Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: October 2

Briefly: More colorectal cancer patients experience severe rash from Erbitux than other cancer patients, and significantly more men and younger people have severe rash than women and patients over 70.

Where you live in the United States makes a big difference in your risk of being uninsured from more than 40 percent of people living in Houston to a little more than 3 percent of those in Worchester, MA.

A new method of testing cancer drugs directly on fresh tumor tissue may speed drug development by reducing the need for the earliest human testing.

Research Reports

  • Although patients with a variety of cancers will develop skin rash from Erbitux®  (cetuximab) treatment, colorectal cancer patients are almost twice as likely to get a high-grade rash. Reviewing over 2,000 participants in 16 different trials, analysts found that 88 percent of patients develop some skin rash, with 11 percent having high-grade rashes.  Almost 13 percent (12.6 percent) of colorectal cancer patients had the more severe high-grade rash compared to 6.6 percent of patients with other cancers. The study, led by Xiao Su, was published in the August 2009 issue of Oncology.
  • Men and younger patients are more likely to develop a high-grade rash from Erbitux® (cetuximab).  In a review of a clinical trial of Erbitux in over 900 patients with colorectal cancer, 7 percent of men and 3 percent of women developed severe (grade 3) rash.  Six percent of patients under age 70 and 2 percent of older patients had severe rash. Amina Jatoi and a team from the Mayo Clinic report their study results in the August 2008 issue of Oncology.

Other Headlines

  • Where you live makes a big difference in whether or not you have health insurance in the United States according to an census analysis of Congressional districts reported by the Associated Press. The percentage of uninsured ranged from 40.1 percent in Houston to 3.4 percent in Worchester, MA.   State policies, types of jobs, and demographics influence lack of insurance.  Large numbers of Hispanics, young people from 20 to 24, older adults from 60 to 64, and people working in farming, fishing, construction, and support jobs increased percentages of uninsured.
  • A new method has been developed to test the response of new cancer drugs in human tissue.  The test may speed the development of cancer drugs by reducing early testing in humans.  Using fresh slices of tumor tissue, the assay was able to predict the cancer-killing response to drugs and also which drugs blocked critical cancer-related cell pathways. Ilona Schonn and her team from Hamburg presented a research poster at ECCO/ESMO in Berlin.


  1. j.d. says

    “Men and younger patients are more likely to develop a high-grade rash from Erbitux® (cetuximab)”

    That’s very interesting, but how well does it correlate with tumor response?

    Since rash is known to correlate with response, does this mean that men and younger patients have better responses to Erbitux?

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