Tag Archives: prostate

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 25th June 2016

IDA set to negotiate with UK companies to relocate to Ireland after Brexit vote

The agency is to begin negotiations with companies located in UK that may want to relocate to Ireland.


Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of IDA Ireland, says the State agency will soon begin negotiations with banks and other companies located in the UK that may want to relocate to Ireland following the Brexit vote.

Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of IDA Ireland, says the State agency will soon begin negotiations with banks and other companies located in the UK that may want to relocate to Ireland following the Brexit vote.

Mr Shanahan stressed his first preference was for Britain to remain within the European Union (EU), but he said the IDA has “done its homework” on how to maximise foreign investment for Ireland now that the UK has voted to leave.

“We have been in discussion with potential clients [who may choose to relocate to Ireland from the UK] for months. They approached us,” said Mr Shanahan. “We have a good view on the potential for Ireland.

He said discussions with potential foreign investors could begin as soon as “next week, or the week after”.

IDA’s existing 1,200 client companies are “still digesting the news”, he said. Mr Shanahan yesterday wrote to the 1,200 to say Ireland remains committed to the EU and is effectively still open for business.

He said Ireland’s “stability” would be an attractive feature when attracting new investment in the midst of the uncertainty created for the UK by the vote. Mr Shanahan also agreed that financial services and technology were two sectors where Ireland would be particularly well placed to pick up fresh foreign investment that might otherwise locate in the UK.

“But we intend to push for investment right across the portfolio, including life sciences and engineering,” he said. “Our mandate prior to Brexit was to maximise investment for Ireland, and nothing has changed in that regard.”

Terms of exit?

Fergal O’Brien, chief economist at the employers’ lobby Ibec, said the UK is now likely to “become more aggressive” in securing foreign investment to protect its economy, which could increase competition faced by the IDA.

He said a lot depends on the terms of the exit deal given to the UK, including its level of access to the EU’s internal market: “It is in Ireland’s interests to get as much stability as possible for the UK.”

Mr O’Brien suggested that while other EU states might want to impose tough measures on the UK to discourage other countries from exiting, Ireland “needs to establish at EU level that we have skin in the game” and push for leniency.

Enterprise Ireland, meanwhile, warned against the effects of exchange rate volatility for Irish exporters into the UK. It said it would also support Irish exporters to devise medium-term diversification plans.

“In addition to our team in the UK, we have put in place a dedicated email address, phone-line and team for Enterprise Ireland clients to respond to their immediate concerns and issues,” said the agency.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus could be hit by fall in passengers

International Air Transport Association says weaker sterling may cut number of UK travellers


IAG said it no longer expects to generate an absolute operating profit increase similar to 2015.

Ryanair and Aer Lingus parent, International Airlines’ Group (IAG), could be hit by a fall in UK passenger numbers following the Brexit vote, according to a leading industry body.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that a weakened sterling and shrinking economy could cut UK airline passenger numbers, which hit 250 million last year, by 3 to 5% by 2020.

A report the association published yesterday shows that Ryanair and IAG, owner of Aer Lingus, are amongst the airlines that are most exposed to a fall in air travel.

The UK is one of Ryanair’s biggest markets, accounting for more than 30 million of the 100-plus million passengers that it flies every year.

This gave it a large share of the 117 million people that flew between the UK and the rest of the EU last year. It also employs 4,000 people there.

IAG’s other airlines include British Airways, which carried more than 43 million people last year. The group warned in a statement following the vote that it does not expect this year’s growth in operating profits to match that of 2015.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said that the Irish company would campaign to have the UK remains in the EU’s Open Skies regime, which allows airlines to fly freely between member states.

However, he indicated that Ryanair is more likely to spend money on countries within the EU, such as the Republic, Germany, Spain and Italy. “It’s going to mean that when we are looking at investing, we will look outside the UK,” he said.

The vote sent travel stocks tumbling. IAG fell 22.54% to 409 pence sterling in London. Ryanair shares were down 11.77% at €12.07 in Dublin.

Shaun Quinn, chief executive of State body, Fáilte Ireland, responsible for promoting tourism to the Republic, said it was too early to speculate on the likely impact of the vote on the industry.

“Fáilte Ireland will be monitoring any short term impacts of a devalued sterling on tourist numbers to Ireland and working with businesses in the sector to develop strategies to address any arising competitiveness challenges,” he said.

The Irish Hotels Federation warned that there was a risk a risk that economic uncertainty and a weaker sterling would hit visitor numbers from the UK.

Republic attracts three million tourists from Britain every year. The hospitality industry fears that this number could decline as the Brexit fallout continues.

Sligo seeking funding as European Volunteer Capital

Sligo, Ireland, Finds Working Capital in Its Couch Cushions     

Concern has been expressed that no funding has yet been arranged for Sligo’s designation as European Volunteering Capital 2017.

The manager of Sligo Volunteer Centre Ciara Herity told councillors last week that while the supports from the Municipality were in place, no concrete funding was secured.

“We are the first non-country capital winner. It’s very exciting, for Sligo and for Ireland. The uniqueness of Sligo winning is that we are a small rural county on the periphery of Europe. It’s a privilege to have it,” she said.

Cathaoirleach of the County Council Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady said she was “concerned that they’ve no funding” but added that they had “the right woman in Marian Harkin in Europe” to help them source funding.

The MEP is Patron of Sligo Volunteer Centre and attended the presentation in person last week.

Sligo beat seven other cities in the running for the 2017 designation and previous winners include London, Lisbon and Barcelona.

Sligo Volunteer Centre celebrates its 10 year anniversary in 2017 and the designation will give due recognition to that.

M/s Herity said the designation would bring more European visitors here along with an economic boost to the town and county.

It’s hoped Sligo will host some national events: Volunteer Ireland, Special Olympics, Foroige and the Irish Girl Guides have been approached about hosting events here next year.

Cllr Sean MacManus said it was “a fantastic achievement for a small county on the periphery of Europe”. He said it was going to be difficult to match London and Lisbon “especially in view of the fact that we’ve no funding.”

“Even given Sligo County Council’s straitened financial situation to include some forming of funding to back them up,” he said.

Cllr Sinead Maguire also congratulated Sligo Volunteer Centre and said “It does reflect the spirit of volunteering that we have here in Sligo. We’re worthy winners.”

Council Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes is now tasked with designing a programme of events, actively pursuing sponsorship and raising awareness.

Marked reduction in PSA testing

 Pictured left to right at the John Fitzpatrick Irish Prostate Cancer Conference in Dublin were: Mr Killian Walsh, Prof Michael Blute, Mr Peter Ryan and Mr Andrew Fitzpatrick   

A US Task Force recommendation against PSA-based screening had a major effect, Gary Culliton heard at the John Fitzpatrick Irish Prostate Cancer Conference. Since this policy decision was made, there has been a considerable impact on rates of detection

Policy decisions are rapidly influencing primary care practice in the US. There has been a decrease in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, and the urology response has been an increase in the use of active surveillance in men with low-risk disease. Recent years have also seen the advent of surgical cohorts with more intermediate and high-risk disease.

A recommendation against PSA screening may be leading to later stage disease at diagnosis, a meeting in Dublin has heard.

There has been a shift toward more advanced disease at diagnosis, and decreased use of PSA-based screening may worsen this trend.

The rapid decrease in PSA use was concerning, said Prof Michael Blute, Chief of Urology at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Surgery at Harvard. This would continue until there was a change at policy level, he said, in a talk on policy decisions and the changing face of prostate cancer at the John Fitzpatrick Irish Prostate Cancer Conference in Dublin recently. His talk dealt in particular with diagnosis and management in the US.

More surgical patients are seen with advanced or adverse pathology. “My hope is that smarter prostate cancer screening methods will be introduced,” said Prof Blute. One of his concerns centres on “reaching primary care practices.”

In 2012, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer. There was moderate or high certainty that the service had no net benefit or that the harms outweighed the benefits, said the Task Force, which discouraged use of the service.

Since this policy decision was made, there has been a major impact on rates of detection. Urologists order between 7 and 10 per cent of the PSA tests in the country. The vast majority of PSA tests are ordered by primary care practices.

Dramatic reduction

A dramatic reduction was seen in the utilisation of PSA testing in primary care practices (Ahmedin Jemal, 2015). There were then conflicting results from the PLCO and ERSPC trials and the case against screening appeared to strengthen.

Following the 2012 USPSTF recommendation, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the use of PSA testing in the United States and rates would continue to fall, said Prof Blute. “The argument about PSA screening became an ‘all or none’ debate. The ‘none’ side won out. This is having a significant impact for men diagnosed with prostate cancer at our practice.”

Overall incidence among the cohort of men aged 50 and older in the US dropped off in 2012. However, the presentation stage — for localised disease or metastatic disease — has not changed; it lags behind. For the first time in two decades, the incidence of metastatic disease among men aged 75 years or older is starting to creep up.

“My fear is that primary care practices are not listening to American Urological Association (AUA) guidelines. They are not listening to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. They are listening to the USPSTF,” Prof Blute said.

Since the 2012 USPSTF recommendation, there has been a 28 per cent reduction in the diagnosis of prostate cancer in the US (Barocas DA, J Urol, 2015). Equal reductions have been seen in the diagnosis of men with low-, intermediate- and high-risk cancers. “This is an extremely rapid change and it is a real concern for men with intermediate- or high-risk disease who will experience delay in diagnosis,” said Prof Blute. Delayed diagnoses would be a feature and an increase in the incidence of men with metastatic disease at diagnosis was sure to follow, he said.

The recommendation has been associated with decreased PSA screening in all age groups, decreased rates of prostate biopsies and decreased incidence of prostate cancer. There has been no change in the distribution of low-, intermediate- and high-grade disease. There have been no changes thus far among men aged between 50 and 74. Increases in men presenting with metastatic disease 75 years and older are now seen (Ahmedin Jemal, 2015). Men in the 50-to-70 years bracket would have a similar response if there was continued reduction in the utilisation of PSA, Prof Blute predicted. An increase in absolute and relative amounts of late stage prostate cancer would be seen, he predicted.

Increased number

A hugely increased number of men with low-risk disease were identified following the introduction of PSA testing.

Seventy-to-80 per cent of the diagnoses were low-risk. Now, almost 40 per cent of men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer are placed — appropriately — in active surveillance protocols (National Cancer Database, 2004 to 2013).

Between 2004 and 2012, intermediate- and high-risk men were increasingly seen among surgical cohorts. Low-risk men may not benefit from aggressive therapy, but because of progression or repeat sampling biopsies that reveal higher grade disease in 20 per cent of cases, men may be upstaged to intermediate risk disease.

Data covering private practice urology in the US showed a drastic reduction in use of ADT monotherapy for patients with the highest risk on Cancer of the Prostate Risk Assessment (CAPRA) score after 2004 (Cooperberg, JAMA, 2009). Use of radical prostatectomy more than doubled. There was a continued reduction in primary androgen deprivation therapy as monotherapy among men aged 75 and older. There was also an increase in the utilisation of more aggressive therapy for patients who had higher-risk disease.

Pathologically, there has been a reverse stage shift: operations have been performed on more men with higher-risk disease. From 2000 to 2010, the number of men who underwent radical prostatectomies for low-risk disease, dropped drastically — from 50 to 30 per cent (Silberstein, Cancer, 2011). By contrast, the number of men with high- and intermediate-risk disease increased. More and more men with adverse pathology results would be seen following radical prostatectomy, said Prof Blute.

The number of men operated on with organ-confined disease was falling, but more men with extra-prostatic disease were seen.

However, there was a reduction in operations on men with primary pathologic Gleason Score Six disease.

Low-risk tumours are more frequently treated with active surveillance in the US, while high-risk tumours are more frequently treated with surgery. The recommendation against PSA screening is leading to a reverse Stage migration.

Prof Blute spoke about the role of MRI in surgical management of prostate cancer. There would be an increased tendency to operate on more aggressive tumours. Some cancer cells may be left behind (increased positive surgical margin rates) and there would probably be less favourable cancer control outcomes locally — particularly where surgery was used as single-modality treatment. Use of adjuvant therapies and pelvic lymph node dissection would also increasingly be considered.

Men in the high-risk cate-gory are a heterogenous group. Those with high-risk disease who have a single adverse variable do better than men with multiple adverse variables. In terms of management, surgery is included in guidelines by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) for cases of resectable disease, but unlike breast or colorectal cancer, algorithm surgery has not been tested in a multimodal fashion with radiation and hormone therapy.

Where surgery is used for initial management in high-risk disease, overall 10-year cancer-specific survival is 80-to-90 per cent (Stewart, 2015). Many men do well, where their high-risk disease is managed using surgery. Fifteen-year outcomes were published on a series of men with clinical T3 disease who had operations. The complication rate among these men — who underwent wide local excision of their cancers — was studied. They had good outcomes — equivalent to T2 disease. In terms of urinary control, 80 per cent of these men were completely dry (Ward, 2005, BJUI).

MRI is used to stage these patients prior to surgery. The same techniques used in low-risk men cannot be used to operate on men with high-risk disease. Extended pelvic lymph node dissections are recommended as the node positive rate for high risk disease will be 10 to 15 per cent. There would be risk associated with dividing the lateral pelvic fascia and releasing the neurovascular bundle and not achieving negative surgical margins. Therefore, an extrafascial approach is favoured for men with high-risk disease.

An objective was to elevate the rectoprostatic fascia so there was a wide surgical margin in the patient, said Prof Blute.

Using wide local excision surgery as an initial treatment among 1,800 men with high risk disease, 57 per cent of men ultimately had pathologically organ-confined disease and did well (Boorijian, J Urol, 2008). Ten-year local recurrence-free survival was 90 per cent. Local recurrence-free survival in these men (who often had at least T3 disease) was equivalent to that in men with T2 disease.


Increasingly, a biomarker has been used. The Decipher test is a genomic classifier. Some 545 Mayo Clinic patients with high-risk disease were selected following radical prostatectomies (Erho, Crisan, PLOS One, 2013). These men had biochemical recurrence and a test was sought that would predict metastases.

Some 192 cases developed metastases. Transcriptome-wide expression profiling was carried out to identify signalling pathways associated with metastases.

If the Deci¬p¬her score indicated a low risk, only 2.4 per cent of men ultimately demonstr-ated metastases. The genomic classifier was judged to yield independent prognostic information in a multivariable analysis. The Decipher test was found to be the only significant variable for detecting rapid metastases and it performed well, compared to the CAPRA-S and Stephenson nomograms (Klein, Euro Urology 2015).

The Decipher test provided additional stratification in terms of risk (Ashley Ross, Johns Hopkins). Molecular stratification has been needed to classify men with high-risk disease better. There is a concern about additional toxicities in these men (who have undetectable PSA, are responding well to their surgery and have good quality of life).

Multivariable analysis demonstrated that genomic high-risk men, who received ART, had higher metastases-free survival, compared to salvage radiation treatment. An 80 per cent reduction in risk of metastases was demonstrated, among the Decipher high-risk group getting ART — rather than salvage — therapy.


This would hopefully inform the debate about the timing of radiation treatment in the post-op setting, said Prof Blute. The genomic classifier would be very helpful in men who had high risk disease. Data showed that significant numbers of men with adverse pathologies did not develop clinical metastases. They do well and do not need adjuvant therapies.

Introducing a genomic classifier for this group of men would be very valuable in stratifying who needed the therapies and when. In patients with adverse pathology and a low-risk genomic classifier result, a careful eye should be kept on the PSA results, data indicate. More prospective studies were required, said Prof Blute.

In the current era, aggressive treatment of localised prostate cancer was increasingly being reserved for those men who needed it the most, and active surveillance for men with low-risk disease.

In the future, surgical cohorts would be increasingly intermediate- and high-risk patients, and focus must be on managing adverse pathology after surgery to achieve long-term local control of prostate cancer, added Prof Blute.

Crops grown on Mars soil are safe to eat


Ecologist Wieger Wamelink inspecting the plants grown on soil similar to that on Mars at the Wageningen University.

Results from trials using soil like that on Mars hold promise for future settlements on planet

Dutch scientists said crops of four vegetables and cereals grown on soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe to eat, amid plans for the first manned mission to the planet.

Abundant harvests of radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes all grown on the soil were found to contain “no dangerous levels” of heavy metals, said the team from Wageningen University on Thursday.

“These remarkable results are very promising,” said senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink. “We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes, and I am very curious what they will taste like.”

Future Mars settlers will have to take food supplies with them and then plant crops in order to survive.

So using soil developed by Nasa to resemble that of the Red Planet, the university in the Netherlands has been experimenting since 2013 and has managed to raise 10 crops.

There is uncertainty still about their absorbing the high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, copper and lead present in Mars soil. Further tests are needed on the other six crops, including potatoes, in research being backed by a crowd-funding campaign.

Nasa plans a manned trip to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years or so, and similar projects are being pursued by US billionaire Elon Musk and Dutch company Mars One, tentatively aiming to set up human colonies on the Red Planet.

The Mars One project has backed the Wageningen work and is deciding on the final 40 out of 100 candidates hoping to be its astronauts.

But unlike any Nasa mission, Mars One is a one-way trip: Whoever joins this journey to the foreign world is never, ever coming back to Earth, Fox 5 News reported.

Mars One CEO Bas Landsdorp estimates the project will cost US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion). He plans to pay for it in part by turning the mission into a reality show.

But space expert Neil deGrasse Tyson is sceptical.

“I try not to get in anybody’s way who is dreaming big,” he told Business Insider after Mars One announced the project in February last year. “But I’m sceptical it can be accomplished on the timescale” given.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 5th May 2015

Irish Cabinet to discuss debt collection


The discussion will be based on a report by the Law Reform Commission

The Cabinet is to discuss a proposal tomorrow to deal with the general area of debt and debt collection.

It is understood the discussion will be based on a report by the Law Reform Commission on debt management and reinforcement in 2010.

The Cabinet will discuss proposals to change the procedures around the collection of debt.

In particular it will recommend that imprisonment as last resort in certain cases should end as proposed by the Law Reform Commission.

Instead the proposal going to Cabinet will recommend that attachment orders should apply to wages and social welfare payments.

This would be a last resort.

It is understood that a minimum threshold would apply to social welfare payments so that large amounts could not be taken out.

The proposals, it is understood, would apply to water.

10,000 new jobs in Ireland’s burgeoning marine economy by 2020


10,000 new jobs in Ireland’s burgeoning marine economy by 2020

We’re due an explosion in jobs in the marine sector in Ireland over the next few years, with the skills needed already abundant in the Irish labour pool, according to a new report

The current marine economy employs more than 16,000 people in Ireland, and that number actually has the potential to double by 2020, owing to growth in the industry as a whole.

The vast nature of the maritime industry means that professionals from right across the labour spectrum are represented already – for example engineers, biologists, scientists, researchers, lawyers, management, architects, technicians, crane operators, sailors and food handlers.

The roles that will be required, should this major expansion in the industry happen, will be so general that people will merely need some side-stepping training.

The skills identified by the report – written up by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) – include engineers, people with boat-handling skills and hydrographic surveyors.

Careers can be ‘marinised’

Many roles are not exclusive to a marine environment, for example, electrical and mechanical engineers, lawyers, technicians and welders are all land -based occupations, but with a top-up qualification or training an individual’s skills can be ‘marinised’ to enable them to work in a marine or offshore environment.

“With our position on the western periphery of Europe facing the Atlantic Ocean and its energy resources, our deep water ports and our 7,500 km coastline. Ireland is well placed to capitalise on the growing potential of the global marine economy and create sustainable jobs in the coastal regions,” said chairperson of the EGFSN, Una Halligan.

“However, an important aspect will be the co-ordinated effort on the part of all the marine sectors to raise awareness of the excellent and rewarding careers in the sector and attracting people to the opportunities available.”

Cluster of companies in Cork

The industry is pretty exciting at the moment. Last December, three companies in the Cork cluster of marine industry – Resolute Marine, an ocean energy company; Exceedence, a spin-out from UCC’s Beaufort Research Centre, and Royal Marine, a global salvage company – expanded significantly.

US company Resolute Marine is setting up a European HQ in Cork, with 80 jobs to be filled over the next five years. Exceedence is creating five new jobs in marine renewable energy financial consultancy in 2015, while Resolve Marine is hiring six people at its European HQ in Cork harbour this year.

The whole area of fishing and general marine research is massive already, but the marine energy is a cool niche, with Irish interests throughout.

Waterford leads the way

Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) is coordinating an aquaculture research project, for example, that will pool knowledge and tech to improve the global fish farm industry.

With an ultimate aim of boosting both production and jobs in the aquaculture arena, AquaSmart is being led by Dr Steven Davy in Waterford, with the €3.1m project funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel will also take part in the two-year programme, with the pooling of resources the prime tool in this project’s aim of improving knowledge in the whole area of fish farming.

Prostate cancer rates higher in west of Ireland


There were more cases of prostate cancer registered in the west of Ireland than in the rest of the country between 1994 and 2012, a report has found.

A recent study by the National Cancer Registry, which tracked cancer rates during that time, has found higher numbers of men in western counties with the disease than in other parts of the country.

The map also reveals that lung cancer was significantly higher in Louth, Carlow, Kildare and Dublin.

Acting director of the Irish Cancer Directory, Dr Harry Comber, says men in the west are not necessarily more prone to prostate cancer.

Instead, he says, that a test to detect the disease was first rolled out in the east and has spread to other parts of the country in recent years, boosting detection rates.

“If you look at it closely, the test was initially used mostly in more affluent areas, more prosperous areas where people went to doctors privately and said :’I want a get a PSA test’,” he said.

“But then gradually it just spread across the country and more men right across the country started to hear about this test, and they started to go to their GP and say: ‘I want to have this test done’.”.

How to build and maintain strong bones


How to build and maintain strong bones

Osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weakened and brittle over time, affects millions of people across the globe. The International Osteoporosis Foundation says an osteoporosis-related fracture occurs roughly once every 3 seconds, accounting for more than 8.9 million fractures a year.

Younger individuals typically heal from fractures more quickly than older adults, who often discover that fractures greatly impede their mobility and quality of life.

Bone health is important at any age, but it is particularly crucial as a person gets older. Without a strong framework of bones, the body collapses on itself and rates of fracture increase. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep and maintain strong bones.

Bones are largely made up of a protein called collagen, which is bound together by calcium and other trace minerals. Vitamin D and calcium work in concert, with vitamin D helping the body to absorb calcium so it can find its way into bones. Experts advise getting the right ratio of calcium, protein and vitamin D to safeguard against osteoporosis.

The Institute of Medicine suggests that adults get between 600 and 800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day, and between 1,000 and 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily. Dairy products, such as low- and nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese, are high in calcium. Dark green vegetables and almonds contain calcium in smaller amounts. Obtaining calcium and vitamin D through natural sources is always preferable, but doctors may suggest supplementation if foods are not providing what a person needs to meet the minimum recommended levels.

Exercise is another important component of building strong bones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says 30 minutes of exercise each day can help. Higher-intensity exercises should be mixed with lower-intensity workouts for the best results. Weight-bearing exercises, such as hiking, dancing and stair-climbing, can build between 1 and 3 percent of bone. An exercise regimen also should include lifting weights or using resistance bands.

Activities that promote good posture and flexibility can help improve balance and alignment of the body. Perform stretches smoothly and slowly after exercising to maintain your range of motion.

Quitting smoking also can promote strong bones. Smoking has been linked to poor skeletal health in both men and women, and the longer one smokes, the greater one’s risk for fracture.

UK researchers develop new, improved ovarian cancer test


A new screening method that looks at changes in the level of CA125 in the blood can detect twice as many women with ovarian cancer as conventional strategies, suggest results from a giant trial led by researchers at University College London and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Using a statistical calculation to interpret changing levels in the protein gave a more accurate prediction of individual risk of developing the disease, compared to the conventional screening method which uses a fixed ‘cut-off’ point for CA125, according to data from one arm of the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), the world’s largest ovarian cancer screening study involving more than 202,000 women.

Researchers detected cancer in 86% of women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer, whereas the traditional test used in previous trials or in clinical practice would have identified fewer than half of these women (41% or 48%, respectively).

The findings indicate that CA125 “can be an accurate and sensitive screening tool, when used in the context of a woman’s pattern of CA125 over time,” said Ian Jacobs, President of The University of New South Wales, Australia, chief investigator of the trial, and co-inventor of the statistical approach. “What’s normal for one woman may not be so for another. It is the change in levels of this protein that’s important,” he stressed.

The researchers are hoping that the approach will prove able to pick up ovarian cancer early enough to boost survival rates. Full data from the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), which should provide some definite evidence on whether the new CA125 method can save lives, are expected later this year.

Irish killer whales in danger of dying out from pollution


Killer orcas whales off the coast of Ireland.

A group of killer whales that have become a familiar sight in Irish waters are at risk of dying out from pollution.

The pod of orcas – believed to have dwindled to approximately seven in number – migrate between the coastal areas of Scotland and Ireland.

They are believed to be the only resident population of the species in the region, according to local scientists.

Despite their threatening name, the killer whales have become quite a popular attraction in our waters.

However, latest studies indicate that contamination through pollution in their food may be making the mammals infertile.

“It’s been long established that stranded whales have measured high levels of pollution and that this contamination is known to affect reproduction,” marine biologist Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group told independent.ie.

“However, we have followed this particular pod for almost 30 years and it has not calved once. The theory is that live animals are suffering from the same contamination.”

Dr Berrow said that some analysis in live killer whales has already been done, with some early test work already published.

“We are awaiting results and further collaborative testing. We should have more definitive answers within the next few months.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday/Sunday 7 & 8th June 2014

Top US politician launches assault on Irish tax laws 


The Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Silicon Valley’s best young whizz kids were left embarrassed as California Governor Jerry Brown took a sledgehammer to the Irish tax laws that lure US corporations here.

The Enterprise Ireland event in San Francisco was held to celebrate Irish-American links and the new wave of Irish entrepreneurs heading to the west coast in search of a fortune in new technologies.

Instead there was barely concealed hostility as California’s most senior politician gave a withering attack on our tax system and the US corporations who benefit.

He said his state of California would become an “independent country” if it had the same tax regime as Ireland.

It was one of several jibes about Irish taxation made after Taoiseach Mr Kenny had heralded the relationship between Ireland and the US.

And Mr Brown said that Apple was now an “Irish company” that benefited from what he described as “creative accounting”.

“I don’t know how you got to have Apple to have so much of their business in Ireland, we thought they were a Californian company, when you look at their tax returns they’re really an Irish company… it’s called creative accounting,” Governor Brown said.

The no-holds barred assault on fiscal policy caused deep unease among the Irish contingent in the boardroom.

His speech was met with gasps after he remarked about the relationship between Ireland and Britain.

After stating that both the Irish and Californians swim “against the stream”, he added: “The Irish have had to live next door to the English for all these centuries.”

Governor Brown then alluded to the number of Irish barmen working on the very street where he was making his controversial remarks.

“We have a lot of your countrymen that come to San Francisco, they run a lot of establishments here, on Geary Street you see a number of them,” he said, to polite laughter. But it was his continued focus on Irish tax laws that raised most eyebrows, even among the officials from the Government, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.

The event – designed to assist Irish start-up firms seeking to break into the US market – was also attended by Irish ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson, several IDA officials including chief executive Barry O’Leary and dozens of Irish business people.

Governor Brown’s outspoken remarks come as the European Commission is poised to launch a formal probe into allegations that the Revenue Commissioners have offered special deals to multi-national companies.

The probe, which may begin as early as Wednesday, could result in businesses being asked to repay money.

When asked about the matter during his visit to Silicon Valley, Mr Kenny said: “Clearly when the Commission decide to make a statement on the matter, Ireland will react to it.

“We believe our legislation is robust, that the application of that legislation is ethical and obviously we will be prepared to defend that very strongly in the event of any further statement or requirement from the European Commission.”

In his own speech at the Enterprise Ireland event on Saturday, Mr Kenny spoke about his aims for Ireland to become “the greatest small nation on Earth”. He added that Dublin was “becoming a magnetic attraction for young people from all over the world”.

The Taoiseach said these young people were “changing the frontiers up ahead”.

Galway cancer survivor’s medical card withdrawn without any notice


A Galway carpenter who had a bone marrow transplant and aggressive chemotherapy treatment for a rare cancer nearly 22 years ago that left a legacy of side effects, was among those whose medical card was withdrawn out of the blue.

Now James Mullen, 59, is among tens of thousands hoping they will get their medical card back after the Government’s U-turn forced by their humiliation at the ballot box in last month’s local and European elections.

In 1993, James, from Clifden, Co Galway, underwent a bone marrow transplant that saved his life.

Back then, the chemotherapy regime that accompanied his successful cancer treatment was extremely aggressive – unlike the carefully targeted therapy available today.

It left James with a legacy of medical issues. At one stage he was on 22 tablets a day to treat blood pressure, stomach problems and other side-effects of his cancer treatment.

He told the Sunday Independent: “It’s a small price to pay. I’m glad to be rid of the cancer. Without the bone marrow transplant and the treatments I was told in 1993 that I would be dead within five years.”

Since then James has had a discretionary medical card – until about eight weeks ago.

He received no official notification. He found out that his medical card had been withdrawn by the HSE when he went to his pharmacist to pick up his prescription.

“I had to pay €140 for my medicines,” James added.

It is a large monthly bill the married father of four can ill afford.

“I rang the HSE and was talking to someone in there. I told them I was a cancer patient on twice yearly check-ups in Galway and Dublin. The chap said to me that back in the Nineties it was easy to give out medical cards because cancer patients didn’t live that long, but that has changed now,” James said. He has still not got his medical card back and has written to the HSE stating his case.

“They did send me a GP visit card to replace the medical card but that is not worth anything to me, I never go near a GP,” he said. “If I have a problem I have to see the specialist in hospital. What I need is help meeting the bill for medicines and drugs.”

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) and other groups representing patients who had medical cards withdrawn in the latest health fiasco have been promised by Minister James Reilly that the mess will be sorted out before the Dail rises for Summer.

An emotional Dr Reilly was joined by Junior Minister Alex White for meetings with a number of groups on Friday, including Down Syndrome Ireland, the Jack & Jill Foundation, ICS and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The Our Children’s Health group, which has been campaigning for the return of cards and also met the Minister said: “We would like to acknowledge Minister Reilly’s sincerity and commitment to expedite the introduction of the new framework while also moving quickly to deal with those that have lost their medical cards.”

The group said the minister had “committed to identify and reinstate medical cards for all those affected” and added that this would be undertaken by the time the Dail breaks for the summer recess on July 17.

A spokesman for the group said Dr Reilly became “quite emotional” as he spoke to them.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “On the issue of those persons who lost a discretionary medical card through the review process, the groups were advised that the goal of the Government is to resolve that issue before the summer.”

It has now emerged that both Dr Reilly and the HSE furiously opposed the “medical cards probity” savings of €113m in 2014 advocated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Eventually, after that battle, the savings sought under the heading “Medical Card Probity” were reduced to €23m and approved by cabinet.

On Wednesday, Dr Reilly apologised to his Fine Gael colleagues for the way the medical card issue had been handled, but appeared to cast some blame on cabinet colleagues for forcing unrealistic savings on his department.

A range of options to treat prostate problems

Half of men over 60 have symptoms of enlarged gland


As they age, an undeniable aspect of men’s health involves beginning to think the prostate.

According to Men’s Health Network, more than 50 percent of men in their 60s and as many as 90 percent of men age 70 or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate. More than 230,000 men each year are diagnosed with prostate problems and 30,000 men a year will die.

The prostate is part of a man’s sex organs. It is a small gland that produces semen. The walnut-sized organ surrounds the urethra, a tube that takes urine from the bladder to the penis, and also carries semen during ejaculation. In men, the prostate gland grows in puberty and then stops until about age 40 when it starts to grow again. In some men, the prostate gland does not stop growing after that.

There are three conditions associated with prostate growth. It can result in an enlarged prostate, a non-cancerous condition that can lead to frequent urination, difficulty going and an incomplete emptying of the bladder. This condition can lead to pain, sleep disorders, incontinence, bladder stones, kidney infections or damage to the bladder, kidneys or urethra.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate and can have complications related to infections, including fever, and illness.

Physicians advise a prostate exam at about age 50, earlier if there is a family history of prostate cancer.

“When we do the exam, we are looking to gauge the size of the prostate,” said Dr. Cullen Jumper of Core Physicians’ Atlantic Urology Associates in Exeter. “We check for hard spots (nodules) which might be concerning. If we need to, we biopsy and discuss the results. Once they reach this age group, all men should at least be discussing this test with their primary care physician. If they have concerns, they need to ask the questions. Many men do not, and they should.”

Dr. Steven Kahan of Atlantic Urology Associates said benign prostate hyperplasia, BPH, is the common term for the condition where the prostate grows to the point that it begins to interfere with urinary function.

“Traditionally, in the past this was treated with surgery, called TURP (transurethral resection of prostate), and that may still be done if needed, but there are also a variety of medications now to treat this,” Kahan said. “Some of the medications used were designed to treat high blood pressure, but we discovered they work well for this condition, too. Now we treat with medication and only consider surgery if that does not work.”

Besides the TURP surgery, Kahan said options include green light laser and ablation of prostate surgical methods.

Cancer of the prostate is treatable if caught early. A physical exam by the physician and possible biopsy tests are required to diagnose prostate cancer.

Dr. Gary Proulx is medical director of radiation oncology at Exeter Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care. He said that even if cancer is detected, treatment may be postponed in favor of “active surveillance” because prostate cancer is usually a very slow-growing disease.

“It is a typical misconception that men die from prostate cancer and that is usually not the case,” Proulx said. “Active surveillance means we simply monitor the cases where there such a low volume of the disease, where it is early grade cancer. We will generally biopsy it one year after discovery, to gauge the growth. Of course, if it is progressing we will treat it.”

Treatment of prostate cancer can involve surgery to remove the cancer followed by radiation treatments. Proulx said there used to be a push to treat immediately, but thinking has changed.

“It was thought that the prostate was generally being overtreated, and I would tend to agree,” Proulx said. “We are leaning the other way because sometimes it is just not necessary. Obviously, if the cancer is in the intermediate to high grade, we will act. Autopsies of men in late age, in their 80s, will often show the presence of prostate cancer, where the men never had any prostate issue in their lives.”

While there are no specific lifestyle changes recommended for prostate health, Proulx believes diet is a factor.

“Japanese men living in Japan never get prostate cancer,” Proulx said. “They eat a lot of fish and a generally lean diet. When they come here and take on a fatty diet, they get prostate cancer.”

A new ‘solitary’ dolphin’s moved to Irish waters

swimmers are being urged to keep their distance


Clet, who originated in French waters, is described as a “non-social solitary dolphin who does not seek out and engage with swimmers”.

Some people may remember a series of warning being issued last summer after a number of swimmers were injured while interacting with a dolphin off Co Clare.

As many as five people were injured by the mammal known locally as ‘Dusty’. Warning signs were placed around Doolin harbour, a favourite spot for the animal.

Well — as we head into the summer swimming season once again, a new warning’s being issued concerning another dolphin who’s recently relocated to Irish waters.

The dolphin in question, known has Clet, has been spotted recently in scenic West Cork — in particular, Glandore, Schull and Baltimore harbours.

According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the mammal — who originated in French waters — recently moved the southwest coast from the Isles of Scilly.

According to the IWDG’s Paul Kiernan he is a “non-social solitary dolphin who does not seek out and engage with swimmers”.

In an article on the group’s website this week, Kiernan set out the dangers posed by swimming with any wild dolphin, pointing out that the practice poses “significant potential to increase the risk to the health and safety of swimmers”.

He writes that while many dolphins “spend long periods of time in shallow waters facilitating encounters with small groups of people” their behaviour often changes as more and more people seek to share the experience — especially if they grab at the mammal or attempt to be towed along…

Natural, normal behaviours such as diving, feeding and resting behaviours decline in frequency in the presence of humans.

The animal seeks out interactions, becomes increasingly forceful in these interactions and begins to exhibit behaviour hazardous to swimmers in the water.

Documented behaviours include preventing swimmers from leaving the water by repeatedly swimming in front of them to intercept their exit, increased activity levels and force of activity, tail slapping and breaching in close proximity or on top of swimmers.

Dolphins have also been shown to bite or butt swimmers.

As humans, we do not possess the power to communicate with these animals and therefore we cannot understand how our actions will be interpreted by a wild dolphin, regardless of whether that dolphin is seeking contact with humans or not.

Clet was spotted swimming around sail boats in Glandore harbour on Thursday. The IWDG is encouraging people to get in contact if the spot the mammal, as hope to monitor his movements around Irish waters.

Great white shark EATEN by even larger mystery animal 


The 8-foot-long shark was eaten, possibly by an even bigger shark, think researchers.

Scientists are baffled after they discovered that 8-foot long great white shark has been eaten by even bigger “mystery sea monster.”

Researchers have no idea what animal could be responsible for killing and eating the shark.

The only theory they have so far come up with is that was attacked by a “colossal cannibal white shark.”

Researchers had tagged the healthy shark to track its movements.

But the tracking device washed up on an Australian beach four months later.

Data shows there was a rapid temperature rise along with a sudden 2,000-foot plunge, That, scientists believe, proves it eaten by something much bigger, saying the records indicate the shark went inside another animals’s digestive system.