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Topics - Cancer Health Editors

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A treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer significantly increased progression-free survival for people with Stage III non-small-cell lung cancer, according to results from the PACIFIC trial presented this week at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Madrid.

More than half of patients treated with Imfinzi (durvalumab) following radiation and chemotherapy were still alive with no worsening of disease after one year, compared with just over a third of those who received a placebo. The median progression-free survival duration was 16.8 months in the Imfinzi group and 5.6 months in the placebo group.

Non-small-cell lung cancer, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all lung cancers, is often detected late and has a high mortality rate. It is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Research shows that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Now, new findings published in The Lancet suggest that a new and improved vaccine can stop cancer of the cervix and other cancers associated with this group of related viruses.

There are currently 13 types of HPV associated with cancer development, and HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers. The HPV vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil protect against HPV 16 and 18, while Gardasil is also effective against HPV 6 and 11. Scientists developed 9vHPV, also known as Gardasil 9, to target HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 as well as five others (HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer.

To assess the new vaccine, researchers from 18 countries and 105 study sites conducted a Phase III clinical trial. Scientist randomly assigned 14,215 women between ages 16 and 26 to receive either a Gardasil 9 or a Gardasil vaccine and tracked them for six years after the vaccination.


On September 28, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Verzenio (abemaciclib), a kinase inhibitor that disrupts cancer growth, for people with certain types of advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has progressed despite hormone therapy.

The approval was supported by data from a Phase III trial that showed that women who took Verzenio plus the estrogen blocker Faslodex (fulvestrant) after hormone therapy stopped working held off disease progression for nearly twice as long as those who took a placebo.

Breast cancer is classified by the kind of receptors it expresses. A majority of breast tumors carry hormone receptors for estrogen or progesterone (known as HR-positive). Estrogen and progesterone encourage the growth of HR-positive breast cancer, and treatment usually includes hormone-blocking drugs. Other tumors express a receptor called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2). Triple-negative breast cancer doesn’t express any of these receptors.

The FDA approved Verzenio for adults with HR-positive/HER2-negative advanced or metastatic (spread elsewhere in the body) breast cancer that has progressed after taking hormone blockers. More than 70 percent of all breast cancers are HR-positive and HER2-negative, according to the American Cancer Society.


Should all men be screened for prostate cancer? Despite a large and growing body of evidence, this remains a vexing question. New research continues to shed more light on the benefits and risks of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, but experts continue to disagree about how the pluses and minuses balance out.

PSA screening can detect aggressive prostate cancer, allowing for earlier and more effective treatment. But routine testing can also diagnose slow-growing cancer in men who will likely die of other causes, and unnecessary treatment can lead to reduced quality of life. In April, an expert task force recommended that men should discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their provider and make decisions guided by their personal preferences.

Cancer of the prostate, a gland near the bladder that produces seminal fluid, is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States and the third-leading cause of cancer death among men, according to the American Cancer Society.


A new type of targeted cancer therapy shrinks tumors that carry a specific genetic mutation regardless of where they may be located in the body, researchers reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting this week in Chicago.

Studies showed that 76 percent of people with 17 types of cancers responded to treatment with larotrectinib, an agent that acts against tumors with tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) fusions. Larotrectnib is the first cancer drug to be developed simultaneously for adult and pediatric populations, and treatment was effective in both groups.

“This really brings us into a new era where treatment is truly based on mutation, not location,” Sumanta Kumar Pal, MD, from City of Hope cancer center said at an ASCO press briefing.


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