Oncology NEWS International Vol 9 No 7

Couric Urges Doctors to Talk to Patients About Colon Cancer

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-“More awareness for colorectal cancer can save lives,” Today Show anchor Katie Couric said via live satellite feed to attendees of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) plenary session, held during the Digestive Disease Week conference.

Automated Imaging Notification System Close to Fail-Safe

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-One way to ensure that the right parties receive imaging study results and actually look at them is to make notification nearly fail-safe. A system in use at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Asheville, NC, as well as other VAs, does exactly that, David M. Schuster, MD, staff radiologist at the hospital, said at the 100th annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

Higher Dairy Consumption Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk

July 01, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO-A new study supports the hypothesis that calcium consumption is associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer. June M. Chan, ScD, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, presented the results at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

First-Year Funding of Early Detection Research Network Complete

July 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The National Cancer Institute-sponsored Early Detection Research Network has issued 13 grants totaling $18 million to complete its first year of funding. Last fall, NCI awarded $8 million to set up the network’s initial operations-18 biomarker development laboratories. The new grants will finance the establishment of the program’s other three components: clinical and epidemiologic centers, biomarker validation laboratories, and a data management and coordinating center.

Gritty Antitobacco Ads and More From Legacy Foundation

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-Few were aware of the American Legacy Foundation until last February when it televised and then temporarily pulled two antitobacco advertisements, one of which showed body bags being stacked outside the headquarters of Philip Morris.

Tositumomab Effective for Low-Grade Follicular Lymphoma

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Tositumomab (Bexxar), an investigational antibody-based radioim-munotherapy agent, has been shown to be effective as first-line treatment of advanced-stage, low-grade follicular lymphoma, Mark Kaminski, MD, said at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, New Orleans.

New Awards Spotlight Courage of Cancer Survivors

July 01, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO-Surviving cancer is a joyous thing in itself. A new awards program will spotlight that joy and share the stories of 12 survivors who are “everyday heroes,” in an effort to help others who are struggling with the disease.

Hospital Volume Shown to Predict Breast Cancer Outcome

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Breast cancer patients receiving care in hospitals that treat fewer than 25 patients a year have substantially lower survival rates than women treated in larger-volume hospitals, according to a study presented at a poster session of the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), New Orleans.

New Drug Information Website

July 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Patients have a new, reliable source for information about drugs. The National Library of Medicine has added the US Pharmacopeia’s Drug Information, Vol. II, “Advice for the Patient,” to its MEDLINEplus website. The publication provides extensive information about more than 9,000 brand name, generic prescription, and over-the-counter medications, written in nontechnical language. The information is available at http://medlineplus.gov.

Taxol Teamed With Herceptin Tested Against Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2000

NEW YORK-A small trial of trastuzumab (Herceptin) alone and with paclitaxel (Taxol) found that the combination was active against prostate cancer, but trastuzumab alone was not. The results were presented at the ASCO meeting by Michael J. Morris, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Adding Paclitaxel to Adjuvant FAC in Operable Breast Cancer May Lower Risk of Recurrence

July 01, 2000

HOUSTON-A study comparing eight cycles of adjuvant fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide (FAC) to four cycles of paclitaxel (Taxol) followed by four cycles of FAC in women with operable breast cancer showed a nonsignificant trend toward benefit from the paclitaxel/FAC regimen.

Trend Toward Improved Outcomes With 5-FU/LV Plus RhuMabVEGF in Colorectal Cancer

July 01, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO-RhuMAb VEGF (recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody to vascular endothelial cell growth factor) in combination with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin chemotherapy (5-FU/LV) is well tolerated and may increase response rates and prolong time to disease progression in previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer, as compared with 5-FU/LV alone.

Weekly Taxol/Herceptin: 60% RR in Metastatic Breast Cancer

July 01, 2000

NEW YORK-A new regimen of weekly paclitaxel (Taxol) plus the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) produced an overall response rate of 60% among metastatic breast cancer patients, regardless of HER2 status, according to a study presented at the ASCO meeting.

Colonoscopy vs Sigmoidoscopy in Asymptomatic Women

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-In the VA Cooperative Study 380, screening colonoscopy found advanced adenomas in approximately 10% of asymptomatic veterans, and approximately 20% to 40% of those patients had no lesions within reach of a sigmoidoscope, depending on the insertion depth of the scope.

Accrual Problems Continue to Confound French Study of Hormonal Blockade vs Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

July 01, 2000

TOULOUSE, France-Accrual problems continue to plague clinical trials, most recently a French study attempting to compare complete hormonal blockade with luteinizing hormone–releasing hormone (LHRH) to chemotherapy in premenopausal early-stage breast cancer. Patients in the study were hormone-receptor positive and had one to three positive lymph nodes.

FDA’s Viewpoint on Approvals Needs to Be Heard: Dr. Pazdur

July 01, 2000

ROCKVILLE, Md-Last September, medical oncologist Richard Pazdur, MD, became director of the Division of Oncologic Drug Products at the US Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Pazdur joined the FDA after 12 years on the faculty of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where his most recent position was professor of medicine and director of educational programs within the Division of Medicine.

Intergroup Study Finds Post-op Chemoradiation Should Be Standard Care in Most Gastric Cancers

July 01, 2000

NEW YORK-Surgery plus postoperative radiation and chemotherapy should replace surgery alone as standard therapy for most patients with gastric cancer, according to data from Intergroup Study INT-0116. The results were presented at the ASCO meeting by John Macdonald, MD, of St. Vincent’s Cancer Center, New York.

STI-571 Targets More Advanced-Stage CML and Acute Leukemias

July 01, 2000

ASCO-STI-571, an investigational drug that has high activity in benign-phase chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), also produces significant hematologic responses in patients with advanced-stage CML or acute forms of leukemia, Moshe Talpaz, MD, said at the 36th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in New Orleans.

High Compliance Rate Seen With Repeat Screening Sigmoidoscopy

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Effective screening for colorectal cancer requires ongoing testing and follow-up. Robert E. Schoen, MD, MPH, of the University of Pittsburgh, reported that adherence with sigmoidoscopy is outstanding-about 86% of eligible subjects returned for a follow-up exam at 3 years. However, a negative experience with screening flexible sigmoidoscopy can keep patients from repeating the procedure. He discussed the findings at an American Gastroenterological Association research forum held during Digestive Disease Week.

‘Unprecedented’ Survival Times Result From Adding Docetaxel to Treatment Regimen for NSCLC

July 01, 2000

DAVIS, Calif-“Unprecedented” survival times for patients with stage IIIB non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have resulted from adding taxane sequencing to combined-modality therapy with radiotherapy plus cisplatin (Platinol) and etoposide. These results from the Southwestern Oncology Group (SWOG) 9504 trial were presented at the ASCO meeting by David R. Gandara, MD, of the University of California Cancer Center, Davis.

Study Confirms Efficacy of Concurrent Radiotherapy and Paclitaxel for NSCLC

July 01, 2000

BOSTON-A regimen of concurrent radiation and weekly administration of paclitaxel (Taxol)/carboplatin (Paraplatin), the most commonly used treatment for nonresectable non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), was evaluated in a national cooperative group trial and shown to be effective.

New Report Lists 218 Known or Likely Human Carcinogens

July 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-The number of substances “known” or “reasonably anticipated” to cause human cancer now stands at 218, according to the newly published Report on Carcinogens, 9th edition. The new number represents a total increase of 14 substances over the 8th edition. Sixteen substances were added to the previous list, and, for the first time, two were removed.

Similar Efficacy for Topotecan and Liposomal Doxorubicin for Relapsed Ovarian Cancer

July 01, 2000

DALLAS-Doxorubicin encapsulated in liposomes (Doxil) and topotecan (Hycamtin) were equally effective in women with relapsed ovarian cancer, but had different toxicities, according to results presented at the 36th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

NCI Urges Support of Ongoing Breast Cancer Transplant Trial

July 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-Despite bad press and negative scientific findings to date, the National Cancer Institute has not written off high-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or stem cell transplant as a treatment for breast cancer. Indeed, NCI director Richard D. Klausner, MD, has publicly appealed to oncologists to support a major ongoing but faltering NCI-sponsored breast cancer transplant trial.

Paclitaxel Monotherapy in Advanced Urothelial Cancer

July 01, 2000

In addition to the study reported by Friedland, another study of the use of paclitaxel in urothelial cancer was presented at ASCO. This study employed paclitaxel alone on a weekly schedule and showed it to be active in heavily pretreated, advanced urothelial cancers. It should be tested further in chemotherapy-naive patients, according to Catherine M. Broome, MD, of the Northern Virginia Oncology Group, Fairfax.

PET Scans Prevent Unnecessary Surgery in NSCLC

July 01, 2000

AMSTERDAM-The use of positron-emission tomography (PET) scans to stage patients with non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) could prevent as many as one in five unnecessary thoracotomies, according to research presented at the ASCO meeting.

Low-Dose Aspirin Suppresses Mucosal PGE2

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-In anticipation of a phase II chemoprevention study, researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center determined that low doses of aspirin work as well in suppressing prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) as higher doses. Frank A. Sinicrope, MD, presented the results at an American Gastroenterological Association poster session held during the Digestive Disease Week conference.

Weekly Paclitaxel/Carboplatin Effective But Toxic in Advanced Urothelial Cancer

July 01, 2000

HOUSTON-Weekly administration of paclitaxel (Taxol) plus carboplatin (Paraplatin) is active in advanced urothelial cancer but probably too toxic for routine use, David M. Friedland, MD, of the Genitourinary Committee, US Oncology, Houston, reported at the ASCO meeting.

Paclitaxel/Cisplatin Cost-Effective for Ovarian Cancer

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Although paclitaxel (Tax-ol) plus cisplatin (Platinol) as initial therapy for ovarian cancer cost a good deal more than cyclophosphamide plus cisplatin, it is cost-effective by the usually accepted guidelines, said Hugh Walker, PhD, a health economist at the National Cancer Institute of Canada’s Clinical Trials Unit, Kingston, Ontario.

Export of US Cigarettes Declines

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-The number of cigarettes exported annually from the United States has declined by 25%, according to the Agriculture Department. Exports fell from 201.3 billion cigarettes in 1998 to 151.4 billion in 1999.

Gemcitabine/Cisplatin Said to Offer Less Toxic Alternative to MVAC in Bladder Cance

July 01, 2000

COPENHAGEN-For patients with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma of the urothelium), the combination of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and cisplatin (Platinol) may offer a less toxic regimen, according to a presentation at the ASCO meeting.

Laparoscopic Surgery Does Not Enhance Colon Cancer Spread

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-It has been suggested that laparoscopic surgical techniques may increase malignant cell spread, due primarily to peritoneal insufflation. A study conducted at the Colorectal Cancer Unit, Institut de Malalties Digestives, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain, has found that the type of surgery is not a determining factor in colorectal cancer spread.

President Names New NCAB Chair, Three New Members

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-President Clinton has named Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to serve as chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). Dr. Sharp succeeds J. Michael Bishop, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco. The President has also named three new board members-James O. Armitage, MD, James Harold French, Jr., MD, and Arthur Wesley Nienhuis, MD. The 18-member board advises the President, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the director of the National Cancer Institute on the policies and activities of the NCI.

HRT Does Not Affect Recall Rates for Screening Mammography

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-A new study shows that asymptomatic women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are no more likely than women not on HRT to need follow-up imaging after screening mammography, said Linda Moy, MD, clinical assistant, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Osteoporosis Seen in Patients on Long-Term Androgen Deprivation

July 01, 2000

ATLANTA-For men with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer, 24 months of androgen deprivation accelerates bone loss, and these changes were significant at sites such as the forearm and hip, David M. Preston, MD (Maj., Medical Corps, U.S. Army), reported at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA).

The Antidepressant Venlafaxine Can Reduce Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors

July 01, 2000

ROCHESTER, Minn-Low doses of the antidepressant venlafaxine (Effexor) can reduce hot flashes in breast cancer survivors by 61%, compared to a 27% reduction with placebo, Charles L. Loprinzi, MD, told a plenary session of the ASCO meeting. “This is a sizable reduction in hot flashes for women who can’t take estrogen replacement,” he added.

Antibody to VEGF Plus Carboplatin/Paclitaxel Improves Outcomes in Previously Untreated NSCLC

July 01, 2000

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee-An experimental protocol that adds an anti-VEGF agent to carboplatin (Paraplatin)/paclitaxel (Taxol) chemotherapy may improve outcomes more than chemotherapy alone in patients with previously untreated advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

ICON3 Challenges Paclitaxel/Carbo Superiority in Ovarian Cancer

July 01, 2000

ASCO-In contrast to many recent studies, the ICON3 trial finds that paclitaxel (Taxol) plus carboplatin (Paraplatin) is no more effective than other chemotherapy regimens as first-line therapy of ovarian cancer. ICON3-the Third International Collaborative Ovarian Neoplasm study-is an international multicenter trial involving 2,074 women with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer requiring chemotherapy.

Weekly Paclitaxel as Effective as Every-Third-Week Dosing in Ovarian Cancer, With Fewer Toxicities

July 01, 2000

LINKOPING, Sweden-The optimal schedule for dosing paclitaxel (Taxol) has not been determined. However, a study that compared two dosing schedules with the same dose intensity in ovarian cancer patients found equivalent efficacy, with somewhat varying toxicities.

GE Medical Systems Introduces Hawkeye

July 01, 2000

WAUKESHA, Wisconsin-GE Medical Systems is now marketing its Millennium VG Hawkeye, an imaging system that combines CT anatomic images with PET functional images. At one clinical test site, doctors reported that Hawkeye images influenced treatment in 25% of patients, the company said in a news release.

Minorities in HMOs Less Likely to Receive Colon Cancer Surveillance

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-Despite the egalitarian nature of health maintenance organizations (HMOs), minority and low-income patients enrolled in such plans may not receive the same colorectal cancer surveillance care as whites and higher income patients.

Anti-EGFr MoAb Plus RT Active in Advanced H&N Cancer

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Response rates were 100% among 15 patients with advanced head and neck malignancies treated with a combination of radiation therapy and C225 (cetuximab). Complete responses occurred in 13 of the 15 evaluable patients, James Bonner, MD, reported at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in New Orleans.

Nephrectomy Before Interferon Improves Survival in Patients with Renal Cancer

July 01, 2000

MAYWOOD, Ill-Removing the cancerous kidney before administering interferon alfa-2b (Intron A) improves survival in advanced renal cancer, according to results of Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) Trial 8949. The role of interferon treatment, however, remains controversial.

Epirubicin/Paclitaxel as First-Line Therapy Slows Progression in Metastatic Breast Cance

July 01, 2000

HANNOVER, Germany-Epirubicin (Ellence)/paclitaxel (Taxol) as first-line treatment significantly slows progression of metastatic breast cancer, compared with epirubicin/cyclophosphamide. Interim results of a multicenter phase III trial comparing the two regimens were reported by Hans-Joachim Luck, MD, of the Medical University, Hannover, Germany, at the ASCO annual meeting.

Biopsy Appropriate for Amorphous Calcifications

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-A new study indicates that amorphous breast calcifications, unless clearly benign, should be considered suspicious lesions and should be stereotactically biopsied, said Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, associate professor of radiology and director of the Division of Breast Imaging, University of Maryland.

Paclitaxel/Carboplatin and Radiation May Double Survival in NSCLC Patients

July 01, 2000

CHAPEL HILL, NC-In the treatment of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), combination chemotherapy with paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) given before and during radiation therapy may double survival time over that seen with radiation alone.

NCI Restructures Communications

July 01, 2000

BETHESDA, Md-A major restructuring of the National Cancer Institute’s communications has combined and expanded the activities of four of the institute’s former offices. Susan Sieber, PhD, recently named the institute’s deputy director for communications, will head the new Office of Communications.

Abarelix Produces Rapid Reduction of Testosterone Levels in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2000

TORONTO, Canada-A multicenter phase III trial involving more than 250 prostate cancer patients confirmed earlier trials demonstrating that abarelix, a GnRH antagonist, achieved more rapid reduction of testosterone to castrate levels than leuprolide acetate (Lupron) and bicalutamide (Casodex), but did not produce a testosterone surge and clinical flare.

Survival Advantage Seen for Neoadjuvant Docetaxel in Stage III NSCLC, but Study Stirs Criticism

July 01, 2000

HELSINKI, Finland-A large phase III international study has shown a survival advantage for neoadjuvant chemotherapy with single-agent docetaxel (Taxotere) in selected patients with stage III non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The analysis of the study, presented at the ASCO meeting, was, however, met with criticism from investigators outside the study.

Study Shows Dramatic Response Rates in Advanced Head and Neck Cancers

July 01, 2000

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama-Combining the monoclonal antibody C225, which targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr), with radiation dramatically increased response rate and durability in patients with advanced, unresectable, head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

Chemotherapy Benefit Confirmed in Advanced NSCLC

July 01, 2000

Madison, Wis-The largest randomized clinical trial ever conducted in advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has shown that combination chemotherapy regimens extend survival in advanced disease.

Second-Line Paclitaxel Benefits Advanced NSCLC Patients Who Fail First-Line Paclitaxel/Carboplatin Therapy

July 01, 2000

HOUSTON-Improved survival with a very favorable toxicity profile resulted from using weekly single-agent paclitaxel (Taxol) 80 mg/m² in patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who failed first-line therapy with paclitaxel/carboplatin (Paraplatin).

Automated Method Fuses MRI and SPECT Prostate Images

July 01, 2000

ST. LOUIS-An automated technique for coregistering MRI or CT images with SPECT (single photo emission computed tomography) images has the potential to improve the accuracy of prostate cancer staging, according to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine 47th Annual Meeting.

Study Supports Longer Surveillance Interval Postpolypectomy

July 01, 2000

SAN DIEGO-A longer surveillance interval of 6 years or more may be appropriate for low-risk postpolypectomy patients, said Ann G. Zauber, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Zauber presented the study findings at the American Gastroenterology Association (AGA) meeting held during the Digestive Disease Week conference.

Nephrectomy Ups Survival in Advanced Kidney Cancer

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Cytoreductive nephrectomy prior to interferon-alfa-2b (Intron A) therapy increased survival by 50% in patients with previously untreated metastatic renal cell cancer, compared with interferon alone, Robert Flanigan, MD, reported at the plenary session of the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in New Orleans.

Medicare to Cover Beneficiaries’ Routine Care in Clinical Trials

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-President Clinton has ordered Medicare to begin paying for the routine care of all its beneficiaries who participate in clinical trials. The president also directed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) take other actions to promote the participation of older patients in clinical trials.

Thalidomide: ‘Striking’ Activity in Myeloma

July 01, 2000

ASCO-Updated findings on thalidomide (Thalomid) for the treatment of refractory myeloma show “striking results,” Bart Barlogie, MD, PhD, director of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Little Rock, said at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in New Orleans.

New Oral HIV Vaccine From Institute of Human Virology

July 01, 2000

BALTIMORE-The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announced at a press conference that it will fund development of an innovative, oral AIDS vaccine by the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology (IHV), a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute founded by Robert Gallo, MD, co-discover of HIV.

NCCN Panel Develops Guidelines for Cancer-Related Fatigue

July 01, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-Despite the prevalence of fatigue in cancer patients and survivors, a number of obstacles have stood in the way of its successful treatment, said Barbara F. Piper, DNSc, RN, associate professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing. Patients have been reluctant to bring the symptom to their doctor’s attention out of a concern that they may look like “complainers” or that attending to the symptom will somehow interfere with their cancer treatment.

Avoiding Errors that Lead to Breast Cancer Litigation

July 01, 2000

WASHINGTON-When women with breast cancer sue their doctors for malpractice, it is most often because of missed or delayed diagnosis, and the most common reasons are mistakes in the evaluation and workup of breast cancer screening procedures, Vara Samudrala, MD, said at the 100th annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.