ONCOLOGY Vol 21 No 9 | Oncology

Updated Study Results Reinforce Survival Benefit of Docetaxel for Men With Advanced, Hormone-Resistant Prostate Cancer

August 01, 2007

Docetaxel (Taxotere)-based chemotherapy (with prednisone) maintained long-term efficacy as a treatment for advanced (metastatic) hormone-resistant prostate cancer patients, according to the 3-year updated results of the landmark TAX 327 study.

ODAC Recommends Approval of Raloxifene to Reduce Risk of Invasive Breast Cancer

August 01, 2007

Eli Lilly and Co announced that the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to recommend approval of its osteoporosis drug raloxifene (Evista) for a new use, to reduce invasive breast cancer risk in two populations: postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and postmenopausal women at high risk for breast cancer.

Liposomal Doxorubicin Delays Time to Disease Progression as Maintenance Therapy in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer

August 01, 2007

Schering-Plough Corp announced results from a phase III study that showed maintenance chemotherapy with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin hydrochloride (Doxil, marketed in Canada and Europe as Caelyx) significantly prolonged time to progression (TTP) in patients with metastatic breast cancer with infrequent and manageable clinical toxicity after first-line chemotherapy.

Advisory Committee Recommends FDA Wait for Satraplatin Survival Results

August 01, 2007

GPC Biotech announced that the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended (12–0) that the FDA should wait for the final survival analysis of the SPARC trial before deciding whether satraplatin is approvable for the treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients whose prior chemotherapy has failed.

New Complementary Medicine Guidelines Available From Society of Integrative Oncology

August 01, 2007

The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), an international organization established in 2003 to encourage scientific evaluation, dissemination of evidence-based information, and appropriate clinical integration of complementary therapies, recently issued practice guidelines regarding the use of nonconventional treatment modalities

Cancer Management: A Multidisciplinary Approach

June 01, 2007

The fundamental principle behind this book, as stated by the publisher, The Oncology Group (also publisher of the journal ONCOLOGY and news magazine Oncology News International) was to provide a truly integrated, multidisciplinary approach to the management of cancer patients. For this updated 10th edition, the editors have enlisted 114 medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists, whose contributions provide an excellent overview of the important principles of cancer management.

Key Developments in Rectal Cancer Treatment

August 01, 2007

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are often overexpressed in colorectal cancer and are associated with inferior outcomes. Based on successful randomized phase III trials, anti-EGFR and anti-VEGF therapeutics have entered clinical practice. Cetuximab (Erbitux), an EGFR-specific antibody, is currently approved in the United States in combination with irinotecan (Camptosar) for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to irinotecan or as a single agent for patients unable to tolerate irinotecan-based therapy. In retrospective analyses, patients with EGFR-expressing rectal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant radiation therapy had a significantly inferior disease-free survival and lower rates of achieving pathologic complete response. Based on the positive data in metastatic colorectal cancer and synergy with radiation therapy seen in preclinical models, there is a strong rationale to combine cetuximab with neoadjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy in rectal cancer. Bevacizumab (Avastin), a VEGF-specific antibody, was the first antiangiogenic agent to be approved in the United States for use in combination with standard chemotherapy in the first- and second-line of treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer. VEGF-targeted therapy may lead to indirect killing of cancer cells by damaging tumor blood vessels, and may increase the radiosensitivity of tumor-associated endothelial cells. VEGF blockade can also "normalize" tumor vasculature, thereby leading to greater tumor oxygenation and drug penetration. This review will address completed and ongoing trials that have established and continue to clarify the effects of these agents in rectal cancer.

Role of Stem Cell Transplant in Pediatric Cancers

August 01, 2007

In the June issue of ONCOLOGY, authors McGregor et al did an admirable job of reviewing childhood cancer advances and current issues in their article entitled "Pediatric Cancers in the New Millennium: Dramatic Progress, New Challenges"

Curing Gastric Cancer: Steps in the Right Direction But Miles to Go

August 01, 2007

The majority of patients who undergo resection for gastric cancer experience relapse and ultimately die of their disease. Therefore, considerable attention has been paid to neoadjuvant and adjuvant strategies to improve surgical outcomes. Two different approaches have been tested in major clinical trials conducted in the past several years: Postoperative chemoradiotherapy was assessed in a US Southwest Oncology Group/Intergroup study (SWOG 9008/INT 0116), and perioperative chemotherapy was studied in a UK Medical Research Council (MRC) randomized trial (the MRC Adjuvant Gastric Infusional Chemotherapy [MAGIC] trial). These trials demonstrated statistically significant survival benefits in patients with resectable gastric cancer. This review will consider these trials and their implications for clinical practice.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Neoadjuvant Therapy Reconsidered

August 01, 2007

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive tumor that often occurs in the setting of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is increasing in the United States and worldwide. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is a viable and potentially curative option for selected patients with HCC. Locoregional therapy has been used to control HCC before transplantation because of the limited number of donor organs, to prevent tumor progression, and to decrease the incidence of dropouts from the transplant waiting list. Traditionally, multiple investigational locoregional modalities such as tumor resection, radiofrequency ablation, transarterial chemoembolization, and systemic chemotherapy have been used as "bridging" therapies. While the investigation of novel neoadjuvant treatments is justified in an effort to prevent tumor progression, the absence of randomized controlled trials leaves uncertainty about the utility of these maneuvers in improving outcome. This review summarizes the current data on the different modalities used worldwide in the neoadjuvant treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, the rationale for these approaches, efficacy, potential complications, and future prospects.

Integrins in Cancer: Novel Therapeutic Approaches

August 01, 2007

The integrins are a family of transmembrane receptors important for the cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions that relate to processes of cell adhesion, migration, invasion, angiogenesis, and survival.

Honing Therapy for Rectal Cancer

August 01, 2007

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are often overexpressed in colorectal cancer and are associated with inferior outcomes. Based on successful randomized phase III trials, anti-EGFR and anti-VEGF therapeutics have entered clinical practice. Cetuximab (Erbitux), an EGFR-specific antibody, is currently approved in the United States in combination with irinotecan (Camptosar) for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to irinotecan or as a single agent for patients unable to tolerate irinotecan-based therapy. In retrospective analyses, patients with EGFR-expressing rectal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant radiation therapy had a significantly inferior disease-free survival and lower rates of achieving pathologic complete response. Based on the positive data in metastatic colorectal cancer and synergy with radiation therapy seen in preclinical models, there is a strong rationale to combine cetuximab with neoadjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy in rectal cancer. Bevacizumab (Avastin), a VEGF-specific antibody, was the first antiangiogenic agent to be approved in the United States for use in combination with standard chemotherapy in the first- and second-line of treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer. VEGF-targeted therapy may lead to indirect killing of cancer cells by damaging tumor blood vessels, and may increase the radiosensitivity of tumor-associated endothelial cells. VEGF blockade can also "normalize" tumor vasculature, thereby leading to greater tumor oxygenation and drug penetration. This review will address completed and ongoing trials that have established and continue to clarify the effects of these agents in rectal cancer.

Gastric Cancer: Are There New Therapeutic Options?

August 01, 2007

The majority of patients who undergo resection for gastric cancer experience relapse and ultimately die of their disease. Therefore, considerable attention has been paid to neoadjuvant and adjuvant strategies to improve surgical outcomes. Two different approaches have been tested in major clinical trials conducted in the past several years: Postoperative chemoradiotherapy was assessed in a US Southwest Oncology Group/Intergroup study (SWOG 9008/INT 0116), and perioperative chemotherapy was studied in a UK Medical Research Council (MRC) randomized trial (the MRC Adjuvant Gastric Infusional Chemotherapy [MAGIC] trial). These trials demonstrated statistically significant survival benefits in patients with resectable gastric cancer. This review will consider these trials and their implications for clinical practice.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients Awaiting Transplant: General Guidelines for Management

August 01, 2007

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive tumor that often occurs in the setting of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is increasing in the United States and worldwide. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is a viable and potentially curative option for selected patients with HCC. Locoregional therapy has been used to control HCC before transplantation because of the limited number of donor organs, to prevent tumor progression, and to decrease the incidence of dropouts from the transplant waiting list. Traditionally, multiple investigational locoregional modalities such as tumor resection, radiofrequency ablation, transarterial chemoembolization, and systemic chemotherapy have been used as "bridging" therapies. While the investigation of novel neoadjuvant treatments is justified in an effort to prevent tumor progression, the absence of randomized controlled trials leaves uncertainty about the utility of these maneuvers in improving outcome. This review summarizes the current data on the different modalities used worldwide in the neoadjuvant treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, the rationale for these approaches, efficacy, potential complications, and future prospects.

Integrins and Cancer

July 31, 2007

Integrins play an important physiologic role in cell adhesion, and accumulating evidence suggests that they also regulate cell growth, proliferation, migration, and apoptosis. A number of congenital and acquired disease states have been associated with integrins, and small- molecule integrin inhibitors have been approved for treatment of benign hematologic diseases. In cancer, aberrant expression with normal functioning rather than dominant genetic variations of genes coding for integrins has generally been observed. This aberrant expression is mediated through "bidirectional" receptor signaling and interaction with corresponding signals from growth factor signaling pathways, leading to inhibition of apoptosis, induction of cell proliferation, extracellular matrix remodeling, migration, and angiogenesis. From a clinical perspective, a growing number of molecules targeting integrins have been developed for treatment and imaging purposes; clinical studies in melanoma, prostate cancer, and other malignancies are underway. This review summarizes the biology of integrins, the signal transduction pathways they regulate, and their role in different stages of carcinogenesis. Furthermore, it provides a synopsis on the clinical advancements in integrin targeting for therapeutic and imaging purposes in cancer.

The Role of Integrins in Colorectal Cancer

August 01, 2007

Integrins have direct effects in stimulating proliferation and preventing apoptosis in cancer cells and mediating proangiogenic interactions between endothelial cells and extracellular matrix. Alterations of expression of various integrins and their receptors have been observed in various cancers in which angiogenesis is known to play a role, including colorectal cancer. Inhibition of specific integrins might thus inhibit both direct effects of integrins on cancer cells and tumor angiogenesis. Inhibitory peptides and anti-integrin monoclonal antibodies are currently being investigated in clinical trials in patients with solid tumors, with early evidence suggesting clinical benefit in disease stabilization with use of an anti-αvβ3 antibody in the settings of colorectal cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Integrin inhibition alone and with other targeted therapeutic approaches should be further investigated in clinical trials in patients with colorectal cancer.

The Biology of Integrins

August 01, 2007

Adhesion molecules have traditionally been thought of simply as receptors that permit anchorage to other cells or to the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM). However, within the past decade it has become apparent that adhesion molecules such as integrins mediate critical cytosolic signaling events that have a dramatic impact upon cell proliferation, survival, and motility. Integrins act to regulate both physiologic and pathologic events, including complex processes such as angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis. For these reasons, integrins have become attractive targets for drug development, and several effective integrin antagonists are now under clinical evaluation. In turn, the use of integrin-targeted reagents has provided additional mechanistic insights into the workings of the receptor. In particular, it has become apparent that integrins are "mechanosensory" receptors that operate in a context-dependent manner. While integrins that ligate substrate-immobilized ligands typically transduce positive signals into the cell, antagonized or unligated integrins promote negative signaling into the cell, leading to cell cycle arrest or apoptosis. Thus, integrins appear to fulfill a biosensor function, wherein they constantly interrogate the local ECM, and modulate cell behavior accordingly. These new roles that integrins play reinforce the choice of integrins as a therapeutic target, even as they lead us to reassess and optimize current clinical strategies.

Targeted Therapy in Rectal Cancer

August 01, 2007

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are often overexpressed in colorectal cancer and are associated with inferior outcomes. Based on successful randomized phase III trials, anti-EGFR and anti-VEGF therapeutics have entered clinical practice. Cetuximab (Erbitux), an EGFR-specific antibody, is currently approved in the United States in combination with irinotecan (Camptosar) for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to irinotecan or as a single agent for patients unable to tolerate irinotecan-based therapy. In retrospective analyses, patients with EGFR-expressing rectal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant radiation therapy had a significantly inferior disease-free survival and lower rates of achieving pathologic complete response. Based on the positive data in metastatic colorectal cancer and synergy with radiation therapy seen in preclinical models, there is a strong rationale to combine cetuximab with neoadjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy in rectal cancer. Bevacizumab (Avastin), a VEGF-specific antibody, was the first antiangiogenic agent to be approved in the United States for use in combination with standard chemotherapy in the first- and second-line of treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer. VEGF-targeted therapy may lead to indirect killing of cancer cells by damaging tumor blood vessels, and may increase the radiosensitivity of tumor-associated endothelial cells. VEGF blockade can also "normalize" tumor vasculature, thereby leading to greater tumor oxygenation and drug penetration. This review will address completed and ongoing trials that have established and continue to clarify the effects of these agents in rectal cancer.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the Elderly (Part 1: Overview and Treatment of Follicular Lymphoma)

August 01, 2007

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of a few malignancies that have been increasing in incidence over the past several decades. Likewise, these disorders are more common in elderly patients, with a median age of occurrence of 65 years. Therapy in elderly patients may be affected by multiple factors, especially attendant comorbidities. The approaches to management of these patients, with either indolent or aggressive disease processes, have been based on prospective clinical trial results, many of which have included a younger patient population. Fortunately, over the past decade, results of treatment trials that have targeted an older patient population have emerged. The disease incidence and treatment approaches for both follicular (part 1 of this article) and diffuse aggressive (part 2) histologies in elderly patients are reviewed, as well as the impact of aging on the care of these patients.

Therapeutic Options in Gastric Cancer: Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy vs Postoperative Chemoradiotherapy

August 01, 2007

The majority of patients who undergo resection for gastric cancer experience relapse and ultimately die of their disease. Therefore, considerable attention has been paid to neoadjuvant and adjuvant strategies to improve surgical outcomes. Two different approaches have been tested in major clinical trials conducted in the past several years: Postoperative chemoradiotherapy was assessed in a US Southwest Oncology Group/Intergroup study (SWOG 9008/INT 0116), and perioperative chemotherapy was studied in a UK Medical Research Council (MRC) randomized trial (the MRC Adjuvant Gastric Infusional Chemotherapy [MAGIC] trial). These trials demonstrated statistically significant survival benefits in patients with resectable gastric cancer. This review will consider these trials and their implications for clinical practice.

Problem-Related Distress in Cancer Patients Drives Requests for Help: A Prospective Study

August 01, 2007

The Moores UCSD Cancer Center has implemented the use of an innovative instrument for screening cancer patients at first visit to assist them with distress due to cancer-related problems. This 36-question screening instrument addresses physical, practical, social, psychological and spiritual problems. Patients are asked to rate the severity of each problem on a scale of 1 to 5, and to circle "Yes" if they would like staff assistance. Data from a prospective study of the first 2,071 patients to complete this questionnaire has been entered into a database and analyzed to identify common patient problems, demographics, and trends. The five most common causes of problem-related distress were fatigue, sleeping, finances, pain, and controlling my fear and worry about the future. The five most common problems for which patients circled "Yes" to ask for assistance were understanding my treatment options, fatigue, sleeping, pain, and finances. Compared to the entire population, patients who circled "Yes" on a particular problem, demonstrated a robust increase in problem-related distress.

Neoadjuvant Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Is There An Optimal Approach?

August 01, 2007

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive tumor that often occurs in the setting of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is increasing in the United States and worldwide. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is a viable and potentially curative option for selected patients with HCC. Locoregional therapy has been used to control HCC before transplantation because of the limited number of donor organs, to prevent tumor progression, and to decrease the incidence of dropouts from the transplant waiting list. Traditionally, multiple investigational locoregional modalities such as tumor resection, radiofrequency ablation, transarterial chemoembolization, and systemic chemotherapy have been used as "bridging" therapies. While the investigation of novel neoadjuvant treatments is justified in an effort to prevent tumor progression, the absence of randomized controlled trials leaves uncertainty about the utility of these maneuvers in improving outcome. This review summarizes the current data on the different modalities used worldwide in the neoadjuvant treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, the rationale for these approaches, efficacy, potential complications, and future prospects.