Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Month: August 2015

NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Expand, Four Awarded Comprehensive Designation

It’s been a busy summer for NCI’s cancer centers program, which added a new institution and awarded the comprehensive designation to four existing NCI-designated centers.

With the addition of the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NCI’s cancer centers program now has 69 cancer centers in 35 states. The upgraded designations for the four centers that were already part of the NCI program—from standard cancer centers to comprehensive cancer centers—brings the total number of comprehensive cancer centers to 45.

What’s New Online from NCI?

NCI is constantly publishing new information on its websites, so periodically we’ll be providing updates on new content of interest to the cancer community.

Among the biggest and most noticeable changes is the recent launch of a new version of NCI’s main website, www.cancer.gov. As Peter Garrett, director of NCI’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison, explained in a recent Cancer Currents post, the new site includes some major changes, including new functionality and new content.

Too Few Patients with Cancer Communicate Preferences for End-of-Life Care

Many patients with cancer are not communicating their preferences for end-of-life medical care either through written documents or discussions with loved ones, a new study suggests. The study also found a large increase in the number of people receiving intensive treatment in the last days and weeks of their lives.

The results, published online July 9 in JAMA Oncology, underscore the need for patients to share their end-of-life care wishes before they are too sick to do so, the study authors said.

Gene Therapy Approach for Ovarian Cancer Shows Encouraging Signs in Animal Model

A single injection of a gene therapy viral vector can deliver effective and long-lasting levels of a protein that inhibits the growth of some mouse tumors derived from patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, according to a new study published July 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS) is a protein produced in the male testis during early development. In the developing male fetus, precursor cells that would become the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and vagina of a female, express receptors to MIS, which causes these tissues to regress.

With FDA Approval, Gefitinib Returns to U.S. Market for Some Patients with Lung Cancer

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved gefitinib (Iressa®) for the initial treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have specific mutations in the gene for the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

The FDA also approved a companion diagnostic test, the therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit, to test tumor samples for EGFR mutations and determine whether patients are candidates for treatment with gefitinib.

U.S. and Peru Formalize Alliance in Cancer Research

Last Thursday, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center for Global Health (CGH) had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation of health officials from the Government of Peru for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Peru. The agreement strengthens relations between the two countries, and provides a framework for knowledge exchange and support for cancer research.

NCI Acting Director Dr. Douglas Lowy, Peru’s Ambassador to the United States Dr. Luis Miguel Castilla, and Institutional Head Dr. Tatiana Vidaurre and Chief of Regulations and Quality Assurance Dr. Roxana Regalado, both from the National Institute of Neoplastic Diseases of Peru (Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplasicas, INEN), attended the event.

FDA Approves Expanded Indication for Carfilzomib in Patients with Multiple Myeloma

On July 24, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved carfilzomib (Kyprolis®), given in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, to treat patients with relapsed multiple myeloma who have previously received at least one prior treatment.

The FDA initially approved carfilzomib in 2012, under its accelerated approval program, for use alone in patients with multiple myeloma whose cancer has progressed after receiving at least two previous therapies, including bortezomib and an immunomodulatory agent (such as lenalidomide or thalidomide).

Risk of Breast Cancer Death is Low After a Diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

A new study suggests that women who are diagnosed with abnormal cells in the lining of a breast duct—a noninvasive condition called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS—generally have a low risk of dying from breast cancer. In addition, treating these lesions may help prevent a recurrence in the breast but does not appear to decrease the already-low risk of dying from the disease, even after 20 years of follow-up.

The findings, from an observational study involving more than 100,000 women, were published August 20 in JAMA Oncology. Steven A. Narod, M.D., of the Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, and his colleagues used data from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program to estimate the death rate from breast cancer among women diagnosed with DCIS.

Overdiagnosis of Cancer: Bringing an Important Problem into Focus

For the third consecutive year, experts from around the world will convene to discuss the dilemma of overdiagnosis in many types of disease. Overdiagnosis is generally defined as the diagnosis of a disease or condition that is unlikely to ever cause harm.

The conference, Preventing Overdiagnosis, will take place September 1-3 in Bethesda, MD. Barry Kramer, M.D., director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention, and a member of the conference steering committee, explained that this year’s conference has several areas of emphasis, including how best to communicate the concern about overdiagnosis to doctors and the public, identifying the root causes of overdiagnosis, and preventing or mitigating its harms.

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