Table of Contents
- Purpose of Cancer Monthly
- Searching is as Easy as 1, 2, 3
- How to Sort Results
- Accessing Treatment Details
- Toxicity Grade
- E-mail to a Friend
- E-mail Physician
- More Information
|Purpose of Cancer Monthly
The purpose of Cancer Monthly is to help cancer patients
get the facts about the results of cancer treatments both the successes
and the failures so that they can have productive discussions with their
doctors. The information is NOT intended, nor recommended as a substitute
for professional medical advice, treatment advice or treatment recommendations.
In addition, the Search Results and Treatment Details contain only the
highlights of the clinical results of specific therapies, not every detail.
Your doctors can help you understand what a particular therapy means in
treating your cancer based on all of the facts regarding your condition
and all of the facts regarding that particular therapy.
As discussed below, for each treatment there is a link called More
Information. When you click on this link another window pops up.
This is the studys abstract. It contains a medical summary about
the treatment. If you are interested in this treatment, you should
print-out the abstract, give it to your physician, and ask your physician
questions about this particular therapy. If, for whatever reason,
you are unable to find or print the abstract, then share the Treatment
Details information with your doctor. None of the information presented
by Cancer Monthly is a substitute for professional medical advice.
|Searching is as Easy as 1, 2, 3
Searching is as easy as 1, 2, 3. First select a cancer
type. Second, choose the types of treatments you are interest in. Third,
select where you would like to be treated. Your search results are displayed
with the treatments reporting the highest survival at the top.
|How to Sort Results
Once your search results are displayed, you can sort
the results by:
- Survival (highest to lowest)
- Toxicity (lowest to highest)
- Treatment (alphabetical order)
- Hospital (alphabetical order)
- Country (alphabetical order)
- Date (newest to oldest)
|Accessing Treatment Details
If you find a treatment of interest, click on "Treatment
Details" and you will be taken to the page that provides a summary
of some of the key highlights of that treatment including:
- Toxicity Grade
- Country (where the treatment was provided)
- City/State/Province (where the treatment was provided)
- Hospital (where the treatment was provided)
- Journal (where the results of the treatment were originally
- Date (when the results of the treatment were originally
- Description (additional details about the treatment)
You do not need a medical background to understand your Search Results.
This "How to" guide you are now reading is designed to answer
most questions. In addition, if you come across an unfamiliar medical
term, click on the Cancer Glossary on the
Tools button at the top of the navigation bar to find the definition.
And if you want more information about a particular drug, the Drug
Database (described below) will get you started.
Time Period - Survival is reported in months.
In general, the time period being measured is from the time the treatment
began (or the patient was enrolled in the treatment) to death.
Statistics and Median Survival - The survival numbers are based
on statistical projections for the patients involved in the study. (Usually
they are Kaplan-Meier survival curves). This means that these are statistical
estimates based on different sets of assumptions and follow-up times.
In addition, the survival numbers are typically median figures.
For example, if one person survived 1 month, another 3 months, and another
12 months, the median would be 3 months (the number in the middle). Median
numbers have half the patients on one side of the median, and half on
the other side. If the numbers were written in order from smallest to
largest (in our example - 1, 3, 12) the people on the right side of the
median could be surviving many years past the median. Moreover, on some
occasions, the survival numbers may contain other cancer types. It
is important to remember that these figures are for general information
only and do not specify your prognosis. Every patient is different.
Your prognosis will depend on your own unique combination of variables
including your general state of health, immune competency, age, diagnosis,
cancer type, histology, whether the cancer was completely removed by surgery
(fully resectable), prior treatments, and the extent of metastasis (if
any). That is why this information is designed to be shared with your
physician. Licensed medical professionals can assist you to understand
your particular prognosis under various treatments. If you see a treatment
of interest, click on the link "More Information," print out
the abstract, and share it with your doctor.
No Response (N/R) - Response means that a tumor shrunk (or that
a blood test indicated regression of the cancer). Some treatments resulted
in no response at all. In those cases, doctors may not measure survival
because they believe that their treatment has made no impact. When there
is no response in any patients and survival is not discussed, N/R is used
for "No Response."
Median Survival Not Reported - Some treatments do not state how
long patients survived (median survival). This may be because there was
not sufficient data to calculate this number, or the study was not designed
to calculate survival (i.e. Phase I study). In these cases, the symbol
? is used.
Each treatment includes a brief description of the
types of patients who were administered that specific treatment. Such
a description may include the type of cancer, the grade, whether the patients
had metastatsis, and whether the patients were newly diagnosed or recurrent
(the cancer has returned).
Grades - Toxicities (or side-effects) are graded
from one to five. The higher the number, the more toxic were the side-effects
for the treatment. There are a number of different toxicity scales (i.e.
National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria version 2.0, World
Health Organization) and they are all similar in respect to their grades
and definitions. The scale is generally:
1 = Mild side-effects
2 = Moderate side-effects
3 = Severe side-effects
4 = Life Threatening or Disabling side-effects
5 = Fatal
A few clinical reports describe toxicities, but fail to grade them. Others
report no toxicities. In those cases, the toxicity grade is left blank.
Cancer Monthly Grade Number is the Highest Grade Experienced -
For most therapies, patients will experience different toxicities with
different grades. For example, for one particular treatment, the side
effect of nausea may be graded as 2, while the side-effect of neutropenia
may be graded as a 4. The grade numbers reported in the Search Results
(1-5) represent the highest grade for one or more toxicities reported
for one or more patients. This means that even if only one patient
had one example of a grade 4 toxicity and every other patient had grade
2, the grade for that treatment will be reported as a 4.
Treatments have been divided into eight groups to make
it easier to find specific types of therapies. (Note: some clinicians
may classify individual treatments based on a different organization).
1. Alternative - Any treatments considered complimentary which
may include herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, peptides, and other
natural non-toxic supplements.
2. Biologic Therapy - Where a targeted therapy is used to attack
a particular protein, enzyme or other cellular component or process using
inhibitors (i.e. anti-angiogenesis), monoclonal antibodies or other substances,
or an analogue of a natural substance such as a vitamin is used. Radioimmunotherapy
therapy (where radioactive substances are attached to a monoclonal antibody)
and photodynamic therapy (a technique that uses non-thermal lasers to
activate light-sensitive drugs) are also classified under this heading.
3. Chemotherapy - These are typically toxic drugs that work by
killing both healthy and cancerous cells.
4. Gene Therapy - Where a gene or gene vector (a means of moving
a gene into a cell) is used to try to try to reprogram cancer cells.
5. Hormone Therapy - Where the blocking of hormones (or their
receptors) is used to treat some types of hormone dependent cancers.
6. Immunotherapy - This includes vaccine therapy (i.e. autologous
vaccines - vaccines made from the patient) or a treatment that includes
an immune cytokine. These treatments typically attempt to stimulate an
immune response in the patient's body to fight the cancer.
7. Radiation - There are different types and methods for delivering
radiation. For example, radiation such as x-rays or gamma rays may be
delivered externally via external beam radiation. Radiation can also be
delivered internally by placing radioactive substances such as cesium,
iridium, and iodine near or into cancerous cells within the body or administering
radionuclides systemically (into the bloodstream).
8. Surgery - Any surgical procedure.
Different Combinations - Some treatments use different combinations
such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
Past Treatments - It is important to note that many patients may
have received other treatments before they were administered the treatment
described. For example, some patients may have had surgery or chemotherapy
before a biological therapy is administered. Such prior or "pre-treatments"
may not be mentioned in the results.
Drug Database - Specific drugs associated with
specific treatments are linked to a Drug Database. The Drug Database is
also available on the Tools button at the top of the navigation bar. The
brand name associated with each drug is the name used by the FDA and is
available from the FDA website. Nonetheless, manufacturers may use other
or different brand names. For example, different brand names may be used
in other countries. For this reason, both the brand name and trade (i.e.
generic name) are provided.
"Drug Details" - By clicking on the name of the drug
associated with that treatment, you will be taken to a "Drug Details"
page that contains some information about specific drugs. This
information may include
- A brand name and trade (i.e. generic) name;
- What the drug is FDA approved for;
- Whether it is a carcinogen (causes cancer) or mutagen (causes
- Whether it is approved for pediatric use;
- Who the manufacturer or distributor is;
- What are some of the adverse reactions (side effects) associated
with the drug.
E-mail to a Friend - By clicking on "E-mail to a Friend"
you can e-mail this drug information to a friend.
More Information - The "Drug Details" information
is not complete or comprehensive for a specific drug. Only excerpts from
the FDA label have been included. In addition, drug information is
constantly changing and the drug information on the Cancer Monthly website
may be outdated. If you are interested in reading up-to-date and comprehensive
details about a specific drug, go to the FDA website for more information.
The link "More Information" is provided for your convenience
and links directly to the drug insert or FDA information for a specific
drug. Most importantly, you should ask your licensed healthcare provider
any questions you have about specific drugs.
This is the country where the treatment was administered.
This is the city/state/province where the treatment
This is the name of the hospital where the treatment
was administered. In many instances, other hospitals (in other cities
or perhaps other countries), may have also administered this specific
This is a hyperlink to the abstract that provided the
treatment information (i.e. where the results of the treatment were originally
This is the date (month and year) when the results
for that particular treatment were published.
A description of each treatment is also provided. Typically
it includes additional details about the types and numbers of patients
who were administered this treatment, the treatment itself, and the most
frequent and/or the most significant toxicities. (Note: Cancer Monthly
may not list all toxicities associated with a specific treatment.)
Support - If a drug company supported the study and this information
was published, it would appear here.
Correspondence - This is the name of the doctor involved in the
study to whom correspondence should be directed. (This is the doctor the
e-mail is forwarded to, when you click on "E-mail Physician.")
For some treatments, there is no physician for correspondence.
|E-mail to a Friend
This is a link that allows the user to send the Treatment
Details page to a friend via e-mail.
This is a link that opens an e-mail screen and allows
the user to send an e-mail directly to the doctor involved in the study.
In some cases, there is no physician for correspondence so this link does
When e-mailing physicians involved in a particular study or treatment
you may want to consider the following guidelines:
1) Be courteous. Although these doctors have published their e-mail
addresses and appear as contacts for their respective studies, they may
not be used to receiving e-mails from individuals who are not medical
professionals. Be gracious for their time and attention.
2) Be specific. These doctors can not tell you whether a particular
treatment is appropriate for a particular patient because they are unfamiliar
with the patient. Therefore, questions like "would your treatment
work for my mother" may not be answered. Instead, ask "treatment
focused" questions such as:
a. Is your treatment available in other parts of the world and if so what
institution should I contact?
b. Are you currently using this treatment on patients and if so do you
have any additional data/information to report?
c. Could a patient come to your institution and be treated with this therapy?
We are not suggesting that you ask these specific questions, but the
questions you ask (initially) should be "treatment focused"
and not "patient focused" if you expect an answer.
This is a link where you can obtain more information on that particular
treatment. When you click on the word "More Information" another
window pops up. This is the study's abstract (a medical summary about
the treatment) that resides on PubMed. Pubmed is a service of the National
Library of Medicine and includes over 15 million citations for medical
and scientific articles. If you are interested in this treatment, you
should print-out the abstract, give it to your physician, and ask your
physician questions about this particular therapy.