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33rd ESMO Congress in Stockholm, 12-16 September 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008 General News J E 4
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LUGANO, Switzerland, September 5 The 33rd ESMO Congressin Stockholm, the premier European congress in Oncology, serves as a meetingplace for medical oncologists, as well as a focal point to exchange ideaswith colleagues from other disciplines.

The Congress Centre will be the venue for interdisciplinary interaction,a teaching ground, and a place to discuss critical issues for Europeanoncology such as cancer research in Europe, the training of young oncologistsand better integration of medical oncology with other specialties and patientadvocacy groups.

New research has highlighted stark disparities in access to the latestcancer drugs across European Union nations. Dr. Nils Wilking from theKarolinska Institute in Stockholm gathered data on the sales of newer drugsper inhabitant of each country provided by pharmaceutical industryconsultants IMS Health. His group's focus was on the uptake of newer'targeted' drugs over the past 10 years in 27 countries.

Lung cancer patients whose tumours carry specific genetic mutations canachieve significantly longer survival when treated with targeted therapiessuch as erlotinib, Spanish researchers report. Investigators from the SpanishLung Cancer Group conducted the largest-ever study to examine the benefits ofcustomising lung cancer treatment based on mutations in the epidermal growthfactor receptor (EGFR) gene.

Pazopanib, a new oral angiogenesis inhibitor, has demonstratedinteresting activity in hard-to-treat non-small-cell lung cancer, USresearchers report. "To my knowledge, no other results on the effect ofangiogenesis inhibitors in early stage operable lung cancer have beenpublished," said Prof. Nasser Altorki from Weil Medical College of CornellUniversity in New York. The results indicate a highly active drug in thissetting and further development in lung cancer is underway to fullyunderstand the value of this drug in this disease.

The targeted therapy gefitinib should be considered a first-line therapyfor non-smoking Asian patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung, suggests apresentation by Prof. Tony Mok from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

People who carry a particular genetic variant are at significantlyincreased risk of developing malignant melanoma, new research shows.Melanomas are known to be caused by exposure to the ultraviolet light insunlight, but the precise mechanisms involved are complex, Portugueseresearchers show.

Prof. Poulam Patel from Nottingham University in the UK reports the finalresults from the largest of its kind randomised phase III study in 859patients with stage IV melanoma. The clinical trial is coordinated by theEORTC Melanoma Study Group, involving 92 institutions in Europe, the US andLatin America.

For patients with early stage breast cancer that has spread to the lymphnodes, adding docetaxel into a sequential regimen of epirubicin followed bycyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (CMF) reduces the risk ofrecurrence and death, updated long-term results show. This advantage comes atthe cost of an increased, but manageable, toxicity, Italian researchersreport.

For women with metastatic breast cancer, treatment with an encapsulatedform of the drug doxorubicin offers a well-tolerated option for maintenancetherapy that delays progression and offers benefits in terms of survival, newresults show presented by Spanish researcher Emilio Alba.

A new form of chemotherapy that destroys new blood vessels that growaround tumours has produced excellent results in a phase II trial of patientswith inoperable pancreatic cancer, Prof. Matthias Lohr from the KarolinskaInstitute reports.

Genetic testing can identify a group of patients with advanced colorectalcancer who are likely to survive on average twice as long if treated with thedrug cetuximab, show results presented by Dr. Christos Karapetis fromFlinders
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