Oncology NEWS International Vol 7 No 2

Tobacco Companies Reach Settlement With Texas for $15.3 Billion

February 01, 1998

TEXARKANA, Tex-The tobacco industry has reached a settlement with the State of Texas worth $15.3 billion, the largest such settlement to date. Previously, the companies settled with Mississippi for $3.4 billion and with Florida for $11.3 billion. The state’s private trial lawyers will receive 15% of the sum in fees, a total of more than $2.2 billion.

Few BRCA-1 Carriers Take Recommended Precautions

February 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-Genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility appears to confer no adverse psychological effects on mutation carriers or individuals who refuse to be tested, Caryn Lerman, PhD, reported at a general session of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Lifelong Weight Control a Key to Breast Ca Prevention

February 01, 1998

Washington-Available methods to prevent breast cancer might be bettered compared to a flu shot “which hurts and only lasts a year,” than to a polio vaccine, “which comes on a sugar cube and lasts a lifetime,” Malcolm C. Pike, PhD, said at the Department of Defense’s “Era of Hope” meeting.

Eight-Year Prostate Brachytherapy Update Shows Good Results

February 01, 1998

ORLANDO-Researchers at the Seattle Prostate Institute, University of Washington, and Northwest Hospital have shown excellent progression-free survival in favorable prostate cancer patients with the use of transperitoneal ultrasound-guided brachytherapy as sole treatment. Peter Grimm, DO, presented eight-year follow-up data on more than 400 patients in a poster presentation at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting.

Patient Brochure on Breast Cancer Tumor Markers

February 01, 1998

MALVERN, Penn-Centocor, Inc., a manufacturer of cancer diagnostics, including the CA 15-3 radioimmunoassay serum tumor marker for breast cancer monitoring, has produced a brochure for patients on the early detection of breast cancer recurrence. The pamphlet reviews the need for regular physical exams and laboratory testing, the signs and symptoms to look for between exams, and the role of tumor marker assays in monitoring. The brochure is free to health care providers, cancer organizations, and the public. Write to Breast Cancer Tumor Markers and Follow-up Care, PO Box 1883, Southeastern, PA 19399-1883.

Gay Men’s Health Crisis Calls for HIV Reporting in New York

February 01, 1998

NEW YORK-The Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the country’s premier nonprofit AIDS service group, has changed its thinking on HIV reporting. The agency is calling for a change in state policy that would require New York physicians to report cases of HIV infection to the state’s health department.

Single-Agent Taxanes in Advanced Breast Cancer: A Commentary

February 01, 1998

Taxanes have been established in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, and two presentations at the 20th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium provide additional data to more clearly delineate the indications and potential use of these agents.

ODAC Declines to Vote on DepoCyt FDA Recommendation

February 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-Troubled by the small size of the studies presented to it, the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) declined to vote on whether to make a recommendation regarding DepoCyt (cytarabine lipid-particle injection, DepoTech Corp.).

Photofrin Approved for Early-Stage Lung Cancer

February 01, 1998

BUFFALO, NY-Photofrin (porfi-mer sodium), a photosensitizer used in photodynamic therapy (PDT), has received FDA approval for use in early-stage microinvasive lung cancer. The agent, manufactured by QLT Photo-Therapeutics, was approved in 1995 for palliative use in esophageal cancer.

Breast Cancer Diagnosed After Childbirth May Be More Severe

February 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-Studies indicating an increased risk of breast cancer in the years immediately after giving birth were not borne out by an investigation at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Linda S. Cook, PhD, reported at the Department of Defense’s “Era of Hope” breast cancer conference. A second study presented at the meeting shows that when breast cancers do occur immediately after childbirth, they are likely to be more severe.

NCCN Forum: Who Pays for Clinical Trials?

February 01, 1998

PHILADELPHIA-A roundtable discussion on who should pay for clinical trials, planned for the third annual conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), promises fireworks but also holds out the possibility of consensus building.

AHCPR Smoking Interventions Are Cost Effective

February 01, 1998

NEW YORK-The smoking cessation interventions outlined in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guideline are more cost effective than many other preventive interventions such as mammography or cholesterol treatment, Michael Fiore, MD, MPH, said at a briefing sponsored by the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association.

Senator Urges Consensus on Tobacco Law

February 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-Amid political bickering on Capitol Hill over the proposed tobacco settlement and the gloomy prediction of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) that legislation needed to implement the pact stands only a 30% chance of passage, a powerful Senate chairman gently warned public health groups that discord within their own ranks isn’t helping the situation.

Thomas Jefferson Opens New Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry

February 01, 1998

PHILADELPHIA-Thomas Jefferson University’s new Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry is collecting information and blood and tissue samples from families with a higher-than-normal risk of colon cancer, to aid researchers looking for genetic markers of the disease and to provide genetic counseling and genetic testing, if appropriate, to participants.

Army Meets Challenge of Breast Cancer Research Program

February 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-The success of the US Army’s Breast Cancer Research Program (BRCP) stems from the intersection of research and advocacy, said participants in a press conference at the Department of Defense’s Era of Hope conference. More than 550 investigators who received awards from the BRCP from 1992 to 1995 were invited to present their research at the meeting. “My greatest joy and passion in this work is the partnerships among the medical community, the Department of Defense, and breast cancer survivors,” said Col. Irene Rich, DNSc, director of the U.S. Army’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

AIDS Mortality Shows Dramatic Fall in California

February 01, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO-AIDS mortality fell by 60% in California in the first 6 months of 1997, a much larger drop than the 26% decline seen nationally from 1995 to 1996, the last period for which national figures are available.

NCI Funds DDT-Breast Disease Study

February 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-The possible link between the pesticide DDT and breast cancer or benign breast disease will be explored among women in the northern Alabama community of Triana. The study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Nursing will begin Feb. 15, with results available in 1999.

3D Mammography Helps Avoid Unnecessary Biopsies

February 01, 1998

CHICAGO-Three-dimensional digital mammography appears a promising technique in helping confirm benign disease in women with suspicious x-ray mammograms, Andrew Maidment, PhD, said at the 83rd Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Docetaxel as Second-Line Therapy in Advanced NSCLC

February 01, 1998

MELVILLE, NY-Docetaxel (Taxo-tere) is becoming increasingly important for the second-line treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), said Jeffrey Crawford, MD, director of Clinical Research, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duke University.

PSC833, a Multidrug Resistance Inhibitor, May Improve Efficacy of Chemotherapy in Elderly Patients With AML

February 01, 1998

SAN DIEGO-Up to 80% of newly diagnosed elderly acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patients overexpress P-glycoprotein (P-gp), leading to multidrug resistance and a poor prognosis, said Dr. P. Sonneveld, University Hospital, Rotterdam, in a presentation at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.

Breast Cancer Risk Appears to Fall With Greater Sun Exposure

February 01, 1998

Washington-Could a walk in the sun reduce breast cancer risk? Two reports at the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program “Era of Hope” meeting add support to hypotheses on the protective role of vitamin D.

Weekly Paclitaxel Is Effective in Advanced Breast Cancer Study

February 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-A weekly outpatient paclitaxel (Taxol) regimen led to rapid responses in more than 40% of a group of heavily pretreated women with metastatic breast cancer, said Dr. Hans-Joachim Luck, of the Medical University of Hannover, Germany. [See page 30 for a commentary on single-agent taxanes in this setting.]

HHS Proposes New Hospital Rules

February 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-The Department of Health and Human Services wants to change the rules that govern hospital participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs. Whereas existing regulations focus on whether hospitals have systems or procedures in place, the proposed new rules would emphasize a hospital’s actual delivery of care, its overall performance, and the impact of its treatment on the state of patients’ health.

Cancer Survivorship Training Program

February 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-In response to the difficult and complex issues affecting cancer survivors, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has created a new training program, The Cancer Journey: Issues for Survivors. It is designed for health professionals in training roles to educate their peers about the many issues cancer survivors face.

Growth of Cost of Malpractice Cases Outpaces Inflation

February 01, 1998

SANTA MONICA, Calif-Currently, the cost of malpractice premiums is low, compared with rates in the 1980s. However, these decreased rates are more the effect of market competition than any reduction in the financial exposure physicians and insurers face.

Proleukin Wins ODAC Support For Use in Metastatic Melanoma

February 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-Proleukin (al-desleukin, Chiron) has won the backing of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) for a new indication. The panel recommended that the FDA approve the recombinant human inter-leukin-2 as “indicated for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic melanoma.” The FDA approved Proleukin for use in renal cell carcinoma in 1992.

Higher Response Rates With Docetaxel Than Doxorubicin Used Alone in Advanced Breast Cancer

February 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-Docetaxel (Tax-otere) has produced higher response rates than doxorubicin in a large European clinical trial in women with advanced breast cancer, marking the first time doxorubicin has been outperformed by any other single chemotherapeutic agent, John Crown, MD, reported for the International 303 Study Group, at a general session of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. [See page 30 for a commentary on single-agent taxanes in this setting.]

Cancer Groups Protest New Medicare Policy on Epoetin

February 01, 1998

ATLANTA-A local effort by a state Medicare director to restrict Medicare reimbursement for use of epoetin-alpha (recombinant erythropoietin, Epogen, Procrit) in chemotherapy-induced anemia has now become nationwide policy, even though it contradicts current practice, LaMar S. McGinnis, MD, of the American Cancer Society, told Oncology News International in an interview.

FDA Alters Carcinogenicity Testing of Compounds Used in Food Animals

February 01, 1998

ROCKVILLE, Md-The FDA has amended its regulations for testing the carcinogenicity of compounds used in food-producing animals to eliminate the specific requirement for “oral, chronic, dose-response studies.” The new wording states that bioassays “must be designed to assess carcinogenicity and to determine the quantitative aspects of any carcinogenic response.”

ODAC Rejects Neomark, a Prognostic Test for Breast Cancer

February 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md-The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC), citing problems with the study data presented to it, voted not to recommend to the FDA that it approve Neomark (broxuridine for injection, NeoPharm) “for use as a cell proliferation marker to determine the Labeling Index in breast cancer.”

Study Compares Effects of Antiestrogens on Bone and Lipids

February 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO-Toremifene (Fareston), a recently approved anties-trogen, appears to have similar effects to those of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) on bone mineral density and potentially greater beneficial effects on serum lipoproteins in postmenopausal women with breast cancer, Tiina Saarto, MD, said at her poster presentation at the 20th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Major Gift Allows Penn to Establish Cancer Research Institute

February 01, 1998

NEW YORK-The family of the founder of US Healthcare is giving the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center $100 million for cancer research. It is thought to be the largest gift of research money ever given to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and the second largest gift given to the University of Pennsylvania.

NSAID Use Does Not Appear to Affect Risk of Breast Cancer

February 01, 1998

WASHINGTON-Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce risk of colon cancer, but apparently has little or no impact on breast cancer risk, said Patricia F. Coogan, ScD, of the Slone Epidemiology Unit, Boston University School of Medicine, Brookline, Mass.

Outpatient-Based BMT Cuts Costs in Hematologic Cancer

February 01, 1998

SAN DIEGO-A continuum of inpatient-outpatient care (IPOP) for adult patients with hematologic malignancies undergoing bone marrow transplant (BMT) lowered costs to insurers by 7.1% without significantly shifting costs to patients in a study from Johns Hopkins.

Medicare Rule Raises Dilemma in Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

February 01, 1998

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancies. In 1996, an estimated 26,000 new cases were diagnosed, and approximately 14,000 women died of this disease in the United States alone.[1] Between 75% and 80% of ovarian cancer patients present with advanced disease at diagnosis, and these patients have a 5-year survival rate of 21%.[2,3]

Toxicology Data Goes on the Web

February 01, 1998

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC-Toxicology has come to the Web in the form of a new service from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The Environmental Health Information Service, available through libraries and by subscription, includes the NIEHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives and specialized supplements. Subscription rates are available at ehis@niehs.nih.gov.