Tuesday, April 29, 2014

FDA approves Zykadia for late-stage lung cancer

CANCER DIGEST – April 29, 2014 – The U.S. FDA today granted accelerated approval to Zykadia (ceritinib) for patients with a certain type of late-stage (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The approval covers patients with tumors that overexpress anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and have progressed during or after treatment with crizotinib (Xalkori). Zykadia was shown to be highly active in these so called, ALK-rearranged non-small cell lung cancers. Its safety and effectiveness were established in a clinical trial of 163 participants with metastatic ALK-positive NSCLC. All participants were treated with Zykadia. Results showed that about half of the participants had their tumors shrink, and this effect lasted an average of about seven months.

Although NSCLC accounts for about 85 percent of lung cancer, the ALK-positive subset makes up 2 percent to 7 percent of NSCLC.

Monday, April 28, 2014

First trial of MRI technique reduces unneeded prostate biopsies

The first study to compare conventional biopsy with targeted magnetic resonance imaging found that the MRI technique reduced the number of men who required needle biopsy, and improved the overall detection of intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer. The results of the Australian trial were presented last week at the European Association of Urology Annual Congress in Stockholm. The study was also published online in the journal European Urology.

Of 223 men in the study 142 (63.7 percent) had prostate cancer. Conventional needle biopsy guided by transrectal ultrasound detected 126 prostate cancers in 223 men (56.5 percent) including 47 (37.3 percent) that were found to be low-risk tumors. MRI-guided biopsy detected 99 cases of prostate cancer in 142 men (69.7 percent) with intermediate- or high-risk tumors and only 6 (6.1 percent) were later determined to be low-risk tumors, and reduced the need for biopsy by 51 percent.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

FDA approves HPV test for cervical cancer screening

FDA NEWS RELEASE – April 24, 2014 – The FDA today expanded its approval of a DNA test as a standalone screen for the strains of virus that cause cervical cancer. The cobas HPV Test had previously been approved as a co-test along with a Pap test as a primary screening test for cervical cancer. The expanded approval was based on research data gathered from more than 40,000 women 25 years and older undergoing routine cervical exams involving either the Pap or HPV test and biopsy. After three years of follow-up, women who went to colposcopy showed that the cobas HPV Test by itself is safe and effective for cervical cancer screening use.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Smoking and drinking triples esophageal cancer risk

YouTube video
AJG – April 22, 2014 – People who smoke and drink alcohol have three times the risk of cancer of the esophagus as those who do neither. The risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma for people who only smoke or drink alcohol is 20 percent to 30 percent higher than those who refrain, suggesting that the combination of the two has a synergistic affect on cancer risk. The esophagus is the tube connecting the stomach to the throat. Researchers analyzed data from five studies that involved comparing the effects of tobacco and or alcohol. The results were published online in the April 22, 2014 American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Monday, April 21, 2014

FDA approves Cyramza for stomach cancer

Photo courtesy Eli Lilly & Co.
FDA NEWS RELEASE – April 21, 2014 – The FDA announced today approval of Cyramza (ramucirumab) for treatment of advanced cancers of the stomach and  esophagus that continue to progress despite treatment with other chemotherapy.  The drug developed by Eli Lilly and Company was granted Orphan Drug Designation, and targets a growth factor involved in tumor blood vessel formation needed to sustain tumor growth. The approval was based on a trial of 355 patients with gastric (stomach) cancers including those that start at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach neck. Two-thirds of the patients received standard chemotherapy and Cyramza and the remaining third received standard chemotherapy and placebo.Those in the Cyramza group had a median overall survival of 5.2 months compared to 3.8 months in participants receiving placebo. Common side effects experienced by Cyramza-treated participants during clinical testing include diarrhea and high blood pressure.

Chronic prostate inflammation linked to cancer

FORBES – April 21, 2014 – Men with chronic inflammation in benign prostate tissue had nearly twice the odds of having aggressive prostate cancer than men whose biopsies had no sign of inflammation, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The researchers looked 191 men with prostate cancer  and compared them to 209 men without prostate cancer. Both groups had prostate biopsies performed as part of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. The study was published April 18, 2014 online ahead of print publication in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Menstrual cycle might indicate ovarian cancer risk

Barbara A. Cohn, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
director of the Child Health and
Development Studies at the
Public Health Institute in
Berkeley, Calif
MEDPAGE TODAY – April 14, 2014 – Women with irregular menstrual cycles had a nearly 2.5-fold increased chance of dying from ovarian cancer, according to researchers. They presented data from a large study at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2014, last week. The study analyzed data from14,403 women  who had a single live birth and had enrolled in the 50-year Child Health and Development Studies. Using medical reports and self-reported data from these women on their menstrual irregularity, they found that 13 percent reported menstrual irregularities when they were about 26 years of age and 64 of them died from ovarian cancer at around age 69 . Lead researcher Barbara Cohn said there a number of anatomical, hormonal, and metabolic abnormalities that might explain the study findings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blood test spots recurring breast cancer

SCIENCEDAILY – April 16, 2014 – Researchers have developed a blood test that accurately detects the presence of advanced breast cancer that is spreading, or metastasizing. It also holds promise of allowing doctors to see whether the cancer is responding to treatment. Called the cMethDNA assay, the test detects so-called hypermethyation, a type of chemical action in one or more of the breast cancer-specific genes present in tumor DNA. Hypermethylation often blocks genes that check runaway cell growth. Its appearance in the DNA of breast cancer-related genes in the blood indicates that cancer has returned or spread. In a study in the April 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research, the test was up to 95 percent accurate in distinguishing patients with metastatic breast cancer from healthy women.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tests for prostate cancer underestimate tumor aggressiveness

THE GUARDIAN – April 10, 2014 – More than half of prostate cancers thought to be slow growing turned out to be aggressive, faster growing tumors, a new British study shows. Scientists at Cambridge University compared the staging and tumor grades of 800 men with prostate cancer before and after surgery to treat the disease. The found that of the 415 patients who were classified before treatment as having slow growing tumors confined to the prostate, 209, a little more than half, actually had more aggressive tumors, and 131 of them had tumors that had spread beyond the prostate. The researchers concluded, "There is an urgent need for development of a means by which to exclude aggressive PC (prostate cancer) in patients wishing to undergo conservative treatment." They published their findings in the British Journal of Cancer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Researchers identify promising target for halting lung cancer

LDH-A is elevated in NSCLC,
courtesy of Wikipedia
SCIENCE DAILY – April 11, 2014 – Researchers have found that targeting an enzyme tumors use to accelerate cell division and growth not only halts tumor growth in mouse models of  non-small-cell lung cancer, but actually caused the tumors to grow smaller. The enzyme LDH-A is elevated in cancer cells, and shifts the function of glucose processing from simple energy production to accelerated cell growth and replication. The team at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center showed that when LDH-A was blocked, not only did the tumors stop growing, they actually shrank in size. They reported their findings in the online April 10 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daily java may keep liver cancer free

LA TIMES – April 10, 2014 – Three to four cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of developing liver cancer, say researchers at USC and the University of Hawaii. They reported their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting this week in San Diego of an analysis of 179,890 people who participated in the Multiethnic Cohort Study between 1993 and 1996. Participants reported their coffee consumption and other dietary and lifestyle choices and were followed over 18 years for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) the most common form of liver cancer. During that time 498 participants developed HCC. Compared to non-drinkers or low coffee consumers, people who consumed one to three cups of coffee per day had a 29 percent reduction in risk of HCC and those who had four or more cups of coffee per day had a 42 percent reduction in liver cancer. The results were similar regardless of the participants’ ethnicity, sex, BMI, smoking status, alcohol intake, or diabetes status. 

Imaging technique may cut need for prostate biopsies

A prostate image generated with the
new technique. The red area
indicates the tumor.
SCIENCEDAILY – April 7, 2014 – Researchers in Amsterdam have patented a new ultrasound method that allows imaging of the prostate and the location of a tumor within the prostate if present. Ultrasound used for prenatal imaging is unable to show the difference between healthy tissue and tumor tissue. To distinguish tumor from healthy prostate, Dr. Massimo Mischi and colleagues at the Technische Universiteit, Eindhoven used the fact that tumor tissue produces large numbers of small blood vessels to allow it to grow with a characteristic pattern. In the study, 24 patients were given a single injection of a contrast medium containing tiny bubbles, which are shown by the ultrasound scanner right down to the smallest blood vessels. Using advanced image-analysis techniques that can recognize the characteristic blood vessel pattern in tumors, a computer then generates an image showing where the tumor is. The examination only takes one minute, and the results are available no more than a few minutes later. The researchers will present their findings at the European Assocation of Urologists Congress in Stockholm on April 14.

Improving the PSA test
LIVE SCIENCE – April 8, 2014 – Adding three blood markers for prostate cancer could significantly increase the accuracy of the PSA test, Dr. Kailash Chadha of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY  reported at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting this week in San Diego. The study involving 46 men looked at three proteins in the blood called ctyokines, in addition to prostate specific antigen (PSA). Chadha said the added blood markers significantly increased the accuracy of detecting prostate cancer and reduced the “false positive” rate from 32 percent with the PSA alone to 9 percent. The new test will need additional larger studies to validate it.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cell division blocker combined with cisplatin triggers tumor cell death

SCIENCE DAILY – April 9, 2014 – Researchers using an experimental drug that blocks division of a key structure in cells, combined with a common chemotherapy drug triggered unexpected significant cell death in breast cancer cell lines. The findings were presented Monday at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2014 in San Diego. The new agent, called mitochondrial division inhibitor-1 (mdivi-1) blocks a protein in the cell’s energy converter, called mitochondria, that prevents it from dividing, a necessary step in cell division. Cisplatin has long been, one of the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs, but often loses its effectiveness. 

“Cisplatin is one of the most widely used cancer drugs today, but some tumors are inherently resistant to it, and many others become resistant, leading to treatment failure," Dr. Van Houten, of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute said. "In our studies, this combination overcame cisplatin resistance and caused cancer cell death, which is very encouraging." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Drug doubles time to progression in advanced breast cancer

REUTERS ­– April 6, 2014 – Women with advanced breast cancer had their disease progression halt or slow for twice as long when a new type of targeted drug was added to their hormonal therapy, compared to those treated with hormonal therapy alone. UCLA researchers reported the results of the mid-stage trial at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting this week in San Diego. Women whose tumors were responsive to hormones (HR-positive) had progression-free survival of 20.2 months when treated with the new drug, palbociclib plus letrozole. Those in the standard therapy receiving letrozole alone had progression-free survival of 10.2 months. The palbociclib group had an overall survival of 37.5 months compared to 33.3 months for the letrozole-alone group. That difference was not considered statistically significant.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Combination test predicts risk of prostate cancer recurrence

EUREKALERT – April 4, 2014– A new test using a prostate tumor's genetic characteristics and oxygen content taken from biopsy samples can predict which men are at high or low risk of their prostate cancer recurring with close to 80 percent accuracy. Researchers at Princess Margaret Cancer Center at the University of Toronto, unveiled the test today at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO33) meeting in Vienna. The test was developed from an analysis of DNA taken from the tumors of 126 surgically treated men who were considered to have an intermediate risk of recurrence. Using a genomic DNA analysis technique they looked for missing, extra or irregular sections of DNA in the tumor samples and followed the men for an average of 7.8 years. From the men who recurred they were able to identify a genetic "signature" that predicted recurrence. In another study, they tested the oxygen content of the tumors from men treated with radiation therapy. When they combined the two tests they found that men with high levels of genetic changes and low levels of oxygen had worse outcomes, with 49 percent surviving for five years without recurrence. The researchers say it will take a few more years of testing in larger groups to fully validate the test.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lung cancer vaccine a dry hole for GlaxoSmithKline 

REUTERS – April 2, 2014 – British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline announced that it has stopped its clinical trial of a immunotherapy vaccine for non-small cell lung cancer. The study comparing MAGE-A3 to standard therapy failed to show a significant benefit to people with the disease. The researchers are continuing to look for an effect of the drug on a subgroup of patients with a particular genetic make-up. The drug had previously failed to provide improvement in a clinical trial of melanoma patients.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New test may indicate bladder cancer recurrence

Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
(NMIBC) is the most common. (Fig.
courtesy of Wikipedia)
MEDICAL NEWS TODAY – Apr. 1, 2014 – A new test that measures a chemical that acts on DNA in many cell processes appears to be highly sensitive in detecting recurrence of the most common form of bladder cancer. Researchers at the University of Southern California, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles validated the test on 368 urine samples from 90 bladder cancer patients monitored over seven years. The report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research shows that the new test correctly predicted cancer recurrence 80 percent of the time, and correctly indicated no recurrence 74 percent of the time. Current methods of detecting recurrence in these patients are correct 35 percent of the time and rule out cancer accurately 15 percent of the time.