Video: Dr. Barbara Burtness on the Psychology of Talking to Patients About Enrolling in Clinical Trials

“Barbara Burtness, MD, professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology), Clinical Research Program Leader, Head and Neck Cancers Program, co-director, Developmental Therapeutics Research Program, Yale Cancer Center, discusses the psychology of talking to patients about being involved in a clinical trial.

“Burtness says on average, medical professionals should take about 4 minutes or longer to properly explain the clinical trial to their patients, as well as leave ample time for questions at the end of the conversation. She adds that patients should understand what the differences are between conventional therapies and investigational therapies are.”

Click through to watch the video.


Case for Testing Cancer in Blood Builds, One Study at a Time

“Two new studies published on Wednesday of patients with breast and prostate cancers add to growing evidence that detecting bits of cancer DNA circulating in the blood can guide patient treatment.

“Enthusiasm is building for ‘liquid biopsies,’ which offer a non-invasive alternative to standard tissue biopsies and are expected to be a multibillion-dollar market.

“But a key question remains: Do they really work?

“The stakes are high. At least 38 companies are working on liquid biopsies for cancer, according to analysts at investment bank PiperJaffray, who think the U.S. market alone could eventually reach $29 billion a year.”


ASCO Updates Guidelines for Antiemetics During Chemo

“For patients receiving chemotherapy, the use of the oral combination of netupitant (a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist) and palonosetron (a 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 receptor antagonist) is beneficial for prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting, according to a focused guideline update published online Nov. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Paul J. Hesketh, M.D., from the Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., and colleagues conducted a targeted systematic literature review to update guidelines on use of the oral combination of netupitant and palonosetron for prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting among patients receiving chemotherapy.”


Healthy People Can Now Order a $299 'Liquid Biopsy' Blood Test for Cancer. Should You Get It?

“The way we find cancer in our bodies today is often messy, imprecise and even potentially dangerous. It often involves taking sometimes fuzzy, unreadable images with CTs, MRIs and X-ray machines and cutting open our bodies to harvest bits of tissue for further analysis.

“Most of us never think to undergo such testing until it’s too late, and the cancer has already well on its way to killing us.

“A California-based company called Pathway Genomics is aiming to shake up this way of thinking about cancer detection. In September, Pathway announced that it would be offering an ‘early warning’ test that it says can detect snippets of abnormal DNA — for a whole group of major cancers, including breast, ovarian, lung, thyroid and prostate — in otherwise healthy people from a single vial of blood.”


OK for Flu Shot With Nivolumab, Other Checkpoint Inhibitors?

“The cancer treatment strategy of immune checkpoint blockade has produced unprecedented results in melanoma and lung cancer, as well as in experimental settings with other tumor types, including renal cell carcinoma and mesothelioma.

“Clinicians are not alone in taking notice, according to Niesha Griffith, MS, RPh, a pharmacist at the James Cancer Hospital of The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Multiple patients at her center have requested these drugs for off-label use, and offered to pay upfront and out-of-pocket for the expensive therapies, she said. Such offers were rare before the advent of cancer immunotherapy, but now occur regularly.”


Popular Antioxidant Seems to Spread Skin Cancer Cells in Mouse Research

“A man-made antioxidant appears to accelerate the spread of skin cancer in mice, raising questions about its safety in humans, researchers say.

“The antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, is used to relieve mucus production in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), said study senior author Martin Bergo, a professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“It also is used as a supplement by people who believe that the antioxidant can help reduce exercise-related muscle damage, burn fat and prevent fatigue, Bergo added.

“But water laced with N-acetylcysteine appeared to speed up the spread of melanoma, the potentially deadly skin cancer, in lab mice, researchers found.”


Short-Course Palliative RT Cuts Cancer Pain

“Short-course palliative radiotherapy provided pain relief equivalent to that of conventional protocols, and allowed patients with advanced cancer to spend more time at home, investigators reported.

“Half as many patients underwent more than five treatment sessions and hospital length of stay decreased by 50% following implementation of a palliative radiation oncology service. At the same time, significantly more patients completed the planned course of radiotherapy, which resulted in a trend toward better pain relief.”


APF530 Could Improve Nausea Control in Cancer Patients

“A phase III study showed that APF530, a delayed release formulation of granisetron, could improve control of emesis in cancer patients receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy (HEC). The results were presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco (abstract 68).

“Ian D. Schnadig, MD, of Compass Oncology in Portland, Oregon, presented the study, and said that with regards to supportive care, ‘we still have a ways to go to move the ball down the field in this important domain of cancer care.’ Specifically, managing delayed-phase chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is an unmet medical need, he said.

“The MAGIC trial was a phase III, prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-dummy, double-blind trial including 942 patients receiving an HEC regimen. In one arm, patients received ondansetron and a placebo injection; in the other, they received an ondansetron placebo and a APF530 injection. Both groups received fosaprepitant and dexamethasone. The most common chemotherapy regimens were doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide-based and cisplatin-based.”


New Agent Targeting Epigenetic Modifications Shows Activity in Advanced Cancer

“In a dose-escalation phase I study reported in The Lancet Oncology, Reid et al found that RRx-001, a representative of a new class of compounds called dinitroazetidines (sourced from the aerospace industry) that act on the tumor microenvironment, had activity in advanced cancers and a promising safety profile. RRx-001 is activated by hypoxia and induces generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that can epigenetically modulate DNA methylation, histone deacetylation, and lysine demethylation.

“In the study, 25 patients with advanced, malignant, incurable solid tumors from the University of California, San Diego, and Sarah Cannon Research Institute received intravenous infusions of RRx-001 at increasing doses of 10 mg/m², 16.7 mg/m², 24.6 mg/m², 33 mg/m², 55 mg/m², and 83 mg/m² once or twice weekly for ≥ 4 weeks.”