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.
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.
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.
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..
An analysis of information provided by oncology practices participating in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) showed that the practices were able to improve the quality of care provided to patients between 2006 and 2010. QOPI® is a national program designed to measure the care provided to patients so each doctor's office or treatment center that participates in the program can use that information to improve the cancer care they provide.
Women who have a higher risk of the cancer developing in the other breast often have at least two first-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer and/or have changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In this survey, women who had those risk factors were more likely to choose CPM. However, worry about recurrence also caused women to choose CPM, as 90% of women who received CPM said they were “very worried about recurrence” compared with 80% of women who received a mastectomy for only the breast with cancer.
This study included a range of specialists who were part of the Duffey Pain and Palliative team of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University. The team of two nurses, a social worker, a palliative care doctor, a pharmacist, a nutritionist, and a chaplain help manage a patient’s symptoms and provide emotional support for patients before, during, and after hospitalization.
A large study on a new real-time performance tracking system showed that this system was able to improve the quality of care provided to patients with breast and colon cancers. Researchers also found that using this system reduced differences in cancer care related to age, race, and lack of health insurance. Developed by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, the Rapid Quality Reporting System (RQRS) monitors whether treatment centers adhere to five specific standards of quality care for breast and colon cancer. It uses current information on the care patients are receiving, instead of information from the past, to improve how patients are cared for in the treatment centers using RQRS.
In a recent review of previous studies, researchers found that bone scans, liver ultrasounds, and chest x-rays are not good tests for finding cancer that has spread for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer who have no symptoms of the disease. Bone scans, liver ultrasounds, and chest x-rays are called imaging tests and are used to create pictures of the inside of the body. These tests are often used to find possible metastases (areas where cancer has spread), but there is no standard procedure or solid evidence that they are beneficial in this situation.
A new simulation study indicates that women with stage II breast cancer who have a high risk of the cancer remaining in their axillary (underarm) lymph nodes after treatment, called residual nodal disease, may benefit from having these lymph nodes removed in a procedure called an axillary lymph node dissection. Women who have more cancerous lymph nodes in the underarm generally have a higher risk of residual nodal disease. Cancer in this area is found through a sentinel lymph node biopsy. A sentinel lymph node biopsy is the removal of one or a few lymph nodes in the underarm to look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, additional treatment may be needed.
Using a specialized 21-gene test of a breast tumor’s genes, researchers found that the result, called a Recurrence Score (RS), predicted the prognosis (chance of recovery) for patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer that has spread to the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. Previous studies have shown that these 21 genes help predict the risk of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) and the risk of death from cancer for women with breast cancer that has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.