Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 6

Opioids Are Often Ignored for Treating Neuropathic Pain

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Because it is so well known that opioids are most effective for nociceptive pain, they are often ignored when patients present with neuropathic pain. But opioids are at least as effective as current agents used for neuropathic pain, Richard Payne, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said at the Third Conference on Pain Management and Chemical Dependency.

Study Suggests Short Time Interval for Ovarian Cancer Screening

June 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-To be effective, the time interval for ovarian cancer screening should be no more than a year, a screening trial of 22,000 postmenopausal women suggests. In this study, 67 women were identified with ovarian cancer. For 28 of these women, ovarian cancer was detected within 1 year of their last CA 125 blood test.

Your Strengths, Market’s Demands Dictate Marketing Strategies

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-Successfully marketing a cancer program requires careful targeting of a campaign to fit the particular characteristics of the local market, the competition, the patient base, and the center itself, said a panel of oncology executives representing institutions covering the gamut of size, location, and involvement in managed care.

First-Line Irinotecan Effective in Advanced Colorectal Cancer

June 01, 1999

ASCO-The addition of irinotecan, also known as CPT-11 (Camptosar), to standard first-line therapy significantly increased progression-free survival and antitumor response in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, according to the preliminary results of a randomized, open-label phase III trial presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Irinotecan is currently FDA approved for second-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Doctor Ponders Popularity of Alternative Medicine

June 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-Patients’ use of alternative (or complementary) medicine poses real difficulty for many physicians today. Patients often query their doctors about alternative medicine, asking for evaluations of different therapies, such as acupuncture.

Can Physicians Be Held Liable for Alternative Medicine?

June 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO -As alternative (or complementary) medicine becomes more popular, physicians are starting to face troubling questions about their liability for patients’ use of these therapies. But unfortunately, physicians may not be informed about the potential efficacy of these therapies or their safety, Lisa A. Vincler, JD, Assistant Attorney General at the University of Washington Health Sciences and Medical Center, said at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists annual meeting in February 1999.

Tips on Marketing Your Oncology Practice to Patients

June 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-Being a good doctor with a good reputation for delivering quality care should be enough to get all the patient referrals a physician needs. Right? “Wrong,” Dr. Eric Berkowitz said at the Network for Oncology Communication and Research (NOCR) meeting. “You’re no big deal; there are thousands like you,” he said.

Biologics Research Promises ‘Synergistic’ Cancer Therapy

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-“From the graveyard of dead biologic agents that over the last decade have failed to deliver on their apparent promise of large clinical benefits will rise new generations of therapeutics much more powerful than those presently available,” said David Parkinson, MD, vice president for clinical research, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, NJ.

Patient Care Costs of Clinical Trials May Be Less Than Standard Care

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Accumulating evidence shows that the additional cost of treating cancer patients in clinical trials vs that of providing standard care is essentially negligible, and, in some instances, treatment on protocol is significantly less expensive, experts said at a congressional briefing sponsored by the National Coalition for Cancer Research.

Sentinal Node Biopsy Finds 98% of Metastic Colon Cancers

June 01, 1999

ORLANDO-Sentinel lymph node biopsy, which is widely used to detect micrometastases in melanoma and in breast cancer, can also identify colorectal cancer patients who have metastatic disease and should have adjuvant chemotherapy, Sukamal Saha, MD, reported in a plenary presentation at the Society of Surgical Oncology’s 52nd Annual Cancer Symposium (see Figure).

Church-Based Project Provides Cervical Cancer Screening for Latinas

June 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-A single-visit cervical cancer screening program conducted before and after church services may help extend the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment to underserved populations, according to research presented at the 30th annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

Treatment of Actinic Keratoses Is More Than Cosmetic Issue

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Actinic keratoses should be treated or removed, according to the consensus of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Cancer Society, and Skin Cancer Foundation. “It is not merely a cosmetic issue,” said Jeffrey Callen, MD, chief of the Division of Dermatology, University of Louisville. Because of their potential to develop into skin cancer, these lesions should be regarded as a serious health problem, he said at a media briefing sponsored by the Academy as part of its Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

Radiopharmaceuticals Effective Therapy for Metastatic Bone Pain

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-“Nuclear medicine is one of the best kept secrets of medicine today,” said Stanley J. Goldsmith, MD, director, Division of Nuclear Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital. In a talk at a nuclear oncology conference sponsored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Goldsmith specifically referred to the use of radionuclides to treat metastatic bone pain.

Surgery Still Standard of Care for FAP, HNPCC

June 01, 1999

ORLANDO-Surgery remains the mainstay of treatment for familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and for hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also known as the Lynch syndrome, David Ota, MD, said at the Society of Surgical Oncology’s 52nd Annual Cancer Symposium. Dr. Ota is professor of surgery, University of Missouri Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, Columbia.

New Approaches to CIN in HIV-Positive Women Reported

June 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-Women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at increased risk for cervical abnormalities, including cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), and these problems may not be eradicated by conventional approaches such as conization.

Prostate Cancer Mortality Falls, But ‘the Burden Remains High’

June 01, 1999

DALLAS-An analysis of SEER data shows small but steady decreases in prostate cancer mortality since 1991, Robert A. Stephenson, MD, said at the American Urological Association annual meeting. He attributed the decline to a combination of factors, including earlier detection and better treatment of advanced disease. Yet overall, he said, the data show that prostate cancer remains a major cause of death in men and may be undertreated in the elderly.

Updated HIV Drug Guidelines Available on the Internet

June 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The newest version of “Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents” is now available on the Internet at www.hivatis.org. The update includes recommendations about the use of Ziagen (abacavir), which can be given in combination with Retrovir (zidovudine) and Epivir (lamivudine). All three drugs are nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

HCFA Plans to Tighten Rules for Provider-Based Status

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-Whether a cancer practice is designated as provider-based or free-standing can significantly affect the amounts it receives in Medicare reimbursements. Provider-based entities, such as departments in hospitals, are often entitled to higher payments for a given service than are free-standing entities such as physicians’ offices.

Big Changes in NCI Drug Development Program

June 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-In 1955, concerned that pharmaceutical companies were mounting inadequate efforts to develop anticancer drugs, Congress mandated that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) create a program to screen agents for potential therapeutic activity. Today, NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program (DTP) promotes all aspects of drug discovery and development prior to human testing.

Congress Is Urged to Increase Funding for Lymphoma Research

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Two days after the release of new cancer incidence and mortality data showing that new cases of lymphoma and lymphoma deaths have continued to rise, the Lymphoma Research Foundation of America (LRFA) took its plea for an increase in research funds for the disease to Capitol Hill.

Many States Ignore Prevention in Plans to Spend Tobacco Funds

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-In at least one-third of the states, legislators have proposed spending less than 2% of the funds the state will receive from last year’s tobacco settlement on antitobacco prevention programs, according to a new report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA says many state legislators are ignoring evidence that tobacco prevention programs work, especially those aimed at young people.

Tobacco Billboard Advertising Falls by the Roadside

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-“No Bull,” no more. Decades of tobacco advertising on outdoor billboards have come to an end. On April 22, under the agreement reached last year between the tobacco industry and 46 states, four large tobacco companies removed tobacco advertising from more than 3,000 billboards nationwide.

Variations Mark Overall Fall in Cancer Incidence, Mortality

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Overall incidence and mortality rates for cancer continue to decline in the United States. However, a new report finds considerable disparities among racial and ethnic groups, and it warns that a resurgence of smoking among teen-agers forewarns of a likely reversal of the downward trend, especially for lung cancer.

Radiopharmaceuticals Effective Therapy for Metastatic Bone Pain

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-“Nuclear medicine is one of the best kept secrets of medicine today,” said Stanley J. Goldsmith, MD, director, Division of Nuclear Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital. In a talk at a nuclear oncology conference sponsored by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Goldsmith specifically referred to the use of radionuclides to treat metastatic bone pain.

Study Finds Clue to Sunburn-Melanoma Link

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-The association between intermittent but intense sun exposure and malignant melanoma has long been recognized, though the reasons behind it have not been understood. Researchers have now uncovered mechanisms likely to explain why this specific pattern of sun exposure leads to the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Drive to Increase NIH Funds Faces Stiff Battle in Congress

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-After a $2 billion increase last year, the drive to double the NIH’s budget over 5 years faces a stiff battle in Congress this year. Under Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to increase spending, and an initial attempt to provide an extra $2 billion for biomedical research in FY 2000 has failed 52 to 48.

Oncologist.Com? Why You Need a Webpage

June 01, 1999

MIAMI BEACH-With nearly 228 million people accessing the Internet worldwide, it has become impossible not to give at least some thought as to how it may be affecting physicians’ practices and whether you should jump onto the webpage bandwagon.

Health Care ‘Lags Behind’ Other Industries in Fixing Y2K

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-Of all major American industries, health care appears to be among the least prepared for the complex, interrelated problems known as Y2K. As computers programmed with two-digit year dates move toward the year 2000, many will close down or function improperly because they will erroneously interpret dates beginning with zero as falling in the first year of the 20th, rather than the 21st, century.

Dynamic MRI Detects Multicentric/Multifocal Cancer

June 01, 1999

ORLANDO-Dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can identify women who have unsuspected multicen-tric/multifocal breast cancer and are therefore not candidates for breast conservation therapy, Michael J. Kerin, MD, reported in a plenary presentation at the 52nd Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO).

HCFA Is Helping Health Care Providers Prepare for Y2K

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), the federal agency that pays Medicare claims, expects to be doing business as usual on January 1, 2000, and beyond despite Y2K, said Joseph Broseker, Jr., Y2K Coordinator at the HCFA headquarters, Baltimore.

Youthful Smokers Favor Three Cigarette Brands by Huge Margin

June 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Who says advertising doesn’t work? A new study finds that three heavily advertised brands of cigarettes-Marlboro, Newport, and Camel-are the most popular with American teen-agers. Indeed, 88% of high school seniors who smoke use one of the three. They are also the choice of 86% of 10th graders and 82% of 8th graders.

Herceptin + Chemo Increases Survival in Metastatic Breast Cancer

June 01, 1999

ASCO-Updated results of a phase III trial show that the addition of the anti-HER2/neu monoclonal antibody (MoAb) Herceptin (trastuzumab) to chemotherapy improves survival in patients with metastatic breast cancer, compared with chemotherapy alone.

Lovastatin May Augment Prevention With NSAIDs

June 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-The combination of a common cholesterol-lowering agent, lovastatin (Mevacor), with an NSAID may be more effective than NSAIDs alone in the chemoprevention of colon cancer, a new study shows. The data were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

Medicare Reform Compromise Fell Victim to Complex Politics

June 01, 1999

ALEXANDRIA, Va-The failure of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare to issue a report resulted from complex political calculations made by various players in the process. “Behind the political differences lies a legitimate difference on the role of the government in health care,” Washington attorney John S. Hoff said at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC).

Mayo Clinic Study Supports PSA Screening

June 01, 1999

DALLAS-Of 1,371 men with early-stage prostate cancer (T1c) detected by PSA screening and treated via radical prostatectomy between 1987 and 1996, only three have died of their cancer, Angelo J. Iocca, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, said at the American Urological Society annual meeting.

RT-PCR PSA Assay in Marrow Predicts Early PSA Recurrence

June 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-Up to 40% to 50% of prostate cancer patients who undergo radical prostatectomy for localized prostate carcinomas will relapse. Traditional prognostic markers, such as clinical stage or pretreatment levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), are of limited value in predicting which individuals will have relapsed disease.

Hepatic Infusion for Liver Mets: ‘Historic Results’

June 01, 1999

ASCO-For colorectal cancer patients who have undergone surgery for liver metastases, adjuvant therapy that combines hepatic arterial chemotherapy and systemic chemotherapy effectively controls local disease and significantly increases 2-year survival, Nancy Kemeny, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, reported at ASCO.

Public Service Ads Focus on Sun Protection, Skin Cancer Detection

June 01, 1999

NEW YORK-The American Academy of Dermatology has unveiled three new public service advertising campaigns targeting a broad audience with the message that prevention and early detection are the best weapons against skin cancer.

NIH Charters Cancer Advisory Panel on Alternative Medicine

June 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has chartered its Cancer Advisory Panel for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, limiting the group’s lifetime to 2 years unless it is formally renewed.

Chemo Improves Survival in High-Risk Cervical Cancer

June 01, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO-A major intergroup phase III study reported at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists has shown that adding chemotherapy to radiation therapy improves the overall survival rate for women with high-risk early-stage cervical cancer. William A. Peters III, MD, of the Puget Sound Oncology Consortium, Seattle, reported the results on behalf of researchers from the Southwest Oncology Group, Gynecologic Oncology Group, and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group.