Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 1

Pittsburgh to Build New Cancer Center

January 01, 1999

PITTSBURGH-To accommodate the growth of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s (UPCI’s) treatment and research activities, the UPMC Health System will build a 295,000 square-foot integrated facility on the UPMC Shadyside campus. This $104 million building will serve as the hub for UPCI’s clinical programs and scientific investigations.

NCI Initiates Two High-Priority Tobacco Research Programs

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will jointly fund a 5-year, $72 million project to create a series of Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Centers to study tobacco use initiation, addiction, and cessation, and tobacco-related cancers. The NCI, in a separate initiative, will spend $72 million over 4 years for research to improve state and community tobacco-control efforts.

Breast Cancer Stamp Sells Well

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Postal patrons bought 45 million Breast Cancer stamps in the first 3.5 months after its release, raising about $3.6 million for research. Each stamp costs 8 cents more than a regular first-class stamp, with the additional money designated for funding breast cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

Hospital Strategies To Prevent Invasive Aspergillosis Spread

January 01, 1999

SAN DIEGO-Hospitals must adopt environmental policies to help prevent the spread of invasive aspergillosis in high-risk patients, including immunosuppressed cancer patients, Elias Anaissie, MD, of the University of Arkansas, said at a seminar at the 38th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC).

‘Cancer Patients Should Be Assertive, Know Their Rights’

January 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Cancer patients have more treatment options then ever before. But in order to make informed choices, they must have complete information. Patients who are assertive and know their rights are more likely to get that information, said Carol A. Sheridan, RN, MSN, AOCN, a clinical support specialist for Amgen.

EBCTCG Update of Adjuvant Treatment for Early Breast Cancer

January 01, 1999

FLORENCE-Long-term tamoxifen (Nolvadex) treatment and polychemother-apy prevent some 20,000 to 30,000 breast cancer deaths each year and, if more widely applied, could avert as many as 50,000 such deaths, according to the latest update from the 1995-1999 data cycle of the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG).

Younger Breast Cancer Patients at Increased Risk of Recurrence

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-Breast cancer patients age 40 and younger treated with breast conservation and irradiation have a significantly increased risk of breast recurrence and distant metastases, compared with older patients, a large retrospective French study has shown.

Six Named to National Cancer Advisory Board

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-President Clinton has named six new members to the National Cancer Advisory Board, which advises the president, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the director of the National Cancer Institute on policies and activities at NCI.

Trial Uses Vitamin A To Prevent Lung Cancer in Former Smokers

January 01, 1999

HOUSTON-There are currently 581 clinical trials underway at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, John Mendelsohn, MD, the Center’s president, said at a seminar held in conjunction with the opening of the Center’s new Alkek Hospital .

‘Medical School Curriculum Must Include Palliative Care’

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-Studies in end-of-life care must be introduced into the standard medical school curriculum, David E. Weissman, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said at the First International Conference on Research in Palliative Care, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Cancer Pain Relief Committee. “They don’t know what they don’t know,” Dr. Weissman said in his presentation on the need to change palliative care practice in academic medical centers.

Formation of Fibrin Clots Key to Angiogenesis

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The relation between tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis is well known: Tumors need a supply of blood in order to grow beyond a depth of 1 mm. Discovering how angiogenesis works has been the focus of research by Harold Dvorak, MD, Mallinckrodt Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School.

Some AIDS Experts Now Question ‘Hit Hard, Hit Early’ Strategy

January 01, 1999

SAN DIEGO-“When do you start HIV therapy and what do you start with?” Michael S. Saag, MD, asked to open a seminar on retroviral therapy at the 38th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC). As simplistic as it sounds, he said, it is a question that initiates the process of strategic thinking on the use of antiretroviral therapy.

M.D. Anderson Opens New Facility-‘Hospital for the Future’

January 01, 1999

HOUSTON-The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has unveiled its new 13-story Albert B. and Margaret M. Alkek Hospital (Figure 1). At the dedication ceremony, the Center’s president John Mendelsohn, MD, called Alkek “an incredible modern facility.” It is, he said, a hospital for the future, one that can help bring into reality Dr. Mendelsohn’s vision of cancer care in the 21st century. “We’re optimistic that we will be able to turn cancer into a chronic disease that we can control,” he said.

Transplant Center Uses Cooperative Care Model

January 01, 1999

OMAHA, Nebraska-The Lied Transplant Center, located on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus, recently had its grand opening and is expected to begin admitting patients this month for solid organ or bone marrow transplants. Its 14 levels include clinics and treatment rooms, 44 cooperative care suites, 44 Nebraska House guest suites, and four floors devoted to research. The Center takes its name from the Lied Foundation Trust, which donated $15 million toward construction.

High School Seniors Smoking Less in 1998

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Daily cigarette smoking among high school seniors declined in 1998, down to 22.4% from 24.6% in 1997. However, the 1998 rate remains significantly higher than the 17.2% recorded in 1992 and not far removed from the 25.4% found in 1979, according to a survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Experts Debate Interferon’s Role in High-Risk Melanoma

January 01, 1999

ATHENS-High-dose interferon-alfa-2b (Intron A, IFN) is the only regimen shown to improve relapse-free survival in high-risk melanoma and should be considered a reference standard for adjuvant therapy in this disease, John Kirkwood, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a debate at this year’s European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress.

Health Care Spending Growth Slows

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The growth in health care spending in the United States hit a nearly 40-year low in 1997, but the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) predicts a strong growth spurt in the coming decade. Health care spending reached $1.1 trillion in 1997, the agency reported, an average per person of just under $4,000, and will nearly double by 2007, reaching a total of $2.1 trillion.

Late Recurrences May Be New Primaries in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Patients

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-A matched case-control study from Yale University suggests that early-stage breast cancer patients with deleterious BRCA1 or 2 mutations are at greater risk of late recurrences after breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy than those without a mutation. Further, many of these late recurrences appear to be new primary breast cancers.

Medicaid Managed Care Slow To Catch on in Rural Areas

January 01, 1999

ROCKVILLE, Md-The explosive overall growth of enrollees in Medicaid managed care is not occurring in rural America, according to a study conducted for the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).

NCI Plans Major Efficacy Trial of HPV Vaccine in Costa Rica

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-Buoyed by early findings from a phase I trial, researchers at the National Cancer Institute plan to launch an efficacy trial of an NCI-developed vaccine against human papillo-mavirus-16 (HPV-16), a leading cause of cervical cancer. The study will involve 6,000 women.

Doris Duke Foundation Offers Awards Program

January 01, 1999

NEW YORK-The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has established the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award Program, a $12 million initiative to fund the research teams of four eminent scientists studying cancer, AIDS, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia and related blood disorders. Recipients of the first awards are expected to be named in late 1999.

Millennium Bug Could Bite HCFA

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Whether you call it the Year 2000 Problem (Y2K) or the Millennium Bug, it could bite the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quite badly, a congressional report warns. The Y2K problem stems from the fact that most computers still use only two digits to represent the year. Come the year 2000, unless this flaw is corrected, these computers will read 00 as the year 1900, and chaos will occur in their calculations.

‘Uncertainties’ in Detecting, Treating Invasive Aspergillosis

January 01, 1999

SAN DIEGO-With a survival rate of only 5%, invasive aspergillosis remains a devastating problem that is difficult to prevent, tricky to diagnose, and complicated to treat, according to presenters at a symposium aptly named “Uncertainties in Invasive Aspergillosis,” held at the 38th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Changes for NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-Far-reaching changes in the National Cancer Institute’s 43-year-old Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) would “enhance the ability to discover new and useful antitumor drugs during the next decade,” according to the report of an NCI committee, which offered a series of recommendations to ensure its vision.

Clinton Increases Funding for HIV Research, Relief

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-As part of World AIDS Day 1998 (December1), President Clinton announced that the federal government will spend $200 million to fund research aimed at developing an effective HIV vaccine during fiscal year 1999. The money represents a 33% increase in AIDS vaccine funding over fiscal year 1998.

Hycamtin Is Approved for Use in Relapsed SCLC

January 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-SmithKline Beecham’s topoisomerase I inhibitor Hycamtin (topotecan HCl for injection) has received FDA approval for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) after failure of first-line chemotherapy. The agent was previously approved for use in ovarian cancer after failure of initial or subsequent chemotherapy.

Early Postprostatectomy RT Reduces Risk of Biochemical Failure

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-A matched-pair analysis suggests that early postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy significantly re-duces the risk of biochemical failure in prostate cancer patients with capsular penetration after prostatectomy.

Strategies for Managing Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

January 01, 1999

FLORENCE, Italy-Although as many as 2.8% to 4.5% of all breast cancers occur during pregnancy or lactation, there are scant controlled trial data to help clinicians steer the difficult course between optimizing the outcome for the mother and protecting the child.

Taxol May Improve Survival in Advanced NSCLC

January 01, 1999

ATHENS-Patients with inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who receive paclitaxel (Taxol) together with best supportive care survive significantly longer than those managed with best supportive care alone, according to results from a phase III, randomized trial conducted at six sites in the United Kingdom and Canada, and presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress.

A Patient Self-Administered Sexual Functioning Questionnaire Is Validated in Prostate Cancer Trials

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-A self-administered questionnaire that measures patients’ sexual problems after radiation therapy for prostate cancer has now been validated and could provide a means of standardizing reports of sexual dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment.

Community Oncologists Are Taking on New Responsibilities

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-“I went into community oncology to treat patients,” said Richard Kosierowski, MD, an oncologist in private practice outside Philadelphia, “but I have a responsibility to the community as well.”

Androgen Ablation Added to RT in Locally Advanced Cancer

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-Updated results from RTOG 86-10 show a continuing trend for improved overall survival among patients with locally advanced prostate cancer who received androgen ablation in addition to radiation therapy, compared with those receiving radiation therapy alone, Miljenko V. Pilepich, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Patients Learn About New Therapeutic Options for Lung Cancer

January 01, 1999

NEW YORK-The availability of new therapeutic options are focusing more attention on lung cancer, a disease for which advances have been slow in coming, said Ronald Blum, MD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and chief of oncology, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center, New York City. He discussed these advances during a Cancer Care, Inc., teleconference for patients.

Brachytherapy Gives ‘Excellent’ Results Post-lumpectomy

January 01, 1999

PHOENIX-Five-year results of a pilot study at the Ochsner Clinic, New Orleans, suggests that a 4-day course of brachytherapy may be just as effective as a 6-week course of external beam radiation therapy in breast cancer patients who have undergone breast-conserving surgery.

Good Response Durations Seen With Rituximab in NHL

January 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Long-term follow-up of the pivotal trial of rituximab (Rituxan) in patients with relapsed or refractory low-grade or follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), shows a median duration of response of nearly 1 year (11.6 months), Peter McLaughlin, MD, reported at a poster session of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting.

NCI Plans Major Restructuring of Clinical Trials Program

January 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute plans a major restructuring of its clinical trials program, intended to broaden participation by physicians and patients and shorten the time between the initial idea for a treatment study and its conclusion.

Intermittent Androgen Ablation Promising in Prostate Cancer

January 01, 1999

ATHENS-In patients with advanced or inoperable prostate cancer, intermittent androgen suppression shows promise as an equally effective, less toxic, and cheaper alternative to continuous hormone blockade, Dr. Sergio Bracarda, of Perugia University (Italy), said at the 23rd Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Activists Worry That Tobacco Settlement Ceded Too Much

January 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The new tobacco settlement has left tobacco-control advocates fearing that the $206 billion dollar agreement may have blunted their efforts to reduce smoking and the death and disability it causes.

Durable Remissions in Metastatic Breast Cancer With ABMT

January 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Use of aggressive induction therapy followed by high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) yielded a 40% complete remission rate among 425 women with metastatic breast cancer treated at Duke University Medical Center. Of these women, 11% remained in complete remission 5 years after therapy, David A. Rizzieri, MD, reported at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

FDG-PET Used to Evaluate Colorectal Cancer Recurrences

January 01, 1999

TORONTO-Several studies presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s 45th annual conference support the use of positron emission tomography (PET) with fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) to evaluate patients with recurrent colorectal cancer.

Smoking by Pregnant Teens Trends Upward Again

January 01, 1999

HYATTSVILLE, Md-The number of teenagers who smoke while pregnant is on the rise again. Data from a new National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) study show that smoking among pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 19 increased to 17.2% in 1995 and 1996 after declining for several years. Non-Hispanic whites, at 29%, had the highest rate of smoking among pregnant teenagers. The study found a significant decline overall in smoking by pregnant women, from almost 20% in 1990 to 14% in 1996.

Sandostatin LAR Depot Approved for Carcinoid Syndrome

January 01, 1998

EAST HANOVER, NJ-Novartis Pharmaceuticals has received FDA approval to market Sandostatin LAR Depot (octreotide acetate for injectable suspension) for the treatment of acromegaly and to control the symptoms of metastatic carcinoid tumors and the profuse watery diarrhea associated with vasoactive intestinal peptide secreting tumors (VIPomas).