Although comprehensive cancer centers — including City of Hope — are recognized by the National Cancer Institute for their robust clinical care, research and education programs, patients have had little way to compare those centers’ outcomes and patient populations against other facilities’. Until now.
This question is addressed in a new City of Hope study which found that receiving cancer care at a comprehensive cancer center does indeed improve survival. The study also found that multiple factors — including ethnicity, insurance type and socioeconomic status — can affect a person’s likelihood of being treated at a comprehensive cancer center.
The abstract of the study will be presented on June 2 by Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Sciences, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago.
“To be designated as a comprehensive cancer center, an institution has to go through a rigorous approval process to ensure its quality in diagnosis, treatment, research and education,” Wolfson said. “However, there have not been any studies on treatment site’s effect on survival outcomes or demographic factors that can impact where a patient goes for treatment.”
To investigate this topic, Wolfson and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 53,000 cancer patients in the Los Angeles County cancer registry from 1998 to 2008. Of this patient population, approximately 7 percent were treated at a comprehensive cancer center; the team compared this subset against patients treated in other settings to determine whether there were any significant differences in demographics and overall survival. » Continue Reading
A plenary study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting found that adding lapatinib (marketed as Tykerb) to trastuzumab (marketed as Herceptin) did not improve survival outcomes for women with early-stage breast cancer that is sensitive to HER2-targeted therapy.
This finding came as a shock and a disappointment for many breast cancer clinicians, researchers, patients and advocates, since lapatinib also acts upon the HER2 receptor, and an earlier trial on the lapatinib-trastuzumab combination showed promising results.
Despite this discouraging news, the study’s lead author, Edith A. Perez, M.D., did find a silver lining when reporting her results.
“We were encouraged to see that most patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer are doing well with standard trastuzumab therapy,” said Perez, a deputy director at large at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida, in a press release. “But we were surprised that adding lapatinib did not provide further benefit.”
In this phase III clinical trial, called ALTTO, Perez and her colleagues followed more than 8,000 women with early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer. After these patients underwent surgery, they were randomized to receive standard chemotherapy in combination with either trastuzumab, lapatinib, trastuzumab followed by lapatinib or trastuzumab concurrent with lapatinib. » Continue Reading
For women with ovarian cancer, the results of recent study could mean new hope for future treatments. The findings, reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting, found that a combination of two experimental drugs, olaparib and cediranib, significantly lengthened the duration of progression-free survival compared to olaparib alone and standard chemotherapy.
The phase II trial is the first time that a PARP inhibitor is combined with an anti-angiogenic drug to treat ovarian cancer. PARP inhibitors such as oliparib work by thwarting cancer cells’ ability to repair their own DNA, while anti-angiogenic drugs such as cediranib halts growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
“The significant activity that we saw with the combination suggests that this could potentially be an effective alternative to standard chemotherapy,” said the study’s lead author Joyce Liu, M.D., M.P.H., in a press release.
Liu, an instructor in medical oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, added that these findings showed that the two drugs worked synergistically and bolstered each other’s effectiveness against the cancer.
For this clinical trial, Liu and her colleagues randomized 90 patients with recurrent, platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer into either olaparib-only or olaparib+cediranib groups. In their analysis, they found that progression-free survival was significantly higher in the combination group, over 17 months compared to nine months in oliparib only. Meanwhile, previous trials with standard chemotherapy in this population showed a progression-free survival range from eight to 13 months.
Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men 15 to 34 years old. Yet it accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, about 8,800 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year, and about 380 men die of the disease. However, if detected early, the disease has an overall five-year survival rate of 96 percent. For Stage 1 patients, the five-year survival rate is an astonishing 99 percent.
Here, urologist Jonathan Yamzon, M.D., assistant clinical professor and surgeon in City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology, discusses how early detection and the use of advanced treatment options can help cure men of this rare disease and allow them to lead healthy, normal lives.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs when cells in the testicles grow and multiply uncontrollably, damaging surrounding tissue and interfering with the normal function of the testicle. If the disease spreads, it is still called testicular cancer.
The most common types of testicular cancer form in germ cells, where sperm is made. They fall into two categories: seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas are slow-growing and tend to stay within the testicle. Nonseminomas are faster-growing, tend to spread outside the testicle and strike younger men. More than 90 percent of testicular cancers begin in the germ cells. » Continue Reading
Preserving fertility is an important and common concern among young women who are diagnosed with cancer. New study findings offer women a simple new option for treating hormone receptor-negative breast cancer and protecting their fertility.
The study, presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, suggests adding a hormone suppressing drug called goserelin (trade name Zoladex) to standard chemotherapy may be an effective method of preserving fertility for those women with early-stage breast cancer that is hormone receptor-negative.
In the Cleveland Clinic study, women who received the drug along with chemotherapy were 64 percent less likely to develop premature ovarian failure compared to women who received chemotherapy alone. Further, the study found, they were also more likely to have successful pregnancies. The study also found a surprising survival benefit: Those women who took goserelin were 50 percent more likely to be alive four years after starting chemotherapy than those who took the standard treatment.
“This is a really important trial for young women with hormone-independent breast cancer because they now have the option of taking goserelin – an LHRH agonist therapy – to preserve their fertility,” said Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director of the Women’s Cancers Programs at City of Hope, who was not involved in the study. “Although there were problems accruing the number of patients the researchers had hoped for, there were still enough data that women on this therapy were more likely to have children. Additionally, one of the more interesting findings of this study is that women on LHRH agonist therapy had a longer disease-free survival, which we wouldn’t expect for women with hormone-independent breast cancer.”
Ovarian failure is a common side effect of chemotherapy, and risk of ovarian failure varies depending on the type and dose of chemotherapy as well as a patient’s age. Goserelin, and other lutenizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs, can temporarily stop the ovaries from functioning – putting the patient into a postmenopausal state. Researchers speculated this protects the eggs from chemotherapy damage. These medications are commonly used to control ovulation timing for in vitro fertilization and other fertility procedures, and they’re also used to treat advanced prostate and breast cancers.
The study included 257 women with early stage hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, and were randomized to treatment with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy with the hormone suppressing drug. Two years after starting chemotherapy, 8 percent of women who took goserelin had ovarian failure, compared to 22 percent of women in the standard arm.
The abstract (#LBA505) is available on ASCO’s website.
Patients diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck cancers could be treated with a lower-dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy, reducing the risks of side effects, according to a new study.
The study, led by researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, was highlighted at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
The phase II study included 90 patients with stage III and IV HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous carcinoma who received induction chemotherapy with paclitaxel, cisplatin and cetuximab.
Researchers focused on both clinical outcomes as well as long-term side effects.
City of Hope’s Sagus Sampath, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, helped enroll patients in the ECOG 1308 trial while at the University of New Mexico. He found the results to be an exciting step forward in the goal of reducing treatment intensity for HPV-positive oropharynx squamous cell cancers.
“These results show for the first time that a reduced dose of radiation is associated with high rates of local-regional disease control in the setting of ‘clinical complete response’ [cCR] following induction chemotherapy,” Sampath said. “This also points to the potential reliability of an endoscopic assessment of clinical response following induction chemotherapy.”
However, while the study’s results show great progress, more work still needs to be done before the practice can be widely accepted, Sampath noted.
“What is unknown is whether with longer follow-up these excellent control rates will be maintained,” Sampath said. “A similar trial design in the definitive chemoradiotherapy setting will be necessary before implementing reduced radiation dose as a standard-of-care practice.”
The abstract (#LBA6006) is available on ASCO’s website.
Learn more about head and neck cancer treatment at City of Hope.
Nearly 14 million Americans are cancer survivors, an impressive community that will celebrate their survival, their lives, on National Cancer Survivors Day, also known as June 1.
On this day each year, survivors, their families, their caregivers and the medical professionals who treated them pause to celebrate milestones, to give thanks for support – and to appreciate all those things in life that cannot be taken for granted.
Survivors remind everyone at City of Hope why they do what they do – and not just those people who directly care for patients. City of Hope is devoted to scientific discovery, in hopes of developing better treatments, finding ways to prevent and cure cancer and perhaps – as it did when tuberculosis ceased to be a leading health scourge – eventually devoting itself to curing a new disease.
Scientists know that bees often will travel great distances to explore the world around them, then return to the hive to share what they’ve learned through intricate and detailed communication with thousands of their comrades. These journeys of discovery keep the colony educated about its surroundings and better able to survive and thrive in a sometimes challenging environment.
Not unlike these apian explorers, cancer researchers spend much of their time studying a particular corner of the scientific world. They then gather with their colleagues to share their findings, spreading the wealth of their knowledge to benefit all.
Many City of Hope physicians will journey to one such hive of information this week — the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, which takes place May 30 to June 3 in Chicago. Hosting more than 25,000 oncology professionals, the meeting is among the largest of its kind.
City of Hope’s work is well-represented, with more than 40 researchers sharing their progress. While there, these leaders in the field will learn about the work of other scientists and spread awareness about City of Hope itself.
Major advances over the past half century have prolonged many lives and reduced human suffering due to cancer, but further work is needed, said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., City of Hope’s provost and chief scientific officer.
“The interaction that takes place at the ASCO annual meeting will foster collaboration among researchers and clinicians, renewing our sense of urgency and ultimately furthering our collective progress to make a meaningful, tangible impact against the disease,” he said.
The roster of findings to be presented by City of Hope experts will include:
- Factors that affect where cancer patients go for treatment
- Results of a phase II clinical trial supporting use of a combination therapy that significantly slowed lung cancer growth
- Promising results of a phase II trial using a new drug called veliparib to treat a certain type of metastatic breast cancer
- Factors that lead pediatric patients to miss taking their medications
But that’s just the beginning. Learn more about the research to be presented at the 50th annual ASCO meeting. Scientists will be.
Brain cancer may be one of the most-frightening diagnoses people can receive, striking at the very center of who we are as individuals. Further, it often develops over time, causing no symptoms until it’s already advanced.
Malignant, or cancerous, tumors that begin in the brain are called primary brain tumors. Lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, melanoma and other types of cancer commonly spread to the brain as well. When this happens, the tumors are called metastatic brain tumors. Secondary tumors can also prove fatal.
But researchers are making progress against these cancers.
Here, Behnam Badie , M.D., director of the Brain Tumor Program and chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, discusses advances in treatment and research in brain cancer, including the installation of the Monteris Medical system, an MRI-guided laser that contours neurosurgical lesions, making City of Hope the only institution in Los Angeles that uses this groundbreaking technology. » Continue Reading
Cancer can affect a person at any age, with the disease often considered one of aging. But increased age isn’t always linked to an increased risk of death. City of Hope researchers have found that, when it comes to breast cancer, younger women are more likely to die than their older counterparts.
That research will be presented on June 2 by Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor of City of Hope’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Sciences, in an abstract at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago.
“Adolescents and young adults are documented to have poorer cancer outcomes, but no one has studied outcome differences for cancers that are typical in young adults, including breast cancer,” Wolfson said.
In their research, Wolfson and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 67,000 patients from the Los Angeles County cancer registry from 1998 to 2008, including almost 6,000 from the young adult age group (22 to 39 years old). They then looked at overall survival and mortality rates for the seven cancers most common in young adults (breast, liver, lung, colorectal, gastric, cervical and oral).
After adjusting for demographic and clinical characteristics (such as stage of cancer and race/ethnicity), the researchers found that younger women with breast cancer have worse outcomes than older women with breast cancer. In their analysis, the mortality rate for this group was 10 to 30 percent higher than that of older women (40 to 65 years old). » Continue Reading