Issue 15 - Apr 12, 2019
  • Your PBM primer: Senate Finance Committee hearing focuses on the mysteries of pharmacy benefit managers—their power and role in rising drug prices

    Pharmacy benefit managers, like climate change, germs and, possibly, God, are all around, and if we could clear a few hours, it would be good to learn enough about them to sustain a cocktail party conversation.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Fred Hirsch: New center focuses Mount Sinai’s thoracic oncology programs

    Every year, 800 to 1,000 new patients get referred to The Tisch Cancer Insitute of Mount Sinai lung cancer specialists.

  • An Appreciation

    Paul Godley, oncologist and disparities researcher, dies at 61

    Paul Godley died after a brief illness on March 31. He was the Rush S. Dickson Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Oncology in the School of Medicine, a professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and senior fellow at the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

  • An Appreciation

    Robert Hickman, inventor of the Hickman catheter, dies at 92

    Robert O. Hickman, a pediatric nephrologist and inventor of a catheter that revolutionized care for cancer patients, died on April 4. He was 92.

  • Corrections

    story about robotic mastectomy that appeared in the April 5 issue of The Cancer Letter reported incorrectly that surgeon Stephen A. Chagares had performed robotic mastectomies at Monmouth Medical Center without a surgical trial protocol.

  • In Brief

    • Walter Stadler replaces Susan Cohn as UChicago Dean for Clinical Research; Sonali Smith steps in as interim chief of hem/onc
    • Michael Harrington named EVP and CFO at MSK
    • Ronan Kelly named chief of oncology for North Texas at Baylor Scott & White Health
    • Christine Rini named director of the Cancer Survivorship Institute of the Northwestern Lurie Cancer Center
    • Kathy Albain and Eva Bading honored at Stritch Awards dinner
    • Beverly Teicher named editor-in-chief of AACR’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
    • Elizabeth Platz named editor-in-chief of AACR’s Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
    • Gateway for Cancer Research gives $1.5M grant for pediatric brain cancer study at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
    • ACLF and LCA merge to create CO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
  • Funding Opportunities

    DoD Melanoma Research Program funding opportunities for FY19

    The FY19 Defense Appropriation provides $10 million to the Department of Defense Melanoma Research Program to support innovative, high-impact melanoma research.

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  • Clinical Roundup

    • CDC issues key clarification on guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain
    • Study: Targeted drug delivery associated with a reduction in health care utilization and cost
    • ASCO forms task force to address rural cancer care gap
    • Survey finds gap between trial availability and patient need in glioblastoma
    • Roswell Park moves forward with expanded study of CIMAvax
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA expands pembrolizumab indication for first-line treatment of NSCLC
    • Lynparza approved in EU in breast cancer
    • FDA approves labeling change for Soltamox
    • American Cancer Society study shows need to better identify who may not benefit from aggressive treatment
  • NCI Trials

    NCI Trials for April

    The National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program approved the following clinical research studies last month. 

Issue 14 - Apr 5, 2019
  • Using a robot to perform mastectomies, a New Jersey surgeon sets off a firestorm over surgical outcomes

    How much rigor should be required when surgeons innovate? FDA’s advisory asks for long-term cancer-related data.

    Last August, Stephen A. Chagares, a breast surgeon, made an announcement that startled some of his colleagues at New Jersey’s Monmouth Medical Center.

    At internal meetings and in a press release, Chagares declared that he would perform a robotic mastectomy—a new and relatively untested minimally invasive surgical procedure. According to the press release, his first patient, Yvonne Zucco, 56, was being treated for stage IIa breast cancer.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    MSK’s Kirstein: Robotic mastectomy not demonstrated to be safe for treatment or prevention of breast cancer

    The Breast Surgical Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has decided not to adopt—or study—robotic surgical devices in mastectomies, said Laurie Kirstein, a breast surgical oncologist at MSK.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    MD Anderson’s Hunt and Selber: We will study immediate and long-term outcomes of robotic mastectomy in a prospective trial

    Robotic mastectomy deserves to be studied, because the procedure may improve cancer-related outcomes, surgeons at MD Anderson Cancer Center say.

    Both robotic and open procedures allow the surgeon to follow oncologic principles, said Jesse Selber, professor and director of clinical research at the Department of Plastic Surgery at MD Anderson.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Penn’s Brooks: Surgeons should study oncologic endpoints for years, not just 30-day outcomes

    The University of Pennsylvania was planning a short-term trial for robotic mastectomies, but after an FDA advisory,  investigators decided to revise that protocol to include assessment of cancer-related outcomes, said Ari Brooks, director of endocrine and oncologic surgery, director of the Integrated Breast Center at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and professor of clinical surgery at Penn Medicine.

  • In Brief

    • Amy Abernethy appointed FDA acting chief information officer
    • Zihai Li named director of Ohio State Institute for Immuno-Oncology
    • Eberlein, Tempero, Hoppe, Kolodziej, Burns win NCCN awards
    • Jonas Bergh wins first ESMO Breast Cancer Award
    • Cornelis Melief wins 2019 AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology
    • Rosen, Querfeld awarded $7.5M to develop better treatment for CTCL
    • Olivera Finn receives Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award and Lectureship
    • Feng Yue named director for cancer genomics at Lurie Cancer Center
    • ACS awards research and training grants
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • SU2C-supported trials seek to extend CAR T-cell therapy to solid tumors
    • Imvax announce positive results from clinical trial of IGV-001 vaccine in glioblastoma
    • ADMIRAL trial data Shows Xospata prolongs OS in adults with leukiemia
    • Single agent umbralisib effective for relapsed slow-growing lymphoma
    • Study names six risk factors linked to esophageal cancer 
    • Probiotics linked to poorer response to cancer immunotherapy in skin cancer
    • Rucaparib maintenance therapy shows clinical responses in pancreatic cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Varian ARIA Oncology Information System awarded CancerLinQ certification
    • FDA expands use of metastatic breast cancer treatment to include male patients
    • FDA issues warning letter to genomics lab for marketing genetic test that claims to predict patients’ responses to specific medications
    • Nanobiotix receives European approval for Hensify therapy for sarcoma
    • Opdivo shows long-term survival results in NSCLC
    • Findings from ASCO TAPUR trial presented at AACR meeting
Issue 13 - Mar 29, 2019
  • Guest Editorial

    NCCN validates path toward de-escalated doses and reduced costs of cancer Drugs

    The ever-rising cost of oncology drugs is doing damage to cancer care on many levels.

    Annual total cost increases are projected to be as much as 20 percent annually. The intense financial pressure these costs place on our patients, even well-insured patients, is well documented.

  • Cancer is a model for drug development, FDA-bound Sharpless says to NCI advisors

    Decades of basic research in oncology are paying off, resulting in an unprecedented number of drug approvals, said Ned Sharpless, the NCI director who is set to become FDA acting commissioner.

  • Guest Editorial

    Congress must commit to sustained increases for NCI

    Cancer is a relentless disease that impacts millions of Americans.

    Just this year more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, and over 600,000 Americans will die from the disease.

  • Letter to the Editor

    Gundry: saguaro cacti do not grow in Texas

    enjoy your publication and read it cover to cover most weeks. But I must point out a glaring error in your recent edition of March 22. The illustrations accompanying the article about the Texas cancer researchers show saguaro cacti. Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico, with a few stray saguaros in California. The saguaro cactus does not grow in Texas. It is a common misconception that the saguaro grows throughout the west. The cactus is so unique to Arizona that the saguaro cactus blossom has been named the state flower of Arizona. I thought you should be made aware of this inaccuracy.

  • AACR News

    • Antoni Ribas named AACR president-elect for 2019-2020 term
    • Daniel Von Hoff, Louis Weiner, Nancy Goodman to receive AACR Distinguished Public Service Awards
    • AACR announces 2019 Class of Fellows of the AACR Academy
  • In Brief

    • Sara Hook named associate director for NCI at Frederick
    • GW Cancer Center receives $4M award for technical assistance to CDC National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program grantees
    • Groups urge Congress to close Medicare loophole for colorectal cancer screenings
    • Ali McBride to serve as ACCC president 2019-2020
  • Funding Opportunities

    DoD Kidney Cancer Research Program- Funding Opportunities for FY19

    The FY19 Defense Appropriation provides $20 million to the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program to support research of exceptional scientific merit in the area of kidney cancer. 

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  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Lee Schwartzberg tells us how three practices banded together to adapt to today’s cancer care and data revolution

    Community oncology needs to adapt to the era of precision oncology and Big Data, said Lee Schwartzberg, executive director of Memphis-based West Cancer Center, who was recently named medical director of OneOncology, a partnership between three oncology practices located in Tennessee and New York.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • Fulvestrant plus Anastrozole extends lives of women with advanced HR+ breast cancer
    • Study finds heating up tumors could make CAR-T therapy more effective
    • Study shows patients with or without cancer use different forms of marijuana
    • Study may explain why immunotherapy not effective for some patients with metastatic melanoma and kidney cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA advances policy changes to modernize mammography services
    • FDA issues alert on the investigational use of Venclexta in multiple myeloma
    • Janssen submits application for Darzalex combination in multiple myeloma
    • Breath Diagnostics, Mayo collaborate to develop diagnostic using patients’ exhaled breath to detect lung cancer
    • Oncoceutics and NCI partner to develop ONC206
    • Elicio Therapeutics launches vaccine & immunotherapy platform