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 2014 event was held May 30-June 3. The next ASCO Annual Meeting will be held May 29-June 2, 2015, in Chicago. 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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

June 4, 2012

A new study showed that the targeted drug regorafenib is an effective treatment for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) that has worsened because the other available treatments have stopped working. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a tumor's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, regorafenib targets an abnormal enzyme called KIT. The currently available GIST treatments, imatinib (Gleevec) and sunitinib (Sutent), often slow or stop tumor growth at first, but eventually the drugs stop working and the cancer continues to grow. Regorafenib appears to work in a different way, even helping to slow GIST growth when other treatments are no longer working. 

June 4, 2012

In a recent international study, researchers found that the targeted therapy drug afatinib kept advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with mutations (changes) to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) from worsening longer than the standard treatment. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, afatinib targets EGFR. In a healthy cell, EGFR allows cells to grow and divide. When there are too many receptors caused by a mutation, as happens in cancer, the cancer cells continue to grow and divide uncontrollably.

June 4, 2012

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.

June 4, 2012

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.

June 4, 2012

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.

June 4, 2012

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.

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