Oncology NEWS International Vol 11 No 3

Bush to Complete 5-Year Doubling of NIH Budget

March 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-President Bush’s proposed new budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), if enacted by Congress, would complete the 5-year, bipartisan effort to double the agency’s budget over 5 years.

CAD Accurate in Digital Images

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Computer-aided detection (CAD) has been shown to improve the identification of breast malignancies on film-based mammography in studies involving large databases of films, said Kathryn O’Shaughnessy, PhD, director of clinical and regulatory affairs, R2 Technology, Inc., Los Altos, California. Now, the method has been shown to be equally accurate in the analysis of full-field digital mammography images, she said at the 87th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (abstract 995).

Campath-1H Safe and Effective in Refractory B-CLL

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-About one third of "bad prognosis" refractory B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) patients are salvageable with alemtuzumab (Campath-1H), according to a compassionate use study presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (abstract 1538).

Involved-Field RT Is Effective in Hodgkin’s Disease

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-European researchers have found involved-field and extended-field radiotherapy following chemotherapy to be equally effective in treating patients with intermediate-stage Hodgkin’s disease. Andreas Engert, MD, University of Cologne, Germany, reported the results of the multicenter, international study at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (abstract 3199).

FDA Approves Orfadin for Hereditary Tyrosinemia Type 1

March 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the orphan drug Orfadin (nitisinone capsules, Swedish Orphan International) for treating hereditary tyrosinemia type 1 (HT-1), a rare pediatric disease that causes progressive liver failure and liver cancer. In announcing its approval decision, the agency warned that only physicians experienced in treating the disease should prescribe Orfadin. Rare Diseases Therapeutics, Inc., of Nashville, Tennessee, is the drug’s US distributor.

Allovectin-7 Immunotherapy Active in Metastatic Melanoma

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-In patients with metastatic cutaneous melanoma who have already failed or are refractory to standard treatment, Allovectin-7, a targeted gene therapy using a nonviral delivery system, can induce both local and systemic responses in tumors injected weekly, results of a multicenter phase II study suggest.

HAART Ups Survival in Primary CNS Lymphoma Patients

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has drastically reduced the incidence of primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma in HIV-positive individuals at a French hospital and improved survival in HIV-positive patients who have the brain malignancy.

DX-8951f/Gemcitabine Safe, Active in Advanced Solid Tumors

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-The combination of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and a potent, novel topoisomerase-1 inhibitor similar to irinotecan (Camptosar) is safe, has predictable toxicities, and has demonstrated significant antitumor activity in a variety of solid malignancies, according to results of a 70-patient phase I/pharmacokinetic study.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infections After Transplant Rare But Deadly

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Fifteen to 20 years ago, treatment of patients infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection after stem cell transplantation was limited to certain beta-lactam and aminoglycoside antibiotics that were active against the organism.

ODAC Recommends That FDA Approve Zometa for Bone Metastases

March 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-Members of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) have unanimously recommended that the Food and Drug Administration approve Zometa (zoledronic acid for injection, Novartis) for the treatment of bone metastases in patients with multiple myeloma and breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and other solid tumors.

CAD Equivalent to Double-Read Mammogram Screening

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Two studies presented at the 87th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) indicate that computer-aided detection (CAD) of lesions on conventional mammography studies is comparable to double-read mammograms, and it produces fewer false-negative results.

Language Problems May Contribute to Misconceptions About Trials

March 01, 2002

BOSTON-Misconceptions about cancer clinical trials are common among trial participants, according to a survey of 205 patients and 61 providers conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Computer-Aided Screening Detects Missed Lung Cancers

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Screening for lung cancer with low-dose helical CT scans is becoming increasingly popular. Computer programs to assist in the detection of lung cancers appear to increase the accuracy of CT screening, said Samuel G. Armato III, PhD, assistant professor of radiology, University of Chicago.

High-Dose IMRT Postop Does Not Affect Erectile Function

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Nerve-sparing prostatectomy has become increasingly common as younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer seek to preserve erectile function. Although postoperative radiotherapy has improved control of prostate cancer, few studies have examined its effect on erectile function.

Topotecan/Doxil Studied as Second-Line Ovarian Cancer Therapy

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-Liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil) may be essentially equivalent to topotecan (Hycamtin) as second-line therapy for ovarian cancer, but the combination of the two may have more promise than either agent alone, according to preliminary results of a phase I study.

Low-Dose Amifostine May Prevent Platinum Neurotoxicity

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-Repeated low-dose administration of amifostine (Ethyol) is being studied in a randomized, multi-center, community-based trial in an attempt to prevent neurotoxicity caused by platinum-based chemotherapy.David Alberts, MD, and Martee Hensley, MD, discussed the new study at the Ethyol Emerging Neuropathy Trial Investigator Meeting.

Anemia Decreases Survival in Women With HIV Infection

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A multicenter, prospective study has shown that anemia is an independent risk factor predicting decreased survival in HIV-infected women and that highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) helps resolve anemia in this population group.

Dr. Klausner Co-Chairs Committee Preparing NAS Terrorism Report

March 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee expects to issue a report in June on terrorism that will provide the federal government with a road map for the use of science and technology in all aspects of counterterrorism, Richard D. Klausner, MD, former National Cancer Institute (NCI) director, told ONI.

Epirubicin/Docetaxel a Superior Combination for Advanced Breast Cancer

March 01, 2002

SAN ANTONIO-A multicenter phase II study conducted in France has shown that epirubicin (Ellence) and docetaxel (Taxotere) (ET) offer better results as first-line chemotherapy than fluorouracil (5-FU), epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide (FEC) among patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Preop CT Identifies Unresectable Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Preoperative helical computed tomography (CT) can improve the management of women with recurrent ovarian cancer by identifying disease that cannot be resected in secondary cytoreductive surgery, said Stacey A. Funt, MD, assistant attending radiologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Assessing the Total Cost of Chemotherapy-Induced Toxicities

March 01, 2002

Chemotherapy-induced toxicities often adversely affect patients’ health and treatment plans, and can result in large costs for treatment and care. In addition to the costs associated with direct medical care, a large amount of indirect and out-of-pocket costs can be incurred.

Fewer Americans Smoking Cigars

March 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The number of people who began smoking cigars dropped 22% in 1999, according to a new analysis of data from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The decline came after a dramatic 208% rise from 1990 to 1998, when nearly 5 million Americans smoked their first cigar.

Brachytherapy Devices Reduce Postlumpectomy RT Time

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Brachytherapy devices that deliver radiation therapy directly to the lumpectomy site drastically reduce the time needed for radiotherapy after surgery for early-stage breast cancer, according to two studies presented at the 87th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

SMART Studies Two HAART Strategies for HIV

March 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-A long-term study to determine which of two common strategies is better for treating HIV-infected individuals was initiated in January, as 21 US centers and several Australian sites began enrolling the first 1,000 patients. Participants in the SMART trial (Strategies for Management of Anti-Retroviral Therapies) are randomized to receive immediate, aggressive antiretroviral therapy ("hit-hard-early") or no HIV drugs until CD4+ T-cell counts fall below 250 cells/µL ("go-slow").

FDA Issues New Potassium Iodide Dosage Guidelines

March 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The FDA has issued new recommendations for administering potassium iodide to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer in children and adults in emergencies involving the release of radioactive iodine into the environment.

Creative Center for Women Celebrates Fifth Arts Calendar

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-A photograph of a stone mansion half hidden in violet light decorates the February page of the 2002 Creative Center for Women With Cancer Novartis Desk Calendar. The photographer, Susan Markisz, writes in the calendar that "cancer, like photography, is both a positive and negative process, one that does not quite define me, but which demands interpretation."

Neulasta (Pegfilgrastim) Gets FDA Approval to Prevent Infections

March 01, 2002

THOUSAND OAKS, California-The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Amgen’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim), its pegylated granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) that is administered as a single fixed dose per chemotherapy cycle, the company said in a news release. Neulasta is indicated for decreasing the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anticancer drugs associated with a clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia.

Delirium Affects Circadian Rhythm of Breakthrough Pain

March 01, 2002

MONTREAL-Delirium in patients with advanced cancer appeared to be associated with changes in the circadian distribution of analgesia for breakthrough pain and may be due to a reversal of the normal circadian rhythm in these patients, reported Bruno Gagnon, MD, of McGill University and Montreal General Hospital.

Dr. von Eschenbach Gives His Views on the Future of NIH and Its Research Thrust

March 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-The new director of the National Cancer Institute intends to advance NCI’s role in the discovery and application of specific targets for diagnosing and treating cancer, and to increase its interaction with other organizations to more fully integrate and coordinate cancer research and care.

Second Cancers Associated With Hodgkin’s Disease Treatment

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Treatments credited with improving 5-year survival rates for patients with childhood Hodgkin’s disease may lead to an increased risk of leukemia, breast cancer, and other neoplasms years later, according to a study by the Late Effects Study Group (LESG) presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting (abstract 3198).

‘Take a Break Club’ Provides Stress Relief for Oncology Nurses

March 01, 2002

SAN DIEGO--Recognizing the stress associated with oncology nursing care, the Regional Cancer Center of Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare, Utica, NY, initiated a novel 6-week staff wellness pilot project, dubbed "The Take a Break Club." Karen Miller, RN, OCN, the Center’s cancer program education coordinator, described the program and its benefits in her podium presentation at the 26th Annual Conference of the Oncology Nursing Society (abstract 31). "We all know there is a nursing shortage, and so you can’t forget staff satisfaction," Ms. Miller said. "That’s what I’m looking to accomplish with this particular project."

Quantitative RT-PCR Detects Nodal Micrometastases in Esophageal Cancer

March 01, 2002

SAN DIEGO-A new rapid technique for quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR) detects nodal micrometastases in esophageal cancer patients intraoperatively and predicts disease recurrence. The technique is quicker and perhaps more accurate than intraoperative histology, making it useful in determining the need for neoadjuvant therapy in some types of cancer.

Standard of Care Developed for Cancer Patients With Constipation

March 01, 2002

SAN DIEGO-A multidisciplinary group of nurses at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have developed a standard of care for cancer patients suffering from decreased quality of life due to constipation.

Paclitaxel/Gemcitabine Active and Well Tolerated in NSCLC

March 01, 2002

CHICAGO-Paclitaxel (Taxol) and gemcitabine (Gemzar) administered on a frequent basis elicited significant first-line activity against advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), producing an overall response rate of 31% in 27 evaluable patients.

Cancer Advocates Actively Influence Biomedical Funding

March 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Advocacy groups have played a significant role in the thus-far successful effort to double the National Institutes of Health budget and will continue to wield important influence in promoting federal funding for biomedical research, a panel of experts agreed during a media forum.

Epoetin Increases Energy Levels in Breast Cancer Patients on Adjuvant Chemotherapy

March 01, 2002

NEW YORK-Preliminary data from a pilot study show that use of recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa, Epogen, Procrit) in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy increases hemoglobin levels and improves quality of life, especially energy and activity.

Rituximab Improves Paclitaxel/Topotecan Salvage Efficacy in NHL

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Adding rituximab (Rituxan) to paclitaxel (Taxol)/topotecan (Hycamtin) salvage therapy raises response rates by about 25%, more than triples complete response rates, and is effective in both primary refractory and relapsed aggressive B-cell lymphomas.

NCI Reaffirms Guidelines for Mammography Screening

March 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-The scientific conflict about whether mammography saves lives has been reignited by the decision by an independent advisory committee to rescind its support for such screening and to emphasize the uncertainty of the evidence supporting it.

Diagnostic Dilemma

March 01, 2002

A 51-year-old man presents with iron deficiency anemia and occasional blood in his stool. He has no abdominal pain, no change in appetite, no diarrhea or constipation, no melena, and no loss of weight. The patient denies any nausea and vomiting.

ASCO Update: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

March 01, 2002

These reports are written by oncologists from Pacific Shores Medical Group (a large group practice in Long Beach, California). The reports are primarily based on notes taken at the American Society of Clinical Oncology yearly meeting (San Francisco, May 2001). The reports include our impressions (shown in italic type) of the clinical significance of the studies. The information is intended to help you get updated on new developments in oncology. The coverage of the meeting is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather focused on highlights that we consider most interesting or relevant.

FDA Approves Gleevec for Use in Inoperable or Metastatic GISTs

March 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Gleevec (imatinib mesylate, Novartis) for the treatment of c-kit-positive inoperable and metastatic malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs).

High-Dose Therapy in Mantle Cell Lymphoma

March 01, 2002

ORLANDO-High-dose therapy with stem cell support improves event-free survival in patients with mantle cell lymphoma when performed in first remission, according to results of a European Intergroup study presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (abstract 3572).

States Fail Minimum Guidelines for Antitobacco Spending

March 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Most states get a failing grade in the latest assessment of spending on antitobacco programs. The updated report on how the states are allocating the money they receive from legal settlements with the tobacco industry shows that only five states are providing funds for tobacco prevention programs at or above the lowest amounts recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).