ONCOLOGY Vol 10 No 2 | Oncology

Hereditary Cancer Litigation: A Status Report

February 01, 1996

The issues, cases, decisions and situations discussed by Severin indicate that, fortunately in one area and unfortunately in another, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Furthermore, his article raises an important medicolegal policy issue.

Oral Morphine Termed Narcotic Standard in Severe Cancer Pain

February 01, 1996

Oral morphine remains the drug of choice for most patients with severe cancer pain, and the sustained-release form (MS-Contin, Roxanol SR), has certain advantages, Ronald Blum, MD, said at a conference sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc.

Tips for Families Fighting for Coverage of Pediatric Cancer Treatments

February 01, 1996

When it comes to reimbursement for cancer treatments, the brave new world of managed care may seem like the La Brea Tar Pits. Through its Ombudsman program, the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation has made it a top priority to help families of childhood cancer patients navigate this treacherous terrain. At the Foundation's 25th anniversary conference, Grace Powers Monaco, jd, mentor to Gib Smith who directs the Candelighters Ombudsman Program and Director of the Medical Care Ombudsman Program of the Medical Care Management Corporation, described some sure-fire methods for prying money out of recalcitrant insurance companies.

Study Reports Vaginal Gel Can Help Improve Reversion to Normal Pap Smear

February 01, 1996

Patients reported with inflammatory atypia on Pap smears demonstrated a significantly improved rate of reversion to normal cytology following treatment with MetroGel-Vaginal (metronidazole 0.75% vaginal gel), according to a study presented at the District IV Junior Fellow meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists by Dr. Michael D. Randell, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Atlanta, Georgia.

Book Review:Contemporary Neurology--Neurologic Complications of Cancer, Volume 45

February 01, 1996

The latest addition to the Contemporary Neurology series, devoted to the neurologic complications of cancer, is authored solely by Dr. Posner. Although this book has been written for both the student and trained professional, who can quickly adapt to the definitive nature of the tables, diagrams, and clinical approaches, it is likely to be most appealing to the neuro-oncologic specialist.

Hereditary Cancer Litigation: A Status Report

February 01, 1996

Dr. Severin's article is a valuable asset for the practitioner--legal or medical--or academician concerned with the burgeoning of civil lawsuits over failure to comply with new approaches to the management and control of cancer. The article identifies two types of such suits and explores the history of medical malpractice litigation relating to cancer care. The focus is the physician who either misses or fails to make a timely diagnosis of hereditable cancer.

American Cancer Society Restructures Research and Professional Training Programs

February 01, 1996

In order to keep its $90 million per year cancer research budget highly focused and not duplicative of government-sponsored efforts, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has announced a major restructuring of its research and professional training programs. The changes call for a new focus on beginning scientists and targeted research projects and an increased commitment to epidemiologic research, psychosocial, behavioral and health- care policy research, and cancer prevention--areas not currently being emphasized by other cancer research funding agencies.

Surgeon Questions Routine Use of Preoperative TPN in Cancer Patients

February 01, 1996

Cancer cachexia may be an immunologic phenomenon related to increased cytokine production that occurs in response to the tumor itself or to the stress of surgery, John M. Daly, MD, said at the Society of Surgical Oncology's Annual Cancer Symposium. As such, the routine administration of preoperative total parenteral nutrition (TPN) may not be a useful strategy for all types of cancer.

NCCS Briefing Paper on Quality Cancer Care

February 01, 1996

The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) recently surveyed health providers, government officials, professional and advocacy organizations, scientists, and others regarding a critical issue facing this nation's 8 million cancer survivors: quality cancer care. The responses were illuminating as they portrayed a system in flux. The United States is moving away from a health care system where fee for service insurance plans predominate to one where market-based alternatives are quickly gaining favor among employers, consumers, and other purchasers of health care coverage. What this fundamental transition will mean for survivors and individuals with other serious or life-threatening diseases and the people who care for them is an open question with important public policy implications

Psychosocial Consequences of DNA Analysis for MEN Type 2

February 01, 1996

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) is known to be associated with missense mutations in the RET proto-oncogene, and specific RET mutations have been detected in families. This disease can be deadly since more than half of patients who harbor the genetic susceptibility present with metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma. About 50% of patients affected with MEN-2 will develop pheochromocytoma (often bilateral), and 10% to 20% will develop functioning parathyroid adenomas.

Role of the Genetic Counselor in Familial Cancer

February 01, 1996

The authors offer a comprehensive overview of familial cancer risk counseling, providing both a general definition of this new genetic counseling specialty and specific components of the counseling process. Genetic counseling is, by and large, a referral service, and this is also true of cancer risk counseling. This places great importance on the health-care provider's ability to recognize families who may be at increased risk for an inherited form of cancer and should be referred for cancer risk counseling. It seems reasonable, therefore, to consider the issues relevant to making such a referral, including information on collecting an initial cancer history, strategies for handling a positive history, and the realities of DNA-based testing.

Role of the Genetic Counselor in Familial Cancer

February 01, 1996

The authors have compiled an excellent summary of the basic components of cancer risk counseling and the role of the genetic counselor in this process. They note that such counseling may have a different scope, depending on the individual's level of risk. They also point out that the approach to each case tends to be unique, due to individual psychological concerns, interpretation of family history and available risk data, and options for genetic testing and prevention or early detection. I would like to expand on the topics discussed in four major areas: counseling cancer survivors, the role of oncologists and primary-care physicians in cancer risk counseling, informed consent issues, and directions of current and future research.

Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Genetic Testing for Susceptibility to Cancer

February 01, 1996

Drs. Lerman and Croyle provide a quite thorough review of an area in need of continuing research-ie, patients' behavioral and emotional responses to genetic testing for cancer susceptibility. The authors present current information on what we do and don't know about the psychological characteristics of individuals likely to undergo testing, possible adverse reactions, issues specific to the genetic counseling process, family coping and adaptation, and possible ways of managing psychological sequelae of genetic testing. Admirably, the authors note that much of their discussion should be considered speculative until more empirical data specific to genetic testing is available. Given this "state of the science," I will raise some additional questions based on some of the statements made by Drs. Lerman and Croyle.

Hereditary Cancer Litigation: A Status Report

February 01, 1996

During the past few decades, cancer patients have sued their physicians for negligence in diagnosing or managing their disease, based on the charge that the clinician failed to consider the patient's genealogy when trying to arrive at a diagnosis. Other suits have charged that the clinician is liable for failing to investigate other members of the cancer patient's family, regardless of whether they were his or her patients.

Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Genetic Testing for Susceptibility to Cancer

February 01, 1996

As genetic testing for susceptibility to cancer becomes more widely available, cancer-care providers will become more involved in counseling patients about cancer risks and the meaning of genetic test results. As a result, oncologists and oncology nurses need to be aware of the unique psychological issues and challenges posed by genetic testing for cancer susceptibility. This paper first describes a psychological profile of individuals who are likely to opt for such testing, based on extrapolation from studies of people at high risk of cancer.

Role of the Genetic Counselor in Familial Cancer

February 01, 1996

Increased knowledge about inherited susceptibility for cancer and the identification of genes associated with cancer risk has increased the need for individuals with training in genetics to work closely with oncology professionals in the familial cancer arena. Genetic counselors can provide a variety of useful services: They may function as clinical coordinators of a family cancer risk counseling (FCRC) program and serve as study coordinators on research teams.

Psychosocial Consequences of DNA Analysis for MEN Type 2

February 01, 1996

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) is characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma in combination with pheochromocytomas and, sometimes, parathyroid adenomas. Since 1993, the psychosocial implications of DNA analysis for MEN-2 have been studied in the Netherlands. This article summarizes the first results of that study. Individuals who applied for DNA analysis cited the need to reduce uncertainty as the major reason for wanting the test. An unfavorable test outcome resulted in anxiety and depression but also relief.

Commentary (Connors)-Hodgkin's Disease: Management of First Relapse

February 01, 1996

The management of Hodgkin's disease presents the clinician with several separate opportunities to intervene effectively. Not only is it possible to treat newly diagnosed patients with the knowledge that the majority will be cured, but also one can approach relapse with cautious optimism. Unlike most human neoplasms, Hodgkin's disease can be regularly cured even after relapse has occurred. The article by Drs. Yuen and Horning reviews available data on the outcome of treatment of first relapse of Hodgkin's disease, and summarizes the evidence indicating that relapsed disease can still be cured.

Hodgkin's Disease: Management of First Relapse

February 01, 1996

In most patients with newly diagnosed Hodgkin's disease, initial therapy is curative. However, a small portion of patients treated with radiotherapy alone for limited favorable disease, and a larger percentage of patients treated with combination chemotherapy, with or without radiotherapy, for advanced-stage or unfavorable disease relapse after initial remission. Patients relapsing after radiotherapy alone should do as well with salvage combination chemotherapy as patients with advanced disease who have never received radiation. In patients who relapse after combination chemotherapy, retreatment with the same regimen or employment of a non-cross-resistant regimen offers high response rates among those with favorable characteristics.

Commentary (Jain)-Hodgkin's Disease: Management of First Relapse

February 01, 1996

Drs. Yuen and Horning provide an excellent, detailed review of the current status of salvage therapy for patients who have relapsed after initial treatment for Hodgkin's disease. The authors cover the various scenarios that confront the oncologist who manages patients with this illness. Most patients who present with early-stage Hodgkin's disease (stage IA and IIA) are still treated with primary radiation therapy, although there is an increasing trend toward combined-modality therapy in early-stage disease. As is mentioned in the article, despite excellent complete response rates with current treatment, there is still a substantial rate of relapse, which can be as high as 25%.

Pamidronate Disodium Reduces Skeletal Complications of Multiple Myeloma

February 01, 1996

At the 1995 American Society of Hematology meeting in Seattle, Washington, researchers from UCLA School of Medicine presented results from a 21-month, phase III clinical study showing that long-term pamidronate disodium (Aredia) therapy reduces skeletal-related episodes in patients with stage III multiple myeloma and also improves survival in those on salvage therapy. Pamidronate disodium is the first medical therapy proven to reduce pathologic fractures and other skeletal complications in patients with multiple myeloma.

Psychosocial Consequences of DNA Analysis for MEN Type 2

February 01, 1996

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) may be the ideal diseasefor presymptomatic genetic testing. The syndrome has an autosomaldominant pattern of inheritance and includes medullary thyroidcarcinoma, pheochromocytomas, and, sometimes, parathyroid adenomas.The risk of medullary thyroid carcinoma in affected persons isextremely high.