Blood Test That Screens for Many Cancer Types Yields Promising Results

Visualization of cells in the blood vesselsImage: Some tumors can shed free-floating DNA into the blood. Emerging technologies have the potential to detect these abnormal DNA signals, laying the groundwork for a blood test which could be used for cancer detection.

As next-generation genomic sequencing has become faster and more affordable, a significant aim in cancer research has been the development of so-called liquid biopsies. Those blood tests, some of which are now being evaluated in clinical trials, are used in people who already are known to have cancer. They aim to uncover specific driver mutations that can match tumors with a particular targeted therapy while also enabling patients to avoid more-invasive types of biopsies.

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Exploring Cognitive Impairment in Hematologic Cancer Patients

Many older patients with hematologic cancers have another condition to worry about—one they don’t always feel comfortable discussing with their health care team. As people are living longer, memory problems have become increasingly prevalent. However, little is known about the impact of cognitive impairment, and specific domains of cognitive impairment, on older cancer patients and their survival.

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Drug-Inducible Gene Therapy Yields Encouraging Preliminary Results in High-Grade Glioma Trial

From E. A. Chiocca, et al, Regulatable interleukin-12 gene therapy in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma: Results of a phase 1 trial. Sci. Transl. Med. 11, eaaw5680 (2019). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.
Image from E. A. Chiocca, et al, Regulatable interleukin-12 gene therapy in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma: Results of a phase 1 trial. Sci. Transl. Med. 11, eaaw5680 (2019). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

In a recent clinical trial in patients with recurrent high-grade gliomas, investigators from the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center set out to test the safety and effectiveness of controlling the powerful immunotherapy human interleukin-12 (hIL-12) by using an oral activator to control when the gene gets turned on. While hIL-12 can stimulate many branches of the immune system, previous clinical trials that leveraged it were halted because of toxicity.
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Enzalutamide Shows Survival Benefit in Metastatic Prostate Cancer

urine test tubeThe androgen-receptor inhibitor enzalutamide already has established benefit in castration-resistant prostate cancer. Now the randomized phase III trial ENZAMET is exploring the impact of adding enzalutamide to testosterone suppression for metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC). Interim analysis showed significantly prolonged overall survival with less cancer progression.
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Radiation No Longer Indicated for Most Retroperitoneal Sarcomas

PET scan image of Retroperitoneal SarcomaA study presented at the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting showed that radiation therapy prior to surgery does not reduce the rate of local recurrence among most patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma (RPS). Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) was the only U.S. center to participate in the European trial of 256 patients.
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Link Found Between Immune Activation and Recurrence of HER2+ Breast Cancer

A scientist looking at a DNA sequence as part of the HER2 studyDana-Farber Cancer Institute physician-researcher Ian E. Krop, MD, PhD, has uncovered a promising way to identify patients who will respond well to certain adjuvant therapies for treating HER2+ breast cancer. He presented the findings of his biomarker analysis at the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting.

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New Modeling Shows Surprising Cumulative Risk of Lung Cancer among Non-Smokers

How can clinicians in the office setting identify non-smoking patients who are at risk of lung cancer – and therefore may be candidates for low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) imaging?

That question has been a focus of Michael Jaklitsch, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Jaklitsch is a long-time leader of initiatives and research in lung cancer screening and surveillance and co-creator of an online risk calculator. Read More

Improving Survival Benefit in Glioblastoma Patients with Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy

MR images of a brain at baseline vs. ONC201, a  Neoadjuvant ImmunotherapyA new study featured on the cover of the March issue of Nature Medicine offers hope for treating patients with glioblastoma. In a small randomized controlled clinical trial, patients with recurrent glioblastoma lived nearly twice as long if they received an immunotherapy drug prior to and following surgery, compared to patients who only received the drug after surgery.
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MR-Guided Radiation Therapy: A More Precise Way to See, Track and Treat Tumors

New MR-Imaging (Left) – Traditional Cone-beam CT (Right)
New MR-Imaging (Left) – Traditional Cone-beam CT (Right)

For the first time, cancer patients in New England will have a cutting-edge option for radiation treatment of soft-tissue tumors. The new MR-Guided Radiation Therapy (MR-RT) treatment at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), launching in the summer of 2019, will give physicians real-time, pinpoint accuracy for radiation planning and treatment.
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New Hope for Late-Stage Endometrial Cancer Patients

drawing of DNA double helix with the phrase Novel therapies in Endometrial CancerWhen diagnosed and treated in its early stages, endometrial cancer is largely curable. However, for the 10 to 15 percent of patients diagnosed with late-stage disease, standard therapy does not lead to a cure.
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