Oncology NEWS International Vol 4 No 12

Confusion Abounds Over Breast Cancer Risk Factors

December 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Two thirds of American women say they are personally doing something to decrease their chances of getting breast cancer, but many seem to be confused as to what constitutes the major breast cancer risk factors, results of a nationwide survey suggest.

Regular Aspirin Use May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

December 01, 1995

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Women who said they used an NSAID (usually aspirin or ibuprofen) regularly for 5 years or more had a 40% lower risk of breast cancer than those who did not report such use, Dr. Randall E. Harris and his colleagues at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have found.

Study Probes How Aspirin Decreases Prostaglandin Levels

December 01, 1995

CHICAGO--Although aspirin's role in cancer prevention remains controversial, two recent studies (see "Long -term Aspirin Use Reduces Colon Cancer Risk, Study Shows" and "Regular Aspirin Use May Lower Breast Cancer Risk") show a reduced risk of colorectal and breast cancer with long-term aspirin use.

Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Acquires Applied Immune Sciences

December 01, 1995

COLLEGEVILLE, PA--Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Inc. and Applied Immune Sciences, Inc. (AIS) have entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger providing for the acquisition by Rhône-Poulenc Rorer (through its subsidiary RPR Gencell) of AIS at a price of approximately $7.2 million.

National Breast Cancer Month Spotlights Awareness Efforts

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Zeneca Pharmaceuticals and its National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) co-sponsors have presented First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Government Leadership Award for her outstanding initiative in launching efforts to educate women about mammography.

Long-term Aspirin Use Reduces Colon Cancer Risk, Study Shows

December 01, 1995

BOSTON--Aspirin appears to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in women, but only if taken regularly for 10 years or more, report Edward Giovannucci, MD, and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School.

Panel Recommends FDA Approval of First Protease Inhibitor

December 01, 1995

SILVER SPRING, Md--The FDA's Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee took action on three anti-HIV agents at its most recent meeting, recommending approval for Hoffmann-La Roche's protease inhibitor saquinavir (Invirase) and Glaxo Wellcome's 3TC (Epivir) in combination with other AIDS drugs, and favoring a new indication for Bristol-Myers Squibb's stavudine (d4T, Zerit), to treat patients who no longer respond to zidovudine (AZT, Retrovir).

FDA Improves Drug Approval Times

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--A new report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) shows that the Food and Drug Administration now approves drugs twice as fast as it did 6 years ago. In 1987 the FDA took an average of 33 months to approve new drugs, while by 1992 it was taking only 19 months.

New Strategies Needed to Boost Clinical Trial Accruals

December 01, 1995

MARINA DEL REY, Calif--Clinical researchers must develop strategies to cope with the various obstacles faced by patients and physicians who want to participate in research trials, said oncologists at the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) economics conference.

Attitudes, Knowledge About Cancer Pain Don't Always Jibe

December 01, 1995

DULUTH, Minn--Community physicians, at least in Minnesota, appear to have the right attitude toward relieving pain in cancer patients but may be deficient in specific areas of knowledge about cancer pain management, say Thomas E. Elliott, MD, and his colleagues with the Minnesota Cancer Pain Project (MCPP), a randomized community trial testing innovative strategies to improve cancer pain management.

Risk of GI Cancer May Increase After Hodgkin's Disease Treatment

December 01, 1995

MIAMI BEACH--Patients treated for Hodgkin's disease are at moderately increased risk of developing secondary gastrointestinal (GI) cancer, Sandra H. Birdwell, MD, said at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncol-ogy (ASTRO) meeting.

DRGs Underpay for Stem Cell Therapy

December 01, 1995

SAN ANTONIO--Although the literature suggests that peripheral blood stem cell support for hematologic salvage after high-dose chemotherapy is somewhat less expensive than autologous bone marrow transplant (ABMT), the difference is nowhere near the $80,000 disparity found in diagnostic-related group (DRG)-based reimbursement, Philip Bierman, MD, said at a lymphoma symposium sponsored by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

NCI Study Shows' Weekly Reader' Conveyed Tobacco Industry Message

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--A study funded by a $600,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute shows that for a 5-year period the Weekly Reader, a newspaper aimed at schoolchildren, may have had a pro-smoking stance. Since 1991, the weekly has been owned by K-III Holdings, a subsidiary of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which until last spring was majority owner of RJR Nabisco, the second largest US tobacco company.

Brief SC Infusions for Hydration Appear Well Tolerated in Advanced Cancer Patients

December 01, 1995

EDMONTON, Canada--Twice daily 1-hour bolus infusions for subcutaneous hydration (hypodermoclysis) of patients with advanced cancer appear to be effective and well tolerated, say Eduardo Bruera, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Alberta. In addition, the study found that a lower dose of hyaluronidase (Wydase), an enzyme used to facilitate the absorption of water, is as effective as a higher dose.

Heart Institute Reduces Its Support For the Tamoxifen Prevention Trial

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) has reduced its support for the NCI's tamoxifen (Nolvadex) prevention trial, saying that the enrollment may not produce useful cardiovascular data.

Scientists Seek to Establish Model of Prostate Cancer Dormancy

December 01, 1995

JERUSALEM--Tumor cells that are not eradicated by chemotherapy or radiotherapy can enter a prolonged dormant state and thus pose a continuous threat of tumor relapse in patients who are seemingly "cured," Eitan Yefenof, PhD, said in an interview with Oncology News International.

Gliadel Used in Initial Malignant Glioma Surgery Increases Survival

December 01, 1995

BALTIMORE--Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Gliadel biodegradable polymer implants significantly increased survival in a study of 32 patients with malignant glioma undergoing initial surgery. Gliadel wafers or placebo were inserted into the surgical cavity created when the brain tumor was removed, followed 3 weeks later by standard radiation therapy.

Preserving Values in Managed Care

December 01, 1995

In this column, Dr. Alan Nelson, past president of the American Medical Association, has provided a set of goals for oncologic treatment under managed care contracts that can be embraced by all oncologists--choice, broad scope of practice, and communication. But the real message to oncologists is: Work together with internal medicine and primary care physicians to build a system that provides quality care of which everyone can be proud. Such cooperation is needed to help convert these treatment goals into workable contracts with primary care groups, HMOs, and/or insurers.

Courts Deny Specific Exclusions in Health Care Insurance Policies

December 01, 1995

PHILADELPHIA--New court decisions are putting a damper on the insurance industry's attempts to deny coverage of experimental treatments by writing specific exclusions into their policies. These exclusions most often concern high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplantation (HDC/ABMT), said Karen L. Illuzzi Gallinari, a partner in the New York-based firm of Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky.

NABCO Offers New Edition of Its Breast Cancer Resource List

December 01, 1995

NEW YORK--The National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) has just released the 1995/96 edition of the NABCO Breast Cancer Resource List. This year's 70-page List, supported by an educational grant from Glaxo Wellcome Inc., includes more than 2,000 books, brochures, videos, hotlines, and support groups useful for women and health professionals.

FDA Approves New Indication For Roferon-A in CML Patients

December 01, 1995

ROCKVILLE, Md--The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new indication for Roche Laboratories' Roferon-A (interferon alfa-2A recombinant). The agent, previously approved for use in treating hairy cell leukemia and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma, is now also indicated for the treatment of chronic phase, Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

Colorectal Cancer Vaccine May Boost Survival

December 01, 1995

PARIS--Nearly 90% of patients with resected Dukes B and C colorectal carcinoma were still alive 3 years after active specific immunization with a new autologous tumor vaccine, researchers from the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, and the University Hospital, Mannheim, Germany, have found.

UT - Houston to Test Alternative Cancer Agents

December 01, 1995

HOUSTON--The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center has been selected by the National Institutes of Health to be home to one of eight specialty centers that will conduct research into the effectiveness of alternative medicines used in cancer treatment.

NIAID Issues Pamphlet to Counter Skeptics Who Doubt HIV Link

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Because of frequent inquiries from people needing references to answer those skeptics who question the link between HIV and AIDS, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci asked the Institute to put together a pamphlet explaining it all.

Low-Dose IL-2 Promising in AIDS Cancers

December 01, 1995

SAN ANTONIO--Physicians who treat HIV-infected patients may need to brace for patient inquiries in light of evidence that low-dose inter-leukin-2 (IL-2, Proleukin) may boost immune function following remission-inducing chemotherapy for AIDS-related malignancies.

Grants Awarded for Study of Changing US Health-Care Market Force

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) has awarded 10 research grants to study changes that are reshaping America's health-care system (see list below). The grants total $1.4 million for the first year; most of the projects will be completed in 2 years or less.

Cancer Initiative Seeks Better Health Outcomes Via Counseling

December 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The Center for the Advancement of Health is working on a 3-year cancer initiative whose purpose is to increase support for psycho-social and biobehavioral research and services for cancer patients, said executive director Jessie Gruman, PhD. The Center was founded in 1992 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Men Have Higher Lifetime Ca Risk Than Women: SEER Data

December 01, 1995

BETHESDA, Md--The lifetime risk of developing cancer for the US population is 44.8% for men and 39.3% for women, according to an analysis of incidence rates from the National Cancer Institute's SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) program for 1973 to 1991.

ASTRO Names Richard Hoppe President-Elect

December 01, 1995

MIAMI BEACH--Richard Hoppe, MD, has been named president-elect of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). Dr. Hoppe is chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He will take office at the Society's annual meeting to be held in Los Angeles next October.

PCR Assay Finds Occult Melanoma Metastases in Sentinel Nodes, Promises More Accurate Staging

December 01, 1995

BUENOS AIRES--The techniques of lymphatic mapping, sentinel lymph node biopsy, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) determination of occult metastases promise to provide a more accurate staging of the melanoma patient with more conservative surgery. This could save the health-care industry dollars and save patients the morbidity and expense of complete node dissection, Douglas Reintgen, MD, said at the Sixth World Congress on Cancers of the Skin.

Physicians Take Oath in Ruins Where Hippocrates Trained

December 01, 1995

On the Greek island of Kos in the southeast Aegean, there is a cypress covered hill where ancient springs flow and herbs grow in abundance. People searching for good health have been coming to this hill for 25 generations. Hippocrates was born on Kos, and the hill holds the ruins of the ancient healing place, the Asclepieion.

Sentinel Node ID Allows Selective Lymphadenectomy

December 01, 1995

BUENOS AIRES--The surgical care of the melanoma patient is in flux because of new data showing that complete nodal staging can be obtained with the technique of lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy, said speakers at a plenary session at the Sixth World Congress on Cancers of the Skin.

1 Million Americans a Day Risk Injury in Tanning Salons

December 01, 1995

BUENOS AIRES--The tanning salon industry has grown enormously in recent years, with as many as 2 million regular patrons in the United States, and 1 million people visiting daily, W. L. Morrison, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, said at the Sixth World Congress on Cancers of the Skin.

Pretreatment Levels of Hemoglobin May Predict Outcomes of Larynx Cancer Patients

December 01, 1995

MIAMI BEACH--Pretreatment hemoglobin level has been shown to have an independent effect on local control and survival in patients with T1-T2 squamous cell carcinomas of the glottic larynx, Douglas A. Fein, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). Based on this finding, it may be advisable to correct anemia in these patients before starting radiation therapy, he said.

Is it Drug-Related Akathisia, or Anxiety? A Diagnostic Dilemma

December 01, 1995

A 50-year-old man with multiple hospitalizations for chemotherapy for recurrent germ-cell carcinoma was admitted for nadir fever. A psychiatric consultation was requested for evaluation of anxiety and depression.