Oncology NEWS International Vol 17 No 8

An editor says farewell

August 02, 2008

After 17 years, I am stepping down as editor of Oncology News International to enjoy a long-awaited retirement. When ONI was first introduced back in 1991, it represented a new concept in cancer news publications-rather than simply summarizing journal articles, we actually attended meetings all over the country and reported the results of major presentations.

High cost of biologics takes a toll on hem/onc practices

August 02, 2008

The difficulty of manufacturing new chemotherapeutic agents-particularly specially formulated biologic cytotoxins-escalates the financial outlay that must be made by physicians as well as driving up the cost of drug delivery to patients, said Howard A. Burris III, MD, chief medical officer and director of drug development at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute and associate with Tennessee Oncology, both in Nashville.

FDA mandates changes to ESA labeling info

August 01, 2008

New labeling for Aranesp and Procrit will tighten the use of both medications in cancer patients. The Food and Drug Administration ordered Amgen of Thousand Oaks, California to make changes to the prescribing information for its anemia drug darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp). Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho Biotech had already accepted the changes for the labeling of its ESA epoetin alfa (Procrit).

Avastin/sunitnib RCC trial closes after serious toxicities

August 01, 2008

The lead investigator in an evaluation of bevacizumab (Avastin) combined with sunitinib malate (Sutent) for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) said the project would be abandoned. FDA issued a product safety alert after Genentech, Avastin’s developer, reported serious complications in several patients enrolled in the phase I trial.

FDA cracks down on counterfeit cancer cure products

August 01, 2008

There are a plethora of websites that hawk miracle cancer cures, luring consumers in with seductive testimonials of instant good health. To the average person, these sites are dubious at best. But for some cancer patients, the promise of an easy panacea veers on dangerous.

LaSalle Leffall: Often the ‘first,’ & never the last

August 01, 2008

As a boy growing up in the Jim Crow South, LaSalle Leffall, Jr., MD, lifted himself above that era’s stifling segregation by embracing his father’s rock-solid credo: With a good education and hard work, combined with honesty and integrity, there are no boundaries.

Cancer drug pipeline is healthy, says head of oncologic drug approval for FDA

August 01, 2008

The US Food and Drug Administration is often depicted as an obstructionist bureaucracy that inhibits the development of life-saving cancer drugs. But according to an FDA insider, the real story on drug approval has remained untold.

How to bill a referral: New patient or consultation?

August 01, 2008

A common conundrum that community oncologists face in their practices is whether to bill a first encounter with a new patient referred by another physician as a consultation or as a new patient visit. Making the distinction may seem like splitting hairs, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has very specific billing criteria on this issue.

Is breast MRI primed for widespread use as a high-risk screening tool?

August 01, 2008

There is no doubt women at high risk for breast cancer need to be screened more aggressively than the general population. Thanks to extensive research-not to mention a nod from the American Cancer Society as a screening tool-MRI has leapt ahead of other imaging modalities as the preferred modality in a high-risk population.

Do anthracyclines still have a role as adjuvant treatment of breast cancer?

August 01, 2008

Anthracyclines have been a cornerstone in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer for more than 25 years and have well-established risks and benefits. But new molecular assays may make it possible to predict which women will benefit from this therapy, and new agents may offer better alternatives.

New TKI promising for intolerant or resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia

August 01, 2008

The investigational tyrosine kinase inhibitor bosutinib has an acceptable safety profile and appears to be efficacious among patients with chronic-phase chronic myelogenous leukemia who have intolerance or resistance to other TKIs, according to new data presented at ASCO 2008 (abstract 7001).

Anti-IGF-1R antibody plus chemo active in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer

August 01, 2008

An antibody to the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor (IGF-1R), when given with chemotherapy, is active as first-line therapy in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, especially squamous type, finds the first trial to test an IGF inhibitor in lung cancer. Daniel D. Karp, MD, of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported the trial results at ASCO 2008 (abstract 8015).

CT lung ca screening may offer moderate benefit in smokers

August 01, 2008

CT screening may reduce lung cancer mortality among smokers, but won’t protect them from the other adverse effects of lighting up, according to a modeling study that looked at the long-term efficacy of screening.

Dual antiangiogenic therapy plus chemo is active in advanced prostate cancer

August 01, 2008

A combination of two antiangiogenic agents-bevacizumab (Avastin) and thalidomide (Thalomid)-with docetaxel (Taxotere) is associated with a median progression-free survival of about a year and a half among men with metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer, finds a phase II trial presented at ASCO 2008 (abstract 5000).

Oncologic drug safety: Separating fact from fiction

August 01, 2008

Annually, adverse drug reactions (ADRs) result in costs of $3.6 billion and 140,000 deaths.1 Yet in 2005, only 15,107 reports of fatalities linked to potential drug toxicity were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration.2 This low number suggests that, despite significant morbidity and morality, ADRs remain underappreciated by clinicians. This is particularly troublesome when it comes to ADRs associated with oncology drugs.

Salvage RT boosts disease-free survival in prostate ca

August 01, 2008

Treatment inside a 2-year window and a PSA doubling time of less than 6 months may be the key factors for optimizing salvage radiotherapy results for recurrent prostate cancer, according to investigators from the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.