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Trial Results: ECOG-ACRIN research round-up – Winter 2023

Research dictionary entry

Melanoma – Patients provide their experiences with immune system therapy

  • Some patients with stage 3 or 4 melanoma removed by surgery may benefit from taking anti-cancer drugs if there is a high risk of cancer returning. A recent clinical trial, E1609, showed improved overall survival with a drug called ipilimumab (IP-i-LIM-ue-mab). This drug helps T cells in the body's immune system kill cancer cells better. However, no information was available to document the effects of this therapy from a patient's perspective. Immune therapy drugs like ipilimumab have the potential for toxicities that can reduce patients' ability to stay on treatment and impair their quality of life. ECOG-ACRIN researchers surveyed patients throughout their participation in the E1609 trial. Results from patients identified a need to closely monitor and manage gastrointestinal symptoms, energy, weakness, appetite loss, joint pain, and depression in patients who may receive ipilimumab in clinical practice. The researchers recommend that future clinical trials include patient surveys to look for other potential unknown toxicities. McLouth LE. Qual Life Res. January 2023

Publicly Funded ResearchOver 40 years, NCI-funded clinical trials gave US cancer patients 14.2 million years of additional life

  • Many cancer treatments that doctors widely prescribe today may never have become available to patients without public funding. This report estimates that over the past 40 years, people with cancer in the United States gained 14.2 million years of additional life thanks to cancer treatment trials funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) through the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group and other cancer research organizations in the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). The authors of this report identified 128 randomized phase 3 treatment trials from 1980 through 2019, where the experimental arm showed either a statistically significant improvement in overall survival time (91 trials) or a trend toward improved overall survival (37 trials) for patients. They estimated the additional life years by mapping the gains from these trials onto data on the overall US population of people with cancer. Unger JM. J Clin Onc. December 2022

Symptom Management – A single survey question helps patients convey their willingness to tolerate cancer treatment while enduring side effects

  • A new study provides assurance that people with cancer find a single survey question, "I am bothered by the side effects of treatment," to be a useful measure to inform their doctor of their experience with cancer treatment. The question is from the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) questionnaire system, which measures health-related quality of life in patients undergoing cancer treatment. Interviews were conducted with three groups of patients representing multiple cancer types: ovarian, lymphoma, colorectal, and lung. The report's researchers note an increasing interest in patient-reported measures of cancer treatment tolerability, especially those that explore willingness to stay on treatment while enduring side effects. Peipert JD. Support Care Cancer. December 2022

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