ONCOLOGY Vol 21 No 11 | Oncology

Study Supports Activity of Gemcitabine in Treatment of Early-Stage Breast Cancer

October 01, 2007

Gemcitabine (Gemzar), which is approved in combination with paclitaxel (Taxol) in the first-line, postsurgical treatment of metastatic breast cancer, was the subject of a study presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), with encouraging results in the presurgical treatment of breast cancer.

Remembering Martin D. Abeloff, MD

October 01, 2007

Martin D. Abeloff, MD, the chief oncologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, died September 14, 2007, of leukemia. Dr. Abeloff, 65, an international authority on the treatment of breast cancer, was co-Editor-in-Chief of ONCOLOGY and founding Editor-in-Chief of Oncology News International.

Merck to Donate 3 Million Doses of Cervical Cancer Vaccine to Third World Nations

October 01, 2007

Merck & Co., Inc. has committed to donate at least 3 million doses of quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18) recombinant vaccine (Gardasil), the cervical cancer vaccine, for use in demonstration projects in lowest-income nations throughout the world.

Cetuximab Meets Primary Endpoint of Increasing Survival in Phase III Lung Cancer Study

October 01, 2007

ImClone Systems Incorporated and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company announced that a phase III study of cetuximab (Erbitux) in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy (vinorelbine plus cisplatin) met its primary endpoint of increasing overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone in patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

FDA Approves Expanded Labeling for Alemtuzumab

October 01, 2007

Barrett's esophagus represents replacement of normal distal esophageal squamous epithelium with specialized columnar epithelium containing goblet cells. Typically arising in the setting of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the presence of Barrett's esophagus carries a 50- to 100-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Risk factors include male sex, smoking history, obesity, Caucasian ethnicity, age > 50 and > 5-year history of reflux symptoms. Aggressive medical or surgical antireflux therapy may ameliorate symptoms, but have not yet been proven to affect the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma in randomized trials. Although dysplasia is an imperfect biomarker for the development of subsequent malignancy, random sampling of esophageal tissue for dysplasia remains the clinical standard. There have been no studies to establish that endoscopic screening/surveillance programs decrease the rates of death from cancer. Fit patients with Barrett's esophagus and high-grade dysplasia should undergo esophagectomy to prevent the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. For non–operative candidates, endoscopic ablative approaches may represent a reasonable therapeutic alternative.Genzyme Corp and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) for alemtuzumab (Campath) and granted regular approval for single-agent alemtuzumab for the treatment of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL).

Common Early-Warning Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Identified

October 01, 2007

In a study published in the Journal of Women's Health (16:971-986, 2007), researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Thomson Healthcare found a distinct pattern of medical signs and symptoms that occurred prior to the detection of ovarian cancer.

Multiple Myeloma Trial Stopped Early Due to Significant Efficacy Advantage of Bortezomib

October 01, 2007

Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc, announced that the interim analysis results of the large, international phase III VISTA trial in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma showed that VMP therapy (bortezomib [Velcade], melphalan [Alkeran], and prednisone) demonstrated a highly statistically significant improvement in all efficacy measures, including time-to-disease progression, complete remission rate, progression-free survival, and overall survival, compared to MP (melphalan and prednisone) alone.

A Look Through the Prism of Cancer Nursing Today

October 01, 2007

This issue of ONCOLOGY Nurse Edition represents the full range of the cancer-management spectrum: Anna Schwartz and Laura Zitella, respectively, re-examine standard protocols and prevailing clinical assumptions in their review of evidence-based approaches toward relieving cancer-related fatigue and managing cancer patients' anemia. In contrast, Ellen Giarelli, in her cancer vaccine review, looks over the horizon at novel and promising approaches now under investigation for both treatment and prevention of cancer.

Cancer Vaccines: A New Frontier in Prevention and Treatment

October 01, 2007

Vaccines have been exceptionally effective against diseases such as smallpox, measles, chickenpox, and polio. They are among the safest and most cost-effective agents for disease prevention. In recent years, vaccination has been considered for other diseases, including AIDS and cancer. Cancer vaccines can be categorized as preventive or therapeutic. Preventive vaccines, which are commercially available for cervical cancer and liver cancer, block infection with the causative agents of human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus, respectively. The benefit of cancer treatment vaccines lies in their ability to "boost" the immune system response to cancer cells, which is generally low. Using vaccines in the treatment of cancer is relatively new, however, and chiefly experimental. Therapeutic vaccines for breast, lung, colon, skin, renal, prostate, and other cancers are now being investigated in clinical trials. Oncology nurses may play a significant role in reducing barriers to uptake of preventive vaccines among the general public and in increasing patients' acceptance of therapeutic cancer vaccines.

The Role of Surgery in the Management of Barrett's Esophagus

October 01, 2007

Barrett's esophagus represents replacement of normal distal esophageal squamous epithelium with specialized columnar epithelium containing goblet cells. Typically arising in the setting of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the presence of Barrett's esophagus carries a 50- to 100-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Risk factors include male sex, smoking history, obesity, Caucasian ethnicity, age > 50 and > 5-year history of reflux symptoms. Aggressive medical or surgical antireflux therapy may ameliorate symptoms, but have not yet been proven to affect the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma in randomized trials. Although dysplasia is an imperfect biomarker for the development of subsequent malignancy, random sampling of esophageal tissue for dysplasia remains the clinical standard. There have been no studies to establish that endoscopic screening/surveillance programs decrease the rates of death from cancer. Fit patients with Barrett's esophagus and high-grade dysplasia should undergo esophagectomy to prevent the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. For non–operative candidates, endoscopic ablative approaches may represent a reasonable therapeutic alternative.

Advanced Breast Cancer: A Widening Spectrum of Options

October 01, 2007

Disease-free and overall survival have improved significantly for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. At the same time, systemic therapy has only slightly enhanced long-term outcomes in advanced breast cancer, a disease that remains largely incurable. Several single-agent and combination chemotherapy approaches are available to women with hormone-insensitive advanced disease that may improve overall survival and progression-free survival, minimize symptoms and complications related to the disease, and improve overall quality of life. In addition, new cytotoxic and targeted agents have been recently introduced into practice and have improved both survival outcomes and quality of life. In this review, we will provide an update on commonly used chemotherapy-based regimens for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, with a focus on tailoring therapy to different subtypes of the disease.

The Era of Personalized Treatment for Breast Cancer

October 01, 2007

One of the primary challenges in the treatment of patients with early-stage breast cancer is determining which patients will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Traditionally, treatment decisions have been made based on a combination of tumor characteristics and patient and physician perspectives regarding risks and benefits. Recent technologic advances, including the development of gene-expression arrays, have led to the identification of molecular signatures that provide prognostic information in addition to the basic clinicopathologic features of individual tumors. While these new methods allow for more refined determination of prognosis for an individual patient, few data are available to support use of these new technologies in the clinic for treatment decision-making. At present, data from a single retrospective study are available to support the use of one assay, the 21-gene recurrence score, for decision-making regarding adjuvant chemotherapy. Large, multinational clinical trials are currently ongoing to evaluate the use of two of the multiparameter assays, although it will be many years before oncologists can apply the results of these trials in the clinic.

New and Newer Vascular Targets in Oncology

October 01, 2007

This review covers progress to date in the identification of molecular targets on blood vessels in cancers, as well as agents that act on those targets, with emphasis on those currently in clinical trials. Current vascular-targeting therapies comprise two general types—antiangiogenic therapy and antivascular therapy. Advances in antiangiogenic therapies, particularly inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factors and their receptors, have clarified the capacity of these inhibitors to change tumor-associated vessel structure to a more normal state, thereby improving the ability of chemotherapeutics to access the tumors. The responses of other antiangiogenesis target molecules in humans are more complicated; for example, αvβ3 integrins are known to stimulate as well as inhibit angiogenesis, and cleavage of various extracellular proteins/proteoglycans by matrix metalloproteinases produces potent regulators of the angiogenic process. Antivascular therapies disrupt established blood vessels in solid tumors and often involve the use of ligand-based or small-molecule agents. Ligand-based agents, irrespective of the antiangiogenic capacity of the ligand, target antivascular effectors to molecules expressed specifically on blood vessels, such as aminopeptidase N, fibronectin extra-domain B, and prostate-specific membrane antigen. Small-molecule antivascular agents, which are not targeted to molecules on blood vessels, rely on physical differences between the vasculatures in tumors and those in normal tissues.

Decision-Making and Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer

October 01, 2007

One of the primary challenges in the treatment of patients with early-stage breast cancer is determining which patients will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Traditionally, treatment decisions have been made based on a combination of tumor characteristics and patient and physician perspectives regarding risks and benefits. Recent technologic advances, including the development of gene-expression arrays, have led to the identification of molecular signatures that provide prognostic information in addition to the basic clinicopathologic features of individual tumors. While these new methods allow for more refined determination of prognosis for an individual patient, few data are available to support use of these new technologies in the clinic for treatment decision-making. At present, data from a single retrospective study are available to support the use of one assay, the 21-gene recurrence score, for decision-making regarding adjuvant chemotherapy. Large, multinational clinical trials are currently ongoing to evaluate the use of two of the multiparameter assays, although it will be many years before oncologists can apply the results of these trials in the clinic.

Barrett's Esophagus: Rapidly Evolving Management Options

October 01, 2007

Barrett's esophagus represents replacement of normal distal esophageal squamous epithelium with specialized columnar epithelium containing goblet cells. Typically arising in the setting of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the presence of Barrett's esophagus carries a 50- to 100-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Risk factors include male sex, smoking history, obesity, Caucasian ethnicity, age > 50 and > 5-year history of reflux symptoms. Aggressive medical or surgical antireflux therapy may ameliorate symptoms, but have not yet been proven to affect the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma in randomized trials. Although dysplasia is an imperfect biomarker for the development of subsequent malignancy, random sampling of esophageal tissue for dysplasia remains the clinical standard. There have been no studies to establish that endoscopic screening/surveillance programs decrease the rates of death from cancer. Fit patients with Barrett's esophagus and high-grade dysplasia should undergo esophagectomy to prevent the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. For non–operative candidates, endoscopic ablative approaches may represent a reasonable therapeutic alternative.

Monitoring Changes in the Microenvironment During Targeted Therapies

October 01, 2007

This review covers progress to date in the identification of molecular targets on blood vessels in cancers, as well as agents that act on those targets, with emphasis on those currently in clinical trials. Current vascular-targeting therapies comprise two general types—antiangiogenic therapy and antivascular therapy. Advances in antiangiogenic therapies, particularly inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factors and their receptors, have clarified the capacity of these inhibitors to change tumor-associated vessel structure to a more normal state, thereby improving the ability of chemotherapeutics to access the tumors. The responses of other antiangiogenesis target molecules in humans are more complicated; for example, αvβ3 integrins are known to stimulate as well as inhibit angiogenesis, and cleavage of various extracellular proteins/proteoglycans by matrix metalloproteinases produces potent regulators of the angiogenic process. Antivascular therapies disrupt established blood vessels in solid tumors and often involve the use of ligand-based or small-molecule agents. Ligand-based agents, irrespective of the antiangiogenic capacity of the ligand, target antivascular effectors to molecules expressed specifically on blood vessels, such as aminopeptidase N, fibronectin extra-domain B, and prostate-specific membrane antigen. Small-molecule antivascular agents, which are not targeted to molecules on blood vessels, rely on physical differences between the vasculatures in tumors and those in normal tissues.

Use of Gene-Expression Profiling to Recommend Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

October 01, 2007

One of the primary challenges in the treatment of patients with early-stage breast cancer is determining which patients will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Traditionally, treatment decisions have been made based on a combination of tumor characteristics and patient and physician perspectives regarding risks and benefits. Recent technologic advances, including the development of gene-expression arrays, have led to the identification of molecular signatures that provide prognostic information in addition to the basic clinicopathologic features of individual tumors. While these new methods allow for more refined determination of prognosis for an individual patient, few data are available to support use of these new technologies in the clinic for treatment decision-making. At present, data from a single retrospective study are available to support the use of one assay, the 21-gene recurrence score, for decision-making regarding adjuvant chemotherapy. Large, multinational clinical trials are currently ongoing to evaluate the use of two of the multiparameter assays, although it will be many years before oncologists can apply the results of these trials in the clinic.

Chemotherapeutic Strategies for Advanced Breast Cancer

October 01, 2007

Disease-free and overall survival have improved significantly for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. At the same time, systemic therapy has only slightly enhanced long-term outcomes in advanced breast cancer, a disease that remains largely incurable. Several single-agent and combination chemotherapy approaches are available to women with hormone-insensitive advanced disease that may improve overall survival and progression-free survival, minimize symptoms and complications related to the disease, and improve overall quality of life. In addition, new cytotoxic and targeted agents have been recently introduced into practice and have improved both survival outcomes and quality of life. In this review, we will provide an update on commonly used chemotherapy-based regimens for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, with a focus on tailoring therapy to different subtypes of the disease.

Management of Barrett's Esophagus

October 01, 2007

Barrett's esophagus represents replacement of normal distal esophageal squamous epithelium with specialized columnar epithelium containing goblet cells. Typically arising in the setting of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the presence of Barrett's esophagus carries a 50- to 100-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Risk factors include male sex, smoking history, obesity, Caucasian ethnicity, age > 50 and > 5-year history of reflux symptoms. Aggressive medical or surgical antireflux therapy may ameliorate symptoms, but have not yet been proven to affect the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma in randomized trials. Although dysplasia is an imperfect biomarker for the development of subsequent malignancy, random sampling of esophageal tissue for dysplasia remains the clinical standard. There have been no studies to establish that endoscopic screening/surveillance programs decrease the rates of death from cancer. Fit patients with Barrett's esophagus and high-grade dysplasia should undergo esophagectomy to prevent the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. For non–operative candidates, endoscopic ablative approaches may represent a reasonable therapeutic alternative.

Molecular Targets on Blood Vessels for Cancer Therapies in Clinical Trials

October 01, 2007

This review covers progress to date in the identification of molecular targets on blood vessels in cancers, as well as agents that act on those targets, with emphasis on those currently in clinical trials. Current vascular-targeting therapies comprise two general types—antiangiogenic therapy and antivascular therapy. Advances in antiangiogenic therapies, particularly inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factors and their receptors, have clarified the capacity of these inhibitors to change tumor-associated vessel structure to a more normal state, thereby improving the ability of chemotherapeutics to access the tumors. The responses of other antiangiogenesis target molecules in humans are more complicated; for example, αvβ3 integrins are known to stimulate as well as inhibit angiogenesis, and cleavage of various extracellular proteins/proteoglycans by matrix metalloproteinases produces potent regulators of the angiogenic process. Antivascular therapies disrupt established blood vessels in solid tumors and often involve the use of ligand-based or small-molecule agents. Ligand-based agents, irrespective of the antiangiogenic capacity of the ligand, target antivascular effectors to molecules expressed specifically on blood vessels, such as aminopeptidase N, fibronectin extra-domain B, and prostate-specific membrane antigen. Small-molecule antivascular agents, which are not targeted to molecules on blood vessels, rely on physical differences between the vasculatures in tumors and those in normal tissues.

Commentary (Berger): Understanding and Treating Cancer-Related Fatigue

October 01, 2007

Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer and its treatment, and it frequently goes unrecognized and untreated. While the exact etiology of fatigue is unclear, numerous contributing factors that worsen fatigue can be clinically addressed. Substantial research supports physical exercise as an intervention for fatigue.