Oncology NEWS International Vol 15 No 5

NCCN Soft-Tissue Extremity Sarcoma Guidelines Clarify Follow-up Schedule

May 01, 2006

Drs. Ephraim S. Casper, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and George D. Demetri, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discussed the 2006 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines on soft-tissue sarcomas at the NCCN 11th Annual Conference. The updated guidelines clarify the follow-up schedule for patients with extremity sarcoma.

RFA Effective for Single, Small Hepatocellular Carcinoma

May 01, 2006

The minimally invasive procedure of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) appears to be as effective as surgical resection for the treatment of patients with a small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and offers similar survival, according to a study presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology (abstract 1021). "Radiofrequency ablation can offer the same life expectancy as surgical resection to patients with solitary, small HCC, most of whom cannot tolerate a resection," said Riccardo Lencioni, MD, University of Pisa, Italy.

New Imaging, ChemoRT Recommendations From NCCN

May 01, 2006

Changes in the 2006 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) reflect fast-moving changes in imaging, in the availability of treatment agents, and in data supporting concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT) over sequential chemotherapy plus radiation. David S. Ettinger, MD, of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Mark G. Kris, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, discussed the guidelines changes at the NCCN 11th Annual Conference.

Panitumumab Improves PFS in Advanced Colon Ca

May 01, 2006

Panitumumab, a new targeted treatment for advanced colorectal cancer, plus best supportive care extended progression-free survival (PFS) significantly, compared with best supportive care alone, Marc Peeters, MD, PhD, of Ghent University Hospital, Belgium, said at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) (abstract CP-1). FDA has granted the drug fast-track status, and it could be approved for use by the fall of this year.

Studies Question Watchful Waiting for Some Prostate Ca Pts

May 01, 2006

The results of three studies presented at the 2006 Prostate Cancer Symposium suggest that "watchful waiting," monitoring men who have prostate cancer instead of actively treating the disease, may not be the best option for some men with low-risk disease, including older men.

Growing Evidence Supports Stem Cell Hypothesis of Cancer

May 01, 2006

During the past 18 months, researchers have developed substantial evidence supporting the notion that stem cells play a critical role in the development of at least some cancers, their progression, and the prognosis of patients, including breast, brain, lung, and prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, and melanoma.

FDA Approves New Every-3-Week Dosing for Aranesp

May 01, 2006

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new every-3-week dosing schedule for Amgen's erythropoiesis-stimulating agent Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) used in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anemia in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies. Of the estimated 1.3 million cancer patients who will receive chemotherapy in the United States this year, about 800,000 will develop anemia, one of the most common adverse events associated with the treatment of malignancies.

Telephone Often Delivers News of Breast Cancer Diagnosis

May 01, 2006

A survey of 121 breast cancer patients attending a breast cancer clinic found that 59% had received their "bad news" diagnosis over the telephone (mainly in their local area). Brianna J. Crawford, research coordinator at the Breast Diagnostic and Cancer Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, reported the study results in a poster session at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) Third Annual Conference (P14-3).

Lower-Dose Thalidomide Effective in Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma, With Less Toxicity

May 01, 2006

For patients with refractory or relapsed multiple myeloma, a lower dose of thalidomide (100 mg/d) offers similar efficacy to the higher dose (400 mg/d), but with fewer side effects. Ibrahim Yakoub-Agha, MD, of CHRU Lille, France, reported the results of IFM-01-02 at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (abstract 364), for the Intergroupe Francophone du Myelome.

Zometa Increases BMD in Breast Ca Patients on Femara

May 01, 2006

Postmenopausal breast cancer patients given the intravenous bisphosphonate zoledronic acid (Zometa) twice a year at the start of adjuvant therapy with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Femara) had significantly increased bone mineral density (BMD) at 12 months, compared with a delayed-therapy group. Nigel Bundred, MD, of University Hospital, South Manchester, UK, presented the findings at the 5th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBBC) (abstract 12).

Prostate Cancer Recurrence Linked to Surgeon's Skill

May 01, 2006

The 5-year incidence of biochemical recurrence (BCR) of prostate cancer decreases with increased experience of the surgeon performing the prostatectomy, Fernando Bianco, MD, reported at the 2006 Prostate Cancer Symposium (abstract 272).

Automated Voice System Manages Chemo Symptoms

May 01, 2006

Telephone calls from an automated voice system that refers patients to a specially prepared guide for help in managing their symptoms proved as effective as calls from nurse educators in helping cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy manage their chemotherapy-related symptoms, according to a randomized trial presented at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) Third Annual Conference

Medicare Coding for Oncology Services Moves Into a New Era

May 01, 2006

Medicare codes for oncology services have been in transition over the past few years, and oncologists are dealing with more changes now as Medicare moves from the temporary G-codes used in 2005 to cover administration of chemotherapy and other services to the permanent Current Procedural Terminology or CPT codes, which kicked in this year.

NCI Outlines Strategies to End Ca Death by 2015

May 01, 2006

In early 2003, NCI director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, set the Institute's goal as eliminating the suffering and death caused by cancer by 2015, and he challenged his staff to produce the strategies needed to do just that. Now, the Institute has published the NCI Strategic Plan, which outlines the paths it plans to follow to reach its 2015 objective.

Raloxifene Equals Tamoxifen in Reducing Breast Cancer Risk

May 01, 2006

Raloxifene (Evista, Eli Lilly) has proven as effective as tamoxifen in reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease. Initial findings from the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) showed that both drugs reduced breast cancer risk by about 50% but that patients in the raloxifene arm had 36% fewer uterine cancers and 29% fewer blood clots than those on tamoxifen.

Brachytherapy, High-Dose EBRT Equal for Early Prostate Ca

May 01, 2006

High-dose external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy are equally effective in treating localized prostate cancer, according to a study presented at the 2006 Prostate Cancer Symposium (abstract 38). "Our findings show that either therapy is an excellent choice for treating early-stage prostate cancer," said John J. Coen, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School.

2006 CMS Oncology Demonstration Project Aims to Improve Quality Through Evidence-Based Care

May 01, 2006

After a rocky start with a 2005 Demonstration Project designed to assess symptoms of nausea and vomiting, pain, and fatigue in Medicare patients receiving chemotherapy, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has shifted toward improving quality through more effective payments and evidence-based care. This will include assessing whether patients are treated according to evidence-based standards of care (typically the NCCN or ASCO guidelines) and focusing payments on patient-centered care rather than administration of chemotherapy, Christopher E. Desch, MD, national medical director of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, said at the 11th Annual NCCN Conference.

Blood Test for Methylated Septin 9 Detects Colorectal Ca

May 01, 2006

A blood-based DNA test to detect colorectal cancer has the potential to increase screening rates and the number of tumors found at an early stage, according to researchers at Epigenomics, Inc. the Seattle-based molecular diagnostics company that is developing the test (see graphic on page 1).

Celecoxib Prevents Colon Polyp Recurrence

May 01, 2006

Two large randomized trials have shown that the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex) significantly reduces the recurrence of colorectal adenomas, according to data presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research. However, the trials also found a significantly increased risk of serious cardiovascular (CV) events—strokes and heart attacks—among trial participants taking the drug. Celecoxib researchers and other experts at the meeting emphasized that more needs to be known about how and why celecoxib raises CV risk before it can be recommended for prevention of colorectal cancer.

AMN107, Novel Inhibitor of Bcr-Abl, Has Activity in Imatinib-Resistant Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

May 01, 2006

A phase I study of AMN107 (Novartis) in Philadelphia-positive (Ph+) chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) shows the new agent induces responses in patients with imatinib (Gleevec)-resistant Bcr-Abl mutations, according to a presentation at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (abstract 37).

Dr. Bailes Updates MMA Issues, Congressional Activity

May 01, 2006

Although the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) is into its third year, the full effects of this legislation on the oncology community are still a matter of speculation. To bring our readers up to speed on current MMA issues, Cancer Care & Economics (CC&E) spoke with CC&E editor, Joseph S. Bailes, MD. Dr. Bailes is interim executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He also serves as co-chair of ASCO's Government Relations Council.

Age-Adjusted PSAV Increases Prostate Ca Detection

May 01, 2006

Three studies presented at the 2006 Prostate Cancer Symposium and discussed at a press briefing highlight the usefulness, as well as the limitations, of PSA velocity (PSAV) in detecting prostate cancer.