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New Insights, Inroads Against Breast, Ovarian Cancers
Date:5/31/2009

he inhibitors -- especially at the higher of two doses -- succeeded in targeting the weakness in the genes' DNA repair mechanism without affecting healthy cells. Forty-one percent of patients saw their tumors completely disappear, said a British team from Kings College, London. There was a slightly lower response rate in the lower-dose group. Mild nausea and fatigue were the most common side effects.

"The drugs are given orally and it still remains a question as to whether the drugs' benefits will extend beyond this narrow patient population," noted Dr. Eric Weiner, head of ASCO's communication committee and chief of women's cancers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"These two studies are very exciting," Marcom said. "It speaks to a really clever understanding of the biology of the cancer."

Two other studies presented at ASCO could represent advances in the treatment of cervical cancer. In one study, led by Dr. Alfonso Duenas-Gonzalez of Mexico's National Cancer Institute, researchers found that adding the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) to standard chemo and radiation therapy improved both progression-free and overall survival -- but not without notable side effects.

And for women diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, the more specific and less invasive prognostic indicator called sentinel-nose biopsy appears just as effective as removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis, according to French researchers at George Pompidou European Hospital, Paris. According to the researchers, opting for biopsy rather than lymph node removal should make tracking the disease much less onerous for patients.

More information

There's more on cancer affecting women at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.



SOURCES: P. Kelly Marcom, M.D., breast oncologist, Duke Comprehens
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