“More than 1,500 cancer care professionals are meeting in Orlando, Florida, March 21-23, for the NCCN 2019 Annual Conference, presented by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®)—an alliance of 28 leading cancer centers. The conference offers more than 25 sessions presenting the latest treatment recommendations for lung, breast, prostate, colon, and other cancers, including new and emerging therapies. Other key topics include coordination of care, pain management during an opioid crisis, biosimilars, cancer-associated distress, biomarkers, genetic testing, and appropriate transition to end-of-life care. The keynote session highlights the benefits and challenges of treatment with new and innovative therapies (e.g. CAR T-cell) from the perspective of the patient and the clinicians caring for them.”
“A new meta-analysis led by Dr. Joseph Unger of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has revealed that structural and clinical barriers prevent more than 3 out of 4 cancer patients from participating in clinical trials.
“The study is part of an ongoing effort to understand why patient participation is so low in cancer clinical trials. Unger, a health services researcher and biostatistician who focuses on disparities in cancer research, published his findings today in JNCI, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”
“An experimental drug has shown promise in extending the lives of women suffering from a particularly aggressive and deadly type of breast cancer, according to the results of a phase 2 trial.
“Right now, the standard treatment of chemotherapy for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer has not been very effective. That might change with the new drug, called sacituzumab govitecan, which combines an antibody with a chemotherapy drug to better target cancer cells.”
“In a new study by Yale Cancer Center, scientists suggest that as the number of clinical trials in cancer immunotherapy grows exponentially, some caution should be exercised as we continue to better understand the biology of these new therapeutic targets. The findings are published today in the journal Cell.
“Researchers around the world have been racing to create therapies that unleash the power of our immune systems against cancer. The most successful of these immunotherapies, which target a molecular pathway known as PD-1/PD-L1, have brightened the landscape for many people suffering with lung cancer and other types of tumors.”
“ASCO and Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) applaud the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) recent revision of its clinical trial protocol template to broaden eligibility criteria for cancer clinical trials. The protocol template was expanded to help increase the opportunity for participation in NCI-funded clinical trials for patients with certain health-care conditions, as well as to provide an opportunity for patients younger than age 18 to participate in adult clinical trials in certain circumstances.”
“The current guidelines for genetic testing of breast cancer patients limit the number of women who can get tested. Because of these restrictions, these tests miss as many patients with hereditary cancers as they find, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
” ‘Unfortunately, insurance companies pay attention to these guidelines,’ said Dr. Peter Beitsch, co-author of the study and a cancer surgeon practicing in Texas. Insurance companies and other payers reimburse genetic testing — or not — based on the guidelines.”
“Roche’s Kadcyla was significantly better than Herceptin at reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence in certain patients with residual disease after surgery, according to new study findings presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
“Data from the Phase III KATHERINE study show that Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) as a single agent significantly reduced the risk of disease recurrence or death by 50% compared to Herceptin (trastuzumab) as an adjuvant (after surgery) treatment in people with HER2-positive early breast cancer (eBC) who have residual disease following neoadjuvant therapy.”
Twenty years ago, no targeted treatments existed for breast cancers with high levels of a protein called HER2 (HER2-positive, or HER2+). The significance of HER2 in breast cancer had only been recognized in 1987, when excessive levels of the protein were identified in about 20% of breast cancers. Oncologists realized that high levels of HER2 mark a type of cancer with a poor prognosis, as compared to the predominant type of breast cancer: estrogen receptor-positive, HER2 negative (HER2-).
The possibility of targeting HER2 to treat cancer was fulfilled in 1998, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Herceptin (generic name trastuzumab), for treatment of metastatic HER2+ breast cancer. Made by Genentech, Herceptin is a type of drug known as a humanized antibody, meaning that it mimics an immune system attack on tumor cells, specifically those with high levels of HER2. Now, 20 years later, it is easier to appreciate the significance of this drug, which literally changed the lives of many HER2+ breast cancer patients, and continues to do so today. Continue reading…
“Cancer has an insidious talent for evading the natural defenses that should destroy it. What if we could find ways to help the immune system fight back?
“It has begun to happen. The growing field of immunotherapy is profoundly changing cancer treatment and has rescued many people with advanced malignancies that not long ago would have been a death sentence.”