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 4, 2012

A study in Germany showed that it is possible for local community hospitals to test non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for molecular factors involved in the cancer. This means that a greater number of patients will have access to these tests. These molecular factors can be genes, proteins, or features of the tissue environment that contribute to cancer growth and survival. The results of tests for molecular factors often determine whether targeted therapy is a treatment option. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the molecular factors involved in cancer growth.

June 4, 2012

A new study showed that the targeted drug regorafenib is an effective treatment for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) that has worsened because the other available treatments have stopped working. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets a tumor's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, regorafenib targets an abnormal enzyme called KIT. The currently available GIST treatments, imatinib (Gleevec) and sunitinib (Sutent), often slow or stop tumor growth at first, but eventually the drugs stop working and the cancer continues to grow. Regorafenib appears to work in a different way, even helping to slow GIST growth when other treatments are no longer working. 

June 4, 2012

In a recent international study, researchers found that the targeted therapy drug afatinib kept advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with mutations (changes) to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) from worsening longer than the standard treatment. 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, afatinib targets EGFR. In a healthy cell, EGFR allows cells to grow and divide. When there are too many receptors caused by a mutation, as happens in cancer, the cancer cells continue to grow and divide uncontrollably.

June 4, 2012

In a new study, researchers found that the drug duloxetine (Cymbalta) helps treat a painful side effect of chemotherapy called peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs when nerves in the body's peripheral nervous system (outside the brain and spinal cord) are damaged. Depending on where the damaged nerves are located, it can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, pain, muscle weakness, constipation, and dizziness.

June 4, 2012

Giving either of two newer and more costly drugs, nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane; called nab-paclitaxel) and ixabepilone (Ixempra), did not work better to treat locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer than standard chemotherapy with paclitaxel, according to a large study. Locally advanced breast cancer is cancer that has spread to parts of the body near the breast. Metastatic breast cancer has spread to other, more distant parts of the body.

June 4, 2012

According to a recent study, women survivors of childhood cancers who received low doses of radiation therapy aimed at the chest had a high risk of developing breast cancer at a young age. An increased risk of breast cancer is a known long-term side effect or late effect of moderate to high-dose radiation therapy to the chest. That is why the current screening recommendations for childhood cancer survivors recommend annual breast cancer screening for women who received moderate to high doses (20 or more Gray or Gy, a measure of the radiation dose) of radiation therapy to the chest. This study shows that even childhood cancer survivors who received lower doses of radiation therapy have a higher risk of breast cancer, and they may need to follow similar breast cancer screening recommendations.

June 4, 2012

A recent study showed that the drug trametinib slowed tumor growth and lengthened the lives of patients who have advanced melanoma with a BRAF gene mutation (change). Trametinib is a type of treatment called targeted therapy. Targeted therapy targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Currently, there is one targeted therapy approved to treat melanoma that targets the BRAF gene, called vemurafenib (Zelboraf). However, vemurafenib eventually stops controlling melanoma growth for most patients, highlighting the need for other treatment options. Trametinib targets the MEK protein, which affects melanoma growth similarly to a mutated BRAF gene, which is why researchers are studying this treatment for melanoma.

June 4, 2012

In 2011, ASCO's Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) tested how a patient's family history was collected and whether genetic testing was recommended for patients with breast or colorectal cancers. 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.

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.

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