Oncology NEWS International Vol 6 No 8

Two-Step Approach Urged to Avoid High Tech, Wild Death

August 01, 1997

HOUSTON--In the current health care environment, peaceful deaths are seriously threatened as clinicians attempt technological brinkmanship and patients and families demand that "everything be done" to extend life, said Rebecca Pentz, PhD, a clinical ethicist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Health Insurance Premiums Tax Proposed

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--To maintain its world leadership in clinical care, the nation should levy a 1% tax on health care premiums to pay for clinical research, Kenneth I. Shine, MD, president of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM), has proposed.

ODAC Votes Yes on Taxol for Kaposi's Sarcoma

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--The FDA's Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) voted 8 to 4 to recommend that the agency grant traditional new drug approval to Bristol-Myers Squibb's Taxol for Injection Concentrate (paclitaxel) for the second-line treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (KS).

Five Principles Help Resolve Ethical Dilemmas in Care

August 01, 1997

SEATTLE--Physicians and nurses frequently confront ethical dilemmas in caring for cancer patients, and these must be resolved on an individual basis, through established principles, Tom McCormick, DMin, senior lecturer in medical ethics, University of Washington, told the Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses. "I don't think we'll ever see the day," he said, "when we can put all of the alternatives into a computer, press a button, and ask the computer to come up with a decision."

Ovarian Cancer Survivors Form National Coalition

August 01, 1997

BOCA RATON, Fla--Ovarian cancer survivors have formed the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), an organization whose main mission is to prevent deaths from ovarian cancer by advocating for the development of new techniques for early detection and by raising awareness levels about the disease.

Photodynamic Therapy Used in Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--Delta-amino-levulinic acid (ALA), a compound found in cells throughout the body, holds potential as an active drug in photodynamic therapy and could provide an alternative to surgery for patients with basal and squamous cell carcinomas, R. Rox Anderson, MD, said at the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation conference.

Increased Numbers of Nevi Can Predict Risk of Melanoma

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--Increased numbers of small nevi, large nondysplastic nevi, and clinically dysplastic nevi strongly increase a person's risk of developing melanoma--a finding with major preventive implications, according to investigators in a large, case-control study.

With Genetic Tests, Informed Consent Enters Psychosocial Realm

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Informed consent has historically focused on physical risks, but genetic testing will move informed consent into psychosocial areas, Karen Rothenberg, JD, MPA, Marjorie Cook Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law, said at the 21st annual meeting of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO).

Americans Not Convinced of Value of Watchful Waiting

August 01, 1997

CHICAGO--Despite strong evidence of the effectiveness of watchful waiting for men with localized prostate cancer in a Swedish study, participants at the Prostate Cancer Shootout II conference remained unconvinced.

Breast and Arm Sensations Are Common After Breast Surgery

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Three fourths of patients experience significant physical sensations after breast cancer surgery. For many women, these are still present years later, and many have long-term arm morbidity as well, researchers reported at the Oncology Nursing Society's 22nd Annual Congress.

Molecular Markers Are Used as Therapeutic Targets in Head & Neck Cancer: Three Studies

August 01, 1997

DENVER--Novel agents have been designed to exploit molecular markers as therapeutic targets in head and neck cancer. Two studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting involved agents targeting the p53 gene, either by eradication of p53-altered tumor cells or restoration of normal gene function. The third study involved a monoclonal antibody targeted at tumor cells with an abnormality of the EGF receptor.

Urologists Urged to Get on Board With Prostate Brachytherapy

August 01, 1997

PALM BEACH, Fla--A urologist believes his unique viewpoint can be helpful to radiation oncologists doing brachy-therapy and to his fellow urologists. "By 2005," said Nelson Stone, MD, of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY, "projections indicate that two thirds of prostate cancer cases will be treated with brachyther-apy or external beam irradiation. If urologists don't get on board, they'll be treating half of the cases they are now."

Fatigue in Breast Cancer Underrecognized, Particularly in Postmenopausal Women

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Fatigue may be underrecognized as a disturbing symptom of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women, but exercise may help combat it, according to several presentations at the Oncology Nursing Society's 22nd Annual Congress.

Hereditary Prostate Cancer Appears More Aggressive

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--The inheritance pattern for prostate cancer is becoming better understood by linkage analysis, and it appears that the inherited form may be more aggressive than sporadic cancer, according to reports at the American Urological Association meeting.

American Cancer Society Now a More Aggressive Advocate

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--This spring, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Children's Defense Fund led an influential coalition of more than 150 groups in active support of the CHILD Act, sponsored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass).

Panel Releases New Data on H pylori and Gastric Cancer

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--An international panel of medical experts convened by the American Digestive Health Foundation released information, during Digestive Disease Week 1997, on the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of Helio-bacter pylori, the bacterium known to cause most ulcers and also to be closely associated with gastric cancer.

Ways to Maintain QOL in the Dying Process

August 01, 1997

NEW YORK--Dying can be a long process, not an isolated event, and much of it happens at home, said Nessa Coyle, RN, director of the supportive care program, Pain and Palliative Care Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Ms. Coyle suggested some guidelines for the challenging task of caring for the terminally ill at home during a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference.

Three Prominent Researchers Receive GM Foundation Awards

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--Three internationally renowned scientists received the 1997 General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Science Awards for their groundbreaking discoveries. Each of the award winners was given a gold medal and a $100,000 prize during ceremonies held at the Library of Congress.

Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy Guidelines Due

August 01, 1997

PALM BEACH, Fla--The increased use of prostate brachytherapy has prompted the American Brachytherapy Society to establish a group to formulate standards and treatment guidelines, Peter D. Grimm, DO, said at the Society's 19th annual meeting.

AIDS Deaths Fall by 19% in United States

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--The number of deaths from AIDS has fallen 19%, from 37,900 in the first nine months of 1995 to 30,700 for the same time period in 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced. And, for the first time, the number of AIDS-related deaths has dropped among women, albeit by only 7%, as compared to 22% among men.

Cytogenetic Marker May Predict Second Cancer After Hodgkin's Disease

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--A cytogenetic biomarker may be able to predict second cancers in patients with Hodgkin's disease, Sara Strom, PhD, of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported at the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) annual meeting.

ODAC Declines to Recommend Two New Drugs

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--The Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) declined to recommend that the FDA approve two medications: ILEX Oncology's Zyrkamine (mitoguazone dihydrochloride) and Janssen's Liazal Tablets (liaro-zole fumarate).

Symposium Weighs Use of NSAIDs to Prevent Colon Cancer

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--Addressing an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) symposium on NSAIDs during Digestive Disease Week, Dr. Robert Sandler, of the University of North Carolina, Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, posed two questions:

Study Finds No Leukemia-Electromagnetic Fields Link

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--A multistate, case-control study involving more than 1,200 children has failed to document a link between electromagnetic fields in and around the home and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of cancer in children.

Younger Colorectal Cancer Patients May Delay Seeking Treatment

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--Colorectal cancers in patients younger than age 40 are reputed to behave more aggressively than similar lesions in persons over 40, resulting in poorer survival. Younger patients have also been reported to present with a higher tumor stage.

Antiandrogen Improves Prostate Cancer Survival in Stage C Patients

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Progression-free survival rates after surgery for locally advanced prostate cancer were significantly improved by adjuvant therapy with the antiandrogen flutamide (Eulexin) in a randomized European trial.

New Methods Improve Results in Spinal Cord Compression

August 01, 1997

HOUSTON--Combining spinal stabilization with currently used surgical procedures is producing improved results in spinal cord compression patients, Ziya Gokaslan, MD, a neurosurgeon at The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported at a symposium on cancer and the central nervous system.

Three-Time-Point MRI Aids Cancer Diagnosis

August 01, 1997

REHOVOT, Israel--A new form of high spacial resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may improve the diagnosis of breast and other cancers, and may aid in predicting cancer prognosis and monitoring the effectiveness of therapy, says Hadassa Degani, PhD, of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Possible Cohort for Breast Cancer Prevention Trials Defined

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Cytologic and biomarker assessment can be used to identify a cohort of women at extremely high risk for short-term breast cancer development, Carol Fabian, MD, said at the American Society of Preventive Oncology annual meeting.

Experts Debate Role of Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

August 01, 1997

CHICAGO--When physicians squared off on the issue of brachytherapy (interstitial radioactive seed placement) for prostate cancer at the Prostate Cancer Shootout II conference, the lines could not have been drawn more clearly.

Fentanyl Lozenge Effective for Breakthrough Cancer Pain

August 01, 1997

DENVER--Delivery of fentanyl citrate via the oral mucosa was shown to relieve breakthrough cancer pain within 15 minutes in two thirds of patients, and sometimes within 5 minutes, according to studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

High Stress Appears to Lower Immune Function in Breast Cancer

August 01, 1997

SEATTLE--Breast cancer patients who report high levels of personal stress score lower on three measures of immune function than less stressed women with the disease, said Barbara L. Andersen, PhD, professor of psychology and obstetrics and gynecology, Ohio State University, Columbus.

Free Legal Resource Center Opens in LA

August 01, 1997

LOS ANGELES--A new nonprofit organization is committed to the proposition that all cancer patients should have access to legal resources. The Cancer Legal Resource Center, a joint program of the Western Law Center for Disability Rights and Loyola Law School, is a confidential source of information for a wide variety of legal issues, including job discrimination, insurance coverage, estate planning, guardianships, living wills, and durable powers of attorney.

Online Calendar of Breast Cancer Awareness Events

August 01, 1997

NEW YORK--The National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO), together with the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Board of Sponsors, has created the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) Online Calendar as the one-stop source for all October 1997 events.

New Bisphosphonates Under Study for Bone Metastases

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--Patients with malignant bone disease are benefiting from more widespread use of currently available bisphosphonates, and a new generation of bisphosphonate compounds under investigation appears to have higher potency, allowing for smaller doses, researchers said at an NIH symposium on the skeletal complications of malignancy.

Thalidomide, Paclitaxel, and Vinorelbine Tested in Kaposi's Sarcoma

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--Thalidomide, paclitaxel (Taxol), and vinorelbine (Navelbine) have all shown promise in phase II trials as treatment for Kaposi's sarcoma in AIDS, researchers reported at the National AIDS Malignancy Conference. Although progress has come in treating KS, more effective drugs are needed, especially in light of the lengthening life span emerging for AIDS patients from the use of drug combinations.

Women Who Seek BRCA1 Testing May Be More Distressed and Psychologically Vulnerable

August 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Women seeking BRCA1 testing appear, as a group, to be more distressed and psychologically vulnerable than those who do not wish to be tested, according to two studies from Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University, reported at the American Society of Preventive Oncology annual meeting. The women in the studies were at high risk because of a close family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Training Programs Essential to Improve End-of-Life Care

August 01, 1997

HOUSTON--Recent studies suggest that the key to improving end-of-life care is ensuring that the medical staff, including physicians, is properly trained to support patients physically, emotionally, and spiritually during their final days.

Pancreatic Cancer: Recognizing an Hereditary Predisposition

August 01, 1997

Although candidate genes for hereditary pancreatic cancer have been identified (Figure 1), namely p16 and BRCA2, pancreatic cancer patients having an inherited predisposition will not be easy to recognize on clinical grounds.

Expect Cultural Differences in Patient Views on Cancer

August 01, 1997

Today, more emphasis is being placed on quality of life assessment in the evaluation of the efficacy of medical care.[1,2] A new study, described below, along with other international quality of life studies, suggests that physicians and their patients may place different values on different health outcomes of treatment, depending on socioeconomic status and cultural milieu.

Antismoking Info Must Start Early, Target Minorities, Young Women

August 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md--Between 1960 and 1990, there has been a greater than 400% increase in deaths from lung cancer in women. "Women now account for about 45% of all new cases of lung cancer, a proportion that was only about 20% to 25% in the 1970s," said James Jett, MD, co-director of the Lung Cancer Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Study Suggests Lost Opportunities for Cancer Screening at DRE

August 01, 1997

WASHINGTON--Gastroenterologists and urologists routinely perform digital rectal examinations (DREs) on their patients and therefore are in a good position to also do regular colorectal cancer screening via fecal occult blood testing and to look for prostate abnormalities via a prostate examination.

Hopkins' Stem Cell Selection Patents Upheld

August 01, 1997

WILMINGTON, Del--A Federal judge has ordered CellPro, Inc. to pay Johns Hopkins University, Becton Dickinson & Company, and Baxter Healthcare Corp. $7 million in damages for its willful infringement of patents involving stem cell selection technology.

HMOs Offer Research Opportunities to Epidemiologists

July 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS--Integrated health care systems, such as HMOs, offer clear advantages for epidemiologic research, Edward Wagner, MD, MPH, said at the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) annual meeting. Dr. Wagner is director of the Center for Health Studies of Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-based HMO.