Sat, Sep 17, 2005 - Page 2 News List

New advances in cancer treatment

BY JENNY CHOU  /  STAFF REPORTER

The combined efforts of the National Taiwan University Angiogenesis Research center and the medical and technological research teams of National Taiwan university, have led to two ground-breaking technological developments in relation to cancer and coronary heart disease.

At a press conference held yesterday publicizing the achievement, the team introduced software called the "Tumor Vascular Index Quantification" which is able to give information about blood vessel density.

Diagnostic tool

The software is also a diagnostic tool which can give important details about patients' recovery process and the effectiveness of treatments, according to the medical team.

Chen Chiung-nien (陳炯年) a surgeon at Taiwan National University Hospital, said that one main cause for the growth and spread of cancer cells, in particular those of stomach, colon, womb, breast and liver cancers, has to do with the development of blood vessels surrounding the tumors.

As such, the blood vessel density gives important information regarding the nature of the tumor, such as whether it is benign or malignant, or the extent to which it has spread.

The efforts of the medical teams have also given rise to a software called the "Arterial Stiffness Software" which can directly measure the stiffness of arteries, a factor known to play an important role in blood vascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and strokes.

Although apparatus of a similar nature has been developed in other countries, they suffer from certain limitations.

Blood vessel stiffness

For example, said Pao Shuen-hua (包舜華), a post-doctoral researcher at the National Taiwan University Institute of Applied Mechanics, a device invented by the Japanese which claims to measure blood vessel stiffness does not do so directly, but is based on measurements of bloodflow rate, which can be misleading.

In contrast, the Arterial Stiffness Software can measure arterial stiffness directly and with a high reliability rate, Pao said.

An important benefit of the diagnostic tools is that they are non-intrusive, as they are mediated through ultra sound, the team said.

In related news, Formosa Cancer foundation gave a series of talks yesterday relating to the role that nutrition plays in cancer.

According to Lai Chi-ming (賴基銘), the executive officer of Formosa cancer foundation, "Nutrition is very important for cancer patients.

Patients who suffer from malnutrition are those who have been given up on and are often not in a fit state to even get treatment."

Lai said cancer patients needed as much nutrition as normal patients, if not more so, stressing the importance of a high calorie and protein intake.

Hong Chih-hung (洪志宏), a doctor at the Radiology department of Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital, said that even a loss of 5 percent in weight would affect survival rates.

However, Lai says research has shown that -- ? both in animals and in people -- the tumor growth rates of those with cancer who ate "over-nutritiously" in the absence of treatment was faster.

Lai said that there was the risk of nutrition being neglected in cancer patients.

He also said that a survey conducted by the foundation suggested that 56 percent of participants thought that losing weight was a necessary part of the process.

Nutritional needs

Chin Hui-ming, (金惠民) the president of the Taipei federation of nutrition, suggested that the nutritional needs of each patient was specific to each type of cancer, and that patients should consult expert advice from doctors or nutritionists.

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