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Fink A.K.,ICF International | German R.R.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Heron M.,National Center for Health Statistics | Stewart S.L.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | And 3 more authors.
Cancer Epidemiology | Year: 2012

Background: Cancer mortality statistics, an important indicator for monitoring cancer burden, are traditionally restricted to instances when cancer is determined to be the underlying cause of death (UCD) based on information recorded on standard certificates of death. This study's objective was to determine the impact of using multiple causes of death codes to compute site-specific cancer mortality statistics. Methods: The state cancer registries of California, Colorado and Idaho provided linked cancer registry and death certificate data for individuals who died between 2002 and 2004, had at least one cancer listed on their death certificate and were diagnosed with cancer between 1993 and 2004. These linked data were used to calculate the site-specific proportion of cancers not selected as the UCD (non-UCD) among all cancer-related deaths (any mention on the death certificate). In addition, the retrospective concordance between the death certificate and the population-based cancer registry, measured as confirmations rates, was calculated for deaths with cancer as the UCD, as a non-UCD, and for any mention. Results: Overall, non-UCD deaths comprised 9.5 percent of total deaths; 11 of the 79 cancer sites had proportions greater than 3 standard deviations from 9.5 percent. The confirmation rates for UCD and for any mention did not differ significantly for any of the cancer sites. Conclusion and impact: The site-specific variation in proportions and rates suggests that for a few cancer sites, death rates might be computed for both UCD and any mention of the cancer site on the death certificate. Nevertheless, this study provides evidence that, in general, restricting to UCD deaths will not under report cancer mortality statistics. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Yasmeen S.,University of California at Davis | Xing G.,University of California at Davis | Morris C.,California Cancer Registry | Chlebowski R.T.,University of California at Los Angeles | Romano P.S.,University of California at Davis
Cancer | Year: 2011

Backkground: Interactions with comorbidity burden and comorbidity-related care have not been examined as potential explanations for racial/ethnic disparities in advanced-stage breast cancer at diagnosis. Methods: The authors used linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare data to determine whether comorbidity burden and comorbidity-related care are associated with stage at diagnosis, whether these associations are mediated by mammography use, and whether they explain racial/ethnic disparities. Stage at diagnosis and mammography use were analyzed in multivariate regression models, adjusting for comorbidity burden and comorbidity-race interactions among 118,742 women diagnosed with breast cancer during 1993 to 2005. Results: Mammography utilization was higher among women with ≥ 3 stable comorbidities than among those without comorbidities. Advanced stage at diagnosis was associated with black race (odds ratio [OR], 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-1.8), Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.2-1.5), unstable comorbidity, and age ≥ 80 years. Mammography was protective in all racial/ethnic groups, but neither mammography use (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.3-0.3 and OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.2-0.2 for women with 1 and ≥ 2 prior mammograms, respectively) nor overall physician service use (OR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.7-0.8 for women with ≥ 16 visits) explained the association between race/ethnicity and stage at diagnosis. The black/white OR fell to 1.2 (95% CI, 0.9-1.5) among women with multiple stable comorbidities who received ≥ 2 screening mammograms, and 1.0 (95% CI, 0.8-1.3) among mammography users with unstable comorbidities. Conclusions: Comorbidity burden was associated with regular mammography and earlier stage at diagnosis. Racial/ethnic disparities in late stage disease were reduced among women who received both regular mammograms and comorbidity-related care. © 2011 American Cancer Society.


German R.R.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Fink A.K.,ICF Macro | Heron M.,National Center for Health Statistics | Stewart S.L.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | And 2 more authors.
Cancer Epidemiology | Year: 2011

Background: One measure of the accuracy of cancer mortality statistics is the concordance between cancer defined as the underlying cause of death from death certificates and cancer diagnoses recorded in central, population-based cancer registries. Previous studies of such concordance are outdated. Objective: To characterize the accuracy of cancer mortality statistics from the concordance between cancer cause of death and primary cancer site at diagnosis. Design: Central cancer registry records from California, Colorado, and Idaho in the U.S. were linked with state vital statistics data and evaluated by demographic and tumor information across 79 site categories. A retrospective arm (confirmation rate per 100 deaths) compared death certificate data from 2002 to 2004 with cancer registry diagnoses from 1993 to 2004, while a prospective arm (detection rate per 100 deaths) compared cancer registry diagnoses from 1993 to 1995 with death certificate data from 1993 to 2004 by International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) version used to code deaths. Results: With n=265,863 deaths where cancer was recorded as the underlying cause based on the death certificate, the overall confirmation rate for ICD-10 was 82.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 82.6-83.0%), the overall detection rate for ICD-10 was 81.0% (95% CI, 80.4-81.6%), and the overall detection rate for ICD-9 was 85.0% (95% CI, 84.8-85.2%). These rates varied across primary sites, where some rates were <50%, some were 95% or greater, and notable differences between confirmation and detection rates were observed. Conclusions: Important unique information on the quality of cancer mortality data obtained from death certificates is provided. In addition, information is provided for future studies of the concordance of primary cancer site between population-based cancer registry data and data from death certificates, particularly underlying causes of death coded in ICD-10. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | December 20, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A new breast cancer model, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, will help health care providers more accurately predict breast cancer risk in their Hispanic patients. The model, developed by a Kaiser Permanente researcher and his colleagues, is the first to be based exclusively on data from Hispanic women, and will become part of the National Cancer Institute's online tool that helps providers calculate breast cancer risk in individual patients. "Hispanics are the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the U.S., so it's important that the NCI tool include information from these women in determining their risk score. Our model does that because it is based on data from Hispanic women and specifically tailored for them," said Matthew P. Banegas, PhD, MPH, lead author and researcher from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. NCI's Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool asks providers to enter information about the patient's age, race, family history of breast cancer and other risk factors, including: The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool currently includes risk models for non-Hispanic white, African-American and Asian and Pacific Islander women, but no model specific to Hispanic women, and studies show that the tool underestimates breast cancer risk in these women. "Prior studies have shown that Hispanic women born in the U.S. have a higher breast cancer risk than Hispanic women who emigrate here from other countries," said Banegas. "Our model includes data from U.S. and foreign-born women, so providers will be able to more accurately predict risk based on where the woman was born." To build the model, researchers started with data from the San Francisco Bay Area Breast Cancer Study, which included 1,086 Hispanic women who developed breast cancer between 1995 and 2002 and 1,411 women who did not have breast cancer. Nearly 1,000 of the women were born in the United States and 1,500 were born in other countries. The researchers then included breast cancer incidence and mortality data from the California Cancer Registry and NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. To validate their model, researchers used data from the Women's Health Initiative and the Four-Corners Breast Cancer Study. The new model accurately predicted the number of breast cancers among U.S.-born Hispanic women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative, but slightly overestimated the number of breast cancers among foreign-born Hispanic women in the WHI. "We built the model using data from Hispanic women in California who are mostly of Mexican and Central American descent, so these are the women for whom the model will be most accurate," said Banegas. "As we collect more data on Hispanic women from other regions and countries, we will be able to further refine the model." The new model, like the National Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, should not be used for women who already have invasive breast cancer, for women who have an inherited genetic mutation known to cause breast cancer, or for women who received therapeutic radiation of the chest for other types of cancers. This study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Other authors include: Esther M. John PhD, MSPH, and Scarlett Lin Gomez, PhD, MPH, Cancer Prevention Institute of California and the Department of Health Research and Policy at the Stanford Cancer Institute; Martha L. Slattery, PhD, MPH, University of Utah Department of Medicine; Mandi Yu, PhD, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute; Andrea LaCroix, PhD, Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego; David Pee, MPhil, Information Management Services; Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD, PhD, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Lisa Hines, ScD, Department of Biology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; Cynthia Thompson, PhD, RD, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona; and Mitchell Gail, MD, PhD, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute. About the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research The Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a nonprofit research institution dedicated to advancing knowledge to improve health. It has research sites in Portland, Oregon and Honolulu. Visit kpchr.org for more information. Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.


News Article | December 10, 2015
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

A team of UCLA researchers found that there are several parts of California where, in a high percentage of people with thyroid cancer, the disease is already at an advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed. The research was led by Dr. Avital Harari, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and assistant professor of surgery. Approximately 63,000 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer nationwide last year, and according to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased across racial, ethnic and gender lines over the past several decades. When detected early, thyroid cancer is treatable and even curable. However, survival rates are much lower for people who are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease. The UCLA scientists examined county-by-county data from the California Cancer Registry for 27,000 people who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer from 1999 to 2008. To ensure that they were comparing similar population sizes, the researchers grouped together some smaller counties for the analysis. Nationally, about 29 percent of people with thyroid cancer have advanced-stage disease by the time it is diagnosed, according to data from the NCI’s surveillance, epidemiology, and end results program, also known as SEER. Of the 47 geographical areas the UCLA researchers analyzed, 20 had significantly higher percentages than that, ranging from 33 percent (Orange County) to 51 percent (for the combination of Alpine, Amador and Calaveras counties). Overall, in 35 percent of Californians with thyroid cancer — 6 percentage points higher than the national average — the disease has reached the regional and/or distant metastatic stage, meaning that it has spread beyond the thyroid to other tissues in the neck, regional lymph nodes or other parts of the body, by the time it is diagnosed. According to the UCLA findings, the California counties (or combined county groups) where people were most likely to have advanced thyroid cancer at the time of diagnosis were: Alpine, Amador and Calaveras (combined): Disease was advanced in 51 percent of those with thyroid cancer     Imperial: 48 percent     Sutter: 45 percent     San Francisco: 41 percent     Santa Barbara: 40 percent Southern California counties outside of the top five were San Bernardino, which ranked 12th (37 percent of people with thyroid cancer had advanced-stage disease), San Diego (13th, 36 percent), Los Angeles (14th, 35 percent), Fresno (17th, 34 percent), Ventura (18th, 34 percent) and Orange (20th, 33 percent). The counties with the highest percentages of people with advanced cancer were not grouped together in any obvious geographic pattern, meaning that none of the larger regions within the state seem to have a higher risk for the disease than any other. Harari said it is not clear why the incidence of advanced-stage thyroid cancer is that much higher in California than the national average, but her research suggests there might be an environmental component. “California has the largest amount of farmland in the country, so this type of exposure could very well contribute to our thyroid cancer rates,” she said. However, the only known environmental risk factor for thyroid cancer is radiation exposure, and that alone is unlikely to fully explain the phenomenon. The next stage of Harari’s research will evaluate possible links between thyroid cancer and exposure to pesticides and radon. The study was published online by the Journal of Surgical Research.


News Article | November 16, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Consequential stories on important issues in medical research are among the winners of the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards, including a Swedish documentary that raised disturbing questions about the research conduct of a surgeon at the famed Karolinska Institute, a series in a small weekly newspaper that challenged claims of a local breast cancer epidemic, and a report that researchers at leading U.S. medical institutions routinely disregarded a law on reporting of study results. The awards program went global last year, thanks to a doubling of the endowment by The Kavli Foundation, and two awards were established in each of eight categories: a Gold Award ($5,000) and Silver Award ($3,500). There were entries this year from 54 countries -- up from 44 last year -- and the 2016 winners include journalists from China, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The science journalism awards have been administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since their inception in 1945. Independent panels of science journalists select the winners. Bosse Lindquist and his colleagues at the Swedish public broadcaster, SVT, won the Gold Award for in-depth television reporting for a three-part documentary on Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian surgeon on the staff of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He had gained worldwide attention for his work on synthetic tracheas, or windpipes, for human transplantation. But the documentary showed how patients suffered and died in connection with failed operations, and it raised numerous issues concerning care and research ethics. Lindquist found that Macchiarini failed to adequately inform his patients of the risks of the trachea procedure and had not done testing on animals before doing the procedure on humans. The SVT documentary, appearing after a Karolinska inquiry already had cleared Macchiarini of charges he misrepresented the success of his trachea implants, caused a sensation in Sweden. Macchiarini eventually was fired, the vice chancellor of the Institute stepped down, and new inquiries were launched. Peter Byrne, a freelance investigative reporter, received the Gold Award in the small newspaper category for an 11-part series in the Point Reyes Light of Marin County, Calif., that cast doubt on claims of a breast cancer epidemic in the affluent county. He found that women in mostly white suburbs get more screening mammograms than women in lower-income communities. The increased screening also returns higher rates of false positives. Byrne said his reporting on data quality problems afflicting the federal and state cancer registries "needs to be taken seriously by the highest levels of state and national government and by the medical profession at large." Charles Piller and Natalia Bronshtein won the Gold Award in the online category for an investigation by Boston-based STAT that found researchers at leading universities and medical institutions had routinely failed to report their study results to the federal government's ClinicalTrials.gov database, thereby depriving patients and doctors of readily available information that would help them better compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments. The story helped spur the National Institutes of Health to step up its efforts to improve reporting of results to the database as required by law. The Silver Award in the online category went to Christie Aschwanden of FiveThirtyEight for three pieces on the process of scientific research and the so-called "replication crisis." Shankar Vedantam, a Silver Award winner in the audio category, also tackled the issue of reproducibility in scientific research in one of his "Hidden Brain" podcasts for NPR. Among the winners were journalists who contributed to Nature, NRC Handelsblad in Amsterdam, Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich and the BBC in London. "Enterprising reporting on the substance and process of research is at the heart of good science journalism," said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. "Many of the award winners this year have shown that solid reporting on science can both improve understanding and also trigger change." What had been the radio category was changed to audio this year after podcast entries were moved from the online category. The winners will receive their awards at a Feb. 17 ceremony held in conjunction with the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston. The full list of winners of the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards: Large Newspaper -- Circulation of 150,000 or more Gold Award: Jop de Vrieze and Zvezdana Vukojevic Freelancers, NRC Handelsblad (Amsterdam) "Het is een prachtig kind. Waarom is hij overleden?" (It is a beautiful child. Why did he die?) April 23, 2016 In a heartbreaking story about the stillbirth of their son, Mikki, journalists Jop de Vrieze and Zvezdana Vukojevic searched for answers within the Dutch system of prenatal care that might have helped prevent their son's death. They delved into scientific articles, medical guidelines, policy documents, parliamentary papers and internal documents, and spoke to more than 30 sources. Infant mortality has been a topic of considerable discussion in The Netherlands since a 2003 study found the nation's infant mortality rate was among the highest in the European Union. Midwives have an autonomous position and are the standard health care professionals for low-risk pregnancies in the Netherlands. Due to the high mortality rate, midwives were forced to establish more regular consultations with gynecologists. The number of stillbirths decreased from 7.7 per thousand in 2000 to 5.3 per thousand by 2013, but a specialist at the University of Groningen said a fifth of stillbirths in the country are still avoidable. Mikki likely suffered from intrauterine growth restriction, with a placenta too small to keep providing him energy during his growth. De Vrieze and Vukojevic described efforts to better monitor fetal growth and to scientifically evaluate the methods used. They noted that the Dutch midwives association recently withdrew support for a system where midwives and gynecologists would work together on risk selection at birthing centers closely aligned with hospitals. Nancy Shute, a health and medicine reporter for NPR, said the story by de Vrieze and Vukojevic led them to an understanding of "why science doesn't always drive health care." Christina Horsten, a correspondent for Deutsche Presse-Agentur -- a German news agency -- called the piece a "beautiful, gut-wrenching and deeply touching piece of writing that highlights a very important issue." Vukojevic and de Vrieze talked with colleagues about whether it would be appropriate for them to write about their son's stillbirth, and concluded that the perspective of the parents was an essential part of a thoroughly researched story. "This award recognizes that such a personal involvement can result not just in a touching, human story, but also in balanced, in-depth and urgent science journalism as well," the couple said. Silver Award: Christopher Schrader Freelancer, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich) "Narben am Grund" (Scars in the Ground) March 23, 2016 In 1989, German scientists plowed a patch of sea floor off Ecuador to study the possible effects of deep sea mining. They monitored the ten-square-kilometer plot for a few years and then moved on. In the summer of 2015, a new German research vessel returned to the site to explore what had happened in the 26 years since the first excavations in the fragile ecosystem. They found life on the sea floor has barely recovered. Not even bacteria have managed to fully recolonize the scars in the ocean floor, researchers found. Other species have never returned. Some lighter-colored sediments thrown up onto the seafloor during the plowing have not darkened as expected. A 1978 exploratory effort by a U.S.-based company also has raised concerns, Schrader wrote. Its extraction of metal lumps and just a four-centimeter layer of sediment reduced the biodiversity of the affected seafloor, including a significant decline in sea worms, according to a 2004 scientific survey. With many unanswered questions, scientists are in a race to better understand the impact of the scarring, Schrader noted, while deep-sea mining for manganese nodules and other minerals has again become an area of interest for resource-poor industrial states such as Germany, Japan and South Korea. Island nations such as Tonga and Naru see it as their route to prosperity. Robert Lee Hotz, a science writer for The Wall Street Journal, called Schrader's story "an excellent report on the aftermath of a forgotten sea floor experiment." Shute of NPR said: "Schrader's lively writing takes readers to the depths of the ocean to discover how a long-ago dredging experiment affects life on the seafloor, and how those ecosystems could be shattered by seafloor mining." In commenting on the award, Schrader noted that floor of the deep sea is "basically terra incognita" and proposed environmental protection measures "are more guestimates than the product of proper research." With companies "preparing to send machines the size of houses down there to collect and crush rocks," he said, "it is very important to have a state-funded research infrastructure available like the German research ships that are there for the long haul and that are funded outside of the logic of short-term projects." In his series for the Point Reyes Light, Peter Byrne took a close look at claims of a breast cancer epidemic among white women in upscale Marin County and found that widespread cancer screening, producing many false positives, is the likely cause of a feared "cancer cluster" in the county. He reported that many non-cancerous findings are erroneously entered in the state's cancer registry as cancerous. "There is not more breast cancer in Marin than elsewhere, experts say; rather, it is detected more frequently -- and often erroneously," Byrne wrote. "Over the decades, the persistent belief that wealthy white women are more at risk of breast cancer has skewed research priorities and undermined the effectiveness of public health activities around the nation." In Marin, the county health department excluded non-white women from most of its studies on breast cancer causation, Byrne found, and bypassed data disproving its conclusions. He quoted experts elsewhere who argue that Marin's high incidence rate is a statistical anomaly caused by sociological factors. The more screenings a woman gets, "the more likely she is to be called back for a second mammogram or to be falsely diagnosed with cancer," Byrne wrote. He recounted the case of one woman whose misdiagnosis led to an unnecessary mastectomy. When the woman sought her records at the California Cancer Registry, she found that the abstract was missing vital information and contained substantial mistakes. Byrne, who obtained a series of internal audits and progress reports on the registry, concluded that its chronic data-quality problems are worsening. "Peter Byrne's reporting is exhaustive, showing how a local reporter working on a subject of intense local interest can shed new light on global issues of cancer, misdiagnosis and medical misreporting," said Hotz of The Wall Street Journal. Silver Award: Barbara Peters Smith Sarasota Herald-Tribune "Graying of HIV: After 35 years of the AIDS virus, a generation makes new medical history" June 5, 2016 More than half of the 1.25 million Americans infected by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) are age 50 or older, Barbara Peters Smith reported in her award-winning piece. In just four years, that share should reach 70 percent. "As the longevity boom collides with a resurgence of HIV diagnoses nationwide, scientists are just now learning how this persistent, incurable virus -- along with the powerful drugs that keep it at bay -- takes a toll on the body that makes natural aging look like a gift," she wrote. People with HIV experience age-related changes in their DNA more than 14 years sooner than healthy individuals, one study found, and that boosts their risk for earlier onset of frailty, certain cancers, osteoporosis, liver and kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Through interviews with patients, doctors, researchers and a community activist, Smith explored how time is taking its toll on a generation of AIDS survivors. Angela Saini, a London-based freelance science writer, said Smith's story highlighted "an aspect of the HIV story that gets too often forgotten or ignored." Smith said her story, inspired by an AIDS researcher who described the accelerated aging process he sees in his patients, "found its heart in Jack Cox of Sarasota, a remarkable HIV-positive gentleman who died at 76 less than a month after the story was published." The gene editing technique called CRISPR is much in the news, but the judges praised Hall's piece for not only explaining the powerful new technique but also using a very specific example -- preventing the decay of store-bought mushrooms -- to show how the new science may be having its most profound and least publicized effect in agriculture. "By the fall of 2015, about 50 scientific papers had been published reporting uses of CRISPR in gene-edited plants, and there are preliminary signs that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of the agencies that assess genetically modified agricultural products, does not think all gene-edited crops require the same regulatory attention as 'traditional' genetically modified organisms or GMOs," Hall wrote. Because the gene-editing does not involve introducing foreign genes into the plants, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service decided last year that the crops do not need to be regulated as GMOs, Hall noted. With the regulatory door even slightly ajar, companies are rushing to get gene-edited crops into fields and, ultimately, onto store shelves, he said. One plant biologist has proposed that gene-editing methods can be used to "rewild" food plants by resurrecting traits that have been lost during generations of agricultural breeding. Although CRISPR is more precise than traditional plant breeding, it is not infallible, according to Hall. "Off-target" cuts in the genome have raised safety concerns, particularly for any efforts to edit human sperm and egg cells (a prospect widely decried as unethical). Researchers say that refinements to CRISPR are improving the specificity of the technique. "Of all the CRISPR stories I've read, this stood out as both informative and engaging," said Saini. "It is just excellent." Hall said he had been looking for an agriculture-related CRISPR story. "My ears pricked up when I was on the phone with Yinong Yang and he mentioned that he had done gene-editing on mushrooms to slow the process of browning," Hall said. "I do a lot of cooking (and cook a lot with mushrooms), so it made more of a palpable, cutting-board connection with me than other CRISPR-altered crops like rice or potatoes. I hadn't done a genetic engineering/agriculture story since a 1987 piece for Smithsonian on efforts to develop frost-resistant crops, so it seemed like a good time to circle back." In a trio of stories from China, Nepal and Tibet, Beijing-based freelancer Jane Qiu described how fossil finds in China are challenging ideas about the evolution of modern humans and our closest relatives; how rapid changes in Tibetan grasslands are threatening Asia's main water supply and the livelihood of nomads; and how scientists are wiring up mountainsides in Nepal to monitor and forecast heightened landslide hazards in the wake of last year's devastating Nepalese earthquake. The judges praised Qiu's initiative and in-the-field reporting skills. Her piece on seismic monitoring in Nepal notes that the instrumentation can do more than help pinpoint where the side of a mountain will collapse. Himalayan nations also face increasing risks from landslides because of deforestation, road construction, population growth and other changes that have led people to live in hazardous locations. In Tibet, Qiu talked to herders whose concerns are at odds with reports from Chinese state media about the health of Tibetan grasslands. In delving into the Chinese fossil record on human origins, Qiu told her readers that despite the different interpretations of that record, "everybody agrees that the evolutionary tale in Asia is much more interesting than people appreciated before." The results remain fuzzy, she finds, because so few researchers have excavated in Asia. "Qiu provides a much-needed perspective on science in Asia, including politically sensitive topics such as the effects of government policies on the environment and economy of Tibet," NPR's Shute said. "Two of the stories allowed me to undertake incredible journeys to the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, where the daily struggle and utter helplessness of many mountain communities inspired me to bring their predicament into the spotlight." Qiu said. "I'm very grateful for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the SciDev.Net Investigative Science Journalism Fellowship for the Global South which made the trips possible." She added: "It's a tremendous honor to be recognized for the work. The award is also a testament to the commitment by Nature to nurture emerging writers and promote excellent reporting in the developing world." Gold Award: Rebecca Morelle and Stuart Denman BBC Newsnight, BBC World "A primer on the Paris climate conference" Nov. 23, 2015 Setting the stage for what proved to be a landmark conference on climate change in Paris, Rebecca Morelle and Stuart Denman traveled to a high-altitude research laboratory in the Swiss Alps to talk with scientists who have been keeping an eye on rising levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the broadcast, Morelle reviewed the history of global negotiations to control human-generated atmospheric emissions, including the successful effort to reduce substances that damage Earth's protective ozone layer. In interviews with the UN official in charge of the climate conference and a leading environmental lawyer, Morelle and producer Denman described an evolving political climate that buoyed prospects for success at the climate talks, where representatives of 195 nations ultimately reached accord on the first universal, legally-binding agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The judges praised the pair's concise but effective introduction to a topic long in the news but of increasing urgency as scientists learn more about the likely consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. David Baron, former science and health editor for Public Radio International's "The World" broadcast, said they "took a dry yet important subject and made it lively and compelling through smart writing, fast editing, and fun graphics. The story was cleverly conceived and deftly executed." Morelle and Denman said they wanted to make a film that went back to basics. "From the science of climate change, to the complex history of UN meetings and the endless acronyms -- UNFCCC, INDC, ADP -- we wanted our film to guide our viewers through the summit, to explain what it was about and why it mattered," they said. "Above all though, we wanted it to be entertaining. There's no point making a primer if people aren't going to watch it." Silver Award: Nsikan Akpan and Matthew Ehrichs PBS NewsHour "What a smell looks like" June 21, 2016 Nsikan Akpan told viewers how odors swirl through the air like turbulent dyes flowing through water. The physics of movement in each medium is similar, scientists say, and understanding how odors propagate through the environment could be an important step in developing better artificial "noses" to detect hidden explosives or chemical weapons or other contraband of interest. Such studies also are laying the groundwork for a nationwide study on how humans and animals use smells to map their surroundings. "The NewsHour takes a cue from YouTube with this innovative snapshot of how smells flow around us," said Richard Husdon, long-time director of science production for Twin Cities Public Television. "Nsikan Akpan is engaging and accessible as he interacts with onscreen graphics." He called the segment a "good creative stretch by the NewsHour." Larry Engel, associate professor of communication at American University and a documentary film producer, said Akpan's report "gave a new look at an old subject that was produced in an innovative way. It was fresh and lively, bringing elements of the best new filming and editing techniques from the web to the TV screen." Akpan said he and producer Matthew Ehrichs are "drawn to stories about the journey of scientific discovery, rather than the end result." Added Ehrichs, "We wanted to make something different but still respect the science." Without diluting the importance of the research, he said, "We knew in this evolving industry that we had to push the envelope to make something full of energy yet quickly digestible." Gold Award: Bosse Lindquist, Johannes Hallbom, Johan Brånstad, Anna Nordbeck, Jakob Larsson, Johannes Wahlström and Emil Engerdahl Swedish Public Television (SVT) "The Experiments: The Star Surgeon" Jan. 13, 2016 "The Experiments: Every surgeon has his own graveyard" Jan. 20, 2016 "The Experiments: The Labyrinth of Truth" Jan. 27, 2016 Surgeon Paolo Maccharini gained international attention in 2011 when he announced he had performed the world's first synthetic organ transplant by replacing a patient's trachea, or windpipe, with a plastic tube. When doubts arose about the success of subsequent operations, Karolinska Institute officials disregarded the results of an investigation by an outside expert and reaffirmed their faith in Macchiarini. In a gripping three-part documentary, reporter Bosse Lindquist explained how the surgeon did not fully inform his patients about the risks of the trachea implants and had falsified research results in journal articles. The documentary included surgical camera footage for one of Macchiarini's patients that seemed to show more underlying airway damage than the surgeon had described in published scientific articles. Most of Macchiarini's trachea patients died, including a woman treated in Russia who was not seriously ill prior to treatment. In early September, the Swedish government dismissed all remaining Karolinska board members who were active during Macchiarini's tenure. Baron said that the Swedish documentary "is true investigative journalism of the highest order, and the producers told the complex story with the utmost skill and artistry. Ultimately, it is a cautionary tale that anyone who works in clinical research would be well advised to watch and to heed." In a statement, the SVT team said: "We are honored to receive the AAAS Kavli Gold Award. We are especially glad as the core issues of the Macchiarini affair are so important. Patients must not be unwittingly experimented on. Animal testing must come before trials on humans -- not vice versa. The integrity of science must be upheld and falsifications and untruths must be kept out of the scientific record." The three-part NOVA series on "Making North America" describes how powerful geological forces formed a continent, how life evolved on that continent, how humans first set foot on North America, and what surprises the continent's changing landscape may have in store for us. The lushly photographed series, with stunning computer graphics that recreate a world of tectonic upheaval, provides a look deep into our planet's history. Paleontologist Kirk Johnson, an enthusiastic and fearless guide, takes viewers on an extended field trip to some of the most stunning locales on the continent, including the Grand Canyon where exposed rock layers allow scientists to peer hundreds of millions of years into the past to track the ebb and flow of desert sands and shallow seas. Whether rappelling off the edge of the Grand Canyon, flying over erupting Kilauea in Hawaii, descending deep into a Canadian mine, or taking the controls of heavy equipment at a Manhattan construction site, Johnson takes his viewers along on a grand tour and an intellectual adventure. Eliene Augenbraun, multimedia managing editor for Nature Research Group, asks: "Did you ever wonder how a geologist sees a landscape -- I mean really sees it? This film gives you deep insight into how to interpret and really see the layers of history buried or exposed over geological time." Added Engel of American University: "It's really hard to make rocks interesting, but this three-part adventure across North America and immersion in its geologic history made for a compelling story. I won't look at mountains or New York City in the same way again." Geology is a window into previous versions of Planet Earth, Johnson said. "Whenever I look at rocky outcrops, I see these lost Worlds. 'Making North America' allowed me to share my excitement about our continent with millions of people." Through the series, along with NOVA's digital and educational resources, "We hope to have tapped into our viewers' sense of wonder about our land, uncovering clues about our past -- and possibly our future -- that lie just beneath our feet," said Senior Executive Producer Paula S. Apsell of NOVA. Gold Award: Ari Daniel and Peter Thomson Public Radio International's "The World" "In Greenland, a climate change mystery with clues written in water and stone" Jan. 18, 2016 "Looking small for big answers in Greenland" Jan. 19, 2016 "Turning ice into fire: How climate change could mean more volcanic eruptions in Iceland" Nov. 27, 2015 From a desolate volcanic landscape in the highlands of Iceland to the edge of the world's second largest ice sheet in Greenland, reporter Ari Daniel and environment editor Peter Thomson of PRI's "The World" took listeners to the frontiers of field research on current and potential effects of climate change. "Ari Daniel brought listeners along on an exciting and fascinating ride to explore melting glaciers in Greenland and Iceland," said Rich Monastersky, features editor in the Washington office of the journal Nature. "The vivid pieces put us right there with the scientists as they investigated the impacts of climate change." Daniel described efforts, using a new high-definition laser, to better monitor changes in the thickness of the Helheim glacier in Greenland and track how individual parts of the glacier are changing speed. He joined oceanographers on a research vessel in Sermilik fjord, where huge icebergs that have broken away from the glacier are displacing ocean water and causing sea levels to rise. Using temperature probes, scientists have learned that water at the bottom of the fjord -- 2000 feet down -- is 39 degrees Fahrenheit, warm enough to melt glacial ice. They've been probing the waters for concentrations of noble gases that can distinguish between melted snow and ice from the top of the glacier and melted ice from the bottom of the glacier, deep underwater. Knowing the subtle signatures of different types of water can help scientists determine how the ocean, the glacier and the air are interacting in a warming environment. In Iceland, Daniel told listeners, retreating glaciers could eventually trigger impacts that are far from subtle -- more active volcanoes. Land depressed by the huge weight of now retreating ice sheets is rising about an inch a year in the Icelandic Highlands, generating additional molten magma in a nearby volcanic hotspot. "I was fortunate to witness the melting edges of our changing planet through the discerning and admiring eyes of those who devote their lives to these frosty landscapes," Ari Daniel said. "Peter and I are honored to have received the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism award for the stories about these brave scientists working in such remarkable locations." Daniel's reporting trip was funded with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Silver Award: Shankar Vedantam, Kara McGuirk-Allison, Maggie Penman and Max Nesterak NPR "Hidden Brain" podcast -- "When Great Minds Think Unlike: Inside Science's 'Replication Crisis' " May 24, 2016 NPR's Shankar Vedantam and his producers explored why findings in scientific studies may fail to hold up when other researchers try to reproduce them. The issue was spotlighted in 2015 when University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek and a consortium of colleagues reported they had been able to reproduce the original results in fewer than half of 100 published psychology studies. Vedantam looked more closely at efforts to replicate one study on the effects of gender and ethnic stereotyping on performance by Asian women in math tests. In the study, volunteers who were reminded they were women did worse on the tests. Others, selected at random, who were reminded instead about their Asian heritage, did better. There were two efforts to replicate the study, which was conducted in the Boston area by a female researcher. One follow-up in Georgia -- also conducted by a woman -- was successful. Another in California, conducted by both male and female facilitators, was not. Variables such as the geographic location of the studies, the sex of the experimenters, the strength of the stereotypes in the populations under study, can affect the outcome of such studies. "Any individual study is just that, an individual study," Vedantam told his listeners. "It isn't the truth." While there certainly are studies that are poorly designed, shoddily carried out and even occasionally fraudulent, Vedantam said most are well-considered efforts by researchers to slowly accumulate evidence about the workings of the world and the people in it. Scientists and journal editors are looking for ways to publish more reproductions of earlier work, including results that are mixed or confusing. The results may be more nuanced than popular notions of how science proceeds, says Vedantam, who cautioned his listeners: "If you want answers that never change, definitive conclusions and final truths, odds are you don't want to ask a scientist." Naomi Starobin, a veteran radio producer, said Vedantam "brings sophistication to the coverage and yet keeps things at an approachable level. His writing and voicing displays his enthusiasm and confidence about his subject matter." In a statement, Vedantam and his colleagues said: "Many people turn to science for answers. But as our podcast says, science is more in the question business than the answer business." Gold Award: Charles Piller and Natalia Bronshtein STAT "Law Ignored, Patients at Risk: Failure to Report -- A STAT Investigation" Dec. 13, 2015 "Failure to report: About the investigation" Dec. 13, 2015 "STAT investigation sparked improved reporting of study results, NIH says" Feb. 16, 2016 Charles Piller reported that researchers at leading medical institutions had routinely disregarded a law requiring public reporting of study results to the federal government's ClinicalTrials.gov database, thereby depriving patients and doctors of information that would help them better compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for diseases such as advanced breast cancer. Piller found that four of the top 10 recipients of federal medical research funding from the National Institutes of Health were the worst offenders: Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, San Diego. While the federal government has the power to withhold grant funds or impose fines of up to $10,000 a day per trial for failure to report results to the database, Piller found it had not levied a single penalty. The NIH reported in February that researchers had significantly increased their public reporting of trial results during the two months after Piller's story, with data visualizations by Natalia Bronshtein, was posted. An NIH official attributed part of the improvement to Piller's investigation and also cited the agency's own outreach and training efforts. Judge Guy Gugliotta, a freelancer and former science writer for The Washington Post, called Piller's entry "superbly reported, hard-hitting journalism in the best tradition of public service." Piller said the award for the STAT investigation is gratifying and lends "support for the idea that greater transparency is essential for evidence-based medicine and patient safety." Silver Award: Christie Aschwanden FiveThirtyEight "Science Isn't Broken. It's just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for." Aug. 19, 2015 "You Can't Trust What You Read About Nutrition. We found a link between cabbage and innie bellybuttons, but that doesn't mean it's real." Jan. 6, 2016 "Failure Is Moving Science Forward. The replication crisis is a sign that science is working. March 24, 2016 For the first piece of her award-winning entry, Christie Aschwanden, a reporter for FiveThirtyEight, spent months exploring the seeming rash of reported incidents of misconduct and fraud in scientific research and concluded that the headline-grabbing cases are "mere distractions." She added: "If we're going to rely on science as a means for reaching the truth -- and it's still the best tool we have -- it's important that we understand and respect just how difficult it is to get a rigorous result." She proceeded to highlight that difficulty with a revealing dive into the world of "p-hacking,' a method for statistically narrowing or expanding a data set to make competing hypotheses appear correct. The results of studies can be heavily reliant on the analytical choices that researchers make, she writes, and those choices they usually make in good faith. Her second piece delved into the world of memory-based food diaries, questionnaires on self-reported dietary intakes that can be manipulated by p-hacking to produce "statistically relevant" results that are not real. Aschwanden's third piece explored the so-called "replication crisis" in science, concluding that the resulting emphasis on more transparency and data sharing is a healthy sign that science is working and that no single study can provide definitive evidence. Kate Lunau, the Toronto-based Canada editor for Motherboard, said Aschwanden's pieces offered a "well-written, clear, concise, and an important view into the scientific process for readers." She applauded their "good interactive graphics" that "make full use of the digital medium." Aschwanden said her reporting "sent me down so many rabbit holes that sometimes I wondered if I'd ever crawl out. But obsessions are like that, and I'm so pleased to have finally turned what has become a years-long obsession into something cohesive that might start conversations about important issues in science. When I say that I'm FiveThirtyEight's Chief P-value correspondent, I'm only partially joking." Gold Award Anna Rothschild Gross Science from NOVA (videos) "What Really Causes Cavities?" Jan. 25, 2016 "See Microbes with this DIY Microscope" Jan. 4, 2016 "Three Surprising Questions About Periods" Feb. 10, 2016 Anna Rothschild engaged her early adolescent viewers with a series of brightly written pieces about the microbial culprits behind cavities, a clever homemade microscope that can be used to view the denizens of pond scum, and a frank and informative discussion of menstrual periods. "Funny, compelling, intriguingly gross and hugely informative -- the videos written, edited, animated and narrated by the multi-talented Anna Rothschild do a marvelous job of conveying science in a form that is kid-friendly and likely to stick in young brains," said Claudia Wallis, managing editor of Scientific American Mind. "The three submissions were wildly different but consistently strong." Rothschild's exploration of the biology of menstruation, which she called "not so gross" science, was timed to St. Valentine's Day. "I'm so romantic," she interjected. The piece emphasized that periods are "a totally normal part of life that are experienced by about half the population." Her do-it-yourself microscope used the lens from a laser pointer and a cell phone's camera to make a simple device that can readily reveal a variety of organisms swimming around in a few drops of water. And for a program named "Gross Science," what better targets of opportunity for viewing than a bit of ear wax and some dust from under the bed? The segment on cavities noted that the microbes in the biofilm on your teeth, called plaque, really love sugar. "So, when you suck on a lollipop, you're not the only one getting a tasty treat," Rothschild told her viewers. "I first fell in love with science while doing 'gross' experiments in my middle school biology class," Rothschild said. "By exploring the slimy, smelly underbelly of nature, medicine, and technology in my videos, I hope to help future generations of students develop a passion for science, too." From its opening paragraphs about a zoologist's unwise affection for a pet eel named "Sparky," to its description of an eel's use of electrical pulses to trick its prey into revealing their location, Roberta Kwok's story on electric eels offered a fascinating glimpse into the behavior of these underwater predators capable of demolishing an entire school of fish. Philip Stoddard, the Florida International University zoologist who attempted to pet Sparky, was immediately zapped with about 500 volts of electricity, roughly four times the jolt he would have received from a typical electrical outlet in a North American house. As he told Kwok, it was Sparky's way of saying, "Don't even think about it, Phil!" Ken Catania, a Vanderbilt University biologist, told Kwok how electric eels use bursts of electricity to freeze their prey in place and also use the current like radar to figure out an animal's position. Catania has found that an eel's short burst of electricity can cause a goldfish's muscles to twitch, creating ripples in the water that the eel can feel and use to find a hiding fish. Each time Catania watched the eels closely, new questions emerged. While he remains curious about what it would be like to get a shock from a big electric eel, he has not followed Stoddard's lead. As Kwok put it, "That's one question he'll leave unanswered." Kwok's account "is not only a ripping good yarn, it is also a wonderful description of the process of science," said freelance writer John Carey. "Her story makes science seem both fun and compelling -- and something that children could aspire to do themselves." Kwok said she was intrigued by research that "started as a spontaneous side project driven by one scientist's curiosity, which he then had to devise rather odd and increasingly complicated experiments to satisfy. His story gave me a great opportunity to illustrate the scientific process to kids." American Association for the Advancement of Science The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances, Science Immunology, and - coming soon - Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For more information, go to: http://www. . The Kavli Foundation, based in Southern California, advances science for the benefit of humanity, promotes public understanding of scientific research, and supports scientists and their work. The Foundation's mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics, and through the support of conferences, symposia, endowed professorships, workshops and other activities. The Foundation is also a founding partner of the biennial Kavli Prizes, which recognize scientists for their seminal advances in three research areas: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. For more information on the Foundation, including programs advancing science journalism, visit http://www. .


News Article | September 28, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Got a spouse? Their happiness may be tied to your level of health, with happy spouses associated with better health. In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers from the American Psychological Association assessed 1,981 heterosexual couples and found that those with happy spouses were likelier to report better health down the line. The researchers observed this, at least, in middle-aged and older couples. According to William Chopik, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator, the results of their research broadens assumptions about the connection between health and happiness significantly, hinting at a unique social link. "Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself," he said. Earlier studies have suggested that being healthy generally makes people happy but the researchers took this knowledge further by examining the health effects that interpersonal relationships have. Based on their findings, Chopik and colleagues identified possible reasons that could explain why having a happy spouse led to better health, regardless of an individual's own level of happiness. One of the reasons the researchers came up with was that happy spouses are likelier to offer stronger social support, addressing emotional needs that could have physical implications on their partner. Another is that happy spouses are likelier to promote activities that support good health, such as eating properly, exercising regularly and getting sufficient rest. Chopik added that just knowing they have a happy partner could lessen an individual's propensity for engaging in self-destructive behavior like taking drugs or drinking excessively. For the study, the researchers carried out surveys across a six-year period, assessing self-rated information on health, physical activity and happiness from couples between the ages of 50 and 94. Results made no difference whether it was husbands or wives being surveyed. In June, researchers from the University of California San Diego showed that those married had higher chances of beating cancer. Using data from the California Cancer Registry gathered between 2000 and 2009, they assessed 60,000 people diagnosed with different forms of blood cancer. Based on their findings, which were presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, the researchers found that those who tied the knot are 20 percent likelier to survive their cancer compared to subjects who were single. However, they observed that singlehood is often detrimental only to men, as women still generally enjoy support despite not being married. The main reason for being married upping chances of cancer survival is similar to how happy spouses can influence their partners' health: by offering support. Married cancer patients are likelier to take their medications regularly or attend chemotherapy sessions as needed because they have someone who can make them stick to their treatment. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | December 9, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Patient health records revealed two drug combinations that may reduce mortality rates in breast cancer patients, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The drugs involved were commonly used drugs that turned out to be associated with a longer average survival rate in breast cancer patients. The study will be published online Dec. 9 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The lead author is Stanford postdoctoral scholar Yen Low, PhD. The senior author is Nigam Shah, MBBS, PhD, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science. Often, when different drugs are taken together, they can have unexpected side effects. For example, some antibiotics and antifungal drugs can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. It occurred to Shah and his team that the opposite could also be true -- that some drug interactions might help patients. "What if we looked for combinations of drugs that have an accidental beneficial effect?" Shah said. The researchers decided to comb through a breast cancer database built at Stanford called Oncoshare, which takes de-identified patient information -- including tumor and treatment information for each patient -- from Stanford Health Care and from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and links it to patient outcomes in the California Cancer Registry. The team searched for drugs that patients just happened to be taking and that were statistically associated with better outcomes. "By integrating different kinds of data, we can ask questions we couldn't ask before. Usually, you don't find both survivorship data and all the different kinds of drugs and other treatments patients get all in the same place," said Allison Kurian, MD, associate professor of medicine and of health research and policy. "We looked at all the noncancer drugs that breast cancer patients were on," said Shah. "People have other things going on in life. They might have hypertension, they might have high cholesterol or diabetes. They would be taking drugs for those as well. So the question we were asking was, do any of the drugs they are taking associate with better outcomes for breast cancer?" The team looked at data from nearly 10,000 adult women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2013, of whom about 12 percent died within five years of the diagnosis. The team examined 294 drugs in more than 43,000 pairwise combinations. Specifically, they looked for combinations of drugs in which the beneficial effect on survival was greater than the effect of either drug by itself. "So we ran the analysis, and we found a few drug combinations that seemed to associate with better survival," said Shah. Specifically, there were three pairs of drug types: anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or naproxen, and blood-lipid modifiers, such as statins; lipid modifiers and drugs such as fluticasone used to treat asthmalike conditions; and anti-inflammatories and hormone antagonists -- typically, drugs that suppress the synthesis of estrogen. "But how do we know it's true, and not just an association?" said Shah. The researchers needed to look for confirmation in a data set they had not yet examined. To do so, they turned to Shah's former student Andrew Radin, a co-author of the paper and co-founder of a company called twoXAR that searches for drug interactions using gene-expression data. Radin's company looks for common molecular pathways that might account for drug pairs with apparent synergistic effects, searching for drug-protein interactions in the company's database. Said Shah, "So I asked Andrew, 'If I give you two drugs and a disease, can you tell me if there is any molecular-level evidence that would lead you to believe that, yes, these drugs might have a beneficial effect in treating this disease?' So we gave them our list of three drug pairs, and they looked at the protein targets for all the drugs." Two of the three drug pairs showed a likely molecular mechanism that a reasonable person might think had to do with survival in breast cancer, the study said. These were anti-inflammatories and lipid modifiers, and anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer hormone antagonists. "This study is a nice example of an analysis spanning multiple data modalities. It's the kind of thing that can only happen at Stanford," said Shah, pointing out how his lab worked with Oncoshare, twoXAR, oncologists and statisticians to bring the study off. The work is an example of Stanford Medicine's focus on precision health, the goal of which is to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy and precisely diagnose and treat disease in the ill. "It's a proof of principle that this kind of data mining has strong practical clinical applications," said Kurian. With electronic health records, she said, the challenge has been getting the data organized in a way that allows fruitful explorations like this one. The key, said Shah, is to ask why these drugs and their protein targets have something to do with breast cancer and to leverage that information for better treatment. "This is a holistic look at the data -- EHR, gene expression, protein targets of drugs -- all in one analysis," he said. Other Stanford co-authors are former research assistant William Chen; senior clinical data engineer Tina Seto; Susan Weber, PhD, director of informatics systems and software development for the Stanford Center for Clinical Informatics; former graduate student Michael Lim, PhD; Trevor Hastie, PhD, professor of statistics and of biomedical data science; biostatistician Maya Mathur; Manisha Desai, PhD, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science; research scientist Scarlett Gomez, PhD, MPH; and George Sledge, MD, professor of medicine. Researchers at twoXAR Inc., the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California were also co-authors of the study. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01LM011369, GM101430RO1, EB00198815 and UL1RR025744), the National Science Foundation, the Susan and Richard Levy Give Fund, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Regents of the University of California's Breast Cancer Research Program and the Stanford University Developmental Research Fund. Stanford's Department of Medicine also supported the work. The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation's top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit http://med. . The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For information about all three, please visit http://med. .


Liu L.,University of Southern California | Noone A.-M.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Gomez S.L.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | Gomez S.L.,Stanford University | And 10 more authors.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Year: 2013

BackgroundLack of annual population estimates for disaggregated Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) populations limits the ability to examine cancer incidence rates and trends to understand the cancer burdens among NHOPIs.MethodsUtilizing 1990 and 2000 population census data, we estimated the annual populations by age and sex for Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Guamanians/Chamorros for 1990-2008 in regions covered by 13 of the National Cancer Institute's SEER registries. Cancer diagnoses during 1990-2008 from these registries were used to calculate the age-adjusted (2000 US Standard) incidence rates by sex, calendar year/period, and cancer type for each population. The annual percentage change (APC) in incidence rates was estimated with the 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) calculated for both the rate and APC estimates.ResultsStatistically significant declining trends were found in Native Hawaiians, in men for lung and stomach cancers (APC =-2.3%; 95% CI =-3.3 to-1.3; and APC =-3.8%; 95% CI =-6.0 to-1.6, respectively), and in women for breast cancer (APC =-4.1%; 95% CI =-5.7 to-2.5) since 1998 and lung cancer (APC =-6.4%; 95% CI =-10.7 to-1.8) since 2001. Rising incidence trends were experienced by Samoans, especially by Samoan women for breast (APC = 2.7%; 95% CI = 0.9 to 4.5) and uterus (APC = 7.3%; 95% CI = 6.2 to 8.4) cancers. With limited data, Guamanians/Chamorros demonstrated lower, but increasing, incidence rates than other NHOPIs.ConclusionsPopulation-based cancer incidence rates for disaggregated NHOPI populations help identify disparities in cancer burden and provide valuable information to improve cancer control efforts among NHOPIs. © 2013 The Author.


Gomez S.L.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | Gomez S.L.,Stanford University | Noone A.-M.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Lichtensztajn D.Y.,Cancer Prevention Institute of California | And 11 more authors.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Year: 2013

BackgroundNational cancer incidence trends are presented for eight Asian American groups: Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Kampucheans, Koreans, Laotians, and Vietnamese.MethodsCancer incidence data from 1990 through 2008 were obtained from 13 Surveillance, Epidemiology, End Results (SEER) registries. Incidence rates from 1990 through 2008 and average percentage change were computed using SEER*Stat and Joinpoint software. The annual percentage change (APC) in incidence rates was estimated with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) calculated for both the rate and APC estimates. Rates for non-Hispanic whites are presented for comparison.ResultsProstate cancer was the most common malignancy among most groups, followed by lung, colorectal, liver, and stomach cancers. Breast cancer was generally the most common cancer in women, followed by colorectal and lung cancers; liver, cervix, thyroid, and stomach cancers also ranked highly. Among men, increasing trends were observed for prostate (Asian Indians and Pakistanis: APC 1990-2003 = 2.2, 95% CI = 0.3 to 4.1; Filipinos: APC 1990-1994 = 19.0, 95% CI = 4.5 to 35.4; Koreans: APC 1990-2008 = 2.9, 95% CI = 1.8 to 4.0), colorectal (Koreans: APC 1990-2008 = 2.2, 95% CI = 0.9 to 3.5), and liver cancers (Filipinos: APC 1990-2008 = 1.6, 95% CI = 0.4 to 2.7; Koreans: APC 1990-2006 = 2.1, 95% CI = 0.4 to 3.7; Vietnamese: APC 1990-2008 = 1.6, 95% CI = 0.3 to 2.8), whereas lung and stomach cancers generally remained stable or decreased. Among women, increases were observed for uterine cancer (Asian Indians: APC 1990-2008 = 3.0, 95% CI = 0.3 to 5.8; Chinese: APC 2004-2008 = 7.0, 95% CI = 1.4 to 12.9; Filipina: APC 1990-2008 = 3.0, 95% CI = 2.4 to 3.7; Japanese: APC 1990-2008 = 1.1, 95% CI = 0.1 to 2.0), colorectal cancer (Koreans: APC 1990-2008 = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.7 to 3.9; Laotians: APC: 1990-2008 = 5.9, 95% CI = 4.0 to 7.7), lung cancer (Filipinas: APC 1990-2008 = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.4 to 2.8; Koreans: APC 1990-2008 = 2.1, 95% CI = 0.6 to 3.6), thyroid cancer (Filipinas: APC 1990-2008 = 2.5, 95% CI = 1.7 to 3.3), and breast cancer in most groups (APC 1990-2008 from 1.2 among Vietnamese and Chinese to 4.7 among Koreans). Decreases were observed for stomach (Chinese and Japanese), colorectal (Chinese), and cervical cancers (Laotians and Vietnamese).ConclusionsThese data fill a critical knowledge gap concerning the cancer experience of Asian American groups and highlight where increased preventive, screening, and surveillance efforts are needed-in particular, lung cancer among Filipina and Korean women and Asian Indian/Pakistani men, breast cancer among all women, and liver cancer among Vietnamese, Laotian, and Kampuchean women and Filipino, Kampuchean, and Vietnamese men. © 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

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