News Briefs

OBTNMay 2010
Volume 4
Issue 5

We summarize the latest oncology news.

Trial on BSI-201 Recruits Lung Cancer Patients

BSI-201, which belongs to a new class of novel agents called PARP inhibitors, has shown strong activity against triple-negative breast cancer. Investigators with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute and BiPar Sciences, which is developing BSI-201 with sanofi-aventis, are hoping that it will show the same efficacy in lung cancer. They have just started recruiting for a phase III multicentre study examining whether adding BSI-201 to standard chemotherapy improves overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone in patients with newly diagnosed advanced squamous cell lung cancer. Investigators hope to enroll 825 patients at various centers throughout the United States. The trial’s ID is NCT01082549. You can also contact the BiPar Sciences Call Center at (888) 668-2232 for more information.

Is Postmastectomy Radiation Overused?

At a symposium sponsored by the Society of Surgical Oncology, researchers from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center said the locoregional recurrence (LRR) rates for patients with T1 and T2 breast cancer who undergo surgery and receive adjuvant treatment with a systemic therapy are <3%. The researchers said decades ago, the recurrence rates were believed to be >15%. Ranjna Sharma, who presented the findings, said the data suggest “strong reconsideration of the use of postmastectomy radiation in patients with 1 to 3 positive axillary nodes.” There were 1019 patients in the study. Nodal metastases were found in 26%, of which only 2% had 3 metastatic nodes. There were only 23 cases of LRR, and the median time to LRR was 3.8 years. The only independent predictor of LRR was age ≤40 years; these patients had a 10-year rate of LRR of 11.1% compared with 3% for patients aged >40 years.

Hypertension Predicts RCC Treatment Efficacy

In a study led by investigators from the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, sunitinib (Sutent)-related hypertension (HTN) was found to be a biomarker of efficacy in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Drugs that inhibit VEGF, including sunitinib, are commonly associated with HTN. The efficacy analysis included 441 patients, of which 362 (67%) had HTN. Regardless of whether patients received anti-HTN medication, HTN remained a significant independent predictor of progression-free survival and overall survival (P <.001). Patients with HTN experienced more renal adverse effects than those without (5% vs 3%, respectively; P = .0169). Data were presented at the 2010 ASCO Genitourinary Meeting.

Targeted Therapies for Merkel Cell Carcinoma?

Investigators at the 13th World Congress on Cancers of the Skin announced they have discovered that the Merkel cell polyomavirus appears to cause 70% to 80% of cases of Merkel cell carcinoma, the most aggressive cutaneous neoplasm. Ingrid Wolf, MD, from the University of Graz in Austria, presented the findings. She described the discovery as a major breakthrough that might lead to targeted therapies. One patient treated with interferon beta for 5 weeks and no adjuvant therapy saw tumor regression without relapse or recurrence after 8 years. In the US, approximately 1500 cases of Merkel cell carcinoma are diagnosed annually, but the incidence as been rising ~8% each year.

Additional Chemotherapy Cycles Decrease Male Fertility

For men with testicular cancer, being able to father children after treatment can be an important concern. A study by Norwegian researchers published in the European Journal of Urology examined whether there was any difference in the ability to parent a child and testicular function in men who received 2, 3, or 4 cycles of cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Data for 316 men aged ≤65 found that at 12-year follow-up, 80% of the 106 men who attempted to father a child following treatment succeeded. Men who received 2 cycles of chemotherapy had a 100% success rate compared with 83% for men who received 3 and 76% for men who had 4 cycles (P = .022). After multivariate analysis, the findings remained statistically significant (P = .032).

Cysts Examined to Help Ovarian Cancer Screening

Scientists at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania found early tumors and precancerous lesions in inclusion cysts, which arise on the surface of the ovary and fold into the organ. They looked at ovaries taken from women with a BRCA mutation and women without the genetic risk factor. In both populations, gene expression patterns in the cells of the inclusion cysts differed substantially from normal ovarian surface cells. The cyst cells overexpressed genes responsible for cell division and chromosome movement. Investigators followed the progression of normal cells to precursor lesions to cancer, finding them adjacent to one another in the inclusion cysts. They hope to develop screening tests to detect ovarian cancer earlier.

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