Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, NIH, OBGYNE, Ovarian Cancer / 18.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D. Deputy Branch Chief Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Institutes of Health Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A number of studies have reported a link between genital use of talc powders and ovarian cancer. We wondered whether the practice of douching could contribute to that risk by moving fibers and chemicals into and up the reproductive tract. We are carrying out the Sister Study, a large cohort study that enrolled more than 50,000 women who each had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer and who are consequently at increased risk of ovarian cancer. During the Sister Study enrollment interview, we asked each of them about their douching and use of talc in the previous 12 months. During approximately 6 years of follow up, 154 participants developed ovarian cancer. Our statistical analyses did not show any relationship between talc use and risk of ovarian cancer, but we estimated that women who had said they douched had almost double the risk for ovarian cancer compared to women who did not douche. (more…)
Author Interviews, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 17.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jennifer Cullen Meyer, PhD, MPH Director of Epidemiologic Research, Center for Prostate Disease Research Assistant Professor, Norman M. Rich Dept. of Surgery, Uniformed Services University Rockville, MD 20852 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Men diagnosed with prostate cancer who are at low risk for cancer progression may choose to defer immediate treatment with curative intent and, instead, monitor their cancer. This strategy is referred to as “active surveillance.” The primary benefit of active surveillance is that it allows men to temporarily defer definitive cancer treatments that are known to cause decrements in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Studies have shown that HRQoL is better in men choosing active surveillance as compared to other treatment modalities. However, prior to our study, it was not known whether men on active surveillance experience worse HRQoL than men without prostate cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Lymphoma, Pharmacology / 14.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dirk Huebner, MD Senior Medical Director Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit Takeda Pharmaceutical Company MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Cutaneous lymphomas are a category of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that primarily involve the skin. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, also known as CTCL, is the most common type of cutaneous lymphoma and typically presents with red, scaly patches or thickened plaques of skin that often mimic eczema or chronic dermatitis. ADCETRIS® (brentuximab vedotin) is an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30, which is expressed on skin lesions in approximately 50 percent of patients with CTCL. The Phase 3 ALCANZA trial compared the use of single-agent ADCETRIS to a control arm of investigator’s choice of standard therapies, methotrexate or bexarotene, in 131 patients with CD30-expressing CTCL who received prior systemic or radiation therapy. The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating a highly statistically significant improvement in the rate of objective response lasting at least four months (ORR4). The ORR4 was 56.3 percent in the ADCETRIS arm compared to 12.5 percent in the control arm. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Leukemia, Stem Cells, Transplantation / 12.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Felix Garzon, MD, PhD Senior Vice President Head of Clinical Development Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. New York, NY 10016 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What is goal of this Study? Response: Iomab-B (“Iomab”) was developed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“the Hutch”) in Seattle, Washington. The Hutch is a pioneer in the field of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) having 3 Nobel Prizes and doctors there performed some of the first transplants for leukemia patients. Iomab-B is intended to be an induction and conditioning agent prior to a BMT for patients with relapsed or refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) who are over the age of 55. BMT is the only potentially curative option for AML i.e. for this patient population that currently has a survival prognosis of 2-6 months which means that if Iomab-B is successful it would create a new market segment and offer patients a great clinical benefit and a hope for a cure. Actinium Pharmaceuticals licensed Iomab from the Hutch in 2012 and prior to us licensing Iomab, it had been studied in almost 300 patients in several phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in an array of blood cancers, both leukemias and lymphomas. Actinium is now the sponsor of a pivotal phase 3 trial for Iomab-B to study its use as an induction and conditioning agent prior to a bone marrow transplantation in patients with relapsed or refractory AML who are over the age of 55. This trial, which we have named the SIERRA (Study of Iomab-B in Elderly Relapsed or Refractory AML) trial, started at the end of June 2016 and we expect to enroll 150 patients by the end of 2017. The primary endpoint of the SIERRA trial is durable complete remissions (dCR) of 6 months. The study arm will consist of Iomab-B administration followed by a  bone marrow transplantation, patients will be evaluated for dCR at 6 months after engraftment, which will be assessed at day 28 or day 56. The control arm of the study will be physician’s choice of chemotherapy and if the patient is able to achieve a complete remission (CR) they may receive a BMT or some other form of treatment with curative intent. The study is designed to evaluate if the study arm of Iomab-B and a BMT can double the dCR rate of the control arm, which is designed to replicate the current treatment regimen prior to a bone marrow transplantation . (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Cancer, Cost of Health Care / 12.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wuyang Yang, M.D., M.S. Research Fellow Department of Neurosurgery Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD 21287 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The treatment for glioblastoma (GBM) patients involves a combined approach of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Despite advancement in the therapeutic approaches for GBM, differing socioeconomic status result in disparities in health-care access, and may superimpose a significant impact on survival of glioblastoma patients. Insurance status is an indirect indicator of overall socioeconomic status of a patient, and has been shown to correlate with survival of patients with malignant tumor in other parts of the body. We conducted the first study to determine a relationship between different types of insurance and survival of GBM patients. In our study of 13,665 cases of GBM patients, we found that non-Medicaid insured patients have a significant survival benefit over uninsured and even Medicaid insured patients. This is the first time a study describes this relationship in glioblastoma patients, and also the first to compare and quantify the likelihood of poor prognosis between different insurance categories. A difference in insurance coverage was also uncovered, and patients with insurance were more likely to be older, female, white, and married. In addition, we found that younger, female, married patients with smaller tumor size survive longer than other patients, which confirmed findings in existing literature. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cost of Health Care, Johns Hopkins / 11.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pedram Argani, M.D. Professor of Pathology and Principal consultant of the Breast Pathology Service Johns Hopkins Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most pathology laboratories, at the request if clinicians, automatically (reflexively) test needle core biopsies containing ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) for estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR). The logic for testing DCIS for these hormone receptors is that, for patients who have pure DCIS that is ER positive after surgical excision, treatment with estrogen blockers like Tamoxifen can decrease the recurrence of DCIS by a small amount, though overall survival (which is excellent) is not impacted. However, there are several factors which suggest that this reflex testing unnecessarily increases costs. • First, the ER/PR results on core needle biopsy do not impact the next step in therapy; namely, surgical excision. • Second, a subset of excisions performed for DCIS diagnosed on core needle biopsy will harbor invasive breast carcinoma, which would than need to be retested for ER/PR. • Third, because ER and PR labeling is often variable in DCIS, negative results for ER/PR in a small core biopsy specimen should logically be repeated in a surgical excision specimen with larger amounts of DICS to be sure that the result is truly negative. • Fourth, many patients with pure DCIS which is ER/PR positive after surgical excision will decline hormone therapy, so any ER/PR testing of their DCIS is unnecessary. • Fifth, PR status in DCIS has no independent value. We reviewed the Johns Hopkins experience with reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS on core needle biopsies over 2 years. We found that reflex core needle biopsy specimen testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately $140.00 per patient. We found that ER/PR testing in the excision impacted management in only approximately one third of cases, creating an unnecessary increased cost of approximately $440.00 per patient. Extrapolating the increased cost of reflex ER/PR testing of DCIS to the 60,000 new cases of DCIS in the United States each year, reflex core needle biopsy ER/PR testing unnecessarily increased costs by approximately 35 million dollars. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy, Johns Hopkins, Pancreatic / 11.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rajesh Kumar NV, Ph.D. Instructor of Oncology and Pathology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD, USA Current Affiliation: Senior Manager, Human Therapeutics Division, Intrexon Corporation, 20358 Seneca Meadows Parkway, Germantown, MD, USA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Pancreatic cancer remains as one of the most deadly malignancies in the world. Recently, a cremophor-free and albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel (nab-PTX, Abraxane) in combination with gemcitabine (GEM, Gemzar) is recently approved as a standard of care treatment option for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Majority of the newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients use the nab-PTX plus GEM regimen. Currently there are over 100 clinical trials at various stages with this regimen as a backbone to approved medicines or investigational agents. Since widely available cremophor-based paclitaxel (PTX, Taxol) is a key chemotherapy component for the treatment of several human malignancies and the treatment cost of nab-PTX is relatively higher than PTX, patients, clinicians, third party payers and regulatory agencies have a substantial interest in understanding whether these two drugs provide a similar level of therapeutic efficacy in pancreatic cancer. We utilized orthotopic models of human pancreatic cancer, which were shown to better recapitulate the histologic and metastatic characteristics of disease, and compared the anticancer efficacy, effect on tumor stroma modulation, metastatic spreading to distant organs and survival following GEM, PTX, nab-PTX and combinations of GEM plus PTX or nab-PTX. The preclinical trial used a total of 300 mice with established orthotopic pancreatic tumors. The tumors used for implantation were originally resected from the primary tumors of patients with moderately differentiated and poorly differentiated pancreatic cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Melanoma / 11.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ulrich Pfeffer, PhD Laboratory of Molecular Pathology Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino–IST Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genova, Italy MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The melanoma of the eye or uveal melanoma is well controlled by radiotherapy or surgery but very aggressively growing metastases often develop and therapy has only marginally improved in decades. On the other hand, uveal melanoma is probably the best studied cancer in absolute: we know its development in great detail and we can make very precise prognosis. An important piece of information that is lacking is the effect of a chromosomal alteration, amplification of a part of chromosome 6, that is often encountered in a subset of uveal melanomas that show features of bad prognosis but actually perform better. Many have guessed that the immune system or more generally, inflammation might protect uveal melanomas with this alteration from progression to metastasis. Therefore we have set out to analyze a candidate gene, the putative immunomodulatory BTNL2, that is located on chromosome 6. We found highly variable expression of this gene in uveal melanoma samples where it is expressed by tumor cells and by infiltrating immune cells. The type of infiltrate is strongly associated with the risk to develop metastases. We also analyzed genetic variants of BTNL2 in 209 patients but we could not find a significant association with uveal melanoma risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care / 08.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sarah C. Markt, ScD, MPH Research Associate Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health | Department of Epidemiology Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Age is associated with insurance status, with the greatest proportion of uninsured between the ages of 20 to 34 years. For testicular cancer this is important because the median age of diagnosis is 33 years and the majority of the cases are diagnosed between then ages of 20 and 44 years. Previous studies have shown that people with cancer who are uninsured are more likely to present with worse disease, less likely to receive treatment, and are more likely to die of their disease, compared with those who have private insurance. Furthermore, the associations between Medicaid coverage and cancer outcomes have been conflicting. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors / 06.08.2016

Novocure is the developer of Optune, which uses Tumor Treating Fields to treat cancer. Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFields, are low intensity, alternating electric fields within the intermediate frequency range. TTFields disrupt cell division through physical interactions with key molecules during mitosis. This non-invasive treatment targets solid tumors. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has recommended Optune as a standard treatment option for newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) in its Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Central Nervous System Cancers. NCCN panel members designated Optune together with temozolomide as a category 2A treatment for newly diagnosed GBM for patients with good performance status, indicating uniform consensus among panel members to add Optune to the guidelines for newly diagnosed GBM. Optune has been included in the NCCN Guidelines as a category 2B treatment option for recurrent GBM since 2015. The recommendation follows the publication of Novocure’s EF-14 phase 3 pivotal trial data in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December, 2015. The EF-14 phase 3 pivotal trial demonstrated that adding TTFields to maintenance temozolomide chemotherapy significantly prolonged progression-free and overall survival in newly diagnosed GBM. Glioblastoma, also called glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is a type of primary brain cancer. Approximately 12,500 GBM tumors, or tumors that may transform into GBM, are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. GBM is the most common type of primary brain cancer in adults. It is more likely to appear in older adults and to affect men than women. GBM is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with patients typically not surviving beyond 15 months after diagnosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Biomarkers, Lung Cancer, Science / 05.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Elena Levantini, PhD Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Instructor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School Research Associate, Hematology-Oncology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the world, accounting for 30% of tumor-related deaths. Like many solid tumours, lung cancer is very heterogeneous (consisting of cancer cells which behave and respond differently) and hence there is currently no single efficient drug which is able to treat all patients. Levantini and colleagues previously showed that non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumor cells frequently express too little or none of a transcription factor called C/EBPα, a protein that regulates gene expression and cell proliferation in lung tissues. It’s also known to play a role in a form of leukemia, as well as liver cancer, squamous cell skin carcinomas, squamous cell cancers of the head and neck and other cancers. In their previous work, the scientists suspected that C/EBPα may act as a tumor suppressant in normal cells, but the mechanism by which its absence promoted lung cancer tumors remained unclear. Dr. Levantini went on to develop a mouse model in which deleting C/EBPα resulted in NSCLC. Analysis of this model led to the discovery that C/EBPα suppressed lung tumor formation by inhibiting the expression of BMI1. Dr Levantini then demonstrated that reducing the levels of BMI1 in her mouse model by genetic means, or by using a drug reducing expression of BMI1, led to inhibition of tumor formation. This study has established an important link between C/EBPα and BMI1 for the first time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Erectile Dysfunction, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 05.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Juzar Jamnagerwalla, MD Division of Urology, Department of Surgery Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In mouse models phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (PDE-5i) have been shown to have anti-neoplastic activity, and given the routine use of PDE-5i for treatment of erectile dysfunction after prostatectomy several studies have examined the association between PDE-5i use and biochemical recurrence after treatment for prostate cancer with mixed findings. Only one previous study has explored the association between risk of prostate cancer, finding that men on PDE-5i had a lower chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Given this, we tested the relationship between PDE-5i use and risk of prostate cancer in 6,501 men in the REDUCE study finding that PDE-5i use was not associated with prostate cancer diagnosis. On secondary analysis, among North American men who had a much higher baseline use of PDE-5i use, there was an inverse association between PDE-5i use and prostate cancer diagnosis, which approached, but did not reach statistical significance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Genetic Research, Leukemia, Personalized Medicine / 05.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Laura Eadie PhD Post Doctoral Researcher Affiliate Lecturer Discipline of Medicine University of Adelaide Summary: Researchers based at SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) in Adelaide, South Australia have recently demonstrated the significance of early increases in the expression of ABCB1 in predicting long-term response to imatinib therapy. Lead researcher, Dr Laura Eadie, has recently had these findings published in the journal Leukemia and says that she hopes “the evidence provided by the study could be used to inform better patient treatment in the future”. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: ABCB1 (p-glycoprotein) is a membrane transporter known to be involved in the efflux of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Overexpression of ABCB1 has also been demonstrated to cause resistance to the TKIs imatinib, nilotinib and dasatinib in vitro. Although studied previously in CML patients, the predictive value of ABCB1 in determining a patient’s long-term response to imatinib had not been realized ... until now. Previous studies investigating ABCB1 as a predictive biomarker focused on expression levels of ABCB1 at one time point in isolation. For our study, we have measured the levels of ABCB1 at two separate time points specified in the TIDEL II trial protocol: day 1 (prior to the start of imatinib therapy) and day 22 (three weeks on imatinib). We then calculated the fold rise in ABCB1 expression levels at day 22 compared with day 1 and grouped patients about the median into high and low fold rise. When we compared molecular outcomes for patients within these two ABCB1 expression groups we noticed a striking difference in outcome to imatinib therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Environmental Risks, Lung Cancer / 05.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sandrah P. Eckel PhD Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine USC Division of Biostatistics MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Lung cancer is the most common cancer and it is responsible for 1 in 5 cancer deaths. There is a growing body of evidence that ambient air pollution exposures are linked to lung cancer incidence and mortality, but the effect on survival of exposures after diagnosis are unclear. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified ambient air pollution as carcinogenic. We reasoned that if air pollution drives lung cancer development, it could impact lung cancer progression—and shorten survival—through the same biological pathways. We used 20 years of data on more than 300,000 newly diagnosed lung cancer cases from the California Cancer Registry and calculated average air pollution exposures at each patient’s residence from the date of diagnosis through the end of follow-up. We found that patients living in areas with higher pollution levels had shorter survival, particularly for patients who were diagnosed at an early stage and for those diagnosed at an early stage with adenocarcinoma histology. Interestingly, adenocarcinoma is the most common histological subtype of lung cancer in non-smokers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Prostate Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vitamin D / 02.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gerard (Gary) Hardiman, Ph.D Professor, Department of Medicine Professor Department of Public Health Sciences Bioinformatics Director Center for Genomic Medicine Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC 29425 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are significant racial disparities in prostate cancer outcomes. The disease disproportionately affects African American men in terms of incidence, morbidity, and mortality, even after adjustment for stage. African American men have a 2- to 3-times increased risk of developing prostate cancer and have a greater mortality rate compared to European American men. We carried out a prospective clinical study aimed at examining the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation at 4,000 IU per day for two months in male subjects who selected surgical removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) as a definitive treatment for their prostate cancer. The primary goal of this study was to examine molecular differences in gene expression patterns relevant to prostate cancer disparities between African American and European American men, and investigate the global effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on the prostate transcriptome. We carried out genome wide expression profiling experiments using high throughput (HT) RNA sequencing. Transcriptional profiles of each of the patient’s tissue samples were generated and systems level analyses were performed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, MRI, PLoS / 02.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Barbara Bennani-Baiti, MD, MS and Pascal Andreas Baltzer MD Departement of Biomedical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine Medical University of Vienna Vienna, Austria MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Breast MRI ist the most sensitive method for detecting breast cancer. It is currently routinely used in the screening of high-risk patients and as an additional imaging technique in case of inconclusive conventional imaging (mammography and ultrasound). Besides its high sensitivity for detection of breast cancer, breast MRI further provides functional information about normal breast tissue perfusion. Background parenchymal enhancement (BPE) reflects the perfusion or vascularization of the breast and is generally higher in active breast tissue. High-risk patients harbor breast tissue that is at an elevated risk for breast cancer due to several factors (i.e. mutations such as BRCA1, high familial risk, previous radiation of the chest wall, etc.). After a connection between increased breast cancer odds and elevated BPE has been shown in high-risk patients, the community has since assumed that an elevated background enhancement at breast MRI equates an elevated risk for breast cancer for all women. We have shown that this not true for women that are not considered high-risk. In fact, the only risk factor for women undergoing breast MRI without additional risk factors is age. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, Lancet, Lymphoma / 29.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jin-Xin BEI, Ph.D. Principal Investigator State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center Guangzhou China MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Natural killer T-cell lymphoma (NKTCL) is a rare and aggressive malignancy with remarkable prevalence in Asian and Latin populations, suggesting that the heritable components contribute to the disease risk. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection has been thought to be major factor associated with NKTCL, and EBV DNA load in plasma has been applied in clinical managements, including diagnosis, treatment response and prognosis. However, the genetic component leading to NKTCL predisposition has not been identified. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Melanoma / 29.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Michael Pignone MD MPH Task Force member Professor of medicine and Inaugural Chair Department of Internal Medicine Dell Medical School The University of Texas at Austin. Editor’s note: Dr. Pignone discusses the recent US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement on the effectiveness of screening for skin cancer with a clinical visual skin examination MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this recommendation? How Does the USPSTF Grade Preventive Services? Response: The Task Force’s primary concern is the health of Americans, and all of our recommendations are based on an assessment of the evidence of both the benefits and harms of a particular preventive service. For this recommendation statement, we looked at all available evidence on a visual skin exam, including studies of exams conducted by both primary care clinicians and dermatologists, to see how effective this exam was at preventing death from skin cancer. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to know with certainty whether or not a visual skin exam leads to a reduction in death from skin cancer, which resulted in the Task Force issuing an I statement. The Task Force encourages more research that could provide future evidence on the effectiveness of visual screening to prevent death from skin cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Technology / 29.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren P. Wallner, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Online communication tools like email and social media could be used to support patients through their cancer treatment decision making and ongoing care. Yet, we know very little about whether and how newly diagnosed cancer patients use these tools and whether using online communication influences patients appraisals of their treatment decision making process. We surveyed 2,460 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer as part of the iCanCare Study about their use of email, texting, social media and web-based support groups following their diagnosis. Our findings suggest that women who more often used these online communication tools deliberated more about their surgical treatment and were more satisfied with their treatment decision. However, the use of social media in this diverse population was lower than we expected (12%), and was less common in older women, those with less education, and Black and Latina women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pancreatic / 27.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr-Dewi-VernereyDewi Vernerey PhD Epidemiologist / Statistician Methodology and quality of Life in oncology unit University Hospital of Besançon MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The management of locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) patients is still controversial. Better discrimination for the prediction of overall survival (OS) at diagnosis is needed. Currently, there is a lack of a staging system and an absence of a consensus regarding patient-specific risk profile for OS that can lead to confusion about the development of research strategy and to potentially inappropriate management of patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Outcomes & Safety, Prostate Cancer, Surgical Research / 27.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof Robert A Gardiner AM The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Herston Brisbane,Australia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We wanted to determine whether one approach gave better results than the other at 12 weeks and 24 months after surgery with respect to the quality of life outcomes of urinary, sexual and bowel function and return to usual activities as well as oncological outcomes. There was no significant statistical difference between the robotic and open surgical approach for these parameters at the early time-point of 12 weeks follow-up. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy, Nature, Technology / 27.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Natalie Artzi PhD Assistant Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School Associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We have shown in the last years that dendrimer:dextran adhesive hydrogels represent a platform with ahuge potential for delivery. In 2015, we were able to report that these gels doped with smart nanoparticles could sense and differentially react with the disease microenvironment (e.g. can sense the tissue microenvironment by detecting the expression of specific genes related with multidrug resistance, Conde et al. PNAS 2015), potentiating targeted drug release and uptake in certain disease settings. Later, these hydrogels prove to be incredibly useful for miRNA delivery by using the self-assembly of a triple-helix forming miRNA structure that lead to nearly 90% levels of tumor shrinkage two weeks post-gel implantation (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016a). Here, we took a step-forward, and used these hydrogels to develop a prophylactic patch for gene, chemo and phototherapy in a triple-combination approach to achieve complete tumor resection when applied to non-resected tumors and to the absence of tumor recurrence when applied following tumor resection (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016b). This study also identifies the molecular and genetic pathways triggered in response to the three therapeutic modalities − photo-, gene- and chemo-therapy − by tumor gene expression profiling in treated mice. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Outcomes & Safety / 22.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Claire O’Hanlon, MPP Pardee RAND Graduate School and Courtney Gidengil, MD, MPH RAND Corporation MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Providing high-quality health care is central to our nation’s commitment to veterans, but the quality of care provided in Veterans Affairs health care system (VA) is a longstanding area of concern. Part of the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACAA) mandated an independent assessment of VA’s health care capabilities and resources of the Veterans Health Administration, including a comprehensive evaluation of health care quality. As part of this evaluation we conducted this systematic review of journal articles that compare quality of care at the VA to other settings as an update to a 2009 review on this subject. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Radiology, Thyroid / 22.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Megan Haymart, M.D. Assistant Professor Institute for HealthCare Policy and Innovation University of Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Over the past three decades the incidence of thyroid cancer has risen. The majority of this rise in incidence is secondary to an increase in low-risk disease. In the setting of this rise in low-risk thyroid cancer, our team noted that over time there was a dramatic rise in imaging after initial treatment for thyroid cancer. We subsequently wanted to understand the implications of this increase in imaging. Does more imaging equal improved outcomes? In this study published in BMJ, we found that this marked rise in imaging after primary treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer was associated with increased treatment for recurrence but with the exception of radioiodine scans in presumed iodine-avid disease, no clear improvement in disease specific survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Biomarkers, Cost of Health Care, Medical Imaging, Ovarian Cancer / 22.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katharine Mckinley Esselen, M.D. Instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Brigham and Womens Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is no consensus on how to follow a patient in remission from ovarian cancer in order to detect recurrent disease. However, a 2009 randomized clinical trial demonstrated that using CA-125 blood tests for routine surveillance in ovarian cancer increases the use of chemotherapy and decreases patient’s quality of life without improving survival compared with clinical observation. Published guidelines categorize CA-125 tests as optional and discourage the use of radiographic imaging for routine surveillance. Thus, this study aims to examine the use of CA-125 tests and CT scans at 6 Cancer Centers and to estimate the economic impact of this surveillance testing for ovarian cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research / 22.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Hunter R. Underhill MD, PhD Department of Pediatrics, Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Radiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah Department of Radiology and Department of Neurological Surgery University of Washington Seattle, Washington MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: When cells undergo cell death (i.e., apoptosis) the DNA has the potential to enter the circulation. This DNA is not contained within a cellular membrane and is known as "cell-free DNA." This is a naturally occurring process. The same process also occurs when malignant tumors grow and evolve. The deposition of cell-free DNA derived from tumors is known as "circulating tumor DNA." Analysis of circulating tumor DNA holds the promise of detecting, diagnosing, and monitoring response to therapy of cancers through a simple blood draw - the "liquid biopsy." The challenge has been isolation of circulating tumor DNA from the background of the naturally occurring cell-free DNA. This has been particularly difficult in non-metastatic solid tumors as circulating tumor DNA has been heretofore indistinguishable from normal cell-free DNA except for the occurrence of mutant alleles that commonly occur at a frequency below detection limits - the proverbial needle in a haystack. Our study found a distinct size difference in DNA fragment length between circulating tumor DNA and cell-free DNA. Specifically, circulating tumor DNA is about 20-50 base pairs shorter than cell-free DNA originating from healthy cells. We were subsequently able to exploit this difference in size to enrich for circulating tumor DNA - essentially removing a large portion of the haystack that does not contain the needle to simplify the search. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Fertility, JAMA, OBGYNE / 20.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alexandra W. van den Belt-Dusebout, PhD Department of Epidemiology The Netherlands Cancer Institute The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is commonly used, but because of the relatively recent use of IVF, long-term breast cancer risk is not yet known. Female sex hormones have been shown to affect breast cancer risk. Because sex hormone levels during hormonal stimulation of the ovaries for IVF are up to 10 times higher than in natural cycles, IVF was expected to increase breast cancer risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Prostate Cancer / 20.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Adam Weiner MD Urology Resident Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response: There has been a lot of controversy over the past decade regarding whether PSA screening for prostate cancer prevents death from prostate cancer. Accordingly, the US preventive services task force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA screening for older men in 2008 and for all men in 2012. This was mainly based on information from a large clinical trial in the US. Recently it was discovered that men in the non-screening part of this trial received even more PSA screens than men in the screening part of the trial, suggesting the results were likely diluted. In a large European trial, PSA screening was shown to reduce both death from prostate cancer and the number of men diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, an incurable and deadly form of prostate cancer. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Mammograms / 19.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr-Brian-SpragueBrian L. Sprague, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Surgery Assistant Professor Department of Biochemistry University of Vermont MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Having dense breasts makes mammography more difficult to interpret and is also an independent risk factor for developing breast cancer. About half of all U.S. states require that information on the density of a woman's breasts be made available to her after a mammogram, and in some states the report must also inform such women that there are additional tests, such as breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), that may detect breast cancer in women who have dense breasts and normal mammograms. Such laws are controversial because of the large number of women affected (around 40% of women aged 40-74) and due to a lack of consensus in the medical community regarding the benefits and harms of supplemental screening strategies. An additional concern is the subjective nature of breast density assessment, which is based on the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) that provides four possible categories for breast density. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Melanoma / 19.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adam Berger, MD, FACS Vice Chair for Clinical Research Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia , PA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Dr. Berger: Perhaps the most important point for consideration in the adoption of a new diagnostic test is: “Will this test impact patient management decisions for the patient that is sitting in front of me?” If the answer is no, then I would not order the test. If this answer is yes, the next question is how does it alter or impact patient management. The DecisionDx-Melanoma test is a 31-gene expression profile test that has been shown to accurately separate or stratify patients with cutaneous melanoma identified to be at high risk of metastasis (“Class 2” test result) from those who are at an extremely low risk of disease progression (“Class 1” test result). In two peer-reviewed publications from 2015 and three studies presented between April and June of this year, the DecisionDx-Melanoma test showed a Negative Predictive Value of 98% or 99% for death from melanoma or disease free-survival in patients with Stage I and II melanoma. (more…)