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Messages - Cancer Health Editors

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When Acra Samuels flew from Montana, to be examined at Dana-Farber in 2016, her colon and liver were dotted with recurring tumors that seemed unstoppable. One doctor had forecast she had no more than six months to live.

At Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, surgeon Monica Bertagnolli, MD, removed a portion of the 46-year-old woman’s cancerous colon.

While Samuels recovered in the hospital, George Demetri, MD, director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, asked Michael Nathenson, MD, to order a DNA sequencing test of her tumor, which appeared to be a sarcoma—a cancer of soft or connective tissue—but whose exact type wasn’t immediately clear.


In 2017, Keith Rohleder was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive blood cancer called blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN), which most people have never heard of. Even most physicians—including many oncologists—know little about the disease. But thanks to Rohleder and his caregivers, that is beginning to change.

BPDCN occurs in the bone marrow and blood. The BPDCN Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) is one of the first facilities in the U.S. to focus on care and research of the disease, and Rohleder was one of a dozen DF/BWCC patients to take part in a recent clinical trial.


Molecular profiling can provide clinically meaningful information to help people with pancreatic cancer and their providers select effective treatments, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) announced last week.

Results from a study published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal, Clinical Cancer Research, showed that pancreatic cancer patients who had “actionable” mutations and received matched targeted therapy had better outcomes than those who did not.

“There has been a longstanding notion that precision medicine cannot benefit pancreatic cancer patients,” said study coauthor and PanCAN chief science officer Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA. “We now have to rethink that position as this research exemplifies a changing tide in the way we should treat pancreatic cancer patients, ensuring molecular profiling is an integral part of their treatment journey.”


In a new study published online June 25, 2018 in Nature Medicine, University of California San Francisco researchers have identified a key biological pathway in human cancer patients that appears to prime the immune system for a successful response to immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors. The findings, including initial observations from human tumor samples, mechanistic studies in mouse models, then confirmation in additional patient samples, could better enable clinicians to predict which patients will naturally benefit from these promising new treatments, and potentially to modify the immune response in other patients to allow more people to benefit from these therapies.


Off Topic Forum / Share Your Story!
« on: June 28, 2018, 04:38:55 pm »
Want to be featured in a future issue of Cancer Health? Share your story here (https://www.cancerhealth.com/iframe/cancer-health-stories-form) and you will appear in our Cancer Health Stories (https://www.cancerhealth.com/category/cancer-health-stories) online. You might even make it into a future issue of the magazine!

The immune checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) led to longer survival than platinum-based chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with a PD-L1 level of 1 percent or higher, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting this month in Chicago.

“A large number of patients with lung cancer now have a new treatment option withbetter efficacy and fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy,” said lead researcher Gilberto Lopes, MD, of the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our study shows that pembrolizumab provides more benefit than chemotherapy for two thirds of all people with the most common type of lung cancer.”


Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is often one component of treatment for gynecologic malignancies such as cervical, vaginal, and endometrial cancer.

The goal of radiation therapy is to administer an effective dose of radiation to a patient’s cancerous area while minimizing exposure of tissues that could be harmed, such as the bladder, bowel, and rectum. Radiation is delivered in one of two ways: from the outside, using external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), or internally, which involves inserting a radioactive source within a natural cavity or implanting radioactive seeds into tissue near or within the tumor — called brachytherapy.


Before 2016, patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma — a rare and extremely deadly skin cancer — had no good treatment options to extend their lives more than a few months. Then, with two pivotal trials, everything changed.

On June 4, investigators presented new, long-term data from these trials that show immunotherapy drugs help a significant subset of patients with this cancer survive much longer than would otherwise be possible. These results crystalize preliminary results from 2016 and 2017 that were promising enough to change the standard of care for MCC and gain a drug approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the cancer’s first.


People with HIV who go on antiretroviral treatment and maintain a fully suppressed viral load over the course of many years greatly mitigate their risk of cancer. However, such long-term viral suppression does not eliminate the disparity in cancer risk between those with and without HIV.

Publishing their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers studied 1999 to 2015 Veterans Affairs data on 42,441 HIV-positive veterans (who were followed for a median 7.4 years) along with data on 104,712 demographically matched HIV-negative veterans (who were followed for a median 10.1 years).


Undergoing chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery and using a four-drug regimen afterward led to slower disease progression and longer survival for people with hard-to-treat pancreatic cancer, according to results from a pair of studies presented last week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.

“Pancreatic cancer is notoriously aggressive and typically has a poor prognosis, so it is a major win to find that a new treatment regimen significantly improves survival for patients with this disease,” said ASCO expert Andrew Epstein, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.


Testing the genetic characteristics of tumors and using the results to guide the choice of treatment led to longer survival in a large study of people with hard-to-treat cancer, according to a presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting last week in Chicago. However, the 10-year overall survival rate in the matched treatment group reached only 6 percent, showing much room for improvement.

“Precision medicine requires complete understanding of tumor biology,” lead researcher Apostolia Maria Tsimberidou, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told reporters at an ASCO press briefing. “I’m optimistic that in the next few years we will dramatically improve outcomes of patients with cancer with the increasing use of precision medicine.”


More than 95 percent of multiple myeloma patients treated with high doses of an experimental CAR-T therapy showed a reduction in their cancer, including 50 percent with complete responses, according to results from a small study presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.

Read more... https://www.cancerhealth.com/article/new-cart-therapy-leads-durable-multiple-myeloma-remission

Therapies that recruit the immune system to attack tumors are revolutionizing cancer care. Among these successful immunotherapies is a class known as “checkpoint inhibitors” that unmask tumors’ ability to hide from the immune system.

However, checkpoint inhibitors aren’t universally successful against all cancers. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation unpacks the actions taken by an especially dangerous cancer type — triple-negative breast cancer — to initiate the process that eventually allows the cancer to become invisible to the immune system.

By defining the roots of immune system evasion, researchers hope to develop therapies that could augment those currently in use, making the immune system an even more powerful partner in combatting cancer.


A new targeted therapy directed against RET mutations, which occur in many types of cancer, demonstrated promising activity in an early clinical trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting this week in Chicago.

If LOXO-292 continues to do well in larger studies, it could become part of an emerging paradigm of treating cancer based on its genetic characteristics regardless of where it occurs in the body, known as being site or location agnostic.

Alexander Drilon, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York presented findings from LIBRETTO-001, a global Phase I trial evaluating LOXO-292, Loxo Oncology’s selective inhibitor of the receptor tyrosine kinase RET.

Loxo made headlines at last year’s ASCO meeting with its experimental drug larotrectinib, which is active against all types of cancer with tropomyosin receptor kinase fusions. Larotrectinib received a breakthrough therapy designation and priority review status from the Food and Drug Administration; an approval decision is expected in November.


This question was posted to the Cancer Health Facebook wall and we wanted to share our response in the Forums so more could be helped.

I have prostate cancer and now the Dr. says that I have a big mass on my left lung and lymph node. This was just found out this past week. Any help I would appreciate in any way.

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