Clifford A. Hudis, MD

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Clinical Implications of Antiangiogenic Therapies

April 3rd 2005

The improved survival associated with adding the anti-vascular endothelialgrowth factor (VEGF) monoclonal antibody bevacizumab(Avastin) to chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with metastaticcolorectal cancer demonstrates the importance of targeting collateralcells involved in tumor growth, progression, and metastatic spread.Based on the Gompertzian model of tumor growth, adding anti-VEGFagents to standard chemotherapy may be especially effective in earlystages of cancer. By improving chemotherapy delivery to the tumor andinhibiting regrowth between treatment cycles, anti-VEGF agents mayalter the growth pattern of a tumor such that it is more susceptible toeradication. These concepts also suggest that anti-VEGF agents couldenhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy given conventionally or ina dose-dense fashion. As such, it is possible that the effectiveness ofchemotherapy could be maintained or improved, even at lower cumulativedoses, which may improve its tolerability. Additionally, the effectsof anti-VEGF agents on metronomic chemotherapy, which is reportedto have antiangiogenic properties on its own, warrant further evaluation.Preclinical data demonstrate that cytostatic angiogenesis inhibitorsare potent complementary agents to metronomic chemotherapy,producing sustained complete regressions in some models of humancancer. Dose-dense and metronomic chemotherapy have in common ashortened dosing interval and resultant increased and/or prolongedexposure of tumor cells to chemotherapy in vivo. Optimizing the use ofanti-VEGF agents in the clinic demands further investigation of themost appropriate way to combine them with chemotherapy, particularlyregimens designed to exploit known tumor growth patterns andthose designed to target the endothelial cells involved inneovascularization with multiple agents.

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Risk Models for Neutropenia in Patients With Breast Cancer

November 1st 2003

Breast cancer is the most common noncutaneous malignancy inwomen in industrialized countries. Chemotherapy prolongs survival inpatients with early-stage breast cancer, and maintaining the chemotherapydose intensity is crucial for increasing overall survival. Manypatients are, however, treated with less than the standard dose intensitybecause of neutropenia and its complications. Prophylactic colonystimulatingfactor (CSF) reduces the incidence and duration of neutropenia,facilitating the delivery of the planned chemotherapy doses.Targeting CSF to only at-risk patients is cost-effective, and predictivemodels are being investigated and developed to make it possible forclinicians to identify patients who are at highest risk for neutropeniccomplications. Both conditional risk factors (eg, the depth of the firstcycleabsolute neutrophil count nadir) and unconditional risk factors(eg, patient age, treatment regimen, and pretreatment blood cell counts)are predictors of neutropenic complications in early-stage breast cancer.Colony-stimulating factor targeted toward high-risk patients startingin the first cycle of chemotherapy may make it possible for fulldoses of chemotherapy to be administered, thereby maximizing patientbenefit. Recent studies of dose-dense chemotherapy regimens with CSFsupport in early-stage breast cancer have shown improvements in disease-free and overall survival, with less hematologic toxicity than withconventional therapy. These findings could lead to changes in how earlystagebreast cancer is managed.

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Paclitaxel for Breast Cancer: The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Experience

March 1st 1997

The proven safety profile and antitumor activity of paclitaxel (Taxol) in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer led investigators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to further examine the agent's potential in the treatment of advanced breast cancer. Efficacy and tolerability studies of paclitaxel as single-agent therapy were undertaken, along with parallel investigations of quality-of-life parameters. The studies examined the effects of 96-hour infusion schedules of paclitaxel and are currently assessing the feasibility of a weekly 1-hour infusion schedule. Researchers at MSKCC also compared the results of a variety of two- and three-drug paclitaxel-containing regimens to determine possible synergism and better define safety profiles. They examined the combination of paclitaxel and edatrexate, as well as a promising combination of paclitaxel and a monoclonal antibody directed at growth factor receptors. The latter ongoing trial will include both laboratory studies that examine possible cellular mechanisms for the combination's observed synergy and a clinical trial that combines paclitaxel with a monoclonal antibody directed against the epidermal growth factor. In conclusion, the investigators discuss the optimal integration of paclitaxel into doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar)-based adjuvant therapy for node-positive stage II-III resectable breast cancer. [ONCOLOGY 11(Suppl):20-28, 1997]