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Cancer News from Heartland CCOP Cancer Research St. Louis, MO

The Heartland Cancer Research NCORP collaborative approach to patient care and research aids in many significant breakthroughs.  Our newsstand section offers the latest local and national news: 


FROM USA Today, December 13, 2016

In an emotional bill signing ceremony — likely the last one of this presidency — Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act in a White House auditorium. The signing brought full circle Obama's State of the Union challenge to Congress to "surprise the cynics" by tackling some of the biggest health priorities facing the country.

"We are bringing to reality the possibility of new breakthroughs to some of the biggest health challenges of our time," Obama said.

"We're tackling cancer, brain disease, substance abuse disorders and more, and none of this would have been possible without bipartisan cooperation from both houses of Congress," he said, thanking a delegation from Capitol Hill. The bill passed the House of Representatives 392 to 26 and the Senate 94 to 5.

The bill was a personal project for Biden. The section of the bill allocating $1.8 billion in cancer research funding was named for his son, Beau, whose death from brain cancer in 2015 inspired what the White House called its "Cancer Moonshot."

"This bill will literally save lives," said a somber Biden. "Just its mere signing, Mr. President, as you know better than I, gives millions of Americans hope."

In addition to the added funding, Biden said that the bill would "fundamentally change the culture of our fight against cancer" by adding a sense of urgency to the effort.

The bill also authorized seven years of funding for other health-related initiatives: $1.5 billion for a brain research initiative, $1.4 billion for precision medicine, and $1 billion for substance abuse treatment targeting heroin and opioid addiction.

Obama was introduced by David Grubb, a former West Virginia state senator who told first met the president in Charleston last year, telling him the story of his daughter Jessie's battle with heroin addiction. She was in recovery then, and Grubb was optimistic.

But Jessie died this March after being given painkillers following a surgery.

"When I first met them in Charleston, their story was unfortunately more common than we would have liked," Obama said. "I think it reflects the power of this issue and how deeply it affects every family in America."

"This is an epidemic that can touch anybody — blue collar, white collar, college students, retirees, kids, moms, dads," Obama said.



WHY THE "MOON SHOT" TO CURE CANCER MIGHT WORK - The Wall Street Journal, Febuary 17, 2016

Widespread praise for Vice President Joseph Biden’s “Moon Shot to Cure Cancer“ is another positive development in a year that could prove transformative for biomedical research – and the nation.

In December, biomedical research regained the broad, bipartisan Congressional support it enjoyed 13 years ago when both parties celebrated a five-year doubling of the annual budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the world’s largest medical research funding agency.

The years before had been tough ones. NIH’s inflation-adjusted budget declined by more than 20% between 2003 and 2014. NIH went from funding one in three approved extramural grant applications to one in six, despite extraordinary opportunities for discoveries unrealized, not to mention the impact of fewer grants on new scientists’ careers and the sustainability of research infrastructure overall. The U.S. reputation as world leader in innovation suffered; China now leads in global life science patent applications. Most importantly, untold lives are the worse for it.

The 114th Congress, which was elected in 2014, marked a turning point. It gave NIH a 6.6% increase of $2 billion – significant growth for the first time since 2003 – thanks to resurgent bipartisan support. Democratic and Republican representatives endorsed boosting NIH’s budget by $2 billion, and over 100 Republicans called for a $3 billion increase.

What made the difference was a bipartisan decision to raise the spending caps; recognition of exceptional research opportunities close at hand; passionate advocacy by patients and families, business leaders convinced of research’s economic impact, and internationalists believing scientific prowess enhances U.S. global leadership; and researchers who can translate the value of science into lay terms.
Vice President Biden can be described as an advocate, a father profoundly motivated by his oldest son’s death from cancer. But drawing on over 40 years of experience in politics, Mr. Biden is uniquely qualified to harness passion to pragmatism to achieve his goal.

I believe the applause for the moon shot is partly in appreciation for his understanding that more resources for research – particularly sustainable resources, which are essential – must go hand in hand with improved collaboration. Such collaboration has the potential to achieve the best possible return on investment. For example:

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is constructing a facility designed for collaborative investigation on pancreatic cancer, bringing basic scientists, oncologists, surgeons, radiologists and pathologists under one roof for integrated, multidisciplinary research and patient care.
  • A Seattle-based consortium brings together the cancer specialists of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle Children’s, and the University of Washington to accelerate cancer research, aligning over 400 research faculty in basic, clinical and public health sciences.
  • Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia is in talks with research institutions in two other states to explore forging partnerships that would remove bureaucratic silos in cancer research that can impede discovery.


The launch of the moon shot – in conjunction with long-term, sustainable NIH funding overall – would represent a potential game changer for cancer. They also could open a historic new chapter in medicine and health.

Dr. Atul Grover (@AtulGroverMD) is the chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical College



ECOG-ACRIN opens NCI-MATCH precision medicine cancer trial

The largest, most scientifically rigorous precision medicine trial in cancer to date is now open to cancer centers and community hospitals nationwide

Philadelphia, August 17, 2015 — The National Cancer Institute-Molecular Analysis forTherapy Choice (NCI-MATCH) phase II precision medicine trial, known to doctors as trial EAY131, is open through the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group.

Precision medicine refers to the tailoring of treatment based on the characteristics of each individual. As the largest precision medicine trial for cancer to date, NCI-MATCH seeks to determine whether matching certain drugs or drug combinations to people whose tumors have specific gene abnormalities will effectively treat their cancer, regardless of their cancer type. Treatment for this trial focuses on molecular abnormalities of patient tumors instead of the organ sites of the cancer.

NCI-MATCH (EAY131) will match patients with one of 22 treatments to test the use of each specific drug or drug combination targeted to a particular gene abnormality. It is open to medical facilities today with ten treatments, and the additional 12 treatments will be added to the trial within the next several months.

Patients can enroll in the trial on a rolling basis as hospitals and cancer centers join and as the additional treatments become available. Contact the NCI Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER for trial information.

The trial seeks to enroll for genetic testing about 3,000 adults 18 years of age and older with any type of solid tumor or lymphoma (cancer in the cells of the immune system) that has returned or gotten worse after standard systemic therapy (oral or intravenous). Patients may also be eligible for screening if they have a rare type of cancer for which there is no standard treatment. All patients considering the trial will need to have a new biopsy and their tumor cells will need to undergo genetic testing to see whether they contain one of the gene mutations being studied.

Trial researchers expect that about one-third of the patients screened will have one or more molecular abnormalities that match one of the 22 treatments being studied. If so, they will be further evaluated to determine if they are able to be treated as part of the trial.

There will be 35 patients enrolled for each drug/drug combination being studied.

The trial’s design calls for at least 25 percent of the 1,000-patient enrollment to be people with rare types of cancer. The inclusion of uncommon types of cancer in NCI-MATCH offers patients an unusual opportunity to have their disease assessed to see if it has the same genetic abnormalities found in more common cancer types. It also offers researchers a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of new treatments on rare diseases.

As leader of the trial, ECOG-ACRIN is coordinating the genetic testing. It also supports all trial sites with training, laboratory services, trial assignments, biostatistical support, data management, auditing, quality control, and public awareness.

The study was co-developed by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group and the National Cancer Institute.

ECOG-ACRIN study chair Keith T. Flaherty, MD, a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor, Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, is available for comment.

For more information, visit


Study Shows Walking an Hour a Day Achieves Greatest Longevity Benefit

Article date: April 24, 2015

By Stacy Simon

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and others have found that getting 3 to 5 times the amount of recommended leisure-time physical activity results in the greatest benefit in terms of a longer life. The study was published online April 6, 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine. One way to achieve this benefit is by walking an hour a day.

The US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer Society are among organizations that recommend adults get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity or 75 minutes (1.25) hours of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Moderate-intensity activities are those at the level of a brisk walk. Vigorous-intensity activities increase your heart rate and breathing, and make you sweat.

For the current study, researchers looked at data from more than half a million men and women participating in 6 studies, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II. Participants reported the time they spent on activities beyond their normal everyday tasks, including walking, jogging, running, swimming, tennis, racquetball, bicycling, aerobics, and dance.

The study found that most of the longer-life benefit possible is reached by getting the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity. People who achieved this level of activity lowered their risk of death by 31% compared to those who got no leisure-time activity.

The study found even greater benefits were achieved by getting even more leisure-time physical activity. People who got 3 to 5 times the recommended amount lowered their risk of death by 39% compared to those getting no leisure-time activity.

After that, however, the additional longevity benefit leveled off. Those who got even higher amounts of physical activity – as much as 10 times the recommended minimum level – got about the same longevity benefit. Although their risk of death did not decrease at this level, it didn’t increase, either. The authors say these findings can reassure very active people that high levels of exercise are safe.

Every little bit helps

There are many, many ways to get 3 to 5 times the recommended amount of leisure-time physical activity. They include:

  • Walking 7 hours a week
  • Biking leisurely 5 hours a week
  • Running at a 10 minute-per-mile pace for 2 hours and 15 minutes a week

For people who are getting less than the recommended amount of activity, adding even a little bit more helps. According to Alpa Patel, PhD, a researcher for the study and also American Cancer Society Strategic Director, Cancer Prevention Study 3, “The greatest benefit is going from doing nothing to doing something, even if it’s less than the minimum recommended amount.”

Citation: Leisure Time Physical Activity and Mortality: A Detailed Pooled Analysis of the Dose-Response Relationship. Published online April 6, 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine. First author Hannah Arem, MHS, PhD. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.


Annual Report to the Nation: Cancer Death Rates Still Dropping

Article date: March 31, 2015

By Stacy Simon

The death rate from cancer in the United States is continuing the decline that began in the early 1990s, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. It shows the rate of death from cancer in the United States is going down among both men and women, for children, and for the most common types of cancer, includinglung, colon, breast, and prostate. However, the report identified some cancer types with increasing incidence or death rates among certain populations.

The American Cancer Society, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Cancer Institute work together to create the report, which has been published each year since 1998. It provides an update of new cancer cases, death rates, and trends in the United States.

The report was published early online Monday in Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer subtypes

For the first time this year, the report uses national data to provide statistics about the prevalence of 4 major subtypes of breast cancer. These subtypes depend on whether the cancer cells contain certain hormone receptors and whether they have too many copies of the HER2 gene. Both these conditions can help breast cancer cells grow.

These subtypes are now being recorded by cancer registries across the nation, giving researchers and medical experts a more detailed picture of breast cancer rates and trends, and helping women better understand what their breast cancer subtype may mean for their health.

The breast cancer subtypes respond differently to treatment and have different survival rates. According to the report, some of the differences in rates of breast cancer incidence and death across racial and ethnic groups are related to differences in the incidence of different subtypes. The authors also observed differences based on age, poverty level, and geography.

Rates of the least aggressive breast cancer subtype were highest among white women. Rates of this subtype decreased with increasing levels of poverty for every racial and ethnic group. Black women had higher incidence rates of the most aggressive subtype, known as triple-negative breast cancer, than other racial and ethnic groups. Black women also had the highest rates of late-stage disease. Both of these factors are associated with lower survival and correspond with black women having the highest rates of breast cancer deaths.

Cancer death rates continue to fall

For the most recent reporting period, the rates of lung cancer incidence and death have decreased in both men and women, most likely due to public health efforts to decrease smoking rates. Colon cancer incidence and death rates among both men and women, and prostate cancer incidence and death rates in men, continued to fall.

“The drop in incidence in lung and colorectal cancers shows the lifesaving impact of prevention,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., American Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer, in a statement. “But we have a long way to go, not only in these two cancers but in the many other cancers where the trend has not been so positive.”

Overall cancer incidence rates decreased by 0.5% per year from 2002 to 2011. Among men, incidence rates decreased an average of 1.8% per year from 2007 to 2011; incidence rates were stable in women from 1998 to 2011. Among children up to 19 years of age, incidence rates have increased by 0.8% per year over the past decade, continuing a trend since 1992. The cause for the increase remains uncertain.

Incidence and death rates increased for some cancer types

The authors pointed out some trends that call for further study.

  • Incidence rates of thyroid and kidney cancers are increasing among both men and women, but no increase in death rates has been noted for these cancer types.
  • Incidence and death rates of liver cancer are increasing among both men and women. These increases may reflect, in part, increasing rates of hepatitis C and/or behavioral risk factors, such as alcohol abuse.
  • Incidence rates are increasing for oral and throat cancers overall among white men. This may be associated with increased HPV-linked throat cancers.
  • Incidence and death rates are increasing for uterine cancer among white, black, and Asian Pacific Islander women, with the largest increase seen in black women. The cause of these increases is unknown.

Among the risk factors for some of these cancer types are excess weight and lack of physical activity.

Citation: Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2011, Featuring Incidence of Breast Cancer Subtypes by Race/Ethnicity, Poverty, and State. Published early online March 30, 2015 in Journal of the National Cancer Institute. First author: Betsy A. Kohler, MPH, CTR, North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, Springfield, Ill.


Quality Assurance at a Clinical Research Site: A Practical Guide

Alan Lyss, MD, provides advice for implementing a quality assurance program at a clinical research site. Dr. Lyss explains the importance of quality assurance and provides practical tips based on his experience as a community-based clinical investigator. He is an oncologist and investigator at the Missouri Baptist Cancer Center and member of the ASCO Cancer Research Committee. Click here to locate this video and others on the web.





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