Colorectal Cancer Drugs Require Careful Patient Selection
Patients with advanced colorectal cancer who have mutant forms of the gene KRAS in their tumors should not receive chemotherapy plus cetuximab (Erbitux), because they are unlikely to benefit from the treatment and should be spared the side effects and cost, researchers said at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.
Based on a growing body of evidence, including findings presented at the meeting, several experts predicted that it will become standard practice to test all colorectal tumors for mutations in the KRAS gene before starting patients with advanced disease on therapies involving cetuximab and a similar drug, panitumumab (Vectibix).
"I believe it is now warranted to test all patients being considered for these agents," said Dr. Gail Eckhardt of the University of Colorado Denver, who was not involved in the research and discussed the findings at ASCO. "Patients with KRAS mutations should not receive cetuximab or panitumumab in [certain] settings." Read more
Gemcitabine after Pancreatic Cancer Surgery Improves Survival
Patients who received the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine after surgery for pancreatic cancer lived 2 months longer than patients who had surgery alone, according to the final results of a large, randomized clinical trial presented at the ASCO annual meeting last week.
Less than 20 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are candidates for surgery, because the disease is often detected in the late stages. Gemcitabine has been a standard treatment for patients with advanced (and inoperable) pancreatic cancer for a decade. The new findings support use of the drug in the adjuvant setting. Read more