Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Research Summaries

Using the drop-down menu below, read about highlighted scientific news for patients from ASCO's Annual Meetings, Symposia, and medical journals for the past three years. You can select a specific year, meeting or publication, 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 next ASCO Annual Meeting will be held May 30-June 3, 2014. To read the Annual Meeting summaries compiled into a yearly newsletter, you can also review Research Round Up: News for Patients from the ASCO Annual Meeting. Don’t forget to check out audio podcasts and videos about this news, as well. And a list of upcoming Symposia can be found here. And, in addition to the highlighted studies below, thousands of scientific abstracts are released each year at different ASCO meetings. To search the entire collection of meeting abstracts, visit ASCO's website.

February 24, 2014

A large, long-term study showed for the first time that women with BRCA1 mutations should undergo preventive surgical removal of the ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy) by age 35 to achieve the greatest reduction in ovarian cancer risk. Researchers showed that waiting until a later age to have the surgery was associated with a significantly higher ovarian cancer risk. In addition, the investigators reported for the first time that prophylactic oophorectomy reduces the overall risk of death by 77 percent among women with either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

January 28, 2014

Results from a new study show that the medication enzalutamide (Xtandi) lengthens the lives of men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer by almost a third. Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) is cancer that has spread to parts of the body other than the prostate and continues to grow and spread without needing the male sex hormone testosterone. Enzalutamide is a type of hormone therapy called an androgen-receptor blocker or an anti-androgen. For men with prostate cancer, hormone therapy is used to block or lower the levels of hormones called androgens that can be involved in prostate cancer growth.

January 28, 2014

In a new analysis of cancer clinical trials for adults registered on Clinicaltrials.gov, researchers found that about 20% never finish for reasons unrelated to how well the treatment or procedure being studied works or the side effects it causes. Poor accrual was the most common reason for a clinical trial to not finish. Accrual is the term commonly used to describe the process of placing patients in the clinical trial. Basically, poor accrual means that not enough people volunteered for the clinical trial.

January 28, 2014

Overall, patients taking ASIs lived about 27 months, compared with 17 months for those who were not taking an ASI. In addition, patients taking ASIs were more likely to have the cancer shrink. Researchers also compared ASIs to other types of medications for high blood pressure, finding that patients taking other types of medications for high blood pressure lived about 18 months. Researchers also found that patients taking a type of cancer treatment known as VEGF therapy had a greater benefit when ASIs were combined with cancer treatment. VEGF therapy, such as sunitinib, sorafenib, axitinib, and bevacizumab also affects the process of angiogenesis, which may mean that an ASI works along with the VEGF therapy to better block the formation of blood vessels that feed cancer growth.

January 28, 2014

Updated results from a clinical trial conducted in Norway and Sweden show that adding radiation therapy to ongoing oral anti-androgen therapy, a type of hormone therapy, more than halved the rate of deaths from locally advanced prostate cancer, compared to ongoing oral anti-androgen therapy given without radiation therapy. For men with prostate cancer, hormone therapy is used to block or lower the levels of hormones called androgens that can be involved in prostate cancer growth. Locally advanced prostate cancer is when the disease has grown through the capsule, the tissue that covers most of the prostate. When this study first began, surgery was not a standard treatment for this type of prostate cancer, and surgery is still not often used because it can be difficult to remove all of the cancer. Radiation therapy (the use of x-rays to kill cancer cells) is often a good option because it can be directed at tissue beyond the prostate to kill cells outside the capsule.

January 14, 2014

A large study shows that testing for specific genetic changes in tumor cells can tell doctors whether people with metastatic colorectal cancer (colorectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) are likely to benefit from combining second-line chemotherapy with a targeted therapy called panitumumab (Vectibix). A second-line treatment is given if the first treatment does not work, starts but then stops working, or causes serious side effects.

January 14, 2014

New results from a large clinical trial show that a drug taken by mouth is just as effective as one given by infusion for people with stage II or stage III rectal cancer.  These patients received radiation therapy and chemotherapy with either capecitabine (Xeloda) or 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil) before surgery. The researchers also found that adding another drug, oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), did not provide any additional benefits and caused more side effects.

January 14, 2014

Early results from an ongoing phase II clinical trial have shown that a new chemotherapy combination, CAPTEM, may be an effective second-line treatment option for patients with a neuroendocrine tumor that has spread to other parts of the body, even for tumors that haven’t responded to other standard (commonly used) treatments. A second-line treatment is given if the first treatment does not work, starts but then stops working, or causes serious side effects. CAPTEM combines two drugs, capecitabine (Xeloda) and temozolomide (Temodar), which are given in a specific order—capecitabine first, temozolomide second—based on research that showed this might be more effective than giving both drugs at the same time.

January 14, 2014

Researchers have found that treatment with two different vaccines, GVAX Pancreas followed by CRS-207, helps people with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) live longer. PDAC is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. This study shows that immunotherapy (treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer) can help treat pancreatic cancer and appears to cause less serious side effects than chemotherapy.

January 14, 2014

Combining the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (Taxol) with a monoclonal antibody known as ramucirumab helps people with stomach or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ, lower part of the esophagus that connects to the stomach) cancer that has spread to other parts of the body live longer than paclitaxel treatment alone, according to a new study. These treatments were given as second-line therapy (treatment given if the first does not work, starts but then stops working, or causes serious side effects). The researchers also noted that people who received the drug combination reported a better quality of life.

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