E-Cigarette Use in Young Cancer Survivors

Young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer report having used e-cigarettes at a higher rate than their peers without any history of cancer, according to a study published April 9 in JAMA Oncology. The researchers evaluated survey data from 2018 on 54,931 Americans between ages 18 and 39, 1,444 of whom had a history of cancer. Around 47% of those with cancer history reported ever having used an e-cigarette, compared to 39% of those without cancer history. Around 31% of cancer survivors reported currently using e-cigarettes, compared to 27% of young adults without a history of cancer, a difference which was not statistically significant. The researchers point out that previous studies have shown that young adults with cancer history are more likely than their peers to engage in high-risk behaviors like smoking.

Oncologists Write About COVID-19

As surgeries for some cancer patients continue to be delayed and doctors and patients weigh delaying some other treatments, tests and scans, oncologists are reflecting on the impact of the coronavirus on how they care for their patients. “In my professional capacity, I am used to witnessing primal fear, but I have never seen such widespread panic in my patient population as during the advent of SARS-CoV-2,” writes medical oncologist Mark A. Lewis of Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah, in an essay published April 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Patients and their doctors are worried about coronavirus infection. Lewis also worries about the dangers down the road of having de-intensified, delayed or canceled treatments. “The acuteness of infection and the chronicity of malignancy are the Scylla and Charybdis between which oncologists and their patients must now chart a very cautious course indeed,” he says. Writing April 8 in the New York Times, Mikkael Sekeres of the Cleveland Clinic describes the shift in the balance of risks and benefits he now calculates while caring for patients with blood cancers, who were already at high risk of infection even before the pandemic. Still, blood cancer treatment is often urgent, and in-person treatment must go on. “For some patients, I can schedule a virtual visit. But I can’t draw a patient’s labs to look for leukemia over Skype. Zoom doesn’t have the functionality to transfuse blood,” Sekeres says.

FDA Approves a Targeted Therapy Combination for Colorectal Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration on April 8 approved a combination of two targeted therapies for treatment of some patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. A combination of the BRAF inhibitor Braftovi (encorafenib) and the EGFR inhibitor Erbitux (cetuximab) is approved for patients whose tumors have BRAF mutations and who have already tried at least one other therapy. Braftovi was previously approved for certain patients with melanoma. Last summer, data suggested that a com​bination of three drugs might be necessary to treat patients with BRAF-positive colorectal cancer, but newer data indicated that the two-drug combination was sufficient.