NCI Appoints New Director for Office of Cancer Survivorship
Until recently, past ONS President Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN®, FAAN, served as interim director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Office of Cancer Survivorship, a part of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. As an oncology nurse, Mayer brought a special perspective to the office’s mission to better understand and meet the unique needs of the growing number of U.S. cancer survivors.
New NINR Director Celebrates Health Equity and Diverse Nursing Roles
Patients throughout the United States still face persistent inequities across the healthcare continuum because of social determinants of health and inequity in research, Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recognized.
Study Links HPV Vaccine to Reduced Rates of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer rates have dropped more than 90% among women who received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to the results of a Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Global health leaders are calling it a milestone study.
FDA Approves Nivolumab and Ipilimumab for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab for the first-line treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery. This is the first drug regimen approved for mesothelioma in 16 years and the second FDA-approved systemic therapy for mesothelioma.
ACA Led to Higher Rates of Early Breast Cancer Diagnoses
Thanks to expanded Medicaid coverage from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), women diagnosed with breast cancer—and in particular, African American women who are more likely to experience breast cancer disparities—are getting their cancers found at earlier stages, according to researchers. The study findings were reported in JAMA Surgery.
Opioid-Related Death Rates Are Increasing, But Less So in Cancer Survivors
Although opioid-related deaths are increasing in the general U.S. population, leading to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declaring it a public health emergency, new research shows that the increase is much smaller among patients with cancer, even though opioids are used as an option for cancer-related pain. The findings were published in JAMA Oncology.
NIH Study Links Cigarette Smoking to Higher Stroke Risk in African Americans
The disproportionate adverse health impact from smoking on African Americans is striking. Although oncology nurses are well aware of tobacco’s carcinogenic effects, they also need to understand the implications for comorbid conditions they may see in smokers with cancer. A recent study, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), confirmed that African Americans have a 2.5 times higher incident of smoking-related strokes than those who never smoke.
Investigational Maintenance Therapy Extends Survival in AML
A new drug is extending both remission and survival in adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to findings reported at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December 2019. The study was funded by Celgene, the drug’s manufacturer.
Research Is Needed to Better Understand Combination Immunotherapy Side Effects
Combination immunotherapy treatments are revolutionizing the way cancer care is delivered. As an ongoing evolution of care, nurses are administering different treatment modalities on a regular basis. Treatments include using multiple immunotherapy drugs in tandem, combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy, using targeted therapies with immunotherapy, and even involving radiation with immunotherapy. The move toward multiple-drug modalities will continue to change nursing practice, and nurses must have a basis of knowledge and evidence from which to work.
NIH Announces Research Strategy for COVID-19
From international guidelines to economic stimulus and legislative support, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is now global leaders’ top priority. Leading the research efforts is the National Institutes for Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). As NIAID’s director for more than 30 years, Anthony Fauci, MD is one of the few, regular faces associated with COVID-19 in the United States. On April 23, 2020, the agency announced that it will spearhead a strategic plan to research a vaccine for COVID-19.
The Evidence for Herbal Supplements for Immunity and Stress During COVID-19
As the world embarks on unprecedented research efforts to prevent and treat the COVID-19 coronavirus, patients with cancer and healthcare providers alike may be interested in using herbal products to boost their immune system or relieve anxiety and stress. However, finding accurate information is challenging: no herbs have been scientifically proven to prevent or treat COVID-19, and some may even cause harm.
NCI Cancer Research Persists Despite COVID-19 Limitations
Most of the global biomedical research community, especially those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is consumed with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Because the U.S. federal government is under strict orders to limit its operations to only essential personnel, many of the 27 NIH institutes and centers are redirecting their efforts toward COVID-19 topics. However, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is continuing its cancer research in certain priority areas.
What the Evidence Says About Acupuncture and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are prevalent and persistent among cancer survivors and diminish quality of life. Because of adverse effects such as continued sleep difficulty, memory disturbances, and falls associated with associated with conventional medications, many patients prefer nonpharmaceutical options to address their insomnia.
Adding MRI to Prostate Cancer Testing Improves Accuracy, NIH Study Says
Combining a traditional 12-point biopsy with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) improves the accuracy of prostate cancer diagnosis, according to findings from a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
U.S. Still Has Declining Cancer Death Rates, Latest National Report Says
Overall cancer death rates fell 1.5% on average per year from 2001–2017 in the United States for all cancer sites combined, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society, and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
NIDA Calls for Further Cannabis Research in Congress Testimony
Medical cannabis has been approved for use in more than 33 states, many of which have decriminalized its use as well, and a health policy wave has spread across the country through state referendums to ease the burden for legalizing cannabis for health purposes. It’s a different world than it was 30 years ago, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is frequently called to testify before Congress to address concerns and questions from lawmakers.
PCORI Reauthorization Funds Program Through 2029
Patient-centered research is vital in the effort to move the needle in cancer care, and nurse researchers rely on funding from organizations like the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to support new and ongoing studies. In December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Further Consolidation Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1865), extending funding for PCORI through fiscal year 2029.
Research Suggests New Nurses Could Help Address the Ambulatory Staffing Issue
As use of ambulatory care settings continues to grow, so too does the demand for expertly trained nurses to staff them. Unfortunately, nurse staffing levels have struggled to meet the burgeoning need in ambulatory clinics throughout the country. Traditionally, undergraduates receive limited ambulatory-specific education in nursing school, leaving them unprepared to enter those settings after graduation. However, the nursing shortage complicates staffing issues, and we must develop programs to direct new graduate nurses into ambulatory oncology careers.
Smoking Rates Are Low, But Here’s How They Can Be Lower
Although U.S. smoking rates have hit an all-time low of 14%, 34 million American adults are still considered active smokers, according to the U.S. surgeon general’s January 2020 report on smoking cessation. It’s the first new report focused directly on smoking cessation from the surgeon general’s office in 30 years.
Cancer Death Rates See Largest-Ever Single-Year Drop
Overall U.S. cancer mortality fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest reduction for a single year, according to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Statistics, 2020,” published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
HPV Vaccine Has an Indirect Benefit: Herd Immunity
As more people receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect themselves from strains of the virus that can cause cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar, and vaginal cancers, researchers are starting to see herd immunity, where even people who haven’t received the vaccine are developing fewer oral HPV infections. The findings were published in JAMA.
Women With Diabetes Are Less Likely to Get Cancer Screenings
Modest differences may exist among women with diabetes compared to healthy controls when it comes to adhering to screening recommendations for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, according to results of a study published in Diabetologia.
Nurses Are Central to Lung Cancer Screening Conversations
Participation in clinician and patient conversations about lung cancer screening—as well as the actual screening itself—is relatively low. According to one study, only 3.9% of screening-
eligible patients had undergone lung cancer screening. Because the screening recommendations are newer, most patients are unaware that they exist, and research highlights that only 10%–12% of the patient population has had conversations with their clinicians about it.
Study Drug Plus Immunotherapy May Offer New Treatment Option for Lung and Kidney Cancer
Pegilodecakin, an investigational, first-in-class drug currently in clinical trials, is demonstrating positive safety results and measurable responses when used in combination with pembrolizumab or nivolumab in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or kidney cancer. The findings from the multicenter, phase IB study were published in Lancet Oncology.
FDA Approves Tazemetostat for Advanced Epithelioid Sarcoma
On January 23, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval to tazemetostat for adults and pediatric patients aged 16 years and older with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma not eligible for complete resection.
HRSA Releases National Survey on RNs
To better understand the demands and demographics of the larger RN community, the Health Resources Services Agency (HRSA) compiled data from the National Sample Survey of RNs. Released in January 2020, the report is a compendium of information and questions RNs have answered about different aspects of the life and work. The data collected since 1977 provides insight into the latest trends and future workforce projections, and HRSA uses it to help allocate workforce resources.
NCI Budget Boost; Ending Surprise Medical Billing; Supreme Court ACA Hearing
The push and pull of budget negotiations makes for great headlines, but more important is the outcome when lawmakers finally arrive at a consensus. Earlier in December, the National Institutes of Health announced a $2.6 billion overall increase in funding, including a $297 million increase to the National Cancer Institutes (NCI), for fiscal year 2020.
Breast Cancer Is More Fatal in Men Than Women
Men have higher death rates than women across all stages of breast cancer, study findings reported in JAMA Oncology show. In the study, five-year overall survival after a breast cancer diagnosis was 77.6% for men and 86.4% for women.
What the Research Cautions About Kratom’s Opioid-Like Abuse Potential
Kratom is a Southeast Asian tropical tree, the leaves of which have been chewed, smoked, or made as tea for their stimulant and euphoric effects. They have also been employed in traditional medicine to reduce pain and fever, to relieve diarrhea, for wound healing, and as a substitute for opium. Recently, kratom supplements have become popular in the United States for alleviating pain, improving mood, lowering anxiety, and alternative opioid withdrawal treatment.
Comprehensive Tobacco Treatment Helps Almost Half of Patients Quit Smoking
After nine months of follow-up, 44% of patients in a comprehensive tobacco treatment program were compliant with smoking abstinence, according to the results of a study published in JAMA Network Open.
Experts Recommend Tailored Exercise for All Cancer Treatment Plans
Systemic use of exercise prescriptions not only lowers the risk of certain cancers but also helps to improve side effects and survival from cancer and should therefore be incorporated into cancer treatment plans, experts from the American College of Sports Medicine and 17 partner organizations said in articles published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Multigene Testing Is Cost Effective for All Women With Breast Cancer
According to findings from a new analysis published in JAMA Oncology, multigene testing should be expanded to all women with breast cancer and not just those with certain family histories or clinical factors.
Combining Tamoxifen and Blue Light Can Better Target CAR T Cells
Bioengineers may have found a way to use tamoxifen activated with blue light to control precisely which tissues and body areas CAR T cells attack, reducing toxicities in other parts of the body. They reported their work in ACS Synthetic Biology.
Research Guides the Transition of PEP Resources to ONS Guidelines
Lymphedema is one of the most common treatment side effects in patients with breast cancer. Estimates suggest that approximately 40% of all breast cancer survivors are at risk to develop lymphedema at some point in their lives. But as far back as 1998 and even before, some healthcare experts were predicting that lymphedema would be eliminated as a side effect from breast cancer treatment. Twenty-one years later, it’s still prevalent among breast cancer survivors, requiring careful management recommendations from oncology nurses to help patients live with this chronic issue.
CDK4/6 Plus AI Is Effective for Older Women With Breast Cancer
Combination treatment with a CDK4/6 inhibitor and aromatase inhibitor (AI) results in similar progression-free survival (PFS) rates in women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer who are aged 70 or older compared to younger women, according to study findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
NINR Acting Director; Vaping Flavor Ban; Drug Pricing 2020
In 2018, long-time National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Director Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, retired. A national search yielded no new directors, and the National Institutes of Health appointed Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, to serve as acting NINR director. However, when the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research announced she would retire at the end of 2019, Tabak, who previously served as the dental agency’s director, was appointed as the obvious replacement.
What Does the Evidence Say About Reiki for Cancer?
Reiki is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person to promote a sense of well-being. It was founded by the Japanese Buddhist and spiritual teacher Mikao Usui in the early 20th century and brought to the United States in the 1930s, where it has become increasingly popular.
Do Antibiotics Affect Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors?
Receiving antibiotics in the 30 days prior to starting immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment was associated with significantly reduced median overall survival, according to findings from a study published in JAMA Oncology. However, antibiotic use during treatment had no effect on survival.
USPSTF Updates Recommendations on Breast Cancer Prevention
Certain groups of women who are at increased risk for carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes should be assessed for the need for genetic testing, and women at increased risk for breast cancer and low risk of adverse events should be offered risk-reducing medications, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended.
New Liquid Biopsy Approach Is Accurate in Detecting Early Cancer
A test that looks at circulating DNA rather than specific mutations is accurate in detecting 72% of early cancer cases and correctly identifying the tissue of origin in 75% of cases, researchers reported in study findings published in Nature.
FDA Approves Niraparib for HRD-Positive Advanced Ovarian Cancer
On October 23, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved niraparib (Zejula®) for patients with advanced ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer treated with three or more prior chemotherapy regimens and whose cancer is associated with homologous recombination deficiency (HRD)-positive status. HRD is defined by either a deleterious or suspected deleterious BRCA mutation, or genomic instability in patients with disease progression greater than six months after response to the last platinum-based chemotherapy.
Small Study Shows T-Cell Activity in Pancreatic Cancer
When treated with their own nonengineered T cells plus chemotherapy, six of seven patients with inoperable or metastatic pancreatic cancer showed objective responses or stable disease, according to the results of a study reported at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Immune Cell Therapies for Cancer conference in July 2019.
Colorectal Cancer Diagnoses Increasing in Patients Younger Than 50
Healthcare providers are seeing increasing numbers of younger patients with colorectal cancer, and they’re being diagnosed with more advanced stages of the disease, researchers reported in study findings published in the journal Cancer.
CDC Estimates That 92% of HPV-Related Cancers Could Be Prevented
For years, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been promoted for its potential role in cancer prevention. In a study released in August 2019 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agency estimated that nearly 92% of all HPV-related cancers could be prevented through proper vaccination.