Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccination After Autologous HSCT

​A phase 3 clinical trial reports that two doses of the adjuvanted recombinant zoster vaccine reduce the incidence of herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, following autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy for certain types of malignancies, including multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma, and germ cell tumors, are often administered autologous HSCT in order to replenish the...
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Prostate Cancer: Carbon Ion Radiotherapy Reduces Future Risk

​A new study reports that compared with photon radiotherapy, carbon ion radiotherapy reduces the risk of subsequent primary tumors in patients with localized prostate cancer. "The risk of subsequent primary cancers in patients with prostate cancer after treatment with photon radiotherapy is small in absolute numbers, but it is higher than that after surgical treatment," explain the authors of the study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology. "Carbon ion radiotherapy has a theoretically lowe...
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Preventing Venous Thromboembolism in Patients With Cancer: An Interview With Philip Wells, MD, FRCPC, MSc

​Venous thromboembolism is the third most common vascular condition after heart attack and stroke, affecting between 300,000 and 600,000 individuals in the United States each year. Patients with active cancer are at increased risk, with a 9.6% chance of developing symptomatic thrombosis during the first six months of chemotherapy. In this interview with i3 Health, hematologist Philip Wells, MD, FRCPC, MSc, Chair and Chief of the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and The Ottawa H...
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Apixaban Prevents Venous Thromboembolism in Patients With Cancer

​A team of Canadian researchers has found that apixaban reduces the occurrence of venous thromboembolism in cancer patients who are starting chemotherapy and are at intermediate to high risk for this condition. A blood clot that forms in the veins, venous thromboembolism is the third most common vascular condition after heart attack and stroke, affecting between 300,000 and 600,000 individuals in the United States each year. Patients with active cancer are at increased risk, with a 9.6% chance o...
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Chemotherapy Agents Differ in Long-Term Cardiac Risks

​Although anthracyclines—chemotherapeutic agents that are extracted from Streptomyces bacterium—can be highly effective in the fight against various pediatric cancers, they carry a long-term risk of cardiovascular disease that continues to impact patients well into their adult lives. While this much is well known, the impact of specific anthracyclines on cardiac risk has not been adequately studied. In a study published in JAMA Oncology, researchers have now identified the relative long-ter...
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New Protein Mimics Interleukin 2 Sans Side Effects

Researchers have used a computer program to design a protein that mimics the action of interleukin 2 (IL-2) and interleukin 15 (IL-15) without the toxic side effects. Interleukin 2 (IL-2), a cytokine that regulates the activities of the immune system's white blood cells, is a powerful anti-cancer drug used to treat metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. However, its toxic side effects, such as impairment of kidney function, have limited its use as a cancer-fighting agent. "People have tri...
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“Sponge” Absorbs Excess Chemo Drugs to Avoid Side Effects

Chemotherapy can be highly effective at treating cancer, but doctors often cannot prescribe the optimal cancer-killing dose due to systemic toxic side effects. When chemotherapy is administered to a cancerous organ via intra-arterial infusion, 50% to 80% of the drug generally does not remain in that organ. The excess passes on to the veins that drain the organ, entering the circulatory system, where it gets distributed to the rest of the body. Researchers from the University of California, Berke...
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Preventing Chemotherapy-Induced Metastasis in Breast Cancer

Chemotherapy is effective in treating invasive breast cancer. But can it also cause metastasis? Experimental studies in mice have suggested that this may be the case. In a further investigation of this matter, an international team of researchers has shown that two classes of chemotherapy drugs used in neoadjuvant (pre-operative) breast cancer therapy, taxanes and anthracyclines, cause tumors to release extracellular vesicles (EVs) such as exosomes that can enable the seeding and growth of metas...
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Therapeutic Target Identified in Chemo Brain

Chemotherapy is a life-saving treatment for many patients with cancer. However, it can also leave patients with lasting neurological deficits through a condition commonly known as "chemo brain." "It's wonderful that they're alive, but their quality of life is really suffering," commented Erin Gibson, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "If we can do anything to improve that, there is a huge population that could benefit." In a study published in Cell, Dr...
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A Means to Avoid Graft-Versus-Host Disease in Leukemia

Researchers have found a potential way to prevent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious and sometimes fatal complication of the allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplants used to treat leukemia. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplants succeed in fighting leukemia when donated T cells—the immune system's "killer cells," which attack unhealthy cells—attack the cancer cells. Through what is known as graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) activity, these donated T cells work to prevent disease relapse. ...
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Accelerated Aging Linked to Breast Cancer Treatments

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation work by damaging the DNA of cancer cells, thereby killing them. Unfortunately, it is impossible for these treatments to target only the diseased cells; therefore, surrounding healthy cells also suffer from DNA damage as a result of treatment. This DNA damage to healthy cells could have dire consequences. Findings from a study published in Cancer reveal that certain treatments for breast cancer increase patients' exposure to toxicities that may...
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Epigenetic Cancer Treatments May Cause Aggressive Tumors

A new study suggests that epigenetic cancer treatments may do more harm than good. Epigenetic treatments impact epigenetic modifiers, genes which modify the epigenome—the collection of chemical compounds controlling genetic expression—by causing DNA methylation, altering chromatin structure, or modifying post-translational chromatin. Because tumors frequently have epigenetic modifiers that are mutated or altered in their expression, these genes have become a focus of cancer research. But what is...
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Novel Management Strategies for Immune-Related Pruritus: An Interview With Shawn Kwatra, MD

Shawn G. Kwatra, MD

Immunotherapies such as PD-1 inhibitors have improved survival for many patients with cancer. However, these therapies are associated with adverse events that, if not properly managed, impair quality of life and may lead to treatment interruptions or discontinuation. Pruritus is one of the most common immune-related adverse events, and while many cases may be managed with conventional therapy, some patients do not respond. Shawn Kwatra, MD and colleagues reported on a case of an 88-year-old woman receiving pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, for metastatic lung adenocarcinoma who developed severe pruritus refractory to standard treatment. Dr. Kwatra and colleagues found that intravenous naloxone, an opioid antagonist, resulted in a reduction in pruritus severity from 10 to 1 (on a scale of 0 to 10) within 1 hour. i3 Health spoke with Dr. Kwatra, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, about his findings and the challenges, potential advances, and role of multidisciplinary care in the management of dermatologic immune-related adverse events.

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Preventing Premature Menopause in Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cure early-stage breast cancer, but it can also result in premature menopause, a highly unwelcome long-term side effect. In the final results of its investigation, the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG)'s Prevention of Early Menopause Study (POEMS) reports a potential solution: women who receive goserelin (Zoladex®, AstraZeneca) along with standard chemotherapy for hormone-receptor negative breast cancer increase their chances of becoming pregnant without negatively impacting ...
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Nanodevice Delivers Immunotherapy Without Side Effects

​Researchers at Houston Methodist have invented a nanodevice that delivers immunotherapy medications directly to a tumor in a single, sustained-release dose, dramatically reducing treatment-related side effects. Conventional immunotherapy, which involves systemic treatment administration, often results in significant side effects while failing to produce a sufficient antitumor immune response. Delivering immunotherapy medications intratumorally—directly within the tumor—has the potential to solv...
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Skin Creams Can Now Be Safely Used Prior to Radiotherapy

Up to 90% of patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer experience radiation dermatitis. While the symptoms are mild or moderate for many patients, some experience severe dermatitis that can cause not only substantial discomfort but also infection. Treatment involves topical ointments, but patients are often advised to avoid these ointments for several hours before daily radiotherapy because of concern that they might increase the radiation dose to the skin. In a recent study, researchers ...
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Invasive Lung Cancer Surgery Linked to Long-Term Opioid Use

A new study has demonstrated that patients undergoing more invasive surgery for early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are more likely to become chronic opioid users than patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery for the same condition. Surgery for early-stage lung cancer often results in persistent pain, which can be debilitatingly intense for approximately 10% of patients. It is considered standard of care to prescribe opioids immediately after surgery with the intention of contr...
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Complementary Medicine Reduces Cancer Treatment Side Effects

The field known as integrative oncology involves a combination of conventional antitumor therapies and complementary therapies used to enhance wellness, improve quality of life, and relieve disease symptoms and treatment side effects. A study published this week in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that integrative oncology facilitated adherence to conventional cancer treatment and reduced treatment-related adverse effects. The study, by Elio Rossi, MD and colleagues at...
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