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.
A new study has shown that rates of oropharyngeal cancer, a type of oral cancer, have been increasing dramatically in the United States since 1984, with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related tumors accounting for a growing majority of all new cases. Researchers showed that the proportion of oropharyngeal cancers that were HPV-positive significantly increased over time, from slightly more than 16 percent of such cancers diagnosed during the 1980s to more than 70 percent diagnosed during the 2000s.
In a recent analysis of information from nearly 6,000 women with breast cancer, researchers found that women younger than 50 were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer by feeling the tumor in the breast (called palpation) than with mammography when compared with women older than 50. This study used a statewide breast cancer registry from the Michigan Breast Oncology Quality Initiative to look at breast cancer diagnosis and treatment information to find out how the 2009 changes to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast cancer screening recommendations might affect how women find breast cancer, particularly those between ages 40 and 49. The USPSTF recommends that mammograms should be given every two years for women ages 50 to 74, and that women age 40 to 49 should not be offered regular mammography but should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors. The recommendations also discourage teaching breast self-examination.
Researchers have created a new method to predict the risk that a woman will develop lymphedema within five years after lymph nodes are removed as part of breast cancer treatment. Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid following lymph node removal, specifically in the arm for women with breast cancer who had the axillary or underarm lymph nodes removed (called axillary lymph node dissection). It affects approximately four million patients worldwide, and it's currently very difficult to predict who will develop lymphedema.
Two recent studies showed that women younger than 40 with breast cancer who had a lumpectomy had a similar risk of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) and lived as long as those who had a mastectomy. A lumpectomy (also called breast-conservation therapy or surgery) is the removal of the tumor in the breast and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. Being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age is considered a risk factor for breast cancer recurrence, and studies have shown that more young women are choosing mastectomy instead of lumpectomy even though research has not shown that women who choose mastectomy live longer than those who choose lumpectomy.
A new study has shown that for patients with advanced rectal cancer, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess their tumor's response to pre-surgery chemotherapy or radiation treatment may predict survival. The findings suggest that by using MRI to gauge whether a tumor has responded to such treatments, physicians can use the results to determine whether to proceed with surgery or to consider other treatment options for a given patient.
Studies of two different drugs may change treatment for patients with advanced or metastatic melanoma. Advanced melanoma is stage IIIC or IV and cannot be removed with surgery, and metastatic melanoma has spread to other parts of the body. One study showed that the drug vemurafenib increased survival for patients with advanced melanoma when compared with chemotherapy. Vemurafenib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, vemurafenib targets mutations (changes) to a gene called BRAF, which is found in about half of all melanomas.
A recent study showed that children with high-risk neuroblastoma who received the drugs busulphan (Busulfex, Mitosan, Myleran) and melphalan (Alkeran) lived longer than children who received the drugs carboplatin (Paraplat, Paraplatin), etoposide (Toposar, VePesid), and melphalan, a regimen called CEM. High-risk means that the neuroblastoma is likely to worsen or recur (come back after treatment). These combinations of drugs are given in high doses to kill cancer cells in the bone marrow (spongy, red tissue inside of bones).
Results from a recent study showed that maintenance therapy with the drug pemetrexed (Alimta) lengthened the time it takes for advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer to worsen. Maintenance therapy is the use of ongoing chemotherapy after the initial treatment.
A study on the drug imatinib (Gleevec) for patients with high-risk gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) showed that three years of treatment after surgery helped patients live longer and avoid recurrences (cancer that comes back after treatment). Imatinib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, it targets gene mutations (changes) that contribute to cancer growth for about 90% of people with GIST. The current standard treatment for GIST that can be surgically removed is one year of imatinib after surgery.
A survey of both primary care doctors and medical oncologists (doctors who treat cancer using medications) about the barriers to providing survivorship care showed that primary care doctors and medical oncologists have different concerns about caring for survivors.