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New mouthwash might help alleviate pain

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          HEALTH TIPS - Tuesday, February 6, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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            Aromatase inhibitor use is reviewed

LONDON, -- A British study suggests aromatase inhibitors, 
a hormone therapy used to treat advanced breast cancer in 
postmenopausal women, may increase survival. Researchers 
at the Institute of Cancer Research in London reviewed 30 
studies involving more than 10,000 postmenopausal women. 
They found the use of aromatase inhibitors results in a 
small, but significant, increase in overall survival when 
compared with other hormone treatments. In addition, 
aromatase inhibitors -- drugs known as Arimidex, Aromasin 
and Femara -- are less likely to cause blood clots and 
vaginal bleeding than other hormone treatments, said re-
view co-author Judith Bliss. Bliss and colleagues said 
they were surprised at how few of the reviewed studies 
presented data on overall survival for women taking aroma-
tase inhibitors. "Survival data was only available for 
about half of the women," Bliss said, noting the available 
data showed an 11-percent reduction in the risk of death 
compared with women not receiving aromatase inhibitors.
The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane 

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        MIT develops nanoparticles to fight cancer

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., -- U.S. scientists have created nano-
particles that mimic blood platelets to carry out internal 
medical missions, such as cancer imaging and drug delivery.
"We still treat cancer with surgery, radiation and chemo-
therapy," said Sangeeta Bhatia, an associate professor of 
engineering and computer sciences at the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology. "People are now starting to think 
more in terms of 'Fantastic Voyage,' that sci-fi movie 
where they miniaturized a surgical team and injected it 
into someone." Bhatia and collaborators Michael Sailor of 
the University of California-San Diego and Erkki Ruoslahti 
of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research will receive
a five-year, $4.3 million grant National Cancer Institute 
grant to investigate promising nanoparticle solutions with 
the potential to help identify tumors and deliver chemo-
therapy locally. One solution involves using nanoparticles 
for cancer imaging. By slipping through tiny gaps that 
exist in fast-growing tumor blood vessels and then stick-
ing together, the particles create masses with enough of 
a magnetic signal to be detectable by a magnetic resonance 
imaging machine. The research appeared in the Jan. 16 
issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of 


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          New mouthwash might help alleviate pain

MILAN, Italy, -- Italian scientists are studying a new type 
of mouthwash to see if it will help alleviate pain for 
patients suffering from head and neck cancer. Fifty patients, 
all suffering various forms of head and neck cancer, were 
observed during the course of their radiation therapy. Muco-
sitis, or inflammation of the mouth's mucous membrane, is 
the most common side effect for radiation therapy for such 
patients, yet no additional therapy has been identified to 
reduce the pain. The study sought to discover if a mouthwash 
made from the local anesthetic tetracaine might alleviate 
the discomfort and if there would be any negative side 
effects. Researchers selected a tetracaine-based mouthwash 
instead of a lidocaine-based version, since it was found to 
be four times more effective, worked faster and produced pro-
longed relief. "Though our study is relatively small, we 
found the tetracaine-based mouthwash reduced oral pain, with-
out any relevant side effects, in a sizeable number of our 
studied patients," said lead researcher Dr. Daniela Alterio, 
a radiation oncologist at the European Institute of Oncology 
in Milan, Italy. 

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