Many Women With Breast Cancer May Not Need Chemo, but Beware Misleading Headlines

Excerpt:

Findings from a major international clinical trial suggest a significant number of women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy after surgery.

“The results of the so-called TAILORx trial were presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and concurrently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

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Six Tips to Spot Cancer ‘Fake News’

Excerpt:

Cancer is a popular topic for the media, as people care and worry about it in equal measure.

“News reports help people find out what researchers are working on, and how charitable donations are being spent. They also helps generate interest in the amazing science going on. But perhaps most of all, health stories and clinical trial results have a direct impact on people, raising interest in the latest discoveries further.

“And when it comes to , the emotion that’s tied to the subject means that scientific results must be discussed in a measured and accurate way. And most of the time that’s exactly what happens.”

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Circulating Tumor Cells and Benefit of Adjuvant Radiotherapy in Early Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“In a study reported in JAMA Oncology, Goodman et al found that adjuvant radiotherapy was associated with better outcome in patients with early breast cancer who had detectable circulating tumor cells (CTCs).

“The analysis included data from patients with stage pT1 to pT2 and pN0 to pN1 breast cancer and known CTC status from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) from January 2004 to December 2014 and the phase III SUCCESS trial from September 2005 to September 2013.”

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Multigene Testing Replacing BRCA Tests for Breast Cancer Risk

Excerpt:

“The use of genetic tests aimed at detecting the presence of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in women with breast cancer is rapidly declining in favor of tests that can detect multiple cancer-associated mutations, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and five other U.S. medical centers.

“Some researchers had wondered whether multigene testing, which may identify genetic mutations of uncertain clinical significance, would lead more women to consider prophylactic mastectomies — a surgery in which both breasts are removed to prevent future cancers — out of an abundance of caution. However, the current study did not show an increase in mastectomies associated with testing more genes.”

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Olaparib in Breast Cancer: PFS Is Significant but OS Is Not

Excerpt:

“A few months ago, olaparib (Lynparza, AstraZeneca) was the first drug approved to treat women with advanced breast cancer with germline mutations in BRCA.

“That approval was based on a significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) compared with standard chemotherapy shown in the OlympiAD trial. The results led to quite some excitement among breast cancer researchers, as for example in the Medscape Oncology commentary ‘OlympiAD: Olaparib Captures Gold for BRCA-Mutated Breast Cancer Patients.’

“Now, however, a final analysis of OlympiAD results shows that overall survival (OS) did not significantly improve.”

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First Trial of Three Aromatase Inhibitors: Similar Efficacy, Safety

Excerpt:

“The first-ever direct comparison of three adjuvant aromatase inhibitors for the treatment of postmenopausal hormone receptor–positive early breast cancer shows no significant differences in clinical efficacy or safety, according to an Italian research team.

“In the randomized, open-label phase 3 FATA-GIM3 trial of almost 3700 women, the 5-year disease-free survival for patients treated with anastrozole (Arimidex, Novartis), exemestane (Aromasin, Pfizer), or letrozole (Femara, Novartis) was 90.0%, 88.0% and 89.4%, respectively.”

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Breast Cancer Therapy: All Clear for the Heart

Excerpt:

“Many breast cancer therapies cause damage to the heart. However, in the largest study of its kind so far, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg have now shown that the risk of death from heart disease in breast cancer patients following radiotherapy or chemotherapy is no higher than it is among the average population. Good risk management in the hospitals as well as control screenings at short intervals seem to make up for elevated risks.”

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Massive Bio Aims to Improve Clinical Trial Enrollment Rates With Oncology Registry, Matching Tool

Excerpt:

“Healthcare informatics firm Massive Bio has enrolled its first patient in a global registry it launched as part of a new clinical trial matching system that seeks to connect patients to appropriate biomarker-based clinical trials using information such as clinical history and genomic testing results.

“Previously, Massive Bio offered its clinical trial matching capability as part of a broader oncology clinical decision support system through which it provides treatment guidance and expert recommendations primarily to oncologists working in community practices. By separating the clinical trial matching component, the company hopes to broaden its market reach, said Massive Bio CEO and Cofounder Selin Kurnaz. The company also hopes the new tool will appeal to contract research organizations, molecular diagnostics companies, and patients themselves.”

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Why Can’t Dying Patients Get the Drugs They Want?

Excerpt:

“At first glance, a bill passed by the House of Representatives this week seems like the kind of thing anyone could get behind.

“Known as the “Right to Try” legislation, it would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.

“But the bill and a similar one passed last summer by the Senate do little to address the main barrier that patients face in getting unapproved treatments: permission from the drug companies themselves.”

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