There’s growing concern that minimally invasive surgery to remove fibroids by cutting up tissue into small pieces (morcellation) may lead to dissemination of undetected malignancies. A study of >1000 instances of uterine morcellation at 1 institution found 9 of 14 patients, or 64.3%, with benign and malignant uterine tumors experienced dissemination! The problem is that symptoms and imaging findings associated with uterine sarcoma vs. benign fibroids are often identical. Plus, endometrial sampling for uterine sarcoma only has a sensitivity of 38% to 62%. One proposed solution to the dissemination risk involves grasping fibroids through a minilaparotomy incision or the vagina and then shelling the fibroids inside a bag before morcellating them.
Researchers at Harvard have discovered a new biomarker for melanoma that could lead to new tests to detect it earlier and possibly even new treatments. What’s really cool is that it’s not a mutation in the genetic code itself, but the loss of a particular epigenetic marker–in this case 5-hmC (5-hydroxymethylcytosine). It’s great to have a new biomarker for this deadly disease, but it’s even better that this is an epigenetic one, since it’s really hard to change the DNA in the cells of a live animal. In fact the researchers also found, in their paper published in the Sept. 14th issue of Cell, that the downregulation of 2 enzymes was likely responsible for the loss of the 5-hmC epigenetic marker and that reintroducing those enzymes into mice with melanoma suppressed growth of the cancer and increased survival. That’s right – in a single paper, these scientists found a new way to test for melanoma and a potential new therapy for it.