ONCOLOGY Vol 20 No 13 | Oncology

Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the Elderly: A Unique Disease

November 17, 2006

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease of the elderly, with the majority of patients diagnosed in their 6th and 7th decade of life. Older patients with AML are less likely to achieve complete remission after induction chemotherapy, and they suffer from higher rates of leukemia relapse compared to younger cohorts. Suboptimal outcomes are the result of adverse biologic characteristics of leukemia in the elderly, as well as the presence of medical comorbidities and patient or physician preferences as to initiating treatment. In addition, there is a distinct lack of randomized, prospective data to guide management decisions for the treatment of AML in the elderly. Patients who are over age 75, with poor performance status, multiple comorbidities, or poor prognostic features, should be considered for a clinical trial or palliative therapy. Elderly patients who are candidates for standard induction chemotherapy and achieve complete remission are unlikely to benefit from intensive postremission therapy and should be referred to a clinical trial when possible. Further prospective trials are needed to identify a tolerable, effective treatment regimen for older patients with AML.

Adjuvant Therapy for Early Lung Cancer: Reflections and Perspectives

November 17, 2006

The standard of care with regard to adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer has changed remarkably over the past 3 years. Until the initial report of the International Adjuvant Lung Trial in 2003, there was no real evidence from any individual randomized clinical trial (RCT) that adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in resectable non-small-cell lung cancer. However, five RCTs that have now been reported indicate that adjuvant chemotherapy is effective, at least in certain subgroups of resectable patients. Moreover, numerous meta-analyses have also reported a positive effect from adjuvant treatment. Nonetheless, because of methodologic issues and conflicting results, the question of who should be treated and what constitutes optimal adjuvant therapy remains controversial. This article reviews the recent randomized trials that have contributed to a change in the state of the art, as well as some of the methodologic problems that may have confounded their proper interpretation. It also considers newer approaches to adjuvant therapy, with a particular focus on strategies that incorporate our growing knowledge of molecular medicine and predictive factors to the field of adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer.

What Defines an 'Elderly Patient With AML'?

November 17, 2006

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease of the elderly, with the majority of patients diagnosed in their 6th and 7th decade of life. Older patients with AML are less likely to achieve complete remission after induction chemotherapy, and they suffer from higher rates of leukemia relapse compared to younger cohorts. Suboptimal outcomes are the result of adverse biologic characteristics of leukemia in the elderly, as well as the presence of medical comorbidities and patient or physician preferences as to initiating treatment. In addition, there is a distinct lack of randomized, prospective data to guide management decisions for the treatment of AML in the elderly. Patients who are over age 75, with poor performance status, multiple comorbidities, or poor prognostic features, should be considered for a clinical trial or palliative therapy. Elderly patients who are candidates for standard induction chemotherapy and achieve complete remission are unlikely to benefit from intensive postremission therapy and should be referred to a clinical trial when possible. Further prospective trials are needed to identify a tolerable, effective treatment regimen for older patients with AML.

Thirty Years Later: We've Only Just Begun

November 17, 2006

The standard of care with regard to adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer has changed remarkably over the past 3 years. Until the initial report of the International Adjuvant Lung Trial in 2003, there was no real evidence from any individual randomized clinical trial (RCT) that adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in resectable non-small-cell lung cancer. However, five RCTs that have now been reported indicate that adjuvant chemotherapy is effective, at least in certain subgroups of resectable patients. Moreover, numerous meta-analyses have also reported a positive effect from adjuvant treatment. Nonetheless, because of methodologic issues and conflicting results, the question of who should be treated and what constitutes optimal adjuvant therapy remains controversial. This article reviews the recent randomized trials that have contributed to a change in the state of the art, as well as some of the methodologic problems that may have confounded their proper interpretation. It also considers newer approaches to adjuvant therapy, with a particular focus on strategies that incorporate our growing knowledge of molecular medicine and predictive factors to the field of adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer.

Management of Early-Stage Lung Cancer: Past, Present, and Future Adjuvant Trials

November 17, 2006

The standard of care with regard to adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer has changed remarkably over the past 3 years. Until the initial report of the International Adjuvant Lung Trial in 2003, there was no real evidence from any individual randomized clinical trial (RCT) that adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in resectable non-small-cell lung cancer. However, five RCTs that have now been reported indicate that adjuvant chemotherapy is effective, at least in certain subgroups of resectable patients. Moreover, numerous meta-analyses have also reported a positive effect from adjuvant treatment. Nonetheless, because of methodologic issues and conflicting results, the question of who should be treated and what constitutes optimal adjuvant therapy remains controversial. This article reviews the recent randomized trials that have contributed to a change in the state of the art, as well as some of the methodologic problems that may have confounded their proper interpretation. It also considers newer approaches to adjuvant therapy, with a particular focus on strategies that incorporate our growing knowledge of molecular medicine and predictive factors to the field of adjuvant chemotherapy of lung cancer.

Progress With a Purpose: Eliminating Suffering and Death Due to Cancer

November 17, 2006

cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 500,000 men, women, and children succumbing to the disease each year. The idea, then, that we can eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer in the United States by the year 2015 may appear impractical, if not irrational and impossible. It seems inconceivable that in the first part of the 21st century every patient could survive cancer. Doubt can be attributed to awareness of the biologic complexity of cancer and seeing the pace of clinical progress through the prism of the 20th century.

Teleoncology Extends Access to Quality Cancer Care

November 17, 2006

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States. It is estimated that about 55,000 patients will die this year due to advanced colorectal cancer. These grim statistics persist despite a marked increase in the rate of screening colonoscopies and improvements in adjuvant chemotherapy. Successful chemoprevention strategies may reduce the risk of new colorectal cancers, thus decreasing related overall morbidity and mortality.

Does This Woman Have Gestational Trophoblastic Disease?

November 17, 2006

The review of the histology slides revealed predominantly decidual tissue with exaggerated placental site and a small focus of trophoblastic tissue composed of cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast with mild atypia (Figure 1). However, no necrosis or tissue invasion was identified. No villi were seen.

Managing Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the Elderly

November 17, 2006

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease of the elderly, with the majority of patients diagnosed in their 6th and 7th decade of life. Older patients with AML are less likely to achieve complete remission after induction chemotherapy, and they suffer from higher rates of leukemia relapse compared to younger cohorts. Suboptimal outcomes are the result of adverse biologic characteristics of leukemia in the elderly, as well as the presence of medical comorbidities and patient or physician preferences as to initiating treatment. In addition, there is a distinct lack of randomized, prospective data to guide management decisions for the treatment of AML in the elderly. Patients who are over age 75, with poor performance status, multiple comorbidities, or poor prognostic features, should be considered for a clinical trial or palliative therapy. Elderly patients who are candidates for standard induction chemotherapy and achieve complete remission are unlikely to benefit from intensive postremission therapy and should be referred to a clinical trial when possible. Further prospective trials are needed to identify a tolerable, effective treatment regimen for older patients with AML.

Prevention of Colorectal Cancer: An Emerging Role for High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation?

November 17, 2006

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States. It is estimated that about 55,000 patients will die this year due to advanced colorectal cancer. These grim statistics persist despite a marked increase in the rate of screening colonoscopies and improvements in adjuvant chemotherapy. Successful chemoprevention strategies may reduce the risk of new colorectal cancers, thus decreasing related overall morbidity and mortality.

Commentary (Knoop): Understanding Novel Molecular Therapies

November 01, 2006

In the past decade numerous advances have been made in the arena of cancer treatment. Evolving scientific discoveries related to molecular targets and cellular signaling have led to an increased understanding of how to develop novel therapeutic cancer agents.

Understanding Novel Molecular Therapies

November 01, 2006

The science supporting molecularly targeted therapies for the treatment of patients with solid tumors continues to evolve. Nurses are challenged to understand cell signaling, molecular targeting, and the mechanism of action of targeted agents. Two cell signal transduction pathways regulate the development, proliferation, and metastasis of solid tumors: the human epidermal growth factor (HER) receptor pathway and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor pathway. Several novel pharmacologic agents with distinct indications and methods of administration target the HER and VEGF molecular pathways.

Toxicity of Targeted Therapy

November 01, 2006

Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and other protein kinase inhibitors are novel agents that have recently been incorporated into the treatment of many solid malignancies. They specifically target the aberrant proteins in cancer cells and thus have fewer associated toxicities. These agents represent a welcome change in cancer treatment, as standard chemotherapy regimens entail numerous toxicities that may disqualify patients from continued administration or cause dose reductions or early discontinuation because of poor tolerance. Among the most common toxicities related to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and multitargeted agents are cutaneous reactions that can lead to noncompliance and affect patients' sense of well-being. Oncology nurses play a key role in providing patient education, instituting preventive measures, and assuring early detection and intervention for patients on targeted therapies.

Recognizing and Managing Side Effects Associated With Novel Targeted Therapies:

November 01, 2006

Nursing management of patients with advanced malignancies presents a formidable challenge. In addition to the discomfort and debilitation these diseases can cause, side effects of traditional treatment modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may lead to severe and sometimes fatal sequelae. New targeted therapies promise an effective treatment with more easily tolerated and managed side effects. Basic understanding of the drugs' mechanism of action contributes to the successful management of the toxicities that can be manifested. Effective patient education results in improved compliance with treatment regimens and potentially improved clinical outcomes. Nursing intervention remains a vital component in the successful use of these novel agents.

Novel Molecular Therapies

November 01, 2006

a brief overview of the dosing and administration guidelines for the various targeted therapy agents discussed in this supplement to the ONCOLOGY Nurse Edition. Please consult the manufacturer's package insert for more information.