Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 1

ODAC Recommends Campath for FDA Approval for Refractory CLL

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has voted 14 to 1 to recommend that the agency grant accelerated approval to Campath (alemtuzumab, Millennium & ILEX Partners) for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have been treated with alkylating agents and have failed fludarabine (Fludara) therapy.

‘IrinoGem’ Active and Well Tolerated in Pancreatic Cancer

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-An irinotecan (Camptosar) plus gemcitabine (Gemzar) combination known as IrinoGem was associated with low toxicity, median survival of 6 months, and a 1-year survival rate of 27%, according to results from a phase II study presented at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII.

STI571 Studies Help Validate Molecular Targeting in CML

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-The promise of molecularly targeted therapies has been validated in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), Brian J. Druker, MD, of Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, said at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII. "This disease has provided an ideal opportunity to test the concept that drugs targeted against a tumor-specific abnormality will have therapeutic utility," he said.

Outpatient Mylotarg Therapy Cuts Costs in Relapsed AML

January 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Patients receiving monoclonal antibody-targeted chemotherapy with gemtuzumab ozo-gamicin (Mylotarg) rather than conventional combination chemotherapy for first relapse of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) are more likely to be treated as outpatients, resulting in considerable cost savings, according to a study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Wyeth-Ayerst Research.

STI571 Proves Effective in Patients With Interferon-Failure CML

January 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Results of a phase II, open-label, multicenter study show that the investigational agent STI571 holds promise for many patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) whose disease has proved resistant to interferon therapy.

Prostate Cancer Patients Tolerate Higher 3D Conformal RT Doses

January 01, 2001

BOSTON-Raising 3D conformal radiation therapy doses for localized prostate cancer produced far less toxicity than expected in a nine-center cooperative study reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

IP6 (Phytic Acid) Inhibits Breast Cancer in Animals

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Inositol hexa-phosphate (IP6) has shown antitumor effects in vitro and in animal models and may be ready for clinical trials in humans, said Ivana Vucenik, PhD, associate professor of medical and research technology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore. She presented her study results at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation grants conference "Reaching for the Cure."

Adjuvant Therapy Beneficial in Early, Node-Negative Breast Cancer

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Adjuvant therapy should be offered as an option to node-negative breast cancer patients, even those with tumors smaller than 1 cm, said Bernard Fisher, MD, scientific director of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).

Medicare Increases Payment Rates for Most Physicians

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Physicians will receive an average 4.5% increase in Medicare payment rates in 2001, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) announced. Increases will range from nothing to 12%, depending on specialty.

Update on High-Dose Consolidation Therapy in Breast Cancer

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-High-risk breast cancer patients receiving intermediate- or high-dose consolidation chemotherapy after CAF achieved overall survival that is "better than any other experience within the CALGB," William Peters, MD, PhD, said at the NIH Consensus Conference on Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer. He gave an update of CALGB 9082/SWOG 9114/NCIC MA-13.

Lessons Learned From Large Lung Cancer Screening Program

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-A program to screen for lung cancer that was remarkably successful in recruiting participants has produced some surprises and taught the investigators some lessons about what to expect from large-scale lung cancer screening.

Letrozole Superior to Tamoxifen in 2 Studies

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Letrozole (Femara) was found to be superior to tamoxifen (Nolvadex) in the largest study ever conducted of endocrine therapy in advanced breast cancer, Matthew J. Ellis, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Duke University Breast Cancer Program, said at the XVIII Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium. Median time to progression was 41 weeks for letrozole vs 26 weeks for tamoxifen (P = .0001), he said.

Neoadjuvant Therapy Supported for Rectal Cancer

January 01, 2001

BOSTON-Neoadjuvant therapy for adenocarcinoma of the rectum is well tolerated and can produce substantial downstaging and high curative resection rates, according to a retrospective study presented at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting. The manuscript of the study has been accepted for publication in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum.

British Trials Assessing Value of Chemo in Advanced NSCLC

January 01, 2001

TOKYO, Japan-Large, multicenter trials underway in the United Kingdom are questioning whether chemotherapy is actually worth it for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to Jeremy Steele, MD, of the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Imaging, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

Cytokines Enhance Effects of Cord Blood Cells Against Breast Cancer

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Umbilical cord blood cells alone have no cytotoxic properties, but studies show that when activated with interleukin-2 (IL-2), they may have some therapeutic effects against breast cancer, said Shantaram S. Joshi, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and anatomy, University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Rituximab/CHOP Ups Survival in Untreated Aggressive NHL

January 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Interim results of a phase III European study show that combining conventional chemotherapy with the monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) improves survival rates over chemotherapy alone in elderly patients with aggressive lymphoma.

Intensive Chemo for HIV+ Burkitt’s Lymphoma Patients

January 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-HIV-positive patients with Burkitt’s lymphoma treated with intensive chemotherapy achieved high complete response rates similar to those without HIV infection, according to a retrospective review of 38 patients treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) between 1988 and 2000.

ODAC Rejects Histamine as Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) declined in a unanimous vote to recommend that the agency approve histamine hydrochloride injections (Maxim Pharmaceuticals) for adjuvant use with interleukin-2 (IL-2) in the treatment of adult patients with advanced melanoma that has metastasized to the liver.

Thalidomide Studied in a Variety of Cancers

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Long banished from the pharmacopoeia because of its teratogenic effects, thalidomide (Thalomid) has recently reemerged as a potentially promising chemotherapeutic agent in a variety of cancers. Four presentations at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII looked at its use as a single agent and in combination therapy.

Xeloda/Taxotere Effective in Anthracycline-Resistant Breast Cancer

January 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-Results of a large phase III trial show that combining oral capecitabine (Xeloda) with docetaxel (Taxotere) significantly improved overall survival, time to disease progression, and response rates over docetaxel alone in women with anthracycline-resistant metastatic breast cancer.

Oxaliplatin/Irinotecan as First-Line Colon Cancer Therapy

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-The combination of oxaliplatin (investigational) and irinotecan (Camptosar) as front-line treatment for colorectal cancer is feasible and potentially synergistic, preliminary data from an M.D. Anderson Cancer Center phase I/II trial suggests.

FDA Approves Optical Biopsy System for Assessing Colon Polyps

January 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-The FDA has approved the marketing of the Optical Biopsy System (SpectraScience, Inc.), a laser-based technique designed to assist physicians in deciding whether certain colon polyps are precancerous and should be removed. The company chose the trademark name Optical Biopsy System after the FDA refused to accept the name "Virtual Biopsy System" for its product.

Lower Medicare HOPPS Payments Reversed

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has scrapped plans to significantly reduce payments in 2001 for therapies and technologies covered by Medicare under its Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS).

Adjuvant RT Plus Chemotherapy Improves Survival in Locally Advanced Stomach Cancer

January 01, 2001

BOSTON-A new regimen of adjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy significantly raised 3-year survival rates for locally advanced stomach cancer patients in a randomized phase III intergroup trial reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Immunologic Test Detects Recurrent Bladder Cancer

January 01, 2001

CARPINTERIA, Calif-A newly available fluorescent-based immunocytologic test to detect superficial bladder cancer, ImmunoCyt, used in conjunction with urinary cytology, will likely reduce the need for periodic cystoscopies in patients with transitional cell bladder cancer and enhance the early detection of recurrent disease.

Sputum Cytology Complements CT in Lung Cancer Screening Effort

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-The development of computers and diagnostic platforms is facilitating mass screening for lung cancer not only with helical CT but also with sputum cytology, according to Melvyn S. Tockman, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director, Program in Molecular Screening, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa.

California’s Lung Cancer Decline Shows Effectiveness of Tobacco Control

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-California’s aggressive tobacco control efforts, which include raising tobacco taxes and using some of that revenue for prevention efforts, appear to have played a significant role in the state’s decrease in lung cancer rates, according to a new collaborative study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Health Services.

Lung Cancer Screening With 1 mm Multislice CT Scans

January 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Thinner multislice CT scans are increasing the effectiveness of lung cancer screening, a German investigator said at the 3rd International Conference on Screening for Lung Cancer. U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, of the Institute of Clinical Radiology, University of Munich, showed images from 1 mm slices achieved with the Siemens Volume Zoom. "Obviously, we use the fastest rotation mode that we have available," he said. "That’s a 500 millisecond rotation. With a collimation of 1 mm, that allows us to cover the entire chest in a single breath-hold of about 20 to 25 seconds."

Letrozole Indication as First-Line Therapy Recommended

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Seconding the advice of a Food and Drug Administration review team, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has recommended that the FDA approve Femara tablets (letrozole, Novartis) as first-line therapy in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer.

Low Reimbursement Jeopardizes Mammography Services

January 01, 2001

CHICAGO-Unless relative value reimbursement units for mammography services rise by a factor of three, the US health care system will not be able to keep up with the expected demand for diagnostic and screening examinations for breast cancer, a panel of radiologists said at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Progress in Systemic Chemotherapy of Primary Breast Cancer

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The aggregate benefit of adjuvant systemic chemotherapy is "greater than many would think," reflecting "real and substantial" progress, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, professor and chairman of Breast Medical Oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said at the NIH Consensus Conference on Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer.

WINS Looks at Effects of Dietary Fat on Breast Cancer Outcomes

January 01, 2001

PHILADELPHIA-The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS) has completed accrual, with some 2,400 women enrolled to date. The study, an NCI-funded, randomized, multicenter national trial begun in 1993, is testing the hypothesis that dietary fat intake reduction as an adjuvant to standard breast cancer therapy will reduce disease recurrence and increase survival in women with localized breast cancer.

NCI Seeks a $5.03 Billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2002

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has requested $5.03 billion in its "bypass budget" for fiscal year 2002, which begins Oct. 1, 2001. The request represents an increase of $1.525 billion over the $3.5 billion President Clinton asked Congress to provide the Institute for FY 2001, and $1.27 billion above the actual FY 2001 appropriation granted by Congress ($3.76 billion).

Benefit of Adjuvant Taxanes in Primary Breast Cancer Debated

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Interim analysis of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) B-28 trial has shown no additional benefit to adding four cycles of paclitaxel (Taxol) after the standard doxorubicin (Adria-mycin)/cyclophosphamide (AC) regimen in the adjuvant treatment of node-positive breast cancer.

TBI Using Arc Technology More Comfortable for Patients

January 01, 2001

BOSTON-A new, intensity modulated radiation therapy delivery system allows patients to lie down rather than stand up for total body irradiation (TBI) and avoid the discomfort of heavy lead shields to block the lungs, John T. Keane, PhD, reported at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

Xcytrin Plus Radiation Therapy Targets Brain Metastases

January 01, 2001

BOSTON-Combining standard radiation with a new drug called motexafin gadolinium (Xcytrin) produced substantial benefits for cancer patients with brain metastases in the lead-in phase of an ongoing phase III clinical trial, according to a report presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

The ‘Campaign’ Girds for More Battles in the Tobacco Wars

January 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Since its inception 5 years ago, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has become a major force in the policy wars over tobacco. Media savvy and quick to respond to news opportunities, the Campaign has been effective in publicizing the deceptive practices of the tobacco industry, its political contributions at the state and national level, and its changing advertising practices aimed at enticing youngsters into smoking.

NCI Reports Results of Cell Phone-Brain Cancer Study

January 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has reported results of a study investigating the possible link between brain cancer and cell phone use weeks ahead of its scheduled publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Exploring the Hidden Financial Burden of Cancer Therapy

January 01, 2001

Approaches to cancer treatment have rapidly grown complex and costly, causing heightened awareness among patients, physicians, employers, and insurance providers. Annual costs for cancer are about $107 billion, accounting for 20% of all health care costs.[1]