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 3, 2012

Researchers found that continuing bevacizumab (Avastin) while switching the chemotherapy used for second-line treatment lengthened the lives of patients with metastatic (cancer that has spread) colorectal cancer who had already received bevacizumab and another type of chemotherapy, a new study showed. Second-line treatment is treatment given after the first treatment, called first-line treatment, has stopped working. This approach has been used in the United States, and this study confirms its use as an effective treatment method.

June 3, 2012

In a recent study, researchers found that the new drug trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) worked better to control the growth of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer than the current standard treatment. HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and has too much of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The current standard treatment for this type of breast cancer is chemotherapy with capecitabine (Xeloda) combined with the targeted therapy lapatinib (Tykerb). 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 3, 2012

A long-term study comparing two common hormone therapy schedules showed that intermittent (short breaks in treatment) hormone therapy is less effective than continuous (no breaks in treatment) hormone therapy for men with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer with minimal disease spread (cancer that has not spread beyond the spine, pelvis, and lymph nodes). Hormone-sensitive prostate cancer is cancer that uses male sex hormones called androgens, such as testosterone, to grow and spread. Hormone therapy, also called androgen ablation or androgen-deprivation therapy, lowers levels of androgens in the body to help keep the cancer from growing or spreading. Eventually, metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread) develops a resistance to hormone therapy, meaning the treatment stops working to control the cancer's growth.

June 3, 2012

A recent study by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) shows that chemotherapy after radiation therapy slowed the growth of anaplastic oligodendroglial tumors (a type of brain tumor). It also lengthened the lives of patients with this type of tumor, especially for those whose tumor was missing specific genetic material in chromosomes 1 and 19 (called 1p/19q co-deletions). Currently, most patients with this disease receive either chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but not both.

June 2, 2012

In a new study on a type of leukemia called high-risk B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), researchers found that adolescents and young adults (ages 16 to 30) were more likely to have the disease recur (come back after treatment) and more likely to die from the disease than younger patients. Adolescents and young adults (often shortened to AYA) with cancer make up a unique group of patients with different medical, social, and emotional needs than both younger and older patients. The results of this study highlight the importance of finding new ways to treat leukemia and lower the side effects of treatment for these patients.

June 2, 2012

A recent study showed that patients with metastatic kidney cancer (kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) preferred pazopanib (Votrient) to sunitinib (Sutent), reporting that they had better quality of life while receiving pazopanib. These drugs are a type of treatment called targeted therapy, which targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. To help control cancer growth, patients with metastatic kidney cancer often need to take one of these drugs for many months or years. This means that they are also likely to experience side effects for as long as they take the drug, which can greatly affect their long-term quality of life.

June 2, 2012

According to a recent study, giving bevacizumab (Avastin) along with standard chemotherapy doubled the time it took for platinum-resistant ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancers to worsen. These are all cancers of a woman's reproductive system that are treated similarly. Platinum-based chemotherapy is often the first treatment for these cancers and includes the drugs cisplatin (Platinol), carboplatin (Paraplat, Paraplatin), and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin). When platinum-based drugs stop working to control the cancer's growth, it is called platinum-resistant cancer.

June 2, 2012

A new immunotherapy (called BMS-936558) helped shrink melanoma, kidney cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a recent early study. 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 bolster, target, or restore immune system function.

May 16, 2012

A small analysis of a larger study showed that combining two different targeted therapy drugs, dabrafenib and trametinib, stopped advanced melanoma from worsening while causing less severe side effects than the current standard targeted therapy drug. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, dabrafenib targets changes in the BRAF gene, and trametinib targets changes in the MEK gene to stop melanoma growth.

May 16, 2012

A new analysis of a large survey showed that many primary care providers (PCPs) are not familiar with the long-term side effects of four types of chemotherapy commonly used to treat breast and colorectal cancers. It is important for cancer survivors to have lifelong follow-up care to watch for long-term side effects (also called late effects), and survivors often visit PCPs for ongoing follow-up care after cancer treatment ends. This study highlights the importance of communication between oncologists, PCPs, and cancer survivors to make sure survivors receive appropriate follow-up care and treatment for any long-term side effects.

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