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.

April 8, 2013

New findings from a clinical trial in patients with colorectal cancer and inoperable metastases in the liver (cancer that has spread from the colon or rectum to the liver) suggest that combination treatment with standard therapy and targeted drug cetuximab (Erbitux) caused significant shrinkage of metastases, making successful surgery feasible.

March 25, 2013

Analysis of data collected in a large, population-based study in Shanghai, China, showed women who consumed higher amounts of soy food in the years leading up to their diagnosis of lung cancer lived longer. These results offer the first scientific evidence that consuming soy food before cancer diagnosis may be associated with significantly improved survival in patients with lung cancer.

March 4, 2013

New findings from a prospective clinical trial in children with non-hereditary retinoblastoma affecting only one eye (unilateral retinoblastoma) will help doctors identify patients who should not receive chemotherapy after surgical removal of the diseased eye.

February 12, 2013

A recent analysis showed that early-stage, but aggressive (grows and spreads quickly) prostate cancer is more likely to be detected in black men and men older than 75. Generally, the percentage of men with this type of prostate cancer is very small (about 1 man out of 8,000 men develops this type of prostate cancer). Because this stage of prostate cancer causes no symptoms and cannot be felt during a physical exam or seen on imaging tests, it is only detected through prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. PSA is a substance in the blood that is primarily made by the prostate gland. It can be found in higher-than-normal levels in men with various prostate conditions, including prostate cancer, benign (noncancerous) prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, an enlarged prostate), and inflammation or infection of the prostate.

February 12, 2013

A recent analysis of information from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database showed that patients who had surgery to remove small kidney tumors (tumors that are less than 1.5 inches across) have the same risk of dying of kidney cancer over a five-year period as those who received surveillance instead. Surveillance of kidney cancer involves using imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans to watch for signs that the cancer is growing or worsening.

February 12, 2013

In a new study, researchers found that patients with high-risk prostate cancer who received hormone therapy for 18 months lived as long as patients who received hormone therapy for 36 months. Androgens (male sex hormones), such as testosterone, help prostate cancer grow. Hormone therapy, also called androgen blockade therapy or androgen deprivation therapy, slows the growth of prostate cancer by lowering the levels of androgens or blocking the androgens from getting to the prostate cancer cell. It is a standard treatment for prostate cancer. However, long-term hormone therapy causes many side effects, such as hot flashes, loss of libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction, weight gain, loss of bone density and muscle mass, and depression that worsen during the length of treatment. With this study, researchers hoped that a shorter course of hormone therapy would help treat the cancer equally well while reducing the side effects.

January 22, 2013

Recently, researchers confirmed that giving the drug docetaxel (Taxotere, Docefrez) as a second-line therapy lengthened the lives of patients with esophago-gastric cancers that worsened despite treatment. Second-line treatment is using treatments after the primary or first treatments (called first-line therapy) have ended or are no longer working. Esophago-gastric cancers include cancer of the esophagus, stomach, and the area where the esophagus and stomach join, called the esophago-gastric junction. These types of cancers are often difficult to treat and the disease worsens after first-line therapy for most patients, making the increase in survival seen in this study a major improvement.

January 22, 2013

A recent study showed that patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) who received surgery to remove any tumors remaining after treatment with the drug imatinib (Gleevec) lived longer and were less likely to have their disease worsen than patients who received only imatinib. Imatinib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the tumor’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. It is usually the first treatment for GIST that is metastatic (cancer that has spread) or recurrent (cancer that has come back after treatment), and works to treat the disease for about 80% to 85% of patients. However, most patients have tumors remaining after treatment with imatinib. These remaining tumors are thought to cause the disease to become resistant to imatinib, which means that the drug stops controlling the tumor’s growth. For this reason, researchers believed removing the remaining tumors with surgery would help prevent the tumor from becoming resistant to imatinib.

January 22, 2013

Recently, researchers developed a new way to classify stage II and III colorectal cancers based on gene expression (which genes within each tumor are turned on or off) into three separate subtypes. Each of these subtypes helps predict a patient’s prognosis (chance of recovery) and how a tumor responds to adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy given after treatment). Previously studied genetic tests, such as Oncotype or ColoPrint, can help doctors find out which tumors are more likely to grow and spread quickly, but there are still no clear recommendations for identifying which patients should receive  adjuvant chemotherapy and which patients wouldn’t benefit from additional chemotherapy..

January 22, 2013

In a new study in Japan, researchers found that patients with pancreatic cancer lived longer when they received chemotherapy with a drug called S-1 after surgery. This study included Japanese patients with stage I, II, or III pancreatic cancer who were able to have surgery to remove the tumor.  In the United States, more than half of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed after the disease has spread beyond the pancreas. Because of this, only 20% to 30% of patients with pancreatic cancer are able to have surgery. Typically, patients who are able to have surgery are offered the drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) after the surgery to help lengthen their lives. In previous studies, researchers have found that this new drug, S-1, works as well as gemcitabine for Asian patients with pancreatic cancer. However, other studies have shown that S-1 may cause more harmful side effects in patients who are not Asian.