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CANCER

Video pill could save cancer patients

A team of international researchers at Oslo’s University Hospital have invented a high-definition video camera which is swallowed like a pill so it can survey intestinal cancers.

The pill-camera is said to be superior to existing cameras which are either low definition, take too few pictures, or cannot reveal where in the intestine they are.

For the first time, footage from the hours-long passage through a potential cancer patient’s small intestine can be seen via wireless-transmitted video files.

The pill took eight hours to pass harmlessly and painlessly through a test pig’s digestive tract.

The research programme, however, is running out of funds and looks ripe for the intervention of a commercial partner. For now, the research hospital, engineers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and the Norwegian defence establishment are working on making the camera smaller.

There is no detection tool for cancers of the small intestine and stomach. It is hoped the video pill will be ready in two to five years.

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RESEARCH

Nordic twins help reveal higher cancer risks

A comprehensive study of twins in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland has led to new revelations about increased cancer risks among siblings.

Nordic twins help reveal higher cancer risks
If one twin gets cancer, the other has a higher risk of getting sick too. Photo: Colourbox
Twins share the same genes, and when one gets cancer, the other faces a higher risk of getting sick too, according to a study published on Tuesday that included 200,000 people.
 
But just because one twin falls ill does not mean that the other is certain to get the same cancer, or any cancer at all, according the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
 
In fact, the amount of increased risk of cancer was just 14 percent higher in identical pairs in which one twin was diagnosed with cancer.
 
Identical twins develop from the same egg and share the exact same genetic material.
 
Among fraternal twins, which develop from two eggs and are as genetically similar as typical biological siblings, the risk of cancer in a twin whose co-twin was infected was five percent higher.
 
The twins in the study hailed from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway — all countries that maintain detailed health registries — and were followed between 1943 and 2010.
 
When researchers looked at the group as a whole, they found that about one in three individuals developed cancer (32 percent).
 
Therefore, the risk of cancer in an identical twin whose twin was diagnosed was calculated to be 46 percent.
 
In fraternal twins it amounted to a 37 percent risk of developing cancer if a co-twin was diagnosed.
 
The exact same cancer was diagnosed in 38 percent of identical twins and 26 percent of fraternal pairs.
 
The cancers that were most likely to be shared among twins were skin melanoma (58 percent), prostate (57 percent), non melanoma skin (43 percent), ovary (39 percent), kidney (38 percent), breast (31 percent), uterine cancer (27 percent).
 
“Because of this study's size and long follow-up, we can now see key genetic effects for many  cancers,” said Jacob Hjelmborg, from the University of Southern Denmark and co-lead author of the study.
 
Researchers said the findings may help patients and doctors understand more about the hereditary risks of cancer, a disease that kills eight million people around the world each year.
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