PET Scan Could Predict Response to Pre-Surgery Treatment with Chemo + Herceptin

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.


Comparison of Gemcitabine Combined with Targeted Agent Therapy Versus Gemcitabine Monotherapy in the Management of Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

“This systematic evaluation compared the efficacy and safety profiles of gemcitabine combined with targeted agents (GEM + TA) versus gemcitabine administered as monotherapy or combined with placebo (GEM ± PLC) in locally advanced/metastatic pancreatic cancer (LA/MPC) patients. Based on the results from this analysis, the addition of targeted agents to a regimen of gemcitabine treatment does not bring survival benefits except 1–year survival rate to patients with LA/MPC.”

The gist: Researchers analyzed data from ten different clinical trials that tested whether the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine worked better for pancreatic cancer patients when combined with targeted therapy drugs. (Targeted therapies are drugs developed to fight tumors that have specific genetic mutations, as detected by molecular testing.) Not many benefits were found for the combination treatments, except that patients who took gemcitabine combined with targeted therapy were more likely be alive one year later than patients who only took gemcitabine.


Nimotuzumab Plus Chemotherapy Versus Chemotherapy Alone in Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Multicenter, Randomized, Open-Label Phase II Study

“The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of nimotuzumab in combination with chemotherapy (docetaxel and carboplatin) versus chemotherapy alone in patients with stage IIIB/IV non–small–cell lung cancer. Nimotuzumab plus chemotherapy significantly improved the objective response rate as compared with chemotherapy alone. The combination was safe and well tolerated in patients with stage IIIB/IV non–small–cell lung cancer.”

Editor’s note: This article covers a new treatment that was tested in volunteer patients in a clinical trial. The treatment combines a new drug called nimotuzumab with the standard chemotherapy drugs docetaxel and carboplatin. The patients involved in the study all had stage IIIB or stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Some of them received the nimotuzumab + chemo treatment while, for comparison, some received chemotherapy alone. Patients who took the nimotuzumab treatment experienced more tumor shrinkage than the patients who took chemo alone.


Outcome of Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Comparison of Sporadic and BRCA1-Associated Cancers

“The authors compare the clinical outcome and sites of relapse of TNBC in BRCA1 mutation carriers and non–carriers who received adjuvant chemotherapy. Results suggest that BRCA1 mutation carriers with TNBC had similar survival rates and sites of recurrence to non–carriers after treatment with conventional chemotherapy.”

Editor’s note: This article describes a breast cancer study that compared patients with BRCA1 mutations to patients without BRCA1 mutations. It was found that, after conventional chemotherapy, BRCA1-positive patients with triple-negative breast cancer had similar survival rates and sites of recurrence to BRCA1-negative patients.