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.
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.
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.
A recent study showed that women who have been through menopause and have a high risk of breast cancer were less likely to develop the disease when they received an aromatase inhibitor (AI) called exemestane (Aromasin). An AI is a drug that reduces the amount of the hormone estrogen in a woman's body by stopping tissues and organs other than the ovaries from producing it. Previous research has shown that estrogen may help breast cancer grow. Drugs that block estrogen, such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and raloxifene (Evista), have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to lower the risk of breast cancer for women at high risk for the disease. However, there is a risk of rare but serious side effects, such as uterine cancer and blood clots, with these two drugs. Researchers designed this study to find another option to lower breast cancer risk with fewer side effects.
In two recent studies, researchers looked at the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to treat recurrent and newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer. Bevacizumab 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.
In a recent study, researchers found that radiation therapy to the regional lymph nodes decreases recurrences (cancers that come back after treatment) for women with early-stage breast cancer that has spread or is likely to spread to the lymph nodes. Regional lymph nodes are the lymph nodes near where the tumor started. For breast cancer, these are the lymph nodes in the armpit on the same side of the body where the cancer began, called the axillary lymph nodes.
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.
A new study shows that using high-dose methotrexate (multiple brand names) for children and young adults with a type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) called high risk B-precursor ALL reduces the risk of recurrence when compared with the standard methotrexate regimen. Recurrence is when the ALL comes back after treatment.
A large study on combining human papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap testing for regular cervical cancer screening showed that it is safe for women to have cervical cancer screening every three years instead of every year. The study also showed that HPV testing identified more women at high risk for cervical cancer than Pap testing. HPV, a virus most commonly passed from person to person during sexual activity, is a major risk factor for cervical cancer.
In a recent study, researchers found that maintenance therapy with olaparib, a type of drug called a PARP inhibitor, increased the amount of time it took for recurrent ovarian cancer (cancer that has come back after treatment) to worsen. Maintenance therapy is ongoing treatment that is given after the standard treatment to help control the growth of cancer.