Oncology NEWS International Vol 7 No 3

ACS Takes Aim at Proposed Federal Tobacco Bills

March 01, 1998

PARIS--The international cancer community appears to be taking an interest in the ongoing US state and federal efforts at tobacco control. Jennie Cook, national chairman of the board of the American Cancer Society, was invited to speak on that subject at the Eighth International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment (ICACT).

Loan Defaults Disqualify 1,402

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--The Department of Health and Human Services has disqualified 1,402 health-care professionals from payments by the Medicare and Medicaid programs for failure to repay money borrowed under the Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL) program. The total included 149 allopathic and 28 osteopathic physicians.

FDA Gives OK to Seven New Cancer Drugs in 1997

March 01, 1998

ROCKVILLE, Md--The Food and Drug Administration approved 121 new original drugs in 1997 and 431 generic products. Median approval time for new original drugs was shortened by 6%, falling from 15.4 months in 1996 to 14.4 months in 1997.

HIA Chemo Promising in Colon Cancer Liver Mets

March 01, 1998

PARIS--Hepatic intraarterial (HIA) chemotherapy coupled with aggressive resection may improve the outlook for patients with liver metastases from colorectal cancer, Nancy Kemeny, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said at the Eighth International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment (ICACT).

Proposed Budget Spells ‘Good News’ for NCI

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--President Clinton has asked Congress to appropriate nearly $2.8 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for fiscal year 1999, and the Administration wants to increase funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 65% over the next 5 fiscal years.

Proposed Budget Has Extra Funds for FDA Teen Smoking Effort

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--In his budget proposal, President Clinton has asked Congress to appropriate an additional $100 million for the FDA’s youth-tobacco prevention program. If approved, the increase would provide the program $134 million in fiscal year 1999.

CRFA Awards 16 New Grants and Fellowships

March 01, 1998

ALEXANDRIA, Va--The Cancer Research Foundation of America (CRFA), a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to cancer prevention through scientific research and education, has awarded 16 new grants and fellowships totaling $528,605 for cancer prevention research. The money went to 14 institutions, most of it for 10 laboratory-based studies.

Cancer Pain Treatment Requires Clear Terminology About ‘Addiction’

March 01, 1998

NEW YORK--Today’s physician must be aware of the nuances among the terms tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction in order to treat cancer pain effectively, said Russell K. Portenoy, MD, chairman of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York.

‘Staging’ of the Managed Care Market Is Crucial

March 01, 1998

ORLANDO--Just as oncologists base treatment decisions on disease stage, they may base business decisions on the stage of the managed care market in their area, said Paula Filler, vice president of the Sachs Group, Maplewood, NJ, in her presentation at an education meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

NCI, EPA Attempt to Resolve Differences Over Childhood Cancer

March 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--Officials of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are attempting to resolve their conflicting interpretations of data regarding cancer in children. The NCI has forcefully challenged the EPA’s contention that the United States is in the midst of an epidemic of childhood malignancies.

IGF-1 Identified as Possible Risk Factor For Prostate Cancer

March 01, 1998

BOSTON--Investigators at McGill University, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have identified insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) as a possible high-risk factor for prostate cancer.

Radiologic Staging Tests Unwarranted In Small Breast Cancer

March 01, 1998

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif--Despite recommendations to the contrary, cancer specialists continue to order radiologic tests that rarely provide useful staging information about patients with early-stage breast cancer, results of a California study show.

Immediate Reconstruction Safe After Previous Irradiation

March 01, 1998

SAN ANTONIO--Women who have locoregional cancer recurrence after breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy can safely undergo immediate breast construction and use of a TRAM flap after mastectomy for the recurrent disease. However, the breast reconstruction procedure should include use of a free flap, which has a lower risk of necrosis and flap loss than pedicle flaps, Bonnie Baldwin, MD, said at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

AIDS Mortality Drops Dramatically in New York City: 1997 Data

March 01, 1998

CHICAGO--The drop in AIDS mortality in 1997 in New York City, one of the epicenters of the epidemic in the United States, more than matched the overall US decline in deaths due to AIDS recorded in the first half of last year (48% vs 44%).

Experts Moving Toward Consensus on Providing Access to Clinical Trials

March 01, 1998

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Opinions from a diverse panel of experts, expressed at a special session of the NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) third annual conference, reflect a nation heading toward convergence on the issue of providing broad access to peer-reviewed clinical trials.

‘The March’ Aims to Wake Up Patients

March 01, 1998

SILVER SPRING, Md--On September 26, 1998, an event known to its organizers as simply "The March" will take place across the nation. Conceived by Ellen L. Stovall, executive director of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, "The March: Coming Together to Conquer Cancer" is not a march in the traditional sense, but will encompass many different events in many cities.

Mammography Survival Benefits Apply Equally in 40s, 50s

March 01, 1998

ORLANDO--Whether women age 40 to 49 should have routine mammo-gram screening continues to be debated, but a University of Chicago study shows that women in this age group benefit from mammography screening as much as women over 50. Jeffrey D. Bradley, MD, lead study author, presented the finding at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology (ASTRO).

Medicare Covers Lung Cancer PET Scans

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Medicare officials have expanded coverage for positron emission tomography (PET) scans to include their use in assessing lung cancer. Effective Jan. 1, the new coverage allows the use of PET in Medicare patients to determine the type of lung cancer (characterization of single lung nodules) or to do initial staging. Previously, Medicare limited PET coverage to perfusion rate studies in the heart.

Plan Would Have Medicare Pay Patient Costs for Cancer Trials

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Medicare patients who participate in most clinical cancer trials sponsored by the federal government would have their patient-care costs covered for the first time, under a proposal contained in President Clinton’s budget request for fiscal year 1999.

Drug Company R&D Spending Rises

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--A survey of an industry trade group finds that US research-based pharmaceutical companies plan to spend $20.6 billion for research and development in 1998, an amount equal to 19.6% of the industry’s projected annual revenues. This represents an increase of 10.7% over last year’s R&D funding by the companies, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

‘Race for the Cure’ Adds Nine New Sites

March 01, 1998

DALLAS--The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, producer of the country’s largest series 5K runs known as Race for the Cure, today announced nine new race sites for the 1998 series, bringing the total number of run/fitness walks to 86. Sites added include Austin, Texas; Evansville, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Greeley, Colorado; Madison, Wisconsin; Richmond, Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Tupelo, Mississippi.

Computerized Data Systems Enhance Guidelines Accessibility

March 01, 1998

SAN BRUNO, Calif--Practice guidelines and outcomes measurement are increasingly viewed as the keys to lowering medical costs while maintaining quality. Once guidelines are devised, the next step is implementation, and this may best be achieved by making guidelines readily accessible via computer programs.

Biomarker Predicts Development of Lung Cancer

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--One key element to increasing survivorship among lung cancer patients lies in finding ways to detect the disease early, and recent results in the quest for a preclinical biomarker for the malignancy offer great promise, a National Cancer Institute scientist told a Capital Hill briefing.

Intraoperative RT Delivery Effective in Rectal Cancer

March 01, 1998

ORLANDO--A new high dose rate/intraoperative radiation therapy (HDR-IORT) delivery system utilizing the Harrison, Anderson, Mick (HAM) applicator is proving effective in treating primary unresectable and locally advanced, recurrent rectal cancer.

Regimens Using Two Protease Inhibitors Show Promise

March 01, 1998

CHICAGO--A new recipe for the "cocktail" of drugs used to suppress HIV calls for a doubling of the protease inhibitor component, researchers reported at the Fifth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Joseph P. Eron, MD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, described a phase II open-label study comparing four regimens.

Panel Says Test Certain Herbs, Additives for Carcinogenesis

March 01, 1998

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--A federal panel has recommended to the National Toxicology Program (NTP) that it review and possibly test a group of products, including three herbs, for their potential to cause cancer or to lead to reproductive and developmental problems.

ACS Action Plan Targets Prostate Cancer Among Blacks

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Recognizing the devastating burden of prostate cancer, particularly among black men, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has released a plan of action aimed at addressing issues in research, education, patient and family support, and public policy. ACS president-elect Charles J. McDonald, MD, said that the Society will convene a conference shortly of "all key African-American national organizations" to determine how to implement the plan.

Patients Need the ‘Three C’s’ to Cope With Cancer

March 01, 1998

ORLANDO--For the first time, the keynote address at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) meeting was delivered by a psychiatrist--Dr. David Spiegel, of Stanford University School of Medicine--who advised the group on how to help their cancer patients cope with their diagnosis.

Breast Conservation Safe in Women With Family History

March 01, 1998

ORLANDO--Breast-conserving therapy appears to be a viable treatment option for breast cancer patients with a family history of breast cancer, Elizabeth Chabner, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology (ASTRO).

No Adverse Effects With RT Delay After Surgery

March 01, 1998

VICTORIA, BC, Canada--Delaying radiation therapy for up to 5 months after surgery for breast cancer had no adverse effect on local recurrence or survival, a finding that may help lay to rest any controversy about delayed irradiation, Peter Froud, MD, reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Capping Lawyers’ Tobacco Fees

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--One of Shakespeare’s characters wanted to "kill all the lawyers." Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo) just wants to cap their legal fees, at least in any national tobacco agreement. In introducing a bill to limit any legal fees from a settlement to $150 an hour plus expenses, Rep. McInnis noted that some states have entered into contracts with private attorneys that called for payments of up to 25% of funds collected from tobacco cases.

Skin Sealant Delays Onset of Radiation-Induced Dermatitis

March 01, 1998

LONG BEACH, Calif--Use of a polymer adhesive skin sealant (PASS) can help breast cancer patients complete prescribed radiation therapy without interruptions due to radiation-induced dermatitis, Robert H. Goebel, MD, JD, reported at a poster session of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Arizona Cancer Center Gets Bristol-Myers Squibb Grant

March 01, 1998

TUCSON--The Arizona Cancer Center has received a 5-year, $500,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant. Sydney E. Salmon, MD, Regents Professor of Medicine and director of the center, will serve as the grant administrator. Dr. Salmon announced the new funding at a ceremony held to dedicate the center’s $22.5 million expansion project adding 30 new cancer research laboratories to the center.

New Program Urges Exercise To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--A Virginia physician wants to send women back to school to help them make lifestyle changes aimed at reducing breast cancer risk--but not to the classroom. Rather, she hopes to increase participation in lifestyle programs by "recapturing recess"--appealing to the "joy of unbridled movement" remembered from childhood hours on the playground.

NCPB Recommends $2 Increase in Federal Cigarette Tax

March 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--The most effective way to reduce tobacco use in both the short and medium term is a $2 per pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes or some other equivalent means to raise the price of tobacco sharply, the National Cancer Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded in a recent report.

School Skin Cancer Programs Evolving to Include Computers

March 01, 1998

Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States, with approximately 1 million cases being diagnosed in 1997.[1] Of these cases, more than 40,000 will be classified as malignant melanoma, the most serious and aggressive form of skin cancer.[1] The worldwide incidence of melanoma is increasing more rapidly than any other form of cancer, and has shown an increase of about 4% per year in the United States.[1,2]

Universities Receive $100 Million for Biomedical Research

March 01, 1998

LOS ANGELES--California businessman Alfred E. Mann has donated $100 million each to the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to set up institutes for biomedical research.