Oncology NEWS International Vol 15 No 6

Triple-Negative Cancers More Common in Young Black Pts

June 01, 2006

Young, black breast cancer patients are much more likely than young white patients to have tumors that lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2, according to a new, population-based study in about 500 women. This means that many breast cancer patients, including almost half of young black patients, "have tumors for which there is no targeted therapy," said lead author Mary Jo Lund, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology, hematology, and oncology, Rollins School of Public Health and Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta.

Artists Turn Flowers & Curves Into 'Forms' and 'Figures'

June 01, 2006

After 31 years as a freelance writer, Myron Brenton was finally able to quit—"liberation day," he calls it—and devote more time to photography. A diagnosis of prostate cancer did not stop Mr. Brenton from traveling the world (and photographing the world) with his wife Irene. It was another disease, Alzheimer's, which struck his wife, that kept the Brentons at home in Manhattan and led Mr. Brenton to focus his art on photography he could do in his apartment

Study to Examine Outcomes Disparities in Pediatric ALL

June 01, 2006

Investigators affiliated with the Children's Oncology Group (COG) have launched a multicenter trial aimed at determining why the relapse and survival rates of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) differ among the major racial and ethnic groups living in the United States.

Thalidomide Has 'Changed the Paradigm' in Myeloma Rx

June 01, 2006

Thalidomide (Thalomid) has "changed the paradigm" for treating multiple myeloma, and advances in understanding the relationship between myeloma cells and the bone marrow microenvironment promise to change it even more, Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) 11th Annual Conference.

CA4P Gets Orphan Drug Status

June 01, 2006

The FDA has granted Oxigene's combretastatin A4P (CA4P) orphan drug status for treatment of ovarian cancer. In a phase Ib trial, advanced ovarian cancer patients who had failed previous therapy showed a 67% response rate to CA4P plus carboplatin and paclitaxel, the company said in a news release. This combination is currently being evaluated in a phase II trial in women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

Testicular Ca Survivors at Increased Risk for CV Events

June 01, 2006

Men who survive testicular cancer are at increased risk for premature cardiovascular disease (CVD), either as a result of their treatment or because they tend to indulge in activities that are harmful to their health. Whatever the reason, these men may benefit from behavioral interventions aimed at helping them attenuate their risk, according to a study presented at the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) Third Annual Conference

A Novel Brings a Cancer Research Laboratory to Life

June 01, 2006

After 2 years of steady failure with a potential cancer drug, Cliff, an oncology postdoc, suddenly achieves dramatic cures in mice, to the point that his findings are questioned as "too good to be true." Is it fraud or sloppy recordkeeping, or maybe a true breakthrough? The pleasure in reading Allegra Goodman's novel Intuition (The Dial Press, 2006) comes not so much from the plotline (the initial giddy celebration of the findings, and then the near destruction of the lab when fraud is alleged) as from the richness of the depiction of an oncology research lab and its motley inhabitants.

NCCN Reveals New Venous Thromboembolism Guideline

June 01, 2006

"Cancer increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) by four- to sevenfold, and is a precipitating factor in almost 20% of VTEs," Michael B. Streiff, MD, said at the 11th Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

Lapatinib New Option for Metastatic HER2+ Breast Ca

June 01, 2006

Lapatinib (Tykerb), an oral small-molecule reversible dual inhibitor of HER1 (EGFR) and HER2 tyrosine kinases, is emerging as a promising option for HER2-positive breast cancer patients, investigators of phase II and III trials reported at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Clinical evidence suggests that lapatinib, unlike trastuzumab (Herceptin), can cross the blood-brain barrier to treat brain metastases, which develop in about one-third of HER2-positive breast cancer patients.

FDA Approves Dacogen for Treating All MDS Subtypes

June 01, 2006

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the marketing of Dacogen (decitabine for injection, MGI Pharma) for the treatment of all forms of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The agency acted after reviewing data submitted by the sponsor from a pivotal phase III trial, in which patients evaluable for response had a 21% overall response rate, and two supporting studies.

Noninvasive Ablation Relieves Chronic Chest Wall Pain

June 01, 2006

Image-guided thermal ablation can provide much needed relief of chronic pain in chest wall tumor patients. According to research presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology (abstract 168), thermal ablation not only relieves pain but may even contribute to longer survival. In addition, ablation may have synergistic effects with radiation therapy.

GVAX Receives Fast-Track Status

June 01, 2006

The FDA has granted Cell Genesys' GVAX immunotherapy fast track designation for prostate cancer. Two independent phase II trials in patients with hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer showed that median survival with GVAX compared favorably with that of patients treated with standard docetaxel (Taxotere)/prednisone in previous studies, the company said. Two phase III trials of GVAX have been initiated, VITAL-1 and VITAL-2. Each will enroll approximately 600 patients.

Medicare CAP Vendor Selected

June 01, 2006

Medicare has chosen BioScrip Corp., a pharmacy services company headquartered in Elmsford, New York, as the vendor for the initial 6-month phase of its new Competitive Acquisition Program (CAP), which begins July 1. CAP gives physicians the option to obtain more than 180 Part B drugs and biologicals administered in office practices from a vendor rather than acquiring them from a distributor and then seeking reimbursement. Under CAP, BioScrip will bill Medicare for the medications, collect patients' co-pays, and handle other administrative tasks.

Selective IGF-1R Inhibitor Blocks Colon Cancer Growth

June 01, 2006

A small molecule that inhibits the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) has blocked the development of human colorectal tumors in mice, according to researchers from OSI Pharmaceuticals, Melville, New York.

US Cancer Mortality Drops

June 01, 2006

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, but the disease's mortality rate declined by 2.9% in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Total US cancer deaths in 2004 numbered 550,270. Preliminary mortality data put the age-adjusted death rate for malignant neoplasms at 184.6 per 100,000 population, down from 190.1 in 2003. The nation's overall death rate fell to a record low of 801 per 100,000 persons, down from 833 the previous year. The preliminary data are based on approximately 90% of the 2004 death records reported by the 50 states.

Prognostic Biomarkers for Prostate Cancer Move Forward

June 01, 2006

Novel prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer are moving toward the clinic and may eventually join Gleason score and other predictors of relapse to help with treatment decisions, according to data on two candidate markers presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Phase I Trial of an Oral/Oral Combination Accruing Patients

June 01, 2006

GPC Biotech AC is accruing patients with advanced solid tumors onto a phase I trial of satraplatin, its investigational oral platinum agent, in combination with capecitabine (Xeloda). The open label study of the oral/oral combination, led by William Gradishar, MD, of Northwestern University, is expected to enroll approximately 24 patients, the company indicated in a news release.

High Vitamin D Exposure May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

June 01, 2006

Vitamin D appears to lower the risk of breast cancer, but far greater amounts are needed than most women normally take in, according to two studies presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Combine Spiral CT Screening for Lung and Heart Diseases

June 01, 2006

Dramatic improvements in high-resolution, or spiral, CT imaging over the past decade have created widespread and increasing demand for both lung and cardiac screening, two procedures that could and probably should be combined, according to David Yankelevitz, MD, professor of radiology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York.

Metastatic Breast Ca Rx Is 'a Book With Many Chapters'

June 01, 2006

Treatment of metastatic breast cancer is "a book with many chapters, ie, with many opportunities for meaningful intervention, as opposed to pancreatic cancer, for example," Andrew Seidman, MD, said in his discussion of metastatic breast cancer at the Second Annual Advances in Oncology meeting, sponsored by the journal ONCOLOGY.

Phase I Trial of NPI-0052 Begins

June 01, 2006

Nereus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has initiated a phase I trial of its novel, small molecule proteasome inhibitor, NPI-0052, in patients with solid tumors and lymphomas. The trial will enroll approximately 50 patients at two sites, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. NPI-0052 was discovered during the fermentation of Salinispora sp, a new class of Gram-positive marine bacteria, Nereus said in a press release.

Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy Can Facilitate the Diagnosis of Both Esophageal and Gastric Cancers

June 01, 2006

Confocal laser endomicroscopy, a new technology that permits high-resolution subsurface microscopic imaging of living tissue during routine endoscopy, can facilitate the diagnosis of esophageal and gastric cancers, according to a recent report. "Endomicroscopy allows you to make an in vivo histology during ongoing endoscopy," Ralf Kiesslich, MD, PhD, said at the 2006 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (General Session I).

Need a DVD for Ca Patient Education? Make Your Own!

June 01, 2006

Better, cheaper digital video equipment has brought sophisticated movie-making within the reach of the ordinary person. At the Oncology Nursing Society 31st Annual Congress (abstract 3), a team of oncology nurses led by Ellen Carroll, BSN, RN, demonstrated that this gear can be put to use in cancer patient education.

AstraZeneca Is Discontinuing its Nolvadex Brand

June 01, 2006

Abandoning the tamoxifen market to its generic competitors, AstraZeneca will cease commercial manufacturing of Nolvadex by the end of June. "Once commercial supplies are exhausted, your patients will no longer be able to obtain brand name Nolvadex tablets," Kenneth A. Kern, MD, the company's director of clinical research, wrote health care professionals in a letter released by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Guidelines Might Solve Both Clinical, Economic Problems

June 01, 2006

The use of clinical practice guidelines such as those developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is emerging as a key strategy for assuring cancer patients access to quality care; for empowering physicians professionally, politically, and financially; and for reducing health care costs. Panelists discussing "Oncology Practice Today" at the NCCN 11th Annual Conference repeatedly pointed to the usefulness of guidelines in quality evaluation, designing insurance coverage, and obtaining adequate reimbursement.

Outside Consultant Will Evaluate FDA's Postmarketing Studies Practices

June 01, 2006

The FDA has awarded a $1.09 million contract for an evaluation of the agency's process of establishing postmarketing, or phase IV, studies. The consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton will conduct the 1-year evaluation and make recommendations to the agency for improving and standardizing the process.

NCI CAM News Now Available

June 01, 2006

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has begun publishing a free biannual newsletter that focuses on the agency's activities in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). NCI CAM News, produced by NCI's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is available online.

Higher Imatinib Dose Better in GIST Pts With Exon 9 Mutation

June 01, 2006

A higher, investigational starting dose of imatinib (Gleevec) significantly improved progression-free survival (PFS) in high-risk patients with advanced KIT-positive gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) expressing the exon 9 mutation, according to a new analysis of an EORTC phase III trial. The trial compared imatinib at the standard dose of 400 mg/d vs 800 mg/d in patients with unresectable and/or metastatic GIST. Researchers analyzed pretreatment GIST samples for mutations from 377 patients in the trial.

Universal Health Care Voucher System Could Be a Solution to US Health Care Financing Dilemma

June 01, 2006

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine (Emanuel EJ, Fuchs VR: 352:1255-1260, 2005) proposes a dramatic alternative to our current health care financing system—universal health care vouchers offering basic medical coverage for all Americans. Cancer Care & Economics (CC&E) spoke with one of the authors, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, about the financial and political realities of this proposed new system. Dr. Emanuel is chair of the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health. He is also a breast oncologist.