Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 4

NCCN Physicians Get an ‘A’ for Guidelines Concordance

April 01, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-The 17 institutions of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) are adhering closely to their own practice guidelines for breast cancer, according to a report given by the NCCN Outcomes Committee.

Marketing Prostate Cancer Screening Services to Women

April 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-A program at Travis Air Force Base in California is educating men about the purpose of prostate cancer screening by mailing brochures to the women who use medical services on the base. “This is a novel approach to going after the top men’s cancer,” said Maj. (Dr.) Darryl C. Hunter, medical director of the General Huyser Regional Cancer Center at Travis Air Force Base. He spoke at the 33rd annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Education.

Physicians Bring End-of-Life Program Back to Communities

April 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-Nearly 450 physicians have been trained to teach the American Medical Association’s curriculum on the appropriate care of dying patients. The program, known as Education for Physicians on End-of-Life Care, or EPEC, provides physicians with the basic skills and knowledge needed to care for the seriously ill and dying.

Topotecan Doses Individualized in Neuroblastoma

April 01, 2000

MEMPHIS-In an effort to better understand the wide variation in patient response to therapy for neuroblastoma, researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have initiated a pilot study in which chemotherapy doses will be individualized based on the patient’s personal pharmacokinetics.

Encouraging Results for Gene Therapy in CLL

April 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Encouraging results have emerged for a gene therapy approach that stimulates a T cell response in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). William G. Wierda, MD, of the Human Gene Therapy Program at the University of San Diego School of Medicine, presented the results at the 41st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

New Approach for Early Cancer Detection in Barrett’s Esophagus

April 01, 2000

PHOENIX-A more aggressive endoscopic biopsy protocol detected more early cancers in Barrett’s esophageal tissue than the standard protocol. Moreover, two separate studies have begun to identify specific genetic markers that may allow physicians to stratify patients with Barrett’s esophagus according to their risk for cancer progression.

Number of US Cancer Deaths Remained Steady in 1997

April 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The number of cancer deaths in the United States remained flat for the first time between 1996 and 1997, at about 540,000 (Figure 1). And the decreases in the mortality rates of many cancers seen in the first half of the 1990s seem to have accelerated, a preliminary review of cancer data for 1997 reveals.

Director Tells How NCI Will Spend Budget Increases

April 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-President Clinton’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2001 includes $3.505 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a 5.8% increase over the current fiscal year. The President also asked Congress to appropriate $18.813 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a 5.6% increase over its present budget.

IOM Report on Minority Research Praises NCI Efforts

April 01, 2000

CHICAGO-The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report to the Congress about research that relates to minority and medically underserved populations lauded many of the efforts the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has undertaken to conduct research and sponsor training programs involving ethnic minorities and the medically underserved, while making recommendations for improvement.

Breast MRI Changes Management of Occult Primary Cancers

April 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was able to find tumors in two thirds of 47 patients with stage II or III occult primary breast cancer with a high degree of sensitivity, avoiding mastectomy in nearly half of the women, Elizabeth Morris, MD, reported at the 85th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Komen Foundation Adds International Breast Cancer Programs

April 01, 2000

ROME-The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has extended its breast cancer awareness programs internationally with the establishment of affiliates in Italy, Argentina, Germany, and Greece. The Dallas-based foundation has 117 local US affiliates.

Physicians Urged to Encourage Clinical Trial Participation

April 01, 2000

ROME-A panel of cancer experts has called upon clinicians to do more to inform and counsel their patients about clinical trials. The plea was voiced during a webcast discussion sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and held at the 5th Annual Multidisciplinary Symposium on Breast Diseases.

GOG 158 Study Sets Standard of Care for Stage III Ovarian Cancer

April 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Data from a major randomized phase III trial show that carboplatin (Paraplatin)/paclitaxel (Taxol) should replace cisplatin (Platinol)/paclitaxel as standard treatment for optimal stage III ovarian cancer, Robert F. Ozols, MD, PhD, said at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists 31st Annual Meeting.

How Much Is Spent on Minority Research?

April 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Last year’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) report to the US Congress about research that relates to minority and medically underserved populations was bound to generate controversy because part of its purpose was to look at the amount of resources spent on studying these groups.

Clinton Seeks $220 Million for Poor Women

April 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-President Clinton has proposed spending $220 million over 5 years to pay for the treatment of women diagnosed in the federally supported National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

Researchers Hale Efforts to Boost Pediatric Cancer Drug Testing

April 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-The Food and Drug Administration’s effort to prod pharmaceutical companies into earlier testing of anticancer agents in children and teens (see FDA Tries to ‘Jump Start’ Pediatric Cancer Drug Trials) has drawn rave reviews from the pediatric oncology community.

ODAC Recommends Mylotarg Approval for AML Patients

April 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-In an unusual decision, the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) first voted against recommending accelerated approval for Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin, Wyeth-Ayerst) for the treatment of patients with CD33-positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in relapse. Then, after a sometimes intense discussion, ODAC members urged the FDA to grant accelerated approval for the drug’s use in a limited subgroup of patients, particularly those older than age 60.

What Cancer Patients Need to Know to Protect Their Jobs

April 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Cancer patients have employment rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other legislation, “and they will need them,” L. Susan Scelzo Slavin, Esq, a nationally known advocate and litigator on behalf of the catastrophically ill, said at a workshop sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc.

Fused Dendritic/Cancer Cells Promote Immune Response

April 01, 2000

n DALLAS-A vaccine for breast cancer patients using fusions of dendritic cells and cancer cells is currently in phase I clinical testing, said Jianlin Gong, MD, Division of Cancer Pharmacology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical School.

New Chemotherapeutic Regimens Tried Against Brain Cancer's

April 01, 2000

NEW YORK- Three researchers at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium XVII reported efforts to improve survival in the brain cancers glioblastoma multiforme and astrocytoma with new chemotherapeutic combinations.

NCAB Objects to Provisions in HHS’ Proposed Privacy Regs

April 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) has objected in a letter to several proposed provisions in a new rule mandated by Congress and drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS). The regulation would set privacy standards governing the release of health information that might reveal the identity of individual patients, and it could significantly affect oncologists whose patients enter clinical trials.

Actiq Useful in Adults Undergoing Bone Marrow Biopsy

April 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Primarily used for preprocedural analgesia and sedation in children, oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (Actiq) also works well for adult cancer patients undergoing diagnostic bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, Cheryl Ann Arena, MPH, PA–C, said at her poster presentation at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.

NCCN Guidelines Expand Tamoxifen Recommendations

April 01, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-The National Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCN) Practice Guidelines for Breast Cancer have been updated to reflect the results of new trials demonstrating the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) as a risk reduction agent for women treated for breast cancer.

Stem Cell Transplant Success Rate May Be Helped by Purging of Residual Cancer Cells

April 01, 2000

DALLAS-University of Texas M.D. Anderson researchers plan to test whether removal of residual breast cancer cells from stem cell transplant grafts will improve the long term success of such transplants for patients with late-stage metastatic breast cancer.

ODAC Declines to Recommend Approval of Eloxatin

April 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) declined to vote on whether to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration approve Eloxatin (oxaliplatin, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals) for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer in combination with fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy.

Rituximab Is Well Tolerated When Preceded by Chemo

April 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Toxicity related to rituximab (Rituxan) is greatly reduced in patients with indolent lymphomas when the antibody is given after two cycles of mitoxantrone/cyclophosphamide chemotherapy, Christos Emmanouilides, MD, reported in a poster presentation at the 41st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

ODAC Subcommittee Assessing Problems in Quality-of-Life Studies of Cancer Drugs

April 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-At the request of the Food and Drug Administration, a special subcommittee of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) has begun assessing issues related to the use of quality-of-life (QOL) endpoints in the approval process for new oncology drugs.

NCPB Urges States to Step Up Tobacco Control Programs

April 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-The National Cancer Policy Board (NCPB) has a message for states still deciding whether to devote some or all of their tobacco settlement funds to lowering tobacco use: Aggressive, focused control efforts work and save lives. “As states contemplate increasing their tobacco control efforts, many have asked if such programs can make a difference. The evidence is clear: They can,” a new NCPB report says.

FDA Tries to ‘Jump Start’ Pediatric Cancer Drug Trials

April 01, 2000

ROCKVILLE, Md-A new initiative by the Food and Drug Administration seeks to move more oncology drugs into pediatric testing and onto the market. In a letter sent to drug companies and researchers, and made public, the FDA said that such an effort “merits special consideration” and notes that the “known and potential differences in the biology of pediatric and adult tumors usually will not permit the extrapolation of clinical activity from adults to children.”