AstraZeneca Drug Combination on Track to Fight Lung Cancer

“A closely watched immune system-boosting drug cocktail from Britain’s AstraZeneca shows promise in advanced lung cancer, despite adverse side effects in a number of patients.

“Researchers said on Wednesday that the combination of the experimental drugs MEDI4736 and tremelimumab had ‘a manageable safety profile with evidence of clinical activity, including in PD-L1 negative disease’.

“The update was provided in a scientific summary, or abstract, released ahead of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) later this month.

“MEDI4736 is an anti-PD-L1 therapy, which works by stopping a tumor’s ability to evade the body’s defenses. Tremelimumab blocks a different molecule, CTLA-4, that also keeps the immune system from attacking cancer.”


Report Card on Complementary Therapies for Breast Cancer

“Over eighty percent of breast cancer patients in the United States use complementary therapies following a breast cancer diagnosis, but there has been little science-based guidance to inform clinicians and patients about their safety and effectiveness. In newly published guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center with colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and other institutions in the U.S. and Canada, analyzed which integrative treatments appear to be most effective and safe for patients. They evaluated more than 80 different therapies.

“Meditation, yoga, and relaxation with imagery were found to have the strongest evidence supporting their use. They received an “A” grade and are recommended for routine use for anxiety and other mood disorders common to breast cancer patients. The same practices received a “B” grade for reducing stress, depression, and fatigue, but are also endorsed for most breast cancer patients. Acupuncture received a “B” grade for controlling chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting and can be recommended to most patients. More than 30 interventions, including some natural products and acupuncture for other conditions, had weaker evidence of benefit due to either small study sizes or conflicting study results, and received a “C” grade. Seven other therapies were deemed unlikely to provide any benefit and are not recommended. One therapy was found to be harmful: acetyl-l-carnitine, which is marketed to prevent chemotherapy-related neuropathy, and actually increased risk for the condition.”


A Quarter of Men Drop Out of Prostate Cancer Monitoring, Casting Doubt on Safety of “Active Surveillance”

“A long-term follow up of prostate cancer patients shows that the option of monitoring slow-growing prostate cancer may not be as safe as thought, due to a quarter of men dropping out of the monitoring programme.

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with a European incidence rate of 214  cases per 1000 men, outnumbering lung and colorectal cancer. Research shows that with advancing age, most men are likely to have a cancer of the prostate, although for many the cancer will be so slow growing that it does not create a real problem. Recently there has been significant visibility given to the risk of prostate-cancer ‘overdiagnosis’ – treatment  when it is not justified by a serious health threat.”


Dose-Escalated Hypofractionated IMRT for Localized Prostate Cancer Has Similar Side Effects When Compared to Conventional IMRT

“Dose-escalated intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with use of a moderate hypofractionation regimen (72 Gy in 2.4 Gy fractions) can safely treat patients with localized prostate cancer with limited grade 2 or 3 late toxicity, according to a study published in the April 1, 2014 edition of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology  Physics (Red Journal), the official scientific journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).”


New Prostate Cancer Treatment Convenient, Less Expensive, but May be Riskier

“A faster and less expensive form of radiotherapy for treating prostate cancer may come at a price, according to a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers—a higher rate of urinary complications.

“The standard external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer is called intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a newer treatment that delivers a greater dose of radiation per treatment than IMRT. As a result, patients receiving SBRT can complete an entire course of treatment in one to two weeks, compared to seven to nine weeks for IMRT. There have been few studies comparing the costs of these treatments, and their toxicity.”