Two young researchers receives the Assar Gabrielssons Award 2016 for their research in their respective category regarding leukemia and prostate cancer.Award winners Anna Staffas and Rebecka Arnsrud Godtman has conducted important cancer research that generated a great interest.
In Sweden about 700 new cases of leukemia, blood cancer, are discovered per year. Leukemia consists of an increased amount of altered white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. The disease caused by changes of the genetic material in the cells, known as mutations. Leukemia involves many different diseases with different prognosis and they require different treatment. Certain types occur mainly in adults, while others also affect children.
Anna Staffas has in her thesis studied the genetic changes that cause leukemia. She showed the importance some mutations have for prognosis in children with leukemia, and that knowledge of mutations can predict what kind of treatment each patient should receive. In addition, she studied the mechanism of a certain mutation and how it turns a normal cell into cancer cell.
Anna Staffas has pursued important translational cancer research that provides a better understanding of how genetic changes are related to the initiation and development of leukemia. The results of this research have received attention and already led to changes in how children with certain types of leukemia are treated.
In Sweden, organized screening of breast cancer (mammography) and cervix cancer (smear test) are routine, while screening for prostate cancer is not organized. Pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer have been debated for many years. The main reasons for this are the high risk of over-diagnosing, i.e., that cancer is detected that would otherwise never have been found or given symptoms, and overtreatment. Patients will then be worried and treated unnecessarily. The issue of screening includes both medical and ethical aspects.
Rebecka Arnsrud Godtman studied in her thesis the over-diagnosing at early examination of prostate cancer using the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. She demonstrated that the unorganized PSA test by Swedish men to date only resulted in small reduction in mortality, while organized screening could reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer by about 40%. She also revealed that the risk of overtreatment can be reduced by so-called active monitoring, when treatment is inserted only in cases where the tumour shows signs of becoming more aggressive.
Rebecka Arnsrud Godtman has conducted important clinical cancer research that raises the question of the benefits and risks of screening for prostate cancer. The results of this research have attracted great interest and already influenced the care of men with prostate cancer.
From "Reasons to 2016-Award"
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