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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.
A study in Germany showed that it is possible for local community hospitals to test non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for molecular factors involved in the cancer. This means that a greater number of patients will have access to these tests. These molecular factors can be genes, proteins, or features of the tissue environment that contribute to cancer growth and survival. The results of tests for molecular factors often determine whether targeted therapy is a treatment option. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the molecular factors involved in cancer growth.
A recent study by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) shows that chemotherapy after radiation therapy slowed the growth of anaplastic oligodendroglial tumors (a type of brain tumor). It also lengthened the lives of patients with this type of tumor, especially for those whose tumor was missing specific genetic material in chromosomes 1 and 19 (called 1p/19q co-deletions). Currently, most patients with this disease receive either chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but not both.
A new immunotherapy (called BMS-936558) helped shrink melanoma, kidney cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a recent early study. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function.
A small analysis of a larger study showed that combining two different targeted therapy drugs, dabrafenib and trametinib, stopped advanced melanoma from worsening while causing less severe side effects than the current standard targeted therapy drug. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, dabrafenib targets changes in the BRAF gene, and trametinib targets changes in the MEK gene to stop melanoma growth.
An early study of melanoma showed that combining two types of targeted therapies was safe and slows or stops melanoma growth. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. One of the targeted therapies used in this study, called GSK212, targets mutations (changes) to the gene called MEK. The other, called GSK436, targets mutations to the gene called BRAF. Both of these genes contribute to melanoma growth, and both treatments have been shown to help treat melanoma when used alone. In this ongoing study, researchers aim to find out if combining the drugs is safe and more effective for patients with advanced melanoma.
Researchers participating in the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium (LCMC) program are looking at the genetic changes, called mutations, that drive lung cancer growth to help recommend treatment options. The LCMC program was designed to show that testing a patient's tumor for mutations at diagnosis is possible, and that doctors can use the results to recommend the most appropriate targeted therapy or clinical trial (research study involving patients). Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.
A new program at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center showed that specifically matching targeted therapy to genetic changes in the tumors of patients with advanced cancer, an approach called personalized medicine, better controlled tumor growth and increased survival. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Not all cancers have the same targets, and targeted therapy is often chosen based on the genes, proteins, and other factors involved in a person's cancer.
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 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors had no or low levels of a protein called MSH2, benefitted more from chemotherapy after surgery than patients with high levels of MSH2. Cancer cells use the MSH2 protein to repair damage from chemotherapy with cisplatin (Platinol). Patients with low MSH2 levels who received chemotherapy with cisplatin lived about 16 months longer than those who did not receive chemotherapy. Patients with high MSH2 levels who received chemotherapy lived for about 9 months less than those who did not receive chemotherapy. This study also showed that measuring MSH2 levels and levels of another protein called ERCC1 was better able to predict which patients would benefit from chemotherapy after surgery. ERCC1 is a previously identified protein that also repairs damage to tumor cells. Patients with low levels of both proteins who received chemotherapy lived 26 months longer than those who did not receive chemotherapy.
Researchers found that a vaccine called BiovaxID delayed the return of a type of B-cell lymphoma, called follicular lymphoma, by about 14 months for patients whose lymphoma was in remission (the temporary or permanent absence of disease) after treatment with prednisone (multiple brand names), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Clafen, Neosar), and etoposide (VePesid, Toposar) - a combination called PACE. The BiovaxID vaccine is made for each patient using proteins that are found on the person's lymphoma cells. It is made from the cells collected during removal of the lymph nodes (tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection). These cells are then processed to create antibodies, which are substances made by the body to help fight infection. These antibodies are designed to kill the patient's own lymphoma cells and are returned to the patient in the form of a vaccine.