Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Johns Hopkins / 02.12.2016 Interview with: Dr. Amol K. Narang, MD Instructor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center What is the background for this study? Response: We know that cancer care is becoming increasingly expensive in the U.S., but the financial impact on patients in the form of out-of-pocket expenses is not well understood, in part because of the lack of data sources that track this information. As such, we used the Health and Retirement study, a national panel study that closely tracks the out-of-pocket medical expenditures of older Americans, to understand the level of financial strain that Medicare patients experience after a new diagnosis of cancer. We further investigated what factors were associated with high financial strain and what type of health services were driving high costs in this population. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Nature / 01.12.2016 Interview with: Sudarshan Anand, PhD Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology Department of Radiation Medicine Oregon Health and Science University Portland, Oregon What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Almost half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during the course of their disease. While the impact of radiation on the cancer cells has been well studied in experimental models, its effects on the accessory cells that are present in the tumor are not well known. One of the major interests of our lab is studying these accessory cells of the tumor aka “the tumor microenvironment”. These group of cells consists of blood vessel cells, fibroblasts and immune cells that are normal cells that have been recruited by the tumor and generally support tumor growth. The goal of this study was to understand the impact of radiation (and broadly DNA damaging agents) on the blood vessel cells in the tumor. We focused on a specific type of molecule called microRNAs (miRs) in these cells. miRs are small RNA molecules that bind to dozens of messenger RNAs and the production of proteins. We discovered a group of microRNAs that was induced in blood vessel cells by radiation, a chemotherapy agent cisplatin and peroxide an agent that mimics oxidative stress that is often present in cancers. We found that the top candidate on this list was a microRNA that mimicked radiation by inducing DNA damage and eventually killing the blood vessel cells. Administering this microRNA, either within a tumor or using a specific nanoparticle that delivers cargo to the tumor blood vessels, decreased tumor growth in mouse models of breast cancer, brain cancer and colorectal cancer. We found that the efficacy of this agent was a result of its ability to suppress a protein TREX1, that is often mutated in human lupus. In other words, this microRNA was able to create some of the immune and inflammatory features of lupus within a tumor and induce proteins that triggered cell death on tumor cells. Overall, our work illustrates how the tumor accessory cells respond to radiation and highlights the cross-talk between different accessory cells and the tumor cells. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, Lung Cancer / 27.11.2016 Interview with: Paul W. Sperduto, MD, MPP, FASTRO Minneapolis Radiation Oncology University of Minnesota Gamma Knife Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Analysis of past randomized clinical trials involving patients with brain metastases, an extremely heterogeneous population, suggested that the stratification tools of the past were inadequate to ensure those trials were comparing similar patients which made the results of those trials difficult to interpret or misleading. So, in 2008, a new prognostic index, the Graded Prognostic Assessment (GPA) was designed and published to more accurately predict survival. In 2010, the GPA was refined when we learned survival and the factors that predict survival varied by diagnosis (i.e. lung, breast, melanoma, kidney cancer patients with brain metastases had different survival). Now we have learned survival also varies by gene mutations and the diagnosis-specific GPA for lung cancer is further refined in this article with this new information, specifically EGFR and ALK gene alterations. 27 co-authors from 12 academic medical centers contributed patients to this database which represents the largest study of lung cancer patients with brain metastases ever reported. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy / 27.11.2016 Interview with: Kelvin K. Tsai, MD, PhD Associate Investigator and Attending Physician Laboratories for Tumor Aggressiveness and Stemness National Institute of Cancer Research, National Health Research Institutes Associate Professor and Principal Investigator Laboratories of Advanced Molecular Therapeutics Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan What is the background for this study? Response: Human cancer is a complex organ consisting of a heterogenous collection of cancer cells and stroma cells. Many solid tumors such as breast cancer and pancreatic cancer are characterized by a pronounced stromal fibrosis termed desmoplasia. Studies showed that systemic chemotherapy can target not only cancer cells but also the stromal fibroblasts, which may have significant impacts on the treatment response in desmoplastic cancers. We set out to study whether and how traditional “maximum tolerated dose (MTD)” chemotherapy affects the tumor fibroblasts and thereby modulates the treatment response, and if so how this therapy-induced stroma perturbation can be avoided or attenuated. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Geriatrics, Radiation Therapy / 23.11.2016 Interview with: Emily C. Daugherty, MD Upstate Medical University Radiation Oncology Resident, PGY-4 What is the background for this study? Response: Adjuvant radiation following breast conserving surgery has been well established in the management of early-stage breast cancer as it has been shown to decrease the incidence of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrences and also reduce breast cancer mortality. Large prospective trials have shown for elderly patients with favorable, ER positive pathology, omission of radiation after lumpectomy can be considered. However, women with ER negative disease were typically not included in these trials and given their higher risk for relapse as well as lack of effective endocrine therapy, we hypothesized that adjuvant radiation would benefit women over 70 years with early-stage, ER negative tumors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, JAMA, UCLA / 22.11.2016 Interview with: Albert Yoon-Kyu Han, PhD Class of 2017 Medical Scientist Training Program David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lip makes up a large portion of oral cancers (25%). Most of the demographic and prognostic indicators for lip SCC are only available through retrospective case series. Thus, we used the national cancer database (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results, or SEER) to examine the incidence, treatment, and survival of patients with lip SCC. The main findings of this study were that lip Squamous cell carcinoma predominantly affects white men in their mid-60s. We also found that the determinants of survival for lip SCC include age at diagnosis, primary site, T stage, and N stage. More specifically, on the primary site, SCC of the upper and lower lip had similar survival, whereas SCC of the oral commissure was associated with decreased survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Education, Surgical Research / 22.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Dmitri Alden MD, FACS Surgical Oncologist, specializes in liver cancer, bile duct cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY Dr. Alden is an advocate of the role of empathy in medicine and discusses his passion for compassionate care in this interview. Please see his bio and website at Why do you feel that empathy is a vital part of treating a patient? Response: Over the last decade many physicians, patients and other professionals began to recognize that medical care is much more than treatment with medications or an act of surgery. Healing involves pain and suffering and dealing with psychological issues connected to the stress of being taken out of one’s normal life routine. Pain is now considered a “vital sign” and only recently it became mandatory to address it properly and document it in a medical record. Empathy in my opinion is a “vital sign” of any relationship that forms between a patient and a medical professional. When expressed genuinely, it makes a tremendous impact on patient’s overall experience and recovery. How do you define empathy in regards to medical treatment? Response: Empathy is understanding and true genuine caring. Patients and doctors create a unique and very personal relationship built on trust and “chemistry”. The doctor’s ability to express empathy, step in the patient’s shoes, get to know their life, loves, personal problems and to structure care around this unique individual enhances the patient’s belief in the route of treatment chosen and the doctor’s ability to provide a cure. Do you feel that the medical system doesn't emphasize empathy enough? Response: Doctors are trained without an emphasis on empathy. They focus on acquiring immense amounts of information that need to be learned during medical school and residency. Emotions are currently left to the side in order to succeed. The end product is often a machine that knows what to do in any medical situation but has difficulty to connect on an emotional level. I feel that empathy is also a very important step towards achieving successful outcomes because a patient will feel more invested in following the doctor's advice if he feels there is compassion and understanding. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Gout, NYU, Rheumatology / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Michael Pillinger, MD Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology NYU School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We are interested in the co-morbidities of gout and the fact that gout is accompanied by multiple cardiovascular, renal and other events. The implications of gout for cancer are less clear, but the basic biology suggests that either: 1) the acute and chronic inflammation of gout could contribute to a pro-cancer environment; 2) the anti-oxidant effects of urate could have anti-cancer properties; 3) the ability of uric acid to serve as a "danger signal" released from dying cells (potentially including cancer cells" could promote anti-cancer immunity. The clinical literature is murky at best. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, PNAS, Stem Cells / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Thomas Bartosh Jr, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Medical Physiology Texas A&M Health Science Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One mysterious and devastating aspect of breast cancer is that it can reemerge abruptly, often as metastatic disease, in patients many years after an apparent eradication of the primary tumor. The sudden reappearance of cancer has been termed relapse and is thought to occur because a minimal number of resilient tumor cells are able to evade frontline therapies and linger in an undetectable/dormant state somewhere in the body for an unpredictable amount of time. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, these same dormant cells awaken and rapidly grow, and produce almost invariably fatal cancerous lesions. The therapeutic challenges of tumor dormancy and need to decode the underlying mechanisms involved are apparent. Cancer cell behavior is strongly influenced by various non-malignant cell types that are found within the tumor mass itself and that help make up the tumor microenvironment (TME). In particular, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), which are actively recruited into the tumor stroma, directly interact with carcinoma cells and significantly impact cancer progression, although the role of MSCs in tumor dormancy remains ill-defined. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy / 19.11.2016 Interview with: Edith Perez, MD Vice President and Head of U.S. Medical Affairs Genentech BioOncology What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: MARIANNE was designed to evaluate three HER2-targeted regimens in previously untreated (first-line) HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (Kadcyla alone, Kadcyla plus Perjeta, Herceptin plus chemotherapy). The study met its non-inferiority endpoint, showing similar progression-free survival (PFS) among the three treatment arms. However, neither Kadcyla-containing treatment arm significantly improved PFS compared to Herceptin and chemotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy / 17.11.2016

MEDICALRESEARCH.COM INTERVIEW WITH: THOMAS W. DUBENSKY, JR., PH.D. CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER ADURO BIOTECH, INC. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This presentation highlights findings from multiple preclinical models evaluating ADU-S100 (also known as MIW815), Aduro Biotech’s investigational STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) Pathway Activator immunotherapy. The company is developing ADU-S100 in partnership with Novartis. ADU-S100 is a synthetic ‘off-the-shelf’ small molecule immune modulator that is designed to generate a response against a patient’s own unique set of cancer antigens. It does this through the activation of human STING. STING is generally expressed at high levels in immune cells, including dendritic cells. Once activated, the STING receptor initiates a profound innate immune response through multiple pathways, inducing the expression of a broad profile of cytokines, including interferons and chemokines. This subsequently leads to the development of a systemic tumor antigen-specific T-cell adaptive immune response. We conducted preclinical studies in a variety of preclinical models to better understand the potential mechanism of action of ADU-S100 and its potential for treating a variety of cancer types, both within the immediate tumor environment, as well as throughout the body. Data from these preclinical studies suggest the following:
  • Intratumoral injection of ADU-S100 activates the STING Pathway and induces both a durable local and systemic anti-tumor immune response as evidenced by induction of type I interferons (IFNs) and a CD8+ T-cell response.
  • ADU-S100 is able to induce tumor-specific memory mediated by immune cells (e.g. T-cells and NK-cells) whereby the immune system is able to eliminate specific cancerous cells upon their reintroduction without further therapy.
  • Combination of STING activation in the tumor microenvironment and an anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor enhances antitumor efficacy activation of the STING pathway, resulting in the complete eradication of local and distal tumors.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Pediatrics, Rheumatology / 16.11.2016 Interview with: Timothy Beukelman, MD, MSCE Associate Professor of Pediatrics Division of Rheumatology and Division of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology University of Alabama at Birmingham What is the background for this study? Response: In 2009 the US FDA issued a boxed warning about malignancies reported in children treated with TNF inhibitors but their analysis did not account for a possible malignancy risk from other medications of from the Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) disease process itself. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Melanoma / 15.11.2016 Interview with: Feng Xie, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Faculty of Health Sciences McMaster University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cutaneous melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer, in early stages is often cured with surgery alone. Most patients presenting with advanced-stage disease, however, are not candidates for surgery and drug therapy is the main course of treatment. Around 40-60% of melanomas have a mutation in the BRAF protein. Multiple effective first-line treatment options are available for patients with advanced BRAF-mutated melanoma, which fall under two established classes of drug therapies: targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Presently, it remains uncertain which is the optimal first-line treatment. In our network meta-analysis we evaluated 15 randomized controlled trials published between 2011 and 2015 assessing the benefits and harms of targeted or immune checkpoint inhibitors in 6662 treatment naïve patients with lymph node metastasis not amenable to surgery or distant metastatic melanoma. We found that combined BRAF and MEK targeted therapy and PD-1 immunotherapy were both equally effective in improving overall survival. Combined BRAF and MEK inhibition was most effective in improving progression-free survival. PD-1 inhibition was associated with the lowest risk of serious adverse events. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Prostate, Prostate Cancer, Surgical Research, Urology / 15.11.2016 Interview with: Jim C. Hu, M.D., M.P.H. Ronald P. Lynch Professor of Urologic Oncology Director of the LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery Weill Cornell Medicine Urology New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell New York, NY 10065 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA testing in men older than 75 years in 2008 and more recently in all US men regardless of age in 2012. This was largely based on a faulty study, the prostate, lung, colo-rectal and ovarian screening study. We demonstrated in May 2016 that this randomized trial did not compare screening to no screening or apples to oranges, as it set out to do. It compared screening to screening. Although controversial, the guidelines were well-intentioned, as recognize that there is over-diagnosis and over-treatment of men with prostate cancer. Given this background, the goal of our study was to explore the downstream consequences of the recommendation against PSA screening. As such, we explored 3 separate databases to characterize national procedure volumes for prostate needle biopsy and radical prostatectomy, or surgery to cure prostate cancer. The main finding was that prostate biopsy numbers decreased by 29% and radical prostatectomy surgeries decreased by 16% when comparing before to after USPSTF recommendations against PSA screening. Therefore practice patterns followed policy. Prostate biopsies are usually performed due to an elevated, abnormal screening PSA. However, it is also performed to monitor low-risk, slow growing prostate cancers. We also found that while the overall number of prostate biopsies decreased, there was a 29% increase in the proportion or percentage of biopsies performed due to active surveillance, or monitoring of low risk prostate cancers which should be done periodically. Therefore we provide the first national study to demonstrate that there is less over-diagnosis and over-treatment of prostate cancer. However, the concern is that we also recently demonstrated that there is more aggressive prostate cancer on surgical pathology for men who go on to radical prostatectomy. They have high grade, higher stage cancers, which have a lower chance of cure. The link is: (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, ENT, JAMA, Radiation Therapy, Stanford / 15.11.2016 Interview with: Michelle M. Chen, MD/MHS Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The benefit of post-operative radiotherapy (PORT) for patients with T1-T2 N1 oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer without adverse pathologic features is unclear. Starting in 2014, the national guidelines no longer recommended consideration of post-operative radiotherapy for N1 oropharyngeal cancer patients, but left it as a consideration for N1 oral cavity cancer patients. We found that post-operative radiotherapy was associated with improved survival in both oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, particularly in patients younger than 70 years of age and those with T2 disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma / 15.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Mario Mandalà, MD Division of Oncology, Department of Oncology and Hematology Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital Bergamo, Italy. What is the background for this study? Response: The 7th edition of the TNM AJCC classification incorporated mitotic rate (MR) only for primary cutaneous melanoma with Breslow thickness ≤1 mm. We investigated whether and to what extent MR is able to predict sentinel lymph node (SLN) status and clinical outcome of  primary cutaneous melanoma (PCM) patients with BT >1 mm. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma, Surgical Research / 14.11.2016 Interview with: Timothy Patton, DO Department of Dermatology Falk Medical Center University of Pittsburgh Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: As dermatologists we are confronted daily with how to manage lesions that are biopsied and diagnosed as dysplastic nevi. These lesions are considered by some to be potential melanoma precursors and by others as benign lesions with little to no malignant potential. Often, particularly for lesions with severe atypia these lesions are re excised. There are no prospective studies or consistent guidelines as to how to manage these lesions. We decided to retrospectively look at the outcome of 451 patients with dysplastic nevi with severe atypia, many of whom had not had their lesions re-excised, who had at least 5 years of follow up to determine if any developed melanoma at the site of the biopsied dysplastic nevus or distantly. We found no cases of metastatic melanoma in patients who did not already have a diagnosis of melanoma. We found two cases of thin melanoma in patients who had their lesions re-excised. Both of those patients were treated with reexcision and did not develop subsequent melanoma metastasis or recurrence. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Imperial College / 11.11.2016 Interview with: Peter Wise MD Charing Cross Hospital and Imperial College School of Medicine London, UK What is the background for this analysis? Response: As a medical ethicist, I wished to know how much patients with advanced – metastatic – cancer knew about the drugs that were being used to treat it. What were their perceptions of likely treatment success and how did that tally with our knowledge of what drugs could actually achieve – and at what cost to the body and to the pocket. Did patients actually have a choice – and how did the drugs get approved for use in the first place? (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy / 11.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Michael Lotze, MD Chief Scientific Officer, Lion Biotechnologies San Carlos, CA 94070 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) with Tumor-infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL) has shown promise in mediating cancer regression which rely on activation in vivo compared to other immunotherapies that utilize genetically modified T-cells. In TIL therapy, autologous administration of TIL expanded outside the body elicits a highly individualized, specific and potent attack against the tumor. Clinical trials conducted at the National Cancer Institute evaluating TIL therapy for the treatment of metastatic melanoma reported overall response rates of up to 56%. The durable responses observed in these metastatic melanoma patients as well as other patients with cervical cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, and head and neck cancer signal the potential for broader application of TIL therapy to treat patients with other solid tumors, currently an area of substantial unmet clinical need. Lion’s study, recently presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, sought to demonstrate the feasibility of culturing and expanding TIL isolated from non-melanoma tumors. We were successful in culturing TIL from tumors obtained from bladder, cervical, head and neck, lung and triple negative breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 10.11.2016 Interview with: Caroline Watts | Research Fellow Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Sydney School of Public Health Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) investigator The University of Sydney What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Melanoma Patterns of Care study was a population-based observational study of physicians’ reported clinical management of 2727 patients diagnosed with an in situ or invasive primary melanoma over a 12-month period from October 2006 to 2007 in New South Wales, Australia. This paper investigated the differences between 1052 (39%) patients who were defined as higher risk owing to a family history of melanoma, multiple primary melanomas, or many nevi (moles) compared to patients who did not have any risk factors. We found that the higher-risk group had a younger mean age at diagnosis compared to those without risk factors, (62 vs 65 years, P < .001) which varied by type of risk factor (56 years for patients with a family history, 59 years for those with many nevi, and 69 years for those with a previous melanoma). These age differences were consistent across all body sites. Among higher-risk patients, those with many nevi were more likely to have melanoma on the trunk (41% vs 29%, P < .001), those with a family history of melanoma were more likely to have melanomas on the limbs (57%vs 42%, P < .001), and those with a personal history were more likely to have melanoma on the head and neck (21% vs 15%, P < .001). (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, JAMA, Karolinski Institute / 09.11.2016 Interview with: Jonas Bergh M.D, Ph.D. F.R.C.P. (London, UK) Professor of Oncology (Mimi Althainz´donation) Director Strategic Research Program in Cancer Karolinska Institutet Radiumhemmet, Karolinska University Hospital Stockholm, Swede What is the background for this study? Response: Present standard dosing of chemotherapy is aiming at a similar dose for each individual (similar effects and side-effects) , by calculating the dose per mg/m2 based on a formula originally established by du Bois (1916), based on body surface calculations by measuring height and weight. As I recall it, this was done on nine individuals… However, the body surface has very little to do with how you cytotoxic drugs are metabolized and excreted… in practice this means that chemotherapy dosing based on body surface area will result in under- or overdosing of quite a proposition of the patients… Please Google/run a PubMed research on H. Gurney in Australia, he and other have really expressed their concerns with our present chemotherapy dosing strategies. In our prospective adjuvant chemotherapy study of high risk breast cancer patients we tested a very well established standard chemotherapy regimen given every third week (FEC100 mg/m2 x 3+ docetaxel 100 mg/m2 x3) vs. our experimental arm given very second week in a dose dense fashion. We also tried to optimize the dosing, aiming at avoiding overdosing some patients at the first course and increase the dose for those without predefined toxicities. Therapy duration was similar in both groups, 15 weeks. Please see the end of the discussion in JAMA for the shortcomings with our study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, Vaccine Studies / 09.11.2016 Interview with: Leslie Chong Imugene Chief Operating Officer Armadale, Australia Leslie Chong Imugene Chief Operating Officer Armadale, Australia What is the background for this study? How does HER-Vaxx work? • The technology originates from the Medical University of Vienna, one of Europe’s leading cancer institutes and was identified in 2012 by Dr Axel Hoos (Currently Sr. Vice President of Oncology R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, previous Clinical Lead on Ipilumimab at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a director at Imugene; his only Board seat worldwide) • HER-Vaxx is a peptide vaccine designed to treat tumours that over-express the HER2/neu receptor, such as gastric, breast, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers. The vaccine is constructed from various B Cell epitopes of HER2/neu. It has been shown in pre-clinical work and in a Phase 1 study to stimulate a potent polyclonal antibody response to HER2/neu, a commercially and clinically validated cancer target. HER-Vaxx’s successful Phase 1 study was in patients with metastatic breast cancer and the next stage of development will be a Phase 1b/2 study in patients with gastric cancer initiating in 2016. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care / 08.11.2016 Interview with: Carolyn R. Aldigé President of the Prevent Cancer Foundation What is the background for this tool? What types of cancers are covered under this comparison tool? Response: The coverage tool compares screening coverage by the 30 largest health insurers in the U.S. Consumers can use the tool to see their insurance plans' policies on coverage of screening tests for breast, cervical, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers. What are some of the differences in insurance coverage of screening tests? Response: There is a sizable variation in what insurance plans cover, partly a result of differing screening guidelines from three leading organizations. Though insurance plans are required to cover screenings recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) without a co-pay, many will choose to cover other screening tests as well—but which guidelines do they follow? This is confusing to both patients and providers. Breast cancer screening is an area where we see big differences in insurance coverage. All 30 plans cover 2D mammography, but only 13 plans cover 3D mammography (tomosynthesis). Colorectal cancer screening coverage also differs. While almost all plans cover colonoscopy, CT colonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and FIT and FOBT screening tests, there are differences in coverage of stool-based DNA tests. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 04.11.2016 Interview with: Ayako Okuyama, RN, PHN, MW, PhD Center for Cancer Control and Information Services National Cancer Center, Japan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a major concern for chemotherapy patients. Despite widespread concern, not all chemotherapeutic drugs cause severe CINV. Our study illustrated that the potential for overuse of prophylactic antiemetics for chemotherapy with minimal and low emetic risks according to the antiemetic guidelines. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Prostate Cancer / 03.11.2016 Interview with: Lauren P. Wallner, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Michigan Adjunct Investigator Kaiser Permanente Southern California North Campus Research Complex Ann Arbor, MI What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors (5ARIs) are often used for the management of lower urinary tract symptoms in men. Two prior clinical trials found 5ARIs also reduced the risk of prostate cancer, but there was an increase in more aggressive (Gleason 7-10) cancers among the men who were diagnosed. Thus, concerns over whether 5ARIs may increase the risk of prostate cancer death have limited their use in the prevention of prostate cancer, which remains controversial. To address the safety of 5ARIs for the primary prevention of prostate cancer, we conducted a large population-based study of over 200,000 men in community practice settings of over a 19 year observation period to assess whether 5ARI use (as compared to alpha-blocker use) was associated with prostate cancer mortality. Our results suggest that 5ARI use was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer mortality when compared to alpha-blocker use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Vaccine Studies / 30.10.2016 Interview with: Josef Singer MD, PhD Comparative Medicine Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Medical University Vienna University Vienna, Austria & Department for Comparative Immunology and Oncology Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research Medical University Department of Internal Medicine II University Hospital Krems Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences Krems, Austria What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Immunotherapy of cancer has gained increasing interest in treatment of oncologic patients. Especially passive immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies against tumor-associated antigens has been very successful due to good response rates with relatively moderate side effects compared to conventional chemotherapy. Trastuzumab, an antibody against the human epidermal growth-factor receptor-2 (HER-2), is widely applied for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Trastuzumab leads to longer progression-free and overall survival in patients with HER-2 positive disease. However, monoclonal antibody therapies have to be repetitively applied, which represents a risk for infusion-related side effects and, due to the high costs, a massive burden for social security systems. Our aim was to replace the passive immunotherapy by a vaccine actively inducing patients´ own antibodies with the same specificity as trastuzumab. A novel mimotope library platform enabled the development of a HER2-specific cancer vaccine: Mimotopes are small peptides that are able to mimic antibody epitopes on tumor-associated antigens, in our case the trastuzumab antigen on HER-2. We use Adeno-associated-viruses (AAV) as carriers for our HER2 vaccine as they are highly immunogenic and safe. We could demonstrate that this HER-2 mimotope AAV-vaccine induced antibodies against human HER- 2 similar to the clinically used trastuzumab. In a mouse tumor model the HER-2 mimotope AAV vaccine was able to delay the growth of tumors significantly. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, JAMA / 30.10.2016 Interview with: Fausto Petrelli, MD Oncology Unit, Oncology Department Treviglio ,Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This meta-analysis evaluated if side (excluding rectum site) represents an independent prognostic factor for survival in patients with stages 1-4 colon cancer. This variable is in fact associated with an adverse outcome with a reduced risk of death by 20% if patients are affected by a left colon cancer compared to those with right colon cancers. Implications are enormous: for prognosis first but also for follow-up, stratification into clinical trials and treatment (for both medical and surgical therapies). The power of the study is relevant: it enclosed 66 studies with more than 1 million of patients retrospectively or prospectively analyzed for survival according to common variables known to be prognostic in colorectal cancer (age, sex, stage, race, adjuvant CT..etc) in multivariate analysis. Side is significantly associated with survival independent of other covariates analyzed. The question of the side is old and partially known, but no study systematically explored the published literature to confirm this suggestion. Recent large randomized trials in metastatic disease showed different results according to the site of disease with right colon cancers usually less responsive to anti-EGFR treatment due to a different molecular behavior and conversely left colon cancers which attained the greater benefit from cetuximab and panitumumab due to less BRAF mutations in their tissue. Also, a less extensive and radical lymphadenectomy in right-sided cancers, without a complete mesocolon excision during surgery, could hamper their cure rate, as our colorectal surgeon's team lead by Prof. Giovanni Sgroi and Luca Turati MD, suggested in the discussion. It is also well known the leads term bias with a later diagnosis of right cancers due to clinical and anatomic reasons. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer, Cancer Research, University of Pennsylvania / 28.10.2016 Interview with: Eric Ojerholm, MD Resident, Radiation Oncology Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? Response: Multiple studies reported that a blood test —the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR)—might be a helpful biomarker for bladder cancer patients. If this were true, NLR would be very appealing because it is inexpensive and readily available. However, previous studies had several methodological limitations. What did you do in this study Response: We therefore put NLR to the test by performing a rigorous “category B” biomarker study—this is a study that uses prospectively collected biomarker data from a clinical trial. We used data from SWOG 8710, which was a phase III randomized trial that assessed surgery with or without chemotherapy for patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We tested two questions. First, could NLR tell us how long a bladder cancer patient would live after curative treatment? Second, could NLR predict which patients would benefit from chemotherapy before surgery? (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, Smoking / 24.10.2016 Interview with: Joannie Lortet-Tieulent MSc Senior Epidemiologist American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? Response: Many tobacco control policies are decided at state level. We have known for some times that some states have pioneered tobacco control, or have implemented strong tobacco control or programs. Meanwhile, in other states, tobacco control and programs can be weaker. Also, some states have large populations with low socioeconomic status, among which smoking prevalence is higher. We were interested in how those state-level differences impact people’s health. (more…)