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Daily Archives: January 30, 2021

Researchers Probe New Territory in Treating Patients with Lung Cancer during COVID-19 Pandemic

Press Briefing with International Researchers Explores this Question at IASLC 2020 World Conference on Lung Cancer Singapore

To view a recording of the press briefing, visit: https://vimeo.com/506248459/caa7346336

SINGAPORE, Jan. 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On February 27, 2020, the flagship journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, published a case study that described two patients from Wuhan, China who recently underwent lung lobectomies for adenocarcinoma and were retrospectively found to have had COVID-19 at the time of surgery.

Eleven months later, the lung cancer research community gathered virtually at the IASLC 2020 World Conference on Lung Cancer Singapore to share a number of research findings examining the intersection of COVID-19 and lung cancer. Researchers from a variety of countries participated in a press briefing to examine the connection between lung cancer and COVID-19.

The press briefing was moderated by IASLC President-Elect Dr. Heather Wakelee, chief of the Division of Medical Oncology at Stanford University and deputy director of the Stanford Cancer Institute. Patient Advocate and lung cancer survivor Ivy Elkins, MBA, cofounder of the EGFR Resisters and a member of the IASLC Lung Cancer News (ILCN) Editorial Group, contributed insights from the advocacy community’s perspective.

Earlier this year, Ms. Elkins co-authored an article for ILCN that reported that Black patients, Indigenous People, patients of Pacific island descent, and Hispanic patients are 3.7 times, 3.5 times, 3.1 times, and 2.8 times, respectively, more like to succumb to COVID-19, than White patients.(1) These disparities cannot be explained by differences in income alone.(2) It is, therefore, very likely that the pandemic will only exacerbate lung cancer health care delivery gaps in these already disenfranchised communities.

Studies Underscore Significance of Mental Health Impact and Importance of Support Organizations

The fear of contracting COVID-19 among patients with lung cancer is palpable, and three new research studies presented today underscore how vulnerable patients with lung cancer feel as they cope with the pandemic.

Dr. Domenico Galetta, of the Medical Thoracic Oncology Unit of IRCCS Oncology Istitute of BARI Italy, examined 176 patients with lung and breast cancers, as well as lymphoma, for signs of psychological distress and found that about a quarter of them report severe symptoms of Post traumatic stress disorders (PTDS) with female presenting higher levels when compared with males.

(Featured Poster, FP06.04).

“Patients with lung cancer have higher distress compared to the other groups. This condition risks being overlooked by clinical concerns, so we underline the importance [in our abstract] to place even more attention on the psychological needs of patients,” he reports.

Another study conducted by the Chicago-based LUNGevity Foundation echoed Dr. Galetta’s findings. The group surveyed 302 patients with lung cancer about anxiety regarding access to lung cancer care, patient preparedness to navigate care, and information needs (Abstract 3800).

Overall, 96% of respondents were concerned that the pandemic will affect their cancer care, and 46% reported interruption in lung cancer care, including not being able to see their doctor.  Another 18% said they experienced increased difficulty in receiving appropriate care, and 45% of respondents worry about accessing care post pandemic.

“Our study reveals that patients with lung cancer continue to feel vulnerable and ill-equipped to navigate cancer care post shelter-in-place. Indeed, patient-specific factors (treatment status) and local COVID-19 caseload are important predictors of patient worries. Access to healthcare should be taken into account both during patient—physician discussions and during lung cancer-care planning at a systems-level,” according to Jessica Selig, LUNGevity Foundation, Research, Chicago.

At a time when patients are in more need of support services, including mental health support, organizations that provide these services report their resources have been negatively affected during the pandemic.

The Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) is a partnership of 40 patient organizations across 29 countries, dedicated to improving outcomes for patients with lung cancer. The GLCC conducted a survey of its members and found that 64% receive more requests from patients with lung cancer as compared with before the pandemic, but 67% had closed or discontinued services such as support groups and seminars.  GLCC found that 18 percent of organizations surveyed added new programs such as new digital services, including calls to patients and online consultations and extending helpline hours and adding new online content.

“Patient advocacy and support organizations are providing more support to patients during the pandemic. However, many organizations have seen a decrease in funding, making it more challenging to [continue or increase support programs]. Patient organizations need urgent financial support to continue to meet increased patient needs and, for some, to survive,” said Dr. Matthew Peters, of Concord Hospital, Concord, Australia (Abstract 3384).

Would the Pandemic Affect Access to Lung Cancer Care or Slow Diagnosis? One Study From Spain Suggests That Occurred in 2020

A study conducted by a group led by Dr. Roxana Reyes, of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Thoracic Oncology Group, Barcelona, collected data of new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in two periods, during COVID and the same period in 2019, and found a decrease in the incidence by 38% during COVID.

 Of those, researchers found that in the group of NSCLC there was more symptomatic and severe disease at diagnosis compared to 2019, with worse outcomes (Abstract 3700).

“During COVID, the number of new cases diagnosed decreased by 38% (43 NSCLC; 19 SCLC), compared to before-COVID period (67 NSCLC; 33 SCLC),” Dr. Reyes reported. “Among those hospitalized, the mortality during hospitalization was 44% vs. 17% before COVID.”

TERAVOLT Study Reveals Persistently High COVID-19 Mortality Rates Among Patients with Thoracic Malignancies but no Significant Difference According with Race or Ethnicity

Previously reported data on patients with thoracic malignancies who develop COVID-19 have suggested a higher mortality rate compared to the general population and to other cancer types, particularly in patients aged 65 or older or those patients suffering from active or progressive disease. This underscores importance of COVID-19 vaccination in this vulnerable patient population, when available.

The TERAVOLT study, a multicenter, international observational study composed of a cross-sectional component and a longitudinal cohort component that examined more than 1,000 patients with both lung cancer and COVID-19, found that overall mortality remains high, and males have significantly higher hospitalization and mortality rates compared to females. Importantly the researchers found no significant differences in COVID-19 related mortality among different racial or ethnic groups, according to Dr. Umit Tapan, of Boston Medical Center in Boston. (Poster P09.18).

Can Telemedicine Play a Role for Patients with Lung Cancer During the Pandemic?

Although much of the world has moved to remote working and virtual meetings, there was concern about medicine’s ability to adapt to the constraints caused by COVID-19. The use of telemedicine has flourished, but what role might it play for patients with complex diseases such as lung cancer?

Previous research has shown that patients with lung cancer who pursue an exercise regimen before treatment, a process known as prehabilitation , may increase their chances of survival. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the capacity to deliver face-to-face hospital appointments has significantly been reduced. If these crucial in person visits are curtailed by COVID-19, patients may suffer.

However, a study by Stephanie Wynne, of Guy’s Cancer Centre, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, , London, demonstrated that virtual, home-based prehabilitation is feasible and may improve patients’ pre-surgical physical activity levels and exercise capacity (Abstract 3614).

About the IASLC:
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated solely to the study of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. Founded in 1974, the association’s membership includes nearly 7,500 lung cancer specialists across all disciplines in over 100 countries, forming a global network working together to conquer lung and thoracic cancers worldwide. The association also publishes the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the primary educational and informational publication for topics relevant to the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all thoracic malignancies. Visit www.iaslc.org for more information.

About the WCLC:

The WCLC is the world’s largest meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies, attracting more than 7,000 researchers, physicians and specialists from more than 100 countries. The goal is to increase awareness, collaboration and understanding of lung cancer, and to help participants implement the latest developments across the globe. The conference will cover a wide range of disciplines and unveil several research studies and clinical trial results. For more information, visit wclc2020.iaslc.org.

Chris Martin CMartin@DavidJamesGroup.com | 630-670-2745

Downdetector: Social Media Platform Reddit Hit by Outages in US

Social media company Reddit was experiencing problems on its website on Saturday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.com.

Customers reported trouble logging in and sending messages on its website. The outage affected regions such as New York, Boston and Washington in United States and Toronto in Canada, according to an outage map on Downdetector’s website.

It was not immediately known what caused the glitches. Reddit did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reddit has come into THE the forefront after a social media chatroom on its platform, “Wallstreetbets,” led to a so-called “Reddit rally,” which has helped attract a flood of retail cash into stocks such as GameStop Corp., burning hedge funds that had bet against the company and roiling the broader market. WallStreetBets has about 6 million members.

Source: Voice of America

Downdetector: Social Media Platform Reddit Hit by Outages in US

Social media company Reddit was experiencing problems on its website on Saturday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.com.

Customers reported trouble logging in and sending messages on its website. The outage affected regions such as New York, Boston and Washington in United States and Toronto in Canada, according to an outage map on Downdetector’s website.

It was not immediately known what caused the glitches. Reddit did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reddit has come into THE the forefront after a social media chatroom on its platform, “Wallstreetbets,” led to a so-called “Reddit rally,” which has helped attract a flood of retail cash into stocks such as GameStop Corp., burning hedge funds that had bet against the company and roiling the broader market. WallStreetBets has about 6 million members.

Source: Voice of America

Fighting Climate Change in America Means Changes to America

Climate isn’t the only thing changing.

What comes next in the nation’s struggle to combat global warming will probably transform how Americans drive, where they get their power and other bits of day-to-day life, both quietly and obviously, experts say.

So far, the greening of America has been subtle, driven by market forces, technology and voluntary actions. The Biden administration is about to change that.

In a flurry of executive actions in his first eight days in office, the president is trying to steer the U.S. economy from one that uses fossil fuels to one that no longer puts additional heat-trapping gases into the air by 2050.

The United States is rejoining the international Paris climate accord and is also joining many other nations in setting an ambitious goal that once seemed unattainable: net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury. That means lots of changes designed to fight increasingly costly climate disasters such as wildfires, floods, droughts, storms and heat waves.

Think of the journey to a carbon-less economy as a road trip from Washington to California that started about 15 years ago.

“We’ve made it through Ohio and up to the Indiana border. But the road has been pretty smooth so far. It gets rougher ahead,” said climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, climate and energy director at the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research center in Oakland, California.

“The Biden administration is both stepping on the gas and working to upgrade our vehicle,” Hausfather said.

What isn’t visible, and what is

The results of some of Biden’s new efforts may still not be noticeable, such as your power eventually coming from ever-cheaper wind and solar energy instead of coal and natural gas that now provide 59% of American power. But when it comes to going from here to there, you’ll notice that.

General Motors announced Thursday that as of 2035 it hopes to go all-electric for its light-duty vehicles, no longer selling gasoline-powered cars. Experts expect most new cars sold in 2030 to be electric. The Biden administration promised 550,000 charging stations to help with the transition to electric cars.

“You will no longer be going to a gas station, but you will need to charge your vehicle whether at home or on the road,” said Kate Larsen, director of international climate policy research at the Rhodium Group, an independent research organization. “It may be a whole new way of thinking about transportation for the average person.”

But it will still be your car, which is why most of the big climate action over the next 10 years won’t be too noticeable, said Princeton University ecologist Stephen Pacala.

“The single biggest difference is that because wind and solar is distributed you will see a lot more of it on the landscape,” said Pacala, who leads a study on decarbonizing America by the National Academy of Sciences that will come out next week.

Less expensive, plus health benefits

Other recent detailed scientific studies show that because of dropping wind, solar and battery prices, Biden’s net-zero carbon goal can be accomplished far cheaper than had been predicted in the past and with health benefits “many, many times” outweighing the costs, said Pacala, who was part of one study at Princeton. Those studies agree on what needs to be done for decarbonization, and what Biden has come out with “is doing the things that everyone now is concluding that we should do,” Pacala said.

These are the types of shifts that don’t cost much — about $1 day per person — and won’t require people to abandon their current cars and furnaces but replace them with cleaner electric vehicles and heat pumps when it comes time for a new one, said Margaret Torn, a senior scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, who co-authored a study published recently by Berkeley Lab, the University of San Francisco and the consulting firm Evolved Energy Research.

Part of the problem, said study co-author Ryan Jones, co-founder of Evolved Energy Research, is that for years, people have wrongly portrayed the battle against climate change as a “personal morality problem” where individuals have to sacrifice by driving and flying less, turning down the heat and eating less meat.

“Actually, climate change is an industry economy issue where most of the big solutions are happening under the hood or upstream of people’s homes,” Jones said. “It’s a big change in how we produce energy and consume energy. It’s not a change in people’s day-to-day lives, or it doesn’t need to be.”

One Biden interim goal — “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035” — may not be doable that quickly, but can be done by 2050, said study co-author Jim Williams of the University of San Francisco.

Electric vehicles, conservation, wind energy

Biden’s executive orders featured plans for an all-electric federal fleet of vehicles, conserving 30% of the country’s land and waters, doubling the nation’s offshore wind energy and funding to help communities become more resilient to climate disasters. Republicans and fossil fuel interests objected, calling the actions job-killers.

“Using the incredible leverage of federal government purchases in green electricity, zero-emission cars and new infrastructure will rapidly increase demand for home-grown climate-friendly technologies,” said Rosina Bierbaum, a University of Michigan environmental policy professor.

The next big thing for the administration is to come up with a Paris climate accord goal — called Nationally Determined Contribution — for how much the United States hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It has to be ambitious for the president to reach his ultimate goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but it also has to be doable.

His administration promises to reveal the goal, required by the climate agreement but nonbinding, before its Earth Day climate summit, April 22.

That new number “is actually the centrally important activity of the next year,” said University of Maryland environment professor Nate Hultman, who worked on the Obama administration’s Paris goal.

Getting to net zero carbon emissions at midcentury means about a 43% cut from 2005 levels — the baseline the U.S. government uses — by 2030, said the Rhodium Group’s Larsen. The U.S. can realistically reach a 40% cut by 2030, which is about one-third reduction from what 2020 U.S. carbon emissions would have been without a pandemic, said Williams, the San Francisco professor.

All this work on power and vehicles, that’s easy compared with decarbonizing agriculture with high methane emissions from livestock and high-heat industrial processes such as steelmaking, Breakthrough’s Hausfather said.

“There’s no silver bullet for agriculture,” Hausfather said. “There’s no solar panels for cows, so to speak, apart from meat alternatives, but even there you have challenges around consumer acceptance.”

Source: Voice of America

Fighting Climate Change in America Means Changes to America

Climate isn’t the only thing changing.

What comes next in the nation’s struggle to combat global warming will probably transform how Americans drive, where they get their power and other bits of day-to-day life, both quietly and obviously, experts say.

So far, the greening of America has been subtle, driven by market forces, technology and voluntary actions. The Biden administration is about to change that.

In a flurry of executive actions in his first eight days in office, the president is trying to steer the U.S. economy from one that uses fossil fuels to one that no longer puts additional heat-trapping gases into the air by 2050.

The United States is rejoining the international Paris climate accord and is also joining many other nations in setting an ambitious goal that once seemed unattainable: net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury. That means lots of changes designed to fight increasingly costly climate disasters such as wildfires, floods, droughts, storms and heat waves.

Think of the journey to a carbon-less economy as a road trip from Washington to California that started about 15 years ago.

“We’ve made it through Ohio and up to the Indiana border. But the road has been pretty smooth so far. It gets rougher ahead,” said climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, climate and energy director at the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research center in Oakland, California.

“The Biden administration is both stepping on the gas and working to upgrade our vehicle,” Hausfather said.

What isn’t visible, and what is

The results of some of Biden’s new efforts may still not be noticeable, such as your power eventually coming from ever-cheaper wind and solar energy instead of coal and natural gas that now provide 59% of American power. But when it comes to going from here to there, you’ll notice that.

General Motors announced Thursday that as of 2035 it hopes to go all-electric for its light-duty vehicles, no longer selling gasoline-powered cars. Experts expect most new cars sold in 2030 to be electric. The Biden administration promised 550,000 charging stations to help with the transition to electric cars.

“You will no longer be going to a gas station, but you will need to charge your vehicle whether at home or on the road,” said Kate Larsen, director of international climate policy research at the Rhodium Group, an independent research organization. “It may be a whole new way of thinking about transportation for the average person.”

But it will still be your car, which is why most of the big climate action over the next 10 years won’t be too noticeable, said Princeton University ecologist Stephen Pacala.

“The single biggest difference is that because wind and solar is distributed you will see a lot more of it on the landscape,” said Pacala, who leads a study on decarbonizing America by the National Academy of Sciences that will come out next week.

Less expensive, plus health benefits

Other recent detailed scientific studies show that because of dropping wind, solar and battery prices, Biden’s net-zero carbon goal can be accomplished far cheaper than had been predicted in the past and with health benefits “many, many times” outweighing the costs, said Pacala, who was part of one study at Princeton. Those studies agree on what needs to be done for decarbonization, and what Biden has come out with “is doing the things that everyone now is concluding that we should do,” Pacala said.

These are the types of shifts that don’t cost much — about $1 day per person — and won’t require people to abandon their current cars and furnaces but replace them with cleaner electric vehicles and heat pumps when it comes time for a new one, said Margaret Torn, a senior scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, who co-authored a study published recently by Berkeley Lab, the University of San Francisco and the consulting firm Evolved Energy Research.

Part of the problem, said study co-author Ryan Jones, co-founder of Evolved Energy Research, is that for years, people have wrongly portrayed the battle against climate change as a “personal morality problem” where individuals have to sacrifice by driving and flying less, turning down the heat and eating less meat.

“Actually, climate change is an industry economy issue where most of the big solutions are happening under the hood or upstream of people’s homes,” Jones said. “It’s a big change in how we produce energy and consume energy. It’s not a change in people’s day-to-day lives, or it doesn’t need to be.”

One Biden interim goal — “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035” — may not be doable that quickly, but can be done by 2050, said study co-author Jim Williams of the University of San Francisco.

Electric vehicles, conservation, wind energy

Biden’s executive orders featured plans for an all-electric federal fleet of vehicles, conserving 30% of the country’s land and waters, doubling the nation’s offshore wind energy and funding to help communities become more resilient to climate disasters. Republicans and fossil fuel interests objected, calling the actions job-killers.

“Using the incredible leverage of federal government purchases in green electricity, zero-emission cars and new infrastructure will rapidly increase demand for home-grown climate-friendly technologies,” said Rosina Bierbaum, a University of Michigan environmental policy professor.

The next big thing for the administration is to come up with a Paris climate accord goal — called Nationally Determined Contribution — for how much the United States hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It has to be ambitious for the president to reach his ultimate goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but it also has to be doable.

His administration promises to reveal the goal, required by the climate agreement but nonbinding, before its Earth Day climate summit, April 22.

That new number “is actually the centrally important activity of the next year,” said University of Maryland environment professor Nate Hultman, who worked on the Obama administration’s Paris goal.

Getting to net zero carbon emissions at midcentury means about a 43% cut from 2005 levels — the baseline the U.S. government uses — by 2030, said the Rhodium Group’s Larsen. The U.S. can realistically reach a 40% cut by 2030, which is about one-third reduction from what 2020 U.S. carbon emissions would have been without a pandemic, said Williams, the San Francisco professor.

All this work on power and vehicles, that’s easy compared with decarbonizing agriculture with high methane emissions from livestock and high-heat industrial processes such as steelmaking, Breakthrough’s Hausfather said.

“There’s no silver bullet for agriculture,” Hausfather said. “There’s no solar panels for cows, so to speak, apart from meat alternatives, but even there you have challenges around consumer acceptance.”

Source: Voice of America