Oncology NEWS International Vol 4 No 6

IDEC-C2B8 Antibody Is in Phase III Testing for B-Cell Lymphoma

June 01, 1995

SAN DIEGO, Calif--IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corporation has begun a phase III trial of its anti-lymphoma antibody IDEC-C2B8 in patients with relapsed low-grade and follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The company is developing the agent in collaboration with Genentech, Inc.

Dr. Peters Named Head of the Michigan Cancer Foundation

June 01, 1995

DETROIT--William P. Peters, MD, PhD, noted for pioneering outpatient ABMT for breast cancer at Duke University (see story on page 9), has been named president and CEO of the Michigan Cancer Foundation and director of the Meyer L. Prentis Comprehensive Cancer Center of Metropolitan Detroit, effective July 1. He will also serve as associate dean for cancer programs at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens Block UVA and UVB

June 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Sunscreens represent the first line of defense against skin damage from the sun, and broad-spectrum products offer the best protection, Madhukar A. Pathak, MB, PhD, said at a media conference sponsored by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Trials of AccuSite Injectable Gel From Matrix Begin in Basal Cell Ca

June 01, 1995

MENLO PARK, Calif--Matrix Pharmaceutical, Inc. has initiated two phase III trials of its AccuSite injectable gel for patients with basal cell cancer. The company has completed phase III testing of the gel for the treatment of genital warts and expects to submit a new drug application to the FDA for that indication later this year.

Outpatient ABMT at Duke Leads to Savings

June 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--Since Duke University moved part of its autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) service to an outpatient setting, "the hospital has saved bundles, and the patients couldn't be happier," William Peters, MD, director of bone marrow transplantation and professor of medicine, told reporters at the American Cancer Society Science Writers Seminar.

Russia Is Taking First Steps to Deliver Its Health-Care System Out of Chaos

June 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Imagine a country where a cancer diagnosis is never revealed to a patient, where few have ever heard of screening mammography or breast self-examination, and where most men do not live long enough to get clinically evident prostate cancer.

Algorithm Optimizes Value of CA125 II Screening for Ovarian Ca

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Applying a newly developed mathematical model to an updated version of a familiar tumor marker may increase the chance of finding ovarian cancers at an earlier stage, Robert C. Knapp, MD, said at the American Cancer Society Conference on Gynecological Cancers.

Better Ovarian Cancer Outcome With IP Cisplatin

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--Administration of cisplatin (Platinol) by the intraperitoneal rather than intravenous route to patients with optimally debulked stage III ovarian cancer reduced toxicity and improved survival by about 25%, David S. Alberts, MD, said at the ASCO meeting.

Counseling Must Go Hand in Hand With Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

June 01, 1995

NEW YORK--What should have been good news for a woman whose family had a history of breast cancer--that she did not carry the breast cancer gene (BRCA1)--proved bittersweet, since the woman had had bilateral prophylactic mastectomies 5 years earlier.

Epirubicin Effective But Toxicity Is Increased

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--In a Canadian study of women with node-positive adenocarcinoma of the breast, a chemotherapy regimen (CEF) including epidoxorubicin (Epirubicin), an anthracycline available in Canada and Europe, produced better results than standard CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil), Dr. Mark Levine reported at the ASCO annual meeting.

Aggressive 16-Week Multidrug Regimen Improves Breast Cancer Survival

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--An aggressive 16-week, multidrug chemotherapy regimen afforded a survival advantage over six cycles of CAF (cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin, and fluorouracil) in 646 women with receptor-negative, node-positive breast cancer, preliminary results of an Intergroup study have shown.

Telomerase Appears to Play a Role in Cancer Cell Immortality

June 01, 1995

TORONTO, Canada--Understanding why normal cells grow old and die while cancer cells do not could be a boon to cancer research (see drawing on page 1). US and Canadian scientists have discovered that a protein called telo-merase may be the cause of the "eternal youth" of cancer cells, and they are seeking to develop drugs to block its effects.

Researchers Seek Pleural Effusions And Tissue to Create MCB Cell Lines

June 01, 1995

BOSTON, Mass--Under a grant from the US Army Breast Cancer Program, Harvard researchers are attempting to create medullary carcinoma of the breast (MCB) cell lines as part of their immunologic studies. There is currently only one line in the world for this infrequent tumor. "We are especially interested in pleural effusions (or ascites)--the best source to make cell lines--but will also use fresh, unfixed tumor tissue, and will pay all shipping costs," said investigator Richard Junghans, PhD, MD.

NIH Granted Gene Therapy Patent

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a broad patent on gene therapy to the National Institutes of Health. Six years after filing the application, NIH and its licensee, Genetic Therapy, Inc. of Gaithersburg, Maryland, can now use the patent for ex vivo human gene therapy.

Access to Mammography Is Still a Problem

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The number of women over age 40 who have ever had a mammography has risen significantly in the past few decades, P. Ellen Parsons, MPH, PhD, said at the spring meeting of the National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee.

Eyes and the Periorbital Area Are Vulnerable to Damage From the Sun, Need Special Protection

June 01, 1995

NEW YORK--If the face is the area of the body most vulnerable to sun damage, the eyes are in need of special protection, Rene S. Rodriguez-Sains, MD, said at a media conference sponsored by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Malignancies of the eyes and periocular area are particularly serious because of their proximity to the brain and other vital structures, he said.

NCAB Outlines Major Issues US Cancer Program Must Address

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--By the end of the century, cancer will surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. According to a report to Congress from the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) Subcommittee to Evaluate the National Cancer Program, if the nation fails to address six major issues (see table "the resulting health-care costs, lost productivity, and personal tragedy [will be] staggering."

FDA Panel Recommends Approval of Roferon-A for Treatment of CML

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The FDA's Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee unanimously recommended approval of Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.'s Roferon-A (interferon alfa-2a, recombinant) for the treatment of adult patients with Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The interferon is currently approved for use in hairy cell leukemia and AIDS related Kaposi's sarcoma.

Smoking Objective of 'Healthy People 2000' Is Probably Not Attainable

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The US Public Health Service's 10-year plan for improving Americans' health, dubbed Healthy People 2000, will be a disappointment to antismoking forces. The goal--to decrease the number of smokers to only 15% of the population--will not be reached, and it is likely that 20% of Americans will still be smoking by the end of the century. "We're talking about a lot of people who are going to die," said Harold Freeman, MD, chairman of the President's Cancer Panel.

Managed Care May Hold Opportunities for Oncology Practices

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Managed care holds tremendous opportunities for oncologists who are able to restructure their practices to meet the challenge, Merrick Reese, MD, said at the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) meeting.

Four Types of Transactions Most Affected by Self-Referral Laws

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Physicians and hospitals have good reason to learn as much as possible about the expanded Stark self-referral law, which went into effect last January, and federal anti-kickback legislation. The penalties if convicted under these measures can be large, and the federal government is committed to their enforcement.

Parma Study Confirms ABMT Superiority

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--The final report of the Parma study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, confirms the superiority of dose intensification with autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) over conventional chemotherapy in patients with relapsed diffuse non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

Stem Cells Appear More Cost Effective Than Marrow

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--An economic analysis has shown that use of filgrastim-primed peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPCs) in relapsed lymphoma patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy is significantly less expensive than autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT), Thomas J. Smith, MD, said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.

NIH Director Removes Reasonable Pricing Clause From CRADA

June 01, 1995

BETHESDA--Harold Varmus, MD, Director of the NIH, has removed the "reasonable pricing" clause from the Public Health Service's model Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Many believe that the clause has driven industry away from potentially beneficial collaboration with government scientists. "Eliminating [it] will promote research that can enhance the health of the American people," Dr. Varmus said.

Guilford's Wafer Implants Improve Survival of Brain Cancer Patients

June 01, 1995

BALTIMORE, Md--The results of a phase III double-blind trial of Guilford Pharmaceutical Inc.'s Gliadel have been published in Lancet (April 22, 1995). In patients with malignant brain tumors, 6-month median survival rates increased from 23 weeks with placebo to 31 weeks with Gliadel treatment, the company said. For patients with glioblastoma multiforme, the increase was from 20 weeks to 28 weeks, a 55% improvement.

Radiation Pretransplant Enhances Survival in Advanced AML Patients

June 01, 1995

PARIS, France--Cyclophosphamide with total body irradiation (TBI) provides better survival rates than cyclophosphamide plus busulfan when used as a pre-autologous bone marrow transplant (ABMT) conditioning regimen in patients with advanced acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a University of Minnesota study has found.

Study Describes Women With 'Double Cancer Syndrome'

June 01, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO--Approximately 6% of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer, Jeffrey G. Schneider, MD, said at the annual conference of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

Programs Motivate Workers to Participate In Worksite Screening, Marrow Registry

June 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--The key to motivating employees to participate in worksite screening programs is simply to provide good quality health care, while ensuring confidentially and easy accessibility, Philip Passalaqua, MD, said at the second annual Industries' Coalition Against Cancer conference. These methods worked at Schering-Plough where Dr. Passalaqua is vice-president and medical director, Employee Health Services.

Cancer Education Programs Need Not Be Expensive

June 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Cancer education and screening in the worksite need not be an expensive venture, several speakers said at a session on costs at the Industries' Coalition Against Cancer (ICAC) conference.

Paclitaxel/Cisplatin Improves Survival In Advanced Ovarian Cancer

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--Using paclitaxel (Taxol) rather than cyclophosphamide in combination with cisplatin (Platinol) significantly increases both progression-free and overall survival in patients with advanced ovarian cancer, William P. McGuire, MD, said in his presentation at the plenary session of ASCO.

Radiolabeled MoAb Allows Higher RT Doses

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--Use of a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody in patients with relapsed B-cell lymphoma may allow higher doses of radiation to the tumor and less toxicity to normal organs, Oliver W. Press, MD, PhD, of the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, said in his ASCO presentation.

New Study Shows Shortage of Naïve T Cells in HIV-Infected Patients

June 01, 1995

STANFORD, Calif--Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center have found profound shortages of naïve T cells among individuals infected with HIV. In contrast, previous studies have suggested that naïve T cells remain stable with the progression of HIV disease.

Better Detection Could End Screening Debate

June 01, 1995

TORONTO, Canada--The benefits of annual mammography screening for women aged 50 and over are undisputed, but experts are still polarized over whether the screening procedure is worthwhile for women aged 40 to 49.

Depression Increases With Advanced Cancer and May Influence Cancer Pain

June 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Depression is more common in patients with advanced cancer and can have an adverse effect on cancer pain. For example, in patients with advanced breast cancers, a study showed that concomitant depression and interpretation of pain influenced pain more than site of disease or presence of metastases, Memorial Sloan-Kettering psychiatrist William S. Breitbart, MD, said at a conference sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc., a social work agency for cancer patients and their families.

Sequential Chemotherapy Proves Better Than Alternating Regimen in Node-Positive Breast Cancer

June 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--Sequential chemotherapy including an anthracycline produced better overall and relapse-free survival in women with node-positive breast cancer (more than three nodes) than did an alternating schedule of the same drugs, Gianni Bonadonna, MD, of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, reported at the ASCO annual meeting.

Bill Seeks Access to Federal Health Plan

June 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Probably the best-informed group of American consumers of health care are the 9 million federal employees enrolled in the government's health-care plan, Representative Patricia Schroeder (D-CO) said at the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) annual meeting.

Stem Cells Allow Autotransplants in CML

June 01, 1995

SAN DIEGO, Calif--Researchers have demonstrated that in at least some patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), benign hematopoietic stem cell progenitors coexist in the marrow with malignant cells, creating the possibility that autologous bone marrow transplantation can be used to treat the disease, Phillip McGlave, MD, said at a conference sponsored by the University of California, San Diego Cancer Center and UCSD School of Medicine.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Can Be Cost Effective

June 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Because colon cancer develops in a stepwise progression that occurs over 10 to 15 years, physicians have a "tremendous window of opportunity for prevention," Sidney Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said in a presentation at the second annual Industries' Coalition Against Cancer (ICAC) conference. He believes that colorectal cancer screening is "no longer controversial," based on available data.

Tanning Parlors May Spread Disinformation

June 01, 1995

NEW YORK--In its aggressive attacks on the American Medical Association and American Academy of Dermatology, the tanning industry uses disinformation to obscure the fact that artificial sources of ultraviolet (UV) light are no safer than the sun, said Rex Amonette, MD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology and clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Memphis.

New Studies Support PSA Screening, Blacks May Benefit Most

June 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Although prostate cancer screening remains controversial because of lack of a proven effect on disease-specific mortality, Judd Moul, MD, believes that new data regarding prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, as well as statistics from the armed forces, strongly support the benefits of screening.