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The Lancet Oncology

Monday, October 25, 2010

Caution Regarding Use Of Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents In Cancer Patients Recommended In New Guideline

An updated joint guideline by the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) advises physicians about the appropriate use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), a class of drugs that stimulate the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, to treat cancer patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia.

While the guideline cautions that ESAs are associated with shorter survival and increased risk of thromboembolism — blood clots — tumor progression and stroke, it also recognizes their major benefit of reducing the need for red blood cell transfusions, which can potentially cause serious infections and adverse reactions in the immune system.

“This updated guideline offers clinicians the latest synthesis of the medical evidence surrounding use of ESAs in patients with cancer, including appropriate cautions where evidence is lacking or where risks may outweigh the use of ESAs,” said J. Douglas Rizzo, MD, MS, Co-Chair of the guideline panel and Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Those risks may include thromboembolism or even death, according to new data cited in the guideline, which suggests that physicians avoid the use of ESAs in cancer patients who are not receiving chemotherapy, except for those with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). At the same time, the guideline confirms the effectiveness of ESAs in sparing patients the need for transfusions, which can substantially impact Quality of Life. By recommending that physicians discuss individual risks and benefits of ESAs and blood transfusion with patients prior to therapy, the guideline recognizes the critical role of shared decision-making between the patient and the physician.

In addition to outlining the clotting risks of ESAs, the guideline makes specific recommendations on usage and provides insights into disease progression and patient survival. The guideline also details new thresholds for initiation and modification of ESAs, which are consistent with current US FDA labeling.

Originally published in 2002 and last updated in 2007, the guideline was derived from analysis of individual patient data, various medical literature, and systematic reviews of published clinical trials. In developing the update, panel members considered all relevant literature published between January 2007 and January 2010. Additional evidence was considered when it was considered pertinent to each section of the updated guideline.

“These guidelines touch on almost all aspects of the use of ESAs in patients with cancer and MDS, as well as secondary issues, such as the role of iron supplementation,” said Samuel Silver, MD, a member of ASH’s Committee on Practice and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. “These are issues that confront practicing hematologists and oncologists on a daily basis, and we hope that these evidence-based recommendations will influence practice standards and result in better care for patients.”

For more information:
Rizzo JD, Brouwers M, Hurley P, Seidenfeld J, Arcasoy MO, Spivak JL, Bennett CL, Bohlius J, Evanchuk D, Goode MJ, Jakubowski AA, Regan DH, Somerfield MR. American Society of Clinical Oncology/American Society of Hematology Clinical Practice Guideline Update on the Use of Epoetin and Darbepoetin in Adult Patients With CancerJ Clin Oncol. 2010 Nov 20;28(33):4996-5010. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

This article was first published online at Onco'Zine - The International Cancer Network

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Original Research, Better Insight And Practice-changing Studies Attract Record Number Of Oncologists To Attend ESMO 2010

“The 35th ESMO Congress is milestone in our Society’s history. It has been, not only our biggest, but also our best congress ever,” declared ESMO President David J. Kerr at the event’s closing conference today. 16,000 delegates attended the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress in Milan this week, including over 13,000 medical oncologists, 380 members of the press and close to 400 patients who participated in a dedicated seminar.

“We believe this success is due to the excellent program that the ESMO Scientific Committee put together this year, including a large amount of original research,” said Prof Kerr.

Prof Fortunato Ciardiello highlighted as one of the most important clinical studies reported here the results of a large randomized Phase-III trial in prostate cancer patients who had previously failed hormone and chemotherapy. The study was presented by researcher Johann de Bono. “These findings will change daily practice in the treatment of prostate cancer, in particular because they offer a novel and well-tolerated hormone therapy to patients for which no other treatment options were available. They contribute to a new era in drugs for prostate cancer,” said Prof Ciardiello.

Other practice-changing trials presented at the 35th ESMO Congress include a Chinese study that brings new hope to lung cancer patients (OPTIMAL trial). Lung cancer is the most common and deadliest cancer, but advances presented by Prof Caicun Zhou tripled the time people lived without the disease getting worse. An encouraging trial for ovarian cancer patients (ICON 7) presented by DrTim Perren from the UK, also attracted a lot of attention. In the field of advanced breast cancer, an American study (TDM4450g) that presented a new type of medicine with much lower toxicity compared to the older 'standard' drew a lot of interest. Principal investigator, Dr Edith Perez said the compound had shown to be effective in patients whose metastatic breast cancer had not responded to other treatments.

Prof Kerr said that what has become clear “is that we need to get back to our laboratories to understand more about the disease. We need more biology and a better insight so that we can treat the right patient, at the right time, with the right drug at the right dose.

More Information:
Visit Onco'Zine The International Cancer Network for an overview of the daily news from ESMO 2010 conference.

Friday, October 8, 2010

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