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.

September 6, 2011

In a recent analysis of information from nearly 6,000 women with breast cancer, researchers found that women younger than 50 were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer by feeling the tumor in the breast (called palpation) than with mammography when compared with women older than 50. This study used a statewide breast cancer registry from the Michigan Breast Oncology Quality Initiative to look at breast cancer diagnosis and treatment information to find out how the 2009 changes to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast cancer screening recommendations might affect how women find breast cancer, particularly those between  ages 40 and 49. The USPSTF recommends that mammograms should be given every two years for women ages 50 to 74, and that women age 40 to 49 should not be offered regular mammography but should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors. The recommendations also discourage teaching breast self-examination.

August 29, 2011

A new study has shown that for patients with advanced rectal cancer, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess their tumor's response to pre-surgery chemotherapy or radiation treatment may predict survival. The findings suggest that by using MRI to gauge whether a tumor has responded to such treatments, physicians can use the results to determine whether to proceed with surgery or to consider other treatment options for a given patient. 

June 5, 2011

Recent research on the effects of flaxseed showed that it doesn't help reduce hot flashes for women who have gone through menopause. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and hormonal therapy for breast cancer. Using estrogen can help reduce hot flashes, but many women are concerned about the risks of this type of treatment. An early, smaller study suggested that taking flaxseed may help reduce hot flashes.

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 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 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 5, 2011

Results from a recent study showed that maintenance therapy with the drug pemetrexed (Alimta) lengthened the time it takes for advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer to worsen. Maintenance therapy is the use of ongoing chemotherapy after the initial treatment.

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.

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