Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 4

Importance of Assessing, Treating Pain in the Cancer Patient

April 01, 1999

CLEVELAND-A comprehensive evaluation of acute and chronic pain in the cancer patient is essential in order to choose the appropriate therapy, detect the progression of disease, and optimize quality of life, Donna S. Zhukovsky, MD, of the Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said at a conference on palliative medicine sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Post Office Boosts Breast Cancer Stamp

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Sales of the 40-cent Breast Cancer stamp generated $5.2 million for breast cancer research in the first 7 months following its release in July 1998. The US Postal Service plans a sales campaign tied to Mother’s Day, and it will promote the stamp in partnership with the Revlon Run/Walk for Women fund-raiser in Los Angeles and New York City

RT After Mastectomy Reduces Recurrence Risk

April 01, 1999

HAMILTON, Ontario-A meta-analysis of published clinical trials, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, supports the concept that locoregional radiation therapy after mastectomy in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant systemic therapy reduces the risk of recurrence and improves overall survival.

Who Smokes? A Profile of Smokers in the US

April 01, 1999

ATLANTA-In 1995, an estimated 47 million adults in the United States were current smokers. A “Profile of Smokers” from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures-1999 shows that, in that year, smoking prevalence was higher for men (27%) than women (22.6%) and highest among American Indians/Alaskan natives (36.2%), compared with other racial and ethnic groups.

Managing Respiratory Symptoms of Advanced Cancer

April 01, 1999

CLEVELAND-Common respiratory symptoms of advanced cancer include dyspnea, wheezing and broncho-spasm, cough, and pleural effusion. Shortness of breath is the symptom cancer patients fear most, with the exception of pain, Susan B. LeGrand, MD, said at a conference on Palliative Medicine held at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Results of Prevention Trials in Prostate, Colon, Breast Cancer

April 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Chemopre-vention trials in recent years have led to new chemoprevention agents and also unexpected negative findings, Winfred F. Malone, PhD, MPH, said at the 4th Annual Congress of the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy (NOAT). He described a number of published and ongoing clinical trials.

NABCO ‘Celebrates Life’ and Honors Breast Cancer Survivors at Luncheon

April 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Wearing pink roses, more than 100 breast cancer survivors toasted each other at the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations’ Celebrate Life luncheon, hosted by Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino.

Multimodal Screening Strategy for Ovarian Cancer

April 01, 1999

HOUSTON-A multimodal strategy for screening asymptomatic postmenopausal women for ovarian cancer shows promise of being able to find the disease early and improve survival. Researchers for the Ovarian Cancer Screening Project (OCSP) at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, are testing a strategy combining the tumor marker CA 125 with transvaginal ultrasound and a mathematical instrument called the Risk for Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA).

What We’re Learning About the Analgesic Effects of Cannabinoids

April 01, 1999

NEW YORK-“Up until about 10 years ago, we had no clear vision about what marijuana does in the brain,” Billy R. Martin, PhD, professor of pharmacology, Medical College of Virginia, said at the Third Conference on Pain Management and Chemical Dependency.

‘Screen for Life’ Campaign Promotes Colorectal Tests

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-A triad of federal agencies has launched an educational campaign, known as ‘Screen for Life,” aimed at alerting older Americans to the importance of screening for colorectal cancer and its potential for saving lives.

Modeling Cancer Risks ‘Problematic But Still Useful’

April 01, 1999

ANAHEIM, Calif-“Mathematical modeling of cancer risk involves a number of unknown or inadequately understood relationships and factors, but still can provide worthwhile hypotheses for further testing,” Troyce Jones, MS, senior research scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said at a symposium on environmental hazards and cancer at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Cachexia Patients Gain Weight With EPA and Diet Supplement

April 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Patients with cancer cachexia have been successfully treated in a small clinical trial with the oral administration of a high-calorie nutritional supplement combined with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid derived from fish oil, Kenneth C. H. Fearon, FRCS, said at the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy (NOAT) annual congress.

Focused Heat Cell Destruction to Be Tested as an Alternative to Prophylactic Double Mastectomy

April 01, 1999

COLUMBIA, Md-Celsion Corp.’s focused heat technology forms the basis of a system that may offer a minimally invasive alternative to prophylactic mastectomy for women at high risk for developing breast cancer. Massachusetts General Hospital will be testing the technology, and Mass General recently filed a patent application for the system.

New Surgery Drops Local Recurrence of Rectal Cancer to 5%

April 01, 1999

ORLANDO, Fla-Sharp dissection through a plane between the visceral and parietal layers of the pelvic fascia permits a clean removal of the entire rectum and mesorectum, and greatly decreases local recurrence of rectal cancer, Warren E. Enker, MD, reported at the 52nd Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO). Typically, he said, patients have been treated with blunt dissection, resulting in inadequate mesorectal excision.

NCQA to Add More Measures of the Quality of Cancer Care to its HEDIS Performance Dataset

April 01, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-For 10 years, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has been overseeing the quality of managed care organizations. “NCQA is the leading accreditor of HMOs, and, through HEDIS (the Health Plan Employer Data Information Set), our impact has stretched beyond accreditation,” Dr. Cary Sennett said at the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

A Lively History of Blood Highlights the AIDS Epidemic

April 01, 1999

Last month, the French AIDS scandal of the 1980s limped to a close with the acquittal of Laurent Fabius, prime minister from 1984 to 1986, and his social affairs minister Georgina Dufoix. The two held office during the period from April to September 1985 when Abbott’s HIV screening test for blood was available but not used in France because, the lawsuit charged, the government chose to wait until a French version of the test was available.

HHS Wants Health Warning Labels Placed on Cigars

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Cigars should carry health warning labels similar to those on cigarettes and other tobacco products, the inspector general (IG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has concluded. Inspector General June Gibbs Brown also urged the federal government to develop a public awareness campaign aimed specifically at explaining the adverse health effects of cigar smoking.

Outcomes Analysis Shows Variations in Breast Cancer Care

April 01, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-With the first results from its Oncology Outcomes Database, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has “taken a step to move beyond the guideline development process into a process of connection,” William McGivney, PhD, CEO of the network, said at its Fourth Annual Conference. “That critical step is the implementation of guidelines through performance measurement.”

Six Million Enrolled in New Medicare+Choice Plans

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-At the beginning of 1999, more than 6 million of Medicare’s 40 million beneficiaries were enrolled in some 300 Medicare+Choice plans, the new managed care program instituted by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). The move to Medicare+Choice was not without disruption, as health care organizations covering 400,000 Medicare recipients refused to renew their contracts with HCFA under the new payment arrangement.

Evidence Points Against Tainted Polio Vaccine as Cause of Rare Cancers

April 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-A large and growing body of data indicate that exposure to polio vaccines tainted with the simian virus SV40 “has not led to an outbreak of mesotheliomas, osteosarcomas, or ependyomas,” the NCI said.

Baylor, GE Medical Launch ‘The Health Channel’

April 01, 1999

HOUSTON-GE Medical Systems and Baylor College of Medicine have launched a 24-hour satellite programming service to deliver accredited, continuing education for physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals directly to hospitals.

ASCO to Hold On-Line ‘Virtual Meeting’ During Conference

April 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-ASCO is going “virtual”-but with “real” CME credits. The American Society of Clinical Oncology will provide, for the first time, access to its annual meeting via the Internet at its website (www.asco.org).

Taking a ‘Spiritual History’ Appropriate, Social Workers Told

April 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Integrating spirituality into oncology social work practice is appropriate, feasible, and necessary, said Mary Ellen Summerville, CSW, MDiv, program coordinator of the Spirituality Program at Cancer Care, Inc. She told oncology social workers attending a Cancer Care seminar that they can and should help their clients with these issues.

Sexual Dysfunction Is Significant for Women Post-Transplant

April 01, 1999

HAMBURG, Germany-Sexual dysfunction is a significant problem for women who have undergone bone marrow transplants, Dr. Karen Syrjala said at the Fourth International Congress of Psychooncology. A clinical psychologist from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Syrjala reported results of a longitudinal study that followed 118 men and women for more than 3 years following transplantation.

Effects of Stress on Immune System Studied in Breast Cancer

April 01, 1999

HOUSTON-Stress is an immediate reaction to cancer that generally becomes more intensified during the course of the disease. Barbara L. Andersen, PhD, Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, and her colleagues are conducting a study to examine the effects of stress on the immune system in cancer patients.

Data From Two High-Dose Chemo/Transplant Studies to Be Released

April 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced that preliminary findings from two long-awaited breast cancer studies are expected to be made available April 15 on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) website (www.asco.org).

Medicare to Cover Cryosurgery for Localized Prostate Cancer

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has announced a national decision that Medicare will cover cryosurgery for patients with localized prostate cancer. The decision rescinds an October 1996 ruling against such coverage, which HCFA said reflected a lack of conclusive scientific evidence at that time in favor of the procedure. Additional evidence supporting its effectiveness led HCFA to reverse itself and grant coverage.

ICC Wants Congress to Ensure Implementation of IOM Report

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-The Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) has urged Congress to act immediately to ensure that the National Institutes of Health implements recommendations of a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report. That report, sometimes critical of the National Cancer Institute, urged specific efforts to better understand and correct the unequal burden of cancer among minorities and the medically underserved.

Panel Explores How the Media Present Cancer Advances

April 01, 1999

NCCN-FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-Over a billion people worldwide have the potential to view or listen to a CNN program at any given time, Dan Rutz, of the CNN Health and Medical Unit, said at a roundtable on how the media report advances in cancer. The discussion was held at the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

Tips for Sexual Well-Being After Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

April 01, 1999

HOUSTON-The severity of sexual and fertility problems experienced by women after treatment for ovarian cancer is as diverse as the patient population, Leslie Schover, PhD, said at the First Annual International Conference for Ovarian Cancer, co-sponsored by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

‘Radical Changes’ Predicted for Managed Care

April 01, 1999

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-Major changes in health care contracting are coming as the managed care industry, spurred by losses, is raising premiums and seeking to shift risk to providers, Patricia J. Goldsmith said at the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Ms. Goldsmith is vice president for managed care and business development at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa.

Revlon Second Annual Run/Walk for Women

April 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Last year, more than 20,000 people took part in the 5-kilometer Revlon Run/Walk for Women in New York City, raising more than $700,000 to fight women’s cancers. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, May 1, following a route that runs from Times Square to Central Park. The event is produced by Rehage Entertainment, Inc. and the New York Road Runners Club in cooperation with the City of New York.

Medicare Covers Three New PET Uses in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

April 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Medicare will cover three additional uses of positron emission tomography (PET) for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition to the previously covered uses for the diagnostic evaluation of solitary pulmonary nodules and for staging non-small-cell lung cancer, PET will now be covered for the detection and localization of recurrent colorectal cancer with rising CEA levels; the staging and characterization of both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in place of a gallium scan or lymphangiogram; and the identification of metastases in melanoma recurrence in place of gallium scans.

Biomarkers Effective for Studying Pollution Exposure

April 01, 1999

ANAHEIM, Calif-“Recent studies have shown biomarkers to be very effective tools in the study of pollution and its effects on individuals,” reported Joellen Lewtas, PhD, senior research scientist, Office of Environmental Quality, EPA, Seattle, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting.

PDT ‘Seems Better’ Than Laser for Bronchial Obstruction

April 01, 1999

SAN ANTONIO-Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with porfimer sodium (Photofrin) in patients with endobronchial obstruction due to locally advanced lung cancer appears to be at least as good as an Nd-YAG laser for palliation and “probably better,” Harvey I. Pass, MD, said at a satellite symposium of the Society for Thoracic Surgeons meeting.

Toxicology, Epidemiology Join to Explore Cancer Hazards

April 01, 1999

ANAHEIM, Calif-Although toxicology and epidemiology have both contributed importantly to our understanding of cancer hazards, researchers have now “gone as far as we can go” using each discipline separately, Christopher Schonwalder, 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).

Roswell Park Is Using cPSA Test for Prostate Cancer

April 01, 1999

BUFFALO, NY-Roswell Park Cancer Institute is offering a new blood test to detect early prostate cancer. The complexed prostate-specific antigen (cPSA) test appears to be more accurate than standard PSA at differentiating between prostate cancer and benign conditions, and thus may eliminate the need for unnecessary biopsies when PSA tests are ambiguous