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.
Results from a new study show that the drug selumetinib keeps metastatic (cancer that has spread) melanoma of the eye from worsening and lengthens patients’ lives. Melanoma of the eye (also called uveal melanoma) is a rare cancer. Most patients with uveal melanoma are diagnosed when the cancer is located in the eye. But, the cancer eventually spreads outside of the eye to other parts of the body in about half of patients, and these patients usually live about nine to 12 months after diagnosis, so a drug that can lengthen patients’ lives is a major breakthrough.
In a new study, researchers found that spouses of patients with human papilloma virus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal cancer were not more likely to have an HPV infection than the general population. Oropharyngeal cancer begins in the oropharynx, which is the middle part of the throat behind the mouth, and includes the base of the tongue, the soft palate, the side and back walls of the throat and the tonsils. HPV infection is very common among men and women in the United States and is a risk factor for several types of cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer. However, most people with an HPV infection will not get cancer. When a cancer contains signs of HPV, it is called HPV-positive.
Long-term follow-up of patients participating in an early study for advanced melanoma showed that nivolumab was able to shrink tumors and continue working for a longer time than other approved melanoma treatments. Nivolumab is a type of immunotherapy, a treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. Specifically, nivolumab targets PD-1, which is found on the surface of tumor cells and prevents the immune system from destroying the cancer. Nivolumab stops PD-1 from working so the immune system can get rid of the cancer.
Women with advanced ovarian cancer or a related gynecologic cancer who receive treatment with the targeted therapy pazopanib (Votrient) following successful chemotherapy lived longer without their disease coming back than those receiving a placebo (an inactive treatment, often called a “sugar pill”), according to the results of a recent clinical trial. Pazopanib is medication taken by mouth that focuses on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapy is to starve the tumor.
In early, ongoing research, the drug, idelalisib helped to shrink tumors for patients with recurrent or treatment-resistant chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CLL is a slow-growing cancer and many patients do not need treatment until they start having symptoms. However, after treatment, most patients will have the disease come back, called recurrent or relapsed CLL. About 20% of patients will develop treatment-resistant or refractory CLL, meaning the disease comes back quickly or the original treatment did not work.
Most diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCL) that recur (come back after treatment) are found based on symptoms reported by patients, abnormal blood test results, or abnormal findings on a physical examination, rather than by a computed tomography (CT) scan, according to a recent study. DLBCL is the most common form of lymphoma and is typically curable. However, up to a third of patients will have the disease recur. A CT scan is a way to create pictures of the inside of the body and is currently recommended as a regular part of follow-up care for patients with DLBCL to watch for a recurrence.
Results from a long-term study on stage I seminoma show that surveillance, or watching for a cancer recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment), is a safe option for most men. Seminoma is a type of testicular cancer that is generally slow growing and makes up about half of all testicular cancer diagnoses. In stage I seminoma, the tumor has not spread to the lymph nodes (tiny, bean-shaped organs that fight infection) or other parts of the body. Surgery is usually the first treatment given. Surveillance includes physical examinations and imaging and blood tests for five years. In the United States, about half of patients are monitored for a recurrence and the other half receives either radiation therapy or chemotherapy to help prevent a recurrence.
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.
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.
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.