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 recent study showed that the drug trametinib slowed tumor growth and lengthened the lives of patients who have advanced melanoma with a BRAF gene mutation (change). Trametinib is a type of treatment called targeted therapy. Targeted therapy targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Currently, there is one targeted therapy approved to treat melanoma that targets the BRAF gene, called vemurafenib (Zelboraf). However, vemurafenib eventually stops controlling melanoma growth for most patients, highlighting the need for other treatment options. Trametinib targets the MEK protein, which affects melanoma growth similarly to a mutated BRAF gene, which is why researchers are studying this treatment for melanoma.
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.
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.
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.
A long-term study comparing two common hormone therapy schedules showed that intermittent (short breaks in treatment) hormone therapy is less effective than continuous (no breaks in treatment) hormone therapy for men with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer with minimal disease spread (cancer that has not spread beyond the spine, pelvis, and lymph nodes). Hormone-sensitive prostate cancer is cancer that uses male sex hormones called androgens, such as testosterone, to grow and spread. Hormone therapy, also called androgen ablation or androgen-deprivation therapy, lowers levels of androgens in the body to help keep the cancer from growing or spreading. Eventually, metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread) develops a resistance to hormone therapy, meaning the treatment stops working to control the cancer's growth.
Researchers found that continuing bevacizumab (Avastin) while switching the chemotherapy used for second-line treatment lengthened the lives of patients with metastatic (cancer that has spread) colorectal cancer who had already received bevacizumab and another type of chemotherapy, a new study showed. Second-line treatment is treatment given after the first treatment, called first-line treatment, has stopped working. This approach has been used in the United States, and this study confirms its use as an effective treatment method.
A large national survey of people with cancer showed that a patient's income strongly predicts whether he or she will participate in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study involving people. A clinical trial may focus on new treatments, new methods to prevent cancer, and ways to manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
A recent study by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) shows that chemotherapy after radiation therapy slowed the growth of anaplastic oligodendroglial tumors (a type of brain tumor). It also lengthened the lives of patients with this type of tumor, especially for those whose tumor was missing specific genetic material in chromosomes 1 and 19 (called 1p/19q co-deletions). Currently, most patients with this disease receive either chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but not both.
A long-term study shows that a combination of bendamustine (Treanda) and rituximab (Rituxan) keeps two uncommon types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), indolent (slow-growing) lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma, from worsening longer than standard chemotherapy. Bendamustine and rituximab are drugs called targeted therapies. Targeted therapy is 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 the new drug trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) worked better to control the growth of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer than the current standard treatment. HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and has too much of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The current standard treatment for this type of breast cancer is chemotherapy with capecitabine (Xeloda) combined with the targeted therapy lapatinib (Tykerb). Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.