Exelixis Drug Fails Pivotal Prostate Cancer Study

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) — The Exelixis (EXEL) cancer drug cabozantinib failed to prolong survival in men with advanced prostate cancer, according to results from a phase III study announced Monday night.

Due to the negative outcome of the cabozantinib prostate cancer study, Exelixis will fire 70% of its workforce, or 160 employees, the company said. Following the downsizing, Exelixis will employ 70 people and focus on two, ongoing phase III studies of cabozantinib in kidney cancer and liver cancer. Cabozantinib is already approved for the treatment of a relatively rare form of thyroid cancer and is sold under the brand name Cometriq. Reported sales are de minimis. (more…)

Cancer Screening in the Elderly: Don’t Be Stupid

The electronic medical record that my office uses features a clinical protocol button that we are encouraged to click during patient visits to remind us about potentially indicated preventive services, such as obesity and tobacco counseling and cancer screenings. I once tried it out while seeing a 90-year-old with four chronic health problems. The computer suggested breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer screenings: three totally inappropriate tests for the patient.

At the residency program where I precept one afternoon a week, we recently held a “chart rounds” on an elderly patient with advanced dementia: When should you stop cancer screening? The answer boils down to the patient’s predicted life expectancy compared to the number of years needed for a patient to benefit from a test. Although forecasting how long someone has left to live is not a precise science, knowing averages is essential to deciding if the inconvenience, expense, and potential adverse effects of screening (and treatment, if an abnormality is discovered) can be justified by the potential benefit. Since advanced dementia is a terminal disease, with more than half of nursing home residents in a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study dying within 18 months, there is virtually zero chance that a patient with this condition would benefit from cancer screening of any type. The same statement applies to a healthy 90-year-old in the U.S., who is expected to live around 4-5 more years. (more…)

Where Should Cancer Care Be Delivered and Why?

There is a growing chorus that seems to be debating separate issues—340B drug pricing, the sequester, site of service differential, etc. But the debate revolves around a singular issue—where should cancer care be delivered? It is an uncontested fact that delivery of state of the art oncology care is getting significantly more complex and expensive. Also, without question, the practice of oncology is currently migrating from the office (private practice/community) to the hospital (ie, oncologist as employee) setting. Is this good for patients? Is this good for oncologists? Is this good for payers? In the long run is this good for hospitals? (more…)

What Happens When Health Plans Compete

As a candidate in 2008, President Obama promised that health reform would reduce family premiums by up to $2,500, equivalent today to about a 15 percent reduction from the 2013 level. Though Mr. Obama might have been including the effects of premium subsidies in his calculation, a key premise of the Affordable Care Act is that competition among health insurers will drive premiums downward. So it’s worth asking: How much savings can additional competition produce?

The most direct answer to this question comes from analysis by Leemore Dafny and Christopher Ody of Northwestern University and Jonathan Gruber of M.I.T. They estimated the effect of greater competition on premiums for the second-cheapest silver-rated plans in the 34 exchanges that rely on at least some operational assistance from the federal government, known as “federally facilitated” exchanges. Their findings were based on a statistical model that predicts the effect of competition in the marketplace on premiums, controlling for other factors that could affect premiums like the demographics, income and hospital price levels in each market. (more…)

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Provides Equity Financing to OncoPep to Support Clinical Trial for Myeloma Vaccine

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and OncoPep have entered a partnership to advance an experimental cancer vaccine to treat patients with smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM), an asymptomatic stage of myeloma.

The partnership is through LLS’s Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP), through which LLS forges collaborations with biotechnology companies to help bring therapies to patients faster. (more…)

AACR to Co-host 2014 Turning the Tide Against Cancer National Conference

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Personalized Medicine Coalition, and Feinstein Kean Healthcare are convening the second national conference on Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation which will be held 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 9, at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. (more…)

Drug Shows Promise for Subset of Stage III Colon Cancer Patients

A subset of patients with stage III colon cancer had improved survival rates when treated with irinotecan-based therapy, according to a new study in Gastroenterology,1 the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

When added to the standard chemotherapy treatment — fluorouracil and leucovorin — adjuvant irinotecan therapy improved overall survival rates for patients with the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP). CIMP is seen in about 10 to 20 percent of colorectal cancers. Patients with CIMP-negative tumors, however, exhibited significant harm from the addition of irinotecan — overall survival was 68 percent compared with 78 percent for those receiving the standard treatment alone. (more…)

Tiger Star Jack Riewoldt Tells of His Brush With Skin Cancer

Tiger Jack Reiwoldt had a melanoma in 2007 and has regular checks to ensure he is clear.

Tiger Jack Reiwoldt had a melanoma in 2007 and has regular checks to ensure he is clear.

TIGERS star Jack Riewoldt has revealed a battle with skin cancer that may have brought him within fractions of a millimetre of death.

The melanoma on his back was removed, but the full forward must return for tests every six months to ensure that the cancer has not returned.

Specialists check his skin, including his armpits and between his toes, for moles, and his glands to ensure they are not swelling and that there is no cancer in his bloodstream. (more…)

Santa Monica Ferris Wheel, Other Landmarks, To Light Up For Cancer Telethon

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The Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier in California and more than a dozen landmarks across the U.S. and Canada will light up to promote next week’s “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon.

Organizers say the buildings that will be illuminated starting tomorrow in advance of the hour-long cancer fundraiser airing Sept. 5 on 31 U.S. broadcast and cable networks. It also will stream live on Hulu and Yahoo in the U.S.

The buildings that will be illuminated also include Rockefeller Center in New York, Toronto’s CN tower, the Wrigley Building in Chicago, etc. All the lights will be some combination of SU2C’s signature colors: red, orange, yellow or white. (more…)

MMC Cancer Center Hits High Mark with Accreditation of Cancer-Treatment Programs

LAS CRUCES >> The Cancer Center Program at Memorial Medical Center has received a three-year accreditation to put the Las Cruces hospital on par with facilities nationwide offering the same level of cancer care to their patients. The accreditation came as a result of MMC meeting and exceeding 34 quality care standards set by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, who granted the accreditation. Dr. William Adler, medical director of the MMC Cancer Center, said the hospital has been working on the accreditation for more than four years and was required to meet myriad guidelines surrounding the quality of care at the facility. (more…)