ASCO To Release Details Of CancerLinQ Project.

In a story titled "'Big Data' For Cancer Care," the Wall Street Journal (3/27, Winslow, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports that the American Society of Clinical Oncology is set to launch a project called CancerLinQ, which would gather data on cancer patients. Oncologists could access the data for advice on how to best treat their patients. Details on the project are to be released today. Although approximately 1.6 million individuals in the US receive a cancer diagnosis each year, in the vast majority of cases, the details about what treatments they receive are "locked up in medical records and file drawers or in electronic systems not connected to each other," ASCO CEO Allen Lichter said. Lichter added, "There is a treasure trove of information inside those cases if we simply bring them together." Meanwhile, ASCO President Sandra Swain said that the database created by the project would "give us more evidence for the treatments we actually use."

Oncology Experts Urge Cancer Care Reforms In US.

Medscape (3/27) reports, "The cost of cancer care in the United States is 'unsustainable' and necessitates 5 'major' reforms, according a group of 22 oncology experts whose planned fix was published March 23 in The New York Times." Among other things, the authors stressed the need for an increase in "high touch" oncology practices. They wrote, "In these practices, nurses manage common symptoms before they escalate to the point that they require visits to the emergency room, and doctors talk with patients about palliative-care services and end-of-life preferences early on - not in the weeks before death." Medscape points out, "That end-of-life care idea is in line with recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which recently said that extended palliative care should be offered to all cancer patients with metastatic disease."


Soy Consumption Linked To Better Lung Cancer Survival In Women.

On its website, NBC News (3/25, Fox) reports, "Soy foods, long shown to help lower the risk of cancer, may also help people survive at least some forms of cancer better," according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. This finding, "lends support to the idea that adding soy foods to the diet can help people in multiple ways, says Dr. Jyoti Patel, a lung cancer specialist at Northwestern University in Chicago, who was not involved in the study." According to Patel, "Although the risks are probably different for American women for developing lung cancer, I do think it is a call to action for more research about how we develop lung cancer." NBC News adds, "For the study, Gong Yang and colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Shanghai Cancer Institute, and the National Cancer Institute looked at data from a large study of Chinese women called the Shanghai Women's Health Study."

        The Tennessean (3/25, Wilemon, 120K) reports that, among those in the study diagnosed with lung cancer, women "who had a history of eating soy-rich diets were 20 percent more likely to be alive a year after diagnosis than those who had not." The Tennessean points out that the "study received federal funding from the National Cancer Institute."

        Medscape (3/26, Mulcahy) reports, "'This is the first scientific evidence that soy has a favorable effect on lung cancer survival,' said Dr. Patel, who is a spokesperson for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and provided independent comment on the study." Dr. Patel told Medscape Medical News that "soy may have a mechanism of action similar to drugs like tamoxifen."


Study Reveals Rate Of Anal Cancer May Be Increasing In US.

Reuters (3/22, Seaman) reported that, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the rate of anal cancer may be increasing in the US. Investigators looked at information from a US database. While the increase was evident in both men and women, the rate among men tripled between 1997 and 2009, compared to the rate between 1973 and 1996, while the rate among women did not quite double.


Emanuel, Other Specialists Outline "A Plan To Fix Cancer Care."

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, along with 20 physicians and other oncology specialists, outlined five reforms necessary to "fix cancer care," in an op-ed for the New York Times (3/24, 1.68M). The group said that "the government is deeply involved and has to help. Today, 60 percent of cancer diagnoses are made in patients who are eligible for Medicare. By 2030, that number will rise to over 70 percent." The group called on HHS Secretary Sebelius to "organize a working group representing Medicare, private insurers, oncologists, quality experts and patients to figure out how to develop these proposals - with no increase in costs - and start implementing them by the end of 2015."


RP May Offer Better Survival Than Radiotherapy For Men With Localized Prostate Cancer.

Medscape (3/23, Johnson) reports, "Radical prostatectomy offers better survival than radiotherapy for men with localized prostate cancer, according to an observational study of 34,515 men." Investigators looked at "data...from the National Prostate Cancer Registry in Sweden, which includes almost all Swedish men with prostate cancer initially treated from 1996 to 2000 with either surgery (n = 21,533) or radiotherapy (n = 12,982) and no hormone therapy." The data indicated that "there was an overall unadjusted 3-fold increased risk for death in the radiotherapy group, compared with the surgery group (P < .001)...reported" senior investigator Peter Wiklund, MD.

Ovary Removal During Hysterectomy Linked To Certain Health Risks.

Reuters (3/23, Grens) reported that, according to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, it may be beneficial to leave the ovaries intact during a hysterectomy. Investigators found that during the roughly 28 years following hysterectomy, patients whose ovaries had been removed during the procedure faced a 23 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 29 percent higher likelihood of death from lung cancer, and a 49 percent greater chance of death from colorectal cancer compared to women whose ovaries were not removed during hysterectomy.


Personalized Peptide Vaccine Shows Potential For Prostate Cancer.

Medscape (3/22, Johnson) reports, "A personalized peptide vaccine combined with dexamethasone is significantly more effective than dexamethasone alone in patients with chemotherapy-naïve castration-resistant prostate cancer," according to research presented at the European Association of Urology 28th Annual Congress. Investigators found that "PSA response was not significantly different between the vaccine and nonvaccine groups after the first vaccination," but "there was a significantly longer median time to PSA failure in the vaccine group (542 vs 203 days; P = .0008), suggesting 'that our peptide vaccination therapy in combination with dexamethasone may be a potential tool for chemotherapy-naïve castration-resistant prostate cancer patients,' [lead investigator Takahiro Kimura, MD] said."


Biomarker For NSCLC Chemo Response May Not Be Very Beneficial.

MedPage Today (3/21, Phend) reports, "A DNA repair biomarker thought to predict benefit from platinum-based chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) doesn't actually do that good a job, a validation study showed." Investigators found that "the ERCC1 protein expression level didn't predict a boost in overall survival (OS) from adjuvant cisplatin (Platinol)-based chemotherapy compared with observation alone in two clinical trials (P=0.23 for interaction)." The researchers found that "any hint of utility in distinguishing chemotherapy response actually came from the ERCC1-positive group, rather than the ERCC1-negative group as suggested in the initial trial proposing the protein as a predictive biomarker." The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Behaviors, Factors Linked To Heart Health May Also Protect Against Cancer.

In continuing coverage, CBS News (3/20, Jaslow) reports on its website, "New research" published in Circulation "finds that people who follow the American Heart Association's 'Life's Simple 7' steps to lower their risk for heart disease get an added bonus of protection against cancer." Investigators followed "more than 13,000 white and black Americans enrolled in a long-running study of atherosclerosis risk that kicked off in 1987." The investigators "found that those who followed six or seven of the AHA's tips reduced their risk for cancer by 51 percent, compared to participants who followed zero of the health tips."

        The Time (3/20, Sifferlin, 3.38M) "Healthland" blog reports, "The relationship held even after the scientists accounted for the effect of smoking on cancer risk; when smoking was taken out of the equation, participants who followed five to six of the health steps had a 25% lower cancer risk."

        MedPage Today (3/20, Kaiser) points out that the "seven health behaviors or factors" are "smoking, physical activity, obesity, dietary intake, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar."


Genetically Modified Virus Shrinks Melanoma Tumors In Late-Stage Trial.

The New York Times (3/20, Pollack, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports Amgen announced Tuesday that in a Phase III clinical, its investigational, advanced melanoma treatment, talimogene laherparepvec,"met the primary goal." In the "trial, 16 percent of the patients who had the treatment, called talimogene laherparepvec, or TVEC, experienced a significant shrinkage of their tumors that lasted at least six months. That compared with only 2 percent of the patients in a control group," which was treated with a subcutaneous granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).

        Reuters (3/20, Berkrot) adds that Amgen said the preliminary data also suggested melanoma patients treated with talimogene laherparepvec had a significant survival benefit compared to study arm treated with the GM-CSF. The Thousand Oaks, California-based company is planning to provide an update with more data from the 400-patient study, later this year at a healthcare conference.

        Forbes (3/20, Helper, 928K) also covers the interim analysis, noting that talimogene laherparepvec is a "genetically modified version of herpes simplex virus type 1."


Delaying Chemo May Be Linked To Worse Survival In Ovarian Cancer.

MedPage Today (3/16, Bankhead) reported, "Women with advanced ovarian cancer had significantly worse survival when they started chemotherapy more than 25 days after surgery, according to a study reported" at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology meeting. Investigators found that, "within the range of 15 to 40 days, the risk of death increased 25% and continued to rise with a longer interval from surgery to initiation of chemotherapy." Researcher Ramez Eskander, MD, said, "Our research indicates that there may be an optimal window for therapy to administer to patients who have had an exhaustive effort at cytoreductive surgical resection of their disease, and that approximates 25 days."

Nightshifts May Be Linked To Higher Ovarian Cancer Risk.

MedPage Today (3/16, Walsh) reported, "Women whose occupations involved shift work were at increased risk for ovarian cancer, a large case-control study found." Investigators "conducted a population-based study that included 1,101 women with invasive ovarian cancer, 389 with borderline tumors, and 1,832 controls." The researchers found that women "who reported ever working nights had an odds ratio for developing invasive epithelial ovarian cancer of 1.24 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.49)."

        Medscape (3/16, Chustecka) reported, "This increase in the risk for ovarian cancer with nightshift work is consistent with, and of similar magnitude to, the risk for breast cancer, say lead author Parveen Bhatti, PhD, and colleagues from the epidemiology program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington." The findings were published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


Trastuzumab For HER2-Positive Breast Cancer May Be Linked To CNS Metastases.

Medscape (3/15, Lowry) reports, "Women with HER2-positive breast cancer who receive adjuvant trastuzumab (Herceptin, Genentech/Roche) have a significant risk for metastases in the central nervous system (CNS) as the site of first recurrence, according to a report published online March 4 in the Annals of Oncology." Investigators looked at data from four trials. They found that, "of the 4921 patients who received adjuvant trastuzumab, 125 developed CNS metastases as the site of first recurrence, for an overall incidence of 2.56% (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.07% - 3.01%)." In comparison, "of the 4099 patients who did not receive trastuzumab, there were 78 CNS events, for an incidence of 1.94% (95% CI, 1.54% - 2.38%)."


New Immunoassay May Help Detect Kidney Cancer.

Medscape (3/14, Nelson) reports, "A new immunoassay shows promise as a screening tool for detecting early renal cell carcinoma (RCC)." The assay "measures the levels of 3 biomarkers: nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), L-plastin (LCP1), and nonmetastatic cells 1 protein (NM23A)." According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, "plasma levels of all 3 were found to be highly elevated in patients with kidney cancer."


Study: Aspirin Use May Reduce Melanoma Risk.

CNN (3/11, Landau) in its "The Chart" blog reports that in a study of "nearly 60,000 women," ages 50 to 79, Stanford University researchers found that on average, individuals who took aspirin frequently had a "21% lower risk of melanoma" than did their peers who did not take aspirin at all . Although this correlation "is not proof" that aspirin "is directly responsible for lowering the risk," the study authors "believe inflammation plays a big role in cancer development, and aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug." Moreover, there are previous studies that also "support the idea that in certain kinds of cancers, aspirin may be preventative." The blog did not indicate which medical journal published the study.


FOLFIRINOX May Benefit Some Patients With Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer.

Medscape (3/8, Mulcahy) reports, "FOLFIRINOX produces an 'impressive clinical response' in locally advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, according to the authors of a new small" study presented at the Society of Surgical Oncology 66th Annual Cancer Symposium. Researchers found that "13 (62%) of the 21 treated patients demonstrated a Ca 19-9 response, a tumor marker commonly used to assess treatment response in pancreatic cancer." The researchers also found that "8 (38%) of the patients had an R0 resection (including 2 patients from the 'unresectable' group)." Meanwhile, the researchers reported that a "complete pathologic response" was seen in two patients.


Researchers: Study Shows How Resveratrol Protects Against Aging-Related Diseases.

The Los Angeles Times (3/8, Mohan, 692K) reports, "Scientists hoping to mimic the life-extending qualities produced by a chemical found in red wine and dark chocolate say they have solved one of the mysteries about how this compound works to combat the effects of obesity, diabetes, certain cancers and a host of other maladies." The research, "published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, could lay the foundation for a variety of drugs that act like concentrated amounts of resveratrol, the compound that has inspired a $30-million-a-year supplement business."

        Bloomberg News (3/8, Flinn) reports that the "researchers repeated a 10-year old study using a new method to validate earlier findings that resveratrol turns on a gene that recharges mitochondria, tiny structures that produce fuel for cells. By revving up mitochondria, the agent may protect against aging-related diseases, said David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School genetics professor and the study's senior author." His "earlier research was disputed in studies in 2009 and 2010 saying that resveratrol only activated the gene, a sirtuin called SIRT1, in experiments that used a synthetic fluorescent chemical to track activity."

        Still, the Boston Globe (3/8, Johnson, 250K) reports, researchers not involved in the study "said the new paper provided a plausible and more nuanced explanation for how resveratrol works, but will do little to clarify the bigger questions in the murky field. The role of...SIRT1 in aging, 'is still as clear as mud,' said Brian Kennedy, president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, a nonprofit research center in Novato, Calif."


Dermatologist Warns Gel Manicure Is A Cancer Risk.

The Washington Times (3/7, Chasmar, 76K) reports Dr. Chris Adigun, a dermatologist at the New York University School of Medicine, in a recent article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, warned that "a rising fad of replacing traditional nail polish with quick-hardening gel may result in skin cancer, " due to the UV light needed to cure the gel. Dr. Adigun advised, "Moderation is the key when it comes to gel manicures," adding that he "advocates wearing hand sunscreen for women who get frequent gel manicures."

        The New York Post (3/7, Stretten, Sutherland, Fagen, 498K) reports, "Another concern is that no one knows what is the proper dose of these harmful rays because the UV lamps are not regulated." Research published in JAMA Dermatology in 2009 said that "two middle-aged women, who did not have a history of skin cancer, developed tumors on their hands following exposure to UV nail light." In contrast, the "LED lamps are used in drying regular nail polish and don't pose a health risk because they don't emit ultraviolet radiation." An additional issue with the gel is that its durability means it can conceal nail brittleness, thinning, or cracking.


Study Finds Processed Meats Associated With Higher Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke Risks.

NPR (3/7, Shute) reports in its "The Salt" blog that a study in the journal BMC Medicine "found that people who ate a lot of processed meats - more than 20 grams a day, the equivalent of one thin strip of bacon - were much more likely to die of heart attacks and stroke, and also had a higher cancer risk." This could be due to "the salt, smoke and nitrate used to preserve meats," preserved meats having "amazingly high amounts of fat," or the lifestyle of those who eat large amounts of processed meats.

        HealthDay (3/7, Reinberg) reports the study of nearly 450,000 people found that "those who ate the most processed meat increased their risk of dying early by 44 percent." Study author Sabine Rohrmann, head of the division of cancer epidemiology and prevention at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich, said, "Our recommendation is to limit processed meat intake to less than an ounce a day."

        Also covering this story are the Albany (OR) Tribune (3/7), BBC News (3/7, Gallagher), and the Daily Telegraph (UK) (3/7, Adams, 871K).


Study: Clinical Trial Results Take Nearly Two Years To Be Published.

Reuters (3/7, Pittman) reports that, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, clinical trial results take nearly two years to be published. Investigators looked at information from about 1,300 clinical trials. They found that the average time from the end of data collection to publication was 21 months. The investigators found that the source of funding had no impact on the time it took for the findings to be published.


Breath Test Detects Stomach Cancer.

The BBC News (3/6) reports a study in the British Journal of Cancer found that "a quick and simple breath test can diagnose stomach cancer," which "appears to give off a signature smell of volatile organic compounds that can be detected using the right technical medical kit." The test was able to accurately distinguish between stomach cancer, ulcers, and other complaints "90% of the time," as well as "tell the difference between early and late-stage stomach cancers."


Study: Estrogen Patches May Be Cheaper, Safer Prostate Cancer Treatment.

The BBC News (3/3, Gallagher) reports, "Skin patches which deliver oestrogen into the blood may be a cheaper and safer treatment for prostate cancer than current therapies," according to a recent study by the Imperial College of London and published in Lancet Oncology. The researchers "compared patches and injections in 254 patients" and found that the patches "were safe and should avoid menopause-like side effects" associated with injections of the drug, LHRHa, "to cut levels of testosterone." Study author Prof Paul Abel said, "We're not claiming this is equivalent to current therapies yet, but it does look like we are getting castration levels of testosterone." The researchers are now testing the treatment in an expanded trial that comprises more than 600 study participants.


Cilengitide May Not Improve Survival In Patients With Glioblastoma.

Medscape (3/1) reports, "A large phase 3 study of the investigational integrin inhibitor cilengitide (under development by Merck KgaA, Germany) for glioblastoma has bombed." The study, called CENTRIC, found that "the addition of cilengitide to the standard treatment of temozolomide plus radiotherapy did not improve overall survival, according to the company." The "complete results from CENTRIC will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June, according to the company."


Study: Cancer Patients In Clinical Trials Live Longer, But Are Healthier To Begin With.

Reuters (3/1, Stokes) reports that, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, individuals with certain types of cancer who are enrolled in clinical trials live longer, not because of the treatments they receive, but possibly because patients participating in trials are often healthier than other patients. Investigators looked at data on approximately 550,000 cancer patients listed in the California Cancer Registry over a period of about five years. The investigators found a 26 percent lower likelihood of death among those who participated in clinical trials. However, the lower risk was seen only in patients with cancers of the lung, colon, or breast. There was no differences in survival among patients with skin, esophageal, stomach, liver or pancreatic cancer. The researchers found that those participating in clinical trials were usually younger than 65, and had an earlier stage of the disease.




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