Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 3

Strong Upsurge in HIV and Tuberculosis Predicted

March 27, 1999

ANAHEIM, California-Even as the use of combination regimens including protease inhibitors is becoming more routine among individuals infected with HIV, research is starting to highlight the growing problem of drug resistance,

NCAB Urges Repeal of Law Requiring Research Data Disclosure

March 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) has urged Congress to repeal legacislation that some scientists fear will have a paralyzing impact on clinical research. NCAB also made recommendations to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) aimed at reducing the feared threats posed by the legislation.

Response to Ontak Leads to Improved QOL in CTCL

March 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH, Florida-Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) often cause severe facial disfigurement that adversely affects a patient’s quality-of-life. A new fusion protein, DAB389IL-2 (denileukin diftitox, Ontak), has produced significant response rates in heavily pretreated relapsed CTCL patients and improved quality of life, Madeleine Duvic, MD, said at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.

Split-Dose Rituximab Reduces Side Effects in Patients With High Circulating Lymphocytes

March 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Patients with hematologic malignancies and high circulating lymphocyte counts are at increased risk for infusion-related side effects after the initial infusion of the anti-CD20 mo-noclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan), but this problem can be prevented by a stepped-dosing scheme.

Medicare Will Phase in Risk-Adjusted HMO Payments Over 5-Year Period

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Medicare will phase in a new payment method for managed care groups, known as risk adjustment, over the first 5 years of the new century. The payment plan, required under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, is intended to encourage managed care organizations to enroll the sickest Medicare beneficiaries.

Patients Need to Understand Cancer Testing Limitations

March 01, 1999

NEW YORK-A man wanted to know why his chest x-ray was normal 4 months before he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. A woman wanted to know how her mother could have negative tumor markers and seven brain metastases at the same time.

Assessing the Value of the Pain Intensity Assessment Tools

March 01, 1999

CLEVELAND, Ohio-When cancer is diagnosed, most patients fear pain more than any other symptom, Victoria Lipnickey, PA-C, said at a symposium on palliative medicine, sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

More Than 500 Clinical Practice Guidelines Now Available On-line

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-A new Internet library of clinical practice guidelines enables physicians to quickly examine hundreds of sets of treatment recommendations and to compare and contrast different guidelines. The National Guideline Clearinghouse (www.guideline.gov) went on-line in mid-January. The website was developed by HHS’ Agency for Health Care Policy Research, the American Medical Association, and the American Association for Health Plans. More than 500 clinical practice guidelines were put into the database initially, and others will be added.

Inefficient Burning of Fossil Fuels Puts Children at Risk

March 01, 1999

ANAHEIM, California-The inefficient burning of fossil fuel, now practiced on a mammoth scale in developing countries worldwide, puts millions of children around the world at risk for the diseases caused by this form of pollution, which include several forms of cancer. In addition, it worsens climate conditions that carry severe health threats for the future.

IOM Urges Replacing Race With Ethnicity in Cancer Studies

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The National Institutes of Health should greatly expand its efforts to determine why minorities and medically underserved populations, including Appalachian whites, have widely varying cancer burdens, compared with the overall US incidence and mortality, a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report says.

HHS Disciplines Data Manager for Scientific Misconduct in NSABP Trials

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-A data manager has been disciplined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for falsifying data on three patients involved in studies conducted by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP). The data problems were discovered in 1996 by NSABP as part of its quality assurance audits.

All LHRH Agonists Equal for Advanced Prostate Cancer

March 01, 1999

ROCKVILLE, Md-Patients with advanced prostate cancer treated with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists have essentially the same survival rate and experience roughly the same side effects regardless of which drug they receive, according to a technology assessment report prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).

Docetaxel, AC Used First-Line for Advanced Breast Cancer

March 01, 1999

SAN ANTONIO-The addition of docetaxel (Taxotere) to the combination of doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide (AC) is an effective and safe first-line therapy for women with metastatic breast cancer, Jean-Marc A.Nabholtz, MD, said at a poster session of the 21st Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

First Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients

March 01, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-In a first-of-its kind, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have collaborated to produce “Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients,” a detailed translation for the public of NCCN’s breast cancer practice guidelines. The NCCN is a coalition of 17 leading US cancer centers. Its practice guidelines have won acceptance among many oncologists as the “gold standard” of treatment.

Survey Shows Low Use of Colon Cancer Screening Tests

March 01, 1999

ATLANTA-Although screening can reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, a CDC study indicates low use of sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), particularly within the recommended time intervals. People with health insurance, higher incomes, and more education were more likely to report having had these tests.

Aim of Guideline Is to Stamp Out Distress

March 01, 1999

HAMBURG, Germany-“The next goal for psychooncology is to stamp out distress,” said Jimmie Holland, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Director Defends NCI Against IOM Assertions

March 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-National Cancer Institute director Richard D. Klausner, MD, has taken strong exception to two criticisms leveled at NCI in a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on NIH research programs for minorities and the medically underserved . Dr. Klausner told the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), “there are clearly either misunderstandings or profound philosophical differences.”

Screening Identifies Distress in Women With Breast Cancer

March 01, 1999

HAMBURG, Germany-“Significant numbers of women with breast cancer have psychological distress that goes unidentified,” said David Payne, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Dutch Study Confirms Importance of Tamoxifen Duration

March 01, 1999

SAN ANTONIO-A long-term Dutch study has provided additional evidence that the duration of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) therapy influences the degree of benefit for reducing breast cancer recurrence. However, the optimal duration of therapy remains an open question, Dr. Jan Vermorken, an oncologist at University Hospital, Antwerp, said at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

ELVIS Results Offer Hope to Elderly Lung Cancer Patients

March 01, 1999

NAPLES-Nearly one-third of the estimated 144,000 new non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients diagnosed in the United States each year are over the age of 65, and these patients often do not have access to the range of treatment options available to younger patients. Platinum-based therapy is often avoided due to concerns about tolerability.

KS Clearly Not a Conventional Neoplasm

March 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-“Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) conforms very poorly to conventional notions about cancer,” Donald Ganem, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, said at a conference on globally emerging viral infections. “It’s properly classified as in the gray zone between proliferative hyperplasia and frank neoplasm.”

Activists and Scientists Join to Control Pollution Linked to Cancer

March 01, 1999

ANAHEIM, California-Bringing together scientists and activists involved in understanding and controlling environmental pollutants associated with cancer can create powerful new research synergies, Sandra Steingraber, PhD, said at a symposium on mixed environmental hazards and cancer at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Lovenox Allows Home Treatment of Acute DVT

March 01, 1999

COLLEGEVILLE, Penn-Lovenox (enoxaparin sodium) Injection, from Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Inc., has received FDA approval for the inpatient treatment of acute deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) with or without pulmonary embolism and the outpatient treatment of acute DVT without pulmonary embolism. Both indications require that Lovenox be administered in conjunction with warfarin sodium.

Two Trials Examining Nutrition Strategies to Prevent Colon Cancer

March 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio-A trial sponsored by NOAT (Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy) is examining the effect of eating high-fiber cereal on patients with colon polyps, Daniel Nixon, MD, president of NOAT, said at the group’s 4th Annual Congress.

Managed Care Plans to Help Pay Costs of Clinical Trials for Their Members

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-In an agreement negotiated by the National Institutes of Health and the American Association of Health Plans, the association says it will encourage its members to “reimburse the routine patient-care costs associated with NIH-sponsored clinical trials, provided those costs are not substantially higher than the costs a plan would incur in the course of standard treatment.”

Separate Support Groups for Breast Cancer Patients’ Partners

March 01, 1999

HAMBURG, Germany-“We need to help partners of women with breast cancer realize their role in helping their wives, express their concerns, and gain more information,” Barry Bultz, PhD, said at the Fourth International Congress of Psycho-oncology.

A Restricted-Calorie Diet Reduces Prostate Tumor Growth in Animals

March 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Recent experiments with rats showed that a restricted-calorie diet led to reductions in prostate tumor size and progression, Steven K. Clinton, MD, PhD, said at the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy (NOAT) meeting. Dr. Clinton is director of Cancer Prevention, James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Ohio State University

FDA Approves Busulfex Injection

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The FDA has approved Orphan Medical’s Busulfex (busulfan) Injection for use in combination with cyclophosphamide as a conditioning regimen prior to allogeneic hematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). (See Oncology News International, February 1999, for a report on the Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee’s discussion of the agent and its recommendation to the FDA.)

Tamoxifen Reduces Contralateral Breast Cancer in ER+ Patients

March 01, 1999

SAN ANTONIO-Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) reduces the risk of contralateral breast cancer to a degree similar to its effect on primary breast cancer, according to an analysis of data from National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) clinical trials.

Optimism Over Anti-HIV Cocktails Tempered by Concerns

March 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-Preliminary results of a prospective Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of nearly 45,000 US patients show a dose-response relationship between anti-HIV regimens incorporating protease inhibitors (highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART) and decreased HIV-related mortality.

Questionnaire Effectively Assesses Nutritional Status

March 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio-A large research study has validated a short questionnaire for cancer patients designed to assess nutritional risk and to establish a triage system for intervention, Faith Ottery, MD, PhD, president of Ottery & Associates, Oncology Care Consultants, said at the Fourth Annual Congress of the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy (NOAT). Dr. Ottery founded NOAT in 1993.

NCAB Faults President’s New NCI Budget

March 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) has expressed its concern that President Clinton’s proposed budget increase of 2.4% for the National Cancer Institute is inadequate and will seriously damage the National Cancer Program “over the short and long term.”

Mutations of c-myc May Play Role in Myeloma Progression

March 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-By conventional karyotyping, the frequency of c-myc dysregulation in multiple myeloma is low. Now, using molecular karyotyping techniques, researchers have found c-myc chromosomal abnormalities in multiple myeloma cell lines.

Allogeneic BMT Effective in Ph+ Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

March 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Long-term follow-up of 23 patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in first complete remission showed a relatively low relapse rate at 3 years when treated with allogeneic bone marrow transplant from HLA-matched siblings, D.S. Snyder, MD, reported at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.

Paclitaxel Seems Equivalent to FAC as Neoadjuvant Chemo

March 01, 1999

SAN ANTONIO-Preliminary results from an ongoing clinical trial suggest that neoadjuvant chemotherapy of breast cancer with paclitaxel (Taxol) alone produces response rates comparable to those achieved with the three-drug FAC (fluorouracil, Adriamycin, cyclophosphamide) regimen.

Mitoxantrone, Prednisone Improve QOL in Prostate Cancer

March 01, 1999

CHICAGO-A Canadian study has shown that men with hormone-resistant prostate cancer have improved global and social function, fewer symptoms, and a greater improvement in quality of life (QOL) measures over time when mitoxantrone (Novantrone) is added to prednisone. A subset of patients who crossed over to mitoxantrone after prednisone therapy had failed also experienced significantly greater improvement in quality of life measures.

New Approaches to Treating Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

March 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Although a cure for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma remains elusive, several potential new approaches could bolster remissions, Richard I. Fisher, MD, told patients during a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference.

Campaign Seeks to Ease Oral Impact of Cancer Therapy

March 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-About one-third of patients who undergo cancer chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments suffer serious oral complications, many of which could be mitigated. Four federal health agencies have joined together in a national campaign to make oncologists and other health care providers more aware of the problem and how to deal with it.

H pylori Cure Brings Durable CRs in Gastric MALT Lymphoma

March 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Chronic inflammation due to Helicobacter pylori infection is the “underlying disease” that causes some gastric lymphomas, and curing the infection produces durable remissions of the neoplasms, Andreas Neubauer, MD, said at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.