Oncology NEWS International Vol 11 No 9

Tumor-Specific Idiotype Vaccines Promising in B-Cell Lymphomas

September 27, 2002

ORLANDO-"Vaccines based on characterized tumor antigens have the advantage of potential tumor specificity from the start," Ronald Levy, MD, chief, Division of Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, said at an ASCO satellite symposium on cancer vaccines. Development of such vaccines requires definition and isolation of a specific target, and production of the purified target antigen, he said.

Childhood Survivors May Not Know Their Past Rx

September 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario, Canada-"Adequate knowledge of a cancer diagnosis and treatment is necessary in order to offer appropriate follow-up to cancer survivors," Nina Kadan-Lottick, MD, said at the 7th International Conference for Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer (abstract 22), hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Pemetrexed/Gemcitabine Promising in Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The combination of pemetrexed (Alimta) and gemcitabine (Gemzar) is active in pancreatic cancer with acceptable toxicity and a promising 32% 1-year survival rate, according to an oral presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 499).

Physician Experience Predicts HIV-Related Mortality

September 01, 2002

SEATTLE-The number of HIV-infected patients that a physician has treated independently predicts HIV-related mortality in patients starting anti-retroviral therapy for the first time, Robert S. Hogg, PhD, said at the 9th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (abstract 749W).

Preliminary Phase III Results for Provenge Vaccine in Prostate Cancer

September 01, 2002

SEATTLE-Dendreon Corporation has announced preliminary results from its analysis of its randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III study of Provenge (APC 8015) for the treatment of hormone-resistant prostate cancer. The trial of the cancer vaccine (D9901) involved 127 men with late-stage, metastatic, hormone-resistant prostate cancer, 82 of whom received Provenge, three vaccinations over a 4-week period.

Eloxatin With 5-FU/LV Approved for Recurrent Colon Cancer

September 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved Eloxatin (oxaliplatin for injection, Sanofi-Synthelabo) in combination with infusional fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin (LV) for the treatment of colorectal cancer that has recurred or become worse following initial therapy with irinotecan (Camptosar) plus bolus 5-FU and LV. The agency granted approval in 7 weeks, the fastest review ever for a cancer drug.

Comprehensive Geriatric Evaluations Improve Care

September 01, 2002

BOSTON-Elderly cancer patients who are very healthy can usually tolerate cancer treatments. Most elderly patients have comorbidities, however, and oncologists are being urged to conduct a comprehensive geriatric evaluation before deciding on a course of treatment.

Nordion’s Monte Carlo Dose Calculation Software Approved

September 01, 2002

OTTAWA, Canada-MDS Nordion has received 510(k) approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as from Health Canada, for its Monte Carlo electron radiotherapy treatment calculation technique. Developed in collaboration with scientists at the National Research Council Canada, the software provides greater accuracy in calculating the dose required for cancer patients receiving radiation therapy, the company said in a news release.

No Strong Link Between Breast Cancer Risk and Pollutants

September 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-Results from the largest epidemiologic investigation of possible links between two major types of environmental pollutants and breast cancer indicate a 50% increase in risk of the disease for women exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the highest level. However, researchers failed to find an association between organochlorine compounds, which include DDT, and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Imatinib Inactive in Sarcomas That Lack C-KIT/PDGF

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The tyrosine inhibitor imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) is active in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) but not in other soft-tissue sarcomas not characterized by C-KIT or PDGF-R expression, the targets of imatinib, Ian R. Judson, MD, said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting (abstract 1609).

Task Force Recommends Screening for All Age 50 and Over

September 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-Every man and woman age 50 or older with an average risk of colorectal cancer should be screened for colorectal cancer periodically, according to a new and strong recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The panel’s report also said screening for the disease at an earlier age in people at high risk is a reasonable practice.

No Link Between Breast Cancer Risk and Pollutants

September 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-Results from the largest epidemiologic investigation of possible links between two major types of environmental pollutants and breast cancer indicate a 50% increase in risk of the disease for women exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the highest level. However, researchers failed to find an association between organochlorine compounds, which include DDT, and an increased risk of breast cancer.

NIH, Drug Industry Target Barriers to Patient Accrual in Clinical Trials

September 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-A new partnership between the National Institutes of Health and five major drug companies will provide a total of $6 million to several cancer centers to find ways to increase accrual to early clinical trials. The five pharmaceutical firms involved in the pilot program are Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis.

Medicare Puts PET for Thyroid Cancer, Soft Tissue Sarcoma on Hold

September 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-An advisory group to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed a decision on whether to recommend Med-icare coverage for positron emission tomography (PET) with the radiopharmaceutical F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in the management of thyroid cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.

Cranial Radiotherapy for Childhood ALL Linked to Adult Obesity

September 01, 2002

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario, Canada-Treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) as a child may increase the risk for obesity in adulthood, and a new study suggests that cranial irradiation may be a factor. The results (abstract 13) were presented at the 7th International Conference for Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer, hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Database of Congenital Nevi Shows Malignant Potential

September 01, 2002

NEW ORLEANS-Because of their malignant potential and their cosmetic appearance, congenital nevi elicit much concern from parents. Ashfaq A. Marghoob, MD, assistant professor of dermatology and director of the Pigmented Lesion Group, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, presented new insights into this disorder at a symposium on melanoma held during the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting.

Large Pregnancy Gain Ups Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk

September 01, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO-Women who gain 38 lb or more during pregnancy have a 40% greater risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than women who gain less weight, Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, PhD, said at the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (abstract 1169).

Drug Resistance Rising Among Newly Infected

September 01, 2002

SAN DIEGO, California-The prevalence of drug resistance in men newly infected with HIV is increasing, and such patients are more likely to fail initial antiretroviral therapy, according to a study of 202 subjects from 10 North American cities.

SGN-15/Docetaxel Is Well Tolerated in a Phase II Investigation

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-SGN-15 (a monoclonal antibody conjugated to doxorubicin) plus docetaxel (Taxotere) was well tolerated in patients with metastatic breast cancer or colorectal cancer and showed objective responses, according to a phase II trial.

Adult Cigarette Smoking Declined Between 1993 and 2000: CDC Report

September 01, 2002

WASHINGTON- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a modest but statistically significant decrease in the number of US cigarette smokers. The new analysis involved self-reported data generated by the 2000 National Interview Survey sample adult core questionnaire and cancer control module. The report found that about 23.3% of adults are current smokers vs 25.0% in 1993. Seventy percent of adult smokers said they wanted to quit, and 41% had tried to quite at least once.

FDG-PET Predicts Survival of Patients With Primary Brain Cancer

September 01, 2002

LOS ANGELES-In a retrospective study, F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)- PET images of the brain predicted histological grade and survival in patients with gliomas (see images). At this time, FDG-PET appears to be better than pathological grading for this purpose, Vasantha Padma, MD, of the Wallace-Kettering Neurosciences Institute, Kettering, Ohio, said at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (abstract 400).

Inhaled Doxorubicin Active With Low Toxicity in Lung Cancer

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Inhaled doxorubicin has clinical activity and can be delivered without major toxicity to adults with advanced solid tumors affecting the lungs, according to a multicenter phase I study reported at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1204).

Alemtuzumab/Rituximab Feasible, Active in Lymphoid Malignancies

September 01, 2002

LUGANO, Switzerland-Combination monoclonal antibody treatment of lymphoid malignancies may be as safe as single-antibody therapy, and produces a better overall response rate, new data suggest. The data come from a recent study of 48 heavily pretreated, poor-prognosis patients treated with the combination of alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) and rituximab (Rituxan), presented at the 8th International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML).

Hyperthermia Boosts Chemo Effect in Large Breast Cancers

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-A neoadjuvant treatment approach that involves the administration of liposomal doxorubicin (Myocet, investigational in the United States) and paclitaxel (Taxol), then heat delivery to the tumor, appears to enhance the efficacy of the chemotherapy, according to a study reported at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 200). Lead investigator Kimberly Blackwell, MD, a medical oncologist at Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, called the results "impressive."

IOM Report Urges Better Care and Support for Dying Children

September 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-Dying children and their families often fail to get consistent care and effective help to meet spiritual, physical, and emotional needs, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. In funding research on dying children and their families, the report concluded, the National Institutes of Health should begin priority studies to improve the treatment of pain and aspects of care affecting families.

High Rate of Durable Responses With Imatinib in GIST Patients

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-In a phase II study, 63% of patients with unresectable and/or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) responded to treatment with imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), and after a median of 15 months of follow-up, 73% of patients remain in the study, Margaret von Mehren, MD, reported at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1608). Results at 9 months of follow-up were recently published (N Engl J Med 347:472-478, 2002).

NIAID Awards China $14.8 Million for HIV/AIDS Research

September 01, 2002

WASHINGTON-The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded a 5-year, $14.8 million grant to bolster China’s HIV/AID research effort. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and Chinese Health Minister Zhang Wenkang signed a Memorandum of Understanding and announced the grant in a ceremony here.

Black Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer Do Well in Trials

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-In clinical trials, black men with metastatic hormone-refractory prostate cancer have the same and possibly longer survival, compared with whites, according to a pooled analysis of nearly 1,000 patients in four separate randomized phase III Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) trials.

Kytril for Prevention, Treatment of Postoperative Nausea

September 01, 2002

NUTLEY, New Jersey-Roche’s selective 5-HT3 receptor antagonist Kytril Injection (granisetron) has received FDA approval for both the prevention and treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting. The FDA first approved Kytril Injection in December 1993 for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Kytril oral tablets were approved in July 1999 for use in radiotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Pemetrexed/Gemcitabine Promising in Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The combination of pemetrexed (Alimta) and gemcitabine (Gemzar) is active in pancreatic cancer with acceptable toxicity and a promising 32% 1-year survival rate, according to an oral presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 499).

Panel Recommends Colon Ca Screening for All Age 50 and Older

September 01, 2002

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-Every man and woman age 50 or older with an average risk of colorectal cancer should be screened for colorectal cancer periodically, according to a new and strong recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The panel’s report also said screening for the disease at an earlier age in people at high risk is a reasonable practice.

Panel Urges Control of Cancer-Related Pain, Depression, Fatigue

September 01, 2002

Labeling the treatment of pain, depression, and fatigue in many cancer patients inadequate, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) state-of-the-science panel has called for optimal symptom control for all cancer patients from diagnosis and throughout their illness. It also called for escalated funding to support research on the definition, occurrence, assessment, and treatment of all three problems.

Preemptive Pain Treatment Reduces Postsurgical Pain

September 01, 2002

NEW YORK-Pain treatment before surgery can minimize pain after surgery, may reduce anesthetic need during the procedure, and could minimize the risk of chronic pain conditions developing in the long-term, according to pain expert Mark J. Lema, MD, PhD.

Panel Outlines Research Priorities for Kidney, Bladder Cancer

September 01, 2002

BETHESDA, Maryland-The National Cancer Institute’s Kidney/Bladder Cancer Progress Review Group has released 13 priority recommendations intended to serve as a national plan to guide research in the two diseases over the next 5 years. The recommendations cover basic and translational research, cancer control, and cancer treatment, and range from understanding the biologic mechanisms underlying the two diseases to developing innovative strategies to eradicate them.

Cetuximab Active in Colon Cancer

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-The chimeric mono-clonal antibody cetuximab (Erbitux, also known as C225, ImClone Systems) has modest single-agent activity in irinotecan (Camptosar)-refractory colorectal cancer expressing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), researchers said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 38th Annual Meeting (abstract 504).

Alimta for Mesothelioma to Be Available on Expanded Access Basis

September 01, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS-Based on phase III trial results presented at ASCO (see ONI, July 2002, page 1), Eli Lilly and Company and the US Food and Drug Administration have reached an agreement to make Alimta (pemetrexed) available on an expanded access, or compassionate use, basis to medically eligible patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Lilly is pursuing approval of Alimta in combination with cisplatin (Platinol) for this indication. For more information, physicians may call 1-866-347-9503.

Tools Help Prostate Cancer Patients Participate in Decision

September 01, 2002

With no clearly superior treatment for localized prostate cancer, physicians and patients would like to increase patient participation in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, physicians frequently have difficulty understanding patients’ preferences, and patients often do not have sufficient knowledge to make an informed treatment decision. Shared- decision-making tools, such as decision analyses, may increase patient participation and thereby improve physicians’ understanding of their patients’ views.

Heat Shock Protein Vaccines Target Tumor Cell’s ‘Antigenic Profile’

September 01, 2002

Experts in cancer immunology and vaccine therapies discussed recent progress in cancer vaccine development at a satellite symposium of the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). More than 300

Prophylactic Mastectomy Beneficial in High-Risk Women

September 01, 2002

ORLANDO-Early prophylactic mastectomy benefits women at high risk of hereditary breast cancer, according to a presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (abstract 1694). The study revealed the presence of high-risk premalignant lesions in the removed breast tissue of more than half of the women undergoing the procedure.