Oncology NEWS International Vol 5 No 6

Psychosocial Oncology May Benefit From System Reform

June 01, 1996

PALM SPRINGS, Calif--The United Kingdom, not unlike the United States, is undergoing a period of radical change in the organization of cancer services, the status of the medical professionals delivering those services, and the climate for conducting clinical research, Ann Cull, PhD, said at the American Society for Psychiatric Oncology/AIDS meeting.

Know Your Partners, Know Your Goals in Joint Ventures Between Hospitals and Universities

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Joint ventures between community hospitals and university departments of oncology can offer significant benefits to both, but not unless all parties involved understand one another and formulate a well thought out program.

Managed Care Reform: Wait Until Next Year for House, Senate

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Despite increasing complaints from physicians and patients, don't look for Congress to take any action in 1996 to remedy the problems that have evolved with the growth of managed care, a key Senate aide said at the national meeting of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC).

Converting Quality of Life Data to 'Q' Scores Allows Comparisons

June 01, 1996

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Although many quality of life measures for cancer have been validated, eg, the FLIC (Functional Living Index-Cancer) and the FACT (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy), use of a single instrument facilitates analysis of data obtained at different sites, David F. Cella, PhD, said at the first annual conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

Shorter Paclitaxel Infusions Add to Neuropathy Risk

June 01, 1996

NEW ORLEANS--In combination with cisplatin (Platinol) for treatment of gynecologic malignancies, 3-hour infu-sional paclitaxel (Taxol) might be easier to administer but it produces more peripheral neuropathy than the standard 24-hour infusion, a Cleveland Clinic study shows.

Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Down

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--The breast cancer death rate in American women has declined steadily in the 1990s, suggesting that improved breast cancer management from early detection to treatment is having a beneficial effect, the National Cancer Institute reports.

Pain Scale Resembling Thermometer May Be Easier to Use Than VAS

June 01, 1996

MONTREAL--A new instrument for measuring pain intensity--the visual analogue thermometer (VAT)--developed to overcome some of the disadvantages of the conventional visual analogue scale (VAS)--has proved "valid, accurate, and clinically useful" in two studies, say Manon Choinière, PhD, of the Burn Centre, Hotel-Dieu Hospital of Montreal and the University of Montreal, and Rhonda Amsel, MSc, of the Department of Psychology, McGill University.

Immediate Hormone Therapy Improves Prostate Cancer Survival

June 01, 1996

ASCO--In an EORTC study, the combination of radiotherapy and adjuvant hormonal therapy with an LHRH analog has been shown to significantly increase survival in patients with locally advanced prostate cancer, compared with radiotherapy alone.

New Test for Prostate Cancer Risk

June 01, 1996

ASCO--Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die of their disease if left untreated, but clinicians have no way of telling which early cancers require more aggressive treatment and which are likely to be indolent. A new genetic test, developed by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, may shed some light on this important dilemma.

Topotecan: Significant Activity in Ovarian Cancer

June 01, 1996

ASCO--Topotecan (Hycamtin), an inhibitor of topoisomerase I, significantly increased time to disease progression--23 weeks vs 14 weeks for paclitaxel (Taxol)--when used as second-line therapy in women with recurrent ovarian cancer, James Carmichael, MD, of the University of Nottingham, said at an ASCO scientific session.

Prostate Cancer Guideline Classifies Patients By Risk Status

June 01, 1996

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--The duration of anticipated survival after a prostate cancer diagnosis, and therefore the period of time at risk in the disease, is unique to prostate cancer in the influence it exerts on selection of therapy.

Moral Challenges Ahead as Managed Care Marches On

June 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--Forging ahead with change was the theme of the second annual meeting of the Association of Cancer Executives (ACE). And for most of the speakers, change meant adapting to the new reality of managed care and hospital mergers.

One Doctor Tells His Experience With Hospital Mergers

June 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--During his tenure at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Lawrence Shulman, MD, has been involved in two hospital mergers. The first, with Massachusetts General Hospital, was done in secrecy, while the latest, with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has been an open process.

BRCA2 Gene Mutations Linked to Ovarian Cancer Cases

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--University of Pennsylvania researchers have obtained the first "conclusive" evidence linking mutations in the recently cloned BRCA2 breast cancer gene to ovarian cancer, a discovery they say indicates that inheritance plays a significantly greater role in the disease than previously thought.

Study Finds a Link Between Fatty Acid Ratios and Breast Cancer

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--A study of European women suffering from breast cancer has raised the intriguing possibility that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may provide a way to predict an increased risk of the malignancy.

Study Raises Questions on Transplant Timing

June 01, 1996

ASCO--Immediate high-dose consolidation chemotherapy supported by transplant significantly improved disease-free survival in metastatic breast cancer patients who were in complete remission after induction therapy.

New Drug Could Play Dual Role in Cancer

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--In an experiment that may blur the line between therapeutic and preventive medications, researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, plan to move a novel new compound to phase II testing in advanced cancer patients.

Buying Coalitions New Wrinkle in Managed Care Market

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Employers, who first embraced managed care as a way to lower health care costs, are now joining together in buying coalitions to extract even greater price reductions from organizations such as HMOs from whom they purchase health care insurance for their employees.

Pilots for AirLifeLine Donate Flights to Patients in Need

June 01, 1996

It used to take Mike Natishak, Sr., his wife Mary Alice, and their 9-year-old son Mike Jr., 6 hours to make the weekly drive from their home in Apalachin, NY, to Boston Children's Hospital. They had to stay over at a hotel to be at the hospital the next morning. So in addition to travel expenses, the Natishaks each lost 2 days of work.

Aggressive Follow-up of Early Cancer Questioned

June 01, 1996

BALTIMORE--Intensive, laboratory-based follow-up programs for patients treated for early stage breast cancer do not enhance survival or reduce morbidity, said John H. Fetting, MD, at a symposium sponsored by Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, where he is co-director of the Breast Service.

Large Melanoma Vaccine Trial at Hand

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Final approval by the National Cancer Institute of the largest ever melanoma vaccine trial is near, John M. Kirkwood, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, said at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting. "I think before the summer is through, we should see this trial initiated," added Dr. Kirkwood, principal investigator for the study.

Encouraging Results From First Trials of Platelet Growth Factor

June 01, 1996

ASCO--Both forms of recombinant human platelet growth factor currently under study have been shown to enhance platelet recovery after myelosup-pressive chemotherapy without serious side effects. The first four clinical trials of the two products--pegylated megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF, Amgen), which is linked to polyethylene glycol to improve its stability and half-life; and thrombopoietin (rhTPO, Genentech)--were presented at an ASCO scientific symposium.

Panel Reviews Management of Tamoxifen-Related Side Effects

June 01, 1996

An expert panel of seven cancer researchers and a representative of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) came together at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium for a roundtable discussion of the use of tamoxifen (Nolvadex), sponsored by PRR, Inc., publisher of Oncology News International, Primary Care & Cancer, and the journal ONCOLOGY.

Synthetic Retinoid May Protect Against Breast Cancer Recurrence in Younger Women

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Interim results from an on-going Italian chemopreven-tion trial of a synthetic retinoid show a "borderline significant" protective effect against contralateral breast cancer and, to a lesser degree, against ovarian cancer, but only in premenopausal women.

DFMO Shows Potential in the Prevention of Cervical Cancer

June 01, 1996

NEW ORLEANS--In a phase I trial from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the chemopreventive agent difluorometh-ylornithine (DFMO) produced significant regression of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 3, Michele Follen Mitchell, MD, reported at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists meeting.

Gene Therapy for Liver Cancer

June 01, 1996

Rockville, Md --GenVec has begun a phase I study of its in vivo gene-based product, AdgvCD. 10, in 18 patients with liver metastases of colectoral cancer . An advenovirus vector modified to carry the cytosine deaminase gene will be administered directly into the hepatic tumor. The gene expresses an enzyme that converts 5-fluorocytosine,an oral anti-fungal agent , into the potent anticancer agent 5-fluorouracil.. The conversion occurs only at the site of gene expression, the company said.

Major Remake Pays Off for the Cancer Program at Washington Hospital Center

June 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--The strategy of the Washington Hospital Center (WHC) cancer program for surviving managed care has been to enthusiastically embrace change, said Kenneth Samet, president of WHC, at the annual meeting of the Association of Cancer Executives (ACE).

NIH Has New Working Groups on Genetics and AIDS

June 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--At the 98th Meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), Dr. Richard Klausner, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), congratulated everyone at the NCI on weathering the first year of structural changes under his new leadership.

Clinical Pathway Discloses One Surgeon's $425 Habit

June 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--When practice guidelines or pathways take financial considerations into account, they may be termed clinical financial pathways (CFPs). This technique was developed by Kent Giles, MPPM, vice president of development at PhyMatrix, a physician management company headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla, and is currently being utilized by PhyMatrix to reduce unnecessary medical costs.

Strategies Outlined to Prevent Nosocomial HIV Transmission

June 01, 1996

NEW YORK--All physicians, regardless of their specialty, must be prepared to treat HIV-infected patients, according to an expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although fears of nosocomial transmission of the virus are not unwarranted, much can be done to avoid it.

Estradiol SPECT Shows Promise in Spotting Early Breast Cancer

June 01, 1996

DALLAS--Estradiol scans, currently being used in research for the diagnosis of early breast cancer (see illustration on page 1), have in some cases identified breast cancer 2 years prior to diagnosis by conventional means, such as mam-mography, physical examination, and ultrasound, David F. Preston, MD, said in an interview with Oncology News International.

GAR Helps Counter Legal Pitfalls of Cancer Screening, Diagnosis

June 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Put GAR in your patients' records. It can prove extremely useful should you find yourself being sued for medical malpractice, Marvin A. Dewar, MD, JD, said at the National Conference on Prevention and Early Detection, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Study Shows Melanoma Patients Benefit From High-Dose IFN Despite Toxicity

June 01, 1996

ASCO--A randomized ECOG study of patients with high-risk melanoma showed significant gains in overall and recurrence free survival for adjuvant high-dose interferon alfa-2b (Intron), but also showed that the high-dose regimen has significant side effects. However, a new quality of life analysis suggests that, for most patients, the benefits of interferon clearly offset its toxicity, Bernard Cole, PhD, of Brown University, said at an ASCO scientific session.