Tag: cancer

Bioethics News

Debate Reignites Over the Contributions of ‘Bad Luck’ Mutations to Cancer

March 24, 2017

(Science) – How much of cancer is due to random “bad luck”? More than 2 years ago, a pair of researchers brought that question to prominence when they tried to sort out environmental versus inherited causes of cancer. They examined the extent to which stem cell divisions in healthy cells—and the random mutations, or “bad luck” that accumulate—drive cancer in different tissues. Their effort, which implied that cancer was harder to prevent than hoped and that early detection was underappreciated, sparked controversy and confusion. Now, the researchers are back with a sequel: a new paper that aims to parse “bad luck” risks by cancer type, and that brings in cancer data from other countries.

Source: Bioethics.com.

This article was originally published on Bioethics.com under a Creative Commons License.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The First Cut is the Deepest

March 23, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The First Cut is the Deepest

Last week, President Trump publicly unveiled his 2018 budget proposal. If left unchanged, that financial blueprint would increase US federal defense spending by more than $50 billion, while also appropriating billions more to bolster immigration enforcement and build a 2,000 mile-long wall along the US border with Mexico. A self-proclaimed deficit hawk, the President would offset those increased expenditures will sharp cuts to the US Departments of State, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In sharp contrast to campaign trail promises to boost the economy, create jobs, and protect Americans at home and abroad, however, Trump’s 2018 budget is likely to do the exact opposite. Consider, for example, the proposal to cut nearly $6 billion from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Made up of 27 different institutions and centers, the NIH is the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world. Through the NIH or other funding agencies, the federal government supports almost half of all the biomedical research in the US. Private businesses support another quarter, and the remainder of biomedical research support comes from state governments and nonprofit organizations.

With an annual operating budget of $30 billion, the NIH provides training and support to thousands of scientists at its main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Moreover, through a system of extramural grants and cooperative agreements, the NIH provides financial support for research-related programs to over 2,600 institutions around the country, creating more than 300,000 full- and part-time jobs.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

9 Deaths Are Linked to Rare Cancer From Breast Implants

A rare cancer first linked to breast implants in 2011 has now been associated with nine deaths, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Popular Prostate Cancer Therapy Is Short, Intense and Unproved

After learning he had early stage prostate cancer, Paul Kolnik knew he wanted that cancer destroyed immediately and with as little disruption as possible to his busy life as the New York City Ballet’s photographer. So Mr. Kolnik, 65, chose a type of radiation treatment that is raising some eyebrows in the prostate cancer field. It is more intense than standard radiation and takes much less time

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A Public Cervix Announcement

January 27, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

A Public Cervix Announcement

On Monday, just days after millions of women (and their allies) marched in political demonstrations, researchers reported a disturbing new finding that could affect the health and wellbeing of these protestors. In a study published in this month’s issue of the journal Cancer, scientists found that a woman’s risk of dying from cervical cancer was much higher than originally suspected.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. It also has the fourth highest mortality rate. Approximately 13,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed annually among American women. The number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer has decreased significantly over the past 40 years, largely due to widespread use of the Pap test (or smear) to screen for the presence of precancerous lesions on the cervix, but over 4,000 women still succumb to the disease every year.

Previously, health experts had used those numbers to estimate that cervical cancer killed approximately 5.7 of 100,000 black women and 3.2 of 100,000 white women in the US. That racial disparity in death rates is pretty stark, particularly when you consider rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality among other racial and ethnic groups. For example, Latinas have even higher incidence rates than black women — Hispanic women in the US are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer — but in recent years the death rate in this group has fallen to the point where it is similar to that of white women.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The Breast Intentions Are Fraught With Disappointment

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among American women, second only to lung cancer. Nearly 250,000 new cases are detected each year in the United States, and over 40,000 women die annually from the disease. Breast cancer is a public health crisis, and one that deserves a strong, concerted and well-reasoned response. The problem, however, is that current public health messages about breast cancer screening and treatment are disjointed at best and dangerous at worst.

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Source: The Bioethics Program Blog, by Union Graduate College & The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Is Social Media Making Us Lonelier?

Initially, most of us thought that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media applications would help to bring people together. And, yes, in many instances that has been true. Such apps have made it possible—even simple—to catch up with former classmates living thousands of miles away, share a video of your baby’s first steps with relatives near and far, or strike up new acquaintances while discussing the stock market or last night’s ballgame. Yet, a new NIH-funded study suggests that social media may also have the power to make people feel left out and alone.

Based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,700 young adults, researchers found that individuals who were the heaviest users of social media were two to three times more likely to feel socially isolated than those who used little to no social media [1]. And that’s a concern to those of us in the medical field: previous research has linked social isolation to worsening physical and mental health, and even an increased risk of death [2,3]. In fact, some experts have gone so far as to label loneliness a major public health concern.

The new study, reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, was led by Brian Primack and his colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh. They set out to look specifically at social media use and its possible association with feelings of social isolation in young adults.

To do so, they randomly surveyed 1,787 male and female young adults about their use of 11 popular social media applications.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

ORGAN DONATION AFTER MEDICAL AID IN DYING

Jennifer A. Chandler describes some of the ethical and legal challenges surrounding organ donation following medical assistance in dying.

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Today, it is medically possible to donate organs following death brought about by medical assistance in dying. This currently happens in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. People with neurodegenerative conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or multiple sclerosis (MS) are eligible to donate organs. Those with cancer, however, are not eligible because of risks to recipients.

In Canada, people with neurodegenerative conditions who satisfy the legal eligibility criteria for assisted dying may also meet the medical eligibility criteria for organ donation. However, this possibility raises novel ethical, legal, and policy issues that must be carefully considered. The following four hypothetical cases illustrate some of these issues.

CASE 1 – A patient seeks assisted dying and wants to donate to a family member.

Some provinces allow people to direct their organ donations to relatives after they die. Some patients who choose assisted dying may derive some comfort from being able to help a family member in this way. There is the risk, however, that patients may feel pressured to seek assisted dying, in part, to benefit a sick relative.

CASE 2 – A family member is asked to consent to cornea donation for a loved one who passed away through assisted dying. The patient was not asked about this before his death because he was not registered as an organ donor, and nobody wanted to burden him with the decision. 

It seems inappropriate not to ask patients about organ donation prior to death, when they are capable of speaking for themselves.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Assisted Suicide Heads to Colorado

By: Tyler Cosmer

While the outcome of our recent election cycle have represented a country with polarized viewpoints of America’s future policies, one ballot initiative has emerged as a force of consensus. Voters in Colorado overwhelmingly passed Proposition 106 with a clear 64.6% in favor to 35.4% not in favor.[1]  Proposition 106, more commonly known as the “End of Life Options Act,” now gives eligibility for self-administered aid-in-dying medication to terminally ill Coloradans, provided they only have six months or less to live and that they are mentally competent.[2]  Colorado is now the sixth in the United States to sanction physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill citizens, joining Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, and Vermont.[3]  This vote is pivotal for Colorado, marking the latest opportunity for public reflection and debate centered upon how we think about the end of life.

Medical error is the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.[11] Opponents to Proposition 106 cite the possible scenario in which an individual is given access to end of life medication, and prematurely ends their life when they might have been able to overcome their prognosis.  Yet, as access to physician-assisted suicide continues to grow, richer data sets regarding impacts of the practice have become available. A 2007 inquiry on how physician-assisted suicide impacts vulnerable populations found no evidence of heightened risks in end of life decision-making in Oregon and in the Netherlands.[12]  

Proposition 106 borrows heavily upon Oregon’s pioneering Death with Dignity Act of 1997.[4]  Similar to Oregon’s Act, Colorado’s version indicates that the request to receive life-ending medication must be the sole initiative of the patient.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.