Oncology NEWS International Vol 8 No 9

‘Gonzalez Diet’ to Be Tested in Pancreatic Cancer

September 01, 1999

NEW YORK-An innovative clinical trial to be conducted at Columbia University is now recruiting patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The patients will test the effectiveness of the “Gonzalez regimen,” which combines a strict diet of fresh fruits, vegetable juices, dietary supplements, and pancreatic enzyme extracts with a “detoxification” program. John Chabot, MD, a surgical oncologist at Columbia, is the principal investigator.

Talking to Members of Congress About Cancer Issues

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-“Meeting with members of Congress to push an issue can seem intimidating, but the key is to remember that legislators are people, too, and to treat the encounter as the beginning of a relationship,” Robin Carle said at the 1999 Kidney Cancer Association (KCA) annual convention.

Modified SPECT Scintimammography Proves More Accurate

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-A modification of SPECT (single proton emission computed tomography) scintimammog-raphy with the radionuclide technetium sestamibi is a promising adjunct to equivocal mammograms that are difficult to interpret, said David H. Feiglin, MD, professor of radiology, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse. He presented the findings of his collaborative study at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting.

Lilly Enjoined From Promoting Evista for Breast Cancer Prevention

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-A US federal court has granted a preliminary injunction barring Eli Lilly and Company and its sales representatives from promoting its drug Evista (raloxifene ) as effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Experts Brief Capitol Hill on Trial Costs Survey

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Call it “Fear of Filing.” A survey by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) indicates that third-party payers, including Medicare, are more willing to cover patient-care costs in cancer clinical trials than is commonly assumed. Yet often physicians won’t discuss enrollment in such trials with patients out of fear that insurers will deny payment.

NIH Plan Quadruples Prostate Cancer Research Funds

September 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Institutes of Health has unveiled a 5-year plan that, if fully funded, will nearly quadruple its total budget for prostate cancer research, from the $113.6 million spent in fiscal year 1998 to $420.1 million in FY 2003. NIH anticipates spending $180.3 million on researching the disease this fiscal year, the first year of the 5-year program, an increase of 58.7% over FY 1998.

Gabapentin as Adjuvant to Opioids in Neuropathic Pain

September 01, 1999

MILAN, Italy-A small Italian study of gabapentin (Neurontin) in patients with neuropathic cancer pain only partially responsive to opioid therapy suggests that the anticonvulsant may have a role to play in this situation.

Biochemotherapy May Be an Option in Metastatic Melanoma

September 01, 1999

ATLANTA-Researchers at the Karmanos Cancer Institute/Wayne State University, Detroit, and the Cytokine Working Group report encouraging response rates and acceptable toxicity using an outpatient regimen for metastatic malignant melanoma. The phase II trial combined cisplatin (Platinol) and DTIC chemotherapy with interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-alfa biotherapy.

PET Scans Spare Some NSCLC Patients From Mediastinoscopy

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-The high negative predictive value of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging can spare some patients with early non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) the need for mediastinoscopy prior to thoracotomy,

Computer Technique Gives New Life to Thermal Breast Imaging

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-“To paraphrase Madison Avenue, this is not your father’s thermal imaging,” said Yuri R. Parisky, MD, associate professor of radiology, University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center and Hospital. He was referring to a new form of computer-enhanced thermal breast imaging that he and his colleagues at USC are studying, along with investigators at the TRW Center for Medical Image Analysis, Ogden, Utah, and Howard University, Washington, DC.

Kytril Indicated to Prevent RT-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

September 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-SmithKline Beecham announced in a press release that the FDA has approved Kytril (granisetron HCl) Tablets, its 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with radiation, including total body irradiation (TBI) and fractionated abdominal radiation. Kytril Tablets (2 mg, once daily) are currently indicated for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with emetogenic cancer therapies.

Human Trials to Begin for Genetically Engineered Salmonella

September 01, 1999

NEW YORK-The first clinical trials of a live genetically engineered Salmonella typhimurium bacterium are expected to get underway in the second half of this year in patients with cutaneous metastases of melanoma and breast cancer.

NCI Awards HMO Group $16 Million for Cancer Studies

September 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute will provide $16 million over 4 years to the HMO Research Network to expand and strengthen its cancer research efforts and to initiate studies aimed at increasing effective cancer prevention and control among enrollees in health maintenance organizations.

Routine Endometrial Biopsy ‘of Limited Value’ in Tamoxifen Users

September 01, 1999

ATLANTA-A prospective study, presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, has found the utility of routine endometrial biopsy among women with breast cancer treated with tamoxifen (Nolvadex) to be “limited at best.” Another study presented at the meeting finds sonography to be inadequate as a substitute for endometrial biopsy in healthy women receiving tamoxifen prophylaxis.

Sponsors Optimistic Medicare Cancer Clinical Trials Coverage Act Will Pass

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Congressional backers of “The Medicare Cancer Clinical Trials Coverage Act” see its chances of passage improving, in part because of the active support of cancer advocacy groups and the direct involvement of oncologists . The legislation, actually two identical bills introduced in the House and Senate, would create a 5-year demonstration program in which Medicare would pay for patient care during cancer clinical trials and determine the true costs of such coverage.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Opens Integrative Medicine Service

September 01, 1999

NEW YORK-Barrie R. Cassileth, PhD, is chief of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s new Integrative Medicine Service, which was officially opened April 1 of this year. As a researcher, educator, and planner, she has worked in psychosocial aspects of medicine and alternative and complementary therapies for more than 20 years.

Bladder Sparing Debated at Chicago ‘Shootout’

September 01, 1999

CHICAGO-Although there has been a trend toward organ conservation in the treatment of cancer at many body sites, including the breast, head and neck, and esophagus, bladder sparing has been viewed differently, particularly in the United States.

Two-Vaccine Combination Stimulates Immune Response

September 01, 1999

DENVER-A combination of two investigational HIV vaccines has produced anti-HIV immune responses in more than 90% of volunteers at least 1 year after vaccination, Robert Belshe, MD, of St. Louis University, said at the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research meeting. “These preliminary data indicate both vaccines are safe, and side effects associated with the injections are generally mild,” Dr. Belshe said.

Temozolomide, a New Molecule for Patients With Brain Tumors

September 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-Temozolomide (Temodar) appears to be an effective, well-tolerated oral agent in the setting of recurrent malignant glioma. “Further testing is clearly warranted in this patient population, and it is an attractive candidate to be evaluated in the adjuvant setting for newly diagnosed patients,” said Michael D. Prados, MD, of the Brain Tumor Research Center, University of California, San Francisco.

‘Teamwork for Health’ Theme of VHL Disease Conference

September 01, 1999

ATLANTA-What do 30 doctors, 20 nurses, 100 patients, and one magician have in common? A desire to make VHL stand for “Very Happy Life” as well as von Hippel-Lindau disease. These 150 people, including illusionist The Amazin’ Grayson (Grayson Smith of Memphis), attended the Sixth International Patient/Provider Conference on VHL, a 3-day meeting to build teamwork for management of VHL.

Northwest VA Cancer Research Center Opens in Portland, Oregon

September 01, 1999

PORTLAND, Oregon-The US Department of Veterans Affairs has opened its new $30 million Northwest Veterans Affairs Cancer Research Center. The Center will house joint research projects of both the Portland VA Medical Center and the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). Its primary focus will be the genetic basis and the biologic pathways of cancer.

Meta-analysis Shows Benefit of LHRH-A Plus Tamoxifen in Advanced Breast Cancer Therapy

September 01, 1999

ATLANTA-In a meta-analysis of four trials of premenopausal women with advanced breast cancer, the combination of an LHRH-agonist (LHRH-A) and tamoxifen (Nolvadex) was clearly more effective than an LHRH-A alone, according to a presentation at the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Tamoxifen Reduces Cardiac Risk Factors in Healthy Women

September 01, 1999

ATLANTA-As with postmenopausal hormone replacement, tamoxifen (Nolvadex) administration may be associated with reduced lipid levels. In addition, tamoxifen may also have beneficial effects on markers of inflammation considered to be novel cardiac risk factors, according to a poster presentation at the 35th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

High-Resolution Breast Ultrasound May Reduce Biopsies

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-High-resolution ultrasound provides additional information about mammographically identified malignant calcifications and may find malignancies unseen on mammography, Beverly E. Hashimoto, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

Twice Weekly IL-12 Shows Promise in Kidney Cancer

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-“Enough evidence has accumulated to suggest that interleukin-12 [IL-12] deserves continued study in kidney cancer and other malignancies, even though it has had a difficult track record so far,” Janice P. Dutcher, MD, said at the 1999 Kidney Cancer Association Annual Convention. Dr. Dutcher is associate director for clinical affairs, Our Lady of Mercy Cancer Center/New York Medical College.

MRI Can Pinpoint Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast is more accurate than conventional methods for identifying the extent of invasive lobular carcinoma, according to a study presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting.

Virtual Endoscopy: An Innovation in GI Tract Imaging

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-Virtual endoscopy of the gastrointestinal tract is a rapidly advancing technology, Bradford J. Wood, MD, said in an interview with Oncology News International. “Radiologists should become familiar with the virtual endoscopic appearance of a variety of GI pathologies so that they can speak a common language with surgical and gastrointestinal endoscopists,” he said.

US-Guided FNA Cost-Effective Diagnostic Tool for Finding Nonpalpable Breast Lesions

September 01, 1999

NEW ORLEANS-In selected patients with radiographically identified nonpalpable breast abnormalities, ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) with follow-up mammograms is effective and offers a cost savings over stereotactic mammotomy (directional vacuum-assisted breast biopsy). S.S. Buchbinder, MD, of the Department of Radiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, reported the results at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting.

Dose-Intense Chemo Regimen for Younger Patients With NHL

September 01, 1999

LUGANO, Switzerland-Younger patients with histologically aggressive, stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) might benefit from a dose-intense etoposide-containing regimen, according to late follow-up results from the British National Lymphoma Investigation (BNLI) reported at the VII International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma.

FTC Wants Health Warning Labels on Cigars and Ad Ban

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-What’s good for regulating cigarettes is equally good for cigars, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) argued in a new report to Congress. It recommended that Congress require health warning labels for cigars, ban all cigar advertising on radio and television, and enact measures to restrict the access of underage smokers to cigars.

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Most Frequent Cause of Malpractice Suits

September 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-“Breast cancer is the most frequent misdiagnosis leading to professional liability litigation, and the most common breast cancer malpractice lawsuit is for misdiagnosis,” Kenneth Kern, MD, said at a 47th Annual Clinical Meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Furthermore, failing to detect breast cancer is among the top three law-suit-causing diagnostic errors made by internists, radiologists, general surgeons, OB-GYNs, and family practitioners, said Dr. Kern, of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Kern derived these conclusions from several databases, including the NCI’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End-Results) Program, the Physician Insurers Association of America Data Sharing Reports, and the US Civil Litigation survey.

New Agent, Virulizin, Shows Promise in Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

September 01, 1999

PHILADELPHIA-Results of a phase I/II study showed that Virulizin, an investigational monocyte and macrophage activator, has clinical activity in treating advanced pancreatic cancer comparable to that of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and with a “much better” safety profile, Changnian Liu, MD, PhD, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

NCI Seeks Noninvasive Imaging Technology for Prostate Cancer

September 01, 1999

BETHESDA, Md -The National Cancer Institute plans to spend $13.6 million over the next 4 years to fund industry/academic collaborations aimed at developing noninvasive imaging technologies for diagnosing and treating prostate cancer. The Institute hopes the new initiative will bring academic institutions and companies together to pursue image-guided therapy techniques. Image-guided therapy couples images obtained either before or during surgery with computers, sensors, and other devices to help guide more accurate treatments.

Cancer Care Wig Workshop Brightens Patients’ Outlook

September 01, 1999

NEW YORK-For 10 years, Cancer Care, Inc., a national nonprofit social service agency, has been giving away wigs at its Manhattan headquarters to women who have lost their hair due to treatment but cannot afford to purchase their own. “Our whole philosophy at Cancer Care is to normalize the cancer experience,” says Carolyn Messner, ACSW, director of education and training at Cancer Care.

Monoclonal Antibodies May Be Used to Treat Kidney Cancer

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Monoclonal antibodies are the basis of many diagnostic tests, but now are catching on as therapy as well, said Neil Bander, MD, surgical director, Urologic Oncology Program, Cornell University and New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York. “This particular type of approach has now been validated clinically and is being used to treat patients with various types of cancer,” Dr. Bander said at the Kidney Cancer Association Annual Convention.

One Year Later, Its President Assesses The March’s Impact

September 01, 1999

WASHINGTON-Last year, tens of thousands gathered on The Mall in front of the US Capitol and in scores of communities nationwide to urge the federal government to make cancer the number one medical research priority. On Sept. 25, a candlelight vigil in front of the Lincoln Memorial will mark the first anniversary of that event, known as The March.