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New success in identifying hereditary cancer risks

ICIs have transformed care for patients with aggressive skin cancers like melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

HPV vaccines 'substantially' reduce cervical cancer risk: study
Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV -- a common sexually transmitted infection -- is preventable with reliable and safe vaccines - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File JOE RAEDLE
Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV -- a common sexually transmitted infection -- is preventable with reliable and safe vaccines - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File JOE RAEDLE

Interesting new medical research has recently been presented at the  American Society of Hematology conference and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium by the U.S.-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

This research includes understanding inherited cancer risks and an immunotherapy dosing study.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is focused on the application of advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options while accelerating discoveries that prevent, treat and cure cancer and infectious diseases worldwide. The institution is based in Seattle, and as well as cancer treatments the body has undertaken advances in bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, HIV/AIDS prevention and COVID-19 vaccines.

Hereditary cancers

Genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk has become more accessible and, based on the findings, more important than ever. This is because around 5-10 percent of cancers are thought to be hereditary.

It also stands that advancements in germline testing can offer accurate, affordable ways to identify these risks. Germline testing helps individuals with early cancer management and it also aids biological family members in understanding their own risk.

While the process involves a simple clinic visit for a DNA sample, it differs significantly from commercial, direct-to-consumer tests as the comprehensive assessments and genetic counseling help patients make informed decisions for personalized screening, treatment and lifestyle changes.

Immunotherapy frequencies, costs and benefits

In the second core research area, the Fred Hutchinson scientists have found that reducing the frequency of immunotherapy dosing could save money and time, keep patients on therapy longer.

ICIs have transformed care for patients with aggressive skin cancers like melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma, however, more research is needed to understand how these findings might impact long-term treatment plans.

Racism in cancer treatment

Another area of new research is with health equity, including an examination of racism in cancer care. For this line of inquiry, Fred Hutch partnered with the Cierra Sisters, a Seattle-based patient advocacy group, to produce a series of short videos to acknowledge and address the racism many women of color experience while dealing with breast cancer.

The findings indicate that some women report that racism begins when they approach their general practitioner with a concern and persists throughout diagnosis, cancer treatment and pain management.

This has led to the development of the Anti-Racism in Oncology project. The aim is to highlight the issue by capturing video-based stories of real people having conversations about racism in health care.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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