The gist: A recent clinical trial found that positron emission tomography (PET) scans could be used to predict how well a patient will respond to neoadjuvant (pre-surgery) treatment with chemotherapy and trastuzumab (Herceptin). Doctors might recommend a change in treatment to a patient whose PET scans show that current treatment isn’t working. In the study, researchers treated women with early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer. Based on PET scans, the researchers were able to predict which patients would still have signs of an invasive tumor after treatment. They also found that adding the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) to the treatment plan could improve responses for some of these patients.
Editor’s note: This article describes the results of a clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients. The goal of the trial was to compare two different treatment approaches for non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with mutations in the EGFR gene. One treatment combined the drugs erlotinib and bevacizumab, and the other treatment was simply erlotinib alone. Based on the results, the researchers say that erlotinib plus bevacizumab could be a new standard treatment for people with NSCLC with EGFR mutations.
“The authors aimed to compare the efficacy and safety of the combination of erlotinib and bevacizumab compared with erlotinib alone in patients with non–squamous NSCLC with activating EGFR mutation–positive disease. Erlotinib plus bevacizumab combination could be a new first–line regimen in EGFR mutation–positive NSCLC. Further investigation of the regimen is warranted.”
“Because of its rapid growth rate, many women with triple-negative breast cancer receive chemotherapy to try to shrink it before undergoing surgery. With the standard treatment, the cancer is eliminated from the breast and lymph nodes in the armpit before surgery in about one third of women. This is referred to as a pathologic complete response (pCR). In patients who achieve pCR, the cancer is much less likely to come back, spread to other parts of the body, and cause the patient’s death than if the cancer survives the chemotherapy.
“Sikov and his collaborators studied the addition of other drugs – carboplatin and/or bevacizumab – to the standard treatment regimen to see if they could increase response rates. More than 440 women from cancer centers across the country enrolled in this randomized clinical trial.
” ‘Adding either of these medications significantly increased the percentage of women who achieved a pCR with the preoperative treatment. We hope that this means fewer women will relapse and die of their cancer, though the study is not large enough to prove this conclusively. Of the two agents we studied, we are more encouraged by the results from the addition of carboplatin, since it was associated with fewer and less concerning additional side effects than bevacizumab,’ Sikov explains.”
Editor’s note: This article describes the results of a clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients.
“A new blood test allowing doctors to predict which ovarian cancer patients will respond to particular types of treatment is a step closer following a new study by Manchester scientists.
“Researchers from The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust – both part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre – say the test could be developed and used in hospitals within the next few years.
“It would mean medics could see which patients could benefit from blood vessel-targeting drugs – such as bevacizumab – in addition to conventional therapy. Meanwhilehile others who are not going to benefit would be spared the time and side effects associated with having the drug. The test would also help to reduce the cost to the NHS.”
Editor’s note: This article describes the results of a clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients. The goal of the trial was to test a new treatment for women with advanced, recurrent cervical cancer. The treatment combines the drugs pemetrexed and cisplatin. The results were promising: the new treatment appeared to be safe and effective. More research needs to be done to determine just how effective it is. Also, scientists are interested in testing whether it is even more effective when combined with the targeted drug bevacizumab (Avastin).
“The combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin appeared safe and effective in women with advanced, persistent or recurrent carcinoma of the cervix, according to results of a phase 2 trial.
“ ‘This combination should be further developed in the treatment of cervical cancer,’ David Scott Miller, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and colleagues wrote. ‘Given that it may be less toxic than and as active as cisplatin plus paclitaxel, and that it can be combined with bevacizumab (Avastin, Genentech), comparison of cisplatin–pemetrexed plus bevacizumab with cisplatin–paclitaxel plus bevacizumab would be appropriate.’ ”