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(1/13843) Defining and analysing symptom palliation in cancer clinical trials: a deceptively difficult exercise.

The assessment of symptom palliation is an essential component of many treatment comparisons in clinical trials, yet an extensive literature search revealed no consensus as to its precise definition, which could embrace relief of symptoms, time to their onset, duration, degree, as well as symptom control and prevention. In an attempt to assess the importance of these aspects and to compare different methods of analysis, we used one symptom (cough) from a patient self-assessment questionnaire (the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist) in a large (>300 patient) multicentre randomized clinical trial (conducted by the Medical Research Council Lung Cancer Working Party) of palliative chemotherapy in small-cell lung cancer. The regimens compared were a two-drug regimen (2D) and a four-drug regimen (4D). No differences were seen between the regimens in time of onset of palliation or its duration. The degree of palliation was strongly related to the initial severity: 90% of the patients with moderate or severe cough at baseline reported improvement, compared with only 53% of those with mild cough. Analyses using different landmark time points gave conflicting results: the 4D regimen was superior at 1 month and at 3 months, whereas at 2 months the 2D regimen appeared superior. When improvement at any time up to 3 months was considered, the 4D regimen showed a significant benefit (4D 79%, 2D 60%, P = 0.02). These findings emphasize the need for caution in interpreting results, and the importance of working towards a standard definition of symptom palliation. The current lack of specified criteria makes analysis and interpretation of trial results difficult, and comparison across trials impossible. A standard definition of palliation for use in the analysis of clinical trials data is proposed, which takes into account aspects of onset, duration and degree of palliation, and symptom improvement, control and prevention.  (+info)

(2/13843) Patterns of care and survival for adolescents and young adults with acute leukaemia--a population-based study.

We report a population-based study of patterns of care and survival for people with acute leukaemia diagnosed at age 15-29 years during 1984-94 in regions of England and Wales covered by specialist leukaemia registries. There were 879 patients: 417 with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and 462 with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). For ALL, actuarial survival rates were 43% at 5 years after diagnosis and 37% at 10 years. Survival improved significantly between 1984-88 and 1989-94 for those aged 15-19 at diagnosis. Patients entered in national clinical trials and those not entered had similar survival rates. Survival rates were similar at teaching and non-teaching hospitals and at hospitals treating different numbers of study patients per year. For AML, survival rates were 42% at 5 years after diagnosis and 39% at 10 years. Survival improved significantly between 1984-88 and 1989-94. Patients entered in the Medical Research Council AML10 trial had a higher survival rate than those who were in the earlier AML9 trial. Survival did not vary with category of hospital. We conclude that survival has improved for adolescents and young adults with acute leukaemia but that there is at present no evidence that centralized treatment results in a survival benefit for patients in this age group.  (+info)

(3/13843) U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of AmBisome (liposomal amphotericin B) for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis.

In August 1997, AmBisome (liposomal amphotericin B, Nexstar, San Dimas, CA) was the first drug approved for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The growing recognition of emerging and reemerging infections warrants that safe and effective agents to treat such infections be readily available in the United States. The following discussion of the data submitted in support of the New Drug Application for AmBisome for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis shows the breadth of data from clinical trials that can be appropriate to support approval for drugs to treat tropical diseases.  (+info)

(4/13843) Issues in the treatment of active tuberculosis in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients.

Most HIV-infected patients with tuberculosis can be treated satisfactorily with standard regimens with expectations of good results. Treatment of tuberculosis in these patients has been complicated by the introduction of HAART, which relies on drugs that interfere with the most potent class of antituberculous medications. Rifampin-free regimens or regimens that employ rifabutin may be acceptable strategies for patients who are receiving protease inhibitors, although these regimens have not been rigorously evaluated in patients with AIDS. At present, there is good reason to believe that a 6-month course of a rifabutin-containing regimen or a 9-12-month course of a regimen of streptomycin, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide should be adequate therapy for most patients with drug-susceptible disease. As the treatment of HIV infection with antiretroviral agents evolves, the treatment of tuberculosis in patients with AIDS is likely to evolve as well. This will require careful coordination of antituberculosis and antiretroviral therapies.  (+info)

(5/13843) Contralateral fracture of the proximal femur. Implications for planning trials.

In three consecutive years 462 patients over the age of 60 years presented at Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand, with a fracture of the proximal femur. Within two years, 11 (2.4%) returned with a fracture of the contralateral femur. If the effectiveness of any form of treatment aiming at reducing the incidence of contralateral fracture were subjected to a trial, a sample size of 5000, randomly distributed equally between treatment and placebo groups, would be needed for the trial to have a power of 80% to detect a reduction.  (+info)

(6/13843) Advances in therapy of multiple myeloma: lessons from acute leukemia.

This paper traces the lack of progress, until recently, in the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM) to having ignored the principles that led to cure in acute leukemia more than 2 decades ago. Only in the mid-1980s did investigation begin to consider complete remission (CR) a research objective, representing a necessary first step toward cure. The experience with autologous and allogeneic stem cell-supported high-dose therapy is reviewed, demonstrating, in both historically controlled and randomized studies, the validity of the dose-response concept in MM in terms of increased CR rates as well as extended event-free (EFS) and overall survival (OS). Avoidance of hematopoietic stem cell-damaging agents, especially melphalan, nitrosoureas, and ionizing radiation to marrow-containing sites, assures the ability of peripheral stem cell collection of high quality and quantity, providing rapid engraftment so that mortality is well under 5% following high-dose melphalan (200 mg/m2). This treatment can be applied safely to patients even >70 years of age and in the presence of renal failure. Tandem autotransplants after multiregimen induction have yielded CR rates in the 40% range with median durations of EFS and OS of 43 and 62 months, respectively. Certain chromosomal abnormalities (11 and 13; and translocations) represent the dominant adverse prognosticator for EFS and OS, confirmed in over 500 patients including those with prior therapy. Allogeneic transplants, possible in less than 10% of MM patients, are associated with a 50% mortality during the first year and, unfortunately, late relapses; thus, this approach should be reserved for patients with high-risk disease early in their management. A risk-based treatment algorithm that matches a patient's disease risk with the risk of intervention is presently used, followed by bisphosphonate therapy, not only to delay the onset of MM-related bone disease but also to induce tumor cell apoptosis, indirectly or directly, by down-regulation of cytokines with antiapoptotic activities. Although many patients relapse, this author subscribes to his mentor's motto: "Be Prepared for Success!".  (+info)

(7/13843) Drug development in solid tumors: personal perspective of Dr. Emil J Freireich's contributions.

The development of chemotherapy for patients with the major cancers progressed from the initial success attained in the treatment of acute leukemias and choriocarcinoma. Many of the principles of therapy were based on the concepts developed in the experimental laboratories and early clinical studies done at the NIH Clinical Center and other centers around the country. The purpose of this review is to describe some of the early advances in cancer therapy and show how many are based on the efforts of Dr. Emil J Freireich. Over his career, Dr. Freireich has published more than 500 papers and worked on more than 70 different drugs and combinations. The principles defined by Dr. Freireich, namely, the use of intermittent intensive chemotherapy to induce complete remissions (CRs), intensification of therapy in remission, and the use of unmaintained remissions to assess cure, have been important in developing curative chemotherapy programs in patients with acute leukemias. These same principles were applied to combination therapy of Hodgkin's disease as the nitrogen mustard, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone combination was developed. This led to the high CR and cure rate for this disease. The treatment of metastatic breast cancer does not produce a high proportion of CRs, and cures of metastatic disease are unlikely with chemotherapy alone. But adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery has resulted in a significant reduction in cancer mortality. Many challenges remain in increasing the cure rate for the major solid tumors. New avenues of controlling cell growth and metastases need to be explored. One approach that is exploitable is the use of drugs or nutrients to prevent cancer. Laboratory approaches are now becoming a clinical reality.  (+info)

(8/13843) Can we cure indolent lymphomas?

The current consensus is that indolent lymphomas are incurable disorders. There are some indications that these malignancies are potentially curable. Indeed, not all indolent lymphomas are currently incurable. For example, patients with Ann Arbor stage I-II indolent lymphomas can experience long-term disease-free survival and probable cure. Also, from the available literature data, it seems that the achievement of a molecular complete remission is a desirable objective. Patients who achieve a persistently negative PCR state seldom relapse, whereas the opposite is true for persistently positive cases. In view of its excellent correlation with disease-free survival when examined serially in multiple blood or marrow samples, the PCR technique has the potential of providing a tumor marker that can be used as an early end point for clinical trials. By serving as an early surrogate end point, PCR could play an important role in expediting the development of new treatment strategies. Whether IFN is capable of increasing the molecular complete remission rate as measured by PCR is not known. However, it is clear that from the clinical standpoint, IFN has been able to increase 2-fold the length of remission in patients with advanced indolent lymphomas. In at least two studies, this has been associated with prolongation of survival. More intensive regimens such as alternating triple therapy, when used in combination with IFN, seem to have improved the quality of remissions as judged by the PCR assay. Finally, the site where the bcl-2 breakpoint occurs seems to have clinical significance. Those follicular lymphomas with germ-line bcl-2, in our experience, have behaved more aggressively than the others, and their failure-free survival seems different from the usual indolent lymphomas and more closely resembles the large cell lymphomas. Although the biological significance of this observation is not yet understood, this group might actually constitute a prognostically different subset with a more aggressive and perhaps more curable lymphoma. Whether the plateau observed in their failure-free survival curve will be maintained with more follow-up and whether they might be a curable subset remain to be determined.  (+info)