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The CTCA blog

The strange past and inspiring future of cancer treatment


The history of the fight against cancer is filled with chapters both troubling and triumphant. For much of the past 150 years, doctors struggled to find ways to attack the malignancy without unduly injuring their patients. Cancer, after all, is a disease of damage to self. The question has always been: How to attack the tumor while leaving the healthy tissue unharmed?

Avoiding infections in the era of drug-resistant germs


Protecting patients from hospital-borne infections is important in any setting. But it is especially critical for cancer patients, who face a number of challenges not just in fighting their disease but in avoiding additional illnesses that can complicate their prognosis. Some cancer treatments lower the body’s resistance to germs, for example, making patients more vulnerable to infection. Surgical wounds, catheters, and infusion access points like ports and PICC lines open additional pathways for bacteria to travel and penetrate the body’s defenses. Cancers such as leukemia, which originate in the bone marrow, attack the immune system. Chemotherapy treatments can shrink numbers of white blood cells, the body’s germ-fighting arsenal.

Study: Immunotherapy better than chemotherapy in some hard-to-treat lung cancer cases


A new study concluded that immunotherapy is more effective than chemotherapy in extending the lives of some patients with advanced lung cancer. In the study, published Dec. 19 in The Lancet medical journal, researchers studied about 1,000 patients with non-small lung cancers who continued to battle tumors that had progressed despite having at least two rounds of chemotherapy.

Keeping a cancer diagnosis private: David Bowie isn't alone


When the news broke late Sunday night that musical legend David Bowie had died at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer, fans around the world expressed not just grief but shock. Despite more than five decades on the world stage, under the glare of a public spotlight, the rock-and-roll icon managed to keep his cancer journey a secret from fans and friends alike, sharing it only with a handful of people in his inner circle.

To test or not to test: The PSA and your prostate cancer risk


For men seeking clarity on whether to undergo routine prostate cancer screening, two recent studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) may raise new questions. Since 2012, there’s been a drop in the routine use of the blood test known as the PSA, short for prostate-specific antigen, according to the studies published on Nov. 17. Meanwhile, fewer prostate cancers are being diagnosed.