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ASCO 2013 – Important advances in treatment for multiple aggressive cancers, and new insight on HPV-related cancer risk

Written by | 20 Jun 2013 | All Medical News

CHICAGO – New advances against melanoma, ovarian cancer, and colorectal cancer care were presented today at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Researchers also announced reassuring findings on HPV infection among partners of patients with HPV-positive head and neck cancers.

“The studies presented today illustrate the progress we are making against advanced cancers that are resistant to traditional therapies. New targeted and immunotherapy drugs are emerging as viable strategies for halting the progression of these difficult diseases,” said press briefing moderator Gregory Masters, MD, FACP, a member of ASCO’s Cancer Communications Committee, and a medical oncologist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Del. “And one study suggests that partners of patients with HPV positive oropharyngeal cancer do not appear to have increased levels of oral HPV infections compared to the general population.”

Key study findings include:

  • Maintenance therapy with pazopanib delays relapses in women with advanced ovarian cancer: Findings from a phase III study of women with advanced ovarian cancer show that the multi-targeted drug pazopanib prolongs disease-free survival by 5.6 months compared to placebo when given after initial chemotherapy.
  • New immunotherapy combination appears promising for metastatic melanoma: A phase II study finds that adding GM-CSF (Sargramostin, Leukine), a widely used white blood cell booster, to ipilimumab (Yervoy) extends overall survival compared to ipilimumab alone. This first study of GM-CSF and ipilimumab confirms that the concept of combining immunotherapy approaches may be beneficial to patients.
  • Investigational anti-PD-1 antibody nivolumab shows strong anti-cancer activity in patients with advanced melanoma: Findings from a long-term, expanded phase I study of nivolumab indicate that the new immunotherapy is very active as a single agent in patients whose disease progressed despite standard systemic therapy. Tumor shrinkage rates and median overall survival were markedly improved compared to historical rates for immunotherapy drugs in this setting.
  • Early study suggests selumetinib may be the first active drug for advanced melanoma of the eye: A phase II study reports that the targeted drug selumetinib shows strong clinical activity in patients with advanced melanoma of the eye harboring common Gnaq/Gna11 gene abnormalities.
  • Partners of patients with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer do not have increased levels of oral HPV infection: Findings from a study of patients with HPV positive oropharyngeal cancer and their partners indicate that partners do not have increased HPV infection compared to the general population and that their risk of developing HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer remains low. Couples who have been together for several years can be reassured that they need not change their intimate behavior based on one partner’s diagnosis of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Cetuximab is superior to bevacizumab in combination with FOLFIRI chemotherapy for first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer: A phase III study finds that first-line cetuximab (Erbitux) plus FOLFIRI leads to an approximately four-month survival gain compared to bevacizumab (Avastin) plus FOLFIRI. While both treatment combinations are currently used for advanced colorectal cancer with no KRAS gene alterations, these new results indicate that cetuximab is the better choice for first-line therapy when used in combination with FOLFIRI.

Detailed information about the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting Press Program is available on ASCO’ Annual Meeting Media Resource Center, including:

  • Media registration instructions
  • Press briefing schedule at-a-glance
  • Press briefing recordings
  • Frequently asked questions
  • On-site press facility hours and locations
  • Print-friendly materials
  • General information about the meeting
  • Links to helpful reporting resources such as, ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net and Cancer.Net websites

The Annual Meeting Media Resource Center will be updated frequently leading up to and throughout the Annual Meeting.

Click here to view the full release.


Click here to view the disclosures for the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting News Planning Team.

Additional disclosures: Richard M. Goldberg, MD, Consultant or Advisory role with Bayer, Jennerex, Lilly and Pfizer, Honoraria from Frensenius, Kada, Lilly/ImClone, Pfizer, Yakult and Research Funding from Bayer, Jennerex, Myriad Genetics and Sanofi; Lynn Mara Schuchter, MD, Research Funding from Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Roche.

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