Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 4

IOM Urges Action to Fix ‘Broken’ US Health Care System

April 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The nation’s health care industry is broken and urgently needs reorganization and reform to fix it, a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report asserts. As a beginning, the report proposes that Congress appropriate $1 billion over the next 3 to 5 years to begin repairing what it calls a disjointed and inefficient system.

Thompson Pledges Fundamental HCFA Reform

April 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson asserted in a speech that the Bush Administration will pursue fundamental reform of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) as part of its efforts to modernize Medicare.

NCCN Updates Its Practice Guideline for Breast Cancer

April 01, 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida-A panel of breast cancer experts has revised the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) breast cancer guideline to reflect an evolution rather than change. "The differences between this and last year’s guidelines are overall meaningful but subtle," Robert W. Carlson, MD, of Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, said at the Sixth Annual NCCN Conference.

Smoking Prevalence, Mortality Ranges Widely From State to State

April 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Smoking prevalence varies considerably from state to state among both adults and students, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1999, adult prevalence ranged from 13.9% in

NCI Debuts New Program for Cancer Advocates

April 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has opened its arms wider to the advocacy community with a new program called Consumer Advocates in Research and Related Activities, or CARRA. NCI plans to recruit 150 consumer advocates under the CARRA program who will serve 3-year terms. The advocates are to represent survivors’ concerns, provide their ideas and viewpoints directly to the NCI staff, and serve as links between the advocacy communities and the Institute.

Augmerosen, Antisense Drug, in Phase III Testing in Melanoma

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-An antisense drug that targets a protein that interferes with the actions of chemotherapeutic agents is entering phase III trials, said Raymond P. Warrell, Jr., MD, president and chief executive officer, Genta Inc., Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

Automated System Improves Accuracy of HER-2 Scoring

April 01, 2001

SAN ANTONIO-By using a system combining color-based imaging and automated microscopy, pathologists were able to significantly improve their accuracy in evaluating HER-2 protein expression in breast cancer tissue, said Kenneth Bloom, MD, of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago.

Small Advantage for Adjuvant Paclitaxel in Early Breast Cancer

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-The jury may still be out on the value of adjuvant paclitaxel (Taxol) for early breast cancer (see article on page 3 on the updated NCCN breast cancer guideline), but a study from M.D. Anderson suggests it may have a small

New HIV Guidelines Lower the Count for Starting Therapy Antiretroviral Therapy

April 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Revised guidelines for treating HIV-infected adults provide new recommendations for when physicians should initiate anti-HIV therapy. "The new treatment guidelines provide patients and their doctors with evidence-based recommendations for initiating antiretroviral therapy that take into account both the benefits and potential risks of currently available treatment regimens," said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Prostate Cancer Research at UCSF Focuses on Dendritic Cells

April 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Prostate cancer researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are focusing on GM-CSF, dendritic cells, and anti-VEGF antibodies, Eric Small, MD, said at a conference sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Society of Urologic Oncology. Dr. Small is associate professor of medicine and of urology and co-director of the UCSF/Mt. Zion Urologic Oncology Program.

Pretransplant Mylotarg Boosts Survival in Relapsed AML

April 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in first relapse who achieve remission with the antibody gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg) before undergoing stem cell transplantation have prolonged disease-free survival, according to research presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Thalidomide Demonstrates Multiple Roles in Myeloma

April 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Studies presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) show that thalidomide (Thalomid) has value as a single agent in treating advanced and refractory myeloma and that thalidomide combined with dexamethasone is useful in treating resistant and newly diagnosed disease.

DepoCyt, Liposomal Cytarabine, Reintroduced Into US Market

April 01, 2001

LONDON-SkyePharma PLC and its marketing partner, Chiron Corporation (Emeryville, California) have received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to return DepoCyt (cytarabine liposome injection) to the market.

Film Mammography Still the Gold Standard: IOM Report

April 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Despite some promising new technologies, traditional x-ray film mammography remains the gold standard in screening for breast cancer, a committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded.

Bush Asks Congress for a Strong Patients’ Bill of Rights

April 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-President Bush has called on Congress to enact a bipartisan and "strong Patients’ Bill of Rights." In letters to Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, he outlined the basic principles that he believes such a law should embody.

Low-Dose Gemcitabine-RT Combination Promising in NSCLC

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Median survival has pushed past 18 months in a trial of concurrent low-dose gemcitabine (Gemzar) and radiation therapy in highly selected patients with stage III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a report at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII.

AHRQ Review Finds Cancer Pain Research Is Insufficient

April 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-Research on managing cancer pain lags well behind studies of cancer biology, both in quality and quantity, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). That conclusion emerged from a literature review by researchers at the AHRQ-supported New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center.

Gene-Expression Profiles Identify BRCA1,2 Breast Cancers

April 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-A study of breast cancer patients with hereditary BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations or sporadic cancers has shown a distinctive gene-expression profile for each type of breast cancer gene mutation and also revealed an unanticipated finding-a patient with a nonhereditary BRCA1 mutation.

CLL Strategies Target Growth Factors Affecting Cell Survival and Proliferation

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Novel treatment strategies targeting specific cytokines may provide an additional therapeutic window for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Janice L. Gabrilove, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII.

Spy Cameras and Robotics Track Patient Movements During RT

April 01, 2001

BOSTON-For the cancer patient who can’t hold a breath or stay still during radiation therapy, a team of medical experts and engineers is working on a tracking solution worthy of James Bond-spy cameras and robotic vision.

GM Joins the STAR Hunt

April 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-General Motors Corp. is mailing information on the opportunity for a breast cancer risk assessment, available through the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR), to 140,000 of its active and retired salaried female

Risk of Second Malignancy Increases With Time

April 01, 2001

BOSTON-In a study of 1,253 breast cancer patients treated with breast-conserving surgery and radiotherapy, the risk of a second malignancy jumped from 5% at 5 years of follow-up to 16% at 10 years. Barbara L. Fowble, MD, of Fox Chase Cancer Center, reported the results at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

New NCCN Recommendations for Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

April 01, 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida-The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) 2001 guideline for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) now calls for a "multidisciplinary evaluation" of patients with NSCLC as the standard of care.

OvaRex MAb Is Promising for Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

April 01, 2001

NASHVILLE-In a phase II study of an investigational monoclonal antibody, OvaRex MAb, in advanced recurrent ovarian cancer, 6 of 13 patients survived 50 weeks or longer from entry into the trial, Thomas G. Ehlen, MD, said at a poster session of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Bridging a Cultural Divide: Cross-cultural Issues in Cancer Care

April 01, 2001

This article is the last in a series focusing on ethical issues in cancer care, prepared by researchers at Northwestern University. The articles highlight selected ethical issues, place the issues in the context of relevant literature, and comment on their significance in oncology practice. These issues are discussed in greater depth in Ethical Issues in Cancer Care (Kluwer, 1999).

Too Early in PSA Era to See Drop in Prostate Cancer Mortality

April 01, 2001

BOSTON-Men are far more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer today than 2 decades ago, and they have more aggressive treatment options. Is their chance of dying of the disease dropping as a result? It is too early in the era of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing to tell, keynote speaker Michael J. Barry, MD, said at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology .

Biotherapy Maintenance in Metastatic Melanoma

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-For some stage IV melanoma patients who achieve only a partial response or stable disease on a regimen of biochemotherapy, a maintenance strategy using interleukin-2 (IL-2) may prolong survival and in some instances produce durable complete responses, California researchers have discovered. Steven J. O’Day, MD, associate director, medical oncology, John Wayne Cancer Institute at St. John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, reported the encouraging results of a pilot study of the biotherapy maintenance strategy at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII.

Procedure Reduces Blood Transfusion Need in Myelofibrosis

April 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Bone marrow ron-geur can free some patients with advanced myelofibrosis of the need for blood transfusions, Richard T. Silver, MD, clinical professor of medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, said at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVIII. Dr. Silver’s major collaborators in the study were Dr. Malcolm Moore, a noted cell biologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Dr. Edward Athanasian, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.

New NCCN Recommendations for Small-Cell Lung Cancer

April 01, 2001

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida-Modifications in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) 2001 guideline for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) include changes in surgical management of SCLC and carcinoid tumors, as well as treatment modifications involving the timing and dose of chest radiotherapy, use of prophylactic cranial irradiation, and additional drugs available for relapsed patients.