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This Week in Lancet Oncology: Mar 7, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology this week, a team of European researchers report results from a trial of erlotinib versus standard chemotherapy for patients with advanced EGFR-mutated non-small-cell lung cancer. The team randomly assigned 174 patients receive either erlotinib or standard chemotherapy of cisplatin plus docetaxel or gemcitabine. At study's end, patients in the erlotinib group had a median progression-free survival of 9.7 months, compared to 5.2 months in the chemotherapy group. "Our findings strengthen the rationale for routine baseline tissue-based assessment of EGFR mutations in patients with NSCLC and for treatment of mutation-positive patients with EGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors," the team writes.

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in the US and Canada assess the bone density and structure of healthy post-menopausal women treated with exemestane for the prevention of breast cancer. The team randomly assigned 351 women to receive either exemestane or placebo — after two years of follow-up, the researchers found that the mean percent change in total volumetric bone mineral density at the distal radius was -6.1 percent for women in the exemestane group, compared to -1.8 percent for women in the placebo group, and -5 percent compared to -1.3 percent at the distal tibia. "Women considering exemestane for the primary prevention of breast cancer should weigh their individual risks and benefits," the authors write. "For women taking exemestane, regular bone monitoring plus adequate calcium and vitamin D supplementation are important. To assess the effect of our findings on fracture risk, long-term follow-up is needed."

Finally in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in the UK assess the efficacy of cognitive behavioral treatment for women who have menopausal symptoms after breast cancer treatment. The team enrolled women who had hot flashes and night sweats after breast cancer treatment, and randomly assigned them to receive either usual care or usual care plus cognitive behavioral therapy. They found that group CBT significantly reduced menopausal symptoms at nine weeks, compared with usual care.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.