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.”


Reflections on Effect of Stand Up To Cancer

Editor’s note: You may have heard of the charitable program Stand Up to Cancer, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to support cancer research. This article discusses the effects of the program.

“The week before Stand Up To Cancer‘s (SU2C) fourth-biennial live 1-hour commercial-free prime time roadblock telecast on Sept. 5, Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, shared his views about the efficacy of this mass media approach to educating the public about cancer and cancer research.

“Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, has chaired Stand Up’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) since it was founded in 2008, by the not-for-profit Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), the film and television industry’s 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm.

“With telecasts in September 2008, 2010, and 2012, the television specials have so far raised more than $261 million for innovative cancer research programs including 12 scientific ‘dream teams,’ two translational research teams, and 26 young scientists involved in ‘high-risk, potentially high-reward projects’ that might not have been funded through traditional funding mechanisms.”


Patient Group Releases Cancer Innovation ‘Blueprint’

“The National Patient Advocate Foundation has released what it calls a ‘blueprint to accelerate the delivery of promising new treatments’ through a grassroots effort called Project Innovation.

“The group issued a report after consulting with biomedical researchers, patient advocates, medical developers, clinicians and policymakers to identify obstacles which may slow the pace of innovation in cancer research and the implementation of new treatments. The report outlines ‘logistical, bureaucratic, institutional and regulatory obstacles’ and ‘inefficiencies’ in clinical trials along with other factors that impede discover [sic] and the development of new drugs.

“ ‘This report represents a wakeup call for all Americans and is intended to spark a national movement to make cancer innovation a national priority,’ Nancy Davenport-Ennis, NPAF’s founder and chairman, said in a press release. ‘Cancer kills 1,600 Americans every day and this number will only increase in the years ahead unless we commit as a nation to hasten the pace of medical discovery. It is time to put cancer innovation on the national agenda and press for solutions that will save lives instead of continuing a one-sided conversation on the cost of treatment.’ ”


Adjuvant Ipilimumab Improved RFS in High-Risk, Stage III Melanoma

“Adjuvant ipilimumab significantly improved RFS compared with placebo among patients with resected stage III melanoma who were at high risk for recurrence, according to the final analysis of a phase 3 study presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

“ ‘Although there are approved adjuvant therapies, they are still to be improved, and this is clearly an unmet need,’ researcher Alexander Eggermont, MD, PhD, director general of the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus Grand Paris in France, said during a press conference. ‘Ipilimumab is the first drug approved for metastatic melanoma, based on a proven impact on OS. This is the first trial ever with a drug that had an improvement in OS in metastatic melanoma.’ “

Editor’s note: Patients with advanced melanoma who have their tumors removed by surgery (“resected”) can be at high risk for recurrence of their cancer. In a clinical trial with volunteer patients, researchers are testing an “adjuvant” treatment meant to prevent recurrence. All patients had resected stage III melanoma. It was found that patients who took the drug ipilimumab (Yervoy) after resection had a significantly greater amount of time pass before recurrence than patients who took a placebo. Further follow-up of the patients will reveal effects on overall survival.


Cancer Patients Face Treatment Disruptions Come June; Immediate and Severe Funding Cuts May Curtail Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

“The nation’s cancer clinical trial network, which provides care to thousands of patients across the United States, may have no choice but to abandon life-saving and life-extending research studies, including support for patients participating in those studies, due to crippling proposed budget cuts. For decades, federally-supported clinical trials have produced critical advances in the fight against cancer, representing one of the greatest returns on research investment anywhere. But this progress could soon grind to a halt due to far-reaching—and largely unnoticed—budgeting decisions that are happening in plain sight.”

Editor’s note: Clinical trials are not only important for testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs; they also provide an avenue for patients who cannot benefit from standard treatment options to access new, cutting-edge treatments that could help them. In fact, our founder’s life was saved by his involvement in a clinical trial.


Cancer Patients Face Treatment Disruptions Come June; Immediate and Severe Funding Cuts May Curtail Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

“The nation’s cancer clinical trial network, which provides care to thousands of patients across the United States, may have no choice but to abandon life-saving and life-extending research studies, including support for patients participating in those studies, due to crippling proposed budget cuts. For decades, federally-supported clinical trials have produced critical advances in the fight against cancer, representing one of the greatest returns on research investment anywhere. But this progress could soon grind to a halt due to far-reaching—and largely unnoticed—budgeting decisions that are happening in plain sight.”

Editor’s note: Clinical trials are not only important for testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs; they also provide an avenue for patients who cannot benefit from standard treatment options to access new, cutting-edge treatments that could help them. In fact, our founder’s life was saved by his involvement in a clinical trial.


Cancer Patients Face Treatment Disruptions Come June; Immediate and Severe Funding Cuts May Curtail Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

“The nation’s cancer clinical trial network, which provides care to thousands of patients across the United States, may have no choice but to abandon life-saving and life-extending research studies, including support for patients participating in those studies, due to crippling proposed budget cuts. For decades, federally-supported clinical trials have produced critical advances in the fight against cancer, representing one of the greatest returns on research investment anywhere. But this progress could soon grind to a halt due to far-reaching—and largely unnoticed—budgeting decisions that are happening in plain sight.”

Editor’s note: Clinical trials are not only important for testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs; they also provide an avenue for patients who cannot benefit from standard treatment options to access new, cutting-edge treatments that could help them. In fact, our founder’s life was saved by his involvement in a clinical trial.

April 16, 2014 update: The NCI has released a letter to allay concerns about clinical trial funding come June. From the letter: “As in the past, full funding for all research activities required to carry out approved studies will be provided.” Read the full letter here.


Powerful Patients: Highlights and Takeaways from the 2014 Personalized Medicine World Conference

Every year, scientists, doctors, and representatives from pharmaceutical, diagnostics, and technology companies gather in Silicon Valley to talk shop at the Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC). For 2 days, they discuss the triumphs and challenges of diagnosing and treating diseases based on patients’ distinct genetic characteristics.

This year, the PMWC status quo was interrupted by a not-so-unlikely guest: the patient. Cancer Commons joined the event’s organizers to cohost a series of informative presentations for patients and advocates, delivered by doctors and researchers, as well as patients and advocates themselves. Continue reading…