Patient’s Perspective: The Importance of Clinical Trials


Update:  We are deeply saddened to report that Neil passed away on July 29, 2015. It is a privilege to share his story and keep his memory alive.

Neil Schiffman has lived as healthy a life as one can live. An avid cycler and triathlon participant well into his 60s, Neil was visiting Arizona in April 2011 when he began to cough. The cough mimicked the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, so at first he thought nothing of it. When the cough failed to disappear, he visited his pulmonologist, who suspected bacterial pneumonia. Meanwhile, Neil’s legs and feet began to swell–he went from wearing a size 10 shoe to a size 14. Alarmed, he had an X-ray and a CT scan, which revealed a mass identified as a neoplasm. He was referred to an oncologist, who delivered the bad news in June: Neil had stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Continue reading…


From GRACE: New FDA Indication for First Line Tarceva in EGFR Mutation-Positive NSCLC May Be Good for Roche but BAD for Patients: Here’s Why


This week, we borrow a post from the excellent website of the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE). GRACE founder and president Dr. Jack West is an oncologist who treats people with lung cancer. To see the original post, and to explore the many other resources offered by GRACE, click here.

New FDA Indication for First Line Tarceva in EGFR Mutation-Positive NSCLC May Be Good for Roche but BAD for Patients: Here’s Why

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Smart Patients: Groundbreaking Website Supports Conversations among Cancer Patients


Cancer Commons is thrilled to report the public launch of Smart Patients, a new online discussion platform for cancer patients and their caregivers that will enable them to learn from each other and improve their care. The free website lets users share insights about personal treatment experiences, discuss breaking science, and search for clinical trials.

“Many patients are incredibly self-motivated,” says Roni Zeiger, MD, Smart Patients cofounder and former chief health strategist at Google. “They are already finding the most cutting-edge science and we are providing them with a new way to discuss and disseminate this knowledge.” Continue reading…


Tracking Resistance to Cancer Therapies Without Tumor Access


Clinicians would like to be able to monitor whether a cancer patient’s tumor has acquired a resistance mutation as a result of targeted therapy. Knowing early if resistance has developed would allow patients to switch therapies and to curb tumor growth. But taking repeated tumor samples is problematic for many reasons. Biopsies are invasive and some tumors are inaccessible. Another issue is that tumors are mosaics of many different types of cells that are constantly evolving—since biopsies take time in the clinic and only sample a small part of a tumor, they may also not be representative of what is going on with the biology of the entire tumor mass. Continue reading…


Medical Societies Recommend Testing for Lung Cancer Biomarkers


New guidelines recommend lung cancer patients be genetically tested to determine whether they are amenable to a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Patients with EGFR or ALK mutations could benefit more from such targeted therapies, and suffer fewer side effects, than with chemotherapy. Continue reading…


Hsp90 Inhibitor Ganetespib Overcomes Resistance and Packs a Punch against ALK+ Tumors


A new drug has shown promising efficacy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene mutation. Ganetespib overcame acquired resistance to the drug crizotinib and showed strong antitumor activity in mice. Ganetespib works by inhibiting a “chaperone” protein called Hsp90 and thus targets multiple cancer signaling pathways for a more complete and lasting effect. Continue reading…


From GRACE: Molecular Markers: The More You Seek, the More You Find


This week, we borrow a post from the excellent website of the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE). GRACE founder and president Dr. Jack West is an oncologist who treats people with lung cancer. In the video below, he discusses his evolving views on molecular testing. To see the original post, and to explore the many other resources offered by GRACE, click here.

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Inhibition of Myc Protein Zaps Lung Tumors


Turning off a key protein eliminates lung tumors in mice, at least during treatment, according to new research published in the journal Genes & Development. Inhibition of Myc, a protein essential for lung tumors driven by a mutation in the KRas gene, resulted in regression of all tumors. Repeated treatments were found to be safe and effective. Continue reading…


Video: Cancer Survivor Sharon Anderson on the Importance of Patient-Donated Data


In 2002, Sharon Anderson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma (LMS). She joined an online discussion group to explore treatment options with other LMS patients, and tried a drug typically used for breast cancer. Her treatment was successful. In the video above, she tells us how she helped fellow LMS patients gather data about their own tumors and share it with a researcher. The resulting cancer vaccine is now in a phase I clinical trial. Continue reading…