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 long-term study on stage I seminoma show that surveillance, or watching for a cancer recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment), is a safe option for most men. Seminoma is a type of testicular cancer that is generally slow growing and makes up about half of all testicular cancer diagnoses. In stage I seminoma, the tumor has not spread to the lymph nodes (tiny, bean-shaped organs that fight infection) or other parts of the body. Surgery is usually the first treatment given. Surveillance includes physical examinations and imaging and blood tests for five years. In the United States, about half of patients are monitored for a recurrence and the other half receives either radiation therapy or chemotherapy to help prevent a recurrence.
Results from an early, ongoing study suggest that pairing the drug ipilimumab (Yervoy) with a new drug called nivolumab works better to shrink advanced melanoma. Currently, ipilimumab is a standard treatment option for advanced melanoma in many countries. Nivolumab, when used by itself, has been shown to effectively treat melanoma, as well as other cancers, in previous studies. Both nivolumab and ipilimumab are types of immunotherapy, a treatment 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 improve, target, or restore immune system function. Specifically, nivolumab targets PD-1 and ipilimumab targets CTLA-4, which are both found on the surface of tumor cells and keep the immune system from destroying the cancer. These drugs stop PD-1 and CTLA-4 from working so the immune system can get rid of the cancer.
A new type of targeted immunotherapy (called MPDL3280A) was able to shrink several different types of cancer, including lung, melanoma, kidney, colorectal, and stomach cancers in patients whose cancer had worsened while receiving other treatments. 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 improve, target, or restore immune system function. Specifically, this new treatment targets PD-L1, a protein on the surface of tumor cells that prevents the immune system from fighting the tumor. Basically, this treatment stops PD-L1 from working, which then allows the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.
In a large, 20-year study, researchers found that men with a high level of fitness at middle age have a lower risk of developing and dying from lung and colorectal cancers. They also found that better fitness lowers the risk of dying of prostate cancer.
Patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who participated in a recent study lived longer and had fewer side effects when they received the standard dose of radiation therapy and not the high-dose radiation therapy. Stage III NSCLC is usually difficult or impossible to remove with surgery. Radiation therapy is used to slow the growth and spread of the cancer to lengthen patients’ lives. The standard dose for radiation therapy is 60 Gray (Gy), a measurement of how much radiation is absorbed by the body, although many doctors use higher doses in the hope of better controlling the cancer’s growth.
Researchers found that the drug dabrafenib reduced the risk of melanoma worsening and the risk of death from the disease when compared with chemotherapy in a new, large study of melanoma. Dabrafenib is a targeted drug. This treatment targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, dabrafenib targets a mutation (change) in the BRAF gene, which is known to fuel melanoma growth. Another drug recently used for melanoma, vemurafenib (Zelboraf), also targets the BRAF mutation.
In a new study, researchers found that the drug duloxetine (Cymbalta) helps treat a painful side effect of chemotherapy called peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs when nerves in the body's peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord) are damaged. Depending on where the damaged nerves are located, it can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, pain, muscle weakness, constipation, and dizziness.
In 2011, ASCO's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) tested how a patient's family history was collected and whether genetic testing was recommended for patients with breast or colorectal cancers. QOPI is a national program designed to measure the care provided to patients so each doctor's office or treatment center that participates in the program can use that information to improve the cancer care they provide.
Giving either of two newer and more costly drugs, nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane; called nab-paclitaxel) and ixabepilone (Ixempra), did not work better to treat locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer than standard chemotherapy with paclitaxel, according to a large study. Locally advanced breast cancer is cancer that has spread to parts of the body near the breast. Metastatic breast cancer has spread to other, more distant parts of the body.
According to a recent study, women survivors of childhood cancers who received low doses of radiation therapy aimed at the chest had a high risk of developing breast cancer at a young age. An increased risk of breast cancer is a known long-term side effect or late effect of moderate to high-dose radiation therapy to the chest. That is why the current screening recommendations for childhood cancer survivors recommend annual breast cancer screening for women who received moderate to high doses (20 or more Gray or Gy, a measure of the radiation dose) of radiation therapy to the chest. This study shows that even childhood cancer survivors who received lower doses of radiation therapy have a higher risk of breast cancer, and they may need to follow similar breast cancer screening recommendations.