Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 10

HER-2/neu Activation May Predict Breast Cancer Prognosis

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-Overexpression of HER-2/neu may not be as critical to breast cancer prognosis as its activation, according to research reported by Michael P. DiGiovanna, MD, PhD, at the Era of Hope: U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting. Dr. DiGiovanna is assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine.

Company Offers Computer-Aided Detection of Breast Cancer

October 01, 2000

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif-The first computer-aided detection (CAD) system for mammography (Image-Checker from R2 Technology) received FDA approval only 2 years ago, and, to date, only a handful of institutions and mammography centers offer the service on site.

Adjuvant Tamoxifen Equally Effective in Black and White Breast Cancer Patients

October 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Adjuvant tam-oxifen (Nolvadex) is as effective among black women as among white women in reducing the incidence of contralateral breast cancer, according to a retrospective analysis of nine trials from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) (B-13 through B-20 and B-22). In addition, increases in endometrial cancer with tamoxifen use are similar for both races.

ASBD, an Interdisciplinary Group, Fights Breast Cancer

October 01, 2000

NEW YORK-The American Society of Breast Disease (ASBD) began in 1976 as a relatively small group of physicians interested in studying diseases of the breast. It soon expanded into a multi-disciplinary organization whose stated mission is “to provide a forum for learning and sharing new developments related to breast disease.” The operative word for this group is “multidisciplinary.”

How Employers Can Help Caregivers in the Workplace

October 01, 2000

NEW YORK-In an age when hospital stays are shorter and acute diseases more chronic, family caregivers are increasingly seen as extensions of the health care system. Yet often they receive scant preparation from health care providers and little support or understanding from their employers. Establishing programs to help caregivers was the subject of a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference.

Only Slight Improvement in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Survival

October 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing in the United States, while survival rates have not improved substantially, Andrew Mason, MD, of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, said at the annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), held during the Digestive Disease Week conference.

New BRCA1 Mutations Found in Black and Hispanic Women

October 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Mutations of the BRCA1 gene occur in a different region of the gene among black and Hispanic carriers than in whites and Ash-kenazi Jews, researchers said at the Intercultural Cancer Council’s 7th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved, and Cancer.

Scientific Studies Support Strategies to Curb Nicotine Addiction

October 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Although the addictive nature of nicotine appears obvious, it is only in the last few years that studies have provided a scientific understanding of nicotine addiction, Alan Leshner, PhD, said at the Eleventh International Conference on Tobacco or Health. Such information provides a firm scientific basis for smoking prevention campaigns, treatment strategies, and tobacco policy development.

Smoking Declines Among High School Males, But Not Females

October 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Two new government surveys present a portrait of tobacco use in the United States in 1999 in which cigarette smoking by high school males appears to be declining but more than 30% of the population age 12 or older still smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco products.

New Chemoprevention Trials of COX-2 Inhibitors Underway

October 01, 2000

NEW YORK-The markedly improved safety profile of selective COX-2 inhibitors over conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has spurred a number of new studies aimed at demonstrating their value as preventive agents among populations at high and moderate risk for a variety of cancers, Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD, said at a media briefing. Dr. Dannenberg is professor of medicine and surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Panel to Recommend Changes to Cancer Act

October 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-An independent committee studying the status of the National Cancer Program plans to release its report in January, the month that a new Congress and a new President take office. It will likely recommend legislative changes to revise the National Cancer Act of 1971 and restructure parts of the program.

NIH Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer Panel to Address 7 Issues

October 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Speakers at the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer will address the data on adjuvant chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and other aspects of postsurgical treatment. The 2½-day meeting convenes on Nov. 1.

Data Support Chemo for All Young Breast Cancer Patients

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-All breast cancer patients under age 35 should be offered adjuvant chemotherapy even if they have low-risk disease, Mads Melbye, MD, PhD, said at the Era of Hope: U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting.

Laser Treatment Promising in Highly Selected Breast Cancers

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-Experimental use of laser therapy to destroy small, localized breast tumors is showing promise as an alternative to lumpectomy in highly selected patients, researchers from England and the United States reported at the Era of Hope: U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting.

Medicare to Cover Patient Care Costs of Cancer Clinical Trials

October 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Under proposed new Medicare rules, routine care costs for beneficiaries participating in clinical trials funded by a number of federal agencies would be automatically covered. Trials conducted under investigational new drug applications (INDs) or that are exempt from an IND would also receive automatic coverage status. Other trials that meet eligibility requirements (to be established) would also be covered.

Breast Duct Cells Retrieved and Screened for Cancer

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-Susan M. Love, MD, predicts that significant new information about breast cancer will emerge as doctors begin using a new duct cell screening technique. Dr. Love discussed her work on ductal lavage at the Era of Hope: U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting in Atlanta, and updated results of a study of the technique were presented at the Second Annual Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium in Chicago.

Intervention Increases Screening in Close Relatives of Colon Cancer Patients

October 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-First-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients are at increased risk of getting the disease themselves, and it is generally recommended that they have colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 40. A new study suggests that educational interventions by phone and mail may increase screening rates in this high-risk population.

SLN Biopsy May Be Sufficient for Some Melanoma Patients

October 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Management of some patients with melanoma of the lower extremity could potentially stop with sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy, according to results presented at the 68th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. The study suggests that regional micrometastases of melanoma in the lower extremity are likely confined to the sentinel lymph nodes harvested by lymphadenectomy in some patients, said Lee L.Q. Pu, MD, PhD, resident in plastic surgery, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Anal Cancer Incidence Rising in Homosexual Men

October 01, 2000

BOSTON-Benign anorectal disease should be treated as a possible marker for precancerous anal lesions in men who have sex with men, Stephen E. Goldstone, MD, said at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons annual meeting.

Immunogenic Marker May Improve Breast Cancer Detection

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-An immunogenic marker, TA-90, can detect breast cancers missed by mammograms and other known markers, Rishab K. Gupta, PhD, said at the Era of Hope: U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Meeting.

Addiction to Nicotine May Occur Quickly

October 01, 2000

A study of smoking habits in 681 seventh graders (12 to 13 years old) in Massachusetts suggests that addiction to nicotine can occur very fast. The study was published in the British Medical Association journal Tobacco Control (9:313-315, 2000).

NMDP Celebrates 10,000th Unrelated Donor Transplant

October 01, 2000

MINNEAPOLIS-The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has reached a new milestone: 10,000 unrelated donor transplants. “At our 10-year anniversary in 1997, we celebrated 6,000 unrelated transplants, but in just 3 years, we have increased that number to 10,000,” Dr. Dennis Confer, chief medical office, said in a news release. The program, which has a volunteer registry of more than 4 million potential donors, facilitates transplants for more than 120 patients each month, he said.

Dynamic RODEO Images Show Laser Ablation of a Small Breast Tumor

October 01, 2000

Serial dynamic RODEO (Rotating Delivery of Excitation Off-resonance) magnetic resonance images (top left to bottom right) generated at approximately 1- to 2-minute intervals during the course of interstitial laser photocoagulation treatment of a small breast cancer. Prior to laser treatment, pre- and post-gadolinium contrast RODEO images were generated to allow accurate placement of a needle tip into the lesion. A bare-tip laser fiber was then inserted into the needle and connected to the laser. The laser tip was pre-charred; then 3 watts of continuous power were applied for 10 minutes. The top left image is before initiation of laser treatment. The next image (to the right of the top left image) depicts the zone of pre-charring. As the laser ablation progresses, the hypointense zone increases in size. The final dynamic image on the bottom right shows an approximately 1.4 cm zone of ablation. Images courtesy of Dr. Steven E. Harms, professor of radiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

How Employers Can Help the Bereaved in the Workplace

October 01, 2000

NEW YORK-For the bereaved caregiver, the workplace can be a distraction from worries, a structure amidst chaos, and a place for healing. During a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference for employers, managers, and medical and human resource departments, Amanda L. Sutton, CSW, program coordinator of bereavement services at Cancer Care, outlined some steps a supervisor can take to promote a grieving employee’s healing.

NCI Expands Oncologists’ Participation in Phase III Trials

October 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Less than 3% of adult cancer patients take part in clinical trials. In an effort to increase patient enrollment in phase III studies, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched a pilot program last year-called the Expanded Participation Project (EPP)-to allow greater physician participation in its cooperative research groups.

Poor Outcomes Seen in HIV+ Patients With Anal Cancer

October 01, 2000

BOSTON-HIV-positive patients often cannot tolerate treatment for anal squamous cell carcinoma and have a worse prognosis than other patients, according to two studies presented at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting.

Matched Donor Transplant Best Strategy for Ph-Positive ALL

October 01, 2000

PAVIA, Italy-In a retrospective study of children with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-positive ALL), bone marrow transplantation from an HLA-matched related donor proved superior to other types of transplantation and to intensive chemotherapy alone in prolonging initial complete remissions.

Helping Brain Tumor Patients Cope With Cognitive Changes

October 01, 2000

NEW YORK-The cognitive and behavioral effects of brain tumors and their treatment are often invisible to patients, caregivers, and even clinicians, Robert A. Stern, PhD, said at a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference for patients and their families. Dr. Stern is director of the Neuropsychology Program, Rhode Island Hospital, and associate professor of psychiatry and neurology, Brown University School of Medicine.

Standardized Extracts Needed for Evaluation of Supplements

October 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-With one third to one half of all Americans now using some kind of dietary supplement, the need is greater than ever for scientifically valid ways of testing and comparing the enormous range of substances now sold with minimal FDA oversight, Vay Liang W. Go, MD, said at the American Institute for Cancer Research conference on nutrition. Dr. Go is associate director, Center for Human Nutrition, UCLA.

Virtual Reality Distracts Kids During Chemo

October 01, 2000

ATLANTA-Pediatric cancer patients often have anxiety before scheduled treatments or procedures, and treatment often requires normally active children to remain nearly motionless for extended periods of time. At the AFLAC Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, young cancer patients may find their treatment a little easier to bear thanks to an innovative program currently under way to examine the effects of virtual reality as a “distractor” for painful or uncomfortable medical procedures.

CDC Program Provides 2.5 Million Cancer Tests Screenings Over First 9 years

October 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-More than 2.5 million mammograms and Papanicolaou tests were provided to women in the first 9 years of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The total includes 1,157,207 mammograms and 1,353,684 Pap tests administered from 1991 through September 1999.

Second-Line Paclitaxel Effective in Advanced NSCLC

October 01, 2000

TOKYO-Weekly paclitaxel (Tax-ol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) is an effective and well-tolerated second-line therapy in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who failed first-line therapy with the same agents, Mark A. Socinski, MD, said at the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer. Dr. Socinski is director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Pain Monitoring Program Raises Nurses’ Pain Knowledge

October 01, 2000

AMSTERDAM-A pain monitoring program for nurses implemented at three Dutch hospitals not only raised the nurses’ knowledge of pain and its treatment but also led to improvements in nurses’ attention to patients’ pain complaints.

Fentanyl Patch Well Tolerated in Opioid-Naïve Pain Patients

October 01, 2000

AMSTERDAM-A Dutch study suggests that physicians can safely skip step 2 of the World Health Organization (WHO) 3-step analgesic ladder and start opioid-naïve patients directly on transdermal fentanyl (Duragesic), a so-called strong opioid.

Nine Groups Adopt New Standardized Coding System

October 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Nine organizations that fund cancer research have agreed to adopt a newly created standardized coding system, which is designed to make it easier to compare research papers and coordinate their scientific efforts. No common coding system existed previously.

Children’s Art Project Offers Holiday Cards

October 01, 2000

For 27 years, the Children’s Art Project at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has produced and sold holiday cards and gifts created by young cancer patients. The sales have funded more than $12.7 million in programs benefiting children treated at the center. The 2000 Holiday Collection offers holiday cards, stationery, ornaments, and gift bags, plus a 2001 calendar and a series of board books for children. A record 48 young artists are part of this year’s collection. Santa, below left, was created by 13-year-old Ozzie from Houston, Texas. Shalom, below right, was designed by Eric, age 15, from Amarillo, Texas. For a free catalog, call 1-800-231-1580 or visit www.childrensart.org.

Improving Minority Access to Genetic Counseling for Cancer Risk

October 01, 2000

The Second Annual Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Health Policy Symposium, held last year in Chicago, was entitled “Cancer, Reaching Medically Underserved Populations: Low Literacy and Culturally Specific Barriers.”This is the fourth in a series of reports on the conference presentations, prepared for ONI by researchers at Northwestern Medical School, that will put the discussions into a broader context. This month’s article reviews a presentation by Chanita Hughes, PhD, Georgetown University Medical Center, Lombardi Cancer Center, Washington, DC.

3D Conformal RT Used to Treat Pediatric Brain Cancer Patients

October 01, 2000

MEMPHIS, Tennessee-At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, children as young as 12 months are being treated for brain tumors with 3D conformal radiation therapy, said Thomas E. Merchant, MD, clinical director of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

NCI Tests Feasibility of Large Study of Lung Cancer Screening

October 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has launched a randomized, 3,000-person study to determine the feasibility of doing a larger scale trial to test whether spiral CT screening improves lung cancer survival. Six centers began recruiting volunteers in early September and hope to enroll 500 subjects each by the end of October.