Author Interviews, Cancer Research / 14.09.2017 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 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. 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Melanoma, NEJM / 14.09.2017 Interview with: Dr Alexander Menzies BSc(Med) MBBS (Hons) FRACP PhD Medical Oncologist and Senior Research Fellow at Melanoma Institute Australia The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore and Mater Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: For early-stage melanoma, surgical resection is the standard treatment and is associated with an excellent long-term prognosis. However until now, Stage III melanoma patients (where the disease has spread to the lymph nodes) who have had their tumours surgically removed have simply had to play the waiting game to see if their melanoma would metastasise, with many ultimately dying of the disease. Checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies and drugs that target the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway have improved the outcome of patients with metastatic melanoma, but their role as adjuvant therapy is still being actively investigated. Prior Phase III trials (COMBI-D and COMBI-V) have shown improved overall survival in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. At Melanoma Institute Australia, we were keen to see if this improvement would be seen in the adjuvant setting also. This clinical trial was the first in the world to give targeted therapy to melanoma patients at an earlier stage of the disease to prevent spread and recurrence. (more…)
Author Interviews, Melanoma, NYU / 13.09.2017 Interview with: Jeffrey Weber, M.D., Ph.D Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a major unmet need for well tolerated and effective adjuvant therapy for high risk melanoma, that is, melanoma that has been removed but the patients have a 50%+ risk of relapse over 5 years, and a 50%+ risk of death over 10 years from melanoma. Since nivolumab is an active and well tolerated drug in metastatic disease, it seemed reasonable to test it after surgery to prevent recurrence. Since ipilimumab is approved for resected stage III melanoma in the US as adjuvant therapy, that was the control arm for comparison, and that is an active control, which prolongs relapse free and overall survival comared to placebo. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, JAMA, Surgical Research / 11.09.2017 Interview with: Matthew Q. Miller, MD Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide. In the United States, 3.3 million people are diagnosed with a new skin cancer annually and many of these individuals will have more than one cancer. The face is the most common place for skin cancers to develop. Mohs micrographic surgery (often referred to as Mohs surgery) is the standard of care for some skin cancers on the face. Once the cancer is removed, the skin defect is usually repaired by the Mohs surgeon but many require referral to a reconstructive surgeon. We were intrigued by a recent publication that noted an increased risk in complications when repair of Mohs defects is delayed beyond 2 days. While most patients that will require referral for reconstruction can be predicted and scheduled accordingly in concert with the Mohs surgery, it is not infrequent that a Mohs procedure requires multiple, unexpected passes to excise the entire cancer and the patient is then left with an unexpectedly large defect requiring reconstruction. These large defects often require more OR time and planning and, therefore, reconstruction cannot be easily completed within 2 days of the Mohs procedure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Melanoma / 08.09.2017 Interview with: Rutao Cui, MD/PhD Professor Vice Chair for Laboratory Administration Director, Laboratory of Melanoma Biology Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Professor of Dermatology Boston University Boston, Mass 02118 What is the background for this study? Response: Red-headed people are making up to 1~2% of the world’s population. They carry “red hair color” variants of MC1R (MC1R-RHC) which are responsible for their characteristic features, including red hair, pale skin, freckles and poor tanning ability. MC1R-RHC also increases risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. People without red hair but with a single copy of MC1R-RHC also have an increased melanoma risk, who may make more than 50% of the northern European population. It is unknown why redheads are more prone to melanoma, and whether the activity of red hair color variants could be restored for therapeutic benefits. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer / 08.09.2017 Interview with: Wolfgang Janni, MD, PhD University of Ulm MONALEESA-2 investigator What is the background for the MONALEESA-2 trial? What are the main findings? Response: The Phase III MONALEESA-2 trial was the primary study that supported the recent European approval of Kisqali (ribociclib). Findings from the study showed superior efficacy and demonstrated safety of Kisqali plus letrozole compared to letrozole alone in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative (HR+/HER2-) locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer who received no prior therapy for their advanced breast cancer. The trial showed Kisqali plus letrozole reduced the risk of progression or death by 43% versus letrozole alone. At a pre-planned analysis, Kisqali plus letrozole demonstrated a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 25.3 months compared to 16.0 months for letrozole alone (HR=0.568 (95% CI: 0.457-0.704; p<0.0001)). More than half of patients (55%) with measurable disease taking Kisqali plus letrozole experienced a tumor reduction of at least 30%. Finally, Kisqali plus letrozole demonstrated rapid clinical improvement in patients with measurable disease, with 76% seeing a reduction in tumor size after only eight weeks versus 67% with letrozole alone. Most side effects in the MONALEESA-2 trial were mild to moderate in severity, identified early through routine monitoring, and generally managed through dose interruption and/or reduction. The most common grade 3/4 adverse events (reported at a frequency ≥5%) for Kisqali plus letrozole compared to letrozole alone were neutropenia (60% vs 1%, respectively), leukopenia (21% vs 1%), hypertension (10% vs. 11%), increased alanine aminotransferase level (9% vs. 1%), lymphopenia (7% vs. 1%) and increased aspartate aminotransferase level (6% vs. 1%). (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Zika / 07.09.2017 Interview with: Milan G. Chheda, MD Assistant Professor Department of Medicine Oncology Division Molecular Oncology Department of Neurology Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Glioblastoma is an extremely aggressive brain tumor. Most patients die in less than two years. A longstanding challenge has been killing tumor cells that are inherently resistant to our current therapies (radiation and chemotherapy). These cells, called cancer stem cells, are extremely hardy. A longstanding dream of oncologists has been to devise a way to find them and kill them. The public health epidemic in 2015 made Zhe Zhu, post-doctoral fellow in Jeremy Rich’s lab, wonder whether Zika virus could work on cancer stem cells, that share properties with stem cells in fetal brain. Zika virus doesn’t cause significant problems in adults. We took a lesson from nature and tested Zika virus. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 07.09.2017 Interview with: Elias Jabbour, MD Associate Professor Leukemia Department MD Anderson Cancer Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Inotuzumab is active in relapsed or refractory (R/R) acute lymphoblastic leukemia  (R/R ALL). The addition of low intensity chemotherapy may further improve outcome. ORR around 80%. Median survival 11 months. Better results obtained in Savage 1. Superior outcome when compared to historical cohort treated with inotuzumab monotherapy (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma / 06.09.2017 Interview with: Riccardo Pampena MD and Caterina Longo, MD, PhD Dermatology Unit University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova-IRCCS Reggio Emilia Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: High heterogeneity has been reported in previous studies on the ratio of melanoma associated with moles (nevus-associated melanomas). Despite this heterogeneity, researchers agree that some melanomas may develop in conjunction with a pre-existing mole. We know that nevus-associated melanomas are usually located on the trunk and more frequently occur in younger patients than de novo melanomas (not nevus-associated). Defining the risk for a melanoma to arise in association with a pre-existing mole is important in order to define the best strategies for early melanoma diagnosis. The main finding of our study is that only one third of melanomas arose from a pre-existing mole, in fact the majority were de novo. We also found that nevus-associated melanomas were less aggressive than de novo. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, HIV, JAMA / 29.08.2017 Interview with: Fahad Mukhtar MD MPH Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics College of Public Health University of South Florida, Tampa What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Studies done in the 80s and 90s showed that patients with Kaposi sarcoma may be at risk of having secondary tumors. As a result of changes that have taken place in the demographics of patients affected with HIV/AIDS as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma, we hypothesized that tumors that follow Kaposi sarcoma might have also changed. We analyzed the incidence of second tumors developing after Kaposi sarcoma using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Result (SEER) data. Our result indicated that the incidence of secondary tumors following Kaposi sarcoma have decreased after the emergence of antiretroviral therapy. However, we observed a significantly higher than expected number of cancer of the anus, liver, tongue, penis lymphomas, and acute lymphocytic leukemia developing in patients with Kaposi sarcoma in the era of antiretroviral therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, HPV, University Texas / 25.08.2017 Interview with: David R. Lairson, PhD Professor of health economics Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study of oropharyngeal cancer treatment cost was initiated by the Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as part of a larger study of the economic and health consequences of human papillomavirus (HPV) related conditions in Texas.  State specific information is required for policy-makers to consider future investments in cancer prevention based on HPV immunization and cancer screening.  The cost estimates at $140,000 per case for the first two years of treatment are substantially higher than previous estimates.  They indicate the potential savings associated with cancer prevention and partially justify increased investment in immunization efforts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Pancreatic, Surgical Research / 25.08.2017 Interview with: Nancy You, MD, MHSc, FACS Department of Surgical Oncology The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study was motivated by the emerging promise of precision medicine and the emerging evidence that immunotherapy may have phenomenal efficacy in particular molecular subtypes of cancers.  This specific molecular subtype shows deficiency in DNA mismatch repair mechanisms and therefore is thought to be more immunogenic.  DNA mismatch repair deficiency can arise from germline defects such as in the case of patients with Lynch Syndrome, an inherited cancer syndrome, or from epigenetic inactivation DNA mismatch repair genes. Overall, pancreas cancer has seen limited success with conventional chemotherapy.  In our study, we demonstrated that there is a particular molecular subtype of pancreas cancer that is characterized by defect in DNA mismatch repair genes and by microsatelie instability that has a different prognosis than other pancreas cancers.  This subtype of pancreas cancer is suspected to also respond to immunotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Journal Clinical Oncology, Lung Cancer / 23.08.2017 Interview with: Theodore M. Brasky, PhD Research Assistant Professor The Ohio State University – James Comprehensive Cancer Center Columbus, OH 43201 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior literature has been suggestive of both a protective and harmful effect of certain B vitamins on lung cancer risk. We wanted to examine the association of intakes of vitamins B6, folic acid (B9), and B12 from supplements –which are typically taken at very high doses– and lung cancer risk in a large, prospective study of 77,000 men and women living in Washington State. The study is unique as it was designed specifically to examine associations of dietary supplements with cancer occurrence. We found that men who took high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 from individual supplements over a long period of time (meaning, doses much higher than the US RDA and much greater than what one would receive from taking a multivitamin over the long term) were at nearly 2-fold increased risk of lung cancer compared to men who did not have B6 or B12 intake from any supplemental source. This finding of increased risk appeared to be specific to men who were current smokers. Among them, long term high-dose supplementation was associated with 3-4 fold increases in lung cancer risk. We observed no increased risk for any of the supplements – B6, B12, or folic acid – with lung cancer risk in women or women who smoked. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Gastrointestinal Disease, Infections, Nature, Stem Cells / 20.08.2017 Interview with: Michael Sigal PhD Clinical scientist of the Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have previously found that H. pylori can colonize gastric glands and that in colonized glands the epithelial turnover was increased. We wanted to characterize the mechanisms that control the gland turnover in the stomach. We found that Axin2, a classic Wnt target gene, marks two different subpopulations of cells with stem cell properties, one of which is Lgr5-positive and the other one Lgr5-negative. Both populations are affected by Rspondin 3, that is produced in myofibroblasts right beneath the stem cell compartment. Rspondin is crucial for stem cell signaling and knockout of Rspondin 3 in myofibroblasts results in loss of Lgr5 and Axin2 expression. Once we increased the bioavailability of Rspondin, that now could also interact with cells outside of the stem cell compartment, we noticed that the number of Axin2 positive stem cells dramatically increased. Of interest, only Lgr5-negative cells expanded in number and proliferate more, while the Lgr5-positive cells remained silenced. Infection with Helicobacter pylori leads to an expansion of Axin2-positive cells which is driven by increased expression of Rspondin3. Expansion of the long lived stem cell pool could be an explanation for how H. pylori infection increases the risk for gastric cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology / 17.08.2017 Interview with: Prof. Gary M. Halliday Discipline of Dermatology, Bosch Institute Central Clinical School University of Sydney Sydney, NSW, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The recently published article is a review paper- we reviewed previous laboratory studies of the effects of nicotinamide on normal pigment cells and on melanoma, and also the previous studies showing that nicotinamide can reduce rates of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) in high risk patients. We have not done any clinical investigations of nicotinamide as a preventive agent for melanoma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, CDC / 15.08.2017 Interview with: Mary C. White, ScD MPH Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch Division of Cancer Prevention and Control CDC Atlanta GA 30341 What is the background for this study? Response: Most cancers are caused not by just one thing, but instead by a combination of different factors over many years. Early adulthood is a time of many life changes and stresses, and exposure to harmful products and unhealthy habits during early adulthood can set the stage for developing cancer at older ages. We analyzed responses from a national sample of young adults to questions about diet, physical activity, tobacco products, alcohol, indoor tanning, sleep, the HPV vaccine, and obesity. These factors have been linked to higher risks of different types of cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, CMAJ, HPV, Vaccine Studies / 14.08.2017 Interview with: Steven Habbous MSc, PhD candidate Ontario Cancer Institute Scarborough, Ontario, Canada What is the background for this study? Response: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a strong risk factor for oropharyngeal cancers (a subset of head and neck cancers). Because HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers generally respond well to treatment and may be prevented through HPV vaccination, it is critical to be able to accurately estimate the incidence and prevalence of this disease. Only recently, however, has testing for HPV become routine at most cancer centres across Canada.  As a result, attempts to estimate the growth of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer over time may be inaccurate. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Duke, JAMA / 11.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD Duke Radiation Oncology Duke School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The financial burden of cancer treatment is a growing concern. Out-of-pocket expenses are higher for patients with cancer than for those who have other chronic illnesses. Fifty percent of elderly cancer patients spend at least 10% of their income on treatment-related out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, high financial burden is associated with both increased risk of poor psychological well-being and worse health-related quality of life. A cancer diagnosis has been shown to be an independent risk factor for declaring personal bankruptcy, and cancer patients who declare personal bankruptcy are at greater risk for mortality. These potentially harmful outcomes resulting from financial burden have been recognized as the financial toxicity of cancer therapy, analogous to the more commonly considered physical toxicity. We conducted an IRB approved study of financial distress and cost expectations among patients with cancer presenting for anti-cancer therapy. In this cross-sectional, survey based study of 300 patients, over one third of patients reported higher than expected financial burden. Cancer patients with highest financial distress are underinsured, paying nearly 1/3 of income in cancer-related costs. In adjusted analysis, experiencing higher than expected financial burden was associated with high/overwhelming financial distress (OR 4.78; 95% CI 2.02-11.32; p<0.01) and with decreased willingness to pay for cancer care (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.95, p=0.03). Sambla, a Scandinavian lender, has been working with many patients to prevent any financial distress resulting from unexpected medical bills. As a result of customer feedback, it has modified the terms of all loans it issues to allow for jumbo loan sizes and reduced interest rates, combined with longer repayment times to help its borrowers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, OBGYNE, PLoS / 11.08.2017 Interview with: Jane McElroy, Ph.D. Associate professor Department of Family and Community Medicine MU School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: More than 31,000 new cases of endometrial cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017. Through a five-year observational study, we found that women with increased levels of cadmium had an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Cadmium is a metal commonly found in foods such as kidneys, liver and shellfish as well as tobacco It’s a finding we hope could lead to new treatments or interventions to prevent the fourth most common cancer in women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, Opiods / 09.08.2017 Interview with: Rinku Sutradhar, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health University of Toronto, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • We suspected that pain was prevalent among survivors of cancer, but there were no comprehensive estimates on the magnitude of this prevalence. For example, recent work had reported pain prevalence among cancer survivors to be anywhere from 5% to 56%, which is quite a wide range.
  • To our knowledge, there has been no prior research conducted at the individual-level that specifically examines opioid prescribing rates for cancer survivors, compared to matched control groups who have no prior cancer diagnosis.
  • We also know that socio-economically disadvantaged populations are more at risk for opioid dependency, but previous studies have not examined cancer survivors who a part of this disadvantaged group, so this is an important knowledge gap to fill.
  • We found that cancer survivors have significantly higher rates of opioid prescriptions compared with their matched controls (who had no prior cancer diagnosis). In fact, after adjusting for other study factors, we found that the rate of opioid prescriptions was 22% higher among survivors.
  • MOST SURPRISING: This higher rate of opioid prescriptions persisted even among survivors who were 10 or more years past their cancer diagnosis (compared to matched control individuals who had no prior cancer diagnosis).
  • When we broke the cohort down based on the type of cancer, we didn’t see a significant spike in opioid prescriptions for breast cancer survivors compared to their non-cancer controls, but we did see higher opioid prescriptions for survivors of lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, or gynaecological cancers, compared to their controls.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 08.08.2017 Interview with: Rebecca Siegel, MPH Strategic Director, Surveillance Information Services American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams St. Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates have been increasing in people under 55 since at least the mid-1990s, despite rapid declines in older age groups. We analyzed mortality data covering over 99% of the US population and found that death rates for CRC in adults under 55 have been increasing over the past decade of data (2004-2014) by 1% per year, in contrast to rapid declines in previous years. This indicates that the increase in incidence is not solely increased detection due to more colonoscopy use, but a true increase in disease occurrence that is of sufficient magnitude to outweigh improvements in survival because of better treatment for colorectal cancer. The second major finding was that the rise in death rates was confined to whites, among whom death rates rose by 1.4% per year, for an overall increase of 14%. In blacks, the colorectal cancer death rate declined slowly during the entire study period (1970-2014). This racial disparity is consistent with incidence, but in contrast to trends for major risk factors for CRC, like obesity, which has increased across all racial and ethnic groups. This means that the obesity epidemic is probably not wholly responsible for the increase in disease. Third major finding was that CRC death rates are increasing in people in their early 50s, for whom screening has been recommended for decades. This was particularly surprising since CRC screening has a two-fold impact on death rates by both preventing cancer and detecting it early when treatment is more effective. Rising death rates in this age group likely reflects lower screening rates in ages 50-54 than 55+ -- 46% vs 67% in 2015, probably because of delayed initiation of screening. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMC, Breast Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Heiko Enderling, Ph.D. Associate Member & Director for Education and Outreach Dept. of Integrated Mathematical Oncology Dept. of Radiation Oncology H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Tampa, FL 33612 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery for early-stage breast cancer has significantly improved patient prognosis, many patients will face a second cancer diagnosis within 20 years of primary treatment. Experimental and clinical studies have shown that local radiation therapy can activate an immune response that can propagate systemically to attack distant untreated metastases. However, current radiotherapy practice has not specifically focused on enhancing immune responses. We asked the question if pre-operative irradiation, when applied to the bulk of disease, could have potentially higher immune stimulatory effects. To study this, we analyzed historic outcomes of breast cancer patients treated with either adjuvant (radiation after surgery) or neoadjuvant (radiation before surgery) radiotherapies. Our analysis showed that the risk of developing a second tumor after neoadjuvant compared with adjuvant RT was significantly lower, especially for estrogen receptor-positive women who underwent breast conserving surgery or mastectomy. Historic data revealed an increase in disease-free survival of 12% over 20 years after treatment of the original tumor. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Surgical Research / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Lisa K. Jacobs MD Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Breast preservation is the preferred treatment for many women diagnosed with breast cancer.  The most common question that a patient will ask after the surgery is, “Did you get it all?” In the ideal case, this is accomplished in a single outpatient surgery with very good cosmetic results.  In our study, Beyond the Margins-Economic Costs and Complications Associated with Repeated Breast-Conserving Surgeries we evaluated the detrimental effects of an unsuccessful initial surgery due to positive surgical margins. Using private insurance claims data, we found that 16% of patients planning breast preservation required a second breast-conserving surgery and an additional 7% converted to mastectomy.  Of those patients that required additional surgery there was a 56% ($16,072) increase in cost and a 48% increase in complications.  Those complications include infection, hematoma, seroma, and fat necrosis.  This study demonstrates that repeated surgery has not only cosmetic consequences, but also has financial implications and increased risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Benjamin Weixler, MD Department of Surgery University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland and Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For most patients with lymph node negative colon cancer (stage I and II) surgery is regarded to be the curative treatment. Despite the curative attempt up to thirty percent of these patients will develop disease recurrence, most likely due to missed micro-metastatic disease at initial tumor staging. Pathological standard processing with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) entails a considerable risk of missing micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes. Mounting evidence indicates that micro-metastatic tumor deposits in the lymph nodes as well as in the bone marrow might be associated with an increased risk of disease recurrence and death in node negative patients. With our study we wanted to examine the correlation between the occurrence of micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes and the bone marrow as well as their prognostic significance. As a main finding, the study provides compelling evidence that tumor cell dissemination to the lymph nodes and to the bone marrow are independent events in patients with colon cancer. Most importantly did the study demonstrate that micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes as well as in the bone marrow are independent negative prognostic factors regarding  disease-free and overall survival. The combined occurrence is associated with significantly worse prognosis compared to either one of them. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dental Research, Menopause / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD Dean, SUNY Distinguished Professor Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health School of Public Health and Health Professions University of Buffalo What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been a growing interest in the role of periodontal disease in system chronic diseases, including cancer. We explored the association of periodontal disease history and incident cancer in the women's health initiative study of postmenopausal women. We found that women reporting periodontal disease history were at increased risk of developing cancer overall. In addition they were found to have significant increased risk of specific cancers including cancers of the lung, breast, esophagus, gallbladder and melanoma. The risk persisted after control for many other factors. In addition, the risk was seen in women regardless of their smoking history. Both ever smokers and never smokers were found to have increased risk of cancer associated with periodontal disease history. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, Ophthalmology / 24.07.2017 Interview with: Christoph Schwab Departement of Ophthalmology Medical University of Graz Graz, Austria What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Knowledge about risk factors and/or pathways involved in pathogenesis is from special importance in order of preventing diseases. The role of sunlight in several eye diseases is unclear. In our study we found a close relation between sun light exposure - evaluated by a full body skin examination and a personal questionnaire - and iris freckles. Therefore we suggest the presence of iris freckles as a novel biomarker indicating high ocular sun exposure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Lung Cancer, Science / 24.07.2017 Interview with: Prof. Gerhard Hamilton Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical University of Vienna What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly aggressive tumor (15 % of all lung cancers) mainly of patients with high tobacco consumption which shows an extremely poor survival (< 5% 2-year survival rate). Unfortunately the low survival rates of advanced SCLC cases has not improved significantly during the last decades, with platinum drugs/etoposide and topotecan employed for first- and second-line chemotherapy, respectively. All kinds of new chemotherapeutics, targeted drugs and immunotherapies either failed or resulted in prolongation of survival of several months at best. SCLC responds well to first-line therapy but relapses within a short time as chemoradioresistant tumor. The failure of hundreds of registered studies seem to be linked to the lack of knowledge of the mechanism of resistance of SCLCs and proper ways to reverse the refractoriness. Small cell lung cancer is distinguished by excessive numbers of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in advanced stages. CTCs contain the founder of metastasis and seem to constitute a highly chemoresistant cell population. Thus, we ware able to establish a panel of permanent CTC lines in vitro for the first time (8 SCLC lines so far from blood samples). Although CTCs were considered to be chemoresistant we detected that they are chemosensitive in vitro in form of single cell suspensions. However, all CTC lines developed spontaneously into large multicellular aggregates, termed tumorospheres, which grow up to 1-2 mm in size and exhibit high chemoradioresistance due to limited drug perfusion as well as content of quiescent and hypoxic cells. Resistance to irradiation seems to be caused by lack of oxygen, such limiting the generation of oxygen radicals. High resistance mediated by the occurrence of tumorospheres easily explains the failure of a large number of drugs - if one is not able to achieve a sufficient concentration of a drug in cancer cells and the cells are quiescent, the respective compounds will not be able to destroy the target cells, regardless of their chemical nature. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Biomarkers, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Cancer Research, PNAS / 19.07.2017 Interview with: Chonghui Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Molecular & Human Genetics Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX77030 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Understanding the mechanisms that give cancer cells the ability to survive and grow opens the possibility of developing improved treatments to control or cure disease. In the case of glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest type of brain cancer, abnormal EGFR signaling is frequently observed. Treatment with the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib attempts to kill cancer cells. However, the clinical benefit of treatment with this and other EGFR inhibitors has been limited by the development of drug resistance. Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that the molecule CD44s seems to give cancer cells a survival advantage. Eliminating this advantage by reducing the amount of CD44s resulted in cancer cells being more sensitive to the deadly effects of the drug erlotinib. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Lung Cancer / 14.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Noelia Rivera MD Dermatologist Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona What is the background for this study? Response: In the last few years some new therapies targeting immune checkpoints have been developed. The programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) are immune checkpoints that prevent the immune system to act against own tissues. By blocking these mediators it is possible to prevent tumors to escape from the immune system. About half of the patients receiving these therapies will develop mild to moderate cutaneous adverse events. In the pre-authorization studies for malignant melanoma these include rash, vitiligo, and pruritus. "Rash" has commonly been reported as an adverse event in many oncologic trials evaluating the drugs, without providing further information about the clinical or histological details. Lately, lichenoid eruptions associated to these therapies have been reported and it suggests that an important percentage of these reactions present lichenoid histological features. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma / 14.07.2017 Interview with: Maryam M. Asgari, MD, MPH Department of Dermatology Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Laboratory studies show lithium, an activator of  the Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway, slows melanoma progression, but no published epidemiologic studies have explored this association. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult white Kaiser Permanente Northern California members (n=2,213,848) from 1997-2012 to examine the association between lithium use and melanoma risk. Our main finding is that lithium-exposed individuals had a reduced incidence of melanoma, did not develop very thick tumors (> 4 mm Breslow depth) or extensive disease at presentation, and had decreased melanoma-specific mortality compared to unexposed individuals suggesting a possible role for lithium in altering melanoma risk. (more…)