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Posts Tagged ‘biomarkers’

Elevated Proteins May Warn of Ovarian Cancer, But Sufficient Lead Time & Predictive Value Still Lacking

Posted by Paul Cacciatore on January 7, 2010

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center researchers discovered that concentrations of the serum biomarkers CA125, human epididymis protein 4 (HE4), and mesothelin began to rise 3 years before clinical diagnosis of ovarian cancer, according to a new study published online December 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, the biomarkers became substantially elevated only in the last year prior to diagnosis. … In an accompanying editorial to the study results reported by Anderson et. al., Patricia Hartge, ScD, of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, applauds the researchers for taking the field one step closer to successful screening study designs by showing that the levels of certain biomarkers do not increase early enough to be used for screening.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center researchers discovered that concentrations of the serum biomarkers CA125, human epididymis protein 4 (HE4), and mesothelin began to rise 3 years before clinical diagnosis of ovarian cancer, according to a new study published online December 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI). [1] However, the biomarkers became substantially elevated only in the last year prior to diagnosis.

Garnet L. Anderson, Ph.D., Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.

CA125, HE4, mesothelin, B7-H4, decoy receptor 3, and spondin-2 have been identified as potential ovarian cancer serum biomarkers, but their behavior in the prediagnostic period, with the exception of CA125, has not been evaluated.  In the JNCI study, Garnet L. Anderson, Ph.D., of the Division of Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed prediagnostic serum samples and patient data from the Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET), a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled chemoprevention trial testing the effects of beta-carotene and retinol on lung cancer incidence among individuals at high risk for lung cancer. Prediagnostic serum samples (taken up to 18 years prior to diagnosis) were obtained for 34 CARET patients with ovarian cancer and 70 matched control CARET subjects. Changes in the levels of these biomarkers prior to ovarian cancer diagnosis were analyzed.

Anderson et. al. discovered that concentrations of CA125, HE4, and mesothelin (but not B7-H4, decoy receptor 3, and spondin-2) began to increase slightly in cancer patients relative to control subjects approximately 3 years before diagnosis, but became substantially elevated within one year prior to diagnosis. Thus, the diagnostic value of these biomarkers is limited because accuracy only increased shortly before diagnosis. “Although these markers are not accurate enough to prompt early intervention in existing screening protocols, the multivariable regression analyses identified modest but statistically significant increases in risk associated with CA125, HE4, and mesothelin, which are consistent with many of the established epidemiological risk factors for ovarian cancer,” say the authors of the study.

“I still think biomarkers may play a role in a cost-effective screening program, although none of these seem accurate enough either alone or together to justify their use in average-risk women,” Anderson told Medscape Oncology. “I do not know of any other currently identified biomarkers that hold more promise than these, but there has been a massive effort over the last few years to identify candidates and not all have been thoroughly vetted,” said Dr. Anderson.

One problem, cites Dr. Anderson, may lie in the approach used in identifying potential ovarian cancer biomarkers. “Most of the discovery work done so far has been conducted in women with advanced-stage disease and compared them to healthy women,” she explained. “If discovery work were done in samples like the ones we used here, representing specimens collected months to years prior to the advanced stage diagnosis, we might have a better chance of finding earlier signals of aggressive disease.”

Another opportunity for improving screening and early diagnosis lies in imaging, she adds. “Currently the most common and only affordable imaging option that could be considered for routine screening is transvaginal ultrasound, but it performs poorly in terms of accurately determining those women [who] have ovarian cancer from those who do not,” said Dr. Anderson. “A substantial improvement in this area would be very exciting.”

Study Limitations Cited By JNCI Editors

The JNCI editors state three limitations that they believe are associated with the study by Anderson et. al. First, the study sample size was small.  Second, all women who participated in CARET had a history of heavy smoking, and therefore, the JNCI editors believe that the blood serum testing results obtained by Anderson et. al. may not apply to other non-smoking groups. Third, the blood collected from women participating in CARET was collected at different times, but only a few samples were collected during the last 2–3 years before ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Designing Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Programs — Accompanying JNCI Editorial

Patricia Hartge, Sc.D. Deputy Director, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetic, National Cancer Institute

In an accompanying editorial to the study results reported by Anderson et. al., Patricia Hartge, ScD, of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, applauds the researchers for taking the field one step closer to successful screening study designs by showing that the levels of certain biomarkers do not increase early enough to be used for screening. [2]

Dr. Hartge notes that despite the discovery that CA125 and other serum markers increase before the clinical onset of ovarian cancer, it has been exceedingly difficult to devise a successful ovarian cancer early screening program for asymptomatic women. Nevertheless, Hartge believes that Anderson et al. take a valuable step toward the design of such a successful screening program by demonstrating why screening regimens that are based on markers, or panels of markers, can fail. Specifically, the researchers discovered that blood levels of CA125, HE4, mesothelin, and three other promising markers did not increase early enough in the course of the disease to allow detection in early stages. Dr. Hartge emphasizes that the markers typically rose within one year of the disease symptoms that led to an accurate diagnosis, and therefore, many of the ovarian cancer patients were diagnosed with advanced stage disease.

Hartge further states “[t]hat the results of Anderson et al. are not the last word in serum markers or in combinations of markers.” “Serum markers likely will form a key element in any screening regimen, with the lead time and other parameters of each marker or combination of markers being taken into account. The careful evaluation technique applied in the current study fits into a staged approach necessary for testing performance of early markers of disease.” Hartge adds that “[o]nly the time-consuming, expensive, and demanding randomized clinical trial can reveal whether an early detection program that includes the biomarkers can save lives.”

In support of her position, Dr. Hartge observes that current randomized trials are testing the value of different screening programs that are built on combinations of CA125, ultrasound, and risk factor data (e.g., family history and age). After four rounds of screening 34,261 postmenopausal women for ovarian cancer with both CA125 and ultrasound, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine investigators of the large U.S. screening trial observed that the predictive value of a positive screen was quite low — approximately 1%. Of the 60 screen-detected cancers, 72% had already advanced to at least stage III. [3] In addition, of every 20 women who underwent surgery after a positive screen, only one women was diagnosed with cancer. Furthermore, in a recent UK trial with a slightly different design, positive predictive values from the first round of screening were higher; 35% in the 50,078 women whose risk was assessed with CA125 and risk factor data, followed by ultrasound only if indicated, and 3% in the 50,639 women screened first with ultrasound. [4] The effects on mortality in both trials remain to be determined.

Confronting The “Daunting Arithmetic” Required To Detect Early Stage Ovarian Cancer

Based upon the foregoing, Dr. Hartge highlights the “daunting arithmetic” required to detect early stage ovarian cancer. In the U.S., Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data indicates that incidence amounts to 13 cases of ovarian cancer per 100,000 woman per year, referred to by Dr. Hartge as the “proverbial needles in the haystack.” [5] So as not to present a problem without a potential solution, Hartge provides a roadmap to additional factors that may help future researchers develop early screening methods to identify those rare cases of ovarian cancer in the general population.  Notably, SEER data also indicates that incidence of ovarian cancer steadily increases with age from 21 cases per 100,000 women per year within the 50-54 age range to 57 cases per 100,000 women per year within the 80-84 age range. [6] Furthermore, family history, low parity, and more ovulations over a woman’s lifetime predict additional risk, with the strongest but least common predictor being a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Thus, the general approach suggested by Hartge focuses on women with higher baseline risks, for whom the predictive value of a positive serum test tends to increase. Dr. Hartge believes that the performance of an overall screening program will improve by targeting higher-risk subgroups of women for screening by combining personal history, genetic abnormality status, and levels of serum markers in one prediction model. With ongoing advances in understanding the origin and causes of ovarian cancer, Hartge states that the risk models that are useful for screening programs should also improve.

Further technology advancements may also improve future ovarian cancer early detection screening models, says Hartege. For example, a screening program that is based on a panel of biomarkers can be improved by developing new medical imaging technology that is more specific than current ultrasound technology.  If better imaging existed, fewer women would undergo surgery following a suspicious biomarker finding.  Similarly, development of less invasive surgery could further reduce harmful side effects.  Although Hartge observes that a highly accurate biomarker(s) or an overall screening program does not yet exist, she also explains that the current study by Anderson et. al., with its sobering implications, brings future researchers closer to understanding the crucial elements in designing an effective early detection program for ovarian cancer.

References:

1/Anderson GL , McIntosh M, Wu L, et. al. Assessing Lead Time of Selected Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers: A Nested Case–Control Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Advance Access published on January 6, 2010, DOI 10.1093/jnci/djp438. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 102: 26-38.

2/Hartge P. Designing Early Detection Programs for Ovarian Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute Advance Access published on January 6, 2010, DOI 10.1093/jnci/djp450. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 102: 3-4.

3/Partridge E, Kreimer AR, Greenlee RT, et al. Results from four rounds of ovarian cancer screening in a randomized trial. Obstet Gynecol (2009) 113(4):775–782. [PMCID: PMC2728067; PMID: 19305319].

4/Menon U, Gentry-Maharaj A, Hallett R, et al. Sensitivity and specificity of multimodal and ultrasound screening for ovarian cancer, and stage distribution of detected cancers: results of the prevalence screen of the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS). Lancet Oncol (2009) 10(4):327–340. [PMID: 19282241]

5/ Horner MJ, Ries LAG, Krapcho M, et al, eds. SEER Cancer Stat Fact Sheets (2009) Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/ovary.html. Accessed December 2, 2009.

6/Horner MJ, Ries LAG, Krapcho M, et. al., eds. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2006, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2006, based on November 2008 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2009 [See Table 21.6: Incidence & Mortality Rates By Age].

Sources:

Posted in Biomarker, Discoveries, Early Detection, Genetics, Medical Study Results | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Senators Kennedy & Hutchison Renew War On Cancer

Posted by Paul Cacciatore on March 30, 2009

On March 26, 2009, Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act, a bill to comprehensively address the challenges our nation faces in battling cancer. This is the first sweeping cancer legislation introduced since the National Cancer Act in 1971, authored by Senator Kennedy. The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act is a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and detection, research and treatment. It invests in cancer research infrastructure and improves collaboration among existing efforts. Prevention and early detection for those most at risk are emphasized through support for innovative initiatives and new technologies such as biomarkers.  The legislation addresses the need to increase enrollment in clinical research by increasing access and removing barriers to patients’ participation in clinical trials. The bill also includes a plan designed to improve care for cancer survivors. Additional provisions regarding prevention and screening initiatives will increase access to care for underserved populations and reduce the burden of disease and cost of healthcare to the nation.

kennedy1

Edward M. Kennedy, U.S. Senator For The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

On March 26, 2009, Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act, a bill to comprehensively address the challenges our nation faces in battling cancer. This is the first sweeping cancer legislation introduced since the National Cancer Act in 1971, authored by Senator Kennedy. The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act is a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and detection, research and treatment. It invests in cancer research infrastructure and improves collaboration among existing efforts. Prevention and early detection for those most at risk are emphasized through support for innovative initiatives and new technologies such as biomarkers.  The legislation addresses the need to increase enrollment in clinical research by increasing access and removing barriers to patients’ participation in clinical trials. The bill also includes a plan designed to improve care for cancer survivors. Additional provisions regarding prevention and screening initiatives will increase access to care for underserved populations and reduce the burden of disease and cost of healthcare to the nation.

We provide below the full text of the following documents:

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KENNEDY ON THE INTRODUCTION OF THE 21st Century ALERT Act

As Entered into the [Congressional] Record

March 26, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thirty seven years ago, a Republican President and Democratic Congress came together in a new commitment to find a cure for cancer. At the time, a cancer diagnosis meant almost certain death. In 1971, we took action against this deadly disease and passed the National Cancer Act with broad bipartisan support, and it marked the beginning of the War on Cancer.

Since then, significant progress has been made. Amazing scientific research has led to methods to prevent cancer, and treatments that give us more beneficial and humane ways to deal with the illness. The discoveries of basic research, the use of large scale clinical trials, the development of new drugs, and the special focus on prevention and early detection have led to breakthroughs unimaginable only a generation ago.

As a result, cancer today is no longer the automatic death sentence that it was when the war began. But despite the advances we have made against cancer, other changes such as aging of the population, emerging environmental issues, and unhealthy behavior, have allowed cancer to persist. The lives of vast numbers of Americans have been touched by the disease. In 2008, over 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of cancer, and more than half a million lost their lives to the disease.

The solution isn’t easy but there are steps we can and must take now, if we hope to see the diagnosis rate decline substantially and the survival rate increase in the years ahead. The immediate challenge we face is to reduce the barriers that obstruct progress in cancer research and treatment by integrating our current fragmented and piecemeal system of addressing the disease.

Last year, my colleague Senator Hutchison and I agreed that to build on what the nation has accomplished, we must launch a new and more urgent war on cancer. The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act we are introducing today will accelerate our progress by using a better approach to fighting this relentless disease. Our goal is to break down the many barriers that impede cancer research and prevent patients from obtaining the treatment that can save their lives.

We must do more to prevent cancer, by emphasizing scientifically proven methods such as tobacco cessation, healthy eating, and exercise. Healthy families and communities that have access to nutritious foods and high quality preventive health care will be our best defense against the disease. I’m confident that swift action on national health reform will make our vision of a healthier nation a reality. Obviously, we cannot prevent all cancers, so it is also essential that the cancers that do arise be diagnosed at an initial, curable stage, with all Americans receiving the best possible care to achieve that goal.

We cannot overemphasize the value of the rigorous scientific efforts that have produced the progress we have made so far. To enhance these efforts, our bill invests in two key aspects of cancer research– infrastructure and collaboration of the researchers. We include programs that will bring resources to the types of cancer we least understand. We invest in scientists who are committed to translating basic research into clinical practice, so that new knowledge will be brought to the patients who will most benefit from it.

One of the most promising new breakthroughs is in identifying and monitoring the biomarkers that leave enough evidence in the body to alert clinicians to subtle signs that cancer may be developing. Biomarkers are the new frontier for improving the lives of cancer patients because they can lead to the earliest possible detection of cancer, and the Cancer ALERT Act will support the development of this revolutionary biomarker technology.

In addition, we give new focus to clinical trials, which have been the cornerstones of our progress in treating cancer in recent decades. Only through clinical trials are we able to discover which treatments truly work. Today, however, less than 5% of cancer patients currently are enrolled in clinical trials, because of the many barriers exist that prevent both providers and patients from participating in these trials. A primary goal of our bill is to begin removing these barriers and expanding access to clinical trials for many more patients.

Further, since many cancer survivors are now living longer lives, our health systems must be able to accommodate these men and women who are successfully fighting against this deadly disease. It’s imperative for health professionals to have the support they need to care for these survivors. To bring good lifelong care to cancer survivors, we must invest more in research to understand the later effects of cancer and how treatments affect survivors’ health and the quality of their lives.

We stand today on the threshold of unprecedented new advances in this era of extraordinary discoveries in the life sciences, especially in personalized medicine, early diagnosis of cancer at the molecular level, and astonishing new treatments based on a patient’s own DNA. To make the remarkable promise of this new era a reality, we must make sure that patients can take DNA tests, free of the fear that their genetic information will somehow be used to discriminate against them. We took a major step toward unlocking the potential of this new era by approving strong protections against genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment when the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act was signed into law last year.

In sum, we need a new model for research, prevention and treatment of cancer, and we are here today to start that debate in Congress. We must move from a magic bullet approach to a broad mosaic of care, in which survivorship is also a key part of our approach to cancer. By doing so, we can take a giant step toward reducing or even eliminating the burden of cancer in our nation and the world. It’s no longer an impossible dream, but a real possibility for the future.

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Press Contact

Anthony Coley/ Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633

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Kennedy Renews the War Against Cancer

March 26, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bill will Renew America’s Commitment to Fighting Cancer and Finding Cures

WASHINGTON, DC— Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison today introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act, a bill to comprehensively address the challenges our nation faces in battling this disease. This is the first sweeping cancer legislation introduced since the National Cancer Act in 1971, authored by Kennedy.

The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act will provide critical funding for promising research in early detection, and supply grants for screening and referrals for treatment. These measures will also ensure patient access to prevention and early detection, which is supplemented by increased access to clinical trials and information.

The bill places an emphasis on strengthening cancer research and the urgent need for resources to both prevent and detect cancers at an early stage. The bill strives to give scientists the tools they need to fight cancer and to understand more thoroughly how the disease works. Through fostering new treatments, increased preventative measures and funding for research, the ALERT Act begins a new chapter in how Americans will live with and fight cancer.

Senators Kennedy and Hutchison first proposed the idea for comprehensive cancer legislation last May, when the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing to discuss the need for a renewed focus on the deadly disease. Elizabeth Edwards, Lance Armstrong and Hala Moddelmog from Susan G. Komen for the Cure testified at the hearing.

Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said, “We’ve come a long way in fighting cancer since we passed the National Cancer Act thirty-eight years ago, but not far enough. Americans still live in fear that they or someone they love will be affected. Today, we’re better equipped for the fight— learning each and every day a little bit more about the disease and what we can do to fight it. Cancer is a complex disease and it requires comprehensive strategies to fight it— strategies that integrate research, prevention and treatment. This bill will renew our efforts to make progress in the battle against cancer, and to give patients and their families a renewed sense of hope.”

“Our nation declared the War on Cancer in 1971, yet, nearly 38 years later, cancer is expected to become the leading killer of Americans. We must bring renewed focus and vigor to this fight.” said Senator Hutchison. “The prescription isn’t simple, but there are steps we must take if we are going to see the cancer diagnosis rate decline, while raising the prognosis for survival among those who do have the disease. Our legislation will enact those necessary steps so we may see more progress and coordination in cancer research and treatment.”

“We know how to lengthen and improve the lives of people with cancer, but we’ve chosen as a nation to turn our backs on some of us who have the disease,” said Elizabeth Edwards. “I urge the United States Senate to embrace the ALERT Act and get it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

“In 2010, cancer is expected to be the leading cause of death worldwide. Every American is touched by this disease,” said Lance Armstrong, chairman and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act and its authors’ leadership in reforming our nation’s approach to the war on cancer are a very welcome step forward to every member of the LIVESTRONG movement.”

“It’s been 38 years since our nation first declared war on cancer, and yet we are still facing a significant cancer crisis.  The Kennedy-Hutchison Cancer ALERT Act will reignite the war on cancer,” said Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  “We must all work together and let nothing stand in the way of discovering and delivering the cures to cancer.”

Senate action on this bill is expected this Congressional session.

A section-by-section summary of the legislation is below as well as an op-ed authored by Senators Hutchison and Kennedy that appeared this morning in the Houston Chronicle and on the Boston Globe’s website.

_____________________________________________

21st Century Cancer ALERT Act

Senators Kennedy and Hutchison

Section by Section Summary

The 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act is a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and detection, research and treatment. It invests in cancer research infrastructure and improves collaboration among existing efforts. Prevention and early detection for those most at risk are emphasized through support for innovative initiatives and new technologies such as biomarkers.  The legislation addresses the need to increase enrollment in clinical research by increasing access and removing barriers to patients’ participation in clinical trials. The bill also includes a plan designed to improve care for cancer survivors. Additional provisions regarding prevention and screening initiatives will increase access to care for underserved populations and reduce the burden of disease and cost of healthcare to the nation.

Section 1 and 2 – Findings and Declaration of Purpose

Section 3- Advancement of the National Cancer Program (NCP)

Modernize the role of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in coordinating the NCP

  • Identifies relevant federal agencies to coordinate with NCI
  • Improves the annual budget estimate for the NCP by including the needs of the entire NCP and submitting the budget annually to House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees
  • Increases participation of other federal agencies in the National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Encourages early detection and translational research opportunities

Biological Resource Coordination and Advancement of Technologies for Cancer Research

Section 4 – Comprehensive and Responsible Access to Research, Data, and Outcomes

  • Calls for guidance from the Office of Human Research Protection on the use of a centralized Institutional Review Board
  • Improves privacy standards in clinical research by clarifying when de-identified patient information may be disclosed
  • Calls for HHS to study the advantages and disadvantages of the synchronization of the standards for research under the Common Rule and the Privacy Rule
  • Clarifies the application of the Privacy Rule to external researchers

Section 5- Enhanced Focus and Reporting on Cancer Research

  • Calls for NCI to report annually on plans and progress regarding research on cancers with low incidence and low survival rates
  • Establishes grants program to conduct research on cancers with low incidence and low survival rates

Section 6 – Continuing Access to Care for Prevention and Early Detection

Screening and Early Detection

Cancer Prevention

  • Authorizes grants for a medical mobile van program to conduct cancer screening and prevention education activities in communities that are underserved and suffer from barriers to preventative cancer care

Access to Prevention and Early Detection for Certain Cancers

Section 7– Early Recognition and Treatment of Cancer Through the Use of Biomarkers

Promote the Discovery and Development of Biomarkers

  • Establishes and coordinates federal agencies to establish a highly directed, contract based program that will support the development of innovative biomarker discovery technologies
  • Calls for FDA and CMS to work together to create guidelines for clinical study designs that will enable sponsors to generate clinical data that will be adequate for review by both agencies
  • Conducts a demonstration project to provide limited regional coverage for biomarker tests and establish procedures for independent research entities to conduct high quality assessments of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of biomarker tests

Section 8: National Cancer Coverage Guidelines

Ensure Patient Access to Clinical Trials

  • Facilitates expanded access to clinical trials by requiring ERISA governed health plans to continue to provide coverage of routine care regardless of whether a patient enrolls in a clinical trial

Section 9: Health Professions Workforce

Ensure a Stable Workforce for the Future

Section 10: Patient Navigator Program

Improve Upon Existing Patient Navigator Programs

  • Ensures that patient navigators meet minimum core proficiencies
  • Reauthorizes the Patient Navigator program through 2015

Section 11: Cancer Care and Coverage Under Medicaid and Medicare

Improvements in Coverage of Cancer Services

  • Codifies current Medicare policy to reimburse for routine care while patients are enrolled in clinical trials
  • Conducts a demonstration project to evaluate the cost, effectiveness, and potential savings to Medicare of reimbursing providers for comprehensive cancer care planning services to the Medicare population
  • Directs states to offer tobacco cessation medications and counseling to pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid

Section 12: Cancer Survivorship and Complete Recovery Initiatives

Childhood Cancers

  • Establishes priority areas for NIH activities related to childhood cancer survivorship
  • Authorizes grants for research on the causes of health disparities in childhood cancer survivorship and to evaluate follow up care for childhood cancer survivors

Complete Recovery Care

  • Defines “complete recovery care” which includes care to address secondary effects of cancer and its treatment, including late and psychosocial effects
  • Coordinates complete recovery care activities across federal agencies
  • Establishes a Collaborative that will develop a plan for workforce development for complete recovery care

Section 13: Activities of the Food and Drug Administration

Sense of the Senate

  • Encourages the FDA to harmonize policies to facilitate the development of drugs; explore clinical trial endpoints; and, modernize the Office of Oncology Drug Products

____________________________________________

Renewing the War on Cancer

By Edward M. Kennedy and Kay Bailey Hutchison

Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Senator For Texas

Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Senator For State of Texas

Cancer is a relentless disease. It doesn’t discriminate between men and women, wealthy or poor, the elderly or the young. In 2008, over 1.4 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of the disease. If it wasn’t you, it may have been a spouse or sibling, a parent or a child, a friend or a coworker. We, too, have known the challenges of cancer diagnoses for ourselves or our family members or friends. And while there are many stories of survival, this disease still takes far too many lives. More than half a million Americans lost their battle with cancer last year.

Since the War on Cancer was declared in 1971, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge about the disease. Advances in basic and clinical research have improved treatments significantly. Some of the most important progress has been made in prevention and early detection, particularly screening, including mammography and colonoscopy. Behavior modifications, such as smoking cessation, better eating habits, regular exercise, and sunscreen have been found to prevent many cancers. Continued focus must be placed on prevention, which will always be the best cure.

Though heightened awareness and prevention should be emphasized, alone they don’t translate into adequate progress for those with cancer. Since 1971, the cancer mortality rate has decreased by only 6 percent. In the same period, by contrast, mortality rates have dramatically declined for heart disease (by 56 percent) and stroke (by 66 percent). Today, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. If the current trend continues, the National Cancer Institute predicts that one in every two men and one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, and that cancer will become the leading killer of Americans.

The solution isn’t easy, but there are steps we should take now if we hope to see the diagnosis rate decline substantially and the survival rate increase.  To do so, we must identify and remove the numerous barriers that obstruct our progress in cancer research and treatment.

First, it is essential that cancer be diagnosed at an initial, curable stage. One of the most promising breakthroughs is the monitoring of biomarkers, which leave evidence within the body that alerts clinicians to hidden activity indicating that cancer may be developing. Identification of such biomarkers can lead to the earliest possible detection of cancer in patients.

Second, even if we significantly improve early detection, lack of health insurance and other impediments to care will preclude many Americans from undergoing routine screening. With early screening, the disease may be detected at a treatable stage and dramatically increase the rate of survival. Greater outreach is clearly needed to make screening more available to all, and especially to underserved populations.

Third, we must adopt a more coordinated approach to cancer research. Establishing an interconnected network of biorepositories with broadly accessible sources of tissue collection and storage will enable investigators to share information and samples much more effectively. Integrated research will help accelerate the progress of lifesaving research. The search for cures should also be a cooperative goal. The current culture of isolated career research must yield to more cooperative arrangements to expedite breakthroughs. Our national policy should encourage all stakeholders in the War on Cancer to become allies and work in concert toward cures.

Fourth, as our nation’s best and brightest researchers seek new ways to eradicate cancer, we must improve treatment for those who have it today. Raising awareness of clinical trials would result in more patients and their doctors knowing what promising trials are available. Doing so will expand treatment options for patients, and enable researchers to develop better methods for prevention, diagnosis, and therapy.  Today, less than five percent of the 10 million adults with cancer in the United States participate in clinical trials. Disincentives by the health insurance market, preventing patients from enrolling in clinical trials, must be eliminated.

Finally, as our knowledge of cancer advances and patients live longer, we need a process that will improve patient survivorship through comprehensive care planning services. There is great value in equipping patients with a treatment plan and summary of their care when they first enter remission, in order to achieve continuity of therapy and preventing costly, duplicative, or unnecessary services.

We have introduced bipartisan legislation to bring about these necessary changes, and we hope to see the bill enacted in the coming weeks and months. These policy initiatives cannot be fully implemented without broad support and sufficient resources, and we are committed to leading this effort to completion.

It’s time to reinvigorate the War on Cancer, and more effective coordination of policy and science is indispensible for rapid progress.

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Early Detection Remains Key in Updated National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer

Posted by Paul Cacciatore on March 16, 2009

New updates to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™ for Ovarian Cancer were presented at the NCCN 14th Annual Conference on March 14. Notable additions to the NCCN Guidelines are a section on managing allergic reactions to chemotherapy agents and new agents for recurrence therapy. Robert J. Morgan Jr., M.D., F.A.C.P. of  the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center presented the updated NCCN Guidelines that continue to stress early detection of ovarian cancer and the enrollment of patients in clinical trials.

“Early Detection Remains Key in Updated NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer


New updates to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™ for Ovarian Cancer were presented at the NCCN 14th Annual Conference on March 14. Notable additions to the NCCN Guidelines are a section on managing allergic reactions to chemotherapy agents and new agents for recurrence therapy. Robert J. Morgan, MD, of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center presented the updated NCCN Guidelines that continue to stress early detection of ovarian cancer and the enrollment of patients in clinical trials.


March 16, 2009

morganrobert

Robert J. Morgan Jr., M.D., F.A.C.P., Professor of Medical Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA & Chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Ovarian Cancer

HOLLYWOOD, FL — Improvements in screening and early detection remains the key for women with ovarian cancer according to Robert J. Morgan, MD, of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of the NCCN Guidelines Panel for Ovarian Cancer. Dr. Morgan discussed the future of ovarian cancer and notable changes to the recently updated NCCN Ovarian Cancer Guidelines at the NCCN Annual Conference on Saturday, March 14.

Dr. Morgan began by explaining that the major challenge in treating ovarian cancer is that by the time the majority of patients (70 percent) are diagnosed with the disease, it has already progressed to stage III or IV. ‘We have not yet found a good way to screen the general population or even the high-risk population of women for ovarian cancer,’ he said.

New to the NCCN Guidelines is a section on the management of allergic reactions in patients receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Dr. Morgan explained the need for this section as ovarian cancer tends to respond to the same treatment repeatedly. Combined with the fact that recurrence rates of ovarian cancer are high, this can result in patients often being retreated with the same chemotherapeutic agent. Given that virtually all chemotherapy drugs have the potential to cause infusion reactions, including agents commonly used in ovarian cancer, the NCCN Guidelines Panel felt it was important to provide information on allergic reactions and recommendations on desensitization regimens.

‘Most patients experiencing allergic reactions are able to be desensitized allowing for continued chemotherapeutic treatment, which is vital to the management of ovarian cancer,’ said Dr. Morgan.

Also new to the updated NCCN Guidelines is the addition of new agents for recurrence therapy, most notably pemetrexed (Alimta®, Eli Lilly and Company) as well as recommendations for therapies based on the timing of recurrence.

‘Seventy-five to 80 percent of patients with stage III or IV ovarian cancer will experience recurrence and this recurrence can occur at any time – during treatment, within 6 months of completing treatment, or more than a year after completing treatment,’ Dr. Morgan noted. ‘In the updated NCCN Guidelines, we differentiated appropriate therapy for recurrence based upon the time frame on which it occurs.’

Additionally, Dr. Morgan referred to a clinical trial suggesting that pemetrexed is active in recurrent ovarian cancer, to support the new recommendation in the updated NCCN Guidelines.

Dr. Morgan described new updates to the Principles of Primary Surgery section in the updated NCCN Guidelines that included the recommendation to consider completion surgery for patients responsive to chemotherapy with initially unresectable residual disease, as well as recommendations relating to special circumstances including minimally-invasive procedures, and fertility sparing procedures.

Dr. Morgan also discussed recent clinical studies conducted abroad that studied the effect of chemotherapy as an up-front therapy in patients with ovarian cancer, and concluded that ‘in the United States, up-front debulking surgery remains the recommendation for the best overall survival.’

Another addition to the updated NCCN Guidelines is a section on the Principles of Chemotherapy. This section emphasizes the encouragement of patients participating in clinical trials during all aspects of their treatment course as well as noting that patients with newly diagnosed tumors should be informed about the different options available, particularly IV [intravenous] vs. IV/IP chemotherapy and the risks and benefits of each regimen.

‘The future of ovarian cancer lies in early detection and improvements in screening,’ Dr. Morgan noted as he discussed potential biomarkers for the detection, prediction and prognostication of ovarian cancer.

He concluded that steady progress is being made in the treatment of ovarian cancer, but further trials are necessary to investigate the role of targeted agents alone and in combination in newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer. Finally, he again stressed the need for physicians to encourage their patients to participate in clinical trials.

For questions about NCCN or for interview information, please contact Megan Martin 215.690.0576.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers, is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients with cancer. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. As the arbiter of high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers. The primary goal of all NCCN initiatives is to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of oncology practice so patients can live better lives. For more information, visit www.nccn.org.

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Cited SourceEarly Detection Remains Key in Updated NCCN Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer, News, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), March 16, 2009.

Posted in Chemotherapy, Early Detection, Fertility, Meeting Highlights, Treatment Overview | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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