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Dramatic Bone Response Seen In Prostate CA Patients Treated With Cabozantinib.

MedPage Today (2/21, Bankhead) reported, "Dramatic resolution of bone metastases occurred in 85% of patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer treated with a wide-spectrum tyrosine kinase inhibitor," according to preliminary study data presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. The data, from the "open label Lead-in Stage of an ongoing adaptive design phase II randomized discontinuation trial, showed that only one of 62 patients had less than stable disease in bone and soft tissue as best response to cabozantinib (XL184)." Bone pain and narcotic drug "declined, as did markers of bone turnover"; and at 12 weeks of follow-up, 75 percent of the study population "had disease control."

 

Data Suggest Intermittent Androgen Deprivation Is Effective As Prostate Cancer Therapy.

 

MedPage Today (2/21, Bankhead) reported, "Intermittent androgen deprivation therapy guided by cancer-related biomarkers appears to be just as effective for treatment following prostate cancer therapy as continuous hormonal treatment," according to data presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. In the test to show "intermittent therapy was noninferior to continuous androgen deprivation, median overall survival was 9.1 years for men treated with standard, continuous therapy compared with 8.8 years for men who were on intermittent therapy." The hazard ratio was "1.02, well within the prespecified margin for noninferiority, and therefore the findings attained statistical significance (P=0.009) for noninferiority."

 

Abiraterone Acetate Treatment Improves Outcomes In Most Prostate Cancer Subgroups.

 

MedPage Today (2/18, Susman) reported that the "investigational drug abiraterone acetate significantly improved outcomes in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer in virtually every study-defined patient subgroup," according to data presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. The researchers said that of "16 patient subgroups, a survival benefit with abiraterone was observed in 15. Only in patients who had an Eastern Co-operative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 2 did treatment with abiraterone fail to show a significant difference." In the trial, patients were randomized "two-to-one to receive 1,000 mg of abiraterone plus 5 mg of prednisone twice a day, or placebo plus 5 mg prednisone twice a day."

 

Study Refutes Cellphone, Brain Cancer Risk.

 

The Washington Post (2/21, Huget) "The Checkup" blog reported that a study published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics in January suggests that cellphones do not cause cancer. Researchers fanalyzed data for cases of brain cancer reported by the "UK Office of National Statistics from 1998 to 2007," and reasoned that if the radio frequencies cellphones emit caused brain cancer, there would have been a "notable uptick in the number of such cancers in cellphone-using societies during the past 20 years as cellphone use has risen. In short, the paper finds, no such uptick is evident."

        According to HealthDay (2/18), the study did find a "very small increase (0.6 more cases per 100,000 people) in the incidence of cancers of the brain's temporal lobe." That equates to "31 extra cases per year in England's population of nearly 52 million people," the researchers said.

 

Data Indicate Oral Sex Increases Risk Of Oropharynx Cancers.

 

The CNN (2/21, Landau) "The Chart" blog reported that experts are saying that it is crucial for teens to understand that "oral sex carries many of the same risks as vaginal sex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of oral cancers in America in people under age 50." During a conference on Sunday, researchers said that the "latest data suggest that 64% of oropharynx cancers -- growing in the middle part of the throat -- in the United States are caused by HPV, which is more than tobacco causes." Notably, the risk of oral cancer rises as the number of partners with whom oral sex was performed increases.

 

Surgeons Must Perform 1,600 Robot-Aided Prostate Surgeries To Be Proficient, Study Suggests.

 

Bloomberg News (2/17, Cortez) reports, Doctors who perform robotic-assisted prostate cancer surgery "aren't proficient" until they performed the procedure thousands of times, according to results to be presented Thursday at the Genitourinary Cancer Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The researchers tracked three surgeons over six-years and found that although surgery times decreased with each operation, the physicians' "ability to remove all the cancer increased." The surgeons needed to perform more than "1,600 operations before they were able to gauge with at least 90 percent accuracy how much tissue surrounding the tumor they needed to remove to get all the malignant cells." According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, more than "90,000 men in the US have their prostate gland removed each year because of cancer."

        MedPage Today (2/16, Bankhead) noted that "robotics is used in more than 70,000" of the estimated 90,000 prostatectomies performed annually in the US, according to co-author Prasanna Sooriakumaran, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

 

Balloon Kyphoplasty May Reduce Pain For Cancer Patients With Vertebral Compression Fractures.

 

MedPage Today (2/16, Gever) reported that "balloon kyphoplasty" reduces pain and improves function in "cancer patients with vertebral compression fractures," according to a study in Lancet Oncology. The randomized trial included 117 patients with "some form of cancer and one to three vertebral compression fractures" and a 38-patient control group. Roland-Morris scores "averaged 17.6 at baseline in the evaluable kyphoplasty patients and 18.2 in the control group." After one month, mean scores were "9.1 in the kyphoplasty group and 18.0 in the control group, for a treatment effect of -8.4 points (95% CI -7.6 to -9.2)."

 

Dutasteride May Slow Growth Of Early, Low-Risk Prostate Cancer.

 

The AP (2/16, Marchione) reports, "A new study suggests a way to help men with early, low-risk prostate cancer avoid being overtreated." According to results "released Tuesday in a telephone news conference sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Oncology," the study enrolled about 300 men with low-risk prostate cancer. Biopsies taken 1-1/2 years later showed that prostate cancer got worse in "38 percent" of men taking Avodart (dutasteride) and "49 percent of those" on placebo. Final biopsies at three years, however, "showed no signs of cancer in 36 percent of men on Avodart versus 23 percent of those on dummy pills." The researchers concluded that Avodart, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, can "slow the growth of these tumors in men who opt to be monitored instead of having treatment right away."

        FDA Panel Rejects Bid To Include Prostate Cancer Prevention In Dutasteride's Indications. MedPage Today (2/15, Bankhead) reports that the FDA in January "rejected a bid to expand dutasteride's indications to include prostate cancer prevention." The decision followed a "December meeting of an FDA advisory committee, whose members voted overwhelmingly against the indication for both dutasteride" and Proscar (finasteride). The advisory committee "cited evidence of an increased risk of high-grade cancer among" men treated with 5-alpha reductase inhibitors as the "key factor in their thumbs-down votes."

 

Risk Of Developing, Dying From Prostate Cancer May Depend On Baseline PSA Level.

 

HealthDay (2/15, Gardner) reported, "Men who have a low prostate-specific antigen (PSA) score when they're first tested may not need to be screened annually and probably don't need to undergo a biopsy," according to a findings presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The researchers screened about "20,000 men aged 55 to 74," with those having "PSA scores at or above the cut-off of 3.0 sent for biopsies and additional screenings" every four years. Only "1.8 percent of men with PSA scores below 1.0 were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with only 0.04 percent" dying of the disease. In contrast, "15.7 percent of those with scores from 2 percent to 2.9 percent developing a malignancy and 0.36 percent" dying of the disease. MedPage Today (2/15, Bankhead) and WebMD (2/15, Laino) reported similar details.

        The CNN (2/15, Sloane) "The Chart" blog reported that Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, a spokesperson for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and moderator of the conference, said the "rate of cancer is very low in men with PSAs less than 3." Meanwhile, a "second study released at the same conference addressed treatments for men who fell into the 'watchful waiting' category": Men who have "some cancer cells in their prostates, but for whom the treatment may be more damaging than the disease itself." The researchers said men in that group may "benefit from taking the drug dutasteride (Avodart), which is currently used for non-cancerous prostate enlargement."

 

Enzyme Discovery May Enable Cancer Patients To Undergo Increased Chemotherapy Doses.

 

The UK's Telegraph (2/11, Beckford) reports that scientists at Queen's University Belfast "have identified the role of an enzyme that can lead to heart failure among patients who are receiving drugs to kill tumours." By creating new drugs to block the enzyme "called NADPH oxidase, the researchers will be able to increase the doses of chemotherapy that cancer sufferers can receive and so make the treatment more effective."

 

Data Suggest Testicular Cancer Mortality Risk Doubles For Men Diagnosed At Age 40 Or Older.

 

Reuters (2/10, Lies) reports that men age 40 and older, who are diagnosed with testicular cancer, face twice the risk of dying from the disease as their younger counterparts, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The researchers calculated 10-year testicular cancer-death hazard ratios on approximately 28,000 men from NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. They found that not only did mortality rates double in men diagnosed at age of 40 or older, but neither the initial treatment nor the extent of the disease appeared to affect the double mortality risk.

 

Two Drugs Look Promising For Rare Pancreatic Cancer.

 

Bloomberg News (2/10, Randall) reports, "Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib malate) and Novartis's Afinitor (everolimus), both used to treat kidney cancer, more than doubled the time that patients lived without their pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors spreading, according to company-funded research reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Data from the studies were previously presented at medical meetings and submitted to regulators for marketing approval, according to the companies."

        HealthDay (2/9, Salamon) reported that the everolimus study "analyzed 410 patients from 82 health centers in 18 countries worldwide. All patients had either inoperable or metastatic neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors and were randomly assigned to receive either everolimus (10 milligrams daily) or a placebo." The sunitinib study "had 171 participants also randomly assigned to either the medication (37.5 milligrams daily) or a placebo." The study was conducted at 42 centers in 11 nations. The subjects in this study also had advanced disease.

        MedPage Today (2/9, Fiore) reported, "Patients taking sunitinib survived disease-free for a median of 11.4 months, compared with 5.5 months for those on placebo, according to Eric Raymond, MD, PhD, of Hopital Beaujon in Clichy, France, and colleagues, while those on everolimus had a median progression-free survival of 11 months compared with 4.6 months for placebo patients, according to James Yao, MD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (P<0.001 for both)."

        WebMD (2/9, Boyles) reported, "Although both drugs were clearly effective, a significant number of patients reported troubling side effects, including a drop in infection-fighting white blood cells in 12% of those who took Sutent. Yao says canker sores were the most commonly reported side effect in the Afinitor trial, with 64% of patients developing the sores at some point in treatment and 7% developing sores severe enough to cause problems eating and drinking."

        USA Today (2/10, Szabo) reports, "But the findings leave many questions unanswered, write researchers Robert Jensen and Gianfranco Delle Fave in an accompanying editorial. For example, since the drugs appear to stabilize the disease rather than cure it, will patients have to take the drugs indefinitely? If so, will patients, who are often symptom-free, even with advanced disease, agree to accept side effects for years?"

 

Avoiding Four Risks Could Substantially Reduce Rising Cancer-Related Mortality Rates.

 

Medscape (2/4, Chustecka) reported, "More than 7300 cancer deaths worldwide could be avoided each day," according to American Cancer Society (ACS) data cited in a report in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The report estimates that "about 7.6-million people died from cancer worldwide in 2008." In an accompanying editorial, Otis Brawley, MD, from the ACS, calculated that "2.6 million" of the 2008 cancer deaths were "potentially avoidable." Prevention would involve avoiding "tobacco and alcohol use" and unhealthy diets, as well as infections from "unsafe sex" and "contaminated injections." Even more cancer deaths could be avoided, Dr. Brawley said, because that estimate does not include cancer-control interventions, such as "HPV and hepatitis B vaccination" or antiretroviral therapy for "HIV-related cancers."

 

Findings Suggest Dasatinib's Potential To Inhibit Bowel Cancer Growth.

 

Reuters (2/1, Kelland) reports that Bristol Myers Squibb's Sprycel [dasatinib] could also be used to reduce bowel cancer cell growth, suggest researchers writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In laboratory, Sprycel reduced bowel cancer cell growth by blocking the effects of the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). The researchers also determined that LOX played a role in inhibiting bowel cancer spread. Moreover, in tumor cells with high levels of LOX, cell growth increased but it was slowed in tumors with low LOX levels. The researchers said indications that LOX activates the SRC molecule prompted them to consider Sprycel, which blocks SRC function and is presently being used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.

 

EURTAC Trial Shows Erlotinib Extends Progression-Free Survival In NSCLC.

 

MedPage Today (1/28, Bankhead) reported, "A subset of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had significant improvement in progression-free survival with erlotinib (Tarceva), bringing a European phase III clinical trial to a premature end." The study, which is part of the EURTAC (European Randomized Trial of Tarceva Versus Chemotherapy) found that patients with tumors that "expressed epidermal growth factor receptor" did better with erlotinib than with "platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line treatment." Moreover, a preliminary safety analysis "suggested no deviation from prior clinical experience with erlotinib." Although now unblinded, the data will "remain under wraps until presented at a major oncology conference," said erlotinib-development partners Genentech, OSI Pharmaceuticals, and Roche in a statement.

        According to Medscape (1/28, Nelson), the new trial compared erlotinib with a regimen of "platinum-based chemotherapy (cisplatin/gemcitabine, cisplatin/docetaxel, carboplatin/gemcitabine, or carboplatin/docetaxel)." The primary endpoint was "progression-free survival; secondary end points included overall survival, one-year survival, objective response rate, and safety."

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