This section contains the latest highlighted research for patients from ASCO medical journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, as well as an archive of research highlights from previous ASCO scientific meetings (2011-2015). For the latest research highlights from more recent ASCO meetings, visit the Cancer.Net Blog or check out Cancer.Net’s audio podcasts and videos for patients.
To search this archive, use the drop-down menu below. 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.
Results from a small phase II study suggest that the PD-1 immunotherapy, pembrolizumab (Keytruda), works better when tumors have a large number of genetic changes or mutations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to a recent study, initial treatment with the drug cetuximab (Erbitux) plus the chemotherapy regimen FOLFIRI lengthens the lives of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer when compared with bevacizumab (Avastin) plus FOLFIRI. The chemotherapy regimen FOLFIRI includes the drugs leucovorin (Wellcovorin), fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), and irinotecan (Camptosar).
A recent study showed that patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) who received surgery to remove any tumors remaining after treatment with the drug imatinib (Gleevec) lived longer and were less likely to have their disease worsen than patients who received only imatinib. Imatinib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the tumor’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. It is usually the first treatment for GIST that is metastatic (cancer that has spread) or recurrent (cancer that has come back after treatment), and works to treat the disease for about 80% to 85% of patients. However, most patients have tumors remaining after treatment with imatinib. These remaining tumors are thought to cause the disease to become resistant to imatinib, which means that the drug stops controlling the tumor’s growth. For this reason, researchers believed removing the remaining tumors with surgery would help prevent the tumor from becoming resistant to imatinib.
Recently, researchers developed a new way to classify stage II and III colorectal cancers based on gene expression (which genes within each tumor are turned on or off) into three separate subtypes. Each of these subtypes helps predict a patient’s prognosis (chance of recovery) and how a tumor responds to adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy given after treatment). Previously studied genetic tests, such as Oncotype or ColoPrint, can help doctors find out which tumors are more likely to grow and spread quickly, but there are still no clear recommendations for identifying which patients should receive adjuvant chemotherapy and which patients wouldn’t benefit from additional chemotherapy..
In a new study in Japan, researchers found that patients with pancreatic cancer lived longer when they received chemotherapy with a drug called S-1 after surgery. This study included Japanese patients with stage I, II, or III pancreatic cancer who were able to have surgery to remove the tumor. In the United States, more than half of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed after the disease has spread beyond the pancreas. Because of this, only 20% to 30% of patients with pancreatic cancer are able to have surgery. Typically, patients who are able to have surgery are offered the drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) after the surgery to help lengthen their lives. In previous studies, researchers have found that this new drug, S-1, works as well as gemcitabine for Asian patients with pancreatic cancer. However, other studies have shown that S-1 may cause more harmful side effects in patients who are not Asian.