News in brief: World renowned medical oncologist dies at 61; NSW breast cancer survival stats are world class; New trial opens in Australia for children with high grade gliomas 

Thursday, 25 Mar 2021

World renowned medical oncologist dies at 61

Dr José Baselga, a medical oncologist and researcher whose discoveries helped pave the way for targeted breast cancer therapies has died the age of 61.

Baselga’s death was confirmed by AstraZeneca, where he had been appointed as executive vice president for research and development in oncology after his academic career ended amid a conflict-of-interest scandal at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

According to Spanish newspaper reports Baselga died of Creuzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

NSW breast cancer survival stats are world class

Survival from breast cancer is high in NSW by world standards, with geographic remoteness not appearing to impact survival rates, latest figures show.

The analysis of data from the NSW cancer registry showed a high five-year disease-specific survival from breast cancer of 90%, with evidence of an upward trend.

Despite large distances that many women have to travel for diagnosis and treatment the figures showed crude survival was equivalent by residential remoteness. However, remoteness of residence was associated in adjusted analyses with less radiotherapy and less immediate breast reconstruction.

Adjusted analyses indicated a more advanced stage in lower socioeconomic areas, with less breast reconstruction and radiotherapy, and marginally less hormone therapy.

According to the researchers from the Cancer Institute NSW,  the findings suggest policy makers should continue their focus on initiatives to improve survival further by addressing the geographic and socioeconomic barriers to cancer care.

New trial opens in Australia for children with high grade gliomas 

A trial has opened in Australia that will examine if immunotherapy can help boost immune response in children with recurrent or progressive high grade gliomas.

The NICHE-HGG Trial will examine the effectiveness of immunotherapy agents nivolumab and ipilimumab taken in differing combinations.

The trial will be Australia’s first collaboration with the newly established global Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC), a consortia based in the United States, with study sites across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Australian Principal Investigator, Professor Nick Gottardo from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth said the trial meant that Australian and New Zealand children diagnosed with recurrent or progressive HGG will be among the first children world-wide to access cutting edge immunotherapy agents.

“This is desperately needed, as we have limited treatment options for these children once their front-line therapies fail,” he said.

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