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Other highlights in the Aug. 7 JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Vitamins and Minerals Showed Little Benefit on Liver Cancer Death Rates

Taking vitamins and minerals did not reduce liver cancer death rates in a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

Liver cancer is a common cancer with a high death rate. New prevention strategies are needed to reduce the number of deaths from the disease.

Chen-Xu Qu, M.D., and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial that examined whether four vitamin-mineral supplement combinations could effect the liver cancer death rate in a Chinese population that was deficient in many vitamins and minerals. Study participants took two or four of the following combinations: retinol and zinc; riboflavin and niacin; ascorbic acid and molybdenum; beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and selenium; or placebo pills.

After 5.25 years, none of the vitamin-mineral combinations caused a statistically significant reduction in liver cancer deaths overall. "However, some combinations reduced risk in subgroups defined by age, sex, and alcohol consumption. These subgroup analyses need to be interpreted with caution," the authors write.

Contact: National Cancer Institute press office,, (301) 496-6641

Prior Testicular Cancer Diagnosis Has Little Impact on Second Cancer Survival

Testicular cancer survivors diagnosed with a second cancer had mortality rates similar to men diagnosed with a first cancer, except among some diagnosed with testicular cancer between 1973 and 1979.

Most testicular cancer patients are cured, but survivors are at a higher risk for second cancers later in life. There is little data on mortality rates of testicular cancer survivors with a second cancer.

Catherine Schairer, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues compared the number of deaths from a second cancer in testicular cancer survivors with deaths from a first cancer in patients matched by cancer type, stage, age, and year of diagnosis. Separate comparisons were made for men who were diagnosed with testicular cancer between 1973 and 1979 when higher-dose radiation therapy, which may have involved radiation to the chest, was common.

The death rates were similar for testicular cancer survivors with second cancers and the comparison group. But men treated between 1973 and 1979 who later developed cancer in the lung and several sites below the diaphragm (areas exposed during radiation treatment for testicular cancer) had poorer survival than patients whose first cancers were in the same area.

"Treatment regimens for testicular cancer used since 1980 have not adversely affected survival from subsequently diagnosed cancers," the authors write.

Contact: National Cancer Institute press office,, (301) 496-6641

Gene Expression Patterns May Predict Lung Cancer Prognosis

A pattern of gene expression might be able to identify which stage I lung cancer patients have the poorest prognosis.

A gene expression pattern that was recently identified in noncancerous liver cells of liver cancer patients was a good predictor of whether the cancer would spread. Curtis Harris, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues conducted a study to see if a similar gene expression pattern in noncancerous lung cells could predict the prognosis of lung cancer patients.

They found 11 genes in noncancerous lung tissue that classified stage I lung cancer patients according to their risk of death.

"Our data suggest that a unique ... gene expression signature of noncancerous lung tissue and corresponding tumor tissue in lung [cancer] predicts metastasis and disease progression. These findings suggest that the lung tumor and its surrounding lung environment interact," the authors write.

Contact: National Cancer Institute press office,, (301) 496-6641

Loss of Imprinting in Wilms Tumor Is Specific to IGF2 Gene

Epigenetic changes in Wilms tumor, a rare type of childhood kidney cancer, do not appear to be widespread.

The most common epigenetic change in Wilms tumor is the loss of imprinting of the IGF2 gene. In this case, loss of imprinting means the copy of IGF2 that you get from your mother (which is usually turned off) is activated. This unusual activation occurs in about half of all Wilms tumors.

Andrew Feinberg, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and colleagues studied 59 Wilms tumor samples to determine whether this loss of imprinting is specific to the IGF2 gene or whether it is part of a more general disruption of the epigenome.

"These results may have important therapeutic implications. Because of their potential reversibility, epigenetic modifications are under investigation as potential targets for the treatment of various common cancers," the authors write.

Contact: Nick Zagorski,, (443) 287-2251

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