ASCO Calls for Cancer Trials to Include More Seniors

“In a position statement published online July 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has called on the U.S. government and the cancer research community to broaden clinical trials to include older adults.

” ‘Older people living with cancer often have different experiences and outcomes in their treatment than younger cancer patients,’ Julie Vose, M.D., M.B.A., society president, said in a news release from the group. ‘As we age, for example, the risk of adverse reactions from treatment significantly increases. Older adults must be involved in clinical trials so we can learn the best way to treat older cancer patients, resulting in improved outcomes and manageable toxicity,’ she explained.

“More than 60 percent of cancers in the United States occur in people aged 65 and older, the statement authors say, noting the number of seniors will increase in coming years. However, there is a lack of evidence about cancer treatments for the elderly because too few are included in clinical trials, and clinical trials designed specifically for seniors are rare.”


ASCO Policy Statement Urges Removal of Barriers to Patient Participation in Phase I Clinical Trials

“The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today called for greater access to and education about phase I clinical trials, the first-in-human studies of new agents designed to fight cancer.

“In a just-released policy statement, the Society stresses the critical importance of phase I clinical trials in cancer research and treatment, emphasizing that this research offers greater potential as a treatment option for many patients than was the case in the past, due to development of molecularly targeted agents, biomarker tests to identify patients likely to respond to treatments and innovative clinical trial designs.

“ ‘The Critical Role of Phase I Trials in Cancer Research and Treatment’ ASCO policy statement, which updates a 1997 version, was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“ ‘With new agents that target specific abnormalities in a patient’s tumor, better tests to identify those abnormalities and more sophisticated clinical trial designs, today’s phase I trials in cancer offer patients a greater likelihood of benefit than ever before,’ said ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO. ‘Patients shouldn’t shy away from phase I trials and doctors should present these trials as options for eligible patients throughout the period of active cancer treatment, not only when all other treatment options have failed.’ ”

Note: Learn more about clinical trials, and explore our Clinical Trial Finders for lung cancer and melanoma.


Geography May Limit Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

“Where advanced cancer patients live affects the likelihood that they can enroll in a treatment clinical trial, a new study found.

“Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. cancer patients participate in clinical trials, the authors note.

“ ‘Clinical trials are the basis for the vast majority of advances in cancer care, so, the only way to move the field forward is for patients to participate in clinical trials,’ said lead author Dr. Matthew D. Galsky of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

“ ‘In addition, participation in clinical trials may offer patients access to a novel treatment, that ultimately goes on to markedly change the outlook for patients with the disease, but is not otherwise available outside of the context of a trial,’ Galsky told Reuters Health by email.

“Some data has suggested that patients who participate in clinical trials may have better outcomes regardless of the treatment they receive, which could be due to the very close follow-up, and strict guidelines, for management of patients enrolled in trials, he said.”


Immune System-Boosting Treatments Show Long-Sought Successes for Lung Cancer Patients


In the past 2 years, cancer treatments known as immune therapies have become all the rage. However, they have actually been explored for decades, particularly in melanoma, and have produced some notable successes. Now, immune therapies are showing more and more promise for lung cancer. Continue reading…