Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 3

First Racial-Ethnic Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Data

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-A new analysis of data from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) shows that among women who received their first NBCCEDP Pap test between 1991 and 1998, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) women had the highest proportion of abnormal Pap tests, while white women had the highest rate of serious cervical lesions detected by biopsy.

Mitotic Activity Index IDs High-Risk Node-Negative Breast Cancer

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-The mitotic activity index (MAI), a measure of tumor cell proliferation, has been shown to be an independent prognostic factor for recurrence-free survival in breast cancer. It is being used in the Netherlands to select which node-negative patients require adjuvant chemotherapy, Elsken van der Wall, MD, PhD, said at the 23rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Programs Help Women/Physicians Decide on Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-Two computer programs designed to aid women with early breast cancer and their physicians in making decisions about adjuvant therapy will soon be available, according to presentations at the 23rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

No Recurrence in 971 Breast Cancer Patients With Negative SLNs Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-A negative sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is an accurate indicator of the absence of nodal metastases in patients with invasive breast cancer and predicts recurrence-free survival, according to the early results of a study conducted at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida.

Disclosure Issues in Cancer Gene Testing Worry Doctors

March 01, 2001

NEW YORK-With new tests, it is easy to identify certain gene mutations associated with a predisposition to cancer. But it is more difficult to deal with the social and legal consequences of those tests, a panel of experts said at a briefing organized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and entitled "The Human Genome and its Implications for Cancer." Kenneth Offit, MD, MPH, discussed a case that he faced at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he is chief of the Clinical Genetics Service, Department of Human Genetics.

Functional Assessment of Geriatric Cancer Patients Needed

March 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Despite considerable progress in the management and treatment of cancer in the overall population, cancer-related mortality among the elderly increased by 20% between 1970 and 1984. Cancer is often undertreated in the elderly, which affects their prognosis, said Roberto Bernabei, MD, of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome.

Mobile Mammography Programs Are Struggling to Survive

March 01, 2001

CHARLOTTE, NC-Mobile mammography programs that serve poor and working women in hard-to-reach, rural communities are an endangered species, according to Jean Griswold, founder and CEO of Mobile Health Outreach, Inc., one of the oldest surviving programs in the United States.

Ellence Research Fund Names 11 Grant Recipients

March 01, 2001

PEAPACK, NJ- Pharmacia Oncology has announced the 11 recipients of its first $1 million Ellence Research Fund, aimed at promoting research to advance the use of anthracyclines in various cancer settings. The recipients were chosen by a scientific advisory board composed of leading oncologists. The company has created a second $1 million Ellence Research Fund and is currently accepting research proposals.

Hyperfractionated RT Ups Pharynx Cancer Survival

March 01, 2001

BOSTON-Hyperfractionated radiation improved local control and survival rates for advanced pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer patients in a randomized Canadian study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Internet Creates Virtual Radiology Department

March 01, 2001

CHICAGO-With the Internet, specialty radiology departments should be able to provide a virtual link that gives clinicians anywhere in the country or the world the same access to expert image interpretation as their colleagues in major metropolitan areas, said Michael P. Recht, MD, director of the Section of E-Radiology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He spoke at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Dioxin TCDD Finally Listed as ‘Known’ Human Carcinogen

March 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-An addendum to the National Toxicology Program’s Ninth Report on Carcinogens moves the dioxin TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) from the "reasonably anticipated" to cause human cancers category to the "known to be a human carcinogen" designation. A legal challenge to the change prevented the new designation from being published in the full report last May.

Fish Oil Concentrate Increases Doxorubicin Efficacy in Animals

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Adding fish oil to the diet of mice implanted with human breast cancer cells increased the efficacy of doxorubicin while reducing hematologic side effects, W. Elaine Hardman, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation grants conference.

RT Plus Chemo Ups Bladder Cancer Survival

March 01, 2001

BOSTON-A combination of transurethral resection (TUR) and radiochemotherapy with cisplatin (Platinol) and fluorouracil (5-FU) produced the most promising results in a German study of bladder-sparing protocols for patients with invasive bladder cancer.

Ductal Lavage Provides Early Detection of Atypical Cells

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-Ductal lavage, used to detect atypical and malignant cells in the milk ducts, may be a useful adjunct to mammography and other screening tools for women at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Study Clarifies When to Start HIV Therapy

March 01, 2001

CHICAGO-In HIV-positive patients, antiretroviral therapy should be started when CD4+ lymphocyte counts drop below 350 cells/mL3, according to a new study reported at the 8th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

IMRT Spares Salivary Function in Head & Neck Cancer Patients

March 01, 2001

BOSTON-By reducing radiation to the parotid glands, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) allows head and neck cancer patients to maintain more saliva flow after therapy. Clifford K.S. Chao, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, reported the study results at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

High-Potency Bisphosphonate Is Effective for Bone Mets

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-Zoledronic acid (Zometa), a high-potency bisphospho-nate, is at least as effective as pamidronate (Aredia) in treating bone metastases, James R. Berenson, MD, said at the 23rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Delivered in a 5-minute infusion, zoledronic acid is expected to be more convenient and easier to use than the older bisphosphonate, said Dr. Berenson, director, Multiple Myeloma and Bone Metastasis Programs, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.

New Review Flunks Most States in Tobacco Prevention Funding

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Only 17 states have committed substantial funds from the tobacco settlement to tobacco prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report released by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and American Lung Association.

Gene Therapy Kills Prostate Cancer Cells by Replication

March 01, 2001

BOSTON-Investigators at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are testing a common cold virus as a vector for gene therapy against prostate cancer, Theodore L. DeWeese, MD, reported at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). The therapy was found to be safe, and the technique showed signs of antitumor activity in a phase I trial.

Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitor Active in Advanced Breast Cancer

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-R115777, an orally active farnesyl transferase inhibitor (FTI), has shown clinical activity in the first phase II trial of an FTI in breast cancer, according to Stephen RD Johnston, PhD, senior lecturer and consultant medical oncologist, Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research, London.

CNS Most Common Site of Testicular Lymphoma Relapse

March 01, 2001

BOSTON-A Rare Cancer Network study of testicular lymphoma found that relapses are most likely to occur in the central nervous system (CNS), Mahmut Ozsahin, MD, PhD, said at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

Prostate Brachytherapy Seeds Do Not Expose Family Members to High Levels of Radiation

March 01, 2001

CHICAGO-The permanent placement of radioactive seeds in the prostate gland is proving to be equivalent to radical prostatectomy in the treatment of men with prostate cancer, according to some recently published data. However, some men have been reluctant to choose this treatment option because of the chance that the seeds may expose family members to excessively high radiation doses.

HHS Unveils New Rules Governing Physician Self-Referrals

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-New Medicare regulations governing self-referrals by physicians will go into effect on Jan. 4, 2002. The first version of the final rule was announced early in January; a second "fine-tuned" version will be released later this year.

A New Year Revives Some Old Issues for President Bush and the Congress

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-A new President and a new Congress have taken office, but Washington is still locked in debates over some of the same old issues. The inauguration of George W. Bush brought a new administration with a considerably different outlook from that of the Clinton era and a political philosophy and ethical and moral beliefs that could significantly affect health care policy and medical research, including oncology practice and research.

Lumpectomy Not Contraindicated in BRCA-Linked Cancer

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-Women with breast cancer associated with germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations can undergo breast-conserving surgery, if they so desire, since their risk of ipsilateral breast cancer recurrence is only slightly increased, according to a study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center presented at the 23rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Lumpectomy Rate Depends More on Surgeon, Not Location

March 01, 2001

CHICAGO-Rates of breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer typically are lower in the Southeast than in other parts of the United States. According to a study presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), this difference has less to do with geography than with the surgeon who treats the patient.

Cancer Survivorship Advocates Focus on End of Life Care

March 01, 2001

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ-The cancer community must address the barriers that prevent the introduction of the language of dying into the survivorship lexicon, said Ellen Stovall, president and CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

Relieving Symptoms of Lung Cancer and Its Treatment

March 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Shortness of breath, pain, and fatigue are among the most common symptoms in patients with advanced lung cancer. An oncology nurse whose practice is exclusively patients with thoracic malignancies discussed the management of symptoms and side effects of lung cancer and the importance of assessment in this setting at a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference for health care professionals.

New Topoisomerase-I Inhibitor Tested in Pancreatic Cancer

March 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Although no complete responses occurred in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in a study of DX-8951F (exatecan mesylate, Daiichi Pharmaceuticals), those who were treatment-naïve survived longer than usual, and stable disease was observed in 39%, Eileen M. O’Reilly, MD, reported at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII.

Preoperative Letrozole Allows Lumpectomy

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-The aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Femara) was more effective than tamoxifen (Nolvadex) in reducing tumor size before surgery and increasing the number of women eligible for breast-conserving therapy, said Matthew J. Ellis, MD, PhD, on behalf of the Letrozole Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer Study Group Breast Cancer Program.

Initial Size of Aggressive Lymphoma Guides RT Dose

March 01, 2001

CHICAGO-A study of 129 patients with intermediate-grade and large-cell immunoblastic lymphomas shows that the radiotherapy dose should be adjusted to the initial size of the tumor, said Richard Wilder, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The study constitutes the largest series of these patients in the modern era of chemoradiation, he said.

Group Room Radio Goes International

March 01, 2001

LOS ANGELES-The Group Room, a weekly syndicated radio call-in talk show about cancer, is expanding internationally after 5 successful years of broadcasting in the United States. Vital Options TeleSupport Cancer Network, the not-for-profit cancer communications, advocacy, and support organization that produces the show, announced that its first live broadcast from Europe took place January 28, 2001, at The Royal Marsden Hospital, London. A broadcast from Paris followed on February 9. Selma R. Schimmel is host of The Group Room and CEO and founder of Vital Options.

Scatter Factor Antagonist Could Inhibit Metastases

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Breast cancer patients with high levels of hepatocyte growth factor exhibit higher rates of proliferation and poorer prognosis, Wen G. Jiang, MD, of the University of Wales, Cardiff, said at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation grants conference. But a newly discovered antagonist to this factor may be used to reduce metastasis.

Round-up of Cancer-Related Approvals in 2000

March 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-The FDA approved 160 medications and medical devices last year, including a number of oncology products. Among the most important cancer medications approved for the first time or for a new indication were:

Panel Supports Letting FDA Regulate Tobacco Industry

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The President’s tobacco commission is supporting the federal regulation of tobacco products. The Supreme Court ruled last March that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to regulate tobacco products, and federal legislation that would have provided the agency with the ability to regulate tobacco products failed in Congress last year.

Hodgkin's Disease on the Increase in Patients With HIV

March 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-An Italian study has found that Hodgkin’s disease is becoming more frequent than non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in people with HIV. The researchers speculate that this rise in Hodgkin’s disease may be due to the advent of highly active antiretro-viral therapy (HAART). Alessandro Re, MD, of the Universita di Brescia, presented the results at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.

Intervention Ups Vegetable Intake in Breast Cancer Survivors: WHEL Study

March 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-A randomized dietary intervention study of 3,100 breast cancer survivors requires the study group to eat five vegetable servings and 16 oz of vegetable juice daily, a level of vegetable intake that has not previously been examined. By comparison, the women in the control group are following the National Cancer Institute (NCI) diet, which includes only three vegetable servings and no vegetable juice.

New Patient Privacy Regulations May Hinder Research

March 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-New patient privacy regulations instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will affect oncology from research to private practice. The new rules set privacy standards governing the release of health information that might reveal the identity of individual patients.