Onc Daily: COVID-19 Impedes Cancer Trials, New Approach in Bladder Cancer

Jennifer Smith

May 22, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

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

More Than 200 International Cancer Clinical Trials Stopped by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted many cancer clinical trials around the world and has slowed enrollment in other cancer trials, according to a study published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. To quantify the effects of COVID-19 on cancer clinical trials, researchers analyzed data from IQVIA and ClinicalTrials.gov, and they surveyed 36 investigators who are conducting cancer trials around the world.

More than 200 cancer trials were suspended in March and April, the data showed. Twenty percent of institutions surveyed in the United States and Asia were no longer enrolling patients in cancer trials. Sixty percent of US institutions, 86% of European institutions, and 20% of Asian institutions surveyed were enrolling patients at a lower rate than normal.

"Every Patient Would Applaud" Bladder Cancer Surveillance Study

Low-intensity cystoscopic surveillance may be as effective as high-intensity surveillance after surgery for patients with high-risk, non–muscle invasive bladder cancer, a new study suggests. The study is set to be presented at the virtual annual meeting of the American Urological Association and was recently published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers retrospectively analyzed 1542 patients with high-risk non–muscle invasive bladder cancer. The patients in the low-intensity surveillance group underwent fewer transurethral resections than those in the high-intensity surveillance group. In addition, there was no increase in risk for progression or death from bladder cancer among the patients in the low-intensity group. A randomized trial is needed to confirm these findings, according to the researchers.

J&J Baby Powder Withdrawn in US After Years of Cancer Litigation

Johnson & Johnson has decided to permanently discontinue its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada. The company said it had already stopped shipping hundreds of items in both countries because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and demand for its talc-based baby powder in North America has been declining.

J&J said the decline in demand is "fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising." More than 16,000 lawsuits in the United States allege that Johnson's Baby Powder and other talc-based products increase cancer risk, and J&J has been ordered to pay billions in legal costs and settlements.

J&J's talc-based baby powder will continue to be sold in the United States and Canada until the current stock runs out, and the company's cornstarch-based baby powder will remain available in North America. J&J's talc- and cornstarch-based baby powder products will still be available in other countries.

Climate Change and Cancer

Climate change can affect cancer risk, care, and survival, according to a commentary published in Cancer. The authors write that climate change increases cancer risk via "increased exposure to carcinogens after extreme weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires."

Those extreme weather events can affect cancer facilities' ability to deliver care and patients' access to care. Therefore, the authors recommend that cancer treatment facilities devise disaster preparedness plans that "can withstand climate threats" and that treatment facilities "mitigate their own contributions to greenhouse gas emissions."

The authors recommend that facilities use energy‐efficient medical devices, promote sustainable manufacturing, increase use of renewable energy, reduce waste, and take other steps to reduce their contribution to climate change.

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