Prostate Cancer Headlines, CAR-T Warnings and Laughter Therapy

Last week, we saw some big headlines in the oncology space, from Dexter Scott King’s death from prostate cancer and MLB Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg announcing that he was diagnosed with the disease.

Topics discussed:

  • 0:53 Dexter Scott King died of prostate cancer
  • 1:30 Ryne Sandberg announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • 1:56 FDA requested a warning label on CAR-T cell therapies
  • 3:58 Laughter therapy can improve mood and decrease pain in survivors and caregivers

The FDA also requested a label update for CAR-T cell therapies that would warn patients and providers about secondary malignancies that have been reported from the treatment. Also, we took a look at laughter therapy, and how it could help patients and caregivers.

We’ve also been busy covering two conferences — ASCO’s Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, as well as their Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, so tune in later this week for a special podcast episode highlighting some major research from those events.

Dexter Scott King Dies of Prostate Cancer, Ryne Sandberg Diagnosed With the Disease

Last Monday, Jan. 22, we saw two big stories in the prostate cancer space. First, Dexter Scott King, the son of the Civil Rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr., died of prostate cancer. He was 62 years old.

At the time of his death, King was the Chairman of the King Center, which is an organization focused on educating the world about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dexter Scott King was also the president of the King estate.

In a statement announcing King’s death, his wife, Leah Weber said, “He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu. He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end.”

And on the same day Dexter Scott King died, Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer, Ryne Sandberg, announced that he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.

The 64-year-old — who was a 10-time All Star during his tenure for the Chicago Cubs, which ran from 1982 to 1997 — announced his diagnosis on Instagram. He said that received the diagnosis a week earlier and has started treatment. He asked that fans keep him in their thoughts and prayers.

FDA Requests Warnings on CAR-T Cell Therapies, Citing Secondary Cancers

The investigation into CAR-T cell therapies continues. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that approved BCMA- or CD19-targeted CAR-T cell therapies update their labeling to include a warning of reports of T-cell malignancies, including CAR-positive lymphomas, which have been reported in patients who use this type of therapy.

Back in November, the FDA announced that it was investigating reports of secondary diseases in patients who underwent CAR-T cell therapy. The available data shows that these diseases are extremely rare, and researchers are still looking into what, exactly, is causing them.

Now, the FDA wrote letters to the manufacturers of five CAR-T cell therapies, requesting that they include a Boxed Warning — which is the highest safety-related warning for drugs — outlining the potential risks of CAR-T cell products. The companies must respond to the FDA within 30 days of receiving the letters, which were sent out on Jan. 19.

Laughter Therapy May Improve Mood, Decrease Pain in Patients With Cancer

And on a much lighter note, we covered recent research showing that laughter therapy can decrease mood disturbances in patients receiving palliative care for late-stage cancer, as well as their loved ones. The findings, which were published in the journal, Cancer Nursing, also found that the laughter therapy reduced pain perception in patients and decreased levels of burnout in caregivers.

Laughter therapy refers to alternative and complementary therapy using humor to help relieve stress and pain, in addition to potentially improving a patient’s sense of well-being, according to the National Cancer Institute. In this instance, it consisted of five 20- to 30-minute sessions held over five consecutive days. The participants introduced themselves using funny tools to relieve tension, and moved their bodies in laughing rhythms.

“This indicates that our palliative care patients and family caregivers would have a positive view of the use of laughter or humor in their palliative circumstances,” the researchers wrote.

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