Oncology NEWS International Vol 18 No 10

Cancer, not HPV vaccination, hastened death of UK girl

October 29, 2009

Cancer killed a 14-year-old girl who died shortly after being given Cervarix as part of a national immunization program. Early reports speculated that there may have been a link between the shot and her death, but according to a coroner’s assessment, there was no indication that the culprit was the HPV vaccine, which is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline. The girl’s death was caused by malignant disease in the heart and lungs, according to the coroner’s report.

Global report warns of escalating cancer rate

October 29, 2009

A coalition of international cancer experts is warning that the global cancer burden will double over the next two decades with an increasing concentration of cases in low-income and middle-income countries.

Antidepressants continue to show increased inhibition of colorectal tumor cell growth

October 29, 2009

Use of antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and possibly tricyclic antidepressants, is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to research by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. But it’s too soon to make specific recommendations on how to harness this potential value of these drugs in cancer prevention.

New class of alpha emitters takes aim at bone metastases

October 29, 2009

A new class of cancer alpha-pharmaceuticals is approaching the marketplace, one built around the basis of radiotherapy itself. An isotope of radium, the element discovered more than a century ago by Pierre and Marie Curie, is the cornerstone of this new class of radiopharmaceuticals.

Who's News

October 29, 2009

The AACR has appointed George Prendergast, PhD, as the editor-in-chief of Cancer Research. He is the president and CEO of Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Wynnewood, Penn., and previously served as a senior editor and deputy editor for the journal. Dr. Prendergast will take up the five-year editorship in January 2010

Stop and smell the volatile organic compounds in lung ca

October 29, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO-Studies have identified specific volatile organic compounds in the breath of lung cancer patients, but the origin of those compounds is still ambiguous: Are they from the tumor itself, the tumor micro-environment, or a reaction to the tumor by the human body?

Proton therapy report advises caution

October 29, 2009

The limited evidence on the comparative effectiveness of proton-beam therapy, especially in comparison to other radiation-based treatment modalities, undermines the value of this up-and-coming technology, according to a comparative effectiveness report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

From anthracyclines to anti-VEGF: Shifts in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer

October 20, 2009

ORLANDO-Breast cancer experts gathered at ASCO 2009 to answer five important questions about anthracyclines, taxanes, HER2-positive disease, trastuzumab (Herceptin), and anti-VEGF agents. Their key message for adjuvant therapy: One size does not fit all. The participants were:

Will Chemoradiotherapy End Surgical Dominance in the Treatment of Squamous Cell Head and Neck Cancers

October 20, 2009

HOLLYWOOD, FLA.-Two speakers at the 2009 Palm Beach Cancer Symposium agreed that surgery will always play a role in the treatment of squamous-cell head and neck cancers. The question at issue: Is surgery losing ground to chemoradiotherapy as the primary treatment for head and neck cancer?

Circulating tumor cells edge out imaging in breast mets

October 20, 2009

Five may be the magic number to determine whether a patient can undergo therapeutic monitoring with a test for circulating tumor cells or must undergo an FDG-PET/CT exam, according to research out of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Smoking cessation requires unremitting reinforcement

October 20, 2009

Quitting smoking during radiation treatment for lung and head and neck cancer significantly enhances treatment efficacy, yet many patients will not give up the habit even though the benefits are very obvious.

Industry Watch

October 19, 2009

The following company announcements were made at ECCO/ESMO 2009 in Berlin: Pfizer drugs prolong overall survival Pfizer Oncology released data from a phase III trial for sunitinib (Sutent) for the treatment of progressive,

Avastin Breast Rx Trial Enrollment Halted Due to Cardiotoxicity Cases

October 19, 2009

Roche announced that enrollment in a phase III clinical trial testing bevacizumab (Avastin) plus chemotherapy for women with early-stage breast cancer was suspended after six patients who were given the drug developed congestive heart failure. Study protocols required that enrollment be stopped if six or more cases of congestive heart failure occurred in the first 200 patients, according to the company.

Epigenetic mechanisms may drive CD20 negative transformation in B-cell lymphoma

October 19, 2009

Resistance to rituximab (Rituxan) has emerged as a considerable problem as the drug has become widely used to treat B-cell lymphomas, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. A recent study in Blood suggested that resistance to rituximab is related to downregulation of CD20 expression via epigenetic mechanisms.

Proton-beam therapy calls for unique skills

October 19, 2009

The first proton-beam therapy center in Loma Linda, Calif., opened almost 20 years ago, and today six are operating in the U.S. Another center will open by the end of 2009 with several more planned in the next two years, including centers in continental Europe and the UK. A growing body of research affirms the efficacy of proton-beam therapy (see Table).

Ultrasound images bear prognostic gems for oncology

October 16, 2009

Subtle clues to the better management of cancer patients may lie hidden in images otherwise used exclusively for diagnosis. German researchers at ECCO/ESMO 2009 have found that ultrasound images of lymph nodes may contain clues to whether and to what extent melanoma has begun to spread. The discovery raises the possibility that ultrasound might help oncologists predict a patient’s probable survival without the need for sentinel node biopsy (abstract O9303).

Trials turn in mixed findings for first-line cetuximab in colon cancer

October 16, 2009

BERLIN-The failure of a major colon cancer trial to reach its primary endpoint surprised even the most seasoned gastrointestinal cancer investigators. Overall survival was not improved when cetuximab (Erbitux) was added to a first-line oxaliplatin-based regimen (Eloxatin), according to phase III COIN trial at ECCO/ESMO 2009.

Adjuvant Rx yields minor benefit in less aggressive colon cancer

October 15, 2009

Stage II colon cancer patients who are negative for microsatellite instability and lymphocytic infiltrate should not undergo adjuvant chemotherapy, according to surgeons at Oregon Health and Science University and Legacy Health System, both in Portland.

Low-risk tumors exhibit high proliferation index

October 15, 2009

Pathologists at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., studied the relationship between the Oncotype Dx recurrence score and the cell cycle-related antigen Ki-67 in 32 breast carcinomas and evaluated for a potential association.

Duration of tamoxifen use influences cancer risk in opposite breast

October 15, 2009

Long-term tamoxifen use among breast cancer survivors is associated with a more than fourfold increased risk of ER-negative cancer in the contralateral breast, according to the investigators at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.