Oncology NEWS International Vol 17 No 6

Who’s responsible for safety of outsourced drugs?

June 02, 2008

These are trying times at FDA. The agency has its hands full regulating pharmaceuticals produced in the United States: Now come the perils of globalization, which were dramatized by the recent heparin scandal. FDA contends that the adverse events and deaths associated with Baxter’s heparin products were caused by a contaminant deliberately introduced somewhere in China’s raw material supply. Chinese regulators quickly rebuffed FDA’s claim, asserting the problem was more likely caused by impurities introduced in the final US drug production process.

New GnRH blocker degarelix quickly suppresses levels of testosterone

June 02, 2008

ORLANDO-In a phase III study, the investigational GnRH blocker degarelix (Ferring Pharmaceuticals) significantly reduced testosterone levels within 3 days in more than 96% of study patients, Laurence Klotz, MD, of the University of Toronto, reported at AUA 2008. The fast effect on testosterone levels was close to the immediate effect achieved with surgery, he said.

Novel BiTE antibody mediates contact between T cells and cancer cells

June 02, 2008

SAN DIEGO-A new way of harnessing the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells has produced impressive preclinical and early clinical results, according to investigators interviewed at the 2008 American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting.

Evaluating lung cancer response to therapy: Thinking beyond RECIST

June 02, 2008

LAS VEGAS-CT multitasks in the lungs, serving as a tool for cancer screening, disease diagnosis, lesion characterization, and lung cancer treatment response. CT can be used more effectively to assess treatment response in lung cancer patients, but clinicians must look beyond current response parameters, Michael McNitt-Gray, PhD, said at the 2008 Stanford International Symposium on Multidetector-Row CT.

NELSON trial sails on toward final results in 2015

June 02, 2008

CHICAGO-Baseline and second-round screening results from the Dutch-Belgian NELSON randomized CT lung screening trial show a low rate of positive tests: 2.6% on baseline screening and 1.8% on second-round screening. This could make low-dose CT screening “more acceptable to the public and suitable for mass screening programs,” said Rob J. van Klaveren, MD, PhD, of Erasmus Medical College, Rotterdam. Dr. van Klaveren reported the results at ASCO 2008 (abstract 1508).

MRI can monitor the prostate for local progression after ultrasonic ablation

June 02, 2008

High-intensity focused ultrasonic (HIFU) ablation is used to manage localized prostate cancer after external beam radiation therapy. But post-treatment alterations to prostate zonal anatomy hamper the assessment of local tumor progression in order to make decisions about second-line treatment. An interdisciplinary group from South Korea tested two MRI techniques for predicting local tumor progression.

Novel breast probe reduces repeat surgeries

June 01, 2008

A novel intraoperative breast cancer probe developed in Israel is showing significant promise in the reduction of repeat procedures in patients undergoing breast-conserving surgeries, according to a study presented at the American Society of Breast Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting.

Radioactive microspheres benefit liver met pts

June 01, 2008

CHICAGO-Median overall survival was 13 months among 52 patients who received radioactive microspheres (SIR-Spheres) for colorectal cancer liver metastases after chemotherapy failure. The phase II Italian SITILO study was reported at ASCO 2008 (abstract 4078).

INTORACT trial of Torisel/Avastin in RCC is initiated

June 01, 2008

COLLEGEVILLE, Pennsylvania-Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has initiated the INTORACT (Investigation of Torisel and Avastin Combination Therapy) trial, a worldwide randomized open-label phase IIIb study comparing temsirolimus (Torisel) plus bevacizumab (Avastin) vs bevacizumab plus interferon-alfa for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma.

New codes needed for chronically ill pts

June 01, 2008

I recently attended a healthcare conference titled “Leadership Summit on Evidence-Based Medicine” in Alexandria, Virginia. As you know, private industry, insurance companies, and the government are trying to develop an evidence-based medicine approach to help check the growth of healthcare expenditures.

Breast IMRT reduces acute radiation-induced dermatitis

June 01, 2008

Using intensity-modulated radiation therapy for breast cancer patients after lumpectomy can reduce the incidence of acute dermatitis, compared with traditional whole-breast radiotherapy, reported Jean-Philippe Pignol, MD, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, and colleagues.

Experts warn about antioxidant supplements

June 01, 2008

Cancer patients should avoid the routine use of antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin A or beta-carotene, during radiation and chemotherapy because the supplements may reduce the anticancer benefits of therapy, Brian D. Lawenda, MD, of the Naval Medical Center San Diego, and colleagues concluded (J Natl Cancer Inst 100:773-783, 2008).

Proton beam therapy: ‘What is all the fuss?’

June 01, 2008

I am a urologist in southwest Florida. As I discussed with one of our radiation oncologists (we use 21st Century Oncology), there are no trials comparing proton and standard radiation, eg, IMRT. If such a trial were conducted, I suspect, at best, the cancer control rates would be equivalent, and the side effect profiles would also be similar. So what is all the fuss? 

Gene therapy ups survival in end-stage head & neck cancer

June 01, 2008

BOSTON-A gene therapy agent that delivers a normal p53 gene to the tumor significantly increased survival by 4.5 months in end-stage head and neck cancer patients with p53-favorable tumor profiles, compared to those with unfavorable profiles.

Young fashion designer translates cancer fears into fierce frocks

June 01, 2008

In the fashion world, the word fabulous is tossed around like bolts of fabric at a blowout sale. In the cancer treatment world, fabulous is not a common interjection. And when fashion design student Hattie Saltonstall was confronted with the disease, she felt far from fabulous.

Advanced pancreatic ca responds to Abraxane/Gemzar

June 01, 2008

SAN DIEGO-More than 70% of advanced pancreatic patients derived some clinical benefit when treated with nanoparticle albumin-bound (nab) paclitaxel (Abraxane) and gemcitabine (Gemzar), in a phase I study reported at the 2008 American Association of Cancer Research meeting (abstract 4179).

New vaccines changing cancer treatment landscape

June 01, 2008

SAN DIEGO-The body’s immune system can be directed to shrink tumors and prevent new ones in a variety of tumor types, according to investigators who described new cellular strategies and vaccines at the 2008 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

Who's New

June 01, 2008

Jay R. Harris, MD, will present the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award lecture at the upcoming 2008 ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium being held September 5-7 in Washington DC. Dr. Harris is professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Kanti Rai, researcher and ‘doctor’s doctor’

June 01, 2008

Kanti R. Rai, MD, was born in the sun-drenched city of Jodhpur, India, during the waning years of British colonial rule. It was a beloved uncle who inspired his medical career-a free-spirited doctor who once took 8-year-old Kanti with him on house calls, riding atop a camel.

Trial targeting stem cells in advanced breast ca begins

June 01, 2008

CHICAGO-The first clinical trial targeting stem cells in breast cancer is underway with the potential to revolutionize therapeutic targets, according to one of the pioneers in stem cell research. The stem cell hypothesis suggests that stem cells drive tumor invasion and metastases. “Cytotoxic chemotherapies have not been very effective for patients with advanced cancer,” Max Wicha, MD, told ONI. “I think the stem cell model is a potential explanation for why we haven’t done better in treating cancer.”

Postchemotherapy retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy for NSGCT testicular cancer: For all patients or just some?

June 01, 2008

MILAN-Some men with nonseminoma germ cell tumor (NSGCT) testicular cancer have a normalization of tumor markers and minimal or no residual masses in the retroperitoneum after chemotherapy. What then? Should all of them undergo retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) to be on the safe side, or should the procedure be reserved for selected cases? Leading researchers in urology debated this topic at the 23rd Annual Congress of the European Association of Urology (plenary session 1).

US cancer patients still plagued by undertreated pain

June 01, 2008

The truth about cancer pain hurts: Many oncology patients still suffer needlessly from unrelieved pain. This quandary is underscored by two disconcerting facts: We have the tools to alleviate upwards of 90% of cancer pain, and the problem was identified decades ago.

Breast US finds cancer that mammo misses in at-risk pts

June 01, 2008

Screening ultrasound paired with mammography upped breast cancer detection in high-risk women with dense breasts, but the combination also caused a spike in the number of false positives, according to an update of the ACRIN 6666 trial. These results, along with other barriers, may render ultrasound less attractive than MRI in this patient population, commented a breast imaging expert.

Intraductal chemotherapy appears feasible for DCIS patients

June 01, 2008

SAN DIEGO-For women with ductal carcinoma in situ, it may be possible to deliver chemotherapy intraductally, thus providing a less toxic means of treatment, according to a feasibility study spearheaded by Susan Love, MD, of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Love presented her research at the 2008 American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting (abstract LB-245).

Zoledronic acid ups PFS in younger early-stage pts

June 01, 2008

CHICAGO-Zoledronic acid (Zometa) and adjuvant endrocrine therapy lowered the risk of disease recurrence in premenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer, according to the results of a major European trial. The bisphosphonate is already used to prevent bone loss in women undergoing adjuvant endocrine therapy for breast cancer.

Adjuvant bevacizumab/chemo/RT prevents local recurrence in advanced rectal cancer

June 01, 2008

SAN DIEGO­-Bevacizumab (Avastin) added to chemoradiation as neoadjuvant therapy for locally advanced rectal tumors led to substantial downstaging and 100% local control at 4 years in a small phase II study reported at the 2008 American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting (abstract LB-304). The study enrolled 32 patients with T3/T4 nonmetastatic rectal cancer from Massachusetts General Hospital and Duke University Medical Center between 2001 and 2007.

Elderly metastatic colorectal cancer patients can receive standard regimens with irinotecan

June 01, 2008

ORLANDO-Patients aged 75 and older with metastatic colorectal cancer can be treated with standard combination chemotherapy regimens, despite increased toxicity, according to results of the FFCD 2001-02 trial. French investigators reported planned interim data at the 2008 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (abstract 281).

Everolimus effective in treating metastatic RCC patients

June 01, 2008

CHICAGO-Everolimus prolongs progression-free survival in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma that has progressed despite treatment with inhibitors of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor tyrosine kinase, finds an international phase III trial (RECORD-1) presented at ASCO 2008 (abstract LBA-5026).