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This Week in Lancet Oncology: Apr 11, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in the US and Belgium report the results of a phase II trial of ipilimumab for the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma that has metastasized to the brain. The team assigned 72 melanoma patients with brain metastases — 51 of whom were neurologically asymptomatic and were not receiving corticosteroid treatment and 21 of whom were symptomatic and on a stable dose of corticosteroids — to receive ipilimumab therapy. After 12 weeks, nine of the asymptomatic patients and one symptomatic patient exhibited disease control, the team found. When the brain alone was assessed, 12 asymptomatic and two symptomatic patients achieved disease control. "Ipilimumab has activity in some patients with advanced melanoma and brain metastases, particularly when metastases are small and asymptomatic," the authors add. "The drug has no unexpected toxic effects in this population."

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report results from a trial of stereotactic body radiation therapy for the management of spinal metastases. The team gave the therapy to 149 patients with mechanically stable, non-cord-compressing spinal metastases, and found that it improved pain. The improvements were accompanied by a significant reduction in opioid use during the first six months after therapy. "SBRT is an effective primary or salvage treatment for mechanically stable spinal metastasis," the authors write. "Significant reductions in patient-reported pain and other symptoms were evident six months after SBRT, along with satisfactory progression-free survival and no late spinal cord toxicities."

Finally in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in Texas, Ohio, and Virginia report on the efficacy of anti-CD22-calecheamicin conjugate inotuzumab ozogamicin for the treatment of refractory and relapsed acute lymphocytic leukemia. The team treated 49 ALL patients with inotuzumab ozogamicin, and found that nine of them had complete response and 19 had marrow complete response, while 19 had resistant disease. The overall response rate was 57 percent. "Inotuzumab ozogamicin shows promise as a treatment for refractory and relapsed ALL," the authors add.

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