Immunotherapy, BRAF Inhibitor Sequence Affected Outcomes in Metastatic Melanoma

“Prior treatment with immunotherapy did not limit response to BRAF inhibitors among patients with metastatic melanoma, according to results of a retrospective study.

“However, patients who underwent initial treatment with BRAF inhibitors and subsequently received immunotherapy with ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb) demonstrated poorer outcomes, results showed.

“Patients with BRAF-positive metastatic melanoma have several treatment options, including BRAF inhibitors vemurafenib (Zelboraf, Hoffmann-La Roche) and dabrafenib  (Taflinar, GlaxoSmithKline), the MEK inhibitor trametinib (Mekinist, GlaxoSmithKline), and the immunotherapy agents ipilimumab and interleukin-2. Yet, there are limited data with regard to optimal sequencing, according to researchers.”


Lung Cancer Scans Can Also Warn of Heart Disease Risk

Computed tomography (CT) scans are used to screen for possible lung cancer, but they can also be used to assess patients’ risk of heart disease, recent evidence shows. Doctors can use images of a patient’s chest region to look for calcium deposits in the blood vessels that supply the heart. Heavier deposits are associated with greater heart disease risk. A study of over 1,500 people who had undergone lung cancer screening found that a simple visual inspection of their CT scan images for calcium deposits was as successful in identifying their relative heart disease risk as the current ‘gold standard’ heart disease risk analysis. These findings are particularly relevant because people at high risk of lung cancer (ie, older people with a history of heavy smoking) are also more likely to have heart disease.


Performing Lung Cancer Tests Out of Sequence Can Harm Patients

In patients with suspected localized lung cancer, clinical guidelines recommend sampling of the so-called mediastinal lymph nodes (lymph nodes located between the lungs) as the first invasive test. This procedure can often diagnose lung cancer and determine the cancer stage (how advanced the cancer is) at the same time; in around two-thirds of cases, it is sufficient to guide treatment decisions without any additional invasive tests. However, a recent study of 137 patients showed that doctors only followed the recommended sequence in 22% of cases. In all other cases, other invasive tests, such as needle biopsies of the lung masses or bronchoscopies (visual inspection of the airways), were performed first. As a result, these patients underwent more procedures overall and had a higher rate of complications.


Glucophage Linked to Improved Survival for Cancer Patients with Diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of several cancers. However, patients taking the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage) have a lower risk of developing some kinds of cancer. Now, a review of several studies suggests that Glucophage also improves survival rates for patients who already have cancer. Patients with cancer and diabetes who took Glucophage had a lower risk of death overall, and of dying of cancer specifically, compared to patients receiving other diabetes medications. It is not certain that Glucophage indeed caused the survival benefit. Separate, independent factors could make patients both more likely to be prescribed Glucophage and to have better survival. However, because there is at least a strong possibility of a benefit, the review authors recommend Glucophage as the drug of choice for diabetes patients with cancer.


Glucophage Linked to Improved Survival for Cancer Patients with Diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of several cancers. However, patients taking the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage) have a lower risk of developing some kinds of cancer. Now, a review of several studies suggests that Glucophage also improves survival rates for patients who already have cancer. Patients with cancer and diabetes who took Glucophage had a lower risk of death overall, and of dying of cancer specifically, compared to patients receiving other diabetes medications. It is not certain that Glucophage indeed caused the survival benefit. Separate, independent factors could make patients both more likely to be prescribed Glucophage and to have better survival. However, because there is at least a strong possibility of a benefit, the review authors recommend Glucophage as the drug of choice for diabetes patients with cancer.


Glucophage Linked to Improved Survival for Cancer Patients with Diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of several cancers. However, patients taking the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage) have a lower risk of developing some kinds of cancer. Now, a review of several studies suggests that Glucophage also improves survival rates for patients who already have cancer. Patients with cancer and diabetes who took Glucophage had a lower risk of death overall, and of dying of cancer specifically, compared to patients receiving other diabetes medications. It is not certain that Glucophage indeed caused the survival benefit. Separate, independent factors could make patients both more likely to be prescribed Glucophage and to have better survival. However, because there is at least a strong possibility of a benefit, the review authors recommend Glucophage as the drug of choice for diabetes patients with cancer.


Previously Neglected Lymph Nodes are Significant in Mesothelioma

To assess cancer stage, that is, how far advanced a cancer is, doctors routinely examine lymph nodes. However, a subset of lymph nodes located between the ribs near the spine, the so-called posterior intercostal lymph nodes, are not usually assessed in cancer staging. In a retrospective study of patients who had undergone surgery for mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure), researchers found that the cancer had spread to the posterior intercostal lymph nodes in over half of these patients. Patients who had no evidence of cancer in the posterior intercostal lymph nodes lived nearly 2.5 years longer, on average, than those who had. The posterior intercostal lymph nodes appear to be highly significant and should be biopsied routinely in mesothelioma patients.


Diabetes Drug Glucophage May Make Radiation Therapy More Effective

Past studies have suggested that the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage) may make lung cancer tumors more susceptible to radiation and therefore, make radiation therapy more effective. Researchers therefore analyzed the medical records of patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had been treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Sixteen of these patients had been taking Glucophage at the time. All of the Glucophage-treated patients are still alive and the cancer has returned in only two so far (an average of 10.4 months after the treatment)–better outcomes than what was seen in the patients who were not on Glucophage. Glucophage also made tumors more sensitive to radiation treatment in a mouse model of lung cancer.


Chemotherapy Associated with Longer Survival in Elderly Patients with SCLC

Although it is generally accepted that chemotherapy can benefit patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the value of chemotherapy in elderly patients compared to other treatment options is less well-known. A retrospective study analyzing over 10,000 medical records of SCLC patients aged 65 years or older found that those who had received chemotherapy survived on average 6.5 months longer. However, only around two-thirds of elderly patients had been treated with chemotherapy. Older patients were less likely to be given chemotherapy, even though the survival benefits of chemotherapy were seen even in patients over the age of 80 years. Other treatments, such as radiation or surgery, were also linked to longer survival.