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.

This includes ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology and its scientific meetings, including the ASCO Annual Meeting, a five-day meeting held each May/June. 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.

June 5, 2011

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.

June 5, 2011

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.

June 5, 2011

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.

June 5, 2011

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).

June 4, 2011

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.

June 4, 2011

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. 

June 4, 2011

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.

June 4, 2011

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.

June 4, 2011

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.

June 3, 2011

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. 

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