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.

May 18, 2011

A large study evaluating ovarian cancer screening showed that using both a CA-125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound to find early ovarian cancer did not reduce the risk of dying from the disease and resulted in unnecessary follow-up procedures. The CA-125 blood test measures the amount of a tumor marker called CA-125, which may be found in higher levels in women with ovarian cancer. A transvaginal ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of the ovaries. Both tests are used to evaluate the symptoms of ovarian cancer, its stage, and the effectiveness of treatment.

March 28, 2011

A new study on the use of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing to screen for prostate cancer found that elderly men are being screened much more frequently than men in their early fifties, even though younger men are more likely to benefit from early diagnosis and treatment. Researchers showed that men in their seventies underwent PSA screening for prostate cancer at nearly twice the rate of men in their early fifties. Men 85 and older were screened just as often.

March 14, 2011

A new study has shown that a surgical technique can effectively locate and extract viable sperm in more than one-third of adult survivors of childhood cancer, who were previously considered sterile due to prior chemotherapy. Many of these men were subsequently able to have children with the help of in vitro fertilization, and the results offer a proven option for many male cancer survivors who want to be fathers but were thought infertile.

February 15, 2011

In a large European study, researchers looked at using first-time prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels as a way to guide future screening for prostate cancer. PSA is a protein found in higher-than-normal levels in men with prostate cancer and some noncancerous prostate conditions. Men with higher-than-normal PSA levels may be recommended for a biopsy (removal of a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope) to look for cancer.

February 15, 2011

A new study on the drug dutasteride (Avodart) showed that it can slow the growth of early-stage prostate cancer for men whose prostate cancer is being monitored with a method called active surveillance. Active surveillance or watchful waiting is a common way to monitor prostate cancer that is growing slowly when actively treating the cancer would cause more discomfort than the disease itself. The cancer is monitored closely and active treatment begins only if the tumor shows signs of becoming more aggressive or spreading, causes pain, or blocks the urinary tract.

February 15, 2011

According to an analysis of prostate cancer surgeries, surgeons need experience with robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP) to achieve the best results. RALP is a procedure in which a camera and instruments are inserted through small, keyhole incisions in the patient's abdomen. The surgeon then directs the robotic instruments to remove the prostate gland and surrounding tissue. It is possibly much less invasive than an open radical prostatectomy and may reduce recovery time. In general, robotic prostatectomy has less bleeding and less pain, but sexual and urinary side effects can be similar to an open radical prostatectomy.

January 31, 2011

Researchers have shown a form of personalized gene therapy that uses a patient's own immune cells could treat metastatic melanoma and synovial cell sarcoma tumors, representing a potentially new therapeutic approach against these and other cancers.

January 18, 2011

Researchers found that using intensity-modulated radiation therapy or IMRT for anal cancer works as well as standard radiation therapy but has fewer severe side effects. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. IMRT is a type of radiation therapy that allows the strength of the radiation beams to be changed during treatment depending on the shape and location of the tumor. This means that the radiation can be directed at the tumor while avoiding healthy tissue.

January 18, 2011

In a new study on gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), researchers found that the drug sorafenib (Nexavar) is an effective treatment when imatinib (Gleevec) and/or sunitinib (Sutent) no longer work. GIST is a rare tumor that begins in the gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or small bowel. It often has a mutation (change) in either the KIT or PDGFRA gene, which contributes to its growth and spread. Drugs that help block these mutations, called targeted therapies, are the most common treatment options. The standard first treatment (called the first-line treatment) is imatinib, but most patients develop a resistance, meaning the treatment stops working and the tumor begins to grow and spread. After imatinib stops working, patients often receive sunitinib, a similar targeted therapy, but this drug can stop working as well. This study was developed to find another treatment option when imatinib and sunitinib no longer work.

January 18, 2011

Knowing a patient's risk of recurrence could help doctors plan treatments, making sure that patients with a high risk of recurrence receive the appropriate treatment and helping patients with a low risk avoid side effects of additional treatments. To help predict the risk of recurrence, doctors use clinical factors, such as the stage, the number of lymph nodes that have cancer, and whether the cancer is blocking or has broken through the bowel. However, these cannot always reliably predict a patient's prognosis (chance of recovery).

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