Cancer News Digest – Cancer Research and Treatment in November 2021

News breaks in the cancer arena all the time. Sometimes it’s big — like word that a breakthrough drug has increased survival for a hard-to-treat cancer. Sometimes it’s smaller. Any of it may matter to you and your family as you navigate your cancer journey. We do our best to keep you up-to-date with a monthly roundup of some of the most significant recent cancer news.

COVID-19 Boosters Provide Antibodies in More Than Half of Cancer Patients Studied

What’s New Data shows that more than 50 percent of cancer patients produced ample antibody protection after receiving a COVID-19 booster shot, including those who were on active cancer treatment at the time of vaccination. The study findings were published in the November 5 online issue of Cancer Cell journal.

Research Details In the study, 88 cancer patients were offered a COVID-19 booster shot (Pfizer or Moderna). Overall, 65 percent of participants had blood cancer (such as leukemia or multiple myeloma), while 35 percent had solid tumors. Almost three-quarters were on active treatment prior to receiving the booster. Findings showed that, following the booster shot, 56 percent of patients without detectable antibody levels produced a robust level of protection against SARS-CoV-2, while 44 percent did not. Having a blood cancer decreased the likelihood of producing antibodies, as did receiving anti-B cell cancer treatment within the past six months.

Why This Matters While studies have shown that people with cancer have a decreased response to the COVID-19 vaccines, more than half will respond to a booster.

HPV Vaccine Puts a Major Dent in Cervical Cancer Risk in the U.K.

What’s New Cervical cancer risk in young U.K. women has been cut by 87 percent since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2008, according to study findings published online on November 3 in The Lancet.

Research Details British researchers examined data from a cancer registry among seven groups of women who had received the Cevarix human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or were unvaccinated between January 2006 and January 2019. Vaccinated groups had received the vaccine in school when they were between the ages of 12 and 13, 14 and 16, or 16 and 18. Compared with unvaccinated women, those who had received the vaccine at the youngest ages (12 to 13) had an 87 percent lower incidence of cervical cancer. Incidence was decreased by 62 percent among those vaccinated between the ages of 14 to 16, and 34 percent among 16- to 18-year-old vaccine recipients.

Why This Matters The study offers direct evidence that HPV vaccination in adolescent girls significantly reduces the incidence of cervical cancer, especially when offered at a younger age.

Early Exercise after Non-Reconstructive Breast Cancer Surgery Yields Best Outcomes for Shoulders and Arms

What’s New U.K. researchers report that physical therapy–led exercise that’s started within 7 to 10 days after breast cancer surgery improved upper limb function, postoperative pain, arm function, and overall health-related life quality at one year compared with standard care, according to study findings published on November 11 in BMJ journal.

Research Details In the study, 392 women undergoing breast cancer surgery at 17 British National Health cancer centers were assigned to either usual care (brochures containing general advice and recommending postsurgical exercise) or referred to a physical therapy program known as PROSPER to restore range of motion in the shoulder, improve strength, and increase overall stamina. The PROSPER group were assigned at least one in-person session with a trained therapist and then up to six sessions over the course of a year. Women received individualized, daily range of motion exercises as well as behavioral support and resistance bands for home use. They were also encouraged to gradually increase their physical activity to 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The PROSPER group improved in upper limb and arm functions and lower pain intensity compared with those assigned to usual care. Participants in the PROSPER arm also reported better health-related quality of life.

Why This Matters About half of women undergoing surgery for breast cancer experience physical limitations or pain, making recovery challenging. Exercise limited the degree of usual upper limb disability and reduced pain.

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