Oncology NEWS International Vol 5 No 8

Chemo Improves Pain Relief in Advanced Prostate Cancer

August 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--Although the addition of chemotherapy to supportive care with a corticosteroid provides no survival advantage for patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer, the combination appears to achieve better pain control, compared with corticosteroid therapy alone.

NCCR Urges Congress to Support Senate Bill for Cancer Research

August 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--The National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR) has activated its 18 member organizations to write to Congress in support of S.1897, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1996. This legislation was introduced in the US Senate by Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS) to revise and extend certain programs of the NIH, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Researchers Propose New Treatment Guidelines for HIV

August 01, 1996

VANCOUVER, BC--The new understanding of the importance of viral dynamics in the progression of HIV infection (see "New Thinking on HIV Progression Leads to New Strategies") has led to new guidelines for deploying drugs now available to treat HIV (a list of available agents is on page 13). Experts now recommend reducing viral load to below detectable limits, as an indication that viral replication has been curtailed as much as possible.

Salvage Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer Studied at M.D. Anderson

August 01, 1996

ORLANDO--Treatment of recurrent prostate cancer, whether by prostatectomy or chemotherapy, has not yielded very effective or long lasting results. Many patients now ask about cryotherapy, in the hopes of better effectiveness and/or improved quality of life (less incontinence and less chance of impotence). However, urologists have been reluctant to use salvage cryosurgery for prostate cancer patients after radiation or hormonal therapy, because the outcome and quality of life data were simply not there, Louis L. Pisters, MD, said at the American Urological Association meeting earlier this year.

FNA Dropped From RDOG Study Due To High Rate of Insufficient Samples

August 01, 1996

DALLAS--Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) breast biopsies in women with mammographically apparent, nonpal-pable breast lesions were deemed impractical due to the high rate of insufficient samples in a Radiologic Diagnostic Oncology Group (RDOG) study, and were stopped 19 months into the trial, Etta D. Pisano, MD, said at the American College of Radiology (ACR) National Conference on Breast Cancer.

New Thinking on HIV Progression Leads to New Strategies

August 01, 1996

VANCOUVER, BC--The new more aggressive approach to HIV infection, using antiviral drugs early and in combination, reflects not only the availability of new drugs but also the application of new thinking about HIV infection (see reports "Early Combination Treatment May Provide HIV Control" and "Researchers Propose New Treatment Guidlines for HIV"). Initial (primary) HIV infection causes an acute flu-like syndrome that is followed by years of relatively asymptomatic disease. This period of "clinical latency" had been thought to reflect viral latency, but work by David D. Ho, MD, and his colleagues at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, New York, has shown otherwise.

Hospitals Told Not to Capitate for 'Wrong' Reasons

August 01, 1996

SAN DIEGO--There are many sound reasons why a medical center may want to capitate its oncology services and just as many wrong reasons, said Paul M. Kennelly, who recently assumed the position of president and CEO of the management services organization at the City of Hope Oncology Network in Southern California.

More Study Needed of Possible Carcinogenesis of Winter Gas Additive

August 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--Although the chemical MTBE, added to gasoline in the winter to reduce the emission of carbon monoxide, does not pose a substantial human health risk, more study needs to be undertaken to assess both short- and long-term health effects, a National Research Council (NRC) committee said in its review of a draft of a federal report.

President Makes NCAB Appointments

August 01, 1996

WASHINGTON--President Clin-ton has reappointed Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, to a second 2-year term as chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) and appointed Richard J. Boxer, MD, professor of family and community medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, to a full 6-year term. Dr. Boxer had served on the board for a year to complete the term of Paul Calabresi, MD, who resigned to join the President's Cancer Panel.

Algorithm Identifies Women at Risk of Ovarian Cancer

August 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--New computer software is using an investigational algorithm to translate serial CA 125 values and other risk factors into a single number showing a postmenopausal women's risk of developing ovarian cancer, Steven J. Skates, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics, Harvard Medical School, said at his American Society of Clinical Oncology poster presentation.

Three Million a Year Die From Tobacco-Related Causes

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--Although there is some "good news" on the tobacco front--lung cancer deaths have declined in one US demographic group--the bad news continues to pour in from all over the globe, an NCI official told a symposium sponsored by NCI and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Marketing of Cancer Services Must Include All Payer Modalities

August 01, 1996

SAN DIEGO--Today when almost all payment and delivery models co-exist in every market, marketing approaches to cancer care services must respond to all payer models, including managed care and fee-for-service, said Karen M. Gilden, a senior consulting associate with Oncol-ogy Associates, Inc., Warrenton, Va, and the editor of Cancer Management.

Dr. Kessler Corrects Misapprehension That The FDA Cannot Regulate Tobacco Products

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--Many people believe that the law under which the FDA regulates foods, drugs, devices, and cosmetics contains an exception for tobacco, but FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, MD, told a symposium on tobacco addiction that this is not so, and that his agency plans to forge ahead with its proposed regulations.

New Surgical Techniques May Reduce Impotence, Incontinence

August 01, 1996

ORLANDO--Impotence and incontinence, the radical prostatectomy complications that patients fear most, can be reduced through simple modifications in surgical technique without compromising cancer control, according to two reports presented at the American Urological Association's 91st annual meeting.

NCI Says Long-Awaited Long Island Breast Cancer Study Now Underway

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, ordered by Congress in 1993, is now underway under the auspices of the NCI and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The study will attempt to determine whether pollutants (pesticides and other chemical irritants) are linked to the area's excessive breast cancer rates.

Early Combination Treatment May Provide HIV Control

August 01, 1996

VANCOUVER, BC--Treatment for AIDS is beginning to resemble cancer therapy: Some studies suggest that best results occur when disease burden is reduced early by aggressive use of combination therapy. Previous thinking has been to hold effective antiviral agents in reserve until disease progression.Presentations at the 11th International Conference on AIDS showed that combination treatment, especially with regimens that include one of the new protease inhibitor drugs, can reduce the virus to undetectable levels in the blood. Reduced viral load decreases the risk of disease progression and is often followed by clinical and immunological improvement.Speaking at the meeting, Scott Hammer, MD, of New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, pointed out that the ability of combination therapy to reduce viral load to undetectable levels means that "eradication of virus has become an acceptable hypothesis to be tested."Researchers at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center are testing that hypothesis using aggressive combination treatment during primary infection.

Nurse Explains Start-up of Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment Program

August 01, 1996

SAN DIEGO--With more than 200 known hereditary cancers syndromes, there is a clear opportunity for medical centers in this field, said LeeAnne Vandegriff, RN, cancer risk assessment coordinator at Harris Methodist Hospital, Fort Worth.

Number of US HIV Infections Steady

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--The number of Americans infected with HIV is holding steady at about 650,000 to 900,000, according to CDC data. This may be because the number of new HIV infections each year is roughly equal to the annual number of AIDS-related deaths, the report said.

Kadian for Chronic Pain

August 01, 1996

WILMINGTON, Del--Zeneca Inc. has received FDA clearance to market Kadian (morphine sulfate sustained release) capsules, a new single daily dose sustained-release (SR) morphine formulation, for the management of moderate to severe chronic pain when treatment with an opioid analgesic is indicated for more than a few days.

FDA Approves 2 Diagnostic Tests, Acts on Eulexin Application

August 01, 1996

ROCKVILLE, Md--In recent actions, the FDA approved two new diagnostic tests--for bladder cancer and colorectal cancer--and extended the indications for an antiandrogen agent in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Kaiser Permanente to Evaluate Neopath's AutoPap 300 QC System

August 01, 1996

REDMOND, Wash--NeoPath Inc has signed an agreement with Kaiser Permanente to install AutoPap 300 QC Systems at its Northern California facility. Following a successful evaluation, Kaiser Permanente anticipates making the technology available to its nearly 2.5 million Northern California members.

NCI Basic Research into HIV Structure Pays Off in AIDS Drug Development

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--NCI research from the 1980s, in which scientists used crystallography to study the structure of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), paved the way for development of the current crop of HIV-specific protease inhibitors (see " Early Combination Treatment May Provide HIV Control" for a report on clinical trials of protease inhibitors).

Patterns on RODEO Breast MRI Identify DCIS

August 01, 1996

DALLAS--A new study suggests that RODEO breast MRI can accurately determine the extent of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) and identify characteristic patterns that can differentiate DCIS from more malignant breast cancers.

PEG-Hemoglobin Trial Underway

August 01, 1996

PISCATAWAY, NJ--Enzon, Inc. has begun a multidose, multicen-ter clinical trial of its hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier, PEG-hemoglobin, in cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. The agent was developed as a radiosensitizer to increase oxygenation of hypoxic tumors cells that may be resistant to irradiation. Patients will receive once-a-week infusions of PEG-hemoglobin followed by 5 days of radiation therapy, repeated weekly for 3 weeks.

Hospitals Under Pressure to Adopt Cancer Guidelines

August 01, 1996

SAN DIEGO--Hospitals are facing tremendous pressures from the insurance industry to standardize treatments by adopting clinical practice guidelines, panel members said at a conference sponsored by the Society for Ambulatory Care Professionals and Health Technology Assessment of the American Hospital Association.

Diagnostic Test for H pylori

August 01, 1996

TUSTIN, Ca--AMDL, Inc. has filed a 510(k) Premarket Notification with the FDA for PyloriProbe, its diagnostic test for the detection of Heli-cobacter pylori. This bacterium is associated with chronic gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers, and has been classified by WHO as a class I carcinogen that increases the risk of developing stomach cancer. Pylori-Probe is a direct enzyme immunoassay (EIA) that detects the presence of H pylori antibodies in serum samples.

Onyx and Eli Lilly Expand Their Research Alliance on BRCA1

August 01, 1996

RICHMOND, Ca--Onyx Pharmaceuticals has announced an extension and expansion of its research alliance with Eli Lilly focusing on BRCA1, the gene linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Lilly has exclusive rights to the BRCA1 gene by license from Myriad Genetics, Inc.

An FDA Panel Recommends Approval of LIFE-Lung System to Find Early Lung Cancer

August 01, 1996

RICHMOND, BC--The FDA's Ear, Nose, and Throat Device Advisory Panel has voted unanimously in favor of recommending a premarket approval (PMA) application for Xillix LIFE-Lung, a fluorescence imaging system that helps identify early lung cancer (see figure ).

Dana-Farber Institutes New Drug Ordering Rules

August 01, 1996

SAN DIEGO--If a cancer patient dies because of a medical error, such as an incorrect dosage, it is only human nature to blame the tragedy on one incompetent person. But finger pointing is not a useful approach, says George Demetri, MD, since generally the problem has multiple causes, and a system overhaul may be in order.

Practice Guidelines May Lead to Fewer Malpractice Suits

August 01, 1996

PHILADELPHIA--At Long Beach Community Medical Center, the addition, in 1993, of a new radiation therapy facility and a new cancer center spurred the development of clinical pathways (or practice guidelines) for radiation therapy and breast cancer.

Highly Depressed Men Helped More by Nicotine Patch Than Women

August 01, 1996

BETHESDA, Md--A surprising finding of a smoking cessation study using behavioral therapy is that highly depressed men, but not highly depressed women, must also have nicotine replacement therapy to keep from relapsing, Paul M. Cinciripini, PhD, said at a symposium on tobacco addiction sponsored by ASCO and the NCI.