On the pulse 30 May 2014

  • Hampstead Heath Walk
  • Professor Mo Keshtgar speaks at our Patient Support Group
  • Study has found a way to stop cancer-causing collisions in cells

Hampstead Heath Walk
Our annual walk takes place on Sunday 8th June and, if you are still to register, we would love you to join us. Participants can chose to walk or run either 5km or 10km and everyone who attends will receive refreshments and a free Cancerkin t-shirt. The walk is always a fun day out – the emphasis is on our patients, supporters and their families walking and having fun together – and so, to abuse a cliché, the more really is the merrier! All the money raised will go directly to Cancerkin to help us to continue to provide free complementary therapies and support services across London.

To take part, simply fill out the form attached to this email and return it to h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or call us on 0207 820 2323. Alternatively, walkers can also register on the day. For more information, please contact me on either the email or telephone number above.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Professor Mo Keshtgar speaks at our Patient Support Group
We were very privileged to  be joined by Professor Mo Keshtgar, whose spoke aboutCancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Past, Present and the Future’. Prof Keshtgar began with some statistics about the rise in the incidence of breast cancer worldwide in the last 30 years and, thanks to advances in treatment over that period, its low mortality rate relative to other cancers. He then discussed a number of different research projects which he is involved in. They were fascinating in their variety and potential.  He placed much emphasis on the importance of patient involvement, especially in research aimed at helping patients understand better the options available to them, as well as the lifestyle implications of breast cancer. This led to a lively question and answer session which itself demonstrated the great hunger there is for information and advice – particularly on lifestyle issues. We are very grateful to Prof Keshtgar for this most interesting and stimulating – and hopeful – discussion, which was accessible to everyone who attended. We are also grateful to him for his continuing support to Cancerkin, especially at our annual fundraising walk.

Study has found a way to stop cancer-causing collisions in cells
A study published in the journal Cell has found a new role for a protein: stopping cancer-causing collisions in cells by preventing DNA from snapping.

Scientists from the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute discovered that if a protein, called RNA polymerase II, stops while travelling along DNA it can lead to catastrophic collisions with another protein, DNA polymerase. When these two proteins collide on a long gene – like a stationary car being hit by an oncoming lorry on a fast road – it can cause catastrophic damage to the DNA by breaking it, which may eventually lead to the cell becoming cancerous.

However, the study shows that a third protein, RECQL5, can attach to RNA polymerase II and act as “a brake” as it travels along DNA, slowing it down so it runs more smoothly  and is less likely to stop. The scientists also found that RECQL5 also appears to help RNA polymerase II start moving again when it does stop, although more work needs to be carried out to understand exactly how it does this.

The study has also found that these RNA polymerase II “breakdowns” are take place more often on parts of our chromosomes called common fragile sites – naturally occurring weak points which are more likely to break when exposed to events like the DNA – RNA polymerase II collision. The DNA in all cells have common fragile sites and under normal circumstances they are relatively stable and don’t break often. However, in cancers, common fragile sites are frequently broken or damaged. The researchers therefore now believe that by preventing DNA – RNA polymerase II collisions on these common fragile sites, RECQL5 could play an important role in protecting our cells from becoming cancerous.

Study Author, Dr Jesper Svejstrup, said: “We’ve known for some time that cells that have lost the protein RECQL5 are more likely to become cancerous, but until now, we’ve not been sure why this is.

“Our latest study shows that RECQL5 plays a vital role in moderating RNA polymerase II speed and ensuring stable progress across genes, which appears to reduce the number of collisions it makes with oncoming DNA polymerase proteins on long genes.

“Knowing more about this weakness in some cells could open up exciting new possibilities for targeting cancers with this mistake.”

For more information please see here and here on Cancer Research UK.

On the pulse 21 May 2014

  • Hampstead Heath Walk 2014 Registration Deadline FRIDAY (23rd May 2014)
  • Volunteer Marshals needed
  • Relaxation training helps reduce distress during breast cancer treatment

Hampstead Heath Walk 2014 Registration Deadline FRIDAY (23rd May 2014)

The closing date for entries for the first Cancerkin Hampstead Heath Walk is this Friday, the 23rd May 2014. The walk will begin at the Parliament Hill bandstand at 10.30am on Sunday 8th June 2014 and entry forms can be downloaded from our website. The forms can then be returned either by post (to “The Cancerkin Centre, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG”) or email (h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk). Alternatively, you can also register over the phone by calling 0207 830 2323.

If you have any queries, please do get in touch with me on any of the details above. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you in June!

Volunteer Marshals needed

We are still also recruiting volunteers to act as Marshals at the Hampstead Heath Walk on 8 June. Our volunteer marshals play a vital role in the event – guiding our walkers around the park and cheering everyone on! If you would like to help out on the day, or have friends or family who would be interested, we would love to hear from you. Please contact me on h.lovering@cancerkin.org.uk or 0207 830 2323 to find out more.

Relaxation training helps reduce distress during breast cancer treatment
Researchers at the University of Miami have found that a five-week group of Relaxation or Cognitive Behavioural Training can have beneficial effects for women who are dealing with the stresses of breast cancer diagnosis and surgery.

The study considered 183 breast cancer patients from the Miami area who had already had surgery but had not yet started adjuvant treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The women were randomly assigned to one of three five-week groups: Cognitive Behavioural Training, Relaxation Training, or a Health Education control group. Cognitive Behavioural Training involves changing thoughts about stressors and learning interpersonal skills while Relaxation Training teaches muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Prior work at the University of Miami had shown that a 10-week group which combines both of these improved quality of life for women in the early stages of breast cancer treatment. However, as ten weeks can be too long of a commitment for breast cancer patients, this study was to see whether a shorter course of either one would have a beneficial effect.

The researchers measured distress and life disruption at the start and at the end of the five-week course, considering the patient’s mood, the distress caused by breast cancer, disruption in their social activities and their emotional well-being. They found that women who received the Cognitive Behavioural or Relaxation Training reported greater improvements in mood than women in the Health Education control group, as well as greater improvements in stress management skills. Women in the Cognitive Behavioural group also reported reduced breast cancer-specific distress and improved emotional-well-being, while women in the Relaxation group reported reduced disruptions in social activities compared to the control group.

For more information, please see Medical News Today.

On the pulse 15 May 2014

  • Look Good Feel Better
  • Study suggests that being diagnosed with breast cancer can lead to long-term unemployment

Look Good Feel Better
The next Look Good Feel Better Workshop takes place on Tuesday 20 May 2014 from 2pm until 4pm. During the session, trained Look Good Feel Better beauty volunteers share their make-up tips, as well as demonstrating techniques for minimising treatment side-effects such as skin changes and eyebrow and eyelash loss. On top of this, every woman who attends can take home a free make-up pack containing many beauty products from top cosmetic brands.

Only a few spaces remain so, please contact Reema as soon as possible if you would like to attend. She can be reached on r.ved@cancerkin.org.uk or on 0207 830 2323. Please note that these sessions are open only to women who have not previously attended a Look Good Feel Better workshop.

Study suggests that being diagnosed with breast cancer can lead to long-term unemployment
A new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre, to be published in Cancer, has found that nearly one-third of breast cancer survivors who were working when they were diagnosed were unemployed four years later.

Many patients take time off work during treatment due to the treatment schedule and the side-effects of the therapies such as chemotherapy. However, little is known about the long-term effects of cancer treatment on paid employment. Scientists therefore analysed 2,290 women in Detroit and Los Angeles who were diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer between 2005 and 2007. The women completed surveys nine months after their diagnosis which asked about paid employment, financial issues and other quality of life factors. 1,536 women then completed a follow-up survey four years later. 1,026 of these women were under the age of 65.

Researchers found that 746 patients completed both surveys, were under 65 and were employed prior to their diagnosis. However, 30% of these women were no longer working at the time of the four-year survey. This is despite many reporting they wanted to work: 55% of these women said it was important for them to work and 39% said they were actively looking for work. Women who had received chemotherapy were 1.4 times more likely to be unemployed four years after their diagnosis.

The researchers suggested that taking time off during chemotherapy treatment might have led to the long-term employment problems seen in the study. Chemotherapy can also cause long-term side effects such as neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nervous system) or cognitive issues, which could also affect employment.

Lead study author Reshma Jagsi, said: “”Many doctors believe that even though patients may miss work during treatment, they will ‘bounce back’ in the longer term. The results of this study suggest otherwise. Loss of employment is a possible long-term negative consequence of chemotherapy that may not have been fully appreciated to date.”

For more information, please see Science Daily and Medical News Today.