Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 10

Henderson Offers ‘Take-Home Messages’ From Endocrine Studies

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-Results of three studies on the use of adjuvant endocrine therapy in premenopausal breast cancer patients suggest several “take-home messages,” I. Craig Henderson, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, said at the 35th annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). In his discussion of the three papers at a session on local-regional treatment of breast cancer, he noted the following.

Sustained-Release Cytarabine for Lymphomatous Meningitis

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-Administration of DepoCyt, a novel sustained-release formulation of cytarabine (ara-C), proved favorable with acceptable safety in the first randomized, controlled trial of any drug for lymphomatous meningitis, Stephen B. Howell, MD, said at the 35th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Scintimammography Detects Tumors in Dense Breast Tissue

October 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-Scintimam-mography utilizing a radionuclide already approved by the FDA for cardiac imaging has been shown to compare favorably with standard mammography in a new study presented at the 99th annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

Autologous Vaccine as Adjuvant Therapy for Melanoma

October 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-The autologous, dinitrophenyl (DNP)-modified vaccine M-Vax has previously been shown to produce a 5-year overall survival rate of 58% in melanoma patients with large, resectable metastases in one regional nodal site.

Breast Cancer Screening in Women 40 to 49

October 01, 1999

Nathaniel I. Berlin, MD, is currently Professor Emeritus at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami. He is the former director of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology and Diagnosis as well as the former chairman of the NCI’s Breast Cancer Task Force. He is also the former director and Professor Emeritus of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University, Chicago.

Limited Surgery Better in Colon Cancer With Diffuse Liver Mets

October 01, 1999

ORLANDO-Researchers in Germany have found that in cases of advanced colorectal cancer that has metastasized to and destroyed more than 30% of the liver, surgical removal of the colorectal tumor does not benefit the patient. On the contrary, said Sandra Mitic, MD, “these seriously ill patients, who are soon to die anyway, are better off if surgeons perform the most limited procedure possible.” Dr. Mitic described the study in a poster presentation at the Digestive Disease Week meeting.

Risk Factors for Local Recurrence After Breast-Conserving Therapy

October 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-In women treated with a breast-conserving approach for early-stage invasive breast cancer, “adequate” excision of the primary tumor is necessary to obtain optimal local tumor control. But what constitutes an adequate excision prior to radiation therapy, and what are the risk factors for local recurrence? A Harvard pathologist discussed this issue at the American Society of Breast Disease annual meeting.

New Brain Imaging Technique Cuts MR Scan Time in Half

October 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-A new technique for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging can reduce brain scan time by half, according to a study from the Department of Radiology, University of Vienna, reported at the 99th annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society. The new technique, T1-3D-echo-planar-imaging (EPI)-sequence, has diagnostic utility comparable to conventional T1-3D-gradient echo-sequence imaging, said lead investigator, Ahmed Ba-ssalamah, MD.

NCI Is Testing Thalidomide to Prevent Colorectal Cancer Recurrence

October 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has launched a double-blind study of thalidomide (Thalomid) to test its effectiveness in preventing colorectal cancer recurrence. The study will enroll 94 patients who will make their medical visits at the National Institutes of Health. Half will receive thalidomide, and half will get a placebo.

Penn Cancer Center Sponsors Exhibit of Cancer Patients’ Art

October 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-“Confronting Cancer Through Art” is a juried exhibition of inspirational artwork crafted by individuals who have been touched by cancer (see artwork). This year marks the second time that the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center has sponsored this exhibit, which runs through October 31, 1999, at the Arthur Ross Gallery in Philadelphia. The first exhibit was presented in 1996.

Geffen Cancer Center Uses Western Medicine, Eastern Philosophy

October 01, 1999

ARLINGTON, Va-Studies indicate that about half of cancer patients are now using complementary and alternative therapies, a finding that is motivating many medical oncologists to discuss such therapies with their patients and make recommendations about their use.

Fatigue More Severe Than Anticipated in Palliative Medicine

October 01, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-How common is severe cancer-related fatigue? In a survey study at the Cleveland Clinic, 72 of 172 palliative medicine consult patients contacted said they were too tired to participate. “While fatigue is fairly common in patients with advanced cancer, the extent of their fatigue was surprising,” Kristine Nelson, MD, said at the Cleveland Clinic’s Palliative Medicine 1999 meeting.

Lower Levels of IGF Binding Protein Seen in High-Risk Black Men

October 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-Black men have reduced levels of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGF-BP3), compared to white men, and this may be a factor in the higher prostate cancer rates seen in this population, researchers reported at the 90th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia.

Randomized Trials Needed to Settle Prostate Cancer Controversies

October 01, 1999

BUFFALO, NY-Prostate cancer screening protocols and treatment for localized prostate cancer are less standardized than for other cancers such as breast cancer, and treatment choices remain difficult for many men and their physicians, Jerome P. Richie, MD, said at the Surgical Oncology Symposium, hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Tamoxifen Plus Goserelin as Adjuvant Therapy

October 01, 1999

VIENNA, Austria-In a group of estrogen- or progesterone-positive breast cancer patients, combination endocrine treatment using goserelin (Zoladex) and tamoxifen (Nolvadex) significantly reduced the number of recurrences and increased disease-free survival, compared with CMF, after a median follow-up of 4 years, said Reimond Jakesz, MD, of the Department of General Surgery, University of Vienna, Austria.

New Developments in PET Aid Diagnosis, Rx of Cancers

October 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Nuclear medicine-based imaging techniques are now being used to refine treatment strategies for cancer patients, with positron emission tomography (PET) at the forefront. Patients with complex cancers of the brain, head and neck, thyroid, and lung are now able to receive more refined and accurate diagnoses through new PET techniques, four speakers said at a nuclear medicine conference sponsored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Court Says FDA Can’t Restrict Off-Label Drug Use Materials

October 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-A federal judge has declared unconstitutional several sections of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA) that regulate the ability of pharmaceutical companies to distribute to physicians certain materials regarding off-label uses of drugs.

LHRH Analogue Provides Survival Benefit for Premenopausal Breast Cancer Patients

October 01, 1999

STOCKHOLM, Sweden-Premenopausal breast cancer patients who received 2 years of treatment with the LHRH analogue goserelin (Zoladex) showed significantly improved event-free survival, reduction of contralateral breast cancers, and a trend toward improved overall survival, Lars Rutqvist, MD, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, reported at the 35th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Atlanta.

Studies of p53 Point to New Therapies for Soft Tissue Sarcoma

October 01, 1999

BUFFALO, NY-There are too many questions and not enough new answers about soft tissue sarcomas, Raphael E. Pollock, MD, PhD, said at the Surgical Oncology Symposium, hosted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Melanoma Regresses After GM-CSF Gene Therapy

October 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-Injections of vaccinia virus genetically engineered to deliver the GM-CSF gene proved safe and led to regression of dermal lesions in patients with stage IV melanoma, said Michael J. Mastrangelo, MD, professor of medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College.

Be Alert for Other Possible Causes When Assessing CNS Side Effects of Opioids

October 01, 1999

VIENNA, Austria-Among the CNS effects of opioids are cognitive failure, organic hallucinations, myoclonus, hyperalgesia, and severe sedation. “Regular, repeated assessments of cognition should be performed in patients taking opioids, and any changes should be evaluated by the physician to exclude other underlying etiologies,” Carla Ripamonti, MD, said at the World Congress on Pain.

Strang Program Integrates Standard and Complementary Therapies

October 01, 1999

NEW YORK-A person-centered holistic approach to the practice of oncology involves the integration of current state-of-the-art Western therapies with nutritional supplementation and other less traditional methods, including meditation, music and sound therapy, and guided imagery techniques, said Mitchell L. Gaynor, MD, director of medical oncology and of the Integrative Medicine Program, Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center, New York.

Chemo ‘Not Enough’ for Very Young ER+ Breast Cancer Patients

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-In an attempt to find ways to improve the prognosis for breast cancer in very young women, the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) looked back at outcomes in 3,700 premenopausal and perimenopau-sal patients who had been treated in four randomized controlled trials between 1978 and 1993. Results of that analysis were presented at a poster session at the 35th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Rate of Decline in AIDS Deaths Falls by More Than Half

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-AIDS deaths fell by 20% between 1997 and 1998, but this was a significantly smaller decline than the 42% fall in mortality that occurred between 1996 and 1997, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Confidence in Drugs Linked to Unsafe Sex

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-A survey of homosexual men in California suggests that the more strongly a man believes in the effectiveness of HIV drug regimens to prolong life and prevent transmission to partners, the more likely he may be to engage in unsafe sex.

Nuclear Medicine Used to Evaluate Bone Metastases

October 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Advances in nuclear medicine may meet the need for more accurate detection and higher-resolution imaging in breast and prostate cancer management, especially in the assessment of bone metastases, speakers said at a symposium on nuclear oncology co-sponsored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University.

Study Shows Direct Link Between H Pylori and Gastric Cancer

October 01, 1999

ORLANDO-Researchers from Kure, Japan, reported on the first prospective study to show a direct connection between infection with Helicobacter pylori and the onset of gastric cancer. Their work, presented at the Digestive Disease Week meeting, builds upon epidemiologic research done in the early 1990s that strongly suggested such an association.

States Lag in Committing Tobacco Funds to Antismoking Efforts

October 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Only six of the states that settled their lawsuit with the tobacco industry last year have so far “provided enough new funding for truly comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs,” according to a new report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association. The six states are Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington.

NIH to Launch New On-Line Repository for Life Sciences Research

October 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The new year will bring a new and controversial source for obtaining access to new scientific studies in the life sciences. In January, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch PubMed Central, a free on-line repository of research reports, found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/.

No Clear Role for Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Bladder Cancer

October 01, 1999

CHICAGO-Systemic chemotherapy would seem to be a reasonable option to reduce the number of deaths from metastatic transitional cell bladder carcinoma. To date, however, systemic neoadjuvant chemotherapy has failed to show an effect on survival, and the jury is still out on the issue of chemotherapy following definitive therapy, said Derek Raghavan, MD, chief of medical oncology, University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center.

Smoking Rates Fell Significantly in 1998, But Continued to Rise Among Young Adults

October 01, 1999

ROCKVILLE, Md-Although cigarette smoking has remained relatively stable among youths age 12 to 17 since 1988, the percentage of young adults who smoke rose sharply between 1994 and 1998. According to a new government survey, 41.6% of Americans age 18 to 25 were cigarette smokers last year, up from 34.6% in 1994 and 40.6% in 1997.

Herceptin + IL-2 Active in HER2-Overexpressing Breast Cancer

October 01, 1999

ATLANTA-“Herceptin combined with interleukin 2 (IL-2) is an active, well-tolerated regimen that has produced a clinical response in 4 of 25 breast cancer patients,” said Gini Fleming, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, Hematology/Oncology Section, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

NCI Study Targets Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening

October 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-National Cancer Institute researchers have begun the first national study aimed at identifying barriers to screening for colorectal cancer. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Care Financing Administration are collaborating in the effort.

Radiofrequency Ablation Used to Treat Liver Metastases

October 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is being used to “cook” tumors where they lie and may be particularly useful for destroying liver metastases. This quick, nontoxic, relatively noninvasive approach will soon be tested in clinical trials, Bradford Wood, MD, of Georgetown University Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview.

Retinoid Analogue in Tamoxifen-Resistant Breast Cancer

October 01, 1999

SAN DIEGO-In preclinical studies, Ligand Pharmaceuticals’ Targretin (LGD1069, also known as bexarotene) plus tamoxifen (Nolvadex) produced a response rate of 94% in tamoxifen-resistant breast tumors, compared with 33% for long-term tamoxifen therapy alone, said Ligand scientist Eric Bischoff.

PET, Lymphoscintigraphy Expanding Into the Clinic

October 01, 1999

LOS ANGELES-“PET has arrived!” Edward Coleman, MD, said at a press conference held during the 46th annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine. Dr. Coleman, professor of radiology and director of the Nuclear Medicine Division, Duke University Medical Center, noted that “PET has expanded tremendously into the clinical environment.” He attributes this to the development of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET imaging and PET’s growing applications in oncology.

Extra Care Required When Making Opioid Conversions

October 01, 1999

VIENNA, Austria-Since most palliative care pain patients will require one or more changes in drugs due to inadequate pain relief, “physicians caring for terminally ill patients must be familiar with multiple drugs and routes of delivery,” Eduardo Bruera, MD, chairman of the Pain Department, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said at the 9th World Congress on Pain, sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Modified Dendritic Cells Induce Immune Response

October 01, 1999

PITTSBURGH-University of Pittsburgh researchers have shown that immature dendritic cells can be genetically modified to serve as an effective vehicle for presenting tumor antigens to the immune system. Such cells were shown to induce a significant and therapeutic tumor-specific immune response in an animal model.

ONYX-015 Shows Promise in Therapy of Several Cancers

October 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Researchers have seen encouraging early results in head and neck and other cancers with use of the attenuated adenovirus, ONYX-015, David H. Kirn, MD, vice president of clinical research, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, (Richmond, Calif), said at Current Concepts in Cancer Therapy II, a symposium sponsored by Long Ridge Associates.

Oral Colon Cancer Agent as Effective as IV Regimen, Less Toxic

October 01, 1999

NOTTINGHAM, UK-In a phase III multinational study, UFT capsules (uracil/tegafur) in combination with leucovorin calcium tablets proved as effective as IV fluorouracil (5-FU)/leucovorin, and much less toxic, when used as first-line treatment of metastatic colorec-tal cancer, James Carmichael, MD, of Nottingham City Hospital, UK, reported at the 35th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta. [The FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee has recommended that UFT capsules plus oral leucovorin be approved for advanced colorectal cancer; a complete report will appear next month.]

Tamoxifen + CAF/LHRH Analogue Reduces Recurrence

October 01, 1999

BALTIMORE-In a study of 1,504 premenopausal women with node-positive, receptor-positive breast cancer, the combination of tamoxifen (Nolvadex), goserelin (Zoladex), and CAF chemotherapy reduced the relative risk of breast cancer recurrence by 26%, compared with CAF alone.

Rituximab Research Aims to Increase Efficacy

October 01, 1999

NEW YORK-IDEC, the developer of rituximab (Rituxan), the first monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA for cancer therapy, is pushing ahead with research to increase the agent’s effectiveness in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Cancer Prevention Strategies Involve Individuals and Society

October 01, 1999

ARLINGTON, Va-There are certainly things we can do individually to avoid getting cancer, yet other preventive measures must be taken by society at large, Devra Lee Davis, PhD, of the World Resources Institute, Washington, said at the Second Comprehensive Cancer Care Conference. The meeting was sponsored by the University of Texas Houston Medical School and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, in collaboration with the NCI and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Immune Response Key to Spontaneous Renal Cancer Regressions?

October 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-“The possibility of spontaneous regression suggests that immunotherapy is a valid route to pursue in kidney cancer research,” said Ronald M. Bukowski, MD, director of the experimental therapeutics program at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.

Orange Juice Diet Reduces Colon Cancer Incidence in Animal Study

October 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Rats with chemically induced colon cancer that were fed orange juice for 4 weeks had a significantly lower incidence of colon cancer tumors than those receiving water, in a study at Michigan State University, East Lansing. Maurice R. Bennink, PhD, professor of food science and human nutrition, presented the results at the American Institute for Cancer Research 9th Annual Research Conference.