Oncology NEWS International Vol 11 No 10

FDG-PET Predicts Prognosis in Primary Osteosarcoma

October 01, 2002

LOS ANGELES-A retrospective study indicates that 18F-fluorodeoxyglu-cose (FDG)-PET may be a good tool for predicting osteosarcoma patients’ response to chemotherapy, said Christiane Franzius, MD, and colleagues from the Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Munster, Germany.

Vaccine Turns Immune System Against Cancer Cells

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-The human body has strong immune defenses against cells of foreign species. For example, cells that produce a sugar known as galactose-alpha(1,3)galactose, found in many mammalian species but not in humans, trigger a hyperacute response in humans that destroys the great majority of the interloper cells. Cancer cells, however, which also contain many molecules not found in normal cells, nonetheless often elude the immune system’s defenses.

Three Themes to Guide von Eschenbach at NCI

October 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-Calling his initial months as director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) "absolutely exhilarating," Andrew C. von Eschen-bach, MD, described three interrelated themes that will guide his leadership of the Institute. The three, he said at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), are patient centricity, a more active leadership by NCI in the National Cancer Program, and collaborations and partnerships beyond the Institute’s usual sphere of activities.

Arimidex Approved for Early-Stage Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Pts

October 01, 2002

WILMINGTON, Delaware-AstraZeneca’s nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor Arimidex (anastrozole) has received FDA approval for the adjuvant treatment of hormone-receptor-positive early-stage breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The agent was previously approved as first-line treatment of hormone-receptor-positive advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women and as second-line treatment for those whose disease has progressed following treatment with tamoxifen (Nolvadex).

Long-Term Exposure to Diesel Exhaust Poses Lung Cancer Risk

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-An assessment by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Assessment concludes that long-term inhalation of diesel engine exhaust "is likely to pose a lung cancer hazard to humans, as well as damage the lung in other ways, depending on exposure."

Most Americans Unaware of Excessive Weight as a Risk for Some Cancers

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Most Americans worry about developing cancer and being overweight, but few of them recognize that excessive pounds are a risk factor for some common cancers, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Of those polled, 61% said they were either very or somewhat concerned about receiving a diagnosis of cancer. Yet when asked to name major risk factors for cancer other than smoking, only 6% listed overweight or obesity.

Three Themes to Guide von Eschenbach as NCI Director

October 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-Calling his initial months as director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) "absolutely exhilarating," Andrew C. von Eschen-bach, MD, described three interrelated themes that will guide his leadership of the Institute. The three, he said at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), are patient centricity, a more active leadership by NCI in the National Cancer Program, and collaborations and partnerships beyond the Institute’s usual sphere of activities.

Gleevec Gets FDA Priority Review for First-Line Use in Early CML

October 01, 2002

EAST HANOVER, New Jersey-Novartis Oncology’s Gleevec (ima-tinib mesylate) has been granted priority review by the FDA for use as first-line treatment for newly diagnosed Philadelphia-chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in the chronic phase. The previous indication allowed for the treatment only in the later stages of the disease or in chronic phase after interferon-alfa failure. The FDA also granted priority review to an application by Novartis to provide dosing information for Gleevec in pediatric patients with Ph+ CML. Both applications will be decided by December 28, 2002, the company said in a news release.

New Anti-HIV Agent Prevents Virus From Entering Cell

October 01, 2002

BARCELONA, Spain-A new anti-HIV agent from Roche and Trimeris, Inc has a unique mode of action that suggests it will be active in HIV infections that have developed resistance to other antiretroviral agents and can be combined with other agents without substantially increasing toxicity.

Docetaxel/Gemcitabine Effective in Advanced NSCLC

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Weekly docetaxel (Taxotere) combined with gemcitabine (Gemzar) is a useful doublet in circumstances in which a platinum-containing doublet is not desirable in the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to the ACORN 9901 multicenter trial. Ravindrath Patel, MD, of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Institute, Bakersfield, California, presented the data at a poster session of the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1276).

Infusional FUFOX: Better PFS in Advanced Colorectal Cancer

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A phase III clinical trial of first-line therapy in advanced colorectal cancer showed improved progression-free survival (PFS) for weekly infusional FUFOX-fluorouracil/folinic acid (5-FU/FA)/oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)-compared with the Mayo bolus 5-FU/FA (leucovorin in the United States) regimen, Axel Grothey, MD, University of Halle, Halle, Germany, said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 38th Annual Meeting (abstract 512).

‘ATAQ’ Gets Antibiotics to Neutropenic Patients Sooner

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Although leukemia patients with neutropenia need antibiotics promptly when fever strikes, hospital procedures can delay administration for many hours, according to Cathy Mazzone, RN, MS, OCN, patient care manager, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland. A thorough analysis of the approach to neutropenia fever management by a busy leukemia unit cut the wait to just over an hour, she said at the 27th Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (abstract 22).

Talking Touchscreen: Reaching the Hard-to-Reach Patient

October 01, 2002

EVANSTON, Illinois-Patients with low literacy have often been excluded from assessments of self-reported health outcomes, but that may change thanks to a new multimedia tool called the Talking Touchscreen.

Ductal Lavage Identifies Patients for Chemoprevention

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The routine use of ductal lavage in a high-risk breast surgical oncology practice will identify many patients who may benefit substantially from chemoprevention with tamoxifen (Nolvadex), and may detect rare contralateral breast cancers missed by traditional methods, according to a report at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 193).

Bone Mineral Deficits Seen After Childhood Allogeneic BMT

October 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, On-tario, Canada-With the increasing success in the treatment of childhood leukemia and other cancers, possible long-term problems need to be addressed, said Sue Kaste, DO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Benefit for Prostatectomy in Localized Prostate Cancer

October 01, 2002

UPPSALA, Sweden-In a new study, radical prostatectomy reduced deaths due to prostate cancer but did not increase overall survival in men with newly diagnosed, early-stage disease. The Scandinavian Prostatic Cancer Study Group found that after a median 6.2 years of follow-up, there were no significant differences in overall survival, but patients randomized to radical prostatectomy were less likely to develop distant metastases than those randomized to watchful waiting.

SIRT Slows Growth of Colorectal Cancer Liver Metastases

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Delivering Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) via radioactive microspheres (SIR-Spheres) significantly increased response to treatment and time to progression in a small cohort of patients receiving chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer liver metastases.

Protective Effects of Circumcision Explored

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Uncircumcised men are at increased risk of HIV infection. A new study presented at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association (abstract 111) suggests that this is due to high numbers of HIV target cells in the foreskin. Carlos R. Estrada, MD, of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, and his colleagues evaluated 8 pediatric and 6 adult foreskins with and without a history of HIV-1 infection. Cervical biopsy tissue served as a control.

Aromatase Inhibitors ‘Roughly Similar’ in Metastatic Breast Cancer

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-An open-label randomized study comparing letrozole (Femara) and anastrozole (Arimidex), the two US FDA-approved nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors, found a higher overall response rate for letrozole as second-line therapy in women with metastatic breast cancer.

ODAC Votes for Accelerated Approval of Iressa for NSCLC

October 01, 2002

n ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) voted 11 to 3 that phase II results of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals’ EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor Iressa (ZD1839, gefitinib) as third-line therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were "reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit." The FDA considers this a recommendation for accelerated approval. Look for a complete report of the ODAC decision and a review of the phase II trials of Iressa in NSCLC in next month’s issue of ONI.

Prime/Boost Prostate Cancer Vaccine Promising in Phase II Trial

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A new two-stage prostate cancer vaccine should be explored in a phase III study in metastatic prostate cancer patients, based on promising phase II results of an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group trial (E7897). Howard L. Kaufman, MD, reported the results of the "prime/boost" vaccine trial at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO abstract 12).

Nursing Shortage to Worsen Over Next 2 Decades

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-The next 2 decades will see an increasing shortage of nurses if current trends continue, according to a report by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The report points to a worsening shortfall as nurses retire and too few new people enter the field. In the year 2000, there were an estimated 1.89 million registered nurses in the United States, while the demand for nurses was 2 million, a gap of 6%.

PathVysion Gene Test Added to Herceptin Labeling

October 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The Food and Drug Administration has approved the inclusion of the PathVysion HER-2 DNA Probe Kit, a new genedetection test, in the labeling of Herceptin (trastuzumab, Genentech). PathVysion is made and marketed by Vysis, Inc., a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories. It joins HercepTest (DAKO) as the second screening test listed in the Herceptin labeling.

Longer Response With Use of Fulvestrant Than Anastrozole in Advanced Breast Cancer

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Compared with the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole (Arimi-dex), mean duration of response is significantly greater with fulvestrant (Faslo-dex) in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer who have progressed on prior endocrine therapy. For other key endpoints, fulvestrant was at least as effective as anastrozole, according to a poster presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 160).

Aptosyn in Two New Combination Therapy Lung Cancer Phase II Trials

October 01, 2002

HORSHAM, Pennsylvania-Cell Pathways, Inc. has announced that the National Cancer Institute is sponsoring two phase II studies of the company’s investigational drug Aptosyn (exisulind) in combination therapies for lung cancer. The Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) is studying Aptosyn in combination with eto-poside (VePesid) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) in patients with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer. The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) is investigating Aptosyn in combination with gemcitabine (Gem-zar) and carboplatin in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

FDA Plans Major Review of cGMP Program

October 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The US Food and Drug Administration has announced a major new initiative to revise its regulations governing pharmaceutical manufacturing and product quality. Focused on the agency’s current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) program, the new effort seeks to improve public health promotion and protection. It will apply to veterinary and human drugs, including vaccines and other human biological drug products.

Pediatric Brain Tumors Up Risk of Endocrine Disorders

October 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario, Canada-Survivors of childhood brain tumors appear to have a high risk for non-neurological late effects such as endocrine disorders, according to a report (abstract 7) presented at the 7th International Conference for Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer, hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

President Bush Names New Chairs for Two Cancer Advisory Groups

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-President Bush has named LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., MD, of Howard University College of Medicine, to head the President’s Cancer Panel (PCP), and John E. Niederhuber, MD, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, to chair the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).

Vector Vaccine Approach Involves Combination of Strategies

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A promising approach in vector vaccine development is the use of a combination of vaccination strategies that enhance T-cell responses for specific tumor-associated antigens, said Jeffrey Schlom, PhD, chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institutes, Bethesda, Maryland.

Compact, Dedicated Breast PET Scanner Being Developed

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-The imaging methods presently used to detect, diagnose, and stage breast tumors have significant flaws, as shown by the roughly 75% of breast biopsies that return normal results. These "completely unnecessary" procedures impose "huge costs" and "unnecessary trauma," said Craig S. Levin, PhD, assistant professor of radiology, University of California, San Diego, and the Department of Nuclear Medicine, San Diego VA Medical Center.

Radioactive Glass Microspheres Effective for HCC Patients

October 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Treatment of unre-sectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with 90-yttrium-embedded glass micro-spheres (TheraSphere, MDS Nordion) appears to be safe, effective, and less toxic than the alternative, transarterial che-moembolization (TACE).

Use of Chemotherapy Supported for Elderly Despite Side Effects

October 01, 2002

BOSTON-The elderly may suffer more from the side effects of chemotherapy, but toxicity should not necessarily prevent them from receiving life-saving or palliative treatment, according to two speakers at the 14th international meeting of the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and International Association for Oral Oncology.

Better Diet Among Black Men Could Help Reduce Health Disparities

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-A National Cancer Institute (NCI) summary of the link between diet and health among African-American men shows the impact of their eating habits and how increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of many diseases, including some cancers.

New MRI Technique Diagnoses Breast Lesions via Perfusion Patterns

October 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-A new technique employing high-resolution contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can distinguish between benign and malignant breast lesions by showing lesion perfusion patterns (images and Figure 1). Hadassa Degani, PhD, head of the Department of Biological Regulation, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, discussed the method, developed in her lab, at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 5th Annual Conference on Innovations in Quality Care.