Liquid Biopsies Sent To Different Labs May Yield Different Results

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gonzalo Torga, MD
Urology Department
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD 21287

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative to tumor tissue sequencing, and it is intended to specifically detect and sequence tumor DNA circulating in patients’ blood. The results are used to help guide oncologists to tailor the best treatment for patients at each point of their disease. Our research was initially aimed at finding the best commercial lab to test samples from metastatic prostate cancer patients. We wanted to make the best choice for our patients, so we started submitting the samples to both places at the same time to compare results. However, we found significant disparities in the results from identical patient samples submitted to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers, and we believed it would be important to share them with the oncology community.

The two liquid biopsy panels compared were the Guardant360, from Guardant Health, Inc., which sequenced at least part of the coding sequences of 73 genes; and the PlasmaSELECT panel from Personal Genome Diagnostics, which sequenced coding segments of 64 genes.  Both laboratories were licensed by Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and report having high sensitivity (in this case, the ability to correctly identify mutations when they occur) and high specificity (the ability to correctly report as negative when those mutations are not present). The two companies differ in which genes, and regions within each gene, are covered. Just 25 of the 40 patients in the study had at least one genetic mutation reported within the overlapping genetic sequences covered by both companies.

Even when the companies were analyzing DNA from the same blood drawn, their results rarely matched each other. When comparing results within the overlapping genetic sequences, the results from both companies completely matched for all the mutations reported in only 7.5 percent (3 of 40 patients) of cases. In 15 percent of the patients (6 of 40), both companies’ results matched for at least one of the reported mutations. In 40 percent (16 of 40) of the patients, no mutations reported that were potentially covered by both panels were detected by both companies.

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Multiple Myeloma: Phase 3 Study of DARZALEX + VMP Reduced Risk of Disease Progression and Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos MD Professor and Chairman Department of Clinical Therapeutics University Athens School of Medicine Athens, Greece

Dr. Dimopoulos

DrMeletios A. Dimopoulos MD
Professor and Chairman
Department of Clinical Therapeutics
University Athens School of Medicine
Athens, Greece

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Updated data from the Phase 3 POLLUX trials showed DARZALEX, in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56 percent, compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (Hazard Ratio [HR]=0.44; 95 percent CI [0.34-0.55], p<0.0001). After a median follow-up of 32.9 months, the median progression-free survival (PFS) in the DARZALEX arm has not been reached, compared with a median PFS of 17.5 months for patients who received lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone.

DARZALEX in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone also significantly increased the overall response rate (ORR) compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (93 percent vs. 76 percent, p<0.0001), including rates of complete response (CR) or better (55 percent vs. 23 percent, p<0.0001). DARZALEX also showed significantly higher (>3-fold) MRD-negative rates compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone. These data were featured as an oral presentation (Abstract #739) at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in early December.

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Most Laboratory Testing For Cancer-Causing Gene Mutations Found Reliable

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Annette S. Kim, MD, PhD Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School Brigham & Women's Hospital Boston MA 02115

Dr. Kim

Annette S. Kim, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Boston MA 02115 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The recent debate on laboratory developed tests (LDTs) and FDA-approved companion diagnostics (FDA-CDs) has centered upon both the regulatory and performance aspects of LDTs and we, at the College of American Pathologists (CAP), had the data through our proficiency testing (PT) programs to address the latter point, performance that we wanted to share with the community.  We analyzed almost 7000 PT responses on three molecular oncology tests, those for BRAF, EGFR, and KRAS mutations, and found that both LDTs and FDA-CDs demonstrated excellent performance, with both test types exceeding 97% accuracy overall.

The second key finding of the study was that more than 60% of all laboratories in our study that were using an FDA-CD kit report using it with modifications from the FDA-approved protocol.  These modifications in fact render these test LDTs.  These modifications appear to be driven by the exigencies of real day-to-day clinical practice that requires adapting the assays to meet the needs of a variety of clinical situations that may not be accommodated by the FDA-approved protocol.  These modifications include, for example, the testing of other tumor types that may carry targetable variants, different types of input specimen preparations available in pathology such as cytology smears or other fresh specimens rather than paraffin blocks, and availability of different methods of DNA quantification that those mandated by the FDA approval based upon pre-existing technologies in the laboratories.  In the clinical laboratory, we are always acutely aware that there is a patient awaiting this result.

Therefore, we validate our assays to ensure that we can provide reliable and accurate results from our laboratory under as many varied clinical situations as possible. These data support that practice.

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Familial Members Without Genetic Mutation Can Still Have Increased Risk of Melanoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hildur Helgadottir, M.D., Ph.D. Department of Oncology Karolinska University Hospit

Dr. Helgadottir

Hildur Helgadottir, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Oncology
Karolinska University Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Malignant melanoma of the skin is one of the fastest increasing cancer types in the West.

The main risk factors for melanoma are UV light exposure and hereditary factors. It is therefore relatively common for the afflicted to have family members with the disease. Inherited mutations of the tumour suppressor gene CDKN2A are the strongest known risk factors for familial melanoma and mutations in this gene also increase the risk of other cancers. Children, siblings or parents of mutation carriers have a 50-50 chance of also having the mutation, which can be identified with a gene test.

The present study included Swedish and American families with inherited CDKN2A mutations. The researchers studied whether family members who have not inherited the mutation have any higher than normal risk of developing melanoma or other cancers.

Melanoma, but no other cancers, was more common in the non-carriers in these families compared to the normal population. The phenomenon whereby non-carriers of a specific mutation copy the phenotype (in this case melanoma) from their mutation-carrying relatives is known as phenocopy.

Phenocopy can be caused by other risk-modifying genes or exposure patterns that increase the probability of the specific phenotype manifesting itself. Previous studies have shown that people with the mutation who also have certain pigmentation variants run an even higher risk of melanoma.

Even though the CDKN2A mutation should be present in all populations, it has almost exclusively been identified in families with a Caucasian heritage.This suggests that dark-skinned people with this mutation probably don’t develop melanoma as often and are therefore not tested for this specific mutation, presumably because they lack the risk-modifying pigmentation variants that increase the risk of melanoma. The researchers believe that such pigmentation variants also contribute to a higher melanoma risk in the family members who do not carry the mutation.

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Deep Learning Algorithms Can Detect Spread of Breast Cancer To Lymph Nodes As Well or Better Than Pathologists

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Babak Ehteshami Bejnordi Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Radboud University medical center, NijmegenBabak Ehteshami Bejnordi

Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
Radboud University medical center, Nijmegen

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in health care. Advances in a family of AI popularly known as deep learning have ignited a new wave of algorithms and tools that read medical images for diagnosis. Analysis of digital pathology images is an important application of deep learning but requires evaluation for diagnostic performance.

Accurate breast cancer staging is an essential task performed by the pathologists worldwide to inform clinical management. Assessing the extent of cancer spread by histopathological analysis of sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) is an important part of breast cancer staging. Traditionally, pathologists endure time and labor-intensive processes to assess tissues by reviewing thousands to millions of cells under a microscope. Using computer algorithms to analyze digital pathology images could potentially improve the accuracy and efficiency of pathologists.

In our study, we evaluated the performance of deep learning algorithms at detecting metastases in lymph nodes of patients with breast cancer and compared it to pathologist’s diagnoses in a diagnostic setting.

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Letermovir (Prevymis) Prevents CMV Infection in Stem Cell Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Francisco M. Marty, M.D Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Marty

Francisco M. Marty, M.D
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infection in patients who undergo allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation with cells from donors different than the patient). Up until now, we had no antiviral agent that could be used for prophylaxis (prevention) of CMV post-transplant because of the side effects of drugs available to date (ganciclovir, valganciclovir, foscarnet, cidofovir).

This trial confirmed that letermovir was highly effective in preventing CMV infection when used in the first 100 days after allogeneic HCT, was associated with minimal side effects of concern and was also associated with lower all-cause mortality by Week 24 post-HCT.

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Older Diabetes Drug Metformin May Resensitize Tumors to Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada 

Dr. Arnason

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor,
Division of Endocrinology,
Department of Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK, Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Response: Metformin has been used worldwide for decades to treat Type diabetes.

Metformin is a cheap non-toxic compound that was originally plant derived. In the past decade a number of meta-analyses have demonstrated that Type 2 individuals taking
metformin have a reduced risk of developing many different cancers and do better
longterm. The molecular events facilitating metformin’s activity remain obscure and
it is unknown whether metformin can help cancer patients avoid the development of
drug resistant cancers years after successful treatment.

In our study we asked whether metformin can not only restore sensitivity of multiple drug resistant tumors to chemotherapy once again, but whether metformin can prevent the development of multiple drug resistance in the “rst place. We demonstrate that metformin can sensitize drug resistant cells to chemotherapy once again, which supports recent
studies, but we also show for the “first time that Metformin can prevent the
progression of cancer cells towards drug resistance using cell culture experiments.

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Breast Cancer Survival Remains Lower For Black Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Family Weekend 2014-Breast Cancer Walk” by Nazareth College is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr. Jacqueline Miller, MD
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
CDC 

MedicalResearch.com: What efforts have proven successful in reducing racial disparities like these?

Response: While some racial disparities will exist due to differences in tumor types, improving early diagnosis and providing specific treatment based on tumor characteristics in a timely fashion would result in reducing breast cancer disparities.

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About 20% Increased Risk of Breast Cancer in Women On Oral Contraceptives

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Birth control pills” by lookcatalog is licensed under CC BY 2.0Lina Mørch PhD, MSc

Senior Researcher
Rigshospitalet

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There was a lack of evidence on contemporary hormonal contraception and risk of breast cancer. In particular the knowledge of risk with newer progestins was sparse.

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FDA Grants IND of ARTEMIS™ T cell Platform To Enhance CAR-T Cancer Therapies Without Cytokine Storm

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Cheng Liu PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer of Eureka Therapeutics.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

    • Eureka Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on improving the safety profile of T cell therapies and developing novel T cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumors.
    • ET190L1-ARTEMISTM utilizes Eureka’s proprietary ARTEMISTM T cell receptor platform and proprietary human anti- CD19 binder to target CD19-positive malignancies. In preclinical studies, ET190L1-ARTEMISTM matched the cancer killing potency of current CAR-T therapies but with a dramatic reduction in the levels of inflammatory cytokines released, a main cause of cytokine release syndrome. In addition, these studies have shown that ET190L1-ARTEMISTM T cells are less exhausted and more naive and therefore, expected to have improved persistence in vivo. If confirmed in the clinic, this could result in a longer term therapeutic benefit to patients with an improved safety profile.
    • Eureka is also focused on developing the next evolution of T cell therapies against solid tumors which represent 90% of all cancers. While CAR-T therapies have been successful with liquid tumors such as leukemia and lymphoma, they have not been successful in solid tumors because of a lack of specific cell surface antigens. Eureka has pioneered the use of TCR mimic antibodies to target intracellular antigens in solid tumors that were once considered undruggable. Using its proprietary human E-ALPHA® phage display library, Eureka has discovered highly-specific, high affinity TCR mimic antibodies that can target intracellular antigens in solid tumors when processed into peptides and presented onto the cell surface by the MHCI complex. Pre-clinical studies have shown that when these TCR mimic antibodies were engineered onto the ARTEMISTM or CAR-T cell receptor platform against hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells, the T cells launched a potent anti-tumor response.

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Disparities in Ovarian Cancer Survival in the United States

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC image

Site of Ovarian Cancer CDC image

Dr. Sherri Stewart, PhD
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What do women most need to know about ovarian cancer detection and treatment?

Response: There is no effective test to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage where treatment is most likely to be effective.  Many women mistakenly believe that the Pap test can detect ovarian cancer, but it does not. The Pap test is recommended only for the detection of cervical cancer.

 Recognizing early symptoms of ovarian cancer and seeking timely care may help lead to detection of the cancer at an earlier stage, where treatment is likely to be more effective.  Symptoms – such  as abdominal and back pain, feeling full quickly after eating, and frequent urination – are often present among women with ovarian cancer.  Women should talk with their doctors if they experience any of these symptoms for 2 weeks or longer and the symptoms persist or worsen.

If a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she should seek treatment from a gynecologic oncologist, a physician specially trained to treat ovarian cancer.  Ovarian cancer patients who have been treated by gynecologic oncologists have been shown to survive longer than those treated by other physicians.           Continue reading

Black Men and Women Continue To Have Lower Colon Cancer Survival Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Large Colon Cancer Arising in Adenoma” by Ed Uthman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Large Colon Cancer Arising in Adenoma” by Ed Uthman

Dr. Arica White PhD MPH
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the likelihood of reaching the 80% CRC screening rate goal by next year?

Response: As of 2016, 67% of adults age 50-75 years reported being up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening. The 80% by 2018 initiative represented an aspirational goal that public health, non-profit, and community-based organizations will continue to strive for regardless of the outcome in 2018.

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Thinking Abilities May Decline After Treatment For Head and Neck Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN Clinical Research Unit Member, Princess Margaret Research Institute Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine University of Toronto Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in Psychology, York University

Dr. Bernstein

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych
Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care
Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program
ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN
Clinical Research Unit Member,
Princess Margaret Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Despite the increasing role of (chemo-)radiation treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), and involvement of central nervous system structures in the radiation field, we don’t know a lot about whether there are short or long term consequences in thinking abilities in survivors. So our question was this: Do people treated for head and neck cancer with radiation or chemoradiation have short or long term neurocognitive deficits after treatment?

We assessed head and neck cancer patients and healthy non-cancer controls four times, first at baseline (after diagnosis but before treatment), and then again 6, 12, and 24 months later. We found that compared to the controls, patients decline over time in several different neurocognitive domains, including concentration, verbal memory, and executive function. We found that as many as 38% of patients suffered from impaired global neurocognitive functioning by two years after treatment compared to none of the controls.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: The findings indicate that some (but not all) head and neck cancer survivors are at risk of suffering from declines in thinking abilities such as attention and memory. These changes can be subtle and increase gradually. We didn’t follow people beyond 2 years after treatment, so we don’t know whether these deficits would improve, worsen, or stabilize after that.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Longer longitudinal follow-up is needed to determine if symptoms change after 2 years. More investigation of the relationships between treatment variables such as radiation dosing and long term neurocognitive function is important. Further research is also needed to find ways to avoid, reduce and compensate for declines.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We are extremely grateful to the people who participated in this study. We plan to reassess participants for several more years, so we hope to know more about even longer term cognitive function in people treated for head and neck cancer. In addition, I want to acknowledge that we could not have done this work without the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and The Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Alona Zer, Gregory R. Pond, Albiruni R. Abdul Razak, Kattleya Tirona, Hui K. Gan, Eric X. Chen, Brian O’Sullivan, John Waldron, David P. Goldstein, Ilan Weinreb, Andrew J. Hope, John J. Kim, Kelvin K. W. Chan, Andrew K. Chan, Lillian L. Siu, Lori J. Bernstein. Association of Neurocognitive Deficits With Radiotherapy or Chemoradiotherapy for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online November 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.2235

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Cancer Drugs May Also Treat Hypertension

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anton Wellstein, MD PhD Professor Oncology & Pharmacology Georgetown University Medical School Associate Director for Basic and Translational Science Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Washington DC

Dr. Wellstein

Anton Wellstein, MD PhD
Professor Oncology & Pharmacology
Georgetown University Medical School
Associate Director for Basic and Translational Science
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Washington DC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Tumor angiogenesis and signaling by growth factors such as Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are targets for the treatment of cancer. Targeting some of these factors will alter blood pressure. We show that FGF activation in an animal model can cause hypertension. We show that the hypertension is driven by sensitization of resistance vessels to the vasoconstrictor angiotensin II. We propose that drugs used to target FGF pathway signaling in cancer could be useful to treat hypertension.

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MedImmune’s MEDI9197 Activates Immune System To Fight Tumors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Koustubh Ranade, Vice President of Research & Development Translational Medicine MedImmune

Dr. Ranade

Dr. Koustubh Ranade, PhD
Vice President of Research & Development Translational Medicine
MedImmune

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In a healthy person, abnormal cells including cancer cells are typically detected and destroyed by the immune system in response to danger signals activated by the abnormal cells. However, some solid tumors avoid triggering danger signals, and thus the immune system cannot recognize and destroy cancer cells, permitting tumor growth. To help activate the patient’s immune system to fight these “hidden” cancer cells, MedImmune scientists have developed MEDI9197, a TLR 7/8 agonist, to trigger the needed danger signals.

Our latest data from the Phase 1 study of MEDI9197 demonstrated that through intratumor injection, the therapy binds to TLR7 and TLR8 receptors and activates dendritic cells, which call in other immune cells to fight the tumor.

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PTK6 Inhibitors May Target Endocrine Therapy-Resistant ER+ Breast Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hanna Irie MD PhD Assistant Professor Oncology Mount Sinai Health System 

Dr. Irie

Hanna Irie MD PhD, senior author
Assistant Professor of Medicine
(Hematology and Medical Oncology) and Oncological Sciences at The Tisch Cancer Institute,
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study identified PTK6 as a critical gene regulating survival of ER+ breast cancer cells.

PTK6 inhibition also suppresses growth and survival of ER+ breast cancer cells that are resistant to the effects of therapies commonly used to treat patient ER+ breast cancers, making PTK6 an attractive candidate therapeutic target for these resistant cancers.

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Testicular Cancer Stem Cells Highly Sensitive To Chemotherapy, Resulting In High Cure Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

 Credit: Tim Pierpont, Cornell University

A low magnification image of a germ cell tumor, called a teratocarcinoma, from a new mouse model developed to study testicular cancer. A cluster of cancer stem cells, termed embryonal carcinoma, is shown at higher magnification at the bottom.

 

Amy M. Lyndaker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Elmira College
This work was completed when I was a Research Associate in the laboratory of
Dr. Robert S. Weiss at:
Department of Biomedical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University Ithaca, NY

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been this puzzle in the field of cancer biology that testicular cancers, even after they have spread to the brain or the lungs, are often able to be cured with radiation and chemotherapy (think of Lance Armstrong, for instance), whereas the majority of cancers are not curable with similar treatments. We thought that this could be due to the unique properties of the cells from which the cancers are derived; testicular cancers arise from germ cells (which later go on to make sperm), whereas most cancers arise from somatic cells (body cells). We proposed that maybe the germ cells and somatic cells were hard-wired to respond differently to DNA damage, and that because of this, cancers derived from these two distinct types of cells might then respond differently to chemotherapies (which typically kill cancer cells by creating DNA damage).

To test this, we generated a novel genetic mouse model that develops cancers similar to the malignant testicular cancers seen in young men. We then used standard chemotherapies (cisplatin alone, or combined bleomycin/etoposide/cisplatin), and found that treatment with DNA-damaging chemotherapies specifically killed the cancer stem cells within the tumors. Thus, we were able to show that testicular cancers are curable with standard DNA-damaging chemotherapies because their stem cells are highly sensitive to DNA damage. This is in contrast to most cancers, where the cancer stem cells are refractory to treatment and are responsible for tumor recurrence and metastasis.

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Insurance Coverage, Tumor Types Linked to Black-White Survival Disparity Among Younger Colorectal Cancer Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Helmneh M. Sineshaw, MD, MPH American Cancer Society Atlanta, GA 30303

Dr. Sineshaw

Helmneh M. Sineshaw, MD, MPH
American Cancer Society
Atlanta, GA 30303

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United Sates. Although overall CRC incidence and mortality rates are decreasing in the United States, rates are increasing in the younger population. Notwithstanding these patterns, CRC incidence and mortality rates continue to be higher in blacks than in whites. Although black-white survival disparity among patients with colorectal cancer is well documented in the literature and multiple factors have been proposed as potential contributors, the contributions of differences in demographic characteristics, insurance type, comorbidity, tumor presentation, and treatment receipt to the racial disparity in survival among nonelderly CRC patients are unknown.

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Zoledronic Acid Cost-Effective In Preventing Skeletal Events in Patients With Bone Metatstases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Charles L Shapiro.jpg

Dr. Shapiro

Charles L.Shapiro MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Translational Breast Cancer Research
Director of Cancer Survivorship
Division of Hematology/Oncology
Tisch Cancer Institute
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The new 2017 ASCO guidelines for the use bone-modifying in individuals with bone metastases recently endorsed every 3-month zoledronic, because of high level evidence from three randomized trials, including our trial (published in Jama in Jan 2017, first author Himelstein et al) that giving zoledronic acid every 3-months was non-inferior to the standard of monthly zoledronic. The guidelines also concluded that there was not one preferred bone modifying agent of the other, despite the fact the comparing monthly zoledronic to monthly denosumab in women with bone metastases, denosumab delayed the time to first skeletal-related event (pathological fractures, necessity for radiation or surgery, and spinal cord compression) and subsequent events by 23% (or in absolute terms about 3 months) . Zoledronic acid became generic in 2013, whereas monthly denosumab is still patented until 2022-25.

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FDG-PET Scans of Lung Nodules Should Be Interpreted With Caution

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

PET Scan Vanderbilt Health

PET Scan Vanderbilt Health

Amelia W. Maiga, MD MPH
Vanderbilt General Surgery Resident
VA Quality Scholar, TVHS

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Positron emission tomography (PET) combined with fludeoxyglucose F18 (FDG) is currently recommended for the noninvasive diagnosis of lung nodules suspicious for lung cancer. Our investigation adds to growing evidence that FDG-PET scans should be interpreted with caution in the diagnosis of lung cancer. Misdiagnosis of lung lesions driven by FDG-PET avidity can lead to unnecessary tests and surgeries for patients, along with potentially additional complications and mortality.

To estimate FDG-PET diagnostic accuracy, we conducted a multi-center retrospective cohort study. The seven cohorts originating from Tennessee, Arizona, Massachusetts and Virginia together comprised 1188 nodules, 81 percent of which were malignant. Smaller nodules were missed by FDG-PET imaging. Surprisingly, negative PET scans were also not reliable indicators of the absence of disease, especially in patients with smaller nodules or who are known to have a high probability of lung cancer prior to the FDG-PET test.

Our study supports a previous meta-analyses that found FDG-PET to be less reliable in regions of the country where fungal lung diseases are endemic. The most common fungal lung diseases in the United States are histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis and blastomycosis. All three fungi reside in soils. Histoplasmosis and blastomycosis are common across much of the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri river valleys and coccidioidomycosis is prevalent in the southwestern U.S. These infections generate inflamed nodules in the lungs (granulomas), which can be mistaken for cancerous lesions by imaging.

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Married Head/Neck Cancer Patients Less Likely To Smoke, More Likely To Live Longer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, BDS, MPH, CHES Instructor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Saint Louis University School of Medicine Member, Saint Louis University Cancer Center St Louis, Missouri

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters

Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, BDS, MPH, CHES
Instructor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Member, Saint Louis University Cancer Center
St Louis, Missouri 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several studies have shown that there is an adverse effect of smoking on head and neck cancer survival; however, there are studies that show no effect between smoking and head and neck cancer. We wanted to investigate this problem using a single institution’s cancer dataset. Additionally, we wanted to understand the role of marital status in the smoking behavior of head and neck cancer patients, and to understand if smoking played any role in head and neck cancer survival.

Our study confirmed that head and neck cancer patients who were smokers at the time of diagnosis had lower survival rates than nonsmokers. We also found that married head and neck cancer patients were less likely to be smokers and more likely to survive longer than those unmarried.

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Should Hormonal Therapy Be Extended Past Five Years After Estrogen+ Breast Cancer?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Hongchao Pan PhD Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health Oxford 

Dr Hongchao Pan

Dr Hongchao Pan PhD
Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit
Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit
Nuffield Department of Population Health
Oxford

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We’ve known for a long time that recurrences can occur late in women with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancers. Our study aimed to assess how big the risk was for women who had taken endocrine treatment (tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor) for 5 years, which greatly reduces the risk of recurrence (by about a half during treatment and one third for the 5 years after stopping). We also wanted to find out what factors influenced the risk of recurrence, and whether some women had such a low risk that they could safely stop hormonal treatment after 5 years or, conversely, whether other women had a particularly high risk so it would make sense for them to keep on taking hormonal treatment.

What we found by following the progress of over 60,000 women who had stopped hormonal treatment at 5 years is that the risk of the cancer spreading stays about the same for the next 15 years. This risk is much higher for women whose breast cancer had spread to the nodes when first diagnosed but even for those with the best outlook (no spread to the lymph nodes and small tumours), there was a 10% chance of cancer spread over 15 years.

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Anti-TNF Agents In Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Small Increased Risk of Lymphoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
ANSM
Rosemary Dray-Spira, MD, PhD
Department of Epidemiology
French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM)
Saint-Denis, France

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents are increasingly used for the management of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), either alone or in combination with thiopurines. Their clinical benefits have been largely assessed, however they may expose to potentially serious adverse effects. While an increased risk of lymphoma has been established with thiopurines, up to now such a risk of lymphoma remained uncertain with anti-TNF agents.

In this study based upon a large, nationwide cohort of 189,289 patients with IBD, the use of anti-TNF agents alone was found associated with a 2 to 3 fold increase in the risk of lymphoma, similarly to thiopurines alone. In addition, the combination of these two treatments was associated with a 6 fold increase in the risk of lymphoma, ie a higher risk than with each treatment used alone. Although these differences are statistically significant, the risk of lymphoma among patients exposed to anti-TNF agents is less than 1 case per 1000 person-years.

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Risk of Gastric Cancer Increased With Long-Term Proton Pump Inhibitors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Wai Keung Leung
Professor, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Department of Medicine
Assistant Dean, LKS Faculty of Medicine
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It remains controversial whether proton pump inhibitors will increase the risk of gastric cancer. Although previous studies have shown a possible increase in risk in patients taking long-term proton pump inhibitors (PPI), these studies are confounded by the presence of H. pylori infection. In this population-based study from Hong Kong, we have determined the risk of gastric cancer development in more than 63,000 H. pylori-infected subjects who had the bacterium eradicated by a course of  clarithromycin-based triple therapy and continued to take PPI or H2-receptor antagonist (H2RA).

After adjusting for various baseline differences among those PPI and non-PPI users, we found that the risk of gastric cancer was increased by 2.4-fold in those who used long-term PPI. The risk was in tandem with the frequency and duration of PPIs treatment. The risk increased from 5-fold to 8-fold for more than 1-year and 3-year use of PPI, respectively. Similar increase in risk was not observed among those who took H2RA, a weaker acid suppressive agent.

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Bariatric Surgery Associated With Reduced Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel P. Schauer, MD, MSc Associate Professor, Internal Medicine University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine Cincinnati OH 45267-0535

Dr. Schauer

Daniel P. Schauer, MD, MSc
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine
Cincinnati OH 45267-0535

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Obesity is associated with many types of cancer and bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for severe obesity.  We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2012 with follow-up through 2014 using data from Kaiser Permanente using 5 study sites. The study included 22,198 patients who had bariatric surgery matched to 66,427 nonsurgical patients with severe obesity.

We found that bariatric surgery was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.  The risk reduction was greatest for the cancers that are associated with obesity including postmenopausal breast, endometrial, colon, and pancreatic cancers, as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma.

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Anticoagulant Warfarin May Lower Cancer Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gry Haaland, MD

James Lorens PhD, Professor
The Department of Biomedicine
University of Bergen

 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Antitumor activity of the common blood thinner warfarin has been reported in several experimental cancer model systems. We therefore considered whether warfarin is cancer protective.

Using the comprehensive national health registries in Norway, we examined cancer incidence among a large number of people taking warfarin (92,942) and compared to those not taking warfarin (more than 1.1 million).

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Methadone As First Line Opioid in Cancer Pain Management

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sebastiano Mercadante, MD Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit La Maddalena Cancer Center Department of Anesthesia, Intensive Care & Emergencies University of Palermo Palermo, Italy

Dr. Mercadante

Sebastiano Mercadante, MD
Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit
La Maddalena Cancer Center
Department of Anesthesia, Intensive Care & Emergencies
University of Palermo
Palermo, Italy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many clinical experiences suggesting that methadone, when optimally used by skilled physicians, has invaluable properties in the management of cancer pain. Methadone used as first opioid may provide interesting advantages due to the low tendency to induce tolerance, while providing a clinical profile similar to that of other opioids. Moreover, methadone possesses other extra-opioid effects that can be of interest.

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Cancer in Young Adults Disproportionately Affects Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Miranda M Fidler, PhD Section of Cancer Surveillance International Agency for Research on Cancer Lyon, France 

Dr. Fidler

Dr Miranda M Fidler, PhD
Section of Cancer Surveillance
International Agency for Research on Cancer
Lyon, France 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The burden of cancer among young adults has been rarely studied in depth. To our knowledge, we describe for the first time the scale and profile of cancer incidence and mortality worldwide among 20-39 year-olds, highlighting major patterns by age, sex, development level, and geographic region.

Although cancer is less frequent than that observed at older ages, its impact remains considerable because these individuals have a large proportion of their expected lifespans remaining, contribute substantially to the economy, and play a major role in caring for their families. Worldwide, almost 1 million new cases of cancer and 400 000 cancer-related deaths occurred among young adults aged 20–39 years in 2012.

Overall, the most common cancer types in terms of new cases were female breast cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia, and colorectal cancer, and the most common types of cancer-related deaths were those due to female breast cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, and cervical cancer. The burden was disproportionately greater among women, with an estimated 633 000 new cancer cases (65% of all new cancer cases in that age group) and 194 000 cancer-related deaths (54% of all cancer-related deaths in that age group) in 2012.

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Study Finds No Increased Recurrence Risk in Breast Cancer Survivors Who Become Pregnant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hatem A. Azim Jr, MD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut (AUB) Beirut, Lebanon 

Dr. Azim

Hatem A. Azim Jr, MD, PhD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, American University of Beirut (AUB)
Beirut, Lebanon 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study aimed at evaluating the safety of pregnancy after breast cancer particularly in patient with history of ER+ breast cancer; a subset in which safety of future pregnancy is always put into question by oncologists and obstetricians.

This study included more than 300 pregnant women and 800 non-pregnant breast cancer patients who acted as a comparator group The results show that after more than 7 years after pregnancy, women who became pregnant did not have an increased risk of recurrence compared to those who did not become pregnant irrespective of ER status. There was no impact of breastfeeding, abortion or time of pregnancy on patient outcome.

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Recurrent Metastatic Breast Cancer Remains a Clinical Challenge With Poor Prognosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Judith A. Malmgren, PhD President, HealthStat Consulting, Inc Epidemiology Department University of Washingto

Dr. Malmgren

Judith A. Malmgren, PhD
President, HealthStat Consulting, Inc
Epidemiology Department
University of Washington

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) has two types, de novo stage IV MBC discovered to be metastatic at initial diagnosis as advanced disease and recurrent MBC found on follow up after diagnosis and treatment for initial invasive breast cancer. Our institutional breast cancer registry tracks both de novo metastatic breast cancer and invasive breast cancer for distant metastases. With this information we were able to compare the presentation, treatment and outcomes of both types, something that is not possible in national SEER data as recurrent MBC is not tracked.

We found a remarkable improvement in 5-year survival from 28% to 55% over time among the de novo metastatic breast cancer patients.  Recurrent MBC 5-year survival did not improve in the same time period (23% to 13%) although incidence of recurrent MBC fell from 18% to 7% from 1990 to 2010. Incidence of recurrent metastatic breast cancer hormone receptor and HER2 positive breast cancer declined the most, leaving a large number of triple-negative recurrent metastatic breast cancer cases in the most recent time period.

Worse metastatic breast cancer survival was associated with recurrent vs. de novo MBC, hormone receptor negative disease, older age (70+) and visceral dominant disease. HER2 positive disease was associated with better outcomes.

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Patients Prefer Doctors Who Face Them Rather Than Computer Screen

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ali Haider, MBBS MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine
Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Patients with chronic and serious illnesses such as cancer often experience high physical and psychosocial symptoms. Recent studies have reported association of physicians’ examination room computer use with less face to face interactions and eye contact. It’s important for the clinicians to look for certain physical cues to better understand the well being of their patients. Therefore we conducted this randomized clinical trial to understand patients perception of physicians compassion, communication skills and professionalism with and without the use of examination room computer.

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In Euthyroid Individuals, Higher Free Thyroid Levels Linked To Greater Risk of Atrial Fibrillation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christine Baumgartner MD
Inselspital
Universitätsspital Bern
Bern, Switzerland
Research Fellow, Division of Hospital Medicine
UCSF

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, but it is unclear whether subclinical hypothyroidism, which is known to increase cardiovascular events, or thyroid function in the normal range are also associated with incident atrial fibrillation. Given the high prevalence of atrial fibrillation and its associated morbidity and mortality, identifying potentially modifiable risk factors is important. Therefore, we aimed to assess the risk of atrial fibrillation in individuals with subclinical hypothyroidism or variations of thyroid function within the normal range.

Our main findings are that higher free thyroxine levels are associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation in euthyroid individuals, but thyroid-stimulating hormone levels within the euthyroid or subclinical hypothyroid range was not related to atrial fibrillation risk.

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Older Men Continue To Have PSA Screening Despite Benefits Unlikely To Outweigh Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zahava Berkowitz, MSPH, MSc
Statistician
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The US Preventive Services Task Force 2017 draft prostate cancer screening recommendations  suggest that clinicians inform men aged 55–69 years about the potential benefits and harms of PSA-based screening for prostate cancer.

The CDC conducted an analysis using the National Health Interview Surveys in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015 to describe trends in the receipt of routine PSA testing in the past year by age group (40–54, 55–69, ≥70 years) and by risk group. We compared routine PSA screening among higher risk men (defined as African American men or men with a family history of prostate cancer) with other men. The analysis was conducted because CDC wanted to examine how the guidelines affect men at higher risk. The 2017 guideline did not include specific guidelines for African American men who have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than white men, more likely to develop prostate cancer at a young age, more likely to have a high-risk diagnosis and die from prostate cancer.

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Patients With Dementia Less Likely To Receive Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Chen

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Both colon cancer and dementia are prevalent among the elderly and have a high risk of co-occurrence. Previous studies found that patients with dementia were treated less aggressively. In this study, we hypothesized that presence of pre-existing dementia was associated with worse survival for stage III colon cancer patients, and that post-operative chemotherapy was on the causal pathway.

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REVEL Trial of Ramucirumab Plus Docetaxel For Fast Progressing NSC Lung Cancer Demonstrates Promise

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Martin Reck, MD, PhD Head of the Department of Thoracic Oncology Head of the Clinical Trial Department Department of Thoracic Oncology at the Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf

Dr. Reck

Martin Reck, MD, PhD
Head of the Department of Thoracic Oncology
Head of the Clinical Trial Department
Department of Thoracic Oncology at the Lung Clinic
Grosshansdorf 


MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is an urgent medical need to improve outcomes in pretreated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), in particular those with fast progressing tumors.

The Phase 3 REVEL study, which included patients with nonsquamous and squamous forms of NSCLC, demonstrated improved overall survival (OS), progression‐free survival (PFS), and objective response rate (ORR) – independent of histology. This analysis confirmed efficacy – with improvement of ORR, PFS and OS – in poor prognosis patients with fast progressing tumors (after 9, 12 or 18 weeks) without additional toxicity or impact on Quality of Life compared to the intent-to-treat (ITT) population results of REVEL.

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Machine Learning Applied To Predicting High-Risk Breast Lesions May Reduce Unnecessary Surgeries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Manisha Bahl, MD, MPH Director, Breast Imaging Fellowship Program, Massachusetts General Hospital Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Bahl

Manisha Bahl, MD, MPH
Director, Breast Imaging Fellowship Program,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor of Radiology,
Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Image-guided biopsies that we perform based on suspicious findings on mammography can yield one of three pathology results: cancer, high-risk, or benign. Most high-risk breast lesions are noncancerous, but surgical excision is typically recommended because some high-risk lesions can be upgraded to cancer at surgery. Currently, there are no imaging or other features that reliably allow us to distinguish between high-risk lesions that warrant surgery from those that can be safely followed, which has led to unnecessary surgery of high-risk lesions that are not associated with cancer.

We decided to apply machine learning algorithms to help us with this challenging clinical scenario: to distinguish between high-risk lesions that warrant surgery from those that can be safely followed. Machine learning allows us to incorporate the full spectrum of diverse and complex data that we have available, such as patient risk factors and imaging features, in order to predict which high-risk lesions are likely to be upgraded to cancer and, ultimately, to help our patients make more informed decisions about surgery versus surveillance.

We developed the machine learning model with almost 700 high-risk lesions, then tested it with more than 300 high-risk lesions. Instead of surgical excision of all high-risk lesions, if those categorized with the model to be at low risk for upgrade were surveilled and the remainder were excised, then 97.4% malignancies would have been diagnosed at surgery, and 30.6% of surgeries of benign lesions could have been avoided.

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ACA Medicaid Expansion Linked To Decrease in Uninsured Cancer Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Aparna Soni, MA Department of Business Economics and Public Policy Kelley School of Business Indiana University, Bloomington

Aparna Soni

Aparna Soni, MA
Department of Business Economics and Public Policy
Kelley School of Business
Indiana University, Bloomington

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cancer is the leading cause of death among the non-elderly population in the United States. Unfortunately, uninsured people are less likely to get screened for cancer, and treatment is often unaffordable for those who are uninsured.

One of the key objectives of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Our objective in this study was therefore to assess changes under the ACA in insurance coverage among patients newly diagnosed with cancer.

Our main finding is that uninsurance among patients with newly diagnosed cancer fell by one-third in 2014.

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ZYTIGA May Benefit Newly Diagnosed High-Risk Metastatic Prostate Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Craig Tendler, M.D. Vice President, Late-Stage Development and Global Medical Affairs for Oncology, Hematology and Supportive Care Janssen Research & Development, LLC.

Dr. Tendler

Craig Tendler, M.D.
Vice President, Late-Stage Development and Global Medical Affairs for Oncology, Hematology and Supportive Care
Janssen Research & Development, LLC. 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Janssen announced the submission of a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) to the FDA seeking to expand the indication of ZYTIGA in combination with prednisone and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to include treatment of patients with high-risk metastatic hormone naïve prostate cancer (HNPC) or newly diagnosed, high-risk metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer (HSPC).

This submission is based on the pivotal Phase 3 LATITUDE trial results presented earlier this year at the plenary session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, which found that in patients with newly diagnosed high-risk metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHNPC), abiraterone acetate with prednisone in combination with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) demonstrated a significant improvement in median overall survival (OS) and in radiographic progression-free survival (rPFS). Additional data, which were presented at the 2017 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Annual Conference, demonstrated clinically meaningful and statistically significant improvements in patient reported outcomes (PRO) in patients with high-risk mHNPC who received ZYTIGA in combination with prednisone and ADT compared to placebo plus ADT alone.
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Transplant Network Undercaptures Post-Transplant Skin Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thuzar M.Shin MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Dermatology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Shin

Thuzar M.Shin MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Organ Procurement Transplant Network (OPTN) collects data on cancers that develop after organ transplantation. Previous studies have shown incomplete reporting to the OPTN for many cancers (including melanoma). Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in solid organ transplant recipients and the most common post-transplant skin cancer, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), is not captured in standard cancer registries. We hypothesized that cSCC and melanoma are underreported to the OPTN. When compared to detailed medical record review obtained from the Transplant Skin Cancer Network database (JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Mar 1;153(3):296-303), we found that the sensitivity of reporting to the OPTN was only 41% for cSCC and 22% for melanoma. The specificity (99% for cSCC and 100% for melanoma) and negative predictive values (93% for cSCC and 99% for melanoma) were high. As a result, the OPTN database is unable to robustly and reliably distinguish between organ transplant recipients with and without these two skin malignancies.

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40% of Cancers Associated With Overweight and Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. C. Brooke Steele D.O.

Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Centers fo Disease Control and Prevention 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This report contains new information about cancer risk and people being overweight and obese. Research shows that being overweight or having obesity is associated with at least 13 types of cancer (adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; cancers of the breast [in postmenopausal women], colon and rectum, endometrium, gallbladder, gastric cardia, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, and thyroid; meningioma; and multiple myeloma). We also know that the number of people who weigh more than recommended has increased over the past few decades. Therefore, we looked at the numbers of new cases of cancers associated with overweight and having obesity in the United States, as well as how the rates have changed over a 10-year period. Because screening for colorectal cancer can reduce colorectal cancer incidence through detection and removal of precancerous polyps before they become cancerous, we analyzed trends with and without colorectal cancer.

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Surgical Delays For Melanoma Patients Are Common

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adewole Adamson, MD, MPP
Department of Dermatology
UNC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Surgery is the primary intervention for the treatment of melanoma. Little is known about how delays for surgery, defined as the time between diagnosis and surgical treatment, among melanoma patient differ by insurance type. After adjustment of patient-level, provider-level, and tumor-level factors we found that Medicaid patients experience a 36% increased risk of delays in surgery for melanoma. These delays were 19% less likely in patients diagnosed and 18% less likely in patients surgically treated by dermatologists. Non-white patients also had a 38% increased risk of delays.

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Circulating Tumor Cells Linked To Poor Prognosis in Early Stage Lung Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sunitha Nagrath, PhD Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering University of Michigan

Dr. Nagrath

Dr. Sunitha Nagrath, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Lung cancer is leading cause of cancer-related mortality, and detecting it in earlier stages is crucial to improving outcomes for patients. The motivation for this study lies in understanding the phenotypic and genetic make-up of lung cancer during its early stages, using a blood sample (blood biopsy). We have done this by employing a microfluidic device to capture cancer cells circulating in the blood that is obtained from the peripheral veins and the pulmonary vein (a vein next to the tumor itself) from patients with early stage lung cancers. The idea behind using blood from the pulmonary vein was to obtain a richer yield of these circulating tumor cells, which are rare in the blood.

Through this study, we found that the pulmonary vein does yield a much higher quantity of circulating tumor cells, and also often harbors these cells in large clusters. We further went on to study the significance of these clusters, and found that these clusters indicated aggressive traits such as resistance to treatment, and could also potentially suggest poorer patient outcomes at long term.

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Lymph Node Staging of Potentially Curable Lung Cancer Needs Improvement

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Raymond U. Osarogiagbon, MBBS, FACP Translational Lung Cancer Research Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program Baptist Centers for Cancer Care Memphis, TN

Dr. Osarogiagbon

Raymond U. Osarogiagbon, MBBS, FACP
Translational Lung Cancer Research
Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program
Baptist Centers for Cancer Care
Memphis, TN 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Most long-term survivors of lung cancer are among the patients who were fortunate enough to be identified early enough to undergo curative-intent surgery. In the US, 60,000 individuals undergo curative-intent surgery for lung cancer every year. This number is likely to increase over the next few years as lung cancer screening becomes more widely adopted. Unfortunately, fewer than 50% of patients who undergo curative-intent surgery actually survive up to 5 years.

We show that the quality of surgery, especially the quality of pathologic nodal staging is a powerful driver of survival differences between groups of patients. In general, pathologic nodal staging (important as it is stratifying patients into risk groups so those at high risk can be offered additional treatments to increase the chances of cure while those at truly low risk can be left alone without exposure to cost and side-effects of additional treatments) is very poorly done. We show how the percentage of patients whose pathologic staging met sequentially more stringently-define thoroughness of staging metrics falls off sharply, while the survival sequentially increases.

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Radiation Therapy Plus Checkpoint Inhibitors Did Not Increase Adverse Events in Metastatic Lung Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Florence K Keane MD Resident, Radiation Oncology Harvard Radiation Oncology Program Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Keane

Florence K Keane MD
Resident, Radiation Oncology
Harvard Radiation Oncology Program
Boston, Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) have recently transformed the management of patients with metastatic lung cancer, demonstrating significant improvements in overall and progression-free survival in both the first-line setting in patients with increased expression of PD-L1 (≥50%) and in patients with previously treated NSCLC who have progressed on chemotherapy. CPIs are also moving into the treatment of patients with localized lung cancer, with the recently published PACIFIC trial demonstrating a significant improvement in progression-free survival in patients with inoperable stage III NSCLC treated with adjuvant durvalumab after definitive chemoradiotherapy.

However, CPIs are associated with unique toxicities as compared to cytotoxic chemotherapy, including pulmonary, endocrine, neurologic, gastrointestinal, and dermatologic adverse events, which may be fatal in some cases. The risk of autoimmune pneumonitis with checkpoint inhibitors is estimated to be on the order of 5%. Many patients with lung cancer will require radiotherapy for palliation of symptoms. Thoracic radiotherapy (TRT) is also a risk factor for pneumonitis, with a dose- and volume-dependent impact on risk. However, it is unknown whether treatment with CPIs and TRT is associated with increased risk of toxicity.

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Vaporizing Cannabis May Lead To Release Of Benzene Carcinogens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa)

Jiries Meehan-Atrash
Department of Chemistry, Portland State University
Portland, Oregon 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The need for this study stems from the rising popularity of cannabis, and specifically the fact that many consumers are under the belief that vaporizing extracts thereof is safer than smoking. While this may in fact have some truth to it, it is clear that we must assess the safety of vaporization a route of administration.

The main findings are that vaporizing terpenes under dabbing conditions generates some levels of methacrolein (a noxious irritant) at all temperatures that are hot enough to vaporize cannabinoids, but significant levels arise at higher temperatures that are more commonly used.

At the highest temperature used by consumers, significant levels of benzene arise, a compound that is a potent carcinogen and should be avoided at all costs.

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Prostate Cancer: Immune Content May Predict Response To Post-Op Radiation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Shuang George Zhao, MD House Officer, Radiation Oncology University Hospital Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5010

Dr. Zhao

Dr. Shuang George Zhao, MD
House Officer, Radiation Oncology
University Hospital
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Targeting cancer through the immune system has been a longstanding goal of cancer research, and with recent advances in immunotherapy, it is now a reality. However, the role of immunotherapy in prostate cancer is still being defined. Sipuleucel-T was the first FDA approved immunotherapy in prostate cancer, and is a personalized cellular therapy that has been shown to prolong survival in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. On the other hand, two recent phase III randomized trials looking at ipilimumab, a CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor in metastatic prostate cancer have both been negative for their primary endpoint of OS. Interestingly, there was a PSA response, suggesting that there may be some therapeutic effect in a subset of patients. Therefore, understanding the immune infiltrate is likely critical to selecting patients and therapeutic strategies utilizing the immune system. Unfortunately, it is difficult and laborious to histologically assess immune infiltrate directly. Therefore, we used existing high throughput transcriptomic data with new computational methods in order to more fully characterize the immune landscape of localized prostate cancer.

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Most Women Unaware of Breast Cancer Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebekah Nagler PhD Assistant professor Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Minnesota

Dr. Nagler

Rebekah Nagler PhD Assistant professor
Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Minnesota 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) have stated that women in their 40s–or, in the case of ACS, women ages 40-44–should have the choice to decide when they want to start screening for breast cancer. These organizations recommend that women in this age group weigh the benefits and risks of mammography screening, with the goal of making an informed decision about when to start screening. Yet recent research has shown that women are more aware of the benefits of mammography screening than the harms, including overdiagnosis and overtreatment (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.2247). We therefore wondered whether women actually have the information they need to make informed screening decisions.

In a population-based sample of 429 U.S. women ages 35-55, we found that awareness of breast cancer overdiagnosis (16.5%) and overtreatment (18.0%) was low. Moreover, we found that most women did not find statements about these harms to be believable and persuasive.

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Microtransplantation Can Be Safe and Effective For Older AML Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Huisheng Ai, MD, Director

Department of Hematology and Transplantation,
Affiliated Hospital of the Academy  of Military Medical Sciences,
Beijing, China 

MedicalResearch.com: Which of these results did you find most interesting or surprising?

Response: First, we must stress that microtransplant dramatically improved the outcome of older patients with AML.

As we know, older AML patients often possess unfavorable prognostic factors, organ dysfunction, and slow post-chemotherapy hematopoietic recovery. Therefore, the general treatment outcome is unsatisfactory even though the incidence is increasing by age with low complete remission (CR) rates (34% to 65%) and poor short-term survival (Two years overall survival was about 11% to 25%).

This study involved cases from multiple centers of China, USA and Spain, and found that microtransplant could not only significantly improve complete remission rate in older AML patients among all age groups from 60 to 85, but also improve 1-year and 2-year overall survival and disease free survival especially in patients aged 60 to 75. Second, microtransplant completely overcomes the restriction of HLA typing. The donor could be the patient’s haploidentical family member, or unrelated and fully mismatched one. The incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was only 1.1%, even if no any GVHD prevention was given. Other treatment related complications and mortality were also decreased.

These results are much better than those of traditional chemotherapy, myeloablative and non-myeloablative transplant, which provides a more safe and effective treatment choice. We are looking forward to seeing the revision of NCCN guideline for older AML to make microtransplant benefit more older patients.

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Ischemic Stroke As Cancer Predecessor and Associated Predictors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jacobo Rogado

Dr. Rogado

Dr Jacobo Rogado
Medical oncology fellow
Hospital de La Princesa
Madrid, Spain

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Some publications have suggested that there is an association between stroke and the subsequent diagnosis of cancer, although others have not confirmed this.

We have addressed this issue with a study conducted at our hospital during two years. We studied a population of about 1000 patients with stroke. We evaluated the incidence of cancer in this population during the follow-up of 18 months, as well as whether there were factors associated with its occurrence.

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Pembrolizumab Reduces Death Rate in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ezra Cohen, MD Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center Professor of Medicine Moores Cancer Center UC San Diego Health - La Jolla Moores Cancer Center La Jolla, CA  92093

Dr. Cohen

Ezra Cohen, MD
Associate Director, Moores Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
Moores Cancer Center
UC San Diego Health – La Jolla
Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA  92093

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We have known for a couple of years that anti-PD1 therapy, and specifically pembrolizumab, is active in  head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The KN40 trial now tested pembrolizuamb against standard of care in patients whose cancers progressed on platinum containing regimens.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings really supported what we know about pembrolizumab in this disease – it is active and effective with a favorable side effect profile. Pembrolizumab reduced the risk of death by 19% and was associated with a 14% response rate. The effect was even greater in tumors that expressed PDL1 and, in the highest expressing group, the benefit in reduction of risk of death was 46% with a 27% response rate.

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