ONCOLOGY Vol 20 No 8 | Oncology

Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Protein Support and Survival

July 01, 2006

Anemia is common in many patients with cancer treated with chemotherapy. One option for managing chemotherapy-induced anemia (CIA) is erythropoiesis-stimulating proteins (ESPs), which are indicated for the treatment of CIA in patients with most types of cancer. They have been shown to be safe and effective in numerous well-documented studies, and their side effects are well known. The rate of thrombotic events with the long-acting ESP darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) has been consistent in studies conducted before and after its approval. The association of thrombotic events with high hemoglobin levels or rapid increases in its levels in patients with cancer remains controversial. Adjusting the dose of the ESP to maintain and monitor a target hemoglobin level of 11 to 12 g/dL is certainly prudent and may help prevent or minimize these events. Chemotherapy-induced anemia has been associated with shorter survival in patients with cancer, and the relation is likely multifactorial. Data on the treatment of CIA with ESPs have not shown a consistent effect on survival. Two studies in patients with hemoglobin levels above the target level showed that survival was shorter in the patients treated with ESPs. A review of data from other trials found no effect of ESPs on survival, and other trials suggested a positive effect. This article reviews data on survival in patients treated with ESPs and discusses five large randomized controlled trials of darbepoetin alfa that are addressing this issue.

Advances in the Management of Chemotherapy-Induced Anemia and Its Treatment

July 01, 2006

Anemia is a frequent but insidious complication of cancer and its cytotoxic chemotherapy, contributing to debilitating fatigue, lethargy, cardiovascular problems, shortness of breath, and reduced cognitive function in individuals who often already have significant morbidity and diminished quality of life (QOL) as a consequence of their malignancy.

Sunitinib Proves Beneficial in Advanced Kidney Cancer, Promising in Lung Cancer

July 01, 2006

According to a new multicenter study, the drug sunitinib malate (Sutent) is more effective than the current standard cytokine treatment given as initial therapy for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The study was presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Atlanta.

Anastrozole Does Not Cause Osteoporosis in Breast Cancer Patients With Normal Bone Mineral Density at Outset

July 01, 2006

New data from a 5-year update of the bone subprotocol of the Arimidex, Tamoxifen, Alone or in Combination (ATAC) trial confirm that women with a normal bone mineral density (BMD) at the outset of treatment may be able to undergo a 5-year course of therapy with anastrozole (Arimidex) without the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Capecitabine/Cisplatin Effective in Advanced Gastric Cancer Patients

July 01, 2006

In the first-ever phase III trial of oral capecitabine (Xeloda) as first-line treatment for gastric cancer, capecitabine plus cisplatin was found to be at least as effective and safe in achieving progression-free survival as the current standard of care for gastric cancer-intravenous fluorouracil (IV 5-FU) plus cisplatin—with higher overall response rates, according to final data presented at the 42nd Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

Bevacizumab/Chemo Combination Approved for Treating Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

July 01, 2006

Genentech Inc, recently announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved bevacizumab (Avastin) in combination with intravenous fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy for second-line metastatic colorectal cancer.

The HPV Vaccine: A Model of Research and Prevention

July 01, 2006

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts due to human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16, and 18. The vaccine, which carries the brand name Gardasil, is approved for use in females 9 to 26 years of age. Gardasil was evaluated and approved in 6 months under FDA's priority review process. This month, "Closing Thoughts" shares comments about the vaccine from leaders in the oncology community.

Topotecan Gets Expanded Indication for Combined Therapy of Cervical Cancer

July 01, 2006

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved topotecan HCl (Hycamtin) in combination with cisplatin, for the treatment of stage IVB, recurrent, or persistent carcinoma of the cervix, which is not amenable to curative treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy. Following a 6-month priority review by the FDA, the expanded indication is based on phase III results that demonstrated a survival advantage by using topotecan in combination with cisplatin compared to cisplatin alone.

Protein-Bound Paclitaxel Promising as First-Line Treatment in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

July 01, 2006

Abraxis BioScience Inc presented data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting from multiple phase II studies with paclitaxel albumin-bound particles for injectable suspension (Abraxane) as first-line treatment for late-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Temsirolimus Prolongs Survival of Patients With Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma

July 01, 2006

Preliminary data from an interim analysis of an ongoing phase III clinical trial of investigational temsirolimus (CCI-779) for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma showed that single-agent therapy with temsirolimus significantly increased overall survival as a first-line treatment of patients with advanced disease and poor-risk features compared to interferon-alpha, a treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma. In the trial, patients who were treated with temsirolimus alone experienced a 3.6-month, or 49%, increase in median overall survival time compared with patients treated with interferon-alpha alone (10.9 vs 7.3 months, P = .0069).

Imatinib Sets New Treatment Standard in Patients With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

July 01, 2006

Response rates to imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) tablets continue to increase substantially over time while the yearly risk of progression to advanced disease continues to decline the longer patients take the medicine, according to 5-year data from a landmark study in patients with a form of life-threatening chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Lapatinib Nearly Doubles Time to Progression for Patients With HER2-Positive Advanced Breast Cancer

July 01, 2006

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced results from a large, randomized, pivotal phase III study of its investigational small-molecule dual kinase inhibitor lapatinib ditosylate (Tykerb). In this study, the combination of lapatinib and capecitabine (Xeloda) vs capecitabine alone nearly doubled time to progression (36.9 weeks in the combination arm vs 19.7 weeks with capecitabine alone, P = .00032) in women with refractory advanced or metastatic HER2 (ErbB2)-positive breast cancer whose disease had progressed following treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and other cancer therapies.

Updated Overall Survival Analysis Presented on Sorafenib Trial

July 01, 2006

Dr. Tim Eisen provided an update on the sorafenib (Nexavar) phase III trial in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), or kidney cancer, during the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Atlanta. Dr. Eisen is the consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London. The updated analysis confirmed that overall survival was longer for sorafenib than for placebo patients.

Interim Data Suggest Potential Benefits of Darbepoetin Dosed Every 3 Weeks With Intravenous Iron

July 01, 2006

Amgen announced interim phase III data suggesting darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) administered every 3 weeks with intravenous (IV) iron has the potential to further enhance the effectiveness of increasing patient hemoglobin levels to the recommended target of greater than or equal to 11 g/dL and reducing the need for red blood cell transfusions in cancer patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia.

Integrative Oncology: Principles and Practice

July 01, 2006

The emerging field of integrative oncology now has a definitive textbook, thanks to the Herculean effort of Matthew P. Mumber. Dr. Mumber regards integrative oncology as "the next step in the evolution of cancer care [including] the use of evidence based-tools [that] have their origin both in Western, conventional medicine and in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) traditions."

Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma

July 01, 2006

Preliminary results of studies employing hepatic transplantation with radiation therapy are encouraging. Although these new approaches hold promise, the prognosis in patients with biliary cancers remains poor, and the integration of novel therapeutic strategies is indicated.

Commentary (Larson/Nelson)-Laparoscopic Surgery for Cancer: Historical, Theoretical, and Technical Considerations

July 01, 2006

Surgery for cancer carries concerns of tumor dissemination related to tumor manipulation, tumor violation, and wound seeding. Minimally invasive surgery is now standard for several benign conditions, such as symptomatic cholelithiasis and surgical therapy of gastroesophageal reflux. With the minimally invasive surgery explosion of the 1990s, virtually every procedure traditionally performed via laparotomy has been performed successfully with laparoscopic methods, including pancreaticoduodenectomy for cancer. Shortly after the first descriptions of laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, reports of port-site tumor recurrences surfaced, raising concerns of using pneumoperitoneum-based surgery for malignancy. This review covers the development of laparoscopic surgery for cancer. Historical perspectives elucidate factors that helped shape the current state of the art. Theoretical concerns are discussed regarding surgery-induced immune suppression and its potential effects on tumor recurrence with both open and laparoscopic approaches. The concerns of laparoscopic port-site wound metastases are addressed, with a critical evaluation of the literature. Finally, a technical discussion of laparoscopic-assisted resections of hepatic and pancreatic tumors details patient selection, operative approach, and existing data for these operations.

Commentary (Krishnan/Crane): Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma

July 01, 2006

The prognosis of patients with biliary cancers is poor. Although surgery is potentially curative in selected patients, local recurrence is a common pattern of failure. Adjuvant or neoadjuvant radiation therapy improves local control and possibly survival. In locally advanced patients, radiation therapy provides palliation and may prolong survival. Concurrently administered chemotherapy may further enhance these results. Newer radiation therapy techniques, including intraluminal transcatheter brachytherapy, intraoperative radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, and three- and four-dimensional treatment planning, permit radiation dose escalation without significant increases in normal tissue toxicity, thereby increasing the effective radiation dose. Preliminary results of studies employing hepatic transplantation with radiation therapy are encouraging. Although these new approaches hold promise, the prognosis in patients with biliary cancers remains poor, and the integration of novel therapeutic strategies is indicated.

Commentary (Moul): The Role of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2006

In this review, we describe how clinical investigators addressed some of the challenges in prostate cancer chemotherapy trials 20 years ago, and we indicate what has evolved in the field since that time. We consider the impact that prostate-specific antigen measurement had in this setting, evolving clinical paradigms, multidisciplinary programs, and the current armamentarium of cancer treatment, including targeted molecular therapy, for patients with hormone-refractory disease.

Commentary (Oh/Kantoff): The Role of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2006

In this review, we describe how clinical investigators addressed some of the challenges in prostate cancer chemotherapy trials 20 years ago, and we indicate what has evolved in the field since that time. We consider the impact that prostate-specific antigen measurement had in this setting, evolving clinical paradigms, multidisciplinary programs, and the current armamentarium of cancer treatment, including targeted molecular therapy, for patients with hormone-refractory disease.

The Role of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy in Prostate Cancer

July 01, 2006

In this review, we describe how clinical investigators addressed some of the challenges in prostate cancer chemotherapy trials 20 years ago, and we indicate what has evolved in the field since that time. We consider the impact that prostate-specific antigen measurement had in this setting, evolving clinical paradigms, multidisciplinary programs, and the current armamentarium of cancer treatment, including targeted molecular therapy, for patients with hormone-refractory disease.

Laparoscopic Surgery for Cancer: Historical, Theoretical, and Technical Considerations

July 01, 2006

Surgery for cancer carries concerns of tumor dissemination related to tumor manipulation, tumor violation, and wound seeding. Minimally invasive surgery is now standard for several benign conditions, such as symptomatic cholelithiasis and surgical therapy of gastroesophageal reflux. With the minimally invasive surgery explosion of the 1990s, virtually every procedure traditionally performed via laparotomy has been performed successfully with laparoscopic methods, including pancreaticoduodenectomy for cancer. Shortly after the first descriptions of laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, reports of port-site tumor recurrences surfaced, raising concerns of using pneumoperitoneum-based surgery for malignancy. This review covers the development of laparoscopic surgery for cancer. Historical perspectives elucidate factors that helped shape the current state of the art. Theoretical concerns are discussed regarding surgery-induced immune suppression and its potential effects on tumor recurrence with both open and laparoscopic approaches. The concerns of laparoscopic port-site wound metastases are addressed, with a critical evaluation of the literature. Finally, a technical discussion of laparoscopic-assisted resections of hepatic and pancreatic tumors details patient selection, operative approach, and existing data for these operations.

Commentary (Are/Abu-Rustum)-Laparoscopic Surgery for Cancer: Historical, Theoretical, and Technical Considerations

July 01, 2006

Surgery for cancer carries concerns of tumor dissemination related to tumor manipulation, tumor violation, and wound seeding. Minimally invasive surgery is now standard for several benign conditions, such as symptomatic cholelithiasis and surgical therapy of gastroesophageal reflux. With the minimally invasive surgery explosion of the 1990s, virtually every procedure traditionally performed via laparotomy has been performed successfully with laparoscopic methods, including pancreaticoduodenectomy for cancer. Shortly after the first descriptions of laparoscopic-assisted colectomy, reports of port-site tumor recurrences surfaced, raising concerns of using pneumoperitoneum-based surgery for malignancy. This review covers the development of laparoscopic surgery for cancer. Historical perspectives elucidate factors that helped shape the current state of the art. Theoretical concerns are discussed regarding surgery-induced immune suppression and its potential effects on tumor recurrence with both open and laparoscopic approaches. The concerns of laparoscopic port-site wound metastases are addressed, with a critical evaluation of the literature. Finally, a technical discussion of laparoscopic-assisted resections of hepatic and pancreatic tumors details patient selection, operative approach, and existing data for these operations.

Commentary (Small): Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma

July 01, 2006

The prognosis of patients with biliary cancers is poor. Although surgery is potentially curative in selected patients, local recurrence is a common pattern of failure. Adjuvant or neoadjuvant radiation therapy improves local control and possibly survival. In locally advanced patients, radiation therapy provides palliation and may prolong survival. Concurrently administered chemotherapy may further enhance these results. Newer radiation therapy techniques, including intraluminal transcatheter brachytherapy, intraoperative radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, and three- and four-dimensional treatment planning, permit radiation dose escalation without significant increases in normal tissue toxicity, thereby increasing the effective radiation dose. Preliminary results of studies employing hepatic transplantation with radiation therapy are encouraging. Although these new approaches hold promise, the prognosis in patients with biliary cancers remains poor, and the integration of novel therapeutic strategies is indicated.

Evaluation and Definitive Management of Medically Inoperable Early-Stage Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Part 2

July 01, 2006

Lung cancer is estimated to be the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in 2006, and the leading cause of cancer mortality. Non-small-cell lung cancer represents the majority of such cases. Most of these patients have locally advanced disease at presentation and are not eligible for curative resection. For the minority of patients who are technically resectable at presentation, lobectomy or pneumonectomy and pathologic mediastinal nodal staging offer the best overall survival. The high rate of comorbid medical illness and poor baseline pulmonary function in this population, however, make many such early-stage patients medically inoperable. For these patients, conventional single-modality radiotherapy has been the primary definitive treatment option, as discussed in part 1 of this article, which appeared in last month's issue. Numerous retrospective reports demonstrate long-term disease-free and overall survival data that are modestly superior to that expected after observation, but both local and distant failure continue to be significant risks. Investigation of radiotherapy dose escalation is ongoing, in an effort to improve local control while maintaining minimal toxicity. Additionally, emerging evidence suggests that new modalities, such as stereotactic radiosurgery and radiofrequency ablation, may also be potentially curative treatment alternatives. These modalities are addressed in part 2.

Commentary (Hoskin): Evaluation and Definitive Management of Medically Inoperable Early Stage Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

July 01, 2006

Lung cancer is estimated to be the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in 2006, and the leading cause of cancer mortality. Non-small-cell lung cancer represents the majority of such cases. Most of these patients have locally advanced disease at presentation and are not eligible for curative resection. For the minority of patients who are technically resectable at presentation, lobectomy or pneumonectomy and pathologic mediastinal nodal staging offer the best overall survival. The high rate of comorbid medical illness and poor baseline pulmonary function in this population, however, make many such early-stage patients medically inoperable. For these patients, conventional single-modality radiotherapy has been the primary definitive treatment option, as discussed in part 1 of this article, which appeared in last month's issue. Numerous retrospective reports demonstrate long-term disease-free and overall survival data that are modestly superior to that expected after observation, but both local and distant failure continue to be significant risks. Investigation of radiotherapy dose escalation is ongoing, in an effort to improve local control while maintaining minimal toxicity. Additionally, emerging evidence suggests that new modalities, such as stereotactic radiosurgery and radiofrequency ablation, may also be potentially curative treatment alternatives. These modalities are addressed in part 2.

Commentary (Sause): Evaluation and Definitive Management of Medically Inoperable Early Stage Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

July 01, 2006

Lung cancer is estimated to be the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in 2006, and the leading cause of cancer mortality. Non-small-cell lung cancer represents the majority of such cases. Most of these patients have locally advanced disease at presentation and are not eligible for curative resection. For the minority of patients who are technically resectable at presentation, lobectomy or pneumonectomy and pathologic mediastinal nodal staging offer the best overall survival. The high rate of comorbid medical illness and poor baseline pulmonary function in this population, however, make many such early-stage patients medically inoperable. For these patients, conventional single-modality radiotherapy has been the primary definitive treatment option, as discussed in part 1 of this article, which appeared in last month's issue. Numerous retrospective reports demonstrate long-term disease-free and overall survival data that are modestly superior to that expected after observation, but both local and distant failure continue to be significant risks. Investigation of radiotherapy dose escalation is ongoing, in an effort to improve local control while maintaining minimal toxicity. Additionally, emerging evidence suggests that new modalities, such as stereotactic radiosurgery and radiofrequency ablation, may also be potentially curative treatment alternatives. These modalities are addressed in part 2.