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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 is set for May 31-June 4, with research news beginning to be released on May 15 at 6pm Eastern. Additional research will be released each day of the meeting.
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.
In a recent study, the drug cabozantinib helped manage various advanced cancers, particularly prostate, ovarian, and liver cancers. The drug also helped shrink bone metastases (cancer that has spread to the bone). Cabozantinib is a type of targeted therapy, which means it targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.
According to a new study, adding the targeted therapy drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to chemotherapy and keeping patients on the drug after chemotherapy ends increases the amount of time it takes for advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, and Fallopian tube cancer to grow and spread. These are all cancers of a woman's reproductive system that are treated similarly.
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.
In a new study, researchers discovered that breast cancer tumors that have spread to the liver can have different features than the original tumor. As part of diagnosing breast cancer, several features of the tumor are measured, including estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and HER2. Estrogen and progesterone receptors are found in breast cancer cells that depend on estrogen and related hormones to grow. HER2 is a specialized protein found on breast cancer cells that controls cancer growth and spread.
New research shows that men with locally advanced or high-risk prostate cancer who received hormone therapy combined with radiation therapy lived longer and were less likely to die from prostate cancer. Locally advanced prostate cancer has spread to the area surrounding the prostate, and high-risk prostate cancer is more likely to grow and spread. Men with locally advanced or high-risk prostate cancer are usually treated with hormone therapy after initial treatment with radiation therapy or surgery. Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), for prostate cancer involves stopping the body from producing hormones called androgens. Androgens can help prostate cancer cells grow, so lowering the levels in the body can make prostate cancers shrink or grow more slowly, but it does not cure prostate cancer.
In this study, patients with stage III colon cancer and a normal KRAS gene who received the targeted therapy drug cetuximab (Erbitux) and standard chemotherapy did not live longer than patients who received only standard chemotherapy. In addition, patients who received cetuximab had more side effects. KRAS is a gene that controls tumor growth and spread. A previous study showed that cetuximab improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy for patients with metastatic colon cancer (colon cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) and a normal KRAS gene but not for patients with a mutated (changed) KRAS gene.
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.
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.
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.