Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 1

New Strategies for Treating Ovarian Cancer

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Two new strategies for treating advanced ovarian cancer may improve the outlook for this difficult to treat disease. Early data from trials of repeating and sequential doublets of cisplatin (Platinol)-based drug combinations have shown encouraging results, according to presentations at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII.

Researchers See More Effective Lung Cancer Screening, Therapy

January 01, 2000

WASHINGTON—Three cancer specialists offered a more optimistic view for the future of lung cancer patients during a congressional briefing. Despite the disease’s “dismal” 5-year survival statistics, advances in genetics, a new screening technique, and treatment improvements promise earlier diagnosis and prolonged life for some patients, they said.

Goserelin Reduces Breast Ca Recurrence in Younger Women

January 01, 2000

SAN ANTONIO-Estrogen suppression using goserelin (Zoladex) increased the relapse-free interval in premenopausal women with early stage breast cancer, compared with no goserelin, according to an interim analysis of the ZIPP (Zoladex in Premenopausal Patients) trial. Michael Baum, MD, of the Cancer Research Campaign, London, presented the results at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

ODAC Recommends Approval of Targretin for Advanced CTCL

January 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has recommended that the FDA approve Targretin capsules (bexarotene, Ligand Pharmaceuticals) for the treatment of advanced cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) but not for early stage CTCL.

IOM Assessing Early Breast Cancer Detection Technologies

January 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-An Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee has launched an assessment of technologies for the early detection of breast cancer that will include an examination of the policies and economic factors that delay or prevent their adoption. The year-long effort is part of a 5-year project undertaken by the IOM, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

LEDs Developed by NASA Used to Ablate Brain Tumors

January 01, 2000

MILWAUKEE-Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) developed by NASA for commercial plant growth research on the space shuttle are being used to remove brain tumors through photodynamic therapy. Harry Whelan, MD, and his colleagues have used the new LED red-light probes and the light-activated drug porfimer sodium (Photofrin) to attack difficult brain tumors in three patients. So far, all are doing extremely well, Dr. Whelan said in an interview with ONI.

Early Androgen Deprivation Beneficial

January 01, 2000

ROCHESTER, NY-Starting anti-androgen therapy immediately after radical prostatectomy, rather than delaying such treatment until disease progression, improves outcomes in prostate cancer patients found to be node positive after radical prostatectomy and pelvic lymphadenopathy, according to results of an ECOG trial.

Higher-Dose RT May Improve Prostate Cancer Outcome

January 01, 2000

SAN ANTONIO-Increasing the radiation dose from 70 Gy to 78 Gy favorably affects outcome in some patients with locally confined prostate cancer, according to preliminary results of a randomized dose escalation study reported at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Learning How to Break Bad News to Patients

January 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-Communicating bad news is an essential part of end-of-life care as well as an important skill in all areas of medicine. Although many physicians feel unprepared to deliver bad news, it is a skill that can be learned and improved, said Donna S. Zhukovsky, MD, director of the Cancer Pain Clinic in the Palliative Medicine Program, Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Multiple View Ultrasound Aids Breast Lesion Characterization and Biopsy Needle Tracking

January 01, 2000

CHICAGO-A new ultrasound technology that amasses as much as nine times more information than conventional ultrasound provides greater detail in characterizing breast lesions and also allows real-time tracking of the entire path of the breast biopsy needle, Jacques Souquet, PhD, senior vice president and chief technology officer at ATL Ultrasound (Bothell, Washington), said in an interview with ONI.

Conference Informs Patients About Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Although it is often not possible to offer curative treatment in pancreatic cancer, significant improvements have taken place nonetheless, said Ephraim S. Casper, MD, chief medical oncologist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at St. Clare’s Hospital, Denville, NJ.

Taxotere Gets FDA OK for Use in NSCLC

January 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-As ONI went to press, the FDA acted on the recommen-dation of its Oncology Drugs Advisory Committtee (ODAC) to approve Taxotere for injection (docetaxel) for the treat-ment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after failure of cisplatin-based chemotherapy. The panel voted 12 to 1 for approval and unanimously agreed that data presented by the company showed acceptable safety for Taxotere in NSCLC patients when given at a dose of 75 mg/m² over 1 hour every 3 weeks.

NCI Seeks Toxicity Studies of Five Natural Substances

January 01, 2000

 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC—The National Toxicology Program is considering an NCI request that it do toxicity studies of four herbal products and a substance found in vegetables: aloe vera, used in cosmetics and as a dietary supplement; ginseng, promoted to increase vigor; kava kava, sold as a mood elevator; milk thistle, believed by some to prevent cancer and protect the liver; and indole-3-carbinol, which occurs in cruciferous

Oral 5-FU Compound Offers Safety Advantage in Treatment of Advanced Colorectal Cancer

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-A new oral combination chemotherapy regimen is as effective as intravenous fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin, the current treatment standard, but with a superior safety profile. Speaking at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII, Paulo Hoff, MD, assistant professor of medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, described the use of an oral regimen combining uracil/tegafur (UFT) and leucovorin as first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Oral Fentanyl Effective for Use in Breakthrough Cancer Pain

January 01, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-Oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (Actiq) provides superior analgesia, compared with immediate-release morphine sulfate, for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, according to a multicenter study presented at the 18th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society.

‘Make Advance Care Planning Part of Routine Office Visits’

January 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-Primary care physicians and their patients should make advance care planning part of their routine office visits. This is the message of the Education of Physicians in End-of-Life Care (EPEC) program, developed by the American Medical Association in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

HHS Creates Website With 27 Million Pages of Tobacco Documents

January 01, 2000

WASHINGTON—The federal government has created an internet source that allows access to more than 27 million pages of tobacco industry papers, one that allows full-text searches of these key documents for the first time. The website, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco, has four parts: citations from 4 million tobacco industry documents; a database for the Minnesota Select Set, which holds about 350,000 pages of documents used by attorneys in the state’s successful suit against the tobacco companies; a similar database containing nearly 7,000 documents from the British American Tobacco Co.;

New Nucleoside Analog Tested in Refractory Leukemia

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Marrow hypoplasia was achieved within 28 days in 14 of 41 patients with refractory leukemia after a first cycle of a new nucleoside analog, troxacitabine, Francis J. Giles, MD, associate professor of medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII.

Breast Cancer Patients Need Alternatives to Dose Escalation

January 01, 2000

TOWSON, Md-Evidence is mounting that dose escalation with conventional cytotoxic drugs appears to have no significant advantage over standard chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer, said Antonio C. Wolff, MD, assistant professor of oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Jordan Named to Chair in Memory of Princess Diana

January 01, 2000

CHICAGO-V. Craig Jordan, PhD, has been named Diana, Princess of Wales, Professor of Cancer Research at Northwestern University. Dr. Jordan, a native of the United Kingdom, is professor of cancer pharmacology at Northwestern University Medical School and director of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Research program affiliated with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Specific Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Highly Active in CML

January 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-STI 571, an investigational drug for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), produced complete hematologic responses in all patients receiving higher doses, according to preliminary analysis of phase I data presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) (see illustration ). All participants had failed interferon-alfa therapy.

Trimetrexate Boosts Activity of 5-FU in Advanced Colorectal Cancer

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-The folate antagonist trimetrexate (TMTX) may be useful as a biochemical modulator of fluorouracil (5-FU) in the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, according to preliminary results of a phase III trial conducted by the European TMTX Study Group and discussed at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII

COX-2 Inhibitors New Prevention Strategy for Colon Cancer

January 01, 2000

BUFFALO, NY-Colorectal cancer is caused by a multistep process, taking up to 25 years for an adenocarcinoma to develop. This offers multiple opportunities for prevention strategies to intervene and decrease the incidence of this disease.

RT Fractionation Improves H&N Cancer Control

January 01, 2000

SAN ANTONIO-Local-regional control significantly improved with two radiotherapy fractionation variants delivering either increased total dose or shorter treatment time, compared with standard fractionation, in patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, Karen Fu, MD, reported at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

New 18-Item Instrument Speeds Psychosocial Screening

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-A simplified version of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) that can be completed by patients in less than 2 minutes is speeding screening and referral for psychosocial problems at Johns Hopkins University cancer clinics.

IOM Report Faults Nation's Record of Medical Mistakes

January 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-An Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee has urged instituting a comprehensive strategy to sharply reduce medical errors that result in needless death and injury. According to an IOM report, one study put the annual number of deaths in the United States from medical mistakes at 44,000 and a second study concluded the toll reached 98,000.

New Techniques Bring Lung Cancer Screening Reappraisal

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Two important developments are bringing about a reappraisal of major institutional policy recommendations against lung cancer screening: (1) The amassing of compelling evidence that resection of early lung cancer has a major impact on survival and (2) the emergence of new techniques allowing earlier disease detection.

Cancer Survival Toolbox, Audiotapes for Cancer Patients

January 01, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO-The Cancer Survival Toolbox is a set of self-learning audiotapes available in English and Spanish, designed for persons with cancer to help them develop skills needed to manage their cancer experience.

Gemcitabine Twice Weekly Plus Radiation for Pancreatic Cancer

January 01, 2000

NEW YORK-A regimen of twice-weekly gemcitabine (Gemzar) plus radiation therapy in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer appears promising, according to results of a phase I dose escalation study presented at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII. The twice-weekly delivery may be more cytotoxic than standard once-weekly dosing, and gemcitabine may act as a radiation sensitizer, said A. William Blackstock, MD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.

Researchers to Assess Garlic and Behavioral Dietary Interventions

January 01, 2000

ROCKVILLE, Md—Evidence supporting the use of garlic in cancer prevention and the efficacy of preventive behavioral dietary interventions to reduce cancer risk will be assessed in studies ordered by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. The agency assigned the studies to two of its Evidence-based Practice Centers—the Research Triangle Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio.

California Report Documents Dangers Beyond Cancer of Secondhand Smoke

January 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-A new report from the California state government links secondhand smoke to a number of diseases, including lung and nasal-sinus cancers, heart disease, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The National Cancer Institute has taken the lead in distributing the 430-page document nationwide.

Celebrex Is Approved for Polyp Reduction in FAP Patients

January 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-G.D. Searle & Co. has won FDA approval for its COX-2 inhibitor Celebrex (celecoxib) as an oral adjunct to usual care (endoscopic surveillance and surgery) to reduce the number of adenomatous colorectal polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). The FDA initially approved Celebrex for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in April 1998.

HIV+ Lymphoma Patients Safely Undergo Stem Cell Transplant

January 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected individuals with lymphoma may make it possible for them to receive high-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT), according to a study conducted at City of Hope National Medical Center, Los Angeles.