Houston, TX—Delta Air Lines has a commitment to preventive health and comprehensive cancer care for its 140,000 health plan members; the company is pi­loting a “high-performance cancer network,” said Lynn Zonakis, Managing Director of Health Strategy and Resources, Delta Air Lines, Atlanta, GA, at the 2012 Second Annual Conference of the Association for Value-Based Cancer Care. Ms Zonakis was part of the employers’ panel at the conference who presented perspectives from different employer groups related to cancer care.

We should all read with great interest the New York Times opinion piece by Peter B. Bach, MD, and colleagues from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on their rationale for not including ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap) in its formulary for patients with metastatic or advanced colorectal cancer.

San Francisco, CA—The Oncotype DX Recurrence Score (the 21-gene) test can help identify patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer with any number of positive lymph nodes who will have residual disease after adjuvant chemotherapy, and who may benefit from additional treatment, reported Eleftherios P. Mamounas, MD, Medical Director, Aultman Hospital Cancer Center, Canton, OH, at the 2012 Breast Cancer Symposium.

This new retrospective analysis was conducted by investigators from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).

Boston, MA—In the United States right now, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has largely replaced 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy as the technique of choice for most patients with organ-confined prostate cancer that is being treated with radiation as the primary therapy.

Another technique in use is brachytherapy, and, at some centers, proton beam therapy is being studied.

Synribo Approved for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
The US Food and Drug Admini­s­tration (FDA) approved omacetaxine mepesuccinate (Synribo; Teva Phar­ma­­ceutical) to treat adults with chron­ic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a he­matologic disease. An estimated 5430 Americans will be diagnosed with CML in 2012, according to the Na­tional Institutes of Health.

It is well understood that cancer-cell proliferation encourages tumor growth and metastasis. It is also known that the use of statins blocks the production of cholesterol, and endogenous cholesterol is crucial for human cell proliferation. Linking these 2 disparate mechanisms, researchers in Denmark set out to investigate whether statin therapy can help to reduce cancer-related mortality by limiting cancer-cell proliferation in patients who have used statins before they were diagnosed with cancer (Nielsen SF, et al. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1792-1802).

Boston, MA—The use of proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT) for the treatment of prostate cancer is increasing across the United States, but there is no evidence from randomized, controlled trials to suggest that PBRT is more effective than intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which is the current standard of care. A study presented at the 2012 American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting found few differences in toxicity between the 2 techniques, but demonstrated that PBRT was associated with a 57% increase in median cost per patient.

The cost of cancer care matters; in fact, it matters so much that Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City has decided not to include in its formulary the newly approved drug ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap), which was re­­cently approved for use in patients with progressive metastatic colorectal cancer. The decision is based on considering cost versus benefit rather than on “newer is better.”

San Francisco, CA—In patients with breast cancer with bone metastases, skeletal-related events (SREs) are associated with high treatment costs. For example, the cumulative cost of treating 1 spinal cord compression exceeds $100,000, according to a new cost analysis presented at the 2012 Breast Cancer Symposium.

The cost of cancer care is staggering. Global sales of cancer drugs alone are forecast to grow at a rate of 12% to 15% annually, reaching $75 billion to $80 billion by the end of this year, according to IMS Health.1

Clinical leadership is one of the critical keys to controlling quality and costs in healthcare. Every other segment of the healthcare system also has a role to play. At Aetna, we work to influence the creation of safer, more effective, and more affordable healthcare through clinical evidence and unprecedented collaboration.

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