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 1, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

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.

May 15, 2013

Patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who participated in a recent study lived longer and had fewer side effects when they received the standard dose of radiation therapy and not the high-dose radiation therapy. Stage III NSCLC is usually difficult or impossible to remove with surgery. Radiation therapy is used to slow the growth and spread of the cancer to lengthen patients’ lives. The standard dose for radiation therapy is 60 Gray (Gy), a measurement of how much radiation is absorbed by the body, although many doctors use higher doses in the hope of better controlling the cancer’s growth.

April 22, 2013

New findings from a retrospective study suggest that targeted anti-HER2 therapy may slow disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer who carry a specific alteration in HER2—a protein that controls cancer growth and spread, found on some cancer cells, such as breast, ovarian, and lung cancer cells.

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.