February 2007 Briefing - Oncology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Oncology for February 2007. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Photomodulation Reduces Radiation-Induced Dermatitis

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy have a lower-level dermatitis reaction if they are treated immediately after radiotherapy with light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy, according to study findings published in the February issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

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Baxter Healthcare Infusion Pump Back on the Market

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the modified Colleague Volumetric Infusion Pump for marketing after the manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare Corporation of Deerfield, Ill., addressed the problems that caused a series of product recalls in 2005.

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HPV Affects 25 Million Women in United States

TUESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- One-quarter of American women between the ages of 14 and 59 are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a report published in the Feb. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Nearly half of sexually active women in their early 20s are infected.

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Antioxidant Supplements Linked with Higher Mortality Risk

TUESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Antioxidant supplements such as beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase the risk of mortality, according to a meta-analysis in the Feb. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Strenuous Long-Term Exercise Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

TUESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Women who perform strenuous recreational exercise over the long term have a lower risk of in situ and invasive breast cancer, and are less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative invasive cancers than women who are more sedentary, researchers report in the Feb. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Genetic Abnormalities Predict Risk of Esophageal Cancer

TUESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Testing biopsy tissue for genetic abnormalities can predict the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett's esophagus, according to study findings published Feb. 27 in PLoS Medicine. Treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) lowers the risk of esophageal cancer, particularly in patients with multiple abnormalities.

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Colorimetric Sensor Detects Lung Cancer in the Breath

TUESDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A color-sensitive test that detects a unique chemical signature in the breath can predict the presence of lung cancer with moderate accuracy, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in Thorax.

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Drug Industry-Funded Breast Cancer Research Rising

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of pharmaceutical industry-sponsored breast cancer research has increased over time, and makes up about 60 percent of published studies, according to an analysis of 1993-2003 data published online Feb. 26 in Cancer. Such studies are more likely than non-industry research to be positive, single-arm and focus on metastatic disease.

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Patients at High Colon Cancer Risk Often Unscreened

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Despite their need for colon cancer screening, patients with familial adenomatous polyposis and their close relatives frequently fail to get such screening or genetic counseling, often due to a lack of insurance coverage, according to the results of a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Child Radiation Therapy Boosts Rate of Secondary Sarcoma

THURSDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood cancer survivors who receive radiation therapy are at an increased risk of developing secondary sarcoma, according to a report in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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COPD Survival Unaffected by Combination Therapy

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, combination treatment with salmeterol and fluticasone does not significantly reduce the risk of death from all causes compared to placebo but does improve health status and lung function, according to study findings published in the Feb. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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DNA Repair Enzymes May Boost Lung Cancer Survival

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who receive surgical treatment for early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer, survival is significantly improved in those with high expression of two enzymes involved in DNA synthesis and repair: ribonucleotide reductase M1 (RRM1) and excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1), according to a report published in the Feb. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Vitamin D Receptor Variants Affect Melanoma Risk

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Polymorphisms in the vitamin D receptor gene are associated with both increased and decreased risk of cutaneous melanoma, according to a report published in the February issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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Tamoxifen Cuts Risk of ER-Positive Breast Cancer

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Tamoxifen provides a long-term reduction in the risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer among high-risk women, even after they stop taking it, according to two placebo-controlled trials published in the Feb. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Second Cancer a Risk in Hairy Cell Leukemia Survivors

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with hairy cell leukemia have a higher risk of developing a second cancer, particularly Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and thyroid cancer, although the absolute risk is low, according to a report in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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FDA Issues Warning on Off-Label Aranesp, Procrit, Epogen

TUESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has updated the warning on Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) after a large clinical trial found that the drug did not reduce transfusions and may have increased mortality in cancer patients treated for anemia who were not currently undergoing chemotherapy. The findings may also apply to other erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, such as Epogen (epoetin alfa) and Procrit (epoetin alfa), according to the federal agency.

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Transfusion Linked to Post-Surgical Clot Risk in Women

TUESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Female colorectal cancer patients who receive allogeneic blood transfusions during or after resection are at an elevated risk for in-hospital venous thromboembolism compared to those who do not, according to a report in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery.

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Immunochemical FOBT May Be More Sensitive, Specific

TUESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Three-sample quantitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) have high sensitivity and specificity for detecting colorectal cancer and neoplasias in above-average risk people, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 20 Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Estrogen Receptor Gene Has No Effect on Heart, Stroke Risk

MONDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The estrogen receptor α (ESR1) IVS1-397T/C polymorphism has no impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease, hip fracture, most reproductive cancers or lipoprotein response to hormone replacement therapy, according to a study published online Feb. 19 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. However, there is a modest increase in breast cancer risk associated with the TT genotype.

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Advance Directives Improve End-of-Life Communication

MONDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The use of advance directives by a terminally ill patient is associated with better doctor-patient communication in the last months of life, but opportunities remain to improve the quality of end-of-life care, researchers report in the February issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Growth Factors May Raise Leukemia Risk in Breast Cancer

FRIDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as chemotherapy support in women with breast cancer about doubles the risk of developing some leukemias, although the absolute risk is small, according to a study in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Exercise Program

FRIDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A supervised group exercise program can have beneficial effects on breast cancer patients' physical and psychological function, according to a report in the Feb. 16 issue of BMJ.

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Myocardial Infarction Mortality Higher in Hodgkin's Patients

THURSDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Hodgkin disease patients have an increased risk of dying from myocardial infarction, particularly those who receive certain treatment regimens, according to study findings published in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Colorectal Cancer Has Epigenetic Inheritance Pattern

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A mutant colorectal cancer susceptibility gene has an epigenetic pattern of inheritance in some families, and can be expressed in offspring or revert to normal, according to a report in the Feb. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Fear of Blindness May Motivate Teen Smokers to Quit

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Few teenagers are aware that smoking increases the risk of blindness but when they know, they are motivated to quit by the fear of going blind, according to study findings published online Feb. 6 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

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Prostate Cancer Patients Need Fertility Counseling

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Many men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer, regardless of their age, are interested in preserving their fertility for the future, researchers report in the January issue of Urology.

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Switch to Newer Drugs Cuts Breast Cancer Mortality

TUESDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer may have a reduction in mortality risk if they switch from tamoxifen to aminoglutethimide or anastrozole after two to three years of therapy, rather than stay on tamoxifen for several more years, according to a report published online Feb. 12 in Cancer.

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Medicare Covers Colonoscopies, But Screening Gap Persists

MONDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Although Medicare coverage of colonoscopy started in 2001 for those at average risk, there are still disparities in colon cancer screening among Medicare beneficiaries based on age, race/ethnicity, gender and income, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Alternative Therapy Common in Cancer Clinical Trials

MONDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of clinical trial participants with advanced-stage cancer use biologically based complementary and alternative medicines, such as vitamins, minerals and herbal preparations, according to a report published in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Usage is associated with age and awareness of prognosis.

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Oral, IV Chemotherapy Has Similar Effect on Quality of Life

FRIDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with operable colon cancer, health-related quality-of-life scores are similar for those treated with either oral uracil/ftorafur plus leucovorin or standard intravenous fluorouracil plus leucovorin. Both treatments are well tolerated, but patients consider the oral regimen to be more convenient, according to a study published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Ethnic-Specific Endometrial Cancer Risk Needs More Study

FRIDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Ethnic differences in endometrial cancer risk do not seem to be explained by differences in risk factors among different ethnicities, according to a report in the Feb. 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-C Spurs Metastasis

THURSDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) plays a key role in inducing lymph node lymphangiogenesis and promoting metastasis beyond the sentinel lymph nodes, according to the results of an animal study published in the Feb. 1 issue of Blood.

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Many Doctors Say OK to Discuss Moral Qualms with Patient

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A majority of physicians believe they have the right to discuss moral or ethical objections to a treatment with a patient, 14 percent don't believe they have an obligation to inform patients of all the options and 29 percent don't think they need to refer them to an amenable physician, according to an article published in the Feb. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Financial Benefits of Pediatric Exclusivity Program Assessed

TUESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The economic return for pharmaceutical companies that conduct pediatric trials in exchange for six extra months of market exclusivity varies widely, according to a report in the Feb. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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FDA Approves Test to Predict Breast Cancer Metastasis

TUESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a test that can detect a genetic signature in breast tumor samples that is associated with a greater risk of metastasis over a five- to 10-year period. MammaPrint, a microarray that detects the activity of 70 different genes, is the first in vitro diagnostic multivariate index assay (IVDMIA) device approved for marketing in the United States.

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Mammogram Results Poorly Communicated to Black Women

THURSDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Black women may benefit less from routine mammography than white women because they are inadequately informed about mammogram results, particularly abnormal results, researchers report in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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Mutations Cause of Distinct Myeloproliferative Disorders

THURSDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have identified four new mutations in the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene that can cause myeloproliferative disease, and patients with the mutations may have a distinct syndrome even though they are currently diagnosed as having polycythemia vera or idiopathic erythrocytosis. The findings are published in the Feb. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Physician's Briefing