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.

January 31, 2012

The researchers found that a little more than 7% of men who received external-beam radiation therapy experienced side effects, such as narrowing of the urethra and bleeding in the bladder, compared with a little less than 7% of men who received a prostatectomy and about 3% of men who had brachytherapy. In addition, men who had external-beam radiation therapy were much more likely to experience gastrointestinal side effects, such as bleeding from the rectum. The researchers also found that external-beam radiation therapy was more than twice as expensive as brachytherapy or prostatectomy.

January 17, 2012

A new study shows that a specific test can help find which people with Barrett's esophagus have a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Barrett's esophagus is a condition associated with abnormal changes (called dysplasia) in the cells lining the esophagus. These changes are not cancerous, but they can become cancerous over time as the cells become more abnormal. Although all people with Barrett's esophagus are at risk for esophageal cancer, there has been no good way to find out who is more likely to develop cancer.

January 17, 2012

In a new analysis of results from a previous study, researchers found that certain factors predict whether an advanced neuroendocrine tumor will worsen. Based on these factors, the drug everolimus (Afinitor) combined with octreotide (Sandostatin) may be a more effective treatment than previously thought. A neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body's neuroendocrine system, which is a cross between hormone-producing cells and nerve cells.

January 17, 2012

Researchers used a new blood test that correctly identified the presence of early-stage pancreatic cancer in two-thirds of patients participating in this study. The test detects a specialized protein, called PAM-4, in a person's blood. PAM-4 is a tumor marker, which is a substance found at higher than normal levels in the blood, urine, and body tissues of people with cancer. Developing a test for pancreatic cancer is important because patients have a better chance of survival when pancreatic cancer is found early. Currently, there is no test approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to detect and diagnose pancreatic cancer early.

January 17, 2012

Researchers found that the targeted therapy regorafenib lengthens the lives of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (colorectal cancer that has spread outside the colon and rectum) and slows the growth of the cancer. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.

December 12, 2011

A large, retrospective study has shown that children of childhood cancer survivors who received prior treatment involving radiation to testes or ovaries and/or chemotherapy with alkylating agents do not have an increased risk for birth defects compared to children of survivors who did not have such cancer treatment. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy with alkylating agents are DNA-damaging treatments, affecting both cancer and healthy cells. The findings provide reassurance that increased risks of birth defects are unlikely for cancer survivors who are concerned about the potential effects of their treatment on their children, and help guide family planning choices.

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

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.

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

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.

Pages