Conference Correspondent

CHICAGO—Most end-of-life costs ac - crued by patients with cancer are related to health services rather than the use of drugs, according to an analysis of claims from a large health plan (UnitedHealth).

“The bottom line is that most of the costs were not related to drugs but to healthcare services plus the inpatient hospitalizations,” said April Teitelbaum, MD, coinvestigator and a practicing oncologist and Senior Medical Director, Life Sciences, Hematology/ Oncology, Innovus, Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

CHICAGO—A new era of cancer care, in which genomic advances alter the landscape of cancer care and clinical research, is emerging. As “genomic chaos” rules this landscape, the healthcare system must be prepared to incorporate genetic technology into cancer care and clinical trial design must adapt as well, said George W.

Erin W. Hofstatter, MDCHICAGO—Patients are more willing than their oncologists to discuss the cost of cancer care, according to a recent survey of patients with cancer.

Results from an important phase 3 trial presented at the plenary session of the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) could lead to prolonged treatment with adjuvant imatinib for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs).

The extension of imatinib treatment to 3 years, compared with the usual 1 year, resulted in a 54% reduced risk of recurrence and 55% reduced risk of death within 5 years for patients with high-risk disease, reported Heikki Joensuu, MD, of Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland.

CHICAGO—The population of cancer survivors is growing rapidly. More than 12 million Americans are alive after a cancer diagnosis, with most living at least 5 years, and 16% living 20 years after their initial diagnosis.

This growing population of cancer survivors is at risk for many comorbid health conditions, especially as they age. A study of 10,397 childhood cancer survivors found this group to be 8 times more likely to have a severe or life-threatening condition than their siblings (Oeffinger K, et al. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:1572-1582).

CHICAGO—Several studies addressed key questions in the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). One evaluated a shorter, more intense rituximab-based regimen, and another evaluated the benefit of autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) in high-risk patients. The 21-day regimen of rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone (R-CHOP) is still the standard of care for this paient population.

CHICAGO—The cancer drug pipeline is bursting with promising new therapies for a variety of tumors. Of the many investigational drugs presented, this article highlights some of the most promising agents now in phase 2 or 3 clinical trials.

Cabozantinib

This oral inhibitor of MET kinase and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor produced high rates of disease control in several solid tumor types, and fully or partially eliminated bone metastases in a randomized phase 2 study.

CHICAGO—A new regimen of busulfan and melphalan extended eventfree survival over a regimen of carboplatin, etoposide, and melphalan (CEM) in a phase 3 clinical trial of patients with high-risk pediatric neuroblastoma.

The trial was terminated early after the superiority of the busulfan/melphalan myeloablative regimen became evident, said lead investigator Ruth Ladenstein, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, University of Vienna, and St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute, Vienna.

CHICAGO—Decitabine extends overall survival and improves response rates compared with standard therapies in the treatment of older patients with newly diagnosed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), said Xavier G. Thomas, MD, PhD.

CHICAGO—Flaxseed failed to have a significant effect on reducing hot flashes in women compared with placebo, according to results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial supported by the North Central Cancer Treatment Group. The study included breast cancer survivors as well as women who had never had breast cancer who experienced frequent hot flashes throughout the day and night.

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