Oncology NEWS International Vol 10 No 7

NCI to Expand Its Support for Trials of STI-571

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-The National Cancer Institute will expand its support for trials of imatinib mesylate (Gleevec, also known as STI-571), recently approved for use in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), to explore the drug’s potential in several other types of malignancies, director Richard D. Klausner, MD, told the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).

Patients and Physicians Differ on Chemotherapy Expectations

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Most cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy expect to be cured, even when cautioned by their physicians that the chemotherapy can only relieve symptoms, according to Geetha N. Varma, MD. Research conducted at three cancer clinics in the metropolitan Milwaukee area showed that patients and physicians agree on the goal of treatment less than half the time and that almost a quarter of patients do not have a realistic idea of the likelihood of achieving the goal.

Neoadjuvant Weekly Paclitaxel Ups Breast Cancer Pathologic Complete Response Rates

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Preliminary results of an ongoing phase III study suggest that weekly paclitaxel (Taxol) followed by FAC (fluorouracil/Adriamycin/cyclophosphamide) provides improved pathologic complete response rates, compared with standard paclitaxel followed by FAC, M.D. Anderson researchers reported at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held in San Francisco.

Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy Helps Preserve Larynx

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-In patients with potentially resectable cancer of the larynx, concurrent chemoradiotherapy cuts in half the incidence of larynx removal vs radiation therapy alone-and vs the current standard of care of induction chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy, Arlene A. Forastiere, MD, reported at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Once-Daily, Rapid-Onset Morphine Offers Alternative for Those in Severe Pain

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A new morphine formulation that combines immediate-release and extended-release beads offers a once-daily alternative to the controlled-release morphine formulation MS Contin (MSC). A study compared the new product, once-daily Morphelan (morphine sulfate, rapid onset extended relief [MROER]), a convenient and effective option for pain management, with twice-daily MSC.

FDA Issues New Safeguards for Children in Clinical Trials

July 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-To comply with a mandate in the Children’s Health Act of 2000, the FDA has issued an interim rule implementing additional requirements to safeguard children enrolled in clinical trials. "A key aspect of the new rule sets standards and procedures for assuring that children have assented to participating in clinical trials (when possible), and that their parents or guardians are able to give fully informed consent to the child’s participation in a study," the agency said in a statement.

Decision Board Helps Breast Cancer Patients Assess Chemotherapy Options, Increases Satisfaction

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Canadian breast cancer patients who tested a decision aid called the Decision Board in a randomized trial were better informed about their chemotherapy options and more satisfied with the decision-making process than a control group of patients who relied on a traditional medical consultation.

Over 20% of Breast Cancer Patients Risk Recurrence by Not Taking Their Tamoxifen

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-One in five women in a population-based study of breast cancer patients did not fill all her tamoxifen (Nolvadex) prescriptions during the first year of adjuvant tamoxifen therapy. The oldest and youngest patients and nonwhite patients were least likely to adhere to their tamoxifen regimens.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Can Successfully Treat Depression But Not Fatigue in Cancer Patients

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The theory that serotonin might mediate both depression and fatigue in cancer patients was debunked by results of a community-based study involving more than 700 cancer patients. Reporting on behalf of the University of Rochester Cancer Center Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), Gary R. Morrow, MD, said, "Our data suggest that it is unlikely that serotonin is involved as a final common pathway for fatigue and depression."

Leukemia Society Offers Patient Information on Use of STI-571

July 01, 2001

n WHITE PLAINS, NY-The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has joined in a collaborative partnership with Novartis to educate the public about imatinib mesylate (Gleevec, also known as STI-571), Novartis’ new oral medication approved by the FDA for patients with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who have failed interferon therapy.

Hiking Cigarette Prices Discourages Teens From Taking Up the Habit

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-A long-term University of Michigan study of smoking among 8th and 10th graders indicates that raising the price of cigarettes can prevent some youths from beginning to use tobacco products. The researchers examined three initiation points: any smoking at all (including experimentation), daily smoking, and smoking a half-pack or more a day. Depending on the type of initiation, an increase of 10% in the price of cigarettes decreased the probability that an adolescent would begin smoking by 3% to 10%.

Consensus Growing for SV40 Role in Some Mesotheliomas

July 01, 2001

CHICAGO-Multiple independent laboratories have verified the presence of simian virus 40 (SV40) DNA and proteins in human mesotheliomas, brain tumors, and bone tumors, using a variety of methods of detection. This was the consensus reached by a panel of scientists at an international conference hosted by the University of Chicago.

NCI Launches Randomized Trial of Shark Cartilage in NSCLC

July 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-Enrollment has begun in a trial of Neovastat (Aeterna Laboratories), also known as AE-941, to test the Canadian-produced shark cartilage extract in patients with unresectable stages IIIA and IIIB non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who are undergoing induction chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy Common at End of Life

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-More than four out of 10 cancer patients received chemotherapy during their last year of life, according to a study of Medicare patients in Massachusetts. Even a proportion of patients with tumors considered unresponsive to chemotherapy received treatments within 1 month of their death.

Can Cognitive Dysfunction in Breast Cancer Patients Be Prevented?

July 01, 2001

DALLAS-Responding to a growing body of research that suggests cognitive dysfunction and asthenia are prevalent side effects of adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer, Joyce O’Shaughnessy, MD, of US Oncology is investigating recombinant human erythropoietin as a neuroprotective agent.

Cancer Care Honors Four at Annual Human Services Awards Gala

July 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Cancer Care, Inc.’s 18th Annual Human Services Award Dinner honored four outstanding champions in the fight to help people with cancer and their families. More than 750 guests attended the black-tie event at the Waldorf-Astoria, which was hosted by Dana Tyler of WCBS-TV.

Practical Advice for Easing the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

July 01, 2001

NEW YORK-Eat your fruits and vegetables is generally good advice, but patients undergoing cancer therapy also need to heed the following warning: Wash them thoroughly, to prevent infection, said Stewart Fleishman, MD, director of cancer supportive services, Beth Israel Cancer Center, Continuum Health Partners, New York.

Estrogen Replacement Therapy Does Not Increase Breast Cancer Recurrence

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Fear that hormones may increase the risk of cancer recurrence has long discouraged US physicians from recommending estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) to breast cancer survivors, despite its proven advantages for health and quality of life.

Medicare Expedites Coverage of Compression Pumps for Lymphedema

July 01, 2001

BALTIMORE, Md-Medicare will expedite coverage of pneumatic compression pumps for its beneficiaries with lymphedema. The new policy provides coverage for the pumps after a beneficiary undergoes conservative therapy, including elevation, exercise, and the use of a compression garment for a least 4 weeks without beneficial results. The new coverage eliminates the need for patients to buy a more expensive, custom-made compression garment before becoming eligible for a pump.

Reanalysis Suggests Mortality Advantage for Lung Cancer Screening Screening

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The Mayo Lung Project has been widely interpreted to be negative because it failed to demonstrate a significant reduction in lung cancer mortality among persons randomized to screening chest x-rays. But a rigorous new analysis, with mortality adjusted for cancer incidence, suggests otherwise: that mortality from non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is reduced by chest x-ray screening and that public policy recommendations against screening deserve to be reconsidered.

Keratinocyte Growth Factor Protects Against Chemotherapy-Induced Mucositis

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor (rHuKGF) reduces the risk of dose-limiting oral mucositis in patients with advanced colorectal cancer according to Stephen J. Clarke, MD, of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Australia. Reviewing results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of rHuKGF, Dr. Clarke also called for further study of the growth factor as an adjunct to standard chemotherapy.

Glutamine Reduces the Severity of Paclitaxel-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Glutamine appears useful in preventing taxane-induced neuropathies, according to Linda T. Vahdat, MD, assistant professor of medical oncology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. A short course of oral glutamine given after high-dose paclitaxel (Taxol) significantly reduced the severity of peripheral neuropathy compared to prior patients who did not receive glutamine in a pilot study. Glutamine has also been under study for prevention of gastrointestinal toxicities associated with camptothecins.

Levocarnitine Supplement Relieves Chemotherapy-Induced Fatigue

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Preliminary data from an uncontrolled pilot study suggest that levocarnitine (L-Carnitine, Carnitor) supplementation can reduce fatigue in some patients. Francesco Graziano, MD, found that 87% of patients given levocarnitine 4 g/day po for 7 days reported reduced fatigue. Dr. Graziano is in the medical oncology department at the Hospital of Urbino, Italy.

Dronabinol Fares Worse Than Megestrol in Improving Appetite, Inducing Weight Gain

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The marijuana derivative dronabinol (Marinol) was significantly less effective than standard megestrol acetate at improving appetite and inducing weight gain in patients with advanced cancer. The results of a North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG)/Mayo clinic study also showed that combining the two drugs was no better than giving megestrol alone.

HHS Releases Guide for Treating Women With HIV

July 01, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Md-With HIV infections rising among American women, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published The Clinical Guide for the Care of Women With HIV. The full text is available online at http://hab.hrsa.gov/womencare.htm.

FDA Authority Over Tobacco Industry Urged

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-A presidential commission has urged the enactment of a 17-cents-a-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes to pay for programs to aid tobacco farmers and support smoking cessation and prevention programs. It also recommended that the FDA be given strong regulatory powers over the tobacco industry.

Infants Benefit From Stem Cell Transplants Using Cord Blood

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Umbilical cord blood from unrelated donors is an excellent source of hematopoietic stem cells for infants with either leukemia or an inherited disorder that can be treated with stem cell transplantation, Joanne Kurtzberg, MD, said at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Physician Recalls Breast Cancer Battle at the South Pole

July 01, 2001

NEW YORK-"I’m going to die," Jerri Nielsen, MD, recalled thinking when she discovered a lump in her right breast while she was the physician at the Admundsen-Scott South Pole Station. "I’m going to die here, or I’m going to die after I get off the ice."

Breast Cancer Survivors Are at High Risk for Osteoporosis

July 01, 2001

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla-Eighty percent of breast cancer survivors were found to have osteoporosis or osteopenia at the outset of a University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing pilot study into preventing osteoporosis among survivors.

ASCO President Vows Fight to Change Medicare Documentation Rules

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Vowing to go to Congress, if necessary, Lawrence H. Einhorn, MD, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), called for changes in Medicare documentation rules that he blamed for increasing work hours for physicians and cutting job satisfaction.

Docetaxel Plus Doxorubicin Ups Response in Metastatic Breast Cancer

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The addition of docetaxel (Taxotere) to an anthracycline (doxorubicin)-containing regimen may improve response rates in the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer. The findings come from a large international trial, TAX 307, presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in San Francisco.

Cancer Patient’s Family Wins Suit for Undertreatment of Pain

July 01, 2001

HAYWARD, California-A California jury has awarded $1.5 million to the family of a lung cancer patient for undertreatment of his pain in the last days of his life. The suit was filed against the patient’s physician under the state’s Elder Abuse Act, since the state’s malpractice laws do not allow recompense for pain and suffering after the patient has died. The jury found that the physician’s failure to treat the pain adequately amounted to "reckless" behavior.

Large Prostates Can Undergo Brachytherapy

July 01, 2001

BOSTON-Men who have large prostate glands may have slightly more urinary symptoms after brachytherapy than men with smaller prostates, but this should not deter such men from having the treatment, Nelson N. Stone, MD, said at a poster session of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Epoetin Alfa Raises Quality of Life for Lung Cancer Patients

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Weekly doses of recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa [Procrit, Eprex, Erypo]) improved quality of life as well as hemoglobin levels for 154 lung cancer patients in a 16-week, nonrandomized pilot study. Self-assessments from patients at baseline, 8, and 16 weeks showed that their energy rose by 30% above baseline, activity by 30.6%, and overall quality of life by 22%.

NIEHS Proposes Establishment of Six Environmental Health Research Centers for Women’s Diseases

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Under a bill introduced in the House, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) would establish and operate six multidisciplinary research centers to study the effects of environmental factors on women’s health, with specific interest in cancer. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is sponsoring the proposed legislation; 43 House members had joined as cosponsors of the bill as of May 15.

Four Bills Would Enable Taxpayer Contributions to Cancer Research

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-House members have introduced four bills that would enable taxpayers to support cancer research: One bill would allow a check-off box on income tax forms to provide contributions to a new Breast and Prostate Cancer Research Fund. Two bills would permit taxpayers to designate part or all of their income tax refund to research, either through the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The last bill would authorize a matching grants program to encourage states to sell special license plates to provide funds for breast cancer research.

Eleven Receive ACS’s Lane Adams Award

July 01, 2001

ATLANTA-Eleven persons who serve cancer patients with exceptional compassion received the 2000 Lane W. Adams Award for Excellence in Caring at the American Cancer Society (ACS) Board of Directors meeting.

Hemoglobin Modifier May Enhance RT in Lung Cancer

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Used with concurrent radiation therapy after induction chemotherapy, an investigational agent that decreases hemoglobin’s oxygen-binding affinity produced good response rates and favorable projected survival rates in patients with unresectable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Sentinel Lymph Node Staging Increases Survival in Node-Negative Melanoma

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Node-negative patients with intermediate-to-thick melanomas who underwent node staging by sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy had a significant survival advantage over those staged by elective lymph node dissection (ELND) or clinical examination, said Sophie Dessureault, MD, of the University of South Florida H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa. She spoke on behalf of the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) Melanoma Staging Committee.

NCI Accelerating Molecular Diagnosis and Therapy for Breast Cancer

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Cutting-edge molecular research supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) promises revolutionary changes in the way physicians screen, diagnose, and treat breast cancer, NCI director Richard D. Klausner, MD, told the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees the NCI.

Elderly Breast Cancer Survivors Receive More Preventive Care Services

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Elderly women who survived breast cancer received more preventive health care overall than a matched control group of cancer-free women. This finding was based on a review of financial records by researchers at the Center for Outcomes and Policy Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Treatment-Induced Amenorrhea Remains Controversial in Premenopausal Breast Cancer

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The impact of achieving amenorrhea during treatment for premenopausal breast cancer is controversial, according to data from the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) Clinical Trials Group (CTG). A common occurrence among premenopausal breast cancer patients, treatment-induced amenorrhea is often considered a positive prognostic factor. The NCIC CTG data was unable to demonstrate such an effect.

Mouthwash Reduces Incidence of Ulcerative Oral Mucositis

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Phase III data show that iseganan, a selectively decontaminating rinse for the oral mucosa, increases by at least 30% the proportion of patients who get through stomatotoxic chemotherapy without developing ulcerative oral mucositis. An error in the randomization system, however, resulted in about one third of the 323 patients being given at least one drug bottle opposite to their randomization assignment and greatly reduced the power of the study, noted Williamson Z. Bradford, MD, PhD. Dr. Bradford is director of clinical science at IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mountainview, California. IntraBiotics manufactures iseganan and sponsored the trial.

Synthetic Form of Snail Venom Toxin Has Strong Analgesic Effects Against Cancer Pain

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The predatory sea snail (conus magnus) compensates for its lack of speed by stunning its prey with a fast-acting neurotoxin. Ziconotide, a synthetic peptide derived from that toxin, proves to have strong analgesic effects in many patients with otherwise intractable cancer pain and may be the vanguard of a new class of pain drugs.

Endostatin Safety, Antitumor Activity Shown in Phase I Trials

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-The antiangiogenesis drug recombinant human endostatin (rHE) shows evidence of safety, biologic activity, and antitumor activity in the setting of phase I trials, Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, said at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in San Francisco.

Careful Monitoring of Saltz Regimen is Advised

July 01, 2001

BOSTON-In a letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from two cooperative groups call for "vigilant monitoring" of patients receiving the combination of irinotecan (Camptosar), fluorouracil (5-FU), and leucovorin for metastatic colorectal cancer, due to an excess number of deaths observed in patients receiving this combination in two randomized NCI-sponsored trials. They added that specific clinical factors that increase the risk of adverse effects in patients receiving this regimen have not yet been identified.

Pilocarpine Concurrent With Radiation Therapy Is Useful in Preserving Salivary Flow

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Definitive head and neck radiation produces two treatment morbidities that can affect tolerance and result in treatment breaks. Chronic xerostomia commonly occurs after 50 Gy of radiation and acute, transient mucositis can cause treatment delays that affect the efficacy of the regimen. The Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) recently completed a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to see if pilocarpine given concurrently with radiation could prevent those toxicities.

Clodronate May Slow Bone Metastasis in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Oral sodium clodronate appears to have delayed progression of bone metastasis from prostate cancer in a randomized clinical trial, although the results did not reach statistical significance. British investigator David Dearnaley, MD, presented the preliminary results on behalf of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Trials Unit at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in San Francisco.

R115777 Shows Promise Against Breast, Colorectal, and Other Solid Tumors

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Many signaling cascade proteins, such as Ras, that lead to cancerous changes require an isoprenyl moiety attached by farnesyl transferase for activity. Farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTI) are under study as a possible way to derail cancer progression. Three early studies of one such compound, R115777, show that it has promise against breast, colorectal, and other solid tumors. Janssen Research Foundation of Titusville, New Jersey, sponsored all three studies.

Treatment-Related Fatigue Widespread, But Undertreated, Seldom Discussed

July 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Maryland-Fatigue among cancer patients "is an important problem, and it’s a legitimate topic for clinical investigation," National Cancer Institute Clinical Director Gregory A. Curt, MD, told Oncology News International, lamenting, " I don’t think it’s high on the radar for the physicians."

Fluorouracil Portal Vein Infusion Improves Disease-Free Survival

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Disease-free survival improved significantly for patients with resectable colon cancer who received portal vein infusion of fluorouracil (5-FU) after surgery, said Mark S. Roh, MD, of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Operations and Biostatistical Center, Pittsburgh. Patients did not, however, experience any improvement in their rate of liver metastasis, he added.

Amifostine Supports Melphalan Dose Escalation in Stem Cell Transplantation

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Amifostine (Ethyol) provided cytoprotection and allowed the maximum tolerated dose of melphalan (Alkeran) to be increased to 280 mg/m2 for cancer patients receiving autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in a phase I and II study. Dose-limiting toxicity of melphalan was not able to be clearly determined from the trial, however, and might be higher, according to Gordon L. Phillips II, MD, director of the bone marrow transplantation program of the Greenebaum Cancer Center at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

FDA Approves Expanded Rituximab Use for Low-Grade Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

July 01, 2001

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO-The FDA has approved a supplemental biological license application (sBLA) for Rituxan (rituximab), the monoclonal antibody developed by Genentech, Inc. and IDEC Pharmaceuticals (San Diego) for treatment of patient with relapsed or refractory, low-grade or follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The new product labeling includes re-treatment with rituximab after a prior course, initial treatment with eight weekly infusions instead of four, and treatment of bulky disease.

Medicare Expands Coverage of Diagnostic PET

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Medicare will begin or expand coverage of positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic scans for several cancers on July 1. For the first time, Medicare will cover PET for head and neck cancers, except for central nervous system and thyroid cancers, and esophageal cancer. Coverage will apply to diagnosis, staging, and restaging.

Antibody May Improve Survival in Recurrent Glioblastomas

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-In a phase II trial of the chimeric monoclonal antibody 131I-chTNT-1/B (Cotara), survival in 22 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme was significantly increased, compared with that of historical controls.

‘Hottest’ Sentinel Lymph Nodes Not Necessarily the Likeliest to Contain Metastasis

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Although locating sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) for biopsy often depends on radioisotope mapping, the node with the highest isotope uptake is not necessarily the one likeliest to contain metastasis, said Robert C. G. Martin, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Nebulized Fentanyl Relieves Dyspnea in Cancer Patients

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Inhaled fentanyl can relieve the dyspnea that afflicts 70% of cancer patients and improve oxygen saturation in these patients. Patrick J. Coyne, RN, MSN, reported that fentanyl, currently used for breakthrough cancer pain, can be given through usual home health-care services.

Inpatient Palliative Care Unit Meets Goal to Improve End-of-Life Care and Makes Profit

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A high-volume specialist palliative care unit (PCU) set up to improve end-of-life care for patients at Medical College of Virginia hospitals met patient goals for care and generated a profit for the hospital, despite caring for many indigent patients.

Implantable Pump Improves Pain Control, Reduces Toxicity

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A trial to compare comprehensive medical management (CMM) to CMM plus intrathecal morphine delivery via an implantable, programmable drug delivery system (IDDS) showed that the pump improved pain control by more than 15% and reduced medication side effects by nearly 50%. "The pump not only improved pain control and quality of life in patients with otherwise intractable cancer-related pain," Thomas J. Smith, MD, one of the study chairmen, told ONI, "but reduced costs associated with medication and side effects so much that by the third month of treatment, intrathecal morphine delivery should become cost-effective compared to the high doses of oral morphine typically used in these patients."

Veterinary Salve Relieves Hand-Foot Syndrome

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-An inexpensive over-the-counter veterinary preparation known as Bag Balm can curtail palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (hand-foot syndrome) and so eliminate the need to reduce chemotherapy dosages. Nadine Tchen, MD, reported that 8 of 12 patients treated with Bag Balm after developing hand-foot syndrome either had improvement or stabilization of symptoms, and were able to continue chemotherapy without changes in dose or schedule, following treatment with Bag Balm. Dr. Tchen is a clinical fellow in the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Surgery Relieves Facial Paralysis due to Tumors

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A new surgical method for reversing facial paralysis in brain tumor patients (see photo) will be reported at the Ninth International Facial Nerve Symposium taking place July 29 to August 1.

Weekly Epoetin Alfa Boosts Energy and Activity Levels

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Anemic breast cancer patients receiving chemoradiotherapy who are also treated with weekly recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa [Procrit, Eprex, Erypo]) have not only better hemoglobin levels but also improved energy, activity levels, and overall quality of life.

Amifostine Reduces Chemoradiation Toxicities, and Improves Response

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Amifostine (Ethyol) reduced acute pneumonitis and severe esophagitis while significantly increasing the complete response rate in patients receiving chemoradiation for inoperable stage II or III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) during a randomized phase III study. Hypotension was significantly more frequent among those receiving amifostine, although only one patient discontinued therapy because of a hypotensive episode.

US Cancer Incidence and Mortality Continue to Decline

July 01, 2001

BETHESDA, Md-The overall incidence of cancer in the United States dropped an average of 1.1% per year, and the mortality rate also declined an average of 1.1% per year during the period 1992 to 1998, according to an annual report on the status of cancer prepared by four cancer organizations.

Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping Is Successfully Performed in Rectal Cancers

July 01, 2001

WASHINGTON-Sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping has been used in gastrointestinal cancers to identify patients with occult micrometastases who might benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Because rectal lymph drainage is "less predictable" than colon lymph drainage, the technique had been considered less suitable for rectal than for colon cancers, said Sukamal Saha, MD, of the McLaren Regional Medical Center of Michigan State University, Flint.

Thermal Imaging May Be an Adjunct to Mammography

July 01, 2001

SEATTLE-When used as an adjunct to mammography and clinical breast examinations, thermal imaging may help reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies, according to Karleen Callahan, PhD, director of Clinical Research for Breast Cancer at Computerized Thermal Imaging, Inc (CTI).

Access to Care and Quality of Care ‘Inseparable’ Concepts

July 01, 2001

CHICAGO-The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines health care access as "timely use of affordable, continuous, quality health services which are sensitive to individual needs in order to achieve the best possible health outcomes," Jeanne Mandelblatt, MD, MPH, PhD, said at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University’s annual Health Policy Symposium.

Primary Androgen Therapies Yield Similar Results, Different Perceptions

July 01, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-A comparison of quality-of-life measures reported by patients in the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study (PCOS) found that men who underwent orchiectomy felt better and worried less about their health than men who received luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists.

Zoledronic Acid Active Against Bone Metastasis in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2001

ANAHEIM, California-In a study of advanced prostate cancer patients, use of the investigational bisphosphonate zoledronic acid (Zometa) led to significantly fewer skeletal-related events associated with bone metastases (including radiation therapy for pain relief) than did placebo, according to data presented at the Society of Urologic Oncology meeting, held in conjunction with the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association.