Onc Daily: Olaparib in Ovarian Cancer, Smoking and Lung Cancer Survival

Sharon Worcester

May 15, 2020

Here are the most important stories that Medscape Oncology's editors picked for you to read today:

A New Era for Ovarian Cancer

Olaparib maintenance therapy could extend survival for women with platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer by more than a year, according to new data from the randomized SOLO2 trial.

The trial involved 300 women with relapsed BRCA-related ovarian cancer, and the results show a median overall survival of 51.7 months with olaparib maintenance vs 38.8 months for placebo (hazard ratio, 0.74). They were highlighted in a press briefing prior to presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's upcoming virtual scientific program.

Smoking: It's Not Too Late to Quit

The risk for death after a lung cancer diagnosis is significantly reduced even among those who quit smoking within 2 years before diagnosis, according to new analysis highlighted in a press briefing ahead of the ASCO virtual scientific program.

Lung cancer screening presents a prime opportunity to share these findings with at-risk individuals who smoke, Maher A. Karam-Hage, MD, medical director of the tobacco treatment program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told Medscape Medical News. "The power of this data is that it shows quitting makes a difference, and that it can be more impactful the longer you quit before you get diagnosed."

Racial Disparities and the Rise in Liver Cancer Deaths

Racial disparities in access to direct-acting antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection may help explain the increase in liver cancer deaths in the United States, according to a report published online in EClinical Medicine.

These drugs are effective for treating chronic HCV infection, a major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma, but they are "prohibitively expensive for some," said Charles H. Hennekens, MD, PhD, of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Update on Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma 

The Medscape reference team has updated the detailed information on medullary thyroid carcinoma to include the new drug selpercatinib (Retevmo, Lilly), which was approved recently by the FDA for use in patients with RET fusion-positive non-small cell lung cancer

"Slow Science Has Its Virtues"

In the era of COVID-19, some data may be worse than no data, John Mandrola, MD, argues in a critique of a research letter on anticoagulation in patients with COVID-19 that was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The letter's authors state that systemic anticoagulation may be associated with improved outcomes, but in his commentary for Medscape, Mandrola states that "this paper and its downstream results actually argue that flawed data can be worse than no data."

"Observations are not useless," he says, adding, however, that they should not be used to establish a new normal. "Even in a pandemic, slow science has its virtues."

COVID-19 Pandemic Brings Concerning Drop in Cancer Diagnoses

A precipitous drop in cancer diagnoses in the wake of efforts to curb nonessential in-person office visits and routine examinations — including cancer screenings — during the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concern that many cancer cases will remain undiagnosed or be diagnosed at later stages with poorer prognosis.

"My level of concern is up with the 8 or 9 level [on a scale to 10]," J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, told ABC News for an article exploring the potential fallout from COVID-19-related distancing.

Sharon Worcester is a reporter for MDedge, part of the Medscape Professional Network. She has more than two decades of experience reporting on healthcare.

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