This Week in Oncology News

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It’s always great to see a full week of stories involving emerging cancer treatment options or advancements in the field. Here are some of the more relevant events in recent days:

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed that even though autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant is one of the more effective procedures when it comes to treating multiple myeloma, it is still underused in many facilities. Just one in five eligible patients (out of a total 13,494) that are part of the California Cancer Registry received the operation. Surprisingly enough, it was not due to new therapies rendering the procedure obsolete, but rather a number of interconnected factors, including lack of awareness and reluctance from older patients.

Recently we saw three leading oncology practices come together to form OneOncology, “a patient-centric, physician-driven, and technology-powered company with a mission to improve the lives of everyone living with cancer”. Tennessee Oncology, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, and West Cancer Center are at the heart of this project, bringing over 225 oncology providers, covering more than 60 locations and treating nearly 158.000 cancer patients every year.

One of the more exciting stories revolved around Keytruda (pembrolizumab) receiving FDA Priority Review status. This new treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with PD-L1 expression showed impressive results in improving patient outcomes while at the same time presenting fewer negative effects. Dr. Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Merck Research Laboratories said that “Keytruda is already a foundation for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer”.

In other news, a phase 2 CLL2-BAG trial demonstrated that treatment with Bendamustine, along with obinutuzumab and venetoclax, appeared safe and effective in patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. With an overall response rate of 95% and 87% of patients achieving minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity in peripheral blood, results seemed very promising.

And finally, a look at a new therapy with Capizzi-style methotrexate (C-MTX) without leucovorin rescue that proved to be superior compared to high-dose methotrexate (HDMTX) with leucovorin rescue, for children with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. From a total of more than a thousand eligible cases, C-MTX had higher rates of 5-year disease-free survival (91.5% vs. 85.3%; P = .005) and 5-year overall survival rates (93.7% vs. 89.4%; P = .04), compared to HDMTX.

All and all, a number of promising new therapies are on the horizon, looking to bolster the efforts in the fight against cancer.