Oncology NEWS International Vol 6 No 9

Studies Show Who Seeks Mammography and Why

September 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS-After years of hearing about the benefits of mammog-raphy screening, many women still resist the test. A number of posters at the annual meeting of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) examined the question of who gets screened, who doesn’t, and why.

New Policy Board Enters Tobacco Fray

September 01, 1997

WASHINGTON-A funny thing happened to the National Cancer Policy Board (NCPB) on its way to issuing a "white paper" on tobacco control. Between its decision to do so and its public hearing on the issue, the tobacco industry and the attorneys general of 40 states announced their proposed $368.5 billion settlement of the states' lawsuit.

Index Quantifies Bone Disease in Prostate Cancer

September 01, 1997

NEW YORK-Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have developed a method of quantifying bone involvement in patients with androgen-independent prostate cancer and have found that the resulting bone scan index (BSI) correlates with patient survival. In contrast, simply counting the number of bone lesions present did not provide useful prognostic information.

Wynder Urges Nutrition as an Adjunctive Cancer Therapy

September 01, 1997

NEW YORK-In a presentation sponsored by the American Cancer Foundation, Ernst Wynder, MD, boiled down what he has learned from five decades of cancer research into three basic principles: Cancer is not an inevitable consequence of aging; cancer is usually due to metabolic overload; and cancer can be prevented by “listening to nature” without a thorough understanding of its molecular biology.

Treating Other STDs May Reduce HIV Levels in the Semen

September 01, 1997

CHAPEL HILL, NC-Men infected with HIV who also have another sexually transmitted disease (STD) have approximately an eightfold increase in the amount of HIV in their semen, compared with men who do not have a second sexually transmitted disease, a study conducted in Africa has shown.

Bisphosphonates Improve QOL in Bone Lesion Patients

September 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md-Less than two years ago, the FDA approved Aredia (pamidronate disodium for injection) as the first agent for the treatment of osteo-lytic bone lesions in multiple myeloma patients, to be used in conjunction with standard antimyeloma chemotherapy.

Children Run Greatest Cancer Risk from Nuclear Tests

September 01, 1997

WASHINGTON-Children living in the western United States in the 1950s learned to “duck and cover” at school in case of a nuclear attack, unaware that a more tangible nuclear danger lay in their lunchtime milk cartons.

Trials of IV SNX-111 Paused, but Phase III Pain Trials Continue

September 01, 1997

MENLO PARK, Calif-Neurex Corporation has announced a pause in enrollment of a trial of intravenous SNX-111 for patients with severe head trauma, to review data from earlier studies for overall risk/benefit. The agent is an N-type neuron-specific calcium blocker derived from the venom of the cone snail.

IL-2 Termed ‘Gold Standard’ in Renal Cell Carcinoma

September 01, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO-Interleukin-2 is proving to be one of the most effective treatments yet discovered for renal cell carcinoma. Speaking at the Proleukin First International Congress, sponsored by Chiron Corporation, Richard I. Fisher, MD, director of Loyola University’s Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center, Maywood, Ill, dubbed IL-2 “the new gold standard against which other treatments need to be compared.”

Patients, Physicians Need Info on Newer Lung Cancer Therapies

September 01, 1997

NEW YORK-Today’s treatments for lung cancer are much better tolerated than treatments used 20 years ago, Robert Ginsberg, MD, chief of the Thoracic Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said at an NIH video satellite symposium beamed to 20 selected centers nationwide.

Lasting Melanoma Remissions With Biochemotherapy

September 01, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO-About 8,000 people will die of malignant melanoma in the United States this year, victims of a mortality rate approaching 100% in recurrent disease. Sewa S. Legha, MD, painted this grim picture at the Proleukin First International Congress, sponsored by Chiron. Traditional chemotherapy produces response rates up to 40%, but complete remissions are rare, even with the most aggressive combination therapies.

Prostate Cancer Resource Guide Provides Comprehensive Info

September 01, 1997

BALTIMORE, Md-The American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD) has developed and published a comprehensive resource guide for prostate cancer patients, their families and friends, and health care professionals. The publication contains detailed information about prostate cancer, as well as compilations of organizations, publications, and other resources related to the disease.

Inhaled IL-2 Stabilizes Pulmonary Metastases of Renal Cell Cancer

September 01, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO-The search for less invasive and less toxic methods to deliver interleukin-2 (IL-2) has moved beyond injection. Edith Huland, MD, PhD, of the University Clinic Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany, has been using a nebulizer to deliver IL-2 for six years.

Outpatient Biochemotherapy Safe, Effective in Renal Cell Cancer

September 01, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO-An outpatient combination of low-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2, Proleukin), interferon alfa-2b (Intron A), and fluorouracil appears to offer response and survival rates similar to high-dose IL-2 with minimal side effects, according to studies conducted by Jens Atzpodien, MD, associate professor of medicine, Medizinische Hochschule, Hannover, Germany.

The Group Room, Radio Cancer Support Program, Expands

September 01, 1997

LOS ANGELES-The Group Room, syndicated radio’s first call-in cancer support program, has added two new stations: San Diego’s KSDO AM 1130 and Dallas/Ft. Worth’s Talk 1190 AM (KOOO), Premiere Radio Networks, Inc. has announced.

Obstacles to Advance Directives May Include Physicians

September 01, 1997

NEW YORK-The majority of people in the United States die without discussing or documenting their wishes regarding end-of-life care. Estimates of the number of people who have actually prepared advance directives range from 5% to 25%, said Sylvia Pearl, LCSW, during a national teleconference sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc.

Neuropsychiatric Syndromes Prevalent Among CNS Cancer Patients

September 01, 1997

HOUSTON-Approximately 50% to 80% of patients with central nervous system tumors experience emotional and behavioral changes that significantly alter their capacity to function independently and interact in a healthy manner, Alan D. Valentine, MD, said at a symposium on cancer and the central nervous system. In fact, he added, behavioral changes may be one of the first signs that a patient is seriously ill.

Interleukin-2 May Enhance Gene Therapy of Melanoma

September 01, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO-Investigations into the cellular basis of the anticancer activity of recombinant interleukin-2 (IL-2, Proleukin) may lead to immunization against some cancers. That was the prospect suggested by Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, head of the NCI’s Surgery Branch and professor of surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

Once-Daily Sustained-Release Morphine Effective for Cancer Pain

September 01, 1997

ADELAIDE, Australia-A sustained-release morphine formulation that can be administered once or twice a day (Kadian) showed similar efficacy and safety to a standard twice-daily morphine formulation (MS Contin) in a multicen-ter, placebo-controlled US study of cancer pain patients, sponsored by the Australian manufacturers of Kadian.

Long-Term Dronabinol Use Safe, Effective for AIDS Anorexia

September 01, 1997

COLUMBUS, Ohio-A new multi-center study supports the long-term use of dronabinol (Marinol) for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS. Dronabinol is a synthetically produced delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active constituent of marijuana.

Cancer Patients Use Music to Soothe Presurgical Anxiety

September 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS-Surgical oncol-ogy patients appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of listening to music before and after their surgery. Besides its soothing powers, music may help in pain control, offering a cost-effective intervention, investigators reported at the Oncology Nursing Society.

Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Risk Varies With Family History

September 01, 1997

WASHINGTON-“A positive family history is the most common risk factor for large bowel malignancy other than age,” Randall W. Burt, MD, of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, said at a symposium on colorectal cancer at Digestive Disease Week, sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

Additional Gene Defects Found in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Carriers

September 01, 1997

SAN DIEGO-Breast cancer patients with an inherited predisposition due to mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 are more likely to have an accumulation of other genetic defects than patients with no evidence of a familial clustering, according to a multinational study, said Mika Tirkkonen, of the University of Tampere, Finland.

Palliative Care Important From the Start of Cancer Treatment

September 01, 1997

SHEFFIELD, England-Sam Ah-medzai, MD, chair of palliative medicine at the University of Sheffield, England, believes that palliative care is an important aspect of cancer treatment right from the time of diagnosis. In the World Health Organization’s cancer treatment model, he said, palliative care is typically reserved for a patient’s final weeks, but he believes that palliative care should underpin all treatment from the start.

Tumor Markers, MoAbs May Help Individualize Colon Cancer Therapy

September 01, 1997

PHILADELPHIA-Biologic tumor markers, in combination with the Duke’s anatomic staging system, may point the way toward the individualization of colo-rectal cancer treatment, says Daniel G. Haller, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Cytokine-Transduced Melanoma Cells Promising Vaccine

September 01, 1997

VIENNA-Individually tailored vaccines made by transducing a patient’s own melanoma cells with the gene for GM-CSF have proven feasible and safe in a study conducted at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.

FDA Approves Taxol for Use in AIDS-Related KS

September 01, 1997

ROCKVILLE, Md-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Taxol (paclitaxel) Injection for use in the second-line treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). Taxol is also approved for second-line use in metastatic breast and ovarian cancer.

AACR Urges Tobacco Industry Support of Cancer Research

September 01, 1997

PHILADELPHIA-The proposed tobacco settlement should include support for federally funded cancer research “in proportion to the devastation caused by tobacco-induced cancers on our public health,” the American Association for Cancer Research said in a position statement.

Panel Gives Platelet Growth Factor Nod of Approval

September 01, 1997

MADISON, NJ-The Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the Food and Drug Administration approve Neumega (recombinant human inter-leukin-11 or rhIL-11), Genetics Institute’s platelet growth factor. Genetics Institute is a subsidiary of American Home Products Corporation.

Panel Recommends FDA Approve First MoAb for Cancer Rx

September 01, 1997

BETHESDA, Md-The Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee has recommended that the FDA usher cancer therapy into a new era by approving IDEC Pharamceutical’s Rituxan (rituximab) for patients with relapsed or refractory low-grade or follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

New Approaches Emerging for Advanced Prostate Cancer

September 01, 1997

NEW ORLEANS-Emerging strategies for treatment of advanced prostate cancer rest on precise classification of the hormone status of the disease and a range of developing techniques and agents aimed at increasing survival, according to experts at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association.

Clinton Proposes New Law on Patient Privacy

September 01, 1997

WASHINGTON-The Clinton Administration soon will propose a federal law aimed at protecting the privacy of medical records. The law would allow disclosure of medical records only for reasons of health care. For example, if an employer gained access to an employee’s records during the claims process, the company would not be allowed to use the information in any way that would affect the employee’s job, such as in considering promotions or assignments.

Viral Therapeutic Shrinks Prostate Cancer in Animal Studies

September 01, 1997

MENLO PARK, Calif-In preclin-ical studies, an attenuated adenovirus engineered to incorporate the regulatory region of the PSA gene has been shown to selectively infect and destroy human prostate cancer cells expressing PSA. The engineered virus, named CN706, was developed by scientists from Calydon, Inc., a California-based biopharmaceutical firm, and the Brady Urological Institute at The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center.

Merits of Conformal Radiotherapy vs Prostatectomy Are Debated

September 01, 1997

CHICAGO-Radiation oncologists have been trying to improve the delivery of external beam irradiation in a variety of ways in an attempt to increase local control of prostate cancer and thereby improve long-term survival, Jeffrey D. Forman, MD, professor of radiation oncology, Wayne State University, Detroit, said at the Prostate Cancer Shootout II conference.