News in brief: Call for consistent OS reporting; Oncology researcher wins $3m Fellowship; Smoking associated with lower thyroid cancer risk


15 Jul 2021

Call for consistent OS reporting on drugs

Overall survival (OS) results should be clearly and consistently listed on cancer drug labels, health researchers argue.

A review of FDA-approved cancer drugs found “substantial variation” in OS reporting, which could hinder prescribers’ identification of clinically significant or undetermined survival benefits.

OS “is arguably the most definitive patient-relevant outcome when evaluating cancer drugs in clinical trials,” the researchers said in a letter to JAMA.

“Consistently communicating the association of cancer drugs with OS in US FDA-approved labelling can help inform treatment decisions.”

Mathematical oncology researcher awarded ARC Fellowship

“Mathematical oncology pioneer”, Professor Helen Byrne, has received $3 million to model solid tumour growth and treatment responses, as part of the Australian Research Council’s 2021 Australian Laureate Fellowship program.

She hopes her use of mathematics, statistics and data science will “generate mechanistic insight into fundamental biomedical processes” and “lead to new mathematical models that guide decision making in the clinic,” according to a University of Sydney article.

Smoking associated with lower thyroid cancer risk

Smoking is associated with a lower risk of thyroid cancer, particularly, a lower risk of BRAFV600E-positive cancers, according to an Australian study.

Published in Clinical Endocrinology, the study compared 1013 thyroid cancer patients’ smoking status with 1057 controls, frequency-matched by age and sex.

After adjusting for potential confounders, such as age, sex, education, relative socioeconomic disadvantage, and alcohol consumption, the researchers found that a 20+ pack-year smoking history was associated with a 25% reduced risk of thyroid cancer (odds ratio: 0.75) compared with participants who had never smoked.

Additionally, current smokers were less likely to have BRAFV600E-positive cancers than ‘never smokers’ (prevalence ratio: 0.79).

“There is evidence that elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) plays a role in the development of BRAF‐mutated cancers; smoking is associated with lower levels of TSH and may therefore decrease the likelihood of initiation of BRAF‐mutated thyroid cancers,” the authors hypothesised, however, more research is needed to confirm this.

“If our results reflect a causal association, it is possible that the decreasing prevalence of smoking among Australians (prevalence of daily smoking declined from 24% to 11% between 1991 and 2019) may be contributing, at least in part, to the increasing incidence of thyroid cancer,” the study authors concluded.

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