News

Review: Fatal AEs More Common In Cancer Patients Treated With mTOR Inhibitors.

MedPage Today (2/18, Bankhead) reported, "Fatal adverse events occurred more than twice as often in cancer patients treated with mTOR inhibitors compared with control therapies, a review of multiple clinical trials showed." Investigators found that "altogether, the trials showed a 3.4% incidence of treatment-emergent deaths among patients randomized to everolimus (Afinitor) or temsirolimus (Torisel)." The "control groups had a cumulative fatal event rate of about 1%, which is consistent with results from other types of clinical trials, Toni Choueiri, MD, said...at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium," which is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others.

Study: More Than 90% Of CRPC Patients Had Biochemical Response To Novel Anti-Androgen.

MedPage Today (2/19, Bankhead) reports, "More than 90% of men with high-risk castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) had significant biochemical responses to a novel anti-androgen, results of small clinical trial showed." Just "four of 47 men had less than a 50% decrease in PSA values during 6 months of treatment with ARN-509, a selective androgen receptor antagonist without significant agonist activity, reported Matthew Smith, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues" at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. "The cohort had an estimated 12-month progression-free survival (PFS) of almost 90%, Smith said."

RCC Drug Misses Trial's PFS Goal.

MedPage Today (2/19, Bankhead) reports, "Patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) had improved progression-free survival (PFS) when treated initially with axitinib (Inlyta) instead of sorafenib," but the improvement missed the study's endpoint for statistical significance, according to trial results presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. Thomas Hutson, DO, of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, explained that axitinib "delayed disease progression for a median duration of 10.1 months, more than a 50% improvement compared with sorafenib (Nexavar)." However, he said the "hazard ratio (HR) of 0.77 fell short of investigators ' ambitious goal of a 44% reduction in the hazard." At present, Inlyta has FDA approval as a second-line therapy for advanced RCC.

Dasatinib Combination May Not Improve Survival In Men With mCRPC.

OncLive (2/16, Gillis) reports, "The addition of dasatinib to standard therapy with docetaxel failed to improve survival and most other clinical endpoints in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) in the phase III READY trial, researchers reported at the 2013 Genitourinary (GU) Cancers Symposium," sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. While "preliminary studies provided a rationale for use of dasatinib in mCRPC and early clinical trials suggested that the combination of dasatinib plus docetaxel had acceptable safety and activity, the phase III results suggest that this combination will not be pursued further. READY is one of a string of trials that fail to show an advantage for the addition of newer agents to docetaxel."

Finasteride May Not Increase Survival In Patients With Prostate Cancer.

HealthDay (2/16, Reinberg) reports, "Men with prostate cancer taking the drug finasteride (Proscar) don't survive longer than similar men not taking the drug," according to a study presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. Investigators came to this conclusion after anaylyzing "data on deaths of men taking Proscar or an inactive placebo who were located in a Social Security database of deaths."

 

Immediate RT After Radical Prostatectomy May Increase Prostate Cancer Survival.

MedPage Today (2/16, Bankhead) reports, "Immediate radiation therapy [RT] after radical prostatectomy led to a 50% increase in long-term biochemical progression-free survival (bNED) for patients with locally advanced prostate cancer, according to a study reported" at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. Investigators found, "after a median follow-up of almost 10 years," that "patients who received immediate adjuvant radiotherapy had a bNED rate of 61% compared with 40% for patients randomized to a 'wait-and-see' strategy that depended on a return of detectable PSA levels." The researchers reported that "patients with positive surgical margins benefited the most from immediate radiotherapy, reflected in a bNED rate of 55% versus 27% for patients randomized to the wait-and-see (salvage) approach."

Updated Analysis Of COU-AA-302 Upholds Benefits Of Abiraterone Acetate In mCRPC.

OncLive (2/16, Gillis) reports, "An updated interim analysis of the COU-AA-302 trial upholds the benefits of abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) in mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic patients with progressive metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) untreated with prior chemotherapy." Investigators found that "at a median follow-up of 27.1 months, radiographic progression-free survival (rPFS) and all secondary endpoints favored the abiraterone acetate arm." The findings were presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. The article points out that "the first interim analysis of COU-AA-302 was presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of ASCO, and at that time, with a median follow-up of 22 months, results were so favorable for abiraterone acetate that an Independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended unblinding the study and offering all patients abiraterone acetate."

MTD May Predict Prostate Cancer Outcomes After Salvage Radiation Treatment.

Renal and Urology News (2/16, Charnow, 16K) reports, "Maximum tumor diameter (MTD) is a significant predictor of prostate cancer (PCa) outcomes following salvage radiation treatment, researchers reported at the annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium," sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. The investigators "concluded that MDT should be used in clinical decision making in this patient population as well as in future clinical risk assessment tools."

Anticoagulant Therapy Linked To Increased OS In mCRPC Patients.

Renal and Urology News (2/16, Charnow, 16K) reports, "Anticoagulant therapy is associated with improved overall survival (OS) in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) receiving first-line docetaxel chemotherapy, researchers reported at the annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium," sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others. Investigators "reviewed data from 247 mCRPC patients receiving first-line docetaxel treatment." Twenty-nine of these patients also received anticoagulant therapy. The researchers found that "the median OS was 20.9 months for patients who received anticoagulants compared with 17.1 months for those who did not."

CRPC Patients Treated With Enzalutamide May Have Worse Survival When Given Corticosteroids.

MedPage Today (2/16, Bankhead) reports, "Men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) on treatment with enzalutamide had worse survival when given corticosteroids, regardless of their primary treatment, a post-hoc analysis of a randomized trial showed." Researchers found that "patients on corticosteroids during treatment with enzalutamide (Xtandi) or placebo had a median overall survival of 10.8 months compared with 18.3 months for men not on steroids." The investigators also found "a survival decrement associated with corticosteroid use in both treatment arms, although patients allocated to enzalutamide fared significantly better, consistent with the trial's overall results." The research was presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others.

        OncLive (2/16, Gillis) reports that lead author Howard I. Scher, MD, said, "These findings show that on-study use of corticosteroids was associated with reduced overall survival and higher rates of grades 3 and 4 adverse events in mCRPC post-docetaxel. However, enzalutamide was consistently superior to placebo regardless of baseline and/or on-study corticosteroid use." Scher "added that inferior outcomes related to corticosteroid use may be due to unmeasured confounders or to the biologic properties of corticosteroid use itself."

IVF May Not Be Linked To Higher Risk Of Breast, Endometrial Cancer.

Reuters (2/16, Stokes) reports that, according to research published online in Fertility and Sterility, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may not be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. Investigators looked at data on more than 67,600 women who had undergone IVF, as well as nearly 20,000 women who had not. The researchers found no IVF was not linked to a higher risk of breast cancer or endometrial cancer.

Supercomputer "Watson" Now Being Used In Cancer Center.

Medscape (2/15, Mulcahy) reports, "Watson, the IBM supercomputer that grabbed headlines after beating human contestants on Jeopardy!, has commercial applications in healthcare." The supercomputer's "first application in cancer is highly focused: recommending the best drug treatment options for patients with stage IV adenocarcinomas, said Mark Kris, MD, from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, which is developing the tool with IBM and WellPoint, the managed care company." Medscape adds, "Major healthcare players, including McKesson, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and Aetna, are developing clinical decision-making tools, said Dr. Kris."

Study: Alcohol Is Responsible For One Out Of 30 Cancer Deaths.

HealthDay (2/14, Reinberg) reports that a "new report finds that alcohol is to blame for one in every 30 cancer deaths each year in the United States." The report states that the "connection is even more pronounced with breast cancer, with 15 percent of those deaths related to alcohol consumption." The study also notes that "drinking in moderation" won't help, because "30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths are linked to drinking 1.5 drinks or less a day," Dr. David Nelson, director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the US National Cancer Institute, noted that "moderate drinking has been associated with heart benefits," but explained in the "broader context of all the issues and all the problems that alcohol is related to, alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents." The report was published online Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

        The Daily Telegraph (UK) (2/15, Smith, 871K) adds, "Alcohol was classified as one of the most carcinogenic substances by the World Health Organisation in 1988 and is particularly linked to cancers of the mouth, throat and liver." Prof Mark Bellis, director of the centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, calculated that "cancer was the biggest contributor to alcohol-related deaths and was responsible for 9,000 cancer deaths a year, 1,500 of them from breast cancer. He called for cancer warnings to be mandatory on all alcohol products saying it was wrong that people were buying them without knowing the risks."

Chemotherapy May Be Linked To Increased Risk Of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

HealthDay (2/15) reports that, according to research published in Blood, chemotherapy may be linked to an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia. NCI investigators looked at data on approximately 426,000 individuals who had undergone chemotherapy for cancer. The researchers found that "patients who survived non-Hodgkin lymphoma were at greater risk for AML, the team found." The study also indicated that "since 2000, patients treated for esophageal, prostate and cervical cancer were also found to be at greater risk for AML, the researchers say." Additionally, "the study...showed that those treated for cancer since the 1990s for cancers of the bones and joints, as well as the endometrium (uterine lining), are also at increased risk for AML."

Study: Selumetinib Sensitized Advanced Thyroid Cancer To Radioiodine.

MedPage Today (2/14, Phend) reports, "The novel kinase inhibitor selumetinib sensitized advanced thyroid cancer to radioiodine, particularly in disease with RAS mutations, a small, proof-of-concept study found." The investigational agent "increased or restored the uptake of iodine based on PET imaging in 12 of the 20 (60%) treated patients previously refractory to radioiodine." Researchers found that, "of the eight who reached the uptake threshold needed for radioiodine treatment, five had confirmed partial response to it and the others had stable disease." The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

        Medscape (2/14, Nelson) points out that "selumetinib...is being investigated in a number of different cancer types."

 

FDA Grants Potential MCL, WM Treatment Expedited Review.

Bloomberg News (2/13, Flinn) reports Pharmacyclics Inc. announced Tuesday that the FDA granted its experimental therapy, ibrutinib, "'breakthrough' status" for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and for patients with Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM). Pharmacyclics and its partner, Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson unit, said they would submit an application for approval to FDA "before the end of the year." Bloomberg News notes that the "breakthrough designation was created in legislation passed last year reauthorizing the FDA's user fee programs for drug and device reviews." During an interview Monday, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Companies Director Dr. Janet Woodcock said firms "that receive the status will have closer communication with top FDA staff to move drugs for serious diseases to market more quickly."

Gene Test May Help Identify Which Patients Can Forgo Adjuvant Systemic Treatment For Breast Cancer.

Medscape (2/9, Nelson) reported, "The first prospective trial of the 70-gene-signature MammaPrint (Agendia) breast cancer test shows that it can help determine which breast cancer patients can forgo adjuvant systemic treatment." Investigators found that, "of the women deemed to be low risk by the MammaPrint test, 85% chose not to undergo adjuvant chemotherapy, and 97% were disease-free after 5 years." Meanwhile, "of the women deemed to be high risk, 91% underwent chemotherapy were disease-free at 5 years." The findings were published online in the International Journal of Cancer.

Genetically Altered Smallpox Vaccine May Shrink Tumors In Liver Cancer Patients.

Bloomberg News (2/11, Flinn) reports, "A genetically modified smallpox vaccine shrunk tumors in liver cancer patients and extended survival more than a year," according to a study published in Nature Medicine. The vaccine "from closely held San Francisco biotech firm Jennerex Inc., called JX-594, or Pexa-Vec, is being tested in people with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma."

        AFP (2/11) reports, "Sixteen patients given a high dose of the therapy survived for 14.1 months on average, compared to 6.7 months for the 14 who got the low dose." The study "showed Pexa-Vec to be well tolerated both at high and low doses, with flu-like symptoms lasting a day or two in all patients and severe nausea and vomiting in one."

FDA Approves Drug For Treatment-Resistant Multiple Myeloma.

Bloomberg News (2/9, Edney, Larkin) reported that the Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced it has approved Celgene's multiple-myeloma therapy, Pomalyst (pomalidomide). The FDA's Office of Hematology and Oncology Products Director Dr. Richard Pazdur explained that multiple-myeloma therapies are "tailored to meet individual patient's needs, and today's approval provides an additional treatment option for patients who have not responded to other drugs." The agency approved the drug's use for patients with multiple myeloma in whom "at least two other drugs" - including the company's own Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Takeda Pharmaceutical's Velcade (bortezomib) - have been ineffective.

        Reuters (2/9, Clarke) added that the FDA approval came with two stipulations: For one, the agency is requiring that the Summit, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company include a boxed warning on Pomalyst's labeling, cautioning patients and healthcare providers that the medication could increase the risk for blood clots, and advising that pregnant women refrain from using the drug because it can lead to life-threatening birth defects. In addition, the FDA is limiting the product's availability to prescribers, who have been certified through the Pomalyst Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). Reuters noted that the similar stipulations were tied to the agency's approval of Revlimid.

Cancer Drug Meets SCCLC Treatment Goal.

Bloomberg News (2/8, Lam) reported Oncolytics Biotech Inc. announced positive outcomes on Friday from a Phase II clinical trial, testing its intravenous cancer drug, "Reolysin [wild-type reovirus; serotype 3 Dearing] in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel," in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (SCCLC). Thus far, the company said it has "observed nine partial and stable responses and three progressions for a disease control rate of 86 percent."

        Reuters (2/8) noted that Oncolytics said 95 percent of the study participants in the Reolysin and chemotherapy drug combo arm, exhibited significant tumor shrinkage.

        According to the AP (2/9), Oncolytics explained that Reolysin, which is "based on a common virus called the respiratory enteric orphan virus, or reovirus," was developed to "infect and destroy cancer cells." Notably, in December, the Calgary, ON, Canada-based biotech said Reolysin "met its goal in a late-stage trial that evaluated the drug as a treatment for head and neck cancers"; and in January, the drugmaker "reported positive results for Reolysin as a treatment for colorectal cancer."

Watson-Based Programs To Be Offered To Doctors, Health Insurance Companies.

The AP (2/8) reported, "The Watson supercomputer is graduating from its medical residency and is being offered commercially to doctors and health insurance companies, IBM said Friday." The piece noted that "IBM Corp., the health insurer WellPoint Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center announced two Watson-based applications - one to help assess treatments for lung cancer and one to help manage health insurance decisions and claims."

        Reuters (2/9, Leske) reported that Watson can process 1.5 million patient records in an effort to provide treatment options in seconds.

Bevacizumab May Help Increase Survival In Certain Patients With Cervical Cancer.

The Wall Street Journal (2/8, Dooren, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports the National Cancer Institute has announced that a study indicates that Avastin (bevacizumab) may increase survival in certain patients with cervical cancer. The complete findings from the study may be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

        MedPage Today (2/8, Gever) reports, "Median overall survival in patients treated with bevacizumab and chemotherapy in a randomized trial was 17 months, compared with 13.3 months in patients treated with chemotherapy alone, according to top-line results of an interim analysis released late Thursday in an NCI press release."

Biennial Mammograms May Be As Good As Annual Screening For Older Women.

The Los Angeles Times (2/6, Kaplan, 692K) "Booster Shots" blog reports that research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that "having annual mammograms" may "not reduce women's risk of being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer." Investigators "examined records of about 140,000 women ages 66 to 89 who had mammograms between 1999 and 2006. Some of the women had mammograms every year, and some of them had them every other year."

        The Huffington Post (2/6) reports that the researchers found that "a mammogram every two years had the same benefits as an annual mammogram for older women." Additionally the investigators "found that 48 percent of women aged 66-74 who were screened for breast cancer annually received false-positive results." Meanwhile, just "29 percent of women in the same age group who got mammograms every two years saw false-positive results."

Medications To Treat Lupus May Not Increase Lymphoma Risk.

HealthDay (2/5, Preidt) reports, "Drugs used to treat...lupus do not significantly increase patients' risk of the blood cancer lymphoma," according to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Investigators looked at data on 75 patients with both lupus and lymphoma, and approximately 5,000 lupus patients who did not have cancer. The investigators "concluded that the risk of lymphoma in lupus patients who took cyclophosphamide was less than 0.1 percent per year." The researchers also found "no link between lupus disease activity and lymphoma risk."

Researchers Testing Pak1 Inhibitor For Prostate Cancer Therapy.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle (2/2, Karkaria, Subscription Publication) in its "Healthy Conversation" blog reported researchers at the University of Georgia say their study shows the "importance of Pak1, the p21 activated kinase-1, in prostate cancer." Lead researcher Somanath Shenoy, an assistant professor at the UGA College of Pharmacy, said, "Our observations suggest that although some level of functional redundancy exists between Pak1 and Pak6 in prostate cancer cells, targeting Pak1 is a potential option for the management of prostate tumor growth, microinvasion and metastasis." At present, the UGA study team is testing whether a Pak1 inhibitor compound is effective for "prostate cancer therapy in a mouse model."

Surgery, RT For Prostate Cancer May Lead To Similar Rates Of Impotence.

Bloomberg News (1/31, Langreth) reports, "Only 10 percent of men treated for early prostate cancer could sustain an erection sufficient for sex 15 years later, according to a study that found impotence rates were the same whether treatment was surgery or radiation." For the study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators "repeatedly surveyed 1,655 men diagnosed with localized disease and given surgery or external beam radiation."

        The AP (1/31) reports, "After 15 years, 18 percent of the surgery group and 9 percent of the radiation group reported urinary incontinence, and 5 percent of the surgery group and 16 percent of the radiation group said they were bothered by bowel problems." Meanwhile, "impotence was 'near universal' at 15 years, the authors write - 94 percent of the radiation group and 87 percent of the surgery group." The AP points out that "the National Cancer Institute paid for the study."

        In the NBC News (1/30) "Vitals" blog, NBC Chief Science and Health Correspondent Robert Bazell writes, "A rational argument is that such side effects are acceptable if the treatment is saving lives. But the paper raises serious doubts." Senior author Dr. David Penson said in an interview, "So many of these men have low-risk disease that probably doesn't need to be treated."

        The Tennessean (1/30, Wilemon, 120K) quotes Dr. Penson as saying, "The reality of it is both" surgery and radiation therapy "cause a whole heck of a lot of side effects."

        Modern Healthcare (1/30, McKinney, Subscription Publication, 71K) reports, "Because prostate cancer treatments have varying success rates and because choosing to do nothing - also known as 'watchful waiting' - has gained ground as a viable option, the disease is a prime example of the benefits of patient engagement and shared decisionmaking...said" Dr. Matthew Resnick, the study's lead author. Also covering the story are HealthDay (1/31, Storrs), MedPage Today (1/31, Bankhead), and Medscape (1/31, Lowry).

Questions Remain As To Whether PRT Is Better Than Conventional Radiotherapy.

Medscape (1/31, Nelson) reports that "the question" of whether proton-beam radiotherapy (PRT) is better than conventional radiotherapy remains "unanswered because few studies have compared the 2 directly." Much of the article discusses the cost differences between the two. While "the use of PRT is being studied in other cancer types, it is in prostate cancer that the technique appears to be gaining the most popularity and generating the most controversy." While "comparative studies have not yet shown the benefit of PRT over other types of radiotherapy used in prostate cancer treatment...one study suggested that it is more toxic than IMRT (JAMA. 2012;307:1611-1620)."

Study: Bitter Compounds In Beer Could Be Used To Treat Diabetes, Cancers.

HealthDay (1/31, Preidt) reports a new study, published in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, "suggests that the bitter compounds in beer might aid in the development of new drugs for diabetes, some types of cancer and other health problems." The study revealed "the precise configuration of humulones, substances derived from hops that give beer its unique flavor." Study lead author Werner Kaminsky, a University of Washington research associate professor of chemistry, said in a university news release, "Now that we have the right results, what happens to the bitter hops in the beer-brewing process makes a lot more sense."

        The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1/31, Ellison, 114K) adds that "because beer and its bittering acids - in moderation (the school emphasizes) - have beneficial effects on diabetes, some forms of cancer, inflammation and perhaps even weight loss, knowing exactly what they become in beer means they can be used to make new pharmaceuticals."

Gene Test Identifies High-Risk Lung Cancers.

MedPage Today (1/31, Phend) says Johannes Kratz, MD, from the University of California San Francisco led a study, presented at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting, that found a genetic assay "may pick out high-risk lung cancers among small tumors that are likely to be increasingly detected given new screening recommendations." Patients "who fell into the high-risk category on the assay had death rates that were 3.34 times higher than those in the lowest-risk category as adjusted for age, sex, histology, and tumor size (P=0.0001)." Thomas A. D'Amico MD, chief of general thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center, said in an email, "The relatively poor survival of patients in the intermediate or high risk groups suggests that there may be a role for adjuvant chemotherapy, which remains to be tested."

Bevacizumab, Capecitabine Combo May Benefit Certain Patients With Colon Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/30, Petrochko) reports, "First-line combination bevacizumab and capecitabine therapy may be an optimal first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in treatment-naive older patients, researchers reported" at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. "A prospective, phase III trial evaluating the combination therapy against capecitabine alone as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer showed patients ages 70 and older had significantly prolonged progression-free survival when treated with capecitabine and bevacizumab, said David Cunningham, MD, of Royal Marsden Hospital in London, England." The "combination therapy improved overall response rate (19.3% versus 10%, P=0.042), and median overall survival tended to be longer in patients who received both agents (20.7 months versus 16.8 months), though the longer survival was not significantly longer than overall survival on monotherapy (P=0.182), Cunningham said."

Dual Radiotherapy May Increase Survival In Certain Patients With Esophageal Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/30, Bankhead) reports, "Dual radiotherapy for poor-risk esophageal cancer led to a median overall survival about double the historical results with palliative radiation, results of a small clinical series showed." Investigators found that "patients treated with a combination of external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and high-dose brachytherapy had a median overall survival of 12.3 months." The researchers reported that "long-term survival appeared no better than what has been observed with high-dose radical radiation therapy, but the combination regimen was better tolerated." The findings were presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Consumption Of Fried Foods Linked To Increased Prostate Cancer Risk.

HealthDay (1/29) reports, "Eating deep-fried foods, such as French fries and fried chicken, on a regular basis may be tied to an increased risk of prostate cancer," according to a study published online in The Prostate. Investigators "examined data from about 1,500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 1,500 men who did not have the disease." The researchers found that "men who said they ate French fries, fried chicken, fried fish and/or doughnuts at least once a week were 30 percent to 37 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate such foods less than once a month." The study received support from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Lumpectomy May Lead To Better Survival In Patients With Early-Stage Breast Cancer.

The CBS Evening News (1/28, story 8, 2:25, Pelley) reported, "Women diagnosed with breast cancer often face a tough decision: Whether to have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy."

        NBC Nightly News (1/28, story 7, 2:25, Williams) reported, "A new study from Duke University is suggesting that lumpectomy plus radiation may be an even better option than mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer."

        On its website, CBS News (1/29) reports that researchers "analyzed data from 112,154 women diagnosed with Stage 1 or Stage 2 breast cancer between 1990 and 2004. 61,771 of the women received lumpectomy and radiation and 50,383 had mastectomy without radiation." The investigators "found that within three years of diagnosis, breast cancer patients who underwent lumpectomy and radiation had higher survival rates than those who chose mastectomy."

Capecitabine Better Than Gemcitabine For Some Patients With Pancreatic Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/29, Petrochko) reports, "When paired with chemoradiotherapy (CRT), capecitabine offered better survival and toxicity outcomes than gemcitabine in locally advanced pancreatic cancer," according to research presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Investigators found, "in a phase II trial," that "patients who received chemoradiotherapy plus capecitabine had a median overall survival (OS) of 15.2 months compared with 13.4 months for those treated with chemoradiotherapy and gemcitabine (HR 0.5, P=0.025)." Additionally, "those in the capecitabine group had significantly fewer hematological toxic events than those in the gemcitabine group (P=0.007), though the number of non-hematological toxic events did not differ significantly between arms...said" one of the researchers.

Nab-Paclitaxel, Gemcitabine Combo May Increase Survival In Pancreatic Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/29, Bankhead) reports, "Patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer lived significantly longer when they received a two-drug combination instead of standard monotherapy, results of a large international study showed." Researchers found that "median overall survival improved by almost 2 months, and both 1- and 2-year survival improved substantially in patients who received nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) plus gemcitabine rather than gemcitabine alone." The findings were presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Statin Use May Reduce Risk Of Death In Patients With Hepatocellular Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/28, Petrochko) reports, "Statin use seemed to reduce the risk of death in patients with hepatocellular cancer, researchers reported" at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Investigators found, "in a cohort of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)," that "those who used statins in addition to local and systemic therapy or surgical resection had a 30% reduction in mortality versus those who did not use statins (hazard ratio 0.7, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.9)." The researchers reported that "the positive effect on overall survival (OS) remained significant even after adjusting for age, sex, race, staging, hepatitis C and B history, liver cirrhosis, treatment, alcohol use, and diabetes (aHR 0.7, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.9, P=0.03)."

Adding Cetuximab To Chemoradiation May Not Improve Survival In Esophageal Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/27, Bankhead) reports, "The addition of a targeted agent to definitive chemoradiation failed to improve survival in an unselected population with esophageal cancer, a randomized trial showed." Investigators found that "patients who received cetuximab (Erbitux) with chemoradiation had significantly worse overall survival (OS) reflected in a 50% increase in the hazard versus chemoradiation alone." The researchers "could not find any subgroup of patients who benefited from cetuximab, they said in a presentation at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium."

Surgery After Chemoradiotherapy May Increase Survival In Esophageal Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/27, Petrochko) reports, "The standard of care in advanced esophageal cancer treatment - surgery after chemoradiotherapy - increased overall and disease-free survival compared with chemoradiotherapy alone, researchers reported" at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Researchers found that, "among patients with advanced disease who received chemoradiotherapy followed by surgical resection, 42.3% achieved 5-year overall survival (OS) versus 29% who achieved 5-year OS after chemoradiotherapy only (P=0.0003)." The investigators reported that "patients who underwent surgery after chemoradiotherapy were also more likely to have a 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) compared with those who did not have surgical resection (29% versus 22.8%, P<0.0001)."

Gene Expression Profiling May Spot BRCA Mutations.

MedPage Today (1/27, Walsh) reports, "Gene expression profiling may offer a simple way of identifying women who are heterozygous carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and therefore are at high risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer," according to a study published online in Cancer Prevention Research. Researchers found that "real-time PCR testing of lymphocytes from carriers of these mutations identified 21 genes that showed significant differences in expression compared with controls following irradiation (P<0.05)." The investigators reported that "further analysis revealed that a model including 18 of the genes showed a sensitivity of 95% and specificity of 88% for identifying BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers."

IMRT May Increase Resectability In Patients With Pancreatic Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/26, Bankhead) reports, "Resectability increased almost fourfold in patients with pancreatic cancer after neoadjuvant therapy that included intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), results of three small trials showed." Researchers found that "initially, 14 of 81 patients (17%) had resectable disease," but "after neoadjuvant treatment, 51 patients (63%) underwent surgery, according to a report at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium."

MTOR Inhibitor May Increase Progression-Free Survival In Advanced pNET.

MedPage Today (1/26, Bankhead) reports, "Patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) had more than a twofold increase in progression-free survival when treated with a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor," according to research presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Investigators reported that "updated results from a phase III trial involving more than 400 patients with progressive pNET, found that treatment with everolimus was associated with a median PFS of 11 months versus 4.6 months for patients treated with octreotide LAR alone." The researchers reported that "the 18-month PFS was almost four times higher with the mTOR inhibitor than without it."

Activity In Advanced CRC Did Not Translate Into Survival Benefit In Adjuvant Setting For Bevacizumab.

MedPage Today (1/26, Bankhead) reports, "Activity in advanced colorectal cancer failed to translate into a survival benefit in the adjuvant setting for bevacizumab (Avastin), results of a large international trial showed." Researchers found that "the addition of the angiogenesis inhibitor to postsurgical chemotherapy did not improve disease-free survival compared with chemotherapy alone." Additionally, "a preliminary analysis of overall survival suggested a possible detriment to combining the targeted agent with standard adjuvant chemotherapy regimens, Aimery de Gramont, MD, reported...at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium."

PEP02 May Benefit Patients With Pancreatic Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/26, Bankhead) reports, "A liposomal formulation of irinotecan (CPT-11) passed an early clinical test in metastatic pancreatic cancer, meeting survival and safety endpoints for continued evaluation." Researchers found that "three-fourths of patients with gemcitabine-refractory disease lived three months or longer when treated with PEP02, and 37.5% remained alive at one year. The frequency and severity of toxicity did not exceed prespecified limits." The findings were reported at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Oral Bisphosphonates May Be Linked To Reduced Colorectal Cancer Risk.

MedPage Today (1/25, Bankhead) reported that "postmenopausal women taking oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis had almost a 50% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, according to data from a large cohort study" presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Investigators reported that "the case-control study, conducted among over 1,800 Israeli women, found that the magnitude of the risk reduction increased with length of time women were on antiresorptive therapy - topping out at almost 80% with more than three years of bisphosphonate use." These "findings add to the growing evidence of a chemopreventive potential for bisphosphonates. The same group previously reported a reduction in the risk of breast cancer among women taking the bone-friendly drugs."

Ramucirumab May Benefit Patients With Gastric Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/26, Petrochko) reports, "Second-line therapy combining ramucirumab with best supportive care significantly improved overall and progression-free survival in patients with metastatic gastric adenocarcinoma, researchers reported" at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Researchers found, "in a population of patients who failed first-line platinum and/or fluoropyrimidine-containing combination therapy," that "ramucirumab and best supportive care increased overall survival by 22% (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.99, P=0.04) and progression-free survival by more than 50% (HR 0.48, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.62, P<0.0001) compared with placebo and best supportive care." The investigators reported that "the disease control rate also was significantly higher among patients treated with ramucirumab compared with those on placebo (49% versus 23%, P<0.0001)."

Delaying Adjuvant Chemotherapy For Colon Cancer May Increase Mortality Risk.

MedPage Today (1/25, Bankhead) reported that "delaying adjuvant chemotherapy for colon cancer by more than four weeks increases the mortality risk, beginning with a 12% increase at eight weeks, results of a systematic review and meta-analysis suggest." Researchers found that "the excess risk jumped to 25% with a 12-week delay." The findings were presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. MedPage Today added, "The literature review encompassed studies published from 1975 to 2009 and relevant abstracts from the 2007 to 2009 meetings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology."

FDA Approves Imatinib To Treat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia In Children.

Trial Shows Paclitaxel Keeps Pancreatic Patients Alive An Extra Two Months.

XConomy (1/23) says Celgene, in a presentation today before the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Gastrointestinal Cancers, will show that a key clinical trial of Abraxane (paclitaxel) combined with chemotherapy "kept patients with advanced pancreatic cancer alive some two months longer than those on chemotherapy alone. As a result, Celgene said it will seek Food & Drug Administration approval for the drug against pancreatic cancer in the first half of this year." The trial results "revealed that patients on paclitaxel protein-bound survived a median of 8.5 months compared with 6.7 months for those receiving standard chemotherapy treatment."

Exercise May Be Linked To Increased Survival In Patients With Colon Cancer.

Reuters (1/25, Pittman) reports that, according to a study (1/21) published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, colon cancer patients who exercise may have a lower chance of dying during the seven to eight years following their diagnosis. Investigators found that those who engaged in the most exercise had a 28 to 42 percent lower risk of dying during follow-up, compared to participants who did little exercise. The researchers also found that spending more time leisure time on the couch prior to diagnosis was linked to a 36 percent higher risk of death during follow-up.

Researchers Find Mutations In Melanomas That Are Unlike Any Seen Before In Cancer.

New York Times (1/25, Kolata, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports, "In a leap forward in understanding the basic science of one of the most lethal cancers, two groups of researchers have found mutations in most melanomas that are unlike any they have seen before in cancer." According to the Times, "The DNA sequences of 70 malignant melanomas led to the new discovery. A small control region was mutated in 7 out of 10 of the tumors, and also, the investigators found, in liver and bladder cancers."

        Bloomberg News (1/25, Armstrong) reports, "The discovery, the first to identify gene mutations in the vast region of DNA that only last year was shown to have a role turning genes on and off, was published today in two studies in the online journal Science Express."

        The Boston Globe (1/25, Johnson, 250K) reports, "Both teams zeroed in on mutations in a part of the genome called a promoter, which acts like a volume knob on a stereo to control gene activity." According to the Globe, "The gene that the promoter controlled happened to be one that has long been of interest in cancer because it creates part of an enzyme called telomerase, which enables cancer cells to continue to divide indefinitely as one of its key jobs."

Cancer Risk Of Nicotine Gum Use Likely Smaller Than With Smoking.

In its "Well" blog, the New York Times (1/24, O'Connor, 1.68M) reports that "some research has raised speculation that long-term use of nicotine might also raise the risk of cancer, though it has mostly involved laboratory and animal research, and there have not been any long-term randomized studies specifically addressing this question in people." The article points out that "one recent report that reviewed the evidence on nicotine replacement therapy and cancer concluded that, 'the risk, if any, seems small compared with continued smoking.'" According to the blog, Lauren Indorf, a nurse practitioner with the Cleveland Clinic's Tobacco Treatment Center, said, "ultimately, the biggest problem with using nicotine gum for long periods is that the longer you stay on it, the longer you remain dependent on nicotine, and thus the greater your odds of a smoking relapse."

New Classification System Categorizes Colorectal Cancers Into Three Subtypes.

Medscape (1/24, Mulcahy) reports, "A new diagnostic classification system categorizes colorectal cancers into 3 'completely different subtypes' on the basis of tumor gene-expression patterns, according to a researcher who helped develop the tool." Medscape adds, "The tumor subtypes are associated with different prognoses and responses to adjuvant chemotherapy, said study coauthor Josep Tabernero, MD, director of clinical research at Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain." Tabernero "spoke at a presscast in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium."

Surgery May Benefit Patients With GIST Even If They Respond To Imatinib.

Medscape (1/24, Chustecka) reports, "Surgery offers a substantial survival benefit for patients with metastatic or recurrent gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) who are responding to treatment with imatinib (Gleevec). In fact, this survival is significantly better than in patients who continue taking imatinib but who do not undergo resection." The study was scheduled to be presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, supported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others.

Docetaxel May Increase Survival In Patients With Esophageal Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/23, Bankhead) reports, "Second-line chemotherapy with docetaxel for esophagogastric cancer led to greater than 40% improvement in survival compared with only symptomatic treatment," according to a study scheduled to be presented at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Investigators found that "patients treated with docetaxel after relapse had a median overall survival (OS) of 5.2 months compared with 3.6 months for patients who received best supportive care." The researchers found that "a survival benefit persisted across all tumor types, all ages, and in men and women alike, although patients with good performance status derived the most benefit."

Radioimmunotherapy May Be Useful Initial Treatment For Follicular Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Medscape (1/23, Chustecka) reports, "Radioimmunotherapy might be useful as an initial and standalone treatment for follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to a phase 2 study" published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Investigators found that approximately "35% of the 59 patients had long-lasting responses...although not all patients benefit equally." The researchers wrote, "In our opinion, radioimmunotherapy is a particularly attractive therapy for older patients, patients with significant comorbidity, or patients who refuse chemotherapy."

Rise In PSA Testing May Triple Chance Of Prostate Cancer Diagnosis.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) (1/23, Adams, 871K) reports that experts "have forecast that baby boys born today will have a 14 per cent chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives, up from five per cent among those born in 1990." According to the article, Professor Malcolm Mason of Cancer Research UK said that most of the increase "will be driven by more intensive use of the prostate specific antigen test, or PSA test." The Telegraph says that Mason's "forecast is largely based on increased uptake of the test between the early 1990s, when it started to be used in Britain, and now."

Scientists Say "Quadruple Helix" DNA Could Help Fight Cancer.

BBC News (1/20, Amos) noted that the "famous 'molecule of life,' which carries our genetic code, is more familiar to us as a double helix." However, Cambridge University scientists, in an article in the journal Nature Chemistry, said that the "'quadruple helix' is also present in our cells, and in ways that might possibly relate to cancer." They suggest that control of the four-stranded version of the G-quadruplex "could provide novel ways to fight the disease."

Radioactive Beads May Increase Survival In Certain Colon Cancer Patients.

HealthDay (1/20, Salamon) reported, "For advanced colon cancer patients who have developed liver tumors, so-called 'radioactive beads' implanted near these tumors may extend survival nearly a year longer than among patients on chemotherapy alone," according to a study that was scheduled for presentation at the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy and published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Investigators "reviewed medical records from 39 patients with advanced colon cancer who underwent a procedure known as yttrium-90 microsphere radioembolization." Nearly 75 percent of these patients pretreated with Avastin (bevacizumab). The researchers found that "treatment with Avastin didn't increase the survival benefit of the microbeads, which added 10 to 12 months to patients' life spans compared to chemotherapy alone," study author Dr. Dmitry Goldin "said - a survival of 34.5 months after the diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer, compared with 24 months."

ASCO Issues New Guideline On Managing Neutropenia.

Medscape (1/17, Mulcahy) reports that the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) "has issued a new guideline on how and when to prevent infection in chemotherapy outpatients who are neutropenic but not febrile." The guideline "provides advice on identifying patients who have both neutropenia and fever but are at low risk for complications and can be treated at home." According to Medscape, "ASCO previously issued advice on how to prevent neutropenia in chemotherapy patients, so the new guidance, published online January 14 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is a logical progression."

Cancer Death Rates Down, But Some HPV-Linked Cancers On The Rise.

The New York Times (1/15, Bakalar) "Well" blog reports, "A consortium of research institutions reports that while cancer death rates have continued to decline since the 1990s, the incidence of some cancers associated with human papillomavirus, or HPV, has increased." A recently published survey "in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that incidences or death rates of lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers have decreased." However, "oropharyngeal, anal and vulvar cancers, all associated with HPV infection, have increased."

Study Links Heavy Smoking To Higher Risk Of Lethal Bladder Cancer.

HealthDay (1/15, Preidt) reports that "heavy smokers are more likely to develop aggressive and deadly bladder cancers than those who smoke less or nonsmokers, new research shows." In the study, which was published online Jan. 14 in the journal Cancer, "researchers looked at data from 212 bladder cancer patients in Los Angeles County, in California." HealthDay notes that "although the study tied heavier smoking to higher death risk from bladder cancer, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship."

Three-Dimensional Mammography May Increase Detection Of Breast Cancer.

MedPage Today (1/12, Bankhead) reported, "Breast cancer detection increased by 27% when three-dimensional mammography was combined with conventional breast imaging," according to a study published online in Radiology. Researchers found that "the combined detection rate for invasive and in situ cancers was 6.1 per 1,000 exams with conventional mammography and 8.0 per 1,000 with combined imaging." The investigators reported that "combining 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) with conventional imaging led to a 40% increase in detection of invasive breast cancers and a 15% decrease in false-positive results."

Poor Cancer Patients May Be Less Likely To Participate In Trials.

Reuters (1/10, Seaman) reports that, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, poor patients may be less likely to participate in trials for new cancer medications. Investigators came to this conclusion after surveying approximately 5,500 individuals who had recently received a diagnosis of either breast, colorectal, lung or prostate cancer.

Bevacizumab And Oxaliplatin May Not Benefit Patients With Rectal Cancer.

Medwire (1/10, Oswald) reports, "The addition of bevacizumab and oxaliplatin to standard neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy does not enhance clinical response rates in rectal cancer, show phase II study results." Additionally, "supplementation of the two drugs led to significant rates of toxicity and complications among patients." Meanwhile, the researchers "noted considerable toxicity among patients, including two deaths, one of which was attributed to the study therapy." The study published online January 3, 2013 in Cancer.

Beta-Blocker Use May Be Linked To Longer Survival In NSCLC Patients.

MedPage Today (1/9, Bankhead) reports, "Lung cancer patients lived significantly longer after definitive radiation therapy if they were taking a beta-blocker during cancer therapy, results of a retrospective cohort study showed." Investigators found that "non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with beta-blockers had a 22% improvement in overall survival compared with patients who were not using one of the drugs." The researchers reported that "incidental beta-blocker therapy was associated with a 26% improvement in disease-free survival (DFS) and a 33% improvement in distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS)." The findings were published online in Annals of Oncology.

Report: US Cancer Death Rates Continue To Decline.

Researchers Announce Initial Success Of Cancer Vaccine.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1/8, Templeton) reports that "the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has announced initial success of a vaccine that triggers the immune response against colon cancer." According to the article, "the study, involving 39 patients at the highest risk for colon cancer, helps to switch the focus of cancer-vaccine research from treatment to prevention." The study was published in the January edition of Cancer Prevention Research. The Post-Gazette says that "in the study," which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, "the vaccine was tested on 39 patients, each 40 to 70 years old with a history of advanced adenomas, polyps that have become precancerous." Findings from the clinical trial indicated that the vaccine is safe and resulted in the expected immune response.

HPV Replaces Tobacco As Top Cause Of Oral Cancers.

The Springfield (IL) State Journal Register (1/6, Olsen) reported that "HPV - the source of almost all cervical cancers in women - has replaced tobacco as the No. 1 cause of cancers of the mouth, base of the tongue, tonsils and upper throat, according to the California-based Oral Cancer Foundation." The article added that "lack of awareness of HPV and its risks is hindering efforts to cut into those numbers, according to Brian Hill, an HPV-related oral cancer survivor and the foundation's founder." According to the Journal Register, "the foundation is promoting the use of HPV vaccines in young adults and children - both boys and girls - to prevent persistent infections and resulting oral cancer for both genders and cervical cancer in women."

FDA Approves 11 New Oncology Drugs.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Meets Late-Stage Study Goal.

Reuters (1/3, Sheahan) reports Bayer AG announced Thursday that Nexavar (sorafenib), its treatment for radioactive iodine refractory differentiated thyroid cancer, reached a Phase III clinical trial endpoint by improving the length survival of patients in the study. The company now plans to submit the data along with a new drug application to the FDA.

FDA's 2012 Approvals Reach 16-Year High.

Reuters (1/1, Hirschler, Humer) reported that the US Food and Drug Administration approved 39 new drugs and biological products (pdf) in 2012, the highest number since 1996, when the agency's approvals hit a record high of 53. December accounted for eight of the approvals in 2012. Last year, the FDA approved 30 new drugs and biological products; and in 2010, there were 21 approvals. Notably, at least 10 of the products the agency approved in 2011 had fast track status. FDA spokesperson Sandy Walsh said the agency has surpassed the goals set forth by the Prescription Drug User Fee Act for drug reviews. Moreover, Reuters quoted Walsh as saying, the "pipeline of new drugs under development remains strong and is growing."

        Bloomberg News (1/2, Edney, Larkin) notes that oncology treatments comprised the greater part of the FDA's approvals in 2012, and analysts are predicting they will dominate the market this year as well. Bloomberg News also points out that since the agency strengthened its safety standards in 2004, pharmaceutical companies "have included more safety studies as part of their development strategies, and shifted their focus to specialty drugs with higher chances of approval," because they focus on patient populations for whom they are most likely to be effective.

 

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