Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 6

ACS and NCCN Issue Cancer Pain Management Guidelines for Patients

June 01, 2001

NEW YORK-One out of every three people being treated for cancer (and more than three quarters of those with advanced disease) has significant pain, but patients often lack the information to effectively manage their pain and get relief. Now, a new resource booklet is available from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) to enable cancer patients to collaborate more effectively with their physicians to make informed decisions about available pain treatment options.

Xeloda Approved for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

June 01, 2001

NUTLEY, NJ-The FDA has approved Roche’s Xeloda (capecitabine) for the first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer when treatment with fluoropyrimidine therapy alone is preferred. Combination chemotherapy has shown a survival benefit, compared with intravenous fluorouracil (5-FU)/leucovorin alone, and no survival benefit has been show with Xeloda monotherapy.

Walking Improves Fatigue, Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients

June 01, 2001

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla-Walking 60 minutes or more a week could have a positive effect on fatigue and sleep disturbance in breast cancer patients, according to preliminary results presented by Barbara Poniatowski, MS, RNC, AOCN, at the Oncology Nursing Society’s Sixth National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research.

Bezwoda 1985 Breast Cancer Transplant Study Fraudulent

June 01, 2001

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia-Documentation of widespread fraud in a 1985 study supporting high-dose chemotherapy/transplant for metastatic breast cancer patients has led the Journal of Clinical Oncology to retract the influential report and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to recommend that breast cancer patients not receive high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplants outside of clinical trials.

Severity of Hot Flashes Worse in Breast Cancer Survivors

June 01, 2001

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla-Breast cancer survivors experienced significantly worse hot flashes, compared with age-matched healthy women, in a Vanderbilt University study. The Research also raised doubts about the accuracy of hot flash reports in patient diaries.

Tamoxifen Prevents BRCA2, But Not BRCA1, Breast Cancer

June 01, 2001

ASCO-Genomic resequencing of DNA in blood samples from the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT) conducted during the 1990s shows that tamoxifen (Nolvadex) reduced the incidence of breast cancer by 62% in women with BRCA2 mutations, but had no effect in women with BRCA1 mutations.

High TIMP-1 Levels May Promote Prostate Cancer Growth

June 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-High levels of a protein that normally prevents tumor growth may actually encourage angiogenesis and the spread of prostate cancer, according to a poster presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.

Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Minorities

June 01, 2001

NEW YORK-When John Huggins, EdD, of Louisville, Kentucky, developed rectal bleeding shortly before his 50th birthday, he promptly called his primary care physician. After a digital rectal exam, the physician told him he had an anal abrasion that was nothing to worry about. "But I did worry because the signs did not go away," the assistant director of student services for Jefferson County Public Schools said at a Cancer Research Foundation of America press briefing on colorectal cancer.

Epoetin Reduces Need for Red Blood Cell Transfusions

June 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-Epoetin alfa, or recombinant human erythropoietin (Epogen, Procrit), reduces the need for red blood cell (RBC) transfusions among cancer patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia, a report prepared for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) concludes. Overall, the report found that epoetin appears most efficacious when it is initiated as falling hemoglobin (Hb) levels near 10 g/dL.

French Researchers Discover How HIV Makes First Contact

June 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-When the HIV virus is acquired through breast-feeding or sexual activity, its first contact is with the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal, anorectal, or genitourinary tracts. It then appears to use a raft mechanism and transcytosis to pass through the epithelial cells to enter and infect the submucosal target cells, French researchers said at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.

‘Virtual Supercomputer’ Program for Cancer Drug Discovery

June 01, 2001

SANTA CLARA, Calif-Intel Corporation has announced an innovative medical research program that enlists the help of millions of personal computer users to speed up the drug discovery process. The program harnesses the "idle time" computational power of individual home computers to create a "virtual supercomputer."

Agent Orange Linked to AML in Offspring

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-A new evaluation of existing scientific studies has found "limited or suggestive" evidence to link servicemen’s wartime exposures to herbicides in Vietnam with the development of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in their children. However, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee that reported the finding emphasized that the evidence for the association is not conclusive.

Turkish Towns Provide Genetic Link to Malignant Mesothelioma

June 01, 2001

CHICAGO-An analysis of a six-generation extended pedigree of 526 people from two small Turkish villages showed that mesothelioma is genetically transmitted, and that building materials containing erionite may be a cofactor.

President Allows Implementation of Patient Privacy Rule

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-President Bush has allowed the patient privacy rule written by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the waning days of the Clinton Administration to become effective. However, he directed the department to review the regulation and recommend modifications to address some concerns raised in comments from the public.

Gleevec Is Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON -The Food and Drug Administration, acting with dispatch, has approved the marketing of Gleevec (imatinib mesylate, Novartis) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The agency granted the drug priority review and orphan drug status, and approved it under the FDA’s "accelerated approval" regulations less than 3 months after the sponsor submitted its marketing request.

‘BloodBiopsy’ Test Detects Epithelial Cancer Cells

June 01, 2001

NEW ORLEANS-A test that detects epithelial cancer cells in circulating blood, and gives detailed information about their characteristics, was described in the late-breaking session of the 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Imiquimod Cream Studied in Skin Cancers

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Imiquimod (Aldara), an immune response modifier used to treat genital warts, provided effective therapy for both actinic keratosis and primary superficial basal cell carcinoma in pilot studies presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

AstraZeneca Launches Two Nutrition Websites

June 01, 2001

WILMINGTON, Del-AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals has announced the launch of two new websites designed to make nutritional product information and nutritional news more readily available to US health care professionals.

How Palpable, Nonpalpable Cancers Differ

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Palpable and nonpalpable breast cancers differ in a variety of inherent characteristics, reported Kristin Skinner, MD, of the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles. She presented her study results at the 54th Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology.

Campath Approved for B-Cell CLL

June 01, 2001

MONTVILLE, NJ-The FDA has approved Campath (alemtuzumab) humanized monoclonal antibody for the treatment of patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have been treated with alkylating agents and have failed fludarabine (Fludara) therapy. Campath was developed by M&I Partners, a 50-50 joint venture of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and ILEX Oncology, Inc. The agent will be marketed and distributed in the United States by Berlex Laboratories, Inc.

HHS Awards $845.7 Million in Ryan White CARE Act Funds

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $845.7 million in grants to assist poor and uninsured HIV-infected persons in obtaining primary care, support, services, and anti-AIDS drugs. About two thirds of the money, $571.3 million, will pay for the purchase of medications through state-run AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.

Resolving Prostate Cancer Controversies Will Take Time: Walsh

June 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Rapid advances in managing prostate cancer over the last decade have created dilemmas for clinicians as they attempt to determine which treatment is best for each patient, said Patrick Walsh, MD, director, Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Such dilemmas will not be resolved fast enough through randomized trials, he said.

Four Members of Congress Receive the 2001 Paul E. Tsongas Award

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Four members of Congress received the 2001 Paul E. Tsongas Memorial Award for their contributions to forwarding cancer research and awareness of the disease. This year’s honorees were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass), Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Rep. C. W. Bill Young (R-Fla), and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif).

Childhood Cancer Survivors Face Risk of 2nd Malignancy

June 01, 2001

NEW ORLEANS-Pediatric cancer survivors face an increased risk of second malignancies later in life, especially breast cancer, according to a large database of some 14,000 persons diagnosed with cancer before age 21 and alive 5 years or longer.

New 0.5% Topical Fluorouracil Preparation for Actinic Keratosis

June 01, 2001

NEW YORK-A topical sustained-release fluorouracil product for actinic keratosis that is applied once a day is now available from Dermik Laboratories (Beryn, Penn). The concentration of active ingredient in the new product, Carac, is 0.5%, or one tenth that in most fluorouracil creams. In clinical trials, use of the preparation cleared more than 70% of actinic keratoses within 1 week.

Experts Explore Criteria for Lung Cancer Screening Exams

June 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Researchers outlined some elements of the scaffolding needed to build a rational lung cancer screening policy at the 4th International Conference on Screening for Lung Cancer. Screening for lung cancer has become an important issue with the development of newer screening tools, such as low-dose spiral CT scans, that may permit diagnosis at an early, treatable stage.

SV40 Vaccine Shows Promise in Mesothelioma

June 01, 2001

CHICAGO-A vaccinia-based vaccine against a modified simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen has proven efficacious in animal models, said Michael Imperiale, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. He described the vaccine at a conference on the role of SV40 in malignant mesothelioma, sponsored by the University of Chicago.

CDC Releases National Human Exposure Data on 27 Pollutants

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-National exposure data for 27 contaminants are detailed in the first National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, assembled and released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unlike studies that estimate population exposures by measuring air, water, and soil samples, the new data represent direct measurements of chemicals in blood and urine samples. The samples were collected in 1999 as part of CDC’s periodic National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Thalidomide Antiangiogenesis Explored in Prostate Cancer Studies

June 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Thalidomide (Thalomid) appears to inhibit angiogenesis (the recruitment of new blood vessels by the tumor). Clinically, thalidomide has been shown to lower PSA levels in some patients with androgen-independent prostate cancer. Using an LNCaP in vitro model, thalidomide has been shown to slightly increase the amount of PSA per cell number. "Some drugs appear to upregulate the expression of PSA and some downregulate it," William Dahut, MD, of the National Cancer Institute, said at an NCI conference on urologic oncology. This is clearly the case for carboxyamidotriazole (CAI) and TNP-470, both angiogenesis inhibitors, he said. CAI has been shown to downregulate PSA, whereas TNP-740 upregulated it.

Radioactive Seeds Localize Nonpalpable Breast Cancer

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The technique of radioactive seed localization presents several important advantages over wire localization for the diagnostic or therapeutic excision of nonpalpable breast cancers, said Richard Gray, MD, of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, at the 54th Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).

Accreditation Urged to Help Protect Study Participants

June 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Medicine and other sciences need to move beyond institutional review boards (IRBs) and adapt a broader focus for protecting participants in human research studies, according to a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report. It recommends a vigorous accreditation system to oversee what it terms "human research participant protection programs," or HRPPPs.

Medulloblastoma Appears to Be Two Different Diseases

June 01, 2001

NEW ORLEANS-New research presented at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) shows that medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children, is actually two diseases with distinctly different clinical, pathologic, and genetic characteristics.

STI-571 Effective in GIST

June 01, 2001

ASCO-STI-571 (imatinib mesylate, Gleevec), which received swift approval by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), is showing equally striking activity in patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), scientists reported at the plenary session of the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.