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      Fever, Cancer Incidence and Spontaneous Remissions

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          Objective: Accumulating evidence exists for (1) an inverse correlation between the incidence of infectious diseases and cancer risk and (2) an inverse correlation between febrile infections and remissions of malignancies. This review is part of an effort of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health to examine this evidence. Methods: A review of the literature to a key word search was undertaken, using the following key words: fever, infectious diseases, neoplasm, cancer incidence and spontaneous remission. Results: The data reviewed in this article support earlier observations on the topic, i.e. that the occurrence of fever in childhood or adulthood may protect against the later onset of malignant disease and that spontaneous remissions are often preceded by feverish infections. Conclusion: Pyrogenic substances and the more recent use of whole-body hyperthermia to mimic the physiologic response to fever have successfully been administered in palliative and curative treatment protocols for metastatic cancer. Further research in this area is warranted.

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          Most cited references 9

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          Neural and humoral pathways of communication from the immune system to the brain: parallel or convergent?

          The first studies carried out on the mechanisms by which peripheral immune stimuli signal the brain to induce fever, activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sickness behavior emphasized the importance of fenestrated parts of the blood-brain barrier known as circumventricular organs for allowing blood-borne proinflammatory cytokines to act on brain functions. The discovery in the mid-1990s that subdiaphragmatic section of the vagus nerves attenuates the brain effects of systemic cytokines, together with the demonstration of an inducible brain cytokine compartment shifted the attention from circumventricular organs to neural pathways in the transmission of the immune message to the brain. Since then, neuroanatomical studies have confirmed the existence of a fast route of communication from the immune system to the brain via the vagus nerves. This neural pathway is complemented by a humoral pathway that involves cytokines produced at the level of the circumventricular organs and the choroid plexus and at the origin of a second wave of cytokines produced in the brain parenchyma. Depending on their source, these locally produced cytokines can either activate neurons that project to specific brain areas or diffuse by volume transmission into the brain parenchyma to reach their targets. Activation of neurons by cytokines can be direct or indirect, via prostaglandins. The way the neural pathway of transmission interacts with the humoral pathway remains to be elucidated.
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            Cancer undefeated.

            Despite decades of basic and clinical research and trials of promising new therapies, cancer remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. We assessed overall progress against cancer in the United States from 1970 through 1994 by analyzing changes in age-adjusted mortality rates. We obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics data on all deaths from cancer and from cancer at specific sites, as well as on deaths due to cancer according to age, race, and sex, for the years 1970 through 1994. We computed age-specific mortality rates and adjusted them to the age distribution of the U.S. population in 1990. Age-adjusted mortality due to cancer in 1994 (200.9 per 100,000 population) was 6.0 percent higher than the rate in 1970 (189.6 per 100,000). After decades of steady increases, the age-adjusted mortality due to all malignant neoplasms plateaued, then decreased by 1.0 percent from 1991 to 1994. The decline in mortality due to cancer was greatest among black males and among persons under 55 years of age. Mortality among white males 55 or older has also declined recently. These trends reflect a combination of changes in death rates from specific types of cancer, with important declines due to reduced cigarette smoking and improved screening and a mixture of increases and decreases in the incidence of types of cancer not closely related to tobacco use. The war against cancer is far from over. Observed changes in mortality due to cancer primarily reflect changing incidence or early detection. The effect of new treatments for cancer on mortality has been largely disappointing. The most promising approach to the control of cancer is a national commitment to prevention, with a concomitant rebalancing of the focus and funding of research.
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              Coley's toxins, tumor necrosis factor and cancer research: A historical perspective


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                September 2001
                14 September 2001
                : 9
                : 2
                : 55-64
                aOffice of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, bSamueli Institute for Information Biology and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., USA, cMenox Ambulatorien, Vienna, Austria, dOdenwaldklinik, Bad König, Germany
                49008 Neuroimmunomodulation 2001;9:55–64
                © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 217, Pages: 10


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