ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
CAREGIVING
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with gallbladder cancer are surviving longer than they used to, but the death rate is still high, new research shows.

An estimated 9,520 cases of gallbladder or bile duct cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2008, and about 3,340 people died of the disease, according to the study in the May issue of the Archives of Surgery.

The death rate is high, in part, because at the time of diagnosis, many patients already have advanced-stage disease and are not candidates for surgery. Resection, where the diseased portions of the organ are removed surgically, is the only means of curing it.

"Gallbladder cancer is characterized by locally aggressive behavior, with early spread to regional lymph nodes and distant dissemination," the authors wrote. "In addition, it recurs rapidly even after presumed curative resection."

Still, survival times for the disease, which affects women more frequently than men, have improved since the 1960s.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School identified 402 patients with gallbladder cancer at a university-affiliated center between 1962 and 2008. Of these, 260 underwent surgical exploration at the same institution and were included in the data analysis.

Patients were diagnosed during three periods: period A (1962 to 1979), period B (1980 to 1997) and period C (1998 to 2008).

Overall median survival improved from 3.5 months during period A to six months in period B to one year in period C.

Survival times were the longest among those whose disease was caught early. The median survival was 10.3 months for those diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, compared to 4.7 months for stage 3 disease and 4 months for stage 4.

"The survival of patients who presented with advanced-stage disease and who underwent palliative [treating symptoms only] procedures remained poor in all periods," with patients surviving a median of 1.9 months in the 1960s and 70s to 3.6 months in recent years.

Of the 260 cancer patients who had surgery to explore the extent of their disease, about 58 percent had the cancer surgically removed. Unresectable disease became less common over time (44.4 percent in periods A and B and 17.3 percent in period C).

Between January 1994 and March 2008, 6,881 laparoscopic cholecystectomies (procedures to remove gallstones) were performed at the same facility. Gallbladder cancer was found in 17 patients incidentally during these procedures.

"When gallbladder cancer is found incidentally during or after a cholecystectomy, aggressive resection should be performed either during the present operation or during a second operation," the authors wrote. "In our series, 56 percent of patients who underwent re-exploration [a second surgery] were found to have residual disease. Patients underwent re-exploration at a median of 41 days, similar to other series."

The authors said early detection and an aggressive surgical approach was currently the most effective way of increasing survival times.

"A better understanding of the molecular pathways contributing to the development of gallbladder cancer is needed to develop improved adjuvant therapies to increase overall survival," they wrote.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on gallbladder and bile duct cancer.



-- Jennifer Thomas



SOURCE: Archives of Surgery, news release, May 18, 2009

Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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