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Promising Research into New Targeted Therapies From the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting

May 31, 2014
Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

The 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting continues with more than 25,000 cancer specialists from around the world discussing research that affects cancer care and treatment. Today, positive results from four clinical trials looking into new targeted drugs for advanced ovarian, lung, and thyroid cancers and chronic lymphocytic leukemia were announced. These results suggest new ways to slow cancer growth and lengthen the lives of people whose cancer comes back after treatment or whose cancer becomes resistant to the available treatments.

"Cancer relapses and treatment resistance have always been among the most daunting challenges in cancer care," said Gregory Masters, MD, FACP, a member of ASCO’s Cancer Communications Committee and a medical oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, DE. "The good news is that genomic medicine is helping to overcome these challenges by revealing new ways to target a cancer cell’s inner workings.”

In this podcast, Dr. Masters provides an overview of the results of these important studies that could lead to new treatment options for patients who have had none, or for whom the side effects of current drugs outweighed their benefits.

Highlights from these studies include:

Second-Line Treatment with Ramucirumab and Chemotherapy Lengthens Lives of Patients with NSCLC. This study reports that combining the targeted therapy ramucirumab (Cyramza) with standard chemotherapy lengthens the lives of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This is the first study in a decade that has improved survival for people with advanced NSCLC using a treatment given after the first treatments have stopped working, known as second-line therapy.

For Older Patients with CLL, Ibrutinib May Be an Effective New Treatment Option. Early results from this ongoing study show that ibrutinib (Imbruvica) keeps relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) from worsening longer than one of the standard treatment options for older patients. Ibrutinib caused few severe side effects, making it an important new treatment option, especially for older patients.

Lenvatinib Could Be a New Option for Patients with Differentiated Radioiodine-Resistant Thyroid Cancer. A small percentage of people with differentiated thyroid cancer, the most common subtype of thyroid cancer, develop resistance to standard radioiodine (RAI) therapy, which means that it is no longer able to control the cancer’s growth. This study shows that about 65% of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer that was RAI resistant had tumors that responded to lenvatinib treatment, which kept the disease from getting worse for about 15 months.

Combination of Targeted Therapies Increases the Time it Takes for Recurrent Ovarian Cancer to Worsen. A combination of olaparib and cediranib (Recentin) kept recurrent ovarian cancer from getting worse for almost nine months longer than treatment with olaparib alone. This is the first time these two types of targeted drugs have been combined and could fill an important gap in the treatment of ovarian cancer.



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