Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 12

Radiation Therapy After Mastectomy: Mistaken Assumptions

December 01, 2000

I am writing in reference to your “Oncology Rounds” section in the September 2000 issue of Oncology News International (page 18). In the first case, entitled “What further therapy for this woman postmastectomy?” I noted that in the answer given by I. Craig Henderson, MD, there was no specific mention of adjuvant radiation therapy.

Use Caution in Retinoid Chemoprevention Trials

December 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-Physicians should approach the use of retinoids for chemoprevention of aerodigestive cancers very carefully, warns a research scientist who has been studying the use of natural and synthetic vitamin A in animal models with esophageal cancer. The studies have shown increased tumorigenicity among the animals treated with the synthetic vitamin.

Antifolate + Platinum in Advanced NSCLC

December 01, 2000

TOKYO-A platinum-based regimen including the investigational antifolate pemetrexed disodium (Alimta) is active and well tolerated in stage IIIb/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to the final results of a phase II trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group and presented at the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer. The drug may also represent a new option for patients with mesothelioma.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Working, But Challenges Remain Remain

December 01, 2000

HOUSTON-Colorectal cancer mortality has declined slightly in the last 10 years, and the decrease appears to be accelerating. This decline is due in large part to screening and early detection, said Patrick M. Lynch, MD, associate professor of medicine, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Faces Pain Scale Useful in Evaluating Pain in Younger Children

December 01, 2000

CALLAHAN, Australia-A new study suggests that the Faces Pain Scale (FPS) is “sensitive and discriminating” for use in evaluating pain in young children, but does not function as a truly linear scale. Children in the study had difficulty discriminating among Faces 3, 4, and 5 and between Faces 5 and 6, said Mark Hunter, PhD, of the Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle.

NIH Funds Two New CAM Cancer Therapy Research Centers

December 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Two new research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health will focus on basic and clinical research of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) cancer therapies. The centers, at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania, will each receive nearly $8 million over 5 years.

Most Cancer Patients Say They Are Unaware of Clinical Trials Survey

December 01, 2000

NEW YORK-About 85% of cancer patients in a national survey said they were unsure or unaware of their possible eligibility to be in clinical trials, and 75% said they would have tried to enroll had they known.

Vessel Sealing Tool Effective in Laparoscopic Colon Surgery

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-A new electrosurgical tool that seals blood vessels without staples or vascular clips is safe and effective for laparoscopic colon surgery, according to a study reported at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) annual meeting.

Use of EPA Improves Cachexia in Patients With Pancreatic Cancer

December 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-Pancreatic cancer patients usually lose 25% of their body mass within 4 months of diagnosis and die within 6 months. But early work from Scotland on supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) seems to suggest that the fatty acid may stabilize weight and add months to the lives of pancreatic cancer patients.

PCOS Shows Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment on Patients’ Quality of Life

December 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute has released a summary of published data derived so far from the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study (PCOS), which seeks to determine the effect of various therapies for primary invasive prostate cancer on patients’ quality of life.

FDA Approves Trizivir, 3-Drug Anti-HIV Combo

December 01, 2000

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC-Trizivir, Glaxo-Wellcome’s new triple-drug anti-HIV combination, has received FDA approval. The agent is given as one tablet twice daily, with no food or water restrictions.

Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants: Supportive Care Is Key

December 01, 2000

HOUSTON-Supportive care for patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation presents a series of challenges, from regimen-related toxicity to chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), said Daniel Couriel, MD, assistant professor of blood and marrow transplantation, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

RT Boost Lowers Recurrence Rate After Breast Conservation

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-A 16-Gy radiation boost can cut the local recurrence rate by more than half at 5 years for younger breast cancer patients receiving lumpectomy with radiation therapy, according to European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) clinical trial results presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting.

SPORES Granted for Breast and Prostate Cancer Research

December 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Grants totaling $12.7 million have been awarded to five institutions for new research initiatives in breast and prostate cancer. The National Cancer Institute under its SPORE program (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) will fund the projects. The money will pay for the first year of the 5-year projects. Awards went to:

‘Eclipse’ Cigarettes Higher in Carcinogens Than ‘Ultralights’

December 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Several health groups have demanded that R.J. Reynolds Co. withdraw its new Eclipse cigarette from test marketing after an analysis showed that the cigarette exposes smokers to greater amounts of carcinogens than two currently available “ultralight” brands. The company has said that Eclipse contains fewer carcinogens than other cigarettes and may reduce the risk of smoking-related cancers.

HHV-8 Found in Saliva, Suggests Spread by ‘Deep Kissing’

December 01, 2000

SEATTLE-A new study shows that human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), thought to be the cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma, is more likely to be found in mucosal samples than in anal/genital samples, and is found at higher levels in saliva than in samples from the genital tract. Consequently, viral spread is more likely from oral than from genital exposure.

Study Supports Full Staging Workup for Orbital Lymphoma

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-Patients diagnosed with orbital lymphoma should have a complete staging workup before radiation therapy, according to a Rare Cancer Network presentation at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

Potent Thalidomide Analogs Active Against Multiple Myeloma

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-Laboratory studies assessing the effect of potent thalidomide analogs on multiple myeloma cells suggest they have potential for the treatment of multiple myeloma, investigators from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School reported.

New Standards for Hormonal Treatment of Breast Cancer

December 01, 2000

HAMBURG, Germany -Recent clinical trials presented at the 25th Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) suggest that new standards for the hormonal treatment of breast cancer may be emerging.

Gap Persists Between Research Results, Application

December 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-“Without even waiting for the research of tomorrow, we could save tens or hundreds of thousand of lives if we could apply 100% of what we know now about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Gabriel Hortobagyi, MD, chairman of Breast Medical Oncology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “There is still a persistent gap between what we have learned and its application into clinical practice, simply because the translation of research into clinical practice is very slow.”

NCI Funds 4-Year Projects at 12 Tobacco Research Centers

December 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched its new antismoking initiative, Research in State and Community Tobacco Control Interventions, by awarding 12 grants totaling $13 million. The money will support the first year of 4-year research projects on local, state, and multistate tobacco prevention and control programs.

Neoadjuvant Chemo Ups Survival in Esophageal Cancer

December 01, 2000

HAMBURG, Germany-Barely one fifth of patients who undergo surgery for esophageal cancer are alive 2 years later, and studies exploring the possible benefits of preoperative chemotherapy and radiotherapy have yielded equivocal results at best.

Vinorelbine/Cisplatin Effective in Metastatic NSCLC

December 01, 2000

HAMBURG, Germany-GLOB-1 trial results, reported at the 25th Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), have confirmed the combination of vinorelbine (Navelbine) and cisplatin (Platinol) as a chemotherapy reference standard in metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), raising questions about the role of three-drug combinations in this setting.

New Melanoma Regimens Fail to Improve on Interferon

December 01, 2000

HAMBURG, Germany-Attempts to improve on interferon-based regimens for melanoma with alternative immuno-stimulant strategies are proving less successful than originally hoped, according to presentations at the 25th Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Evidence-Based Medicine Key to Mainstreaming of NOAT

December 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-The Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy (NOAT) is an interdisciplinary professional organization that addresses the role of nutrition and metabolism in oncology. Founded in 1994, NOAT is the first organization devoted solely to studying the role of nutrition in cancer (see box).

Lisa’s Story Comic Strips Now in Book Form

December 01, 2000

NEW YORK-When Tom Batiuk’s nationally syndicated comic strip Funky Winkerbean began its compelling breast cancer storyline in January 1999, some questioned whether such a serious subject belonged on the funny pages. However, after 2 years of overwhelming support from breast cancer organizations and survivors, “Lisa’ Story” has shown that not even cancer can injure the funnybone.

Improvements in DCIS Pathologic Diagnosis

December 01, 2000

CHICAGO-The diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) usually is straightforward from a pathologic point of view. However, microinvasion and histologically ambiguous lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) lesions may be difficult to distinguish from DCIS, Stuart Schnitt, MD, said at the Second Annual Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium, sponsored by Northwestern University Medical School.

RT After Wide Excision for DCIS Is Debated

December 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Results from two published prospective randomized clinical trials of women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) show that radiotherapy after wide excision reduces local recurrence by 7% to 15%, said Melvin J. Silverstein, MD, who does not believe radiotherapy is suitable for all women with this form of breast disease.

Hormones May Benefit Select Early Prostate Cancer Patients

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-Short-term hormone therapy may benefit patients with localized intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer, according to three retrospective studies presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

Parenteral Nutrition Techniques Improve Cancer Patients’ Status

December 01, 2000

PHILADELPHIA-For too long, the nutritional needs of cachectic cancer patients have been ignored, Stanley J. Dudrick, MD, said at the 5th International Congress of the Society for Nutritional Oncology Adjuvant Therapy.

Nonplatinum Regimen Appears Active in Advanced NSCLC

December 01, 2000

TOKYO-A regimen of paclitaxel (Taxol) and vinorelbine (Navelbine) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) appears to yield results similar to those with platinum-based regimens, according to phase I/II studies presented at the 9th World Conference on Lung Cancer.

Long-Term Hormones Beneficial in High-Risk Prostate Cancer

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-Combining long-term hormone therapy with radiation therapy for locally advanced prostate cancer significantly improves local progression, disease-free survival, freedom from distant metastasis, and biochemical control, according to results of a phase III clinical trial presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.

Dr. Hussey Foresees More Physician Competency Reviews

December 01, 2000

BOSTON-David H. Hussey, MD, president of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO), predicts that increased assessment of physician competence will have a profound and positive effect on medical training for new and practicing physicians in all medical specialties.

Neoadjuvant Docetaxel May Increase Survival in Locally Advanced NSCLC

December 01, 2000

TOKYO-Neoadjuvant therapy with the taxane docetaxel (Taxotere) is well tolerated and boosts survival over local treatment alone in patients with radically treatable, locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), investigators reported at the Ninth World Conference on Lung Cancer.

HLA Phenotype May Determine Efficacy of New Melanoma Vaccine

December 01, 2000

SEATTLE-Melanoma patients with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) phenotypes may respond better to an investigational therapeutic vaccine known as Melacine than those without the phenotype, Vernon Sondak, MD, reported for the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) at the Society of Biological Therapy annual meeting.

Breast and Cervical Cancer Bill Signed

December 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-President Clinton has signed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000 into law. The Act provides $990 million over 10 years to expand the treatment options for uninsured, low-income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer in a nationwide program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NIH Panel Sets Standards for Adjuvant Breast Cancer Therapy

November 01, 2000

BETHESDA-Combination chemotherapy as an adjuvant treatment for breast cancer yields long-term survival benefits and should be offered to patients, even those whose tumors have not spread beyond the breast, according to a consensus panel convened by the National Institutes of Health. The panel also recommended hormone therapy for women whose tumors have hormone receptors, and radiation therapy for women who have had a mastectomy and are at high risk of recurrence.