?Advancing Quality Through Innovation,? the theme of the 46th Annual Meeting the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), being held from June 4-June 8, 2010, at McCormick Place in Chicago, demonstrates the progress made in understanding cancer and how new therapies many benefit patients today and in the future. The meeting is expected to draw approximately 30,000 cancer specialists.

?Our growing understanding of cancer?s complex behavior is being translated into better, more targeted drugs against a variety of tumors,? said Douglas W. Blayney, MD, President of ASCO, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan. ?These studies show that investment in cancer research pays off. We?re developing more personalized approaches to treating patients of all ages and across all cancer types, we?re learning how to use current treatments more effectively, and we?re identifying new ways to help patients live long, healthy lives following treatment.?

?Clinical trials are essential to continued progress against cancer. Yet, the nation?s federally funded clinical trial system is at a breaking point,? said George W. Sledge Jr, MD, ASCO President-Elect, Ballve-Lantero Professor of Oncology and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. ?ASCO has called for a doubling of support for federally funded clinical cancer research within the next five years. We?ve made impressive strides against this disease, and it?s vital that the nation put more resources into these programs to continue the momentum.

Ahead of the annual meeting, ASCO released results of a number of trials:

Heart problems in childhood cancer survivors tied to specific gene and drug dose: Survivors of childhood cancer who carry particular variants of a drug-metabolizing gene (CBR) and who received low doses of anthracycline chemotherapy were much more likely to develop heart disease than those without these forms of the gene who received low doses. The finding may help develop a more personalized approach to chemotherapy treatment in children.

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Promising New Ovarian Cancer Screening Strategy Developed for Post-Menopausal Women at Average Risk: A promising new screening approach for post-menopausal women at average risk of ovarian cancer is feasible and produces very few false-positive results. The method uses a mathematical model combining trends in CA-125 blood test results and a patient’s age, followed by transvaginal ultrasound and referral to a gynecologic oncologist, if necessary.

Yoga Improves Sleep and Quality of Life, Lessens Fatigue for Cancer Survivors: Sleep problems and fatigue are among the most common side effects experienced by cancer survivors. A fourweek yoga program involving breathing, meditation, postures and other techniques helped cancer survivors sleep better, reduced fatigue and the use of sleep aids, and improved their quality of life.

Older Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer May Skip Radiation Therapy: Long-term followup from a randomized trial finds that women age 70 or older with early-stage breast cancer who undergo lumpectomy and receive tamoxifen can safely forego radiation therapy without significantly affecting their survival.

Maintenance Therapy with Rituximab Halves Risk of Lymphoma Recurrence: The Phase III international PRIMA trial has found that two years of rituximab (Rituxan) ?maintenance? therapy reduced the risk of follicular lymphoma recurrence by 50% in patients who responded to initial chemotherapy.

Lenalidomide Maintenance Therapy Slows Myeloma Progression: Results from an interim analysis of a Phase III trial showed that maintenance therapy with lenalidomide (Revlimid) slowed disease progression by 54% among patients with multiple myeloma who had prior high-dose chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant.

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