Oncology NEWS International Vol 7 No 1

Interferon Improves Survival In CML: 10-Year Follow-up

January 01, 1998

ASH-Long-term treatment with alfa-interferon has continued advantages over conventional chemotherapy with hydroxyurea in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), according to updated findings from the Italian Cooperative Study Group on CML. Prolonged survival in the alfa-interferon-treated patients closely correlated with cytogenetic response, Sante Tura, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

Update on Breast Cancer Chemoprevention Trials

January 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-With several tamoxifen (Nolvadex) chemoprevention trials now complete or nearing completion, “over the next 2 to 3 years, we will be able to see whether tamoxifen or other analogs will prevent breast cancer,” said Trevor J. Powles at the 20th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. He expressed confidence that these trials will prove that tamoxifen can prevent “a substantial amount of breast cancer in some populations of women.”

Topotecan Plus Cytarabine Promising in MDS

January 01, 1998

ASH-Topotecan (Hycamtin) given in combination with cytarabine (ara-C) produced a complete response rate of 63% in 35 patients with previously untreated, poor-prognosis myelodys-plastic syndrome (MDS) or chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), Miloslav Beran, MD, PhD, said at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Diego.

Update of Letrozole Pivotal Trials in Advanced Breast Cancer

January 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-The pivotal multinational phase III trials of the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Femara) showed it to be clinically superior to both megestrol acetate and aminoglutethimide in the treatment of advanced breast cancer that relapses during or after therapy with tamoxifen (Nolvadex), said Ian Smith, MD, of the Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, UK.

Arguments Against Mammograms for Age 40-49 Refuted

January 01, 1998

PHILADELPHIA-The American Cancer Society was on the right track in their March 1997 recommendation that women in their 40s have screening mammograms for detection of breast cancer, Thomas Jefferson University’s Stephen Feig, MD, said at a breast cancer symposium at Fox Chase Cancer Center. At the same time, he took to task the NIH consensus panel, which looked at the same data and did not recommend mam-mography screening for this age group.

Proton Beam Therapy Appears Safer than Prostatectomy, X-rays

January 01, 1998

CHICAGO-At California’s Loma Linda University, physicians have treated 1,800 patients with early-stage or locally advanced prostate cancer with proton beam radiation therapy using a synchrotron accelerator.

Doxorubicin-Paclitaxel Combination Active in Metastatic Breast Cancer: ECOG Phase II Trial

January 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-A phase II trial conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) of doxorubicin plus paclitaxel (Taxol) with G-CSF (filgrastim, Neupogen) in metastatic breast cancer produced an overall response rate of approximately 50%, with a median response duration of about 4 months, said Joseph A. Sparano, MD, of Albert Einstein Cancer Center, New York City, at the 20th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. However, complete responses were uncommon.

RT Effective Palliation for Malignant Melanoma

January 01, 1998

ORLANDO-A German university study contradicts the belief commonly held by many clinical researchers that malignant melanoma is not sensitive to radiation therapy. Dr. M. Heinrich Seegenschmiedt, of the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Metastatic Breast Cancer Responds to Docetaxel, Doxorubicin, Cytoxan

January 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-A taxane-containing combination therapy has led to major objective responses in 75% to 80% of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Overall, 35 of 48 evaluable patients responded to the combination of docetaxel (Taxotere), doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide, said Jean-Marc Nabholtz, MD, senior medical oncologist at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Amifostine Reduces RT-Related Dry Mouth in H&N Cancer

January 01, 1998

n ORLANDO-Amifostine (Ethyol) given prior to radiation therapy in head and neck cancer patients significantly reduced the incidence of radiation-induced grade 2 xerostomia. Mucositis was not a dose-limiting toxicity, and patients generally were able to receive their scheduled radiation doses without delays,

ACR Prepares ‘Appropriateness Guidelines’ for Radiologists’ Use

January 01, 1998

ORLANDO-Why is there such a wide variation in the way radiologists practice across the United States? “It’s a puzzle to me, why similar patients in different locations receive different treatments,” Philip N. Cascade, MD, said as he posed the question at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

Lab Studies Suggest New Approaches to Treating Gliomas

January 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS-Basic science research efforts may be paying off in the understanding of malignant gliomas, potentially leading to treatments for this aggressive, deadly tumor, scientists reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Stem Cell Factor Mobilizer Increases Aphereses Yields

January 01, 1998

ASH-Breast cancer transplant patients who received stem cell factor (SCF) combined with G-CSF (Neupogen) for stem cell mobilization produced significantly more stem cells with fewer aphereses than those who received G-CSF alone, Elizabeth Shpall, MD, of the University of Colorado, Denver, said in her presentation at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Diego.

NABCO Resource Card on Breast Cancer Available

January 01, 1998

NEW YORK-The National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) has introduced the NABCO Resource Card, a quick reference guide to services and programs offered by the top breast cancer organizations in the United States.

Leukemia Society Increases Translational Research Grants

January 01, 1998

NEW YORK-The Leukemia Society of America has increased the funding for its 1998 Translational Research Awards. The awards will now be made for an initial 3 years with an annual maximum of $100,000 in direct costs and 8% overhead, with a possible renewal for an additional 2 years for projects leading to clinical trials.

New Angiogenesis Inhibitors May Bypass Drug Resistance

January 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS-A new generation of angiogenesis inhibitors has been shown to shrink large tumors in mice, without toxicity and without the development of drug resistance, Judah P. Folkman, MD, said in the Honor Lecture in Physiology at the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting.

Radiolabeled MoAB in Relapsed NHL: 80% RR

January 01, 1998

ASH-A single dose of a radiolabeled murine anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (IDEC-Y2B8) has produced responses in more than 80% of patients with relapsed or refractory low-grade or follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), Thomas E. Witzig, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, said in his presentation at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Diego.

IFN May Affect CML Transplant Results

January 01, 1998

ASH-Patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) who are eligible for transplant but lack a matched sibling donor should begin their search for an unrelated donor as soon as possible after diagnosis, A. James Morton, MD, said at the plenary session of the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Diego.

NCI Disputes Assertion of a Kids’ Cancer Epidemic

January 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has strongly challenged the notion, initiated at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conference and widely dispersed by a newspaper article, that the United States is in the midst of an epidemic of childhood cancers.

High-Dose Chemo ‘Disappointing’ in Advanced Breast Cancer

January 01, 1998

PHILADELPHIA-Simply giving ever higher doses of chemotherapy does not generally lead to improved survival in metastatic breast cancer. “For 20 years we’ve been exploring this approach, and the response has been uniform and uniformly disappointing,” Larry Norton, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said at a symposium held at the Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Government Plan to Expand Medicare HIV Coverage Is Dropped

January 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-The Clinton administration has decided not to extend Medicaid coverage to all low-income people infected with HIV. Currently, HIV-positive patients who have developed AIDS can receive Medicaid benefits even if they are not poor enough to qualify under normal Medicaid guidelines.

New Agency to Evaluate Oncology Benefits Programs

January 01, 1998

CHICAGO-A consistent worry in the managed care era has been that the purchasers of oncology services (the payers) would be held accountable only for the cost of care because good measures of quality were not available. Now, new sets of quality measures are being developed that cover all parties involved in the provision of health services, said Linda L. Emanuel, MD, PhD, vice president of Ethics Standards for the American Medical Association (AMA).

Nurses Urge Congress to Fund More Cancer Pain Research

January 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-Congress should increase funding for research to find more effective ways to counter the symptoms of cancer and its treatments, including the common debilitating problems of pain and nausea and vomiting.

Operable Lung Cancer Patients Should Have Chemotherapy Choice

January 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-A leading medical oncologist laments the refusal of many physicians to even discuss the option of adjuvant chemotherapy with patients who have operable lung cancer. Paul Bunn, Jr., MD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, noted that the first drugs used in lung cancer patients, alkylating agents, actually reduced survival time.

RT of Ovarian Cancer Deserves a Second Look: 25-yr Data

January 01, 1998

ORLANDO-Nearly three decades of clinical trials of multiagent chemotherapy have yet to exceed the results produced in a study from the 1970s of sequential surgery, abdominopelvic radiotherapy and single-agent alkylating chemotherapy, said Ellen E. Bellairs, MD, of the University of Minnesota.

Congress Approves NCI Appropriations, Passes FDA Reform Act

January 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-In the waning weeks of the 1997 congressional session, the House and Senate passed, and President Clinton signed, several pieces of legislation of significance to the oncology community, including the National Cancer Institute appropriation bill and the Food and Drug Administration “reform act.” But the Congress left some tough issues, including legislation to implement the proposed tobacco settlement, until it returns in 1998.

Protease Inhibitors May Halt or Reverse HIV Encephalopathy

January 01, 1998

CHICAGO-A new radiological study suggests that protease inhibitors can not only halt the progression of HIV-related brain disease but, in some cases, may be able to reverse it, Christopher G. Filippi, MD, said at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting.

HCFA, States Wrangle Over Potential Tobacco Settlement Funds

January 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-The federal government wants a share of the $368.5 billion settlement worked out between the attorneys general of 40 states and the tobacco industry. The states say no. And the ultimate decision may rest with the Congress of the United States, adding another complicating factor to cementing the settlement agreement into law.

New Growth Factor Products Highlighted at ASH Meeting

January 01, 1998

ASH-Researchers at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Diego presented studies of three new growth factors under development by Amgen: megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF); novel erythropoiesis stimulating protein (NESP); and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF).

Patients Sought for Trial of Adoptive Immunotherapy

January 01, 1998

CHICAGO-Researchers from three midwestern centers are seeking patients with leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma who have relapsed after an allogeneic stem cell transplant for a new trial of adoptive immunotherapy.

NCI to Improve Infrastructure of Intramural Clinical Trials Program

January 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-National Cancer Institute officials have pledged to quickly correct deficiencies found in the infrastructure of its intramural clinical research program. A committee formed to evaluate the operations of NCI’s Division of Clinical Sciences (DCS) found that the NCI “had made progress in recent months [in correcting problems with the infrastructure] but still must implement several organizational changes to fully match the quality of the best research centers in the country.”

Pulmonary Rehab Techniques Helpful to Lung Cancer Patients

January 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-Rehabilitation techniques, honed over years of experience with patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), offer the potential to improve the quality of life for lung cancer patients and lower the cost of their care, Andrew L. Ries, MD, said at a workshop sponsored by the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE) and the International Cancer Alliance. These techniques should be tested further in clinical trials with lung cancer patients, he added.

Re-treatment With Rituximab Monoclonal Antibody Safe, Effective

January 01, 1998

ASH-Rituximab (Rituxan), a chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, recently received FDA approval for use in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular or low-grade, CD20-positive, B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas . Poster presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego suggest that: