Top Cancer Research News: October

In this month's Cancer News Review podcast, Cancer Center director Bill Nelson reviews top headlines in cancer research.  Each of the studies discussed here were published in the Oct. 2 issue of the Lancet.

In the first topic, researchers tested giving standard chemotherapy drugs earlier on in the sequence of treatments for ovarian cancer.   After surgery to remove the cancer, they gave the drugs to patients whose levels of a biomarker called CA125 were rising, indicating that ovarian cancer was recurring somewhere in the body.  They compared the survival of women who received the drugs earlier - when CA125 levels rose - with those who began the drugs once symptoms started to appear.  It would be easy to assume that if the drugs are given earlier, the disease could be held back longer.  But the research proved otherwise -- patients in both groups had the same overall survival.

The second topic focuses on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) -- which, Nelson says, can be very indolent in some people and more aggressive in others.  Researchers gave patients with CLL a combination of standard chemotherapy regimens and a drug called rituximab, which has been used for lymphomas.  Results show an improved survival rate for patients, and Nelson describes the achievment as a major advance in the field.

Finally, for men with metastatic prostate cancer, the chemotherapy drug, docetaxel has shown some benefits, but Nelson says the problem is that those benefits are not long-lived, and other than docetaxel, men in this category have few options for standard treatment.  Scientists gave men whose cancer was progressing after being treated with docetaxel another drug in its class, called carbazitaxel, and it resulted in prolonged survival, smaller cancers and controlled symptoms.  Nelson predicts that scientists will continue to study this family of drugs to develop new ones in the same class that could further control cancer.

Listen to the podcast.

Program notes:
0:17  Ovarian cancer treatment sequence
1:01  Initiate chemotherapy when a blood marker rose
2:03  Won’t be helpful to start treatment early
3:06  Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
3:34  Rituximab
4:33  I think we’ve got CLL on the run a bit
4:45  Recurrent prostate cancer and carbazitaxel
5:33  Prolonged survival and decreased symptoms
6:23  Targets microtubules
7:24  End

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