Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 6

Genentech Issues Warning on Herceptin

June 02, 2000

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO-Genentech Inc. has issued a “Dear Doctor” letter to alert physicians to 62 postmarketing reports of serious adverse events related to the use of trastuzumab (Herceptin), the company’s anti-HER-2 monoclonal antibody for use in treating HER-2-positive breast cancer. To date, about 25,000 women have been treated with Herceptin worldwide.

How Physicians Can Effect Changes in Health Care Policy

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Eric S. Berger, vice president of planning and public policy, US Oncology, Inc., Houston, has a word of advice for cancer care providers seeking to influence legislators: “Speak from the heart.”

Four From Congress Receive Tsongas Award

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Four members of Congress received the Paul E. Tsongas Award from the Lymphoma Research Foundation of America during a Capitol Hill ceremony. The award is presented annually “to recognize outstanding legislative leadership and commitment in support of the health care issues that result in improving the quality of life for all Americans.”

NCI Targets Cancer Disparities With Community-Based Programs

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-In an effort to better understand and deal with the unequal burden of cancer among various subgroups of US residents, the National Cancer Institute has launched a program to engage members of these minority and underserved populations in community-based cancer control, prevention, research, and training projects.

Mapping Predicts Nodal Status in Colorectal Cancer Patients

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-A prospective study in colorectal cancer patients has found that sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping correctly predicts the presence or absence of nodal metastases, with a very low incidence of skip metastases (disease in a non-SLN), as it does in melanoma and breast cancer.

SSO President Tells Members: ‘Remember Your Core Values’

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS- The “deprofessionalization” of medicine is the greatest challenge faced by physicians today, Glenn D. Steele, Jr., MD, PhD, said in his presidential address at the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) Cancer Symposium. He implored his colleagues to get back on the “high road of first principles” in order to tackle the problems generated by managed care and and other aspects of the current health care climate.

HHS Grants $794 Million in Ryan White Funds to Improve HIV Services

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded grants totaling $794 million to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories, to improve access to primary care, support services, and medications for HIV-infected individuals and their families.

Lower-Dose Topotecan Is Safe and Effective in Resistant or Refractory Ovarian Cancer

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Doses of topotecan (Hycamtin) one third lower than the label recommends are still effective as ovarian cancer salvage therapy and cause much less hematologic toxicity, Michael Rodriguez, MD, reported at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Rapid Dose Titration With Controlled-Release Oxycodone

June 01, 2000

MIAMI, Florida-Two separate multicenter trials suggest that dose titration in patients with chronic, moderate to severe pain can be achieved as readily with controlled-release (CR) oral oxyco-done (OxyContin) given once every 12 hours as with an oral intermediate-release (IR) formulation given four times a day.

Standard-Dose Chemo May Have Long-Term Cognitive Effects

June 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Preliminary findings from a study of long-term cancer survivors suggest a linkage of cognitive deficits to standard-dose chemotherapy, Timothy Ahles, PhD, reported at the Pan American Congress of Psychosocial and Behavioral Oncology.

Book Prepares Children for BMT Procedures

June 01, 2000

A new book, Me and My Marrow: A Kid’s Guide to Bone Marrow Transplants, helps guide children with cancer through the transplant procedure. The book was inspired by 13-year-old Christina Cuzzone, of Northbrook, Illinois, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 9 and underwent a BMT. After recovering from the transplant, Christina recognized the need for a book to help other children.

Insufficient Evidence for Antioxidants’ Anticancer Effects: IOM

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Scientific studies provide insufficient evidence that consuming high doses of antioxidants in the diet and as supplements can prevent chronic diseases, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a part of the National Academy of Sci-ences. Indeed, megadoses of some antioxidants may lead to ill health rather than benefits, the report warned.

Conservative Surgery for Ovarian Cancer Preserves Fertility

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Conservative surgery can preserve fertility in young women with epithelial ovarian cancer and achieve survival rates comparable to standard surgery (total abdominal hysterectomy and removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries), researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported at the 31st annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Positive/Negative Purging System Effective in PBSC Grafts for CLL

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Positive/negative purging of peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) grafts allows preparation of highly purified CD34+ fractions and up to 6 log of tumor cell depletion in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), according to a study conducted at the University of Kiel, Germany. Peter Dreger, MD, reported the results at the 41st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Lymphoscintigraphy Maps Extra-axillary Nodal Drainage

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy can be used to identify women with primary breast cancer who have multidirectional lymphatic drainage. This appears to occur in about 10% of breast cancer patients, who can then have these areas dissected or included in radiation ports.

HPV Infection May Cause Certain Head and Neck Cancers

June 01, 2000

BALTIMORE-Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and School of Hygiene and Public Health have found human papillomavirus (HPV) to be a likely cause of certain cancers of the head and neck, and also an indicator of improved survival.

Innovative Technologies Used for Patient and Medical Education

June 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-Patient education can be improved through the use of new technologies such as computer networks and CD-ROMs. At the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a website provides disease information and clinical trial updates for multiple myeloma patients. At the Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto), cancer information for both patients and professionals is offered on its local “intranet” and on CD-ROMs. These cancer education efforts were described at the 33rd annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Education.

ASCO Initiates Study of Quality of Cancer Care

June 01, 2000

ASCO-The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has embarked upon “one of the most important and far reaching initiatives ever undertaken by any medical specialty society-the National Initiative on Cancer Care Quality (NICCQ),” Joseph S. Bailes, MD, outgoing ASCO president, said at the Society’s 36th annual meeting held in New Orleans.

New Process for Depleting B Cells for Transplant in NHL

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-A nonmagnetic method of depleting B cells during purging before autologous peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplantation greatly decreases the nonspecific cell loss that can occur when cells cross a magnet, as in other techniques. The nonmagnetic method is also simple and quick, John Gribben, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said at the 41st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Inspector General Office Report Finds Little Progress in IRB System Reform

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have made little progress in implementing recommendations to reform the Institutional Review Board (IRB) system to ensure the protection of patients participating in medical research, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General (IG) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Palliative Care Is More Than End-Of-Life Care

June 01, 2000

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla-Palliative care, broadly defined, can benefit cancer patients who are newly diagnosed and who are in active treatment, as well as those who are near death. In creating guidelines for palliative care, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Palliative Care Panel members found agreement on this point.

Intergroup Melanoma Surgical Trial Validates 2-cm Excision

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-Long-term follow-up of patients who underwent surgical excision of intermediate-thickness melanomas offers valuable information regarding the risk of local recurrence, especially as it relates to treatment.

ASH Moves to Self-Management at New Location

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-As part of its move to self-management, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) has moved its offices to a new independent location in Washington, DC. Formerly with an association management firm, the ASH executive committee voted in 1999 for the Society to make the move. Martha Liggett, Esq, will continue to serve as executive director.

Cervical Cancer Risk Linked to HPV and Poor Immune Status

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-AIDS experts have long worried that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection might increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer, particularly in the presence of concurrent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Older Cancer Patients Benefit From Geriatric Assessment

June 01, 2000

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla-Older cancer patients are at increased risk for complications of chemotherapy, and such risks must be weighed against the potential benefits of treatment. However, chronologic age is an imprecise gauge of physical condition. A geriatric assessment can help the physician determine the best approach to cancer treatment, Lodovico Balducci, MD, said at the fifth annual conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

Fluorescent Marker Permits Clean Partial Nephrectomy

June 01, 2000

ATLANTA-A fluorescent marker given 4 hours before surgery lights up renal cell carcinoma cells and eliminates the need for frozen sections to guarantee clean margins during kidney-preserving tumor resection, German researchers reported in a poster presented at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA).

Proposed Rules Allow New Role for States in Mammography Regulation

June 01, 2000

ROCKVILLE, Md-The FDA has proposed rules that would enable it to authorize states to certify, inspect, and enforce quality standards at mammography facilities within their boarders. The rules would implement a provision of the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992 (MQSA) and significantly increase the role of the states in the process.

Most Ovarian Cancer Patients Have Prior Abdominal or GI Symptoms

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Most women with ovarian cancer have previous abdominal or gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, and diagnoses are often delayed because neither patients nor physicians recognize these early warning signs, Barbara A. Goff, MD, reported at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Newer Chemotherapy Regimens Boost Survival in NSCLC

June 01, 2000

ASCO-Treatment with chemotherapy extends the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer and should become a standard treatment option offered to these patients, according to two papers presented at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (New Orleans).

Most High-Risk Women Reject Tamoxifen Chemoprevention

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-The vast majority of patients offered tamoxifen (Nolvadex) for primary chemoprevention of breast cancer decline it, even after exposure to an educational intervention program, investigators from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported at the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) Cancer Symposium.

SSRIs May Reduce Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors

June 01, 2000

TAMPA, Fla-Anecdotal reports suggest that the selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly prescribed for depression might be efficacious in alleviating hot flashes in breast cancer survivors without the risks associated with hormonal therapies. Vered Stearns, MD, of the Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, discussed her research at the American Cancer Society’s 42nd Annual Science Writers Seminar.

Survey Finds Support for Patient Privacy Laws

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-A survey has found that breast cancer researchers largely support legislation to “minimize the risk of exploitation of medical information by commercial sources and otherwise adequately protect patient privacy.” However, they also are concerned about “unbridled privacy laws” that would “delay or discourage scientific progress through quality research.”

Efficacy of Adjunctive Therapy With Tamoxifen Depends on Tumor’s Hormone Receptor Status

June 01, 2000

San Antonio-New data presented at the 22nd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium indicate that hormone-receptor status may play a critical role in the effectiveness of adding tamoxifen (Nolvadex) to adjuvant chemotherapy in high-risk node-negative breast cancer patients.

RF Ablation System for Liver Lesions

June 01, 2000

SUNNYVALE, California-RadioTherapeutics Corporation has received clearance from the FDA to market its RF System for the ablation of nonresectable liver lesions. The system, consisting of the RF 2000 Radio-frequency Generator and family of LeVeen Needle Electrodes, provides radiofrequency (RF) energy to heat and destroy soft tissue.

Restrictive Patient Privacy Laws Could Thwart Research

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-When the National Coalition of Cancer Research (NCCR) brought its concerns about the impact of proposed patient privacy regulations on medical research to Capitol Hill, it got strong confirmation about its fears from the founder of the House Cancer Awareness Working Group.

Mammography in a Digital Age: The Experience at Moffitt

June 01, 2000

ORLANDO-The technology for mammography to go digital is here, but it may take 5 or 10 years for the transition because of the higher costs that the newer method entails, Maria Kallergi, PhD, said at the Joint Cancer Conference of the Florida Universities.

Mylotarg Is Approved for Older AML Patients in First Relapse

June 01, 2000

ASCO-Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin) has received FDA approval for treatment of CD33-positive acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in patients age 60 and older in first relapse who are poor candidates for cytotoxic therapy. The agent, manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst, was approved as an orphan drug.

Work Pressure a Barrier to CME on the Internet: Canadian Study

June 01, 2000

CLEVELAND-Distance education for continuing medical education (CME), often conducted via e-mail and the Inter-net, is designed for independent study at the participant’s convenience. It also eliminates the need for travel, an important consideration in a country like Canada with a large geographic area and a small population.

Reynolds’s Allegedly Safer ‘Eclipse’ Cigarette Casts a Dark Shadow

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-A safer cigarette from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company? Leading antismoking groups don’t buy it, and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala expressed “significant concerns about the marketing plans” for RJR’s new Eclipse brand.

Greater HPV Persistence in HIV+ Women in Southeast US

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women from the southeastern United States are more likely to have contracted HIV through heterosexual contact, to be black, and to harbor multiple subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) than are HIV-positive women from other parts of the country, Ronald D. Alvarez, MD, said at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Camptosar Approved for First-Line Rx of Advanced Colon Cancer

June 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Pharmacia & Upjohn’s Camptosar (irinotecan) has won FDA approval for use as a first-line agent in metastatic colorectal cancer, in combination with fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin. [See ONI April 2000, page 3 for the ODAC review.] The agent was approved as a follow-up colorectal cancer treatment in 1996.

Oncolytic Herpesvirus Promising in Colon Cancer Liver Metastases

June 01, 2000

NEW ORLEANS-A mutant her-pesvirus has been shown, in vitro and in vivo, to be highly oncolytic against colon carcinoma cells in liver metastases. On-colysis induced by the replication of this virus, combined with cyclophosphamide prodrug activation, appears to hold therapeutic promise in this setting, according to research presented at the Society of Surgical Oncology Cancer Symposium.

SGO Tests New Outcomes Measure for Endometrial Cancer Care

June 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Preliminary data show that a new outcomes measurement tool developed by the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) Outcomes Task Force is a reliable method for demonstrating quality of care to third parties. Lead author Alexander W. Kennedy, MD, of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, reported on behalf of the task force at the SGO’s 31st Annual Meeting.

Radiotherapy Delay After Lumpectomy Reduces Disease-Free Survival in Indigent Black Women

June 01, 2000

CHICAGO-Breast conservation followed by radiotherapy is an effective treatment approach for invasive breast cancer in medically indigent black women, but prompt initiation of the radiotherapy and adequate radiation dose are necessary to achieve optimal results, according to a study presented at the 85th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Quality of Life Assessment in Culturally Diverse Populations

June 01, 2000

CHICAGO-While the main objective in caring for cancer patients has been to prolong life and to focus on short-term and long-term survival, more recent efforts include considerations of health-related quality of life (QOL).[1,2] The World Health Organization defines QOL as “not merely the absence of disease but a state of physical, emotional, and social well being.”[3]

Tips for Caregivers on Coping With Cancer Symptoms and Drug Effects

June 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Coping with cancer and the side effects of treatment can be difficult and frustrating for caregivers as well as patients. Frances K. Barg, MEd, Coordinator for Cancer Control Education, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and Mary Pat Lynch, CRNP, MSN, AOCN, graduate faculty, Oncology Advanced Practice Nurse Program, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, had some tips for caregivers and answers to their questions at a Cancer Care, Inc. teleconference. They reviewed a number of things caregivers can do to help relieve the most common problems.

Survey Shows Patient/Physician Communication Gaps

June 01, 2000

ATLANTA-Many urologists treating men with prostate cancer are unaware that their patients are experiencing such disturbing treatment side effects as hot flashes, altered bowel habits, or weight change, according to the results of a national survey announced at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA).