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UPCI Researcher Chairs ASCO Educational Session Exploring the Complexities Surrounding Oral Chemotherapy

CHICAGO, June 7, 2010 – An educational session exploring the complexities of oral chemotherapy, a development in cancer treatment that has occurred over the last decade, will be chaired today by Merrill Egorin, M.D., professor of medicine and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), at the 46th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Traditionally, cancer patients have received chemotherapy intravenously while under the care of doctors and nurses, in a medical setting. Over the last 10 years, however, a significant number of chemotherapies have been made to be delivered orally. While this development offers many cancer patients greater flexibility in determining their treatment plan, it also is an area of concern for oncologists, who lose control of medication delivery when it moves from the hospital to the patient’s home.

“The issues surrounding oral chemotherapy compliance and interactions with food and other medications are significant and varied,” said Dr. Egorin. “From understanding what happens if a patient takes an antacid before or after taking oral chemotherapy to ensuring patients understand the dosing directions so they don’t over- or under-medicate, this issue is of utmost importance for oncologists and patients alike.”

The session will explore three different areas of oral chemotherapy concern:

  • General issues relevant to oral chemotherapy and patient health care literacy, led by Dr. Egorin
  • Drug-drug and food-drug interactions relevant to oral chemotherapy agents, led by Jan Hendrik Beumer, Ph.D., Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
  • Adherence and persistence (or lack thereof) with oral agents, led by Ann H. Partridge, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School

“The variability possible with oral chemotherapies is something we’ve never had to worry about before,” said Dr. Beumer. “Whether or not patients who have had surgery involving their stomachs or upper small intestine absorb their treatment properly and the effects of fatty or dairy products in meals on drug absorption are great areas of interest. It’s exciting for us that ASCO has recognized and validated the importance of the subject by hosting an education session on the matter.”

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.

About UPCI

As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.

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