications by VICC Researchers

June 27, 2013

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is committed to conducting innovative, high-impact, basic, translational and clinical research with the greatest potential for making a difference for cancer patients, today and in the future. Here’s a sampling of work published in peer-reviewed journals by Cancer Center investigators in 2012-2013:

Long-term effects of prostate therapies tracked

A new study published in the Jan. 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine compared outcomes among prostate cancer patients. The study, led by Matthew Resnick, M.D., followed 1,655 men ages 55-74 from the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study group, of whom 70.3 percent had undergone prostatectomy, while 29.7 percent had undergone radiotherapy. Men whose prostates had been surgically removed were significantly more likely than those who received radiation therapy to report urinary leakage at two years and five years. However, at 15 years, the investigators found no significant difference in the adjusted odds of urinary incontinence. Men in the prostatectomy group were also significantly more likely than those in the radiotherapy group to report having problems with erectile dysfunction two years and five years after surgery.


Three new genetic links to colorectal cancer revealed

Three gene variants, reported online Dec. 23, 2012, in Nature Genetics, provide new insight into the biology of colorectal cancer and could represent new therapeutic targets for the disease. In 2009, Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, and colleagues in several Asian countries established the “Asia Colorectal Cancer Consortium” to search for genetic risk factors for the disease. The consortium included populations in China, Korea and Japan. From genomic data obtained from 2,098 colorectal cancer cases and 5,749 controls, the researchers identified 64 variants that were associated with colorectal cancer. The investigators then replicated these findings in another set of samples, narrowing the number of disease-associated variants to four. Three of those four variants were also associated with colorectal cancer risk in an analysis of populations including Asian and European ancestry.


Study offers insights into gastric cancer prevention

Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide, with a particular burden in Latin America and eastern Asia. Chronic infection with a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is the dominant risk factor for this form of cancer. A new study in Latin America, the largest ever of its kind, designed to examine the efficacy of antibiotic treatment regimens, found that geography, age, gender and adherence to treatment may be as important as the choice of antibiotic therapy to eradicate H pylori in the design of primary prevention programs. Patients were randomly assigned to receive one of three antibiotic regimens and the overall efficacy was 79.3 percent, with no significant difference among the three antibiotic treatment groups. However, there was a marked difference among study sites. The study by co-lead author Douglas Morgan, M.D., MPH, was published in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Study finds high soy diet before lung cancer diagnosis improves survival

A new study, conducted in Shanghai, China, and published in the March 25 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found women who ate more soy food prior to a diagnosis of lung cancer lived longer than those who consumed less. Previous research has suggested that postmenopausal hormone supplements which typically contain estrogen and/or other hormones may promote lung cancer progression. Studies have also shown that soy food, rich in isoflavones that have chemical structures similar to estrogens, may have anti-cancer effects. Gong Yang, M.D., MPH, and colleagues found that the association of soy food intake with lung cancer survival appears to follow a dose-response pattern until soy food intake reaches the 4-ounce tofu equivalent per day, and the association was more pronounced among women who never smoked.


Potent genetic risk factor for breast cancer identified

Using data from population-based studies of women in Shanghai, China, Jirong Long, Ph.D., and colleagues discovered a deletion in a cluster of genes, called APOBEC3 genes, that is known to trigger DNA mutation and which has previously been implicated in cancer. If a woman has a deletion in one of the two sets of genes she inherits from her parents, her risk of breast cancer increases by 31 percent. If the deletion is present in both sets of genes, her risk increases by 76 percent. This finding, reported online Feb. 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the first copy number variation identified for breast cancer and might be helpful to predict the risk of breast cancer in combination with other markers.


Breast cancer study explores therapy to slow recurrence

Many patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) have recurrence of their disease after an initial response to chemotherapy because the cancer cells have become resistant to treatment. A new study by Neil Bhola, Ph.D., and Carlos Arteaga, M.D., published in the Feb. 8 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests drugs that block or inhibit the TGF-beta signaling pathway in cancer cells enhance the effect of chemotherapy and may prevent recurrences of treatment-resistant TNBC. Previous studies have linked the TGF-beta molecule to cancer invasion and metastasis, and this study found genes associated with this pathway were increased in patients who had been treated with chemotherapy. Further testing revealed that, in combination with chemotherapy, the TGF-beta inhibitor decreased tumor volume in mice and it significantly decreased the population of cancer stem cells.