Overcoming Oral Oncolytic Challenges

Cancer treatment today is just as likely to involve self-administered pills at home, as it is to mean sitting in an infusion clinic for chemotherapy. Oral oncolytics bring benefits to both patients and their health care providers, but challenges also remain. Many of these challenges are best addressed with proactive communication among the treatment team,…

‘Aspirin a Day’ for Cancer Prevention?

Millions of American adults already take a daily aspirin to protect their hearts; the research on aspirin and cardiovascular health is clear and beneficial. Over the past two decades, scientific studies have been accumulating about the potential for aspirin – when used regularly – to provide an additional benefit: that of cancer risk reduction. The…

New Skin Cancer Drug Earns Fast-Tracked Approval

Skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer. Of the several varieties of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma ranks as a more uncommon type, yet it’s aggressive and tends to grow quickly and can be hard to treat once it spreads beyond the skin. Recently, the FDA reviewed a potential new treatment for Merkel…

Cancer Dangers from Excess Weight

Carrying around extra pounds presents clear health risks. In addition to the well-known connections between obesity and hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, excessive weight also increases the risk of at least 11 types of cancer. Cancer is currently a leading cause of death worldwide, yet worryingly the amount of people who are obese has more…

Blocking Hair Loss in Chemotherapy

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women worldwide, which means that many women will undergo treatment for this disease in their life. The commonly used chemotherapy for treating breast cancer is well-known for the side effect of hair loss. Research shows that cooling the scalp can help reduce the hair loss induced by…

Promising Outcome in Lung Cancer

For those with certain types of lung cancer, the oral medication Tagrisso® (osimertinib) shows promise. Tagrisso is a third-generation epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug developed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. This medication has been approved for non–small-cell lung cancer, specifically for cancers that have an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation called T790M. Lung…

Psoriasis and Skin Cancer

The autoimmune skin disease called psoriasis tends to be associated with other health concerns, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Unfortunately, yet another disease is being added to this list: melanoma. Early research investigating the potential link between psoriasis and skin cancer were unclear as to whether the psoriasis or the treatment for psoriasis affected…

Moving Forward with Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma, a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow, is diagnosed in approximately 30,000 Americans each year. In this disease, malignant plasma cells (which are a type of white blood cell) start growing out of control and can create multiple tumors in the bones. The cancerous plasma cells can also crowd out other cells…

Keytruda Ready to Help More People

Guest Blog by: Elvin Montanez, Pharm.D. Even more cancer patients might soon be benefiting from the cancer medication that helped former President Jimmy Carter. Keytruda (pembrolizumab) first started saving lives back in 2011 when a human trial led to an expedited process with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By 2014, this medication was approved…

Extra Care Brings Impressive Results

Guest Blog by: Bridget Economou, RN, OCN Reflecting back on my time attending the 41st ONS (Oncology Nursing Society) Congress in San Antonio, Texas, I was particularly struck by the data in a poster presentation from Kentucky regarding oral adherence. Their conclusions about how a care team can positively impact patient adherence served as great…

An Inside Job

Immunotherapy as a cancer treatment, which is sometimes called biologic therapy, relies on the body’s immune defenses to stop cancer cell growth and spread, as well as uses elements of the immune system to destroy cancerous cells. Last year, as I explained in the blog, Lung Cancer: Immunotherapy Treatment Option, immunotherapy presents the possibility of…

Rely on Pharmacists

Have you heard about the new Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA)? This new law will go into effect in 2019, changing the way reimbursement works for many physician offices. In short: to receive reimbursement from Medicare, offices will have to either: Use an alternative payment model (such as the patient-centered medical home) Or…

Cost and Value

Where does the true value of cancer treatment lie? Oncology experts grapple with this important question, with one of the more recent people to chime in being Robert C. Young, M.D., of RCY Medicine in Philadelphia, in an essay in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Young reviews several initiatives…

The True Cost

Infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains a leading cause of liver cancer in the United States. Treatments now available for HCV can cure upwards of 90% of patients; however, the high price tag of these HCV treatments can serve as an obstacle to these medications reaching all infected people. Yet, there is a…

Who Isn’t Taking Their Cancer Medication?

Just a few years ago, a physician knew immediately if a patient didn’t follow the prescribed cancer treatment, because the treatment was likely given intravenously at a health care facility. If the patient missed a scheduled appointment, then the physician could work to get the patient back in compliance. Today, oral cancer medications have increasingly…

Understanding Immuno-Oncology

The field of immuno-oncology combines an understanding of how the body’s own defenses (e.g., the immune system) can be harnessed in the fight against cancer. Cancer cells, although different than the body’s healthy cells, find ways to disguise themselves so that the immune system doesn’t recognize them as non-self and target them for destruction. Immuno-oncology…

Coping With ‘Financial Toxicity’

Multiple myeloma, a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow, will be diagnosed in an estimated 27,000 Americans this year. Advances in research are expanding treatment options and improving outcomes in multiple myeloma patients, but these new medications often come with a higher price point. The expensive treatments for this disease have triggered alarming developments:…

When Price Stands in the Way

Medication non-adherence can be traced back to numerous causes. For some patients, the side effects of a given medication become too burdensome. Sometimes it is simple forgetfulness that keeps a patient from faithfully taking all prescribed treatment. And then there is the cost burden of treatment. Price barriers account for a significant slice of the…