In the News

The antibody-guided drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) as initial therapy prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) for patients with HER2+ metastatic breast cancer compared with docetaxel plus trastuzumab, according to trial results reported at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference.

The conjugate delivers trastuzumab directly to tumor cells by attaching the drug to DM1 using a stable linker. This limits the drug’s exposure to normal cells, thus producing fewer side effects than the drug delivers through traditional means.

For women with advanced breast cancer resistant to hormonal therapy, combining everolimus and exemestane improves progression-free survival (PFS) by nearly 7 months compared with exemestane alone, according to phase 3 trial results reported at the European Multi - disciplinary Cancer Conference. The Breast Cancer Trials of Oral Everolimus (BOLERO) randomized 724 patients in 24 countries who had been treated previously with letrozole or anastrozole. Previous therapy also included tamoxifen, fulvestrant, and chemotherapy.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening has not been shown to reduce prostate cancer–specific mortality, but is associated with harms related to subsequent evaluation and treatments, some of which may be unnecessary, according to a new analysis of the evidence by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Each year, a significant number of adolescents and young adults (AYAs), aged 15 to 39 years, are faced with a cancer diagnosis. And yet, there has been a lack in progress when it comes to treating this age-group. To better understand the facts and figures associated with these patients, let’s take a closer look at AYA oncology by the numbers. Over the past 30 years, cancer incidence in young adults has increased more than any other age-group…

Lapatinib as adjuvant monotherapy in early HER2-positive breast cancer produced poorer outcomes than trastuzumab in a head-to-head trial, according to the trial’s sponsor. “Consequent to this finding, patients assigned to the lapatinib alone arm of the trial will discontinue lapatinib and discuss treatment options with their study physician,” according to a statement released by GlaxoSmithKline. The 3 other arms of the Adjuvant Lapatinib and/or Trastuzumab Treatment Opt - imization (ALTTO) trial will continue uninterrupted.

With the high survival rate of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), there is interest in extending pediatric regimens to adult populations with the disease. Choosing the right therapy for the right patient, however, remains challenging, according to Daniel J. DeAngelo, MD, at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) 6th Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies.

For patients with non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), concurrent delivery of once-daily chemotherapy and thoracic radiotherapy produced significantly higher 5-year survival in a phase 3 trial (Curran WJ Jr, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. September 8, 2011. Epub ahead of print).

After neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy, more BRCA1 carriers achieve a pathologic complete response (pCR) than BRCA2 carriers and than noncarriers, according to a study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (ArunB, et al. September 6, 2011). In addition, the association between gene mutation status and pCR remained, regardless of baseline clinical and tumoral predictive factors or choice of chemotherapy. No statistical difference was found in overall survival rates, however.

Two doses, possibly even 1 dose, of the HPV16/18 vaccine may provide protection equal to the standard 3-dose schedule against persistent HPV16/18 infections, according to an analysis of data taken from women who missed 1 or more prescribed doses in a vaccine trial (Kreimer AR, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. September 9, 2011. Epub ahead of print).

At 4 years postvaccination, vaccine efficacy (prevention of incident HPV16 and HPV18 infections that persist for at least 1 year) was found to be 80.9% for 3 doses, 84.1% for 2 doses, and 100% for 1 dose.

Increased awareness, earlier detection through screening, and advances in treatment have led to a decline in breast cancer death rates in the United States since 1990. Sadly, breast cancer continues to claim more women’s lives than any other cancer, besides lung cancer. For more statistical data on this prevalent disease, let’s take a look at breast cancer by the numbers.

About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

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