Make your selection from the ASCO news buffet

When the American Society of Clinical Oncology meets, pharma-watchers salivate over the enormous menu of study data. We're no exception. Here's a digest of appetizer-sized bites, focused on news about already approved drugs. Fore more on the up-and-coming experimental products, see our sister pub, FierceBiotech.

In a departure from the usual head-to-head efficacy trials, researchers gauged patients' preferences about kidney cancer treatment by trying both GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Votrient and Pfizer's ($PFE) Sutent in a double-blind study. After short-term treatment with first one, then the other, patients could choose which to use for another round. Some 70% picked Votrient for qualify-of-life reasons. Report

Breast cancer chemo approaches could change thanks to news that Avastin plus paclitaxel worked as well as--and in some ways, better than--Avastin in combination with newer, more expensive chemo drugs Abraxane, from Celgene, and Ixempra, from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY). News | Item

Pfizer's Xalkori won the spotlight for treating difficult childhood cancers known to be linked to the ALK mutation. The company now plans to study the drug in kids whose tumors have tested positive for the genetic abnormality. Story

Roche's ($RHHBY) Tarceva and AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Iressa will have to defend themselves against a new treatment from Boehringer Ingelheim. After encouraging lung cancer data, Boehringer will pit its afatinib drug for EGFR-positive patients against the two existing meds in a comparative trial. Article

Drug trials stopped early because the products are so beneficial--or not--stepped into the spotlight at ASCO. Stopping studies early can complicate data interpretation and trigger debate, as with Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Zytiga results this year. So, what exactly is a data safety monitoring board, and how do they decide when to stop? More

Drug shortages have been a hot topic at ASCO. For instance, the paclitaxel study above may not change practice quickly because it's one of the meds in short supply. When one shortage is resolved, another crops up, forcing docs to use combinations they're not familiar with. Report