Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 12

Elderly Colon Cancer Patients Benefit From Adjuvant Chemotherapy

December 27, 2001

ROCHESTER, Minnesota-Fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy after surgery can be given safely to selected elderly patients with stage II/III colon cancer, and these patients derive the same benefits from the treatment as do their younger counterparts, according to results of a pooled analysis of seven clinical trials.

Stromal Cells May Be Involved in Development of Breast Carcinoma

December 01, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio-New evidence suggests that the genetic changes leading to breast cancer occur first in the epithelium of breast tissue, and then are followed by corresponding alterations in the surrounding stroma.

Intercultural Facts About Cancer

December 01, 2001

HOUSTON-The Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) promotes policies, programs, partnerships, and research to eliminate the unequal burden of cancer among racial and ethnic minorities and medically underserved populations in the United States and its associated territories. With this issue, ONI launches a regular column devoted to intercultural facts about cancer, based on information from the ICC and other sources.

Nurse-Provided Education Crucial to Sural Nerve Graft Prostatectomy Patients

December 01, 2001

SAN DIEGO--Sural nerve grafting is a new procedure that may allow prostate patients undergoing radical prostatectomy to maintain sexual potency. With limited information currently available about the procedure, the ambulatory nurse’s role in educating these patients can be critical in alleviating anxiety and stress, said Mary Schoen, RN, MSN, MPH, a clinical nurse in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Urology Department.

18-Gene Cluster Found in ER-Positive Breast Cancers

December 01, 2001

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland-Researchers have identified 18 genes that behave similarly to estrogen-receptor-alpha (ESR1) in patients with estrogen-receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer. The cluster includes seven genes not previously associated with estrogen regulation or with breast cancer, Mihael H. Polymeropoulos, MD, head of pharmacogenetics, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, told ONI in an interview.

Viread OK’d for Treating HIV With Other Antiretrovirals

December 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The Food and Drug Administration has approved Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, Gilead Sciences, Inc.) for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in combination with other antiretroviral agents. Viread, a nucleotide analog, remains in cells longer than other antiretrovirals, which enables a dosage of 300 mg taken once a day in tablet form.

Surgeons in New York Operate on Patient in France

December 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Researchers reported in the September 27 Nature that a surgeon on one side of the Atlantic removed the gallbladder of a patient on the other side, but the clinical usefulness of this long-distance, robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery is uncertain.

Fulvestrant Reduces Cell Turnover Index More Than Tamoxifen

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A new measure to evaluate the effect of preoperative antiestrogen agents on tumor growth in early estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer suggests that fulvestrant (Faslodex, ICI 182,780, investigational) is superior to tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Fulvestrant is an estrogen-receptor downregulator and is considered a pure antiestrogen.

New Lung Cancer Campaign Launched

December 01, 2001

NEW YORK-In a recent Cancer Care, Inc. survey, 44% of lung cancer patients said they feel they are treated differently than people with other cancers. Even more medical professionals surveyed (77%) said they believe people with lung care are often stigmatized.

CPDR Updates Its Prostate Cancer Website

December 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The website for the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) has a whole new look. Stephen Doyle, an experienced graphic artist, has updated and redesigned the site to be a user-friendly tool for patients, clinicians, scientists, and the general public to find information about prostate cancer and related diseases.

NIAID Begins Phase I Trial of a DNA-Based HIV Vaccine

December 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Maryland-Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have begun enrolling 21 volunteers in a phase I trial of a new plasmid DNA-based HIV vaccine (VRC4302). The randomized, controlled, double-blinded, dose-escalation study will examine the vaccine’s toxicity, dose, and immune response. It will be conducted on the National Institutes of Health campus.

PET Used to Measure Efficacy of an Angiogenesis Inhibitor

December 01, 2001

TORONTO -Results from a phase I study suggest that endostatin, an inhibitor of angiogenesis, shows clear utility in treating cancer, but that this effect does not continue to increase with larger doses. Moreover, in assessing efficacy, reduction of tumor size does not provide the most useful immediate measure of the drug’s clinical benefit.

Avon Donates $20 Million to NCI for Cancer Research

December 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Maryland-The Avon Products Foundation has awarded $20 million to the National Cancer Institute to help support breast cancer research and expand early-phase clinical trials of promising techniques for prevention, diagnosis, and therapy.

Weekly Gemcitabine/Vinorelbine Proves Effective in NSCLC

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A weekly regimen of gemcitabine (Gemzar) plus vinorelbine (Navelbine) appears to be equivalent to platinum-containing doublets in untreated or previously treated non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers reported at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). George R. Blumenschein, Jr., MD, now with the Arlington Cancer Center, Arlington, Texas, presented the results at a poster session (abstract 1371).

Supplemental NDA Submitted for Gleevec

December 01, 2001

EAST HANOVER, NJ-Novartis has submitted a supplemental new drug application (sNDA) to the FDA seeking approval for Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) for the treatment of patients with unresectable and/or metastatic malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Last May, Gleevec received FDA approval for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in the blast crisis, accelerated phase, or in chronic phase after failure of interferon-alfa.

US Life Expectancy Reaches New High

December 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Life expectancy in the United States reached 76.9 years in 2000, a record high, according to preliminary figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC attributed the increase in part to continuing declines in the aged-adjusted death rates for cancer and heart disease, the nation’s two leading causes of death.

Society of Nuclear Medicine Offers Online CME

December 01, 2001

RESTON, Virginia-The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) has formed an online collaboration with Medscape, a website for health care professionals and consumers, to release an educational program highlighting key content from the SNM’s 2001 annual conference.

Radiation Boost Cuts Local Failure Rate After Breast-Conserving Surgery

December 01, 2001

LISBON, Portugal-A 16-Gy boost to the tumor bed can slash the local recurrence rate by as much as 50% in younger women with breast cancer who undergo breast-conserving therapy, said Harry Bartelink, MD, PhD, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.

Improved Responses in Pancreatic Cancer With Gemcitabine/Docetaxel

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Two phase II chemotherapy regimens combining gemcitabine (Gemzar) and docetaxel (Taxotere) in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer show higher response rates than gemcitabine alone and suggest further explorations of the combination are warranted, according to presentations at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Three-Times-Daily Radiotherapy Plus Cisplatin Feasible in NSCLC Patients

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-In stage III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), an intensive regimen of three-times-daily (TID) radiotherapy and escalating doses of daily cisplatin (Platinol) was found to be feasible and well accepted by patients, according to investigators from the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona. The findings were presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO abstract 1320).

Exisulind/Camptosar: Phase I

December 01, 2001

MIAMI BEACH-The combination of exisulind (Aptosyn) and irinotecan (Camptosar) had no dose-limiting toxicity in a phase I trial presented at Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics (abstract 295), a conference sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

Method Relieves Pain From Vertebral Fractures in Myeloma

December 01, 2001

CLEVELAND-In research presented at the North American Spine Society, Isador Lieberman, MD, described a new approach to repair of vertebral compression fractures that may offer significant pain relief and other benefits to myeloma patients.

Brachytherapy Seeds May Migrate to the Patient’s Lungs

December 01, 2001

NEW ORLEANS-After brachytherapy for prostate cancer, a small proportion of the radioactive seeds migrate into the lungs of more than a third of patients, according to a report from the American College of Surgeons 87th Clinical Congress.

Dr. Kessler Talks About His Fight Against Tobacco Industry

December 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-He was the man the tobacco industry loved to hate-and for good reason. While serving as Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1990 to 1997, David Kessler, MD, led a long investigation of the tobacco companies.

Whole-Pelvic Radiotherapy/Neoadjuvant Hormone Therapy in Prostate Cancer Patients

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Whole-field radiotherapy improves progression-free survival in prostate cancer patients who have a 15% or greater risk of lymph node involvement, compared with prostate-only radiotherapy, according to a study presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (plenary 5).

FDA Gives Zometa Priority Review for Bone Metastases

December 01, 2001

EAST HANOVER, NJ-In a news release, Novartis announced that the FDA has granted priority review to its intravenous bisphosphonate Zometa (zoledronic acid for injection) for the treatment of bone metastases associated with a broad range of tumor types, including multiple myeloma and prostate, lung, and breast cancer. The application is based on data from three large international clinical trials evaluating more than 3,000 patients. Zometa previously received FDA approval for use in treating tumor-induced hypercalcemia.

Tricom Vaccine Delivered Safely With Smallpox, Avipox Vectors

December 01, 2001

MIAMI BEACH-Sequential Tri-com vaccines against cancers testing positive for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) have produced one clinical response and no toxicity among 23 patients in a phase I clinical trial.

Dr. Rabson Named Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute

December 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Maryland-Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson has named Alan S. Rabson, MD, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute since 1995, to serve as acting director of the Institute. Dr. Rabson will fill the post formerly held by Richard D. Klausner, MD, until a new director is named. Dr. Klausner resigned to become president of the new Case Institute of Health, Science, and Technology.

PET Imaging Effective for Managing Pediatric Cancer Patients

December 01, 2001

TORONTO, Canada-Positron emission tomography (PET) proved superior to both CT and MRI for both diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of pediatric cancer patients in a study conducted at the University of Munich. Ute Porn, Jr., MD, described the results at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (abstract 144).

Updated Trial Results Support Aggressive Treatment of DCIS

December 01, 2001

NEW ORLEANS -Updated results from two clinical trials of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) continue to support the use of radiation therapy and tamoxifen (Nolvadex) after lumpectomy in these patients. D. Lawrence Wickerham, MD, associate chairman of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), reported the findings at the American College of Surgeons 87th Clinical Congress.

Diagnostic Dilemma

December 01, 2001

A 60-year-old attorney presents with chronic heartburn and regurgitation. His symptoms have steadily increased over the last 2 years, and he is currently using daily therapy with a proton pump inhibitor. There is no history of gastrointestinal bleeding, dysphagia, or weight loss.

Dr. Klausner Looks Back on 6 Years as Director of the NCI

December 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Maryland-When Richard D. Klausner, MD, became director of the National Cancer Institute in 1995, he took over an agency with low morale and internal conflicts that had angered some influential members of Congress and drawn critical assessments from several outside review panels.

Metastatic Melanoma Responds to HSPPC-96 Vaccine

December 01, 2001

MIAMI BEACH-Heat shock protein peptide complex-96 (HSPPC-96, Oncophage), an individualized cancer vaccine, produced complete responses in two patients with metastatic melanoma and long-term stable disease in several others during an Italian phase I-II trial.

Cisplatin Enhances Radiotherapy in Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

December 01, 2001

LISBON, Portugal-For patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer, coupling cisplatin (Platinol) with radiotherapy leads to longer survival and fewer recurrences than does radiation alone, according to the first results of EORTC study 22931.

Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping Studied in Lung Cancer

December 01, 2001

CHICAGO-Intraoperative sentinel lymph node mapping using technetium-99 sulfur colloid is a safe and feasible way of identifying sites of lymph node metastasis in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The procedure does not prolong surgical resection, and it is relatively accurate, with an 89% success rate, Michael Liptay, MD, reported at the Second International Chicago Symposium on Malignancies of the Chest and Head & Neck.

Radiotherapy After Partial Response to Chemotherapy Boosts Survival in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

December 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Radiotherapy following chemotherapy does not improve survival in patients with stage III/IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) who have a complete response to chemotherapy. It does, however, improve survival in partial responders, according to results from the phase III EORTC (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer) trial 20884. The findings were presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (plenary 3).

Uncertainty in Medicine: A Talk With Dr. Djulbegovic

December 01, 2001

In part 2 of this interview, Benjamin Djulbegovic, MD, PhD, discusses the uncertainty principle in clinical trials. Dr. Djulbegovic is associate professor of medicine, Divisions of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Consolidation Docetaxel in Advanced NSCLC

December 01, 2001

CHICAGO-Concurrent chemo-radiotherapy and consolidation docetaxel (Taxotere) achieved an unprecedented 3-year survival rate of 40% in patients with stage IIIB non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a phase II trial (SWOG 9504).

Number of New Daily Smokers Falls Over 2 Years

December 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-Initiation of daily smoking among young people has declined sharply from its peak in 1997, and cigarette use among youths and young adults declined again between 1999 and 2000, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).