June 13, 2012

USC Norris Clinicians Discuss Cancer Research Results

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center physician-researchers collaborated on more than 70 research projects presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) this month.

Roughly 30,000 cancer specialists from around the world attend the annual meeting to discuss the latest techniques, drugs and research in cancer care. ASCO, founded in 1964, is an offshoot of the American Association of Cancer Research dedicated to clinical oncology.

Studies discussed at the 2012 meeting, held in Chicago June 1-5, included new advances in targeted therapy; clinical trial results for prostate, ovarian, breast, brain, colorectal and other cancers; and findings that are expected to lead to better patient experiences. This year, more than 4,500 abstracts were presented or published at the meeting and are now available on abstract.asco.org.

Poster presentations led by USC investigators included studies that analyze the ability to detect other occult cancers using MRI scanning in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (Akshara Raghavendra); pinpoint genetic differences that may explain why bevacizumab is not as effective in treating Japanese patients with gastric cancer as it is in treating Caucasian and Hispanic patients (Takeru Wakatsuki); identify the first cancer stem cell signature that may predict recurrence of prostate cancer (Adrian S. Fairey); and examine whether particular obesity-related gene variants might predict tumor recurrence in colon cancer (Robert D. Ladner).

Heinz-Josef Lenz, associate director for clinical research and co-leader of the gastrointestinal cancers program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, participated in numerous studies presented at the meeting, including an international phase III trial that found that regorafenib, an experimental drug, significantly improves overall survival in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have not responded to other approved therapies. The trial results are expected to change the standard of care for those patients once the FDA approves the drug.

David Quinn, associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and medical director of the USC Norris Cancer Hospital, presented results from a national phase III study on the efficacy of adding the experimental drug atrasentan to the standard chemotherapy regimen for advanced prostate cancer. The trial found that patients who received the drug did not live any longer or experience longer bouts of remission than patients who received a placebo and the standard chemotherapy.

Quinn also participated in prostate cancer research featured at a plenary session of the meeting. That international phase III trial suggests that, for certain men with prostate cancer, intermittent hormonal therapy may shorten survival, even though it was associated with better quality of life. The study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, found that men with minimal disease on intermittent therapy had a median survival of 5.2 years, compared with 7.1 years for those receiving continuous therapy.


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