The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology took place June 4 to 8 in Chicago and attracted more than 32,000 attendees from around the world to discuss the latest innovations in cancer research, quality, practice and technology. The meeting presented more than 4,000 abstracts, including research that promises to improve the treatment of patients with lung, breast, genitourinary, gastrointestinal and gynecologic cancers. The theme of this year's meeting was "Advancing Quality Through Innovation."
"We are trying to build on the science that has come out over the last several years to identify how cancers are different, and do a better job of targeting our treatments at those different populations," said Communications Committee spokesperson, Gregory A. Masters, M.D., of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Del. "We are trying to get the most bang for the buck with more effective therapies but also less toxic therapies. What we're learning is that we often can get more effective and less toxic therapies by targeting the individual genetic mutations or the molecular changes that occur in cancer cells as opposed to the normal cells in the body."
Masters cited a study which suggests that patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who have a specific ALK gene variation may respond to treatment with the investigational ALK inhibitor crizotinib (PF-02341066). In a phase I study of 76 patients, 50 of whom were evaluable, the researchers found that 87 percent of the patients had a clinical response to the drug, and 57 percent of them experienced tumor shrinkage.
"Many of these patients had received three or more prior treatments, and we would expect only about 10 percent to respond," the lead author, Yung-Jue Bang, M.D., of the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea, said in a statement. "These results are quite dramatic, and represent an important improvement over what we would see with standard chemotherapy for patients with metastatic disease."
Several study authors disclosed financial relationships with Pfizer.
"This is a great example of a treatment that's more effective and less toxic, but it applies to a small subset of the lung cancer patients," Masters said. "Our job now is to try and further define those specific populations and do a better job with a more directive therapy rather than just using the standard cytotoxic treatments like radiation and chemotherapy that we've been using."
Masters also cited a randomized, placebo-controlled phase II trial suggesting that treatment with ARQ197 -- a selective non-ATP competitive inhibitor of c-MET -- in combination with the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor erlotinib may benefit patients with advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer compared to treatment with erlotinib and placebo. In a study of 167 patients, the researchers found that the combination therapy was associated with prolonged progression-free survival (median 16.1 versus 9.7 weeks; P = 0.23). After adjustment for prognostic factors including histology and genotype, the progression-free survival hazard ratio was 0.68 (P < 0.05).
"It looks quite promising in terms of improving the outcome for these patients," Masters said. "We're learning about the mechanisms of tumor cell growth and reproduction and trying to overcome resistance to treatments that have shown some early benefit."
One or more of the study authors disclosed financial relationships with ArQule.
Other research presented at the meeting suggests that eribulin mesylate, a new chemotherapy agent derived from a marine sponge, may increase survival in women who have previously received extensive treatment for metastatic breast cancer. During the phase III trial, researchers randomly assigned 762 patients to receive either eribulin or their physician's choice of therapy (usually another chemotherapy). They found median survival was significantly longer in the eribulin group than in the physician's-choice group (13.1 versus 10.7 months).
"Until now, there hasn't been a standard treatment for women with such advanced breast cancer. For those who have already received all of the recognized treatments, these are promising results," the lead author, Christopher Twelves, M.D., of the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine and St. James's Institute of Oncology in Leeds, U.K., said in a statement. "These findings may establish eribulin as a new, effective option for women with heavily pretreated metastatic breast cancer."
Study authors disclosed financial relationships with Eisai, BMSO and Imclone Systems.
Two other studies assessed the anticancer potential of widely touted dietary supplements: green tea extract and selenium. In the first study, Mayo Clinic researchers tested the effects of epigallocatechin gallate -- the major component of green tea -- in 42 previously untreated patients with asymptomatic chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In the 41 patients who completed the study, they found that 31 percent had a 20 percent or greater sustained reduction in blood leukemia count, and that 69 percent of patients with enlarged lymph nodes experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in node size.
In the second study, Daniel D. Karp, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,522 stage I non-small-cell lung cancer patients whose tumors had been surgically removed to receive either 200 µg of selenium per day or placebo. They found that secondary primary tumor (lung/overall) incidence was higher in the selenium than in the placebo group (1.91/4.11 per 100 person-years versus 1.36/3.66 per 100 person-years; P = 0.150), and that five-year progression-free survival was lower in the selenium group (72 versus 78 percent). The study was halted according to futility analysis, and the researchers concluded that selenium is not an effective chemoprevention agent in this group of patients.
One author disclosed a financial relationship with Pfizer.
ASCO: HPV Status Affects Oropharyngeal Cancer Survival
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with oropharyngeal squamous-cell cancer, tumor human papillomavirus (HPV) status may be a significant independent predictor of overall survival, according to research published online June 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 4 to 8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Ipilimumab Beneficial in Metastatic Melanoma
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with previously treated metastatic melanoma, ipilimumab -- either alone or in combination with a glycoprotein 100 (gp100) peptide vaccine -- may significantly improve overall survival, according to a study published online June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 4 to 8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Targeted Radiotherapy Beneficial in Breast Cancer
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- In women ages 45 and older with early invasive breast cancer who are undergoing breast-conserving surgery, a single dose of targeted intraoperative radiotherapy may be as effective at preventing breast cancer recurrences as several weeks of conventional whole breast radiotherapy, according to a study published online June 5 in The Lancet to coincide with a presentation at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 4 to 8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Chemo Combo Beneficial in Advanced Lung Cancer
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- In advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients with progression after first-line therapy, the addition of vandetanib to a standard chemotherapy regimen of docetaxel may significantly improve progression-free survival and response rates compared to standard chemotherapy alone, according to a study published online June 5 in The Lancet Oncology to coincide with a presentation at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 4 to 8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Therapies Beneficial in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia, treatment with either nilotinib or dasatinib is associated with superior 12-month outcomes compared to treatment with imatinib, according to two studies published online June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with presentations at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from June 4 to 8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Ovarian Cancer Screening Strategy Promising
FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- A new ovarian cancer screening strategy is feasible for postmenopausal women at average risk, according to a study released May 20 in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 46th Annual Meeting, to be held June 4-8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Forgoing Radiation Safe in Older Breast Cancer Patients
FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- In older women with stage I, estrogen receptor-positive, node-negative breast cancer, those who undergo lumpectomy and receive tamoxifen may safely forgo radiation therapy, according to a study released May 20 in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 46th Annual Meeting, to be held June 4-8 in Chicago.
ASCO: Yoga Benefits Survivors of Early-Stage Cancers
FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- In cancer survivors who report sleeping problems after completing adjuvant therapy, a yoga program may lead to better sleep, less fatigue and an improved quality of life, according to a study released May 20 in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 46th Annual Meeting, to be held June 4-8 in Chicago.
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