Oncology NEWS International Vol 7 No 6

Vogelstein Discusses Gatekeeper Genes, Caretaker Genes

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--Mutations in two types of genes, gatekeepers and caretakers, help explain both the progression of cells from normal to cancerous and the mechanism of actions of effective antitumor drugs, Bert Vogelstein, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said at the plenary session of the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Esophageal Cancer Rate Drops in Rats Fed Black Raspberries

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--A diet rich in black raspberries prevented chemically induced esophageal tumors in rats, Laura Ann Kresty, MS, reported at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. Ms. Kresty is a PhD graduate student at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, working in the laboratory of Gary D. Stoner, PhD, professor and chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Division.

How People Respond to Gene Testing for Adult Onset Disorders

June 01, 1998

BALTIMORE--Patients choose genetic testing to help them make important life decisions, but often the risks and benefits are more complicated and less clear-cut than those of traditional medical tests, psychologist Ann-Marie Codori, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said at a seminar on genetic testing and counseling for adult onset disorders.

MIA Is Used to Monitor Immunotherapy for Melanoma

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--Increasing levels of melanoma-inhibiting activity (MIA) protein indicate increasing disease activity in melanoma patients, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

Feds Upgrade ‘Healthfinder’ Website

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--The government has upgraded its health information website, "healthfinder," adding two new sections: "Smart Choices," to tell people how to find reliable health information on the Internet, and "Just for You," to tailor information by age and ethnicity, with the aim of enabling consumers to seek information geared to children or aging parents, for example. The website can be reached at www.healthfinder.gov.

A ‘Gentle’ Immunotherapy Promising for Advanced Prostate Cancer

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS-A technique for rallying a prostate cancer patient’s antitumor response helps some patients without harming quality of life, Michael L. Salgaller, PhD, head of the immunothera-peutics division at Northwest Biother-apeutics, Seattle, reported at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

UK, Australia, New Zealand Take Lead in Palliative Medicine

June 01, 1998

ORLANDO--Half of the problems of patients who are dying are never reported. "Why?" asked Dr. Derek Doyle, a palliative medicine specialist in Edin-burgh, Scotland, "because doctors are not interested." Or at least that’s how patients feel, he said. "Physicians have not yet learned to communicate with patients about problems beyond their disease and its pain," he said at the 15th Annual International Breast Cancer Conference.

Adjuvant Tamoxifen Effective in Younger Breast Cancer Patients

June 01, 1998

OXFORD, UK--The latest 5-year metaanalysis by the Early Breast Cancer Clinical Trialists’ Collaborative Group suggests that up to 20,000 additional lives could be saved each year worldwide if physicians prescribed adjuvant tamoxifen (Nolvadex) to all early breast cancer patients who could benefit, including premenopausal women.

Antigen-Based Antitumor Vaccines Seem Most Promising

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--The next decade will be a critical time for translating new cancer vaccine approaches into standard therapies, said Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In a talk at the plenary session of the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Pardoll noted that antigen-based anticancer vaccines offer perhaps the most promising approach.

Wynder Given The American Cancer Society Award at AACR

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--Ernst L. Wynder, MD, DSc, Dr.med.h.c., has received the seventh AACR American Cancer Society Award. Dr. Wynder is president and medical director of the American Health Foundation in New York.

Key Organizations Offer No Consensus on Mammography

June 01, 1998

SAN DIEGO--Women between the ages of 40 and 49 must still decide for themselves if undergoing a mammography is appropriate for them, according to a panel of experts at the American College of Physicians (ACP) Annual Session. The inability of key organizations to come to a decisive conclusion is the result of conflicting studies and the fact that "each organization espouses different rules of evidence," said Mary E. Costanza, MD, professor of medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

FDA Approves NeoPath’s AutoPap For Primary Pap Smear Screening

June 01, 1998

ROCKVILLE, Md--The FDA has approved NeoPath, Inc.’s AutoPap System, an automated diagnostic system for detection of cervical cancer, for use as a primary Pap smear screen. In a prospective, intended use clinical study comprised of more than 25,000 patient slides from five clinical laboratories, AutoPap achieved greater overall accuracy in the early diagnosis of cervical disease than current practice and reduced both false-negative and false-positive test results.

Cancer Prevention Efforts Should Not Wait on Definitive Causation Studies, Says Wynder

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--"We can reduce the incidence of a cancer with preventive interventions without understanding their mechanism of action," said Ernst L. Wynder, MD, DSc, Dr.med.h.c., president and medical director of the American Health Foundation in New York. Dr. Wynder gave the Seventh AACR American Cancer Society Award Lecture on Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

‘The March’ Opens Broad-Based Campaign

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--"The March . . . Coming Together to Conquer Cancer" rings of militancy. It has an American war hero, retired US Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, as its honorary chairman. Its monthly newsletter is subtitled "A Campaign Bulletin." And when leaders and supporters of The March held a press briefing to talk about the nationwide event scheduled for Sept. 26, the rhetoric matched.

The CARET and the Stick: How to Stop a Trial

June 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--Ending a clinical trial of a promising intervention may be just as difficult and delicate as starting one. The stopping point, Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD, said at the American Society of Preventive Oncology meeting, applies to both the desired effect (or efficacy) and adverse effects (toxicity).

Cigars Are Butt of NCI’s New Cancer Risk Report

June 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--The National Cancer Institute has raised a red flag to the nation’s current "hot" smoking fad. It warns that daily cigar smoking can cause cancer of the lip, tongue, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, and lung. Cigar smoking is also responsible for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary heart disease.

Celecoxib, a COX2 Inhibitor, Prevents Colon Cancer in Animals

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--In a mouse model of colon cancer, the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib prevented formation of tumors and caused regression of existing tumors, according to research presented at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Palliative Specialist Says Doctor-Assisted Suicide Never Justified

June 01, 1998

ORLANDO--Those who argue for physician-assisted suicide maintain that it gives terminal patients autonomy to decide when they’ve had enough, when they are through with their life’s work, and when they have made peace with family and friends. They can die where they want with the assistance of a caring physician.

Tobacco Could Be an Issue in the Next Elections

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--President Clinton is becoming increasingly ensnared in the tobacco wars on Capitol Hill, where partisan politics and philosophical differences threaten passage of national tobacco legislation. If no bill is passed before the November elections, many believe the issue could become even more politicized.

Lawyer Tells Cancer Patients How to Fight Job Discrimination

June 01, 1998

NEW YORK--People do not generally think about their civil rights when they get cancer, but they may need them at some point in the workplace, attorney L. Susan Scelzo Slavin, of Slavin Law Firm, Jericho, NY, said during a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference for cancer survivors.

NCI Launches Two New Efforts to Recruit Patients Into Clinical Trials

June 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--The National Cancer Institute has published a new brochure and opened a new website, both designed to encourage cancer patients to enroll in clinical trials. "Taking Part in Clinical Trials: What Cancer Patients Need to Know" provides an overview of cancer treatment trials and answers questions that patients might have about them. Novartis Pharmaceuticals provided partial funding for the pamphlet.

Incidence of AIDS-Related Cancers Falls With Use of HAART

June 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--In theory, highly active antiretroviral therapies, or HAART, should reduce the incidence of AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL) by improving the immune functioning of HIV-infected individuals. Theory appears to be working out, at least with regard to lowering the risk of KS, according to several papers presented at the NCI’s 2nd National AIDS Malignancy Conference.

HER-2 MoAB Effective in Metastatic Breast Cancer

June 01, 1998

ASCO--In two phase III trials, the anti-HER-2/neu monoclonal antibody (MoAB) Herceptin (trastuzumab, Genen-tech) showed significant activity both as a single agent and in combination with traditional cytotoxic chemotherapy in the treatment of HER-2/neu overexpressing metastatic breast cancer.

Congress Posts 39,000 Tobacco Documents on the Internet

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--The House of Representatives Commerce Committee has posted 39,000 tobacco company documents on its website to allow the public to review the papers and determine for itself whether the tobacco companies are guilty of fraud for hiding knowledge of the health ramifications of smoking.

GM Cancer Research Foundation to Honor Four Researchers

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Four scientists, three from the United States and one from Australia, have been named winners of the 1998 General Motors Cancer Research Foundation prizes for individual achievement in cancer research.

Incorporating Platelet Growth Factors Into Guidelines

June 01, 1998

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Recently, the FDA approved recombinant interleukin-11 (rIL-11 or oprelvekin, Neumega) for the prevention of severe thrombocytopenia in cancer patients with solid tumors or lymphoma. The availability of platelet growth factors represents a significant breakthrough in oncology, and methods are needed to help incorporate these agents into clinical practice guidelines.

Cancer Counselors Pleased With Information on Tamoxifen Prevention

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Feedback indicates that the National Cancer Institute did quite well in equipping counselors in advance to deal with questions posed by women about the ability of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) to prevent breast cancer, NCI director Richard D. Klausner, MD, told a Senate subcommittee.

Liposomes a Workable Delivery System for E1A Gene Therapy

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--After delivery with a cationic liposome complex, the tumor-suppressor gene E1A was expressed by cells in many places in the body, Naoto Ueno, MD, of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Raloxifene and Tamoxifen Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

June 01, 1998

ASCO--Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who took raloxifene (Evista) for 2½ years to prevent fractures also had a significant 70% reduction in breast cancer risk, according to results of the Multiple Outcomes of Raloxifene Evaluation (MORE), reported at ASCO.

Chemoimmunotherapy May Boost Melanoma Response Rates

June 01, 1998

BUFFALO, NY--Early studies comparing the combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy with traditional chemotherapy alone suggest that the combination may improve immune responses in patients with metastatic melanoma, said Thomas Olencki, DO, Department of Hematology/Medical Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

New Directions for Photodynamic Therapy

June 01, 1998

BUFFALO, NY--In January 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved photodynamic therapy (PDT) using the sensitizer porfimer sodium (Photofrin) for the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. PDT was originally approved in 1995 for the palliative treatment of obstructive esophageal cancer.

Xeloda Available for Resistant Metastatic Breast Cancer

June 01, 1998

NUTLEY, NJ--Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. has received accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration for Xeloda (capecitabine), making it the first approved oral anticancer drug for patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors are resistant to standard chemotherapy with paclitaxel (Taxol) and an anthracycline-containing regimen.

Five Fundamental Advances in Colon Cancer

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--Five recent discoveries could have a big effect on colorectal cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment, Margaret Tempero, MD, deputy director of the UNMC/Eppley Cancer Center, Omaha, Nebraska, said at a public forum held at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Gene Testing Demands Improved Informed Consent Process

June 01, 1998

BETHESDA, Md--Good informed consent improves both recruiting and compliance in clinical trials involving genetic testing, said Robert T. Croyle, PhD, associate professor of psychology, University of Utah.

Oncology Pharmacists Urged to Increase Visibility to Patients

June 01, 1998

WASHINGTON--Selma Schimmel, a 15-year cancer survivor, brought a message to an international audience that most of them probably never expected to hear from a radio talk-show host. She urged oncology pharmacists to launch an aggressive outreach program to let cancer patients know that pharmacists can and do answer patients’ questions about chemotherapy and its side effects.

COX1 and COX2 May Both Contribute to Intestinal Tumors

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--Colon cancer-prone mice bred to lack the cyclooxy-genase 1 (COX1) enzyme have the same reduction in tumors as those bred to lack the cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) enzyme. This result suggests that both forms of COX may encourage tumor development, according to research reported by Patricia Chulada, PhD, at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

AACR Holds Lively Public Forum on Fight Against Cancer

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--In a rousing session that opened the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 89th annual meeting, scientists reviewed recent good news in the war on cancer, while activists exhorted the audience--laypeople and scientists alike--not to be complacent because more progress is needed.

Adenovirus Delivers Replacement p53 Gene Into Tumors

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--An altered adenovirus successfully delivered a normal p53 tumor-suppressor gene to several kinds of tumors, Jo Ann Horowitz, MD, clinical project director for Oncology Clinical Research, Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, NJ, reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

First Large PSA Screening Trial Suggests It Can Save Lives

June 01, 1998

ASCO--A Canadian study is the first to show that prostate cancer screening, using a PSA of 3.0 ng/mL as the upper limit of normal, could significantly decrease deaths from the disease. Fernand Labrie, MD, in his presentation at the ASCO plenary session, said that 27,000 lives a year could be saved in the United States alone if PSA testing were performed on all men age 50 and older.

Colon Cancer Vaccine Generates Anti-CEA Immune Response

June 01, 1998

BUFFALO, NY--It appears possible to break immune tolerance to carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA) utilizing a vaccine that is the internal image of CEA, said Kenneth A. Foon, MD, director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Lexington.

Marsupial Pouch Houses Surgical Drainage Tubes

June 01, 1998

PRINCETON, NJ--The Marsupial Pouch, designed to help women cope with temporary surgical drains following breast surgery, is being distributed nationwide by Derma Sciences Inc. Designed by a two-time breast cancer survivor, the product is an adjustable terry cloth belt with an attachable pouch to house the drainage tubes.

Urinary Incontinence an Often Unrecognized Cancer Complication

June 01, 1998

HOUSTON--Urinary incontinence is a common complication of cancer and cancer therapies that can impose long-term effects on quality of life; yet, this condition remains underemphasized in this patient population, Dorothy Smith, RN, OCN, director of Clinic Relations, Des Chutes Medical, Bend, Oregon, said at M.D. Anderson’s 2nd annual nursing conference.

New Protein Marker for Cervical Dysplasia

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--A test based on the newly developed monoclonal antibody NMP179 can detect both low-grade and high-grade cervical dysplasia, according to results presented at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The developers believe the test might one day be used as a supplement to the Pap smear.

High IGF-I Levels Tied to Increased Prostate Cancer Risk

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--High concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) in the circulation identify the men most at risk of prostate cancer as well as the women at highest risk of premenopausal breast cancer, according to results presented at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

A Saliva Test May Detect Head and Neck Cancer

June 01, 1998

NEW ORLEANS--A diagnostic test under development may be able to detect many head and neck squamous cell carcinomas while they are still in their early stages, David Sidransky, MD, professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reported at the 89th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.