Oncology NEWS International Vol 11 No 11

Zoledronic Acid Reduces SREs in Solid Tumors

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Zoledronic acid (Zo-meta) reduces the incidence of skeletal-related events (SREs) such as bone pain and pathologic fractures in patients with bone metastases from prostate and other solid tumors, researchers reported at two major medical meetings.

Study Supports Wider Use of SLN Biopsy in Breast Cancer

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A study reported at the Era of Hope Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program meeting adds more evidence supporting wider use of sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy by surgeons skilled in the technique.

Minorities Less Likely Than Whites to Receive Good Pain Care

November 01, 2002

NEW YORK-Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities are less likely than whites to receive appropriate analgesia, as illustrated in the cancer literature and anecdotal reports from those who work with minority populations, said Stacie T. Pinderhughes, MD. "This is a high-risk group with regard to adequate and appropriate treatment of pain," said Dr. Pinderhughes, assistant professor of geriatrics and internal medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

Polyglutamate-Paclitaxel Controls Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Interim results from a phase I/II clinical trial of patients with recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer show that polygutamate (PG)-paclitaxel (CT-2103, Xyotax) controlled disease in about half of the evaluable patients.

9cRA Shown to Reverse Premaliagnant Changes in Ex-Smokers

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO - About half of the new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year occur in patients who have already quit smoking. Treatment with oral doses of 9-cis-retinoic acid (9cRA), a form of vitamin A, might help protect ex-smokers from previous damage done to their lungs, said Jonathan M. Kurie, MD, Thoracic and Head and Neck Medical Oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

FDA Names New ODAC Chair

November 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Donna Przepiorka, MD, PhD, formerly of the Baylor College of Medicine and now at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, has become chair of the Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC). She replaces Stacy Nerenstone, MD, of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, whose term expired. Dr. Przepiorka’s research has focused largely on transplantation immunobiol-ogy and she has a background in cellular and gene therapy. Her term as committee chair will end on June 30, 2004.

Neoadjuvant Weekly Paclitaxel Effective in Advanced Breast Cancer

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Weekly paclitaxel (Taxol) given as a neoadjuvant therapy for patients with locally advanced breast cancer resulted in regression of the primary tumor in 60% of patients. Albert S. Braverman, MD, professor of medicine, Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York, Brooklyn, presented the results at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 278).

Docetaxel Plus Gemcitabine Promising in Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-In a randomized multicenter phase II study of advanced pancreatic carcinoma by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Gastrointestinal Cancer Group, the combination of docetaxel (Taxotere) and gemcitabine (Gemzar) was "promising" relative to docetaxel/cisplatin (Platinol), Manfred P. Lutz, MD, of University Hospital, Ulm, Germany, said at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 498).

Polysaccharides Unique Targets for Immunotherapy

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) are the most highly expressed antigens on the surface of cancer cells, and they can be uniquely effective targets for immunotherapy, said Philip Livingston, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University Medical College.

Genetic Fingerprinting Shows Distinct Sarcoma Subsets

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Genetic "fingerprinting" of high-grade adult soft-tissue sarcomas by oligonucleotide array ("gene chip") analysis revealed a number of distinct tumor subsets and might help point to new therapeutic approaches, Robert G. Maki, MD, PhD, said at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1611).

Education on Increased ICP Reduces Nursing ‘Headache’

November 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Managing the associated neurological problems of brain tumors is a crucial issue for oncology nurses, said Karen Baumgartner, MSN, APRN, BC, advance practice nurse in the Neuro Center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. If nurses fail to notice the signs indicating increased intracranial pressure (ICP), neurological injury and even death can result.

NCI Begins Trial of Spiral CT vs X-rays as a Screening Test

November 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-Researchers have begun accruing 50,000 patients for the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), the much-awaited comparison of the efficacy of spiral CT scans and chest x-rays in reducing lung cancer mortality. Investigators in the 8-year, National Cancer Institute-supported study expect to complete enrollment within 2 years. Enrollment will be aided by a $5 million educational campaign funded and organized by the American Cancer Society (ACS), and aimed at encouraging current and former cigarette smokers to participate in the trial.

Good But Short-Lived Responses to Rituximab in LPHD

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The activity of rituxi-mab (Rituxan) in lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s disease (LPHD) warrants additional investigation, according to a presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1052).

ODAC Supports Use of Iressa for Third-Line Therapy of NSCLC

November 01, 2002

SILVER SPRING, Maryland-The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has essentially recommended that the US FDA grant accelerated approval to Iressa (gefitinib, AstraZeneca) for the oral treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients who have previously received platinum-based chemotherapy regimens.

Subcutaneous Alemtuzumab Produces High Complete Response Rate in Untreated CLL

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) administered subcutaneously produced an overall response rate of 87% among 38 patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) in a phase II study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Preventing Anthracycline Cardiotoxicity in Pediatric Survivors

November 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, On-tario, Canada-The cardiotoxicity of anthracyclines can occur many years after treatment for childhood cancer. Studies exploring methods to prevent these effects were presented at the 7th International Conference for Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer, hosted by Ros-well Park Cancer Institute.

NCI Seeks New Ways to Improve Cancer Communications

November 01, 2002

Every 3 years, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) asks researchers, advisory panels, and advocacy groups to recommend "extraordinary opportunities for investment," which it defines as "broad-based, overarching areas of scientific pursuit that hold tremendous promise for significantly expanding our understanding of cancer."

Oral Ibandronate Reduces Skeletal Complications of Cancer

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Daily doses of oral ibandronate (investigational, Hoffmann-La Roche, Basel, Switzerland), a highly potent third-generation bisphosphonate, significantly reduced the incidence of new skeletal complications in breast cancer patients with metastatic bone disease enrolled in a phase III trial. The mean number of new events per patient was 1.36 for women taking oral ibandronate at 20 mg/d and 1.43 at 50 mg/d, compared with 2.23 for women taking placebo.

Integrated Software Handles Complex Radiation Therapy

November 01, 2002

OTTAWA, Canada-Radiation oncology has always been a resource- and data-intensive discipline, and the increasing use of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has made the process of delivering radiation to cancer patients even more complex.

IDDS Reduces Pain and Toxicity in Cancer Pain Patients

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Randomized clinical trial data presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1436) show that pain control medications delivered through an implantable intrathecal drug delivery system (IDDS) are significantly more effective than similar drugs given as oral or injectable formulations.

Large Trial Adds to Support for Annual Mammography

November 01, 2002

NEW ORLEANS-Fox Chase Cancer Center investigators presented further support for yearly mammograms in women age 40 and older at the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO abstract plenary 2).

Genta Initiates Genasense Plus Thalidomide Trial in Myeloma

November 01, 2002

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, New Jersey-Genta Incorporated has initiated a new clinical trial with its lead anticancer drug Genasense in patients with multiple myeloma. The study will assess the safety and efficacy of Gena-sense in combination with thalidomide (Thalomid) and dexamethasone in patients who have failed standard therapy. The trial will be conducted at the University of Maryland and is sponsored by the NCI pursuant to Genta’s Cooperation Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Genasense works by inhibiting the production of Bcl-2, a protein made by cancer cells that blocks chemotherapy-induced cell death. Genasense may enhance the effectiveness of current anticancer treatments, Genta said in a news release.

Femara Study in Adjuvant Breast Cancer Reaches Enrollment Milestone

November 01, 2002

EAST HANOVER, New Jersey-A phase III study to determine overall and disease-free survival of women with early breast cancer who take the aromatase inhibitor Femara (letrozole tablets) vs placebo in the adjuvant setting following 5 years of hormone therapy with tamoxifen (Nolvadex) has completed enrollment of 4,800 postmenopausal women.

Renal Cancer Responds to Anti-CD3-Activated T Cell Vaccine

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Adoptive transfer of T cells taken from tumor-draining lymph nodes and secondarily activated and expanded in vitro can shrink established renal cell cancers, according to phase II data reported at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 10). Alfred E. Chang, MD, chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, University of Michigan Health Systems, Ann Arbor, presented the study.

New Test May Predict Early Response to Chemotherapy

November 01, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO-An investigational test kit (Apomate) to measure apoptosis may be able to detect a positive or negative response to chemotherapy within just a few days of initiation of treatment, allowing nonresponders to switch quickly to a different treatment.

IL-2 Appears to Increase Rituximab Antitumor Effects

November 01, 2002

MILAN, Italy-Giving interleukin-2 (IL-2, aldesleukin, Proleukin) in combination with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) may increase the antibody’s efficacy in lymphoma patients, apparently because it increases the number of natural killer (NK) cells. Researchers at a Clinical Development Conference sponsored by Chiron Corporation suggested that IL-2 be studied as a regular addition to rituximab therapy and also as an addition to rituxi-mab/chemotherapy regimens.

McClellan Nominated as FDA Commissioner

November 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-President Bush has nominated Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, who has held senior positions in both the Clinton and current Bush Administrations, as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. McClellan will assume a major health post that has remained vacant since the resignation of Jane E. Henney, MD, in January 2001.

Thalidomide Effective as Initial Multiple Myeloma Therapy

November 01, 2002

PHILADELPHIA-Early reports of the efficacy of thalidomide (Thalomid) as initial therapy for multiple myeloma have been confirmed by researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Donna Weber, MD, reported at a symposium sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Taxoprexin Pivotal Studies Begin in Melanoma and Pancreatic Cancer

November 01, 2002

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania-Protarga, Inc. has received comments from the FDA that allow it to proceed with two separate phase III clinical studies of its new cancer drug Taxoprexin Injection (DHA-pacli-taxel) for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and pancreatic cancer. Taxoprexin is made by linking the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to paclitaxel, the company said in a news release.

FDA Consolidates Drug Reviews

November 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consolidate the review of all new pharmaceutical products in its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) by transferring the drug review duties currently handled by the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research to CDER. Some reviews of biologics had gone to CDER previously, including those intended for use as oncologic drugs.

Surgical Salvage After Rectal Cancer Recurrence Ups Survival

November 01, 2002

ORLANDO-One in four patients with resected rectal cancer who later underwent surgical salvage for recurrence at a single site were still alive at 5 years, according to a subanalysis of a large, randomized Intergroup study presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 507). "Approximately 27% of the patients have long-term survival and appear to be cured," said Michael J. O’Connell, MD, director, Allegheny Cancer Center, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Secondary Breast Cancer in Pediatric Survivors

November 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario, Canada-Female survivors of childhood cancer are generally at increased risk of developing secondary breast cancer years after their initial disease. New research, presented at the 7th International Conference for Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer, hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute, is shedding light on this issue and helping practitioners determine how to best screen this population.

Retailers Cut Youth Tobacco Sales

November 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Tobacco retailers continue to reduce sales to children under age 18, as mandated by federal law. Overall, the national violation rate fell to 16.3% in 2001 from 40.1% in 1996, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Chemo-Related Febrile Neutropenia Rates Higher in Elderly

November 01, 2002

BOSTON-Researchers from the Awareness of Neutropenia in Chemotherapy (ANC) Study Group report that older cancer patients are at greater risk of death due to chemotherapy-related febrile neutropenia. They recommend that the elderly receive prophylactic colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) as adjuncts to CHOP and CHOP-like chemotherapy regimens.

Zevalin Safe, Effective in NHL Patients After Previous Radiotherapy

November 01, 2002

NEW ORLEANS-Treatment with the radioimmunotherapy drug ibritumo-mab tiuxetan (Zevalin) appears to be safe and effective for patients with some of the most common types of non-Hodg-kin’s lymphoma (NHL) who have received prior external beam radiotherapy, Roger M. Macklis, MD, said at the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO abstract 240).

‘Empowered’ Nurses Cut Respiratory Infections in BMT Unit

November 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-For patients undergoing bone marrow transplant (BMT), viral respiratory infections can prove fatal. Viral respiratory infection was a contributing factor in two patient deaths during a 17-case viral respiratory outbreak among the staff, patients, and family members of a BMT unit, said Leslie D. Wehrlen, RN, BSN, OCN, clinical research nurse, Clinical Cancer Nursing Department, National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Unsafe Blood Still Found in Some Developing Countries

November 01, 2002

During the HIV epidemic in the 1980s, more than half of the hemophiliac patients living in many countries, including the United States, France, Denmark, and Japan, became infected with HIV as a result of blood transfusions with contaminated blood or blood products.[1,2] Since the clotting factor needed to treat hemophiliacs was manufactured by pooling plasma from thousands of donors, even one HIV-infected donor could contaminate the entire supply, infecting hundreds.