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CANCER: Merits of active surveillance – watchful waiting

The approach of active surveillance, which is increasingly common with prostate cancer patients, is becoming more frequently discussed as an option for selected patients with other types of slow-growing, early-stage cancers also.  The author, who himself opted for active surveillance, reviews reasons why watchful waiting may be becoming more often chosen – primarily due to therapy side effects and cost.  Considerations for insurers in framing their positions about active surveillance are covered.

Source: Kirkner, R.M. (2016, Oct.). Don’t just do something, stand there: How more types of cancer are lending themselves to active surveillance. Managed Care, 25(10), 25-28.  Click here: http://www.managedcaremag.com/archives/2016/10/don-t-just-do-something-stand-there-how-more-types-cancer-are-lending-themselves   Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422.2050, rc@aha.org

CANCER: 8 percent of survivors develop a second different malignancy

In this study of over 2 million adult cancer survivors, 8 percent were found to have later acquired a second, unrelated type of cancer.  Those patients who had bladder cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma originally were found to be more likely to have a second cancer, which was most often lung cancer.  An argument is made for more routine CT scans of the lungs of bladder cancer survivors as long-term follow-up.


[Interview with author]: Irwin, K. (2016, July 13). Nearly 1 in 12 patients with a common cancer develop a second, unrelated malignancy. UCLA Press Release.  Full text free here: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/nearly-1-in-12-patients-with-a-common-cancer-develop-a-second-unrelated-malignancy

[The medical journal article]: Dorin, N., Filson, C., Drakaki, A., and others. (2016, June). Risk of second primary malignancies among cancer survivors in the United States, 1992 through 2008. Cancer.  Click here for access to publisher’s website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.30164/abstract  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

CANCER: Immunotherapy holds hope and promise for some

Immunotherapy is a way to activate a cancer patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells through drug therapy.  It has proved wildly successful with some types of advanced cancers – skin, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung, kidney, and bladder – shrinking tumors (so that they may become operable) or even eliminating tumors.  President Jimmy Carter is perhaps the most famous success story, having been treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and the immunotherapy drug Keytruda, which has now become popularly known as the “Jimmy Carter drug.”

Researchers are not yet sure why immunotherapy works with some patients and not others, with some types of cancer and not others.  Nor are they sure yet how long to continue to administer immunotherapy.  The Grady article is a major story in the New York Times and the first in a series on immunotherapy.  The Fox article provides additional information about a clinical trial of Keytruda in the treatment of lung cancer, which was found to be so effective that the trial was halted so that the control patients could also benefit by it.


Grady, D. (2016, July 31). A sickened body as cancer weapon. The New York Times, 165(57310), 1, 20-22.  Click here: http://www.nytimes.com/images/2016/07/31/nytfrontpage/scannat.pdf

Fox, M. (2016, June 16). Lung cancer trial stopped after Jimmy Carter drug shrinks tumors. NBC News.  Click here: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/lung-cancer-trial-stopped-after-jimmy-carter-drug-stops-tumors-n593726  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org