Oncology Roundup: Long-term Risks for Survivors, COVID-19 Accommodation Longevity, and More

Some recent oncology news includes research into factors impacting the well-being of childhood cancer survivors; whether COVID-19 accommodations will last post-pandemic; and a possible new therapy for patients with polycythemia vera.

Recent cancer-related news explored some of the factors affecting survivors’ long-term psychological concerns; whether accommodations resulting from the pandemic will disappear; and the FDA’s acceptance of a biologics license application (BLA) for a potential polycythemia vera (PV) treatment.

Long-Term Survivors of Childhood Cancer Still at Risk Decades Later

A study found that adult survivors of childhood cancer had an increased risk of experiencing cancer-related worries (CRWs), even decades after concluding treatment, according to a report from Cure. The main goal of the study was to examine the associations between CRWs and their impact on health behaviors.

The investigators of the study analyzed data from 3211 patients aged 18 or older from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort. Patients received, on average, a cancer diagnosis 22.8 years ago. In an interview, the patients were asked to rate how worried they felt about CRWs.

Results showed that 64% of survivors reported being worried about developing subsequent malignancy neoplasms (SMNs). Additionally, 45% reported concerns about physical problems related to cancer and 33% reported worrying about relapse. Compared with male patients, female patients were more likely to worry about relapse and developing another cancer.

Survivors who had experienced relapse or SMNs, noncranial radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and cranial radiation therapy had an increased risk of CRWs. The study authors noted that an association between CRWs and an increased risk of current tobacco use, past marijuana use, and current marijuana use.

COVID-19 Oncology Accommodations May Be Here to Stay

An assortment of opinion leaders spoke with OncLive about which COVID-19 accommodations they think will persist in the oncology field after the pandemic ends.

Most of the experts said that they expect telehealth and Zoom capabilities to stay, especially for patients who live far away from cancer centers or struggle with having access to care. It’s also made it easier for family members of patients to be more involved by not forcing them to take off of work and school or frequent appointments.

Heather Wakelee, MD from Stanford Cancer Institute, a specialist in lung and thoracic cancers, said that she thinks mask wearing around patients and less frequent dosing of some medicines may continue. She also hopes the ability to send drugs to patients’ homes rather than requiring them to travel far distances will stay.

Daniel J. George, MD from Duke Cancer Center Genitourinary Clinic, said that in addition to telemedicine being used to connect physicians and patients, his practice has been able to use it to minimize patient burden by building telemedicine visits into their research protocols.

BLA Resubmission for PV Medication Accepted

A BLA for ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft, developed by PharmaEssentia USA Corporation, has been resubmitted and the FDA has accepted it for review. The drug is designed to aid patients with PV, a rare type of blood cancer.

According to report from Targeted Oncology, the resubmission comes after the FDA issued a complete response letter in March 2021, citing COVID-19-related travel restrictions preventing officials from properly inspecting PharmaEssentia’s manufacturing facility in Taiwan. Additionally, the FDA said that they wanted additional data regarding the administration format of the product but raised no concerns about the clinical profile of the drug.

The original submission was based on results from a phase 3 trial that showed ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft had a high and durable hematological response in patients over 36 months compared to hydroxyurea (Siklos).