Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

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.

The 2014 event was held May 30-June 3. The next ASCO Annual Meeting will be held May 29-June 2, 2015, in Chicago. 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.

October 31, 2011

An analysis of more than 3,000 families including women with breast cancer has found that close relatives of women who carry mutations in a BRCA gene - but who themselves do not have such genetic mutations - do not have an increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to relatives of women with breast cancer who do not have such mutations.

September 6, 2011

Researchers have created a new method to predict the risk that a woman will develop lymphedema within five years after lymph nodes are removed as part of breast cancer treatment. Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid following lymph node removal, specifically in the arm for women with breast cancer who had the axillary or underarm lymph nodes removed (called axillary lymph node dissection). It affects approximately four million patients worldwide, and it's currently very difficult to predict who will develop lymphedema.

September 6, 2011

In a recent analysis of information from nearly 6,000 women with breast cancer, researchers found that women younger than 50 were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer by feeling the tumor in the breast (called palpation) than with mammography when compared with women older than 50. This study used a statewide breast cancer registry from the Michigan Breast Oncology Quality Initiative to look at breast cancer diagnosis and treatment information to find out how the 2009 changes to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast cancer screening recommendations might affect how women find breast cancer, particularly those between  ages 40 and 49. The USPSTF recommends that mammograms should be given every two years for women ages 50 to 74, and that women age 40 to 49 should not be offered regular mammography but should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors. The recommendations also discourage teaching breast self-examination.

September 6, 2011

Two recent studies showed that women younger than 40 with breast cancer who had a lumpectomy had a similar risk of recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) and lived as long as those who had a mastectomy. A lumpectomy (also called breast-conservation therapy or surgery) is the removal of the tumor in the breast and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. Being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age is considered a risk factor for breast cancer recurrence, and studies have shown that more young women are choosing mastectomy instead of lumpectomy even though research has not shown that women who choose mastectomy live longer than those who choose lumpectomy.

August 29, 2011

A new study has shown that for patients with advanced rectal cancer, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess their tumor's response to pre-surgery chemotherapy or radiation treatment may predict survival. The findings suggest that by using MRI to gauge whether a tumor has responded to such treatments, physicians can use the results to determine whether to proceed with surgery or to consider other treatment options for a given patient. 

June 5, 2011

A recent study showed that children with high-risk neuroblastoma who received the drugs busulphan (Busulfex, Mitosan, Myleran) and melphalan (Alkeran) lived longer than children who received the drugs carboplatin (Paraplat, Paraplatin), etoposide (Toposar, VePesid), and melphalan, a regimen called CEM. High-risk means that the neuroblastoma is likely to worsen or recur (come back after treatment). These combinations of drugs are given in high doses to kill cancer cells in the bone marrow (spongy, red tissue inside of bones).

June 5, 2011

Results from a recent study showed that maintenance therapy with the drug pemetrexed (Alimta) lengthened the time it takes for advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer to worsen. Maintenance therapy is the use of ongoing chemotherapy after the initial treatment.

June 5, 2011

A study on the drug imatinib (Gleevec) for patients with high-risk gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) showed that three years of treatment after surgery helped patients live longer and avoid recurrences (cancer that comes back after treatment). Imatinib is a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, it targets gene mutations (changes) that contribute to cancer growth for about 90% of people with GIST. The current standard treatment for GIST that can be surgically removed is one year of imatinib after surgery.

June 5, 2011

A survey of both primary care doctors and medical oncologists (doctors who treat cancer using medications) about the barriers to providing survivorship care showed that primary care doctors and medical oncologists have different concerns about caring for survivors.

June 5, 2011

Recent research on the effects of flaxseed showed that it doesn't help reduce hot flashes for women who have gone through menopause. Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and hormonal therapy for breast cancer. Using estrogen can help reduce hot flashes, but many women are concerned about the risks of this type of treatment. An early, smaller study suggested that taking flaxseed may help reduce hot flashes.


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