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This Week in Lancet Oncology: Aug 5, 2011

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In Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in China present findings from a phase III study of erlotinib versus chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced EGFR mutation-positive non-small-cell lung cancer. The researchers randomly assigned 83 patients to receive erlotinib and 82 to receive gemcitabine plus carboplatin, and found that median progression-free survival was significantly longer in the erlotinib group — 13.1 months — than in the chemotherapy group — 4.6 months. In addition, chemotherapy was associated with more severe side effects than erlotinib. "Compared with standard chemotherapy, erlotinib conferred a significant progression-free survival benefit in patients with advanced EGFR mutation-positive non-small-cell lung cancer and was associated with more favorable tolerability," the authors write. "These findings suggest that erlotinib is important for first-line treatment of patients with advanced EGFR mutation-positive non-small-cell lung cancer."

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in Spain and the UK present insights from a meta-analysis of studies done on the associations between height and cancer risk in women. Epidemiological studies have shown that taller people are at increased risk for cancer, but the reasons for the association is unclear, the researchers write. The team included data from nearly 1.3 million women who were followed up for a median of 9.4 years. During this time, the team says, 97,376 cancers occurred. "Risk increased for 15 of the 17 cancer sites we assessed, and was statistically significant for ten sites: colon, rectum, malignant melanoma, breast, endometrium, ovary, kidney, CNS, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leukemia," the authors write. "Cancer incidence increases with increasing adult height for most cancer sites. The relation between height and total cancer relative risk is similar in different populations."

And finally in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in the UK examine the effects of zoledronic acid versus clodronic acid on skeletal morbidity in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. The team randomly assigned 981 patients to the zoledronic acid group and 979 to the clodronic acid group, and found that at a median follow-up of 3.7 years, patients in the zoledronic acid group had a lowed incidence of skeletal-related events than patients in the clodronic acid group. "The results of this study support the early use of zoledronic acid rather than clodronic acid in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma for the prevention of skeletal-related events, irrespective of bone disease status at baseline," the team writes.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.