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.”


Two-Drug Combination Shows Promise Against One Type of Pancreatic Cancer

“One form of pancreatic cancer has a new enemy: a two-drug combination discovered by UF Health researchers that inhibits tumors and kills cancer cells in mouse models.

“For the first time, researchers have shown that a certain protein becomes overabundant in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, allowing them to thrive. They also found that pairing a  with an existing drug provides a more effective anticancer punch than a single drug. The findings were published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by a group that includes Rony A. François, an M.D./Ph.D. student working with Maria Zajac-Kaye, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of anatomy and cell biology.

“Finding new treatments is critical because less than 5 percent of patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors respond to everolimus, the most commonly used pharmaceutical, François said. Neuroendocrine tumors, which form in the hormone-making , account for 3 percent to 5 percent of pancreatic malignancies and have a five-year survival rate of about 42 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are increasingly common, which medical experts and researches have attributed to better diagnostic imaging, an aging population and heightened awareness of the disease stemming from the 2011 death of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs.”


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.”


NCI-MATCH to Assess Treatments Based on Genetic Abnormalities, Not Cancer Type

“The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group has opened the largest precision medicine cancer trial to date.

“The phase 2 National Cancer Institute-Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (NCI-MATCH) trial will evaluate the efficacy of targeted therapies in patients whose tumors share specific gene abnormalities. Treatment choice will be made based on these abnormalities rather than the site of origin of the malignancy.

“ ‘The primary underpinning of the trial comes from genetic characterization of various cancer types, which has become increasingly common place but is not yet routine,’ Keith T. Flaherty, MD, an oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, associate professor at Harvard Medical School andECOG-ACRIN chair of the NCI-MATCH trial, told HemOnc Today. ‘When looking at cancers as defined by their site of origin, there are threads of continuity across those cancer types. Within a cancer type, there also is heterogeneity, and understanding what this patchwork looks like was really the main motivator for setting up a trial like this.’ “


The Coming Third Wave of Precision Cancer Medicines

“Targeted treatments for cancer have been extending and saving lives for more than 15 years—precision medicine isn’t a new idea in oncology. Now drugs pioneered on select, specific cancers are, one by one, finding new applications.

“The first wave of targeted drug approvals were for cancers associated with specific mutations. Herceptin (traztuzumab) led the way, approved in 1998. It’s a monoclonal antibody deployed against the HER2/neu receptor that is overabundant in some aggressive and early-onset breast cancers. Robert Bazell’s excellent book Her 2 tells the tale.

“In 2001 came the blockbuster Gleevec (imatinib), a small molecule that intercepts signals to divide. Erin Zammett’s My So-Called Normal Life with Cancer relates that story. A very young editor at Glamour magazine when a routine check-up revealed chronic myelogenous leukemia, Erin’s recovery was one of the first of thousands thanks to this now famous drug.”


Scientists Turn to Aspirin to Turbo-Charge Cancer Immunotherapy

Editor’s note: This story describes a study performed in mice. More research is needed to determine whether the results also apply to humans.

“Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumors, experiments on mice suggest.

“Immunotherapy promises to revolutionize cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases.

“One reason is that cancer cells often produce large amounts of the molecule prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which turns down the immune system’s normal attack response to tumor cells, according to scientists at London’s new Francis Crick Institute.”


Precision Therapy and a New Kind of Disappointment

“She had come to see me as a second opinion; diagnosed with uterine serous cancer, one of the more aggressive types of uterine cancers. At surgery they found that it had metastasized to her nodes—stage III disease. The surgery was successful, though, and she had been treated with adjuvant chemotherapy with the hope it was curative. Two years later, she developed abdominal pain. A work-up showed that her CA-125 was elevated, which prompted a scan, and a diagnosis of hepatic metastases. Her doctors recommended repeat treatment with chemotherapy—carboplatin and paclitaxel. ‘It didn’t work the first time, so I am not sure doing it all over again makes sense.’ “


FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting from Chemotherapy

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Varubi (rolapitant) to prevent delayed phase chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (emesis). Varubi is approved in adults in combination with other drugs (antiemetic agents) that prevent nausea and vomiting associated with initial and repeat courses of vomit-inducing (emetogenic and highly emetogenic) cancer chemotherapy.

“Nausea and vomiting are common side effects experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Symptoms can persist for days after the chemotherapy drugs are administered. Nausea and vomiting that occurs from 24 hours to up to 120 hours after the start of chemotherapy is referred to as delayed phase nausea and vomiting, and it can result in serious health complications. Prolonged nausea and vomiting can lead to weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition in cancer patients leading to hospitalization.”