Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 11

Joe & Ali Torre Lead ‘Two Against One’ Prostate Cancer Campaign

November 01, 2000

NEW YORK-To help support spouses of prostate cancer patients, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, a prostate cancer survivor, and his wife Ali are helping to launch “Two Against One: Couples Battling Prostate Cancer.” This multimedia program helps spouses become more informed about prostate cancer and empowers them to advocate for improved outcomes for their husbands.

Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Deaths May Fail in the Short Term

November 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Despite comprehensive efforts to prevent lung and oral cancers as well as other diseases related to tobacco use around the world, experts in tobacco control do not expect to see a drop in the number of deaths due to smoking in the next 15 years.

Data Published for First-Line Irinotecan

November 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Response and overall survival were significantly improved with use of irinotecan (Camptosar), fluorouracil, and leucovorin, compared with fluorouracil/leucovorin alone, in a randomized study involving 683 patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer.

Manufacturing Capability a Factor in Success of New Biologics

November 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Many biologic therapeutic manufacturers face “critical choke-points” in the future as they attempt to satisfy market demand, according to William R. Rohn, chief operating officer of IDEC Pharmaceuticals, the San Diego-based company that produces the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) in the United States.

Report Finds States Not Using Tobacco Funds for Prevention

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Only five states have allocated the minimum amount of their tobacco settlement funds recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for comprehensive tobacco prevention programs, according to report released at a Senate hearing.

NCI Intramural Program Challenged to ‘Reinvent Itself’

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Members of the National Cancer Institute’s intramural program, NCI’s corps of in-house investigators, have been challenged to reinvent the program into one of the nation’s great cancer research centers.

Cisplatin/Irinotecan Offers Survival Advantage in Stage IV Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

OSAKA, Japan-Patients with stage IV non–small-cell lung cancer randomized to a regimen of cisplatin (Platinol) and irinotecan (Camptosar) survived significantly longer than those receiving a cisplatin/vindesine combination in a phase III trial conducted in Japan.

Surgery Supported for Recurring Colorectal Cancer

November 01, 2000

BOSTON-Despite the pessimism of many experts, patients can benefit from surgery for locoregional recurrence of colorectal cancer, according to a 12-year retrospective study presented by Julio Garcia-Aguilar, MD, PhD, at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting.

Breast Cancer Stamp Funds $6.7 Million in 2-Year NCI Grants

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Purchasers of the US Postal Service’s breast cancer awareness stamp have funded $6.7 million in 2-year grants to support novel and innovative research into the disease. The National Cancer Institute has given grants to 31 researchers, and a 32nd grant awaits final approval.

Human Side of Cancer Offers Insights on Coping With the Disease

November 01, 2000

NEW YORK-The current hype surrounding the mind-body connection has prompted people diagnosed with cancer to ask themselves if their personality, their emotions, or the stress in their lives somehow led to their cancer. This, in turn, has produced the negative phenomenon of blaming the victim.

Irinotecan/Etoposide Combination Achieves 65% Overall Response Rate

November 01, 2000

OSAKA, Japan-An overall response rate of 66% was achieved with a combination of irinotecan (Camptosar) and etoposide (VePesid) in patients with advanced small-cell lung cancer in a phase II study performed by the West Japan Thoracic Oncology Group. A final report on the study, conducted from 1995-98, was presented by Shinzoh Kudoh, MD, of Osaka City University School of Medicine.

Rituximab More Effective in B-Cell NHL Than in MCL

November 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Rituximab (Rituxan) is more effective in indolent B-cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) than in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), according to a study evaluating factors affecting toxicity, response, and time to progression presented at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Maternal Diet May Affect Child’s Cancer Risk, Studies Show

November 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-To date, epidemiologic studies looking for a link between adult diet and cancer risk have proved disappointing. But research focusing on in utero nutrition and preschool and adolescent diet may be more fruitful, suggests Karin Michels, ScD, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Early HDC Improves Survival in Infants With Acute Leukemia

November 01, 2000

SANTANDER, Spain-High-dose chemotherapy (HDC) with stem cell transplantation offers a “striking improvement” over conventional chemotherapy for infants with acute leukemia, said Fernando Marco, MD, a hematologist at Hospital Universitario Marques de Valdecilla, Santander, Spain.

Tailor Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies to Individual Risk

November 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Until findings from two recent clinical studies were released, there was no clear indication about the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) or prophylactic mastectomy for reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer in high-risk women.

Altered DNA Assay Promising as a Stool Screening Approach

November 01, 2000

ROCHESTER, Minnesota-In a blinded pilot study, conducted at the Mayo Clinic, a new DNA-based colorectal cancer fecal screening tool detected 91% of colorectal cancers and 82% of adenomas 1 cm in size or larger, with a specificity of 93%.

Breakthrough Pain Is Frequent and Often Unpredictable

November 01, 2000

LONDON-A prospective survey of cancer patients admitted to a hospice shows that breakthrough pain is “frequent, short lasting, often unpredictable, and not necessarily related to chronic pain, making treatment difficult,” said Giovambattista Zeppetella, BSc, MRCGP, of the Palliative Medicine Service, St. Joseph’s Hospice, London.

PG-SGA, Latest Advance in Assessing Nutritional Status

November 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-Over the last 20 years, nutritional assessments in oncology have evolved from just assessing a patient’s nutritional status to using the information to improve outcome. The latest assessment tool is the scored Patient Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA) developed by Faith Ottery, MD, PhD, president of the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy.

Doses Determined for Phase II Study of Irinotecan/Cisplatin with Concurrent Radiation

November 01, 2000

NAGASAKI, Japan-The combination of irinotecan (Camptosar) 40 mg/m² and cisplatin (Platinol) 60 mg/m² with concurrent thoracic radiotherapy should be tested for its potential role in treating patients with limited-stage small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).The recommendation was made at the conclusion of a phase I trial that evaluated the combination of irinotecan and cisplatin in three dose schedules in patients with histologically or cytologically proven limited-stage SCLC who had not undergone prior therapy for their disease.

Low-Fat Diet Reduces Areas of Mammographic Density

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Density variations in breast images may be due to a number of different variables, such as age and body weight, Norman F. Boyd, MD, DSc, said at the 10th Annual Conference of the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

Traditional Roles of Academic Health Centers Threatened

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-At a congressional briefing titled “The Crisis at Academic Health Centers,” Samuel O. Thier, MD, described the situation succinctly. “We are going through tough times,” said the president and chief executive officer of Partners Health Care Systems, Inc., which resulted from the merger of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

PET Scans Predict Survival in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients

November 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is a powerful predictor of survival in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), reported Michael MacManus, MD, of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, East Melbourne, Australia.

Grants to Conquer the ‘Digital Divide’

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has given four awards totaling $932,000 to four existing NCI contractors to develop research to understand, and pilot programs to breach, the “Digital Divide” that prevents many members of minorities from accessing cancer information on the Internet.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid Inhibits Breast Cancer Carcinogenesis

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) shows evidence of inhibiting mammary carcinogenesis and angiogenesis in both animal and in vitro models, said Margot M. Ip, PhD, professor of pharmacology and therapeutics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

IOM Recommends New Direction for HIV Prevention

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Two decades after the first case of AIDS was recognized in the United States, “the nation does not have a comprehensive, effective, and efficient strategy for preventing the spread of HIV,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in a new report.

Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant Effective in Kidney Cancer

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-In a pilot study, 10 of 19 patients with advanced renal cell cancer had a response to nonmye-loablative allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, reported Richard Childs, MD, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

NOMOS Corporation’s Peregrine Radiation Dose Calculation System Approved for Marketing

November 01, 2000

SEWICKLEY, Pennsylvania-The FDA has granted NOMOS Corporation clearance to market the Peregrine Monte-Carlo-based radiation dose calculation system, licensed from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where it was developed. Peregrine is a computer-based system for quick calculation, in three dimensions, of radiation doses for use with complex intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment plans. Monte Carlo is a mathematical technique that simulates the trillions of radiation particles that enter the body during treatment. It selects a random sample of these particles and tracks them through a computer model of the radiation-delivery device and the patient’s CT scans to create a detailed map of the dose distribution (see image). NOMOS will initially incorporate Peregrine into its CORVUS inverse treatment planning system, and will then develop a stand-alone version to work with other treatment planning systems.

European Study Shows No Benefit for Fiber Supplement in Preventing Polyps

November 01, 2000

DIJON, France-In patients with a history of colorectal adenomas, use of a soluble fiber supplement (ispaghula husk) appears to have an adverse effect on recurrence, said Jean Faivre, MD, of the European Cancer Prevention Organi-sation (ECP) Study Group. The study also showed that calcium supplementation produced a modest but not significant reduction in the risk of adenoma recurrence.

Search for More Satisfactory Therapy Leads to Gemcitabine/Mitomycin-C Combination

November 01, 2000

HAMBURG, Germany-“The overall results of the treatment of advanced non–small-cell lung cancer are unsatisfactory,” Ulrich Gatzemeier, MD, said in an overview of recent German trials he presented at the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer. Dr. Gatzemeier is head of the Department of Thoracic Oncology with Hospital Grosshansdorf, Hamburg, Germany.

Hybrid Procedure Uses Both Laparoscopic and Open Surgery for Rectal Cancer

November 01, 2000

BOSTON-A hybrid approach mixing laparoscopic and open procedures in surgery for rectal cancer may allow patients a faster recovery, Richard L. Whelan, MD, said at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons annual meeting. The approach uses laparoscopic methods for splenic flexure takedown in the area near the diaphragm at the start of the operation and switches to open surgery for removal of the cancer from the rectum.

Irinotecan May Be One of the Most Active Agents Available Against Extensive Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

TOKYO, Japan-New phase III trial data suggest that irinotecan is one of the most active agents available to treat extensive-disease small-cell lung cancer, outperforming the standard etoposide (VePesid)/cisplatin (Platinol) treatment, while causing less myelosuppression.

Eight SCLC Patients Receiving Paclitaxel/Cisplatin/Etoposide Combination Die

November 01, 2000

HERAKLION, Greece-A multicenter phase III study comparing the triple combination of paclitaxel (Taxol), cisplatin (Platinol), and etoposide (VePesid) to the double combination of cisplatin and etoposide as front-line treatment for small-cell lung cancer was stopped because of eight toxic deaths. Less than a third of the planned number of patients had been accrued.

New Echinocandin Antifungal Effective Against Aspergillosis

November 01, 2000

TORONTO-Preliminary clinical trial results show that treatment with caspofungin acetate (Cancidas, investigational) produced a favorable response in 41% of patients with life-threatening invasive aspergillosis who were not responding to or were intolerant of other antifungal therapy.

Peregrine Provides 3D Monte-Carlo-Based Dose Calculations for Radiation Therapy

November 01, 2000

The image shows the radiation therapy treatment plan for a seven-field conformal boost to the prostate, using Peregrine, a 3D Monte-Carlo-based dose calculation system. Monte Carlo simulates the trillions of radiation particles that enter the body during treatment and develops a detailed computerized map of the radiation dose the patient will receive. The technology, developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and licensed to NOMOS Corporation, has received FDA clearance for marketing. Image courtesy of NOMOS and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California.

Optimal Topotecan Sequence and Combination in First-Line SCLC Treatment Elusive

November 01, 2000

MADISON, Wisconsin-Although topotecan (Hycamtin) has clear activity in small-cell lung cancer, the optimal combinations, schedule, and route of administration for use of this topoisomerase-I inhibitor as first-line therapy are yet to be determined, according to Joan H. Schiller, MD, of the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Madison, Wisconsin.

Systemic Fungal Infections on the Rise

November 01, 2000

Caspofungin (Cancidas) is being developed by Merck as an intravenous medicine for systemic fungal infections, such as those caused by Aspergillus and Candida, Merck said in a press release. These infections, once considered unusual, have risen in number over the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Irinotecan Highly Active in Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

TOKYO, Japan-“I remain convinced that irinotecan is one of the most active agents for the treatment of lung cancer, both non–small-cell and small-cell,” stated David H. Johnson, MD, professor of medicine and director of medical oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville. Dr. Johnson was leadoff speaker at a seminar titled ‘‘Current Status of Irinotecan in Lung Cancer’’ held in conjunction with the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer. The meeting was supported by an educational grant from Pharmacia Oncology, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Aventis Pharma S.A.

NBCAM ‘Hot Topics’ Helps Women Navigate the Web

November 01, 2000

WILMINGTON, Delaware-The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign (NBCAM) has launched a new tool to help the public navigate the Internet to obtain the most credible and accurate information about breast cancer. The “Hot Topics” search engine offers “one-stop shopping” for women seeking information about breast cancer, Bette Iacino, national coordinator of NBCAM, said in an interview with ONI.

Irinotecan/Docetaxel Combination Has Potential in Recurrent Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

ROCHESTER, Minnesota-The combination of irinotecan (Camptosar)and docetaxel (Taxotere) is a promising treatment for recurrent non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but the dosing schedule tested in phase I and II trials needs to be modified to reduce the potential for myelosuppression and diarrhea, cautioned Alex Adjei, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

ECOG Seeks New Agents to Make Greater Headway Against Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

NASHVILLE, Tennessee-Conceding that treatment of advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has made only limited progress in the past decade, members of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) have vowed to pursue newer chemotherapeutic agents aggressively. ECOG’s focus has changed, according to David H. Johnson, MD, director of hematology and oncology with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville. Investigators now see the promise in new biological agents with novel mechanisms of action that might be integrated into current chemotherapeutic regimens.

New Investigations Question Need for Cisplatin in Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands-Cisplatin (Platinol), the cornerstone of chemotherapy for advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), continues to come under increased scrutiny, noted Pieter E. Postmus, MD, FCCP. Investigators are searching for chemotherapeutic strategies that are as effective as platinum-based therapy, but are better tolerated and more cost-effective, he explained. Dr. Postmus is with the Department of Pulmonology, Vrije Universiteit, University Hospital, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

High-Intensity, Focused US in Localized Prostate Cancer

November 01, 2000

ATLANTA-High-intensity, focused ultrasound (HIFU) delivered through a rectal probe was highly successful at burning away localized prostate cancer, Christian Chaussy, MD, reported at the American Urological Association 2000 Annual Meeting.

Irinotecan or Vindesine with Cisplatin Yields Similar Responses and Survival

November 01, 2000

CHIBA, Japan-Combining either irinotecan (Camptosar) or vindesine with cis-platin (Platinol) produced similar objective responses and survival rates in patients with stage IIIB or IV non–small-cell lung cancer, according to final results of a randomized trial.

Four-Drug Regimen Enhances Responses and Increases Survival

November 01, 2000

MONTPELLIER, France-A four-drug regimen produced better outcomes in patients with extensive small-cell lung cancer than the commonly used combination of etoposide (VePesid) and cisplatin (Platinol), a French multicenter study showed.

NCI Restructures Effort to Reduce Disparities Cancer Disparities Among Various Groups

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA-The National Cancer Institute will rename and restructure its Office of Special Populations Research as part of its increased efforts to reduce disparities in the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer among various US subpopulations.

Evidence Mounting That Diet Plays a Role in Prostate Cancer

November 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-Evidence for the role of diet in the etiology of prostate cancer is mounting and with it, the possibility that nutritional factors can help prevent the disease, Demetrius Albanes, MD, said at the annual meeting of the Society of Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy. Dr. Albanes is a senior investigator with the Cancer Prevention Studies Branch of the National Cancer Institute.

President’s Cancer Panel Examining Barriers to Care

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The President’s Cancer Panel is conducting a series of seven regional meetings to explore the question, “Why don’t all Americans get the best available cancer care?” The panel is seeking to identify specific barriers to care and ways to overcome them.

Pre-op CT Scans Appear Useful in Colon Cancer

November 01, 2000

BOSTON-Preoperative CT scans may be a cost-effective way to improve management of colon cancer patients through earlier identification of those who have liver metastases, Richard S. Swanson, MD, said at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting.

Irinotecan/Cisplatin With Split-Course Thoracic Irradiation Set to Proceed to Phase II Study

November 01, 2000

TOKYO, JAPAN-The administration of irinotecan (Camptosar) 60 mg/m² and cisplatin (Platinol) 80 mg/m² with concurrent thoracic radiotherapy has been identified as the recommended dose for evaluation in a phase II study in patients with locally advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Irinotecan/Cisplatin Superior to Etoposide/Cisplatin in Small-Cell Lung Cancer

November 01, 2000

OSAKA, Japan-A randomized phase III trial in small-cell lung cancer patients with extensive disease was stopped after interim analyses uncovered a clear survival benefit for a regimen combining irinotecan (Camptosar) and cisplatin (Platinol) over an etoposide (VePesid) and cisplatin combination.

Colorectal Cancer Incidence May Be Rising in Younger People

November 01, 2000

BOSTON-Surgeons at the University of Texas–Southwestern Medical Center (UT-SW), Dallas, have documented a rising incidence of colorectal cancer among people aged 40 to 49. They presented the results of the retrospective study at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting.

Advocates for Biomedical Research Receive Awards

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Two effective advocates for biomedical research who are retiring from Congress were honored by two advocacy groups for their support of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Poor Reading Skills Present Barrier to Cancer Care and Health

November 01, 2000

Technological ad-vances in cancer prevention and therapy have dramatically reduced cancer mortality, yet literacy continues to be a formidable obstacle to the treatment and prevention of cancer. Patients with low literacy skills who are unable to read and comprehend medical information vital to their health cannot take advantage of these innovative early detection programs and treatments.

Ongoing Phase I Trial of Sequential Administration of Docetaxel, Gemcitabine, and Irinotecan

November 01, 2000

CHARLESTON, South Carolina-A phase II trial involving the sequential administration of docetaxel (Taxotere), gemcitabine (Gemzar), and irinotecan (Camptosar) in patients with non–small-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is being planned. Announcement of the new trial comes in the wake of results of a phase I trial among patients with solid tumors that was reported at the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer by Caio Max S. Rocha Lima, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Irinotecan Plus a Taxane May Surpass Current Treatments for NSCLC

November 01, 2000

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut-The combination of irinotecan (Camptosar) and a taxane is well tolerated in dose-finding studies and deserves further evaluation in non–small-cell lung cancer, according to Randy S. Rich, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine.

New Methods of Diagnosis and Treatment May Offer Longer Survival in Ovarian Cancer Cancer Patients

November 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-New diagnostic tests and effective second-line chemotherapeutic agents may transform ovarian cancer from a certain killer into a chronic disease capable of being managed with medications that are easy to administer, provide good quality of life, and reliably quash recurrences of disease, said Patricia Goldman and Agustin Garcia, MD.

Study Group to Develop Prediction Model for Neutropenia

November 01, 2000

ALBANY, NY-A team of leading oncologists and hematologists has begun a study designed to help physicians more accurately predict and manage neutropenia. The Awareness of Neutropenia in Chemotherapy (ANC) Study Group was formed to develop more accurate prediction models for neutropenia.