3D models mimic cells to fight aggressive ovarian cancer

Queensland researchers are using 3D models to mimic cancer cells in women with aggressive ovarian tumours, in a bid to improve treatment for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland has awarded $200,000 of funding over two years to a team of researchers at QUT to target enzymes that cause cancer cells to resist chemotherapy.

QUT Distinguished Professor Judith Clements said for some women with aggressive ovarian tumours that spread throughout the body, chemotherapy simply did not work. “We have discovered that a group of enzymes, called KLK enzymes, are increased in women with more aggressive cancers and that these women usually do not respond to one of the chemotherapies used – taxane chemotherapy,” Prof Clements said.

“In this project, we use a 3D culture model to mimic the cancer cells that float in the ascites that accumulates in the abdomen of women with ovarian cancer. We use another 3D model of the cancer cells invading the abdominal wall to better understand how KLK7 makes cancer cells more aggressive and invasive, and less responsive to the chemotherapy. We hope that in the future that a test can be developed that can detect high levels of KLK7 in women with ovarian cancer, and that we can use a similar KLK7 blocking drug to make those women more responsive to the taxane chemotherapy in a personalised precision medicine approach.”

Around 270 Queensland women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and about 160 die from the disease. Ovarian cancer is one of the hardest cancers to detect and is the leading cause of death from gynaecological cancer, with less than half of all women diagnosed surviving five years.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was important for all women to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to be cautious of overlooking the warning signs. “Ovarian cancer can be very difficult to diagnose early because symptoms can be vague and similar to other common illnesses – so we’re urging all women to be vigilant,” Ms Clift said.

“When you have symptoms that are new for you, have persisted for two weeks or more and you have them on all or most days, then it’s time to see your doctor. Symptoms include increased abdominal size or bloating, unexplained abdominal or pelvic pain, feeling full and/or having difficulty eating, unexplained weight gain or loss, back pain, indigestion, nausea or excessive fatigue. If Queensland women have questions or concerns regarding ovarian cancer, they should visit their GP.”

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

Reminder to be aware of ovarian cancer symptoms during awareness month

An estimated 270 Queensland women will be be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, 39 of them from the Gold Coast. Sadly around 20 local women will also die from the disease this year.

It is one of the hardest cancers to detect and is the leading cause of death from gynaecological cancers, with fewer than half of all women likely to survive five years after diagnosis.

As part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Council has pledged to continue to invest in research and support for those affected, including carers and families.

There are currently no effective screening tests for ovarian cancer, so knowing the symptoms is critical to early detection. Symptoms include increased abdominal size or bloating, unexplained abdominal or pelvic pain, feeling full and/or having difficulty eating, unexplained weight gain or loss, back pain, indigestion, nausea or excessive fatigue.

Ovarian cancer symptoms can be vague and similar to common illnesses, but when these symptoms are new, or have persisted for two weeks or more, it’s important to see a doctor.

If you have any questions about ovarian cancer, call Cancer Council Queensland on 13 11 20 or talk to a GP.

Cancers more than triple in Queensland over 31 years

The number of cancers diagnosed each year in Queensland has more than tripled in 31 years, new data shows.

Cancer Council has revealed cancer cases have increased from 8274 diagnosed in 1982 to 26,335 cases in 2013.

Cancer Council’s Cancer Research Centre has released 2013 data and trends (the latest available from the Queensland Cancer Registry) for incidence, survival, mortality and prevalence, providing the latest snapshot of cancer in Queensland.

The new data reveals one in two Queenslanders will be diagnosed with cancer and one in seven will die from the disease before 80 years of age.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO said cancer remained the leading cause of total disease burden and premature death in Queensland. “At the end of 2013, there were 87,993 Queensland cancer survivors who had been diagnosed with the disease in the previous five years,” Prof Dunn said.

“While incidence may be increasing, our data shows more Queenslanders are surviving a cancer diagnosis today than at any other time in history. The latest snapshot of cancer in Queensland shows across all cancer types, the average five-year relative survival rate is 69.9 per cent. Of the 10 most common cancers, thyroid cancer had the highest five-year survival at 97 per cent, followed by prostate cancer (93.2 per cent) and melanoma (92.9 per cent). Much poorer survival still exists for Queenslanders diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, at around eight and 16 per cent respectively.

“In 2013, the leading cause of cancer death was lung cancer, causing 21 per cent of the 8,651 cancer deaths recorded. Colorectal cancer was the second leading cause of cancer death, followed by prostate cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death among those aged 50 years and older, while colorectal cancer was the leading cause of cancer death among those aged less than 50 years.”

The latest snapshot of cancer in Queensland shows 26,335 cancers were diagnosed in 2013, with 8651 people dying from the disease statewide.

Prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2013, accounting for 15 per cent of all cancers, followed by melanoma, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer.

The latest data also revealed changes in trends over time, since 1982.

“Since 2008, the cancer incidence rate for males has been decreasing by one per cent per year,” Prof Dunn said. “The incidence rate for females has been increasing slightly by 0.6 per cent per year since 2004. Latest trends show that mortality rates are decreasing for many types of cancer, including prostate, breast, colorectal cancer, lung cancer in males, cervical cancer in females and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In contrast, liver cancer mortality increased among both sexes, melanoma mortality increased among males, and pancreatic cancer mortality among females.”

Cancer Council urged Queenslanders to play their part in reducing risks of preventable cancers. “We all have a role to play in cancer control – to reduce community risks, enable early detection, ensure access to lifesaving treatment, and support the growing number of Queenslanders who are surviving this disease,” Prof Dunn said.

“Assuming current rates remain stable, by 2021 it is estimated that over 34,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed each year in Queensland, placing an even greater burden on our community and the health system. While survival rates are improving, we know that one third of all cancers diagnosed every year can be prevented. Queenslanders should participate in recommended cancer screening, quit smoking, eat healthily, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, stay SunSmart and limit alcohol intake to reduce the risk of preventable cancers.”

The 2013 Cancer Research Centre data is available online at cancerqld.org.au/qcsol.

 

Gold Coast Ironman to tackle The March Charge to obliterate cancer

Gold Coast Ironman Jackson Maynard is motivating Queenslanders to lead active lives while helping obliterate cancer this March.

The 23-year-old is calling on all locals looking for a new fitness challenge to take down cancer this March by enlisting in The March Charge.

The March Charge invites Queenslanders to sign up and run, swim or ride as many kilometres as possible during the month of March to help obliterate cancer.

Jackson Maynard said he was inspired to support Cancer Council Queensland after he overcame stage 2 melanoma in 2010. “I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, and shortly after that I was diagnosed with Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome and had to undergo heart surgery,” he said.“I’ve faced difficult times – but I got through it and I want to inspire others to do the same.”

He continued: “I’m proud to be an official ambassador for The March Charge campaign this year to share my love of health and fitness, to take a stand against cancer and support and inspire those affected, and importantly – to get more Queenslanders involved.”

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said participants would reduce their own cancer risk while raising funds to support others impacted by the disease. “Up to one third of cancers can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle, including being physically active every day, enjoying a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight,” Ms Clift said. “The March Charge is a personal challenge – not a race or event – that will allow you to tackle cancer head on while boosting your own health.”

Cancer Council Queensland recommends all Queenslanders participate in 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day to reduce cancer risk. Investing in just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day is good for your health, and 60 minutes can reduce your risk of developing cancer. Evidence also suggests the more exercise you do, the lower your risk of cancer – especially if it’s more vigorous physical activity.

The March Charge is flexible – participants can run, swim or ride as far as they want, where they want and when they want, sharing their progress across the month online and raising funds for the cause. Queenslanders can enlist for free for the March Charge now, nominating the kilometres they want to tackle in their own time and their own way at themarchcharge.com.au.

Money raised from Cancer Council’s The March Charge helps fund world-class cancer research, prevention and advocacy programs, and support services to help those affected by cancer at every part of their journey.

Queenslanders can enlist now at themarchcharge.com.au.

 

Hugh Jackman has fifth skin cancer removed from face

Hugh Jackman has taken to social media to warn people about the importance of sun protection, after having another skin cancer removed from his face.

The 47-year-old has just had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his nose – which is the fifth skin cancer he has had removed since 2013.

The Wolverine star shared a photo of his nose bandaged up on social media following the procedure to urge his fans to take care in the sun.

“An example of what happens when you don’t use sunscreen. Basal cell. Mildest form of cancer. USE SUNSCREEN PLEASE !!” he wrote on Twitter.

Jackman has has previously said his condition is a result of not wearing sunscreen while growing up in Australia. In 2013, he told The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m an Aussie, we have to get checked but everyone should get checked. Particularly if you’re my age. If you’re 21 or older, you just go and get checked. It’s simple.”

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, with almost 300,000 cases diagnosed in Australia every year.