ONCOLOGY Vol 22 No 1 | Oncology

Imatinib Halts Progression to Advanced Stages of Ph-Positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in 6th Year of Treatment

January 01, 2008

New data from the largest clinical trial in newly diagnosed patients with a life-threatening form of leukemia showed that long-term use of imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) can halt progression to advanced disease stages in the 6th year of treatment.

ONCOLOGY: A Look Ahead

January 01, 2008

This month ONCOLOGY enters its 22nd year of publication as the preeminent journal for review articles offering you relevant, practical, and indexed oncology literature. We look forward to sharing a number of important announcements and plans for the year ahead, with new clinical features developed in response to your feedback during focus groups, online surveys, and questionnaires conducted over the past year. First, however, some exciting news... Nancy E. Davidson Appointed Co-Editor-in-Chief

FDA Approves Thyrotropin Alfa for Use in Thyroid Cancer Ablation

January 01, 2008

Genzyme Corp. recently announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a supplemental indication for thyrotropin alfa for injection (Thyrogen) to be used in combination with radioiodine to ablate, or destroy, the remaining thyroid tissue in patients who have had their cancerous thyroids removed.

Capecitabine-Based Combination Proves Comparable to Standard Therapy in Esophagogastric Cancer

January 01, 2008

Data published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that oral capecitabine (Xeloda) and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) in combination with epirubicin (Ellence) is a comparable alternative to infused fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin with epirubicin in patients with previously untreated, advanced esophagogastric cancer.

Thalidomide Added to Standard Therapy Prolongs Overall Survival in Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients Over Age 75

January 01, 2008

Pharmion Corporation announced final data from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial demonstrating that the addition of thalidomide (Thalomid) to standard treatment improves survival by 17.6 months in patients over age 75 newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma compared to standard treatment, consisting of melphalan and prednisone (MP) alone.

Can Patient Reporting Affect Radiation Pneumonitis?

January 01, 2008

Radiation therapy (RT) is an important treatment modality for multiple thoracic malignancies. Incidental irradiation of the lungs, which are particularly susceptible to injury, is unavoidable and often dose-limiting. The most radiosensitive subunit of the lung is the alveolar/capillary complex, and RT-induced lung injury is often described as diffuse alveolar damage. Reactive oxygen species generated by RT are directly toxic to parenchymal cells and initiate a cascade of molecular events that alter the cytokine milieu of the microenvironment, creating a self-sustaining cycle of inflammation and chronic oxidative stress. Replacement of normal lung parenchyma by fibrosis is the culminating event. Depending on the dose and volume of lung irradiated, acute radiation pneumonitis may develop, characterized by dry cough and dyspnea. Fibrosis of the lung, which can also cause dyspnea, is the late complication. Imaging studies and pulmonary function tests can be used to quantify the extent of lung injury. While strict dose-volume constraints to minimize the risk of injury are difficult to impose, substantial data support some general guidelines. New modalities such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy provide new treatment options but also pose new challenges in safely delivering thoracic RT.

Critical Questions About Rituximab Maintenance in Lymphoma Patients

January 01, 2008

Recent trials have demonstrated improvements in progression-free and overall survival with the inclusion of the chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) in chemotherapy regimens for treatment-naive and relapsed patients with advanced-stage follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). As rituximab therapy has significant single-agent activity in follicular NHL, is generally well tolerated, and has no dose-limiting or significant hematologic toxicity, a number of approaches evaluating maintenance therapy with extended dosing of rituximab are being tested. Trials have demonstrated prolonged progression-free survival in patients treated with maintenance rituximab using a variety of schedules following treatment with single-agent rituximab, induction or salvage chemotherapy, or salvage therapy with rituximab and chemotherapy combinations. Small increases in neutropenia and infections have been reported with extended rituximab use. Ongoing trials are evaluating the optimal use of rituximab (maintenance vs retreatment) and the benefit of rituximab maintenance following treatment of therapy-naive patients treated with rituximab-containing chemoimmunotherapy induction regimens. This article discusses the risks and benefits of maintenance rituximab for follicular NHL.

Unanswered Questions in Follicular Lymphoma

January 01, 2008

Recent trials have demonstrated improvements in progression-free and overall survival with the inclusion of the chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) in chemotherapy regimens for treatment-naive and relapsed patients with advanced-stage follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). As rituximab therapy has significant single-agent activity in follicular NHL, is generally well tolerated, and has no dose-limiting or significant hematologic toxicity, a number of approaches evaluating maintenance therapy with extended dosing of rituximab are being tested. Trials have demonstrated prolonged progression-free survival in patients treated with maintenance rituximab using a variety of schedules following treatment with single-agent rituximab, induction or salvage chemotherapy, or salvage therapy with rituximab and chemotherapy combinations. Small increases in neutropenia and infections have been reported with extended rituximab use. Ongoing trials are evaluating the optimal use of rituximab (maintenance vs retreatment) and the benefit of rituximab maintenance following treatment of therapy-naive patients treated with rituximab-containing chemoimmunotherapy induction regimens. This article discusses the risks and benefits of maintenance rituximab for follicular NHL.

What Is the Role of Maintenance Rituximab in Follicular NHL?

January 02, 2008

Recent trials have demonstrated improvements in progression-free and overall survival with the inclusion of the chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) in chemotherapy regimens for treatment-naive and relapsed patients with advanced-stage follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). As rituximab therapy has significant single-agent activity in follicular NHL, is generally well tolerated, and has no dose-limiting or significant hematologic toxicity, a number of approaches evaluating maintenance therapy with extended dosing of rituximab are being tested. Trials have demonstrated prolonged progression-free survival in patients treated with maintenance rituximab using a variety of schedules following treatment with single-agent rituximab, induction or salvage chemotherapy, or salvage therapy with rituximab and chemotherapy combinations. Small increases in neutropenia and infections have been reported with extended rituximab use. Ongoing trials are evaluating the optimal use of rituximab (maintenance vs retreatment) and the benefit of rituximab maintenance following treatment of therapy-naive patients treated with rituximab-containing chemoimmunotherapy induction regimens. This article discusses the risks and benefits of maintenance rituximab for follicular NHL.

Management of Anti-EGFR–Targeting Monoclonal Antibody–Induced Hypomagnesemia

January 01, 2008

Targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has proven to be of clinical benefit in the management of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). While the use of small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors in this setting has not shown any significant activity and has been associated with increased gastrointestinal toxicity when combined with chemotherapy, a different picture has emerged with the use of EGFR-targeting monoclonal antibodies.

Management of Pain in the Older Person With Cancer Part 1: Pathophysiology, Pharmacokinetics, and Assessment

January 01, 2008

Pain in older cancer patients is a common event, and many times it is undertreated. Barriers to cancer pain management in the elderly include concerns about the use of medications, the atypical manifestations of pain in the elderly, and side effects related to opioid and other analgesic drugs. The care of older cancer patients experiencing pain involves a comprehensive assessment, which includes evaluation for conditions that may exacerbate or be exacerbated by pain, affecting its expression, such as emotional and spiritual distress, disability, and comorbid conditions. It is important to use appropriate tools to evaluate pain and other symptoms that can be related to it. Pain in older cancer patients should be managed in an interdisciplinary environment using pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions whose main goals are decreasing suffering and improving quality of life. In this two-part article, the authors present a review of the management of pain in older cancer patients, emphasizing the roles of adequate assessment and a multidisciplinary team approach.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome After Treatment With Sunitinib Malate?

January 01, 2008

Sunitinib malate (Sutent, SU011248) is an oral multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor used for treatment of renal cell carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumor. We report a case of a patient who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome after initial treatment with sunitinib, with recurrent symptoms upon reintroducing the drug. This is the first report of such an effect. The literature on chemotherapy-induced Guillain-Barré syndrome is also reviewed. Oncology providers should be aware of this rare but potentially serious possible adverse effect of sunitinib.

Is Guillain Barré Syndrome Likely in This Patient?

January 01, 2008

Sunitinib malate (Sutent, SU011248) is an oral multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor used for treatment of renal cell carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumor. We report a case of a patient who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome after initial treatment with sunitinib, with recurrent symptoms upon reintroducing the drug. This is the first report of such an effect. The literature on chemotherapy-induced Guillain-Barré syndrome is also reviewed. Oncology providers should be aware of this rare but potentially serious possible adverse effect of sunitinib.

Radiation-Induced Lung Injury: Assessment, Management, and Prevention

January 01, 2008

Radiation therapy (RT) is an important treatment modality for multiple thoracic malignancies. Incidental irradiation of the lungs, which are particularly susceptible to injury, is unavoidable and often dose-limiting. The most radiosensitive subunit of the lung is the alveolar/capillary complex, and RT-induced lung injury is often described as diffuse alveolar damage. Reactive oxygen species generated by RT are directly toxic to parenchymal cells and initiate a cascade of molecular events that alter the cytokine milieu of the microenvironment, creating a self-sustaining cycle of inflammation and chronic oxidative stress. Replacement of normal lung parenchyma by fibrosis is the culminating event. Depending on the dose and volume of lung irradiated, acute radiation pneumonitis may develop, characterized by dry cough and dyspnea. Fibrosis of the lung, which can also cause dyspnea, is the late complication. Imaging studies and pulmonary function tests can be used to quantify the extent of lung injury. While strict dose-volume constraints to minimize the risk of injury are difficult to impose, substantial data support some general guidelines. New modalities such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy provide new treatment options but also pose new challenges in safely delivering thoracic RT.