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Using the drop-down menu below, read about highlighted scientific news from ASCO's Annual Meetings since 2002. You can select a specific year and/or a specific topic, such as a type of cancer. Selecting "All" will take you to a complete list of articles that appear under all categories.
The 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting was held May 31-June 4, with research news released starting May 15. The 2014 event will be held May 30-June 3.
To read these summaries categorized into a yearly newsletter, you can also review Cancer Advances: News for Patients from the ASCO Annual Meeting.
Don’t forget to check out audio podcasts and videos about this news, as well. And, in addition to the highlighted studies below, thousands of scientific abstracts are released each year at the ASCO Annual Meeting. To search the entire collection of meeting abstracts, visit ASCO's website.
Researchers found that women with breast cancer who had additional underarm lymph nodes removed after cancer was found in the sentinel lymph node did not live longer than women who had no additional lymph nodes removed. Lymph nodes are the tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Doctors examine lymph nodes to learn whether the breast cancer has spread using a sentinel lymph node biopsy. In a sentinel lymph node biopsy, one or a few lymph nodes are removed from under the arm, which is where breast cancer is most likely to spread first. If the sentinel node is cancer-free, then it is likely that the other lymph nodes do not have cancer either. However, if the sentinel lymph node shows evidence of cancer, then doctors often examine additional lymph nodes for cancer in a process called an axillary lymph node dissection. The advantage of a sentinel lymph node biopsy is that it avoids the side effects of an axillary lymph node dissection, such as pain and discomfort and swelling of the arm.
Researchers found that selenium does not help prevent a second tumor for people with early-stage (stage I) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Selenium is a substance called a mineral that people get in very small amounts from food and water. Some research suggests that people who have lower levels of selenium in their bodies have a higher risk of cancer, but several studies that look specifically at giving selenium to prevent cancer have not shown that it can prevent cancer. This study is another that shows selenium may not help prevent a second cancer. In fact, the study was stopped early, after about four years, because the patients who were receiving selenium were more likely than patients not taking selenium to develop a new cancer or to have their lung cancer come back.
Researchers found that a drug called crizotinib helped shrink the tumor for patients with advanced lung cancer who have a specific genetic change. Crizotinib is an ALK inhibitor that stops cancer cells from producing ALK, a substance cancer cells use to grow and spread. Not all people with lung cancer have cells that produce ALK. It is only made by cells when one gene called ALK attaches to another gene, in a process called gene fusion. About one in 20 people with lung cancer have such a gene fusion. All patients who participated in this study had the ALK gene fusion. Researchers found that the ALK inhibitor helped shrink the tumors for more than half the patients and slowed or stopped tumor growth for most of the patients.
A new study shows that using the drugs paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) increases survival and slows the growth of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for patients age 70 or older. The combination of drugs is used mostly for younger patients, while the standard treatment for older patients with advanced lung cancer is usually one drug, not a combination. Patients in this study who received paclitaxel and carboplatin lived about four months longer than the patients who received only one drug, either gemcitabine (Gemzar) or vinorelbine (Navelbine). In addition, the time it took for the cancer to grow or spread for the patients taking two drugs was almost twice as long as for the patients taking one drug. There were few serious side effects from the drug combination; however, patients who received the combination were more likely to have a decrease in white blood cells.
Researchers found that patients with advanced melanoma who received the drug ipilimumab, either with or without a specialized vaccine that stimulates the immune system, lived almost four months longer than patients who did not receive this drug. Ipilimumab is a type of drug called a monoclonal antibody that uses the body's immune system to help fight cancer. In this study, patients received ipilimumab, a specialized vaccine, or a combination of ipilimumab and the vaccine. All of the patients in the study had received previous treatment for melanoma.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that childhood cancer survivors who have one of two specific variations of a gene, called CBR1 and CBR3, were more likely to develop anthracycline-related heart problems than those without the gene. Anthracyclines are a type of drug used to treat many childhood cancers, but one long-term side effect can be future heart problems. The most common heart problem caused by anthracyclines is called cardiomyopathy, which is when the heart cannot easily pump blood.
Recent research shows that some women age 70 or older with early-stage breast cancer may not need radiation therapy after lumpectomy if they receive tamoxifen (Nolvadex). A lumpectomy is the removal of the tumor and a small cancer-free margin of tissue around the tumor.
Researchers have developed a way to screen women who don't have a high risk of ovarian cancer and who have been through menopause. There are currently no screening methods for women who don't have a high risk of ovarian cancer. Women at high risk for ovarian cancer may receive regular screening or reduce their risk of cancer in other ways, such as surgery to remove the ovaries. This new method estimates a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by using her age and the results of a yearly CA-125 blood test. CA-125 is a substance called a tumor marker that is found in higher levels in women with ovarian cancer. In this study, women who had increasing CA-125 levels received transvaginal sonography (TVS), an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the ovaries and look for any tumors, and were referred to a gynecologic oncologist to decide if surgery was needed. A gynecologic oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer in a woman's reproductive organs.
In an ongoing study, patients who did not receive the drug lenalidomide (Revlimid) were about twice as likely as the patients who received lenalidomide to have their myeloma return within three years (called a recurrence or relapse). Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside of bones. Plasma cells are a part of the body's immune system and produce antibodies that help the body fight infection.