Cancer research, such as the research presented at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting, is not only about finding new and better treatments for cancer. Often, the goal of the research is to find ways to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer. This includes finding new ways to prevent and manage the side effects of cancer treatment and looking at ways to safely reduce the amount of treatment.
In today’s Research Round Up podcast, Cancer.Net Associate Editors discuss this theme across 4 areas of cancer care: side effect management, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma.
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Preventing and managing side effects [1:45]
Dr. Charles Loprinzi, the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Psychosocial Oncology, discusses 4 studies that explored a variety of ways to prevent or manage the side effects of cancer treatment.
“Olanzapine can help decrease nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Cold therapy might be able to decrease paclitaxel neuropathy. Exercise may decrease chemotherapy-associated neuropathy. And omega-3 fatty acids may decrease aromatase inhibitor-associated joint aches and pains in obese patients.”
New research in head and neck cancer [5:58]
Dr. Ezra Cohen, the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Head and Neck Cancer, discusses 3 early studies that looked at different combinations of drugs to treat head and neck cancer. He also discusses a potential new treatment for mouth sores, or mucositis, a severe side effect frequently associated with the treatment for locally advanced head and neck cancer.
“What we saw at this year's ASCO were some early data of different combinations, some of them using chemotherapy, some of them using targeted agents. All of them need to be confirmed in larger trials, but hopefully, [this is] the start of new treatment options for patients with head and neck cancer that are going to be quite effective. And we also saw a remarkable result for the reduction of oral mucositis…and the possibility that this could be reduced dramatically with an agent called GC4419.”
Reducing treatment for breast cancer [12:41]
Dr. Lynn Henry, the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Breast Cancer, discusses a study called TAILORx that looked at whether it is possible to safely reduce treatment for some women with breast cancer.
“We now have results from this important trial that enable us to avoid overtreating many women who previously would have been recommended chemotherapy. Instead, they can now be reassured that avoiding chemotherapy will not increase their chances of cancer recurrence.”
Stopping immunotherapy for melanoma [16:14]
Dr. Ryan Sullivan, the Cancer.Net Associate Editor for Melanoma and Skin Cancer, discusses the results of a study that tracked patients’ health after they completed 2 years of immunotherapy for melanoma.
“We are asked all the time by our patients who are having great responses to treatment, ‘How long do I need to remain on therapy?’ … If the patient has a remarkable benefit from the therapy, then the therapy could be discontinued and the patient can remain off of therapy, living their life and not being tied to the oncology office for regular treatment. And this is really the most robust data to date that supports the discontinuation of pembrolizumab.”