Cancer in the headlines, March 19: clinical trials and screening updates



TWO BIG CANCER TRIALS FAIL

Trial # 1:
Avastin, Roche’s bestselling cancer drug failed to meet primary endpoints in a key Phase III prostate cancer trial. Roche’s daughter company Genentech announced the trial results showed that Avastin does not extend survival in patients with late stage prostate cancer. Just last month, the industry was also disappointed with Avastin’s poor performance in  a trial on inoperable or advanced stomach cancer. Avastin is approved for the treatment of colorectal, breast, lung and kidney cancer and a type of brain tumor.

Trial # 2:
Pfizer’s Sutent failed to meet endpoints in two Phase III trials on late-stage breast cancer. Sutent (sunitinib) is indicated for metastatic renal cell carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumor. The company will continue testing Sutent on other solid tumors.

THE LATEST UPDATES ON CANCER SCREENING

1 in 4 states cut back on routine mammograms
The new US breast cancer screening guidelines have started to make an effect. Some states have already started cutting back on routine mammograms for women under 50 and uninsured. Proponents of the guidelines might be pleased but some groups are concerned about this trend.

According to Dr. James Thrall, chair of the American College of Radiology’s Board of Chancellors:

“Lawmakers at all levels need to act now to ensure that these recommendations do no further damage, and that women have full and ready access to mammography.”

Panel Calls for Reducing Colorectal Cancer Deaths by Striking Down Barriers to Screening
A National Institutes of Health panel met in February to discuss how to increase the use of colorectal screening. A 2008 survey showed that the screening rate among 50-year old adults is 55%, which experts consider to be too low.

According to Dr. Donald Steinwachs, panel chair, and professor and director of the Health Services Research and Development Center at the Johns Hopkins University

“We recognize that some may find colorectal cancer screening tests to be unpleasant and time-consuming. However, we also know that recommended screening strategies reduce colorectal cancer deaths. We need to find ways to encourage more people to get these important tests.”

Harry Smith colonoscopy to air on ‘Early Show’
The co-anchor of “The Early Show” Harry Smith had a colonoscopy scheduled on Wednesday, March 10 and the procedure was shown live in observance of the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.

Cancer society stops urging docs to offer PSA test
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has not supported routine PSA screening for prostate cancer since the 1990s and its stand remains the same. However, it is urging doctors to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure openly with their patients. ACS recommends the following to primary care physicians:

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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