Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JNCI / 21.09.2015

Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD Biostatistics Branch, Senior Investigator Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive Bethesda, MD 20892 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD Biostatistics Branch, Senior Investigator Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive Bethesda, MD 20892 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rosenberg: It has been previously reported that breast cancer burden (number of new cases diagnosed in a year) is expected to rise in the future, mostly due to the aging of the female population in the US. Also, it has been established that the age-adjusted breast cancer incidence rates (cases per 100,000 women per year) are increasing for invasive ER-positive cancers overall and decreasing for ER-negative cancers overall. When taken together, these two trends tend balance each other out, resulting in a somewhat flat breast cancer incidence rate overall. Though the overall trends for invasive breast cancer have been previously reported, this study uses a more refined forecasting method by including recent birth cohort patterns to forecast breast cancer to 2030 by age group, estrogen receptor-status, and invasive vs. in situ tumors. New in this report are the findings for in situ tumors and the more granular break down by age, ER status, and invasive vs. in situ tumors both for rate and burden (number of cases). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care / 21.09.2015

Steven L. D'Amato, BSPharm, BCOP President and Executive Director New England Cancer Specialists Scarborough, Maine Association of Community Cancer Cente MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Steven L. D'Amato, BSPharm, BCOP President and Executive Director New England Cancer Specialists Scarborough, Maine Association of Community Cancer Centers Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Trends in Cancer Programs annual survey, which began in 2009, provides key insight into nationwide developments in the business of cancer care. It’s a joint project between the Association of Community Cancer Centers and Lilly Oncology. The goals of the survey are to:
  • Provide ACCC with information to help guide its education and advocacy mission
  • Assist member organizations to understand nationwide developments in the business of cancer care
  • Assist members in evaluating their own cancer program’s performance relative to similar organizations through a consistent and meaningful benchmark.
This year’s key findings show that patient-centered services – like nurse navigation, psychological counseling, survivorship care and palliative care – are continuing to grow in U.S. cancer programs. However, the biggest challenge facing cancer centers is reimbursement for these types of services. Additionally, mirroring what we are seeing in the industry in general, measurement is becoming more and more important. More cancer programs are now using quality metrics to show payers the value of care provided. More information about our findings can be viewed here: http://www.accc-cancer.org/surveys/pdf/Trends-in-Cancer-Programs-2015.pdf. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Genetic Research, Journal Clinical Oncology, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 20.09.2015

Aditya Bardia MBBS, MPH Attending Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02114 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Aditya Bardia MBBS, MPH Attending Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02114   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Multiple studies have consistently shown that African American women with cancer, including breast cancer, have worse outcomes than Caucasian counterparts. While socioeconomic issues, including access to care plays an important role, the contribution of tumor biology has been less clear. In this study, utilizing exome sequencing data, we linked the racial distribution of primary breast cancer with tumor genotypic traits, including somatic mutations, gene-expression profiles and intra-tumor heterogeneity. We observed that in addition to having a higher prevalence of triple negative breast cancer than Caucasian women (something that has been documented in the literature), African American women had a significantly higher prevalence of TP53 mutations, TNBC basal-like 1 and mesenchymal stem-like tumors, and intratumor genetic heterogeneity, and all of which suggest more aggressive tumor biology, suggesting that differences in tumor genomic profile contribute, at least partly, to the known racial disparity in survival between African Americans and Caucasians breast cancer patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, JAMA, Prostate Cancer / 18.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sindy Magnan, MD, MSc, FRCPC Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of Medicine CHU de Québe Université Laval Québec City, Québec, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Magnan : Androgen deprivation is the standard therapy for patients with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer. Intermittent administration of this treatment could offer several advantages over the standard continuous administration by delaying the development of castration-resistant disease and by reducing the drugs’ adverse effects. However, this mode of administration remains controversial. We thus conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to compare the effectiveness and tolerability of intermittent versus continuous androgen deprivation. Intermittent therapy was non-inferior to continuous therapy with respect to overall survival. No major difference in global quality of life was observed between the two interventions, but some quality-of-life criteria, mainly in relation with physical and sexual functioning, seemed improved with intermittent therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Mayo Clinic, Melanoma / 17.09.2015

Dr. Roxana S. Dronca, M.D Assistant Professor of Oncology Assistant Program Director of Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Rochester, Minnesota MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Roxana S. Dronca, M.D Assistant Professor of Oncology Assistant Program Director of Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Rochester, Minnesota Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dronca: We previously showed that Bim (BCL-2-interacting mediator of cell death ) is a downstream signaling molecule of PD-1 pathway reflecting the degree of PD-1 interaction with its ligand PD-L1 (unpublished data). In the current study we found that patients who experienced clinical benefit (CR/PR/SD) after 4 cycles of anti-PD1 therapy had higher frequency of Bim+ PD-1+ T-killer cells in the peripheral blood at baseline compared to patients with radiographic progression, likely reflecting an abundant PD-1 interaction with its tumor-associated ligand PD-L1 (B7-H1). In addition, the frequencies of Bim+ PD-1+ CD8 T cells decreased significantly after the first 3 months of treatment in responders compared to nonresponders, indicating tumor regression and therefore less PD-1 engagement with tumor-associated PD-L1. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Heart Disease / 17.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Andrew Smyth PhD Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences Hamilton, ON, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr Smyth: Alcohol consumption is proposed to be the third most important modifiable risk factor for death and disability. However, alcohol consumption has been associated with both benefits and harms and previous studies were mostly done in high income countries. In this study we explored the associations between alcohol consumption and clinical outcomes in a prospective cohort study of 12 countries from different economic levels. Over an average of four years of follow-up of almost 115,000 participants, we found that although current drinking was associated with a 24% reduction in risk of heart attack, there was no reduction in the risk of death or stroke, and there was a 51% increase in risk of alcohol-related cancers (mouth, oesophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, breast, ovary and head and neck) and a 29% increase in risk of injury. For a combination of all outcomes, we found no overall benefit from current alcohol use. We also found differences between countries of different income levels: for higher income countries current drinking was associated with a 16% reduction in risk of the combined outcome, but in lower income countries there was a 38% increase in risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Leukemia, Lymphoma / 17.09.2015

Angelica Loskog, PhD Professor of Immunotherapy (adjunct) Dept of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology Uppsala University Uppsala Sweden MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Angelica Loskog, PhD Professor of Immunotherapy (adjunct) Dept of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology Uppsala University Uppsala Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Loskog: CAR T cells have shown remarkable effect in patients with B cell malignancy in the US using 2nd generation CAR T cells. Acute leukemia (ALL) seems easier to treat than lymphomas and one of the reasons may be difficulties for CAR T cells to penetrate a solid lesion or due to a higher local presence of immunosuppressive cells within a lesion. As one of the first centers outside US we are evaluating 3rd generation CAR T cells in both lymphoma and ALL aiming to compare the responses and investigating biological reasons for the different responses. So far we have treated 11 patients and 6 of them had initial complete responses. Unfortunately, some progressed later. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Case Western, Colon Cancer, Genetic Research / 16.09.2015

Ahmad M. Khalil, PhD Department of Genetics School of Medicine Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4955 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ahmad M. Khalil, PhD Department of Genetics School of Medicine Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4955 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Khalil: DNA in human cells is modified chemically by methylation. The process of DNA methylation plays important roles in protecting human DNA and ensures proper gene expression. In cancer cells, the process of DNA methylation becomes deregulated, however, the mechanisms of how this occurs are not known. In our study, we have uncovered a novel mechanism on how colon cancer cells change their DNA methylation, and consequently, become more tumorigenic. We specifically identified a long non-coding RNA that interacts with and regulates the enzyme that modifies DNA with methylation - the enzyme is called DNMT1. This lncRNA become suppressed in colon tumors, which we believe is a key step in loss of DNA methylation in colon cancer cells. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Pain Research, Pediatrics / 16.09.2015

Prof. Dr. Holger Lode Clinical Immunology, Pediatrics University of Greifswald, Greifswald MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Dr. Holger Lode Clinical Immunology, Pediatrics University of Greifswald, Greifswald Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Neuroblastoma is a cancer in childhood with one of the highest death rates. Standard treatment is already very intensive. It includes chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, high dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation. However, the progress made in improving survival rates is still poor. The use of an immune-modulatory treatment with a neuroblastoma specific monoclonal antibody ch14.18 (100 mg/m2 /cycle) in combination with cytokines and 13cis retinoic acid (13 cis RA) has shown benefit for patients with this disease [1]. This antibody targets ganglioside GD2 abundantly expressed on neuroblastoma with limited to no expression on healthy tissue. Low expression of GD2 on pain fibers is associated with an on-target side effect of the treatment, which is the induction of neuropathic pain. Approval of ch14.18 (dinutuximab) for the treatment of children with neuroblastoma has been provided by FDA. In Europe, ch14.18 was not available for a long time. There were several reasons why the antibody in the US could not be given to children in Europe. Therefore a new development of this side of the Atlantic was initiated following the remanufacturing of the antibody in CHO cells [2] (dinutuximab beta) and was made available within clinical trials of the SIOPEN group. The SIOPEN group is a network of leading European pediatric oncology centers to improve outcome for children with neuroblastoma (http://www.siopen.org), similar to the COG (children`s oncology group in the USA; https://www.childrensoncologygroup.org). Following the recloning procedure, ch14.18/CHO was first evaluated for safety in a Phase I study [3], which confirmed the tolerability and showed activity at a dosing regimen of 20 mg/m2 given by 8 hour infusions on 5 consecutive days. Dinutuximab beta is further developed by Apeiron Biologics. The current way to apply 100 mg /m2 / cycle is by 4 short term infusions of 25 mg/m2/day each over 8 hrs on 4 consecutive days. The entire treatment consists of 5 cycles. The drawback is that STI is associated with a high amount of intravenous morphine required to make this treatment tolerable for patients. Also the rate of inflammatory side effects observed is substantial. Clinical observation indicates that if patients treated by STI suffer from pain despite analgesic treatments, a decrease in speed of antibody infusion improves this on target toxicity. Therefore, we hypothesized that significant prolongation of the time of antibody infusion will improve tolerability of that treatment, but at the same time maintains clinical activity and efficacy in high risk neuroblastoma patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Mediterranean Diet / 14.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Miguel Ángel Martínez González MD Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid IdiSNA, Navarra Institute for Health Research, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Several observational studies and mechanistic experiments in animal models and cell lines suggested that the Mediterranean diet and minor components of extra-virgin olive oil may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. The PREDIMED study was a randomized primary prevention trial for cardiovascular disease among high risk patients initially free of cardiovascular disease. The participants were 7,447 men and women (60-80 years old). We have used the data from women in this trial to assess the effect of the randomized diets on the occurrence of new cases of breast cancer. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Among 4,152 women randomized to 3 different diets (1.- Mediterranean diet with free provision of extra-virgin​ olive oil; 2.- Mediterranean diet with free provision of tree nuts; and 3.- Advice to follow a low-fat diet, i.e. control group) We confirmed 35 new cases of invasive breast cancer during 4.8 of follow-up. A statistically significant 68% relative reduction in the risk of breast cancer in the Mediterranean diet with free provision of extra-virgin​ olive oil versus the control group was found. There was a significant trend of risk reduction associated with progressive increments in the intake of extra-virgin olive oil during the trial (with repeated yearly measurements of diet) when the 3 groups were assessed together. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pancreatic, Stem Cells / 14.09.2015

Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer Barts Cancer Institute - a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence Queen Mary University of London Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer Barts Cancer Institute - a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence Queen Mary University of London Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sancho: Cancer cells commonly rely on glycolysis, the type of metabolism that does not use oxygen to generate their energy however, we have now found that not all cancer cells are alike when it comes to metabolism. Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells (PancCSCs) can make use of a more efficient form of metabolism, called oxidative phosphorylation or OXPHOS, which does use oxygen. OXPHOS uses a part of the cell called mitochondria and it is this which can be targeted with anti-diabetic drug, metformin. Some PancSCs are however able to escape this treatment by being much more flexible in their metabolism, leading to a recurrence of the cancer, but we also found a way to prevent such resistance and force all Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells to keep using OXPHOS. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mayo Clinic, Thyroid / 09.09.2015

Juan P. Brito Campana, MBBS Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine Mayo Clinic , Rochester, Minnesota MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Juan P. Brito Campana, MBBS Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition, Department of Medicine Mayo Clinic , Rochester, Minnesota Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Brito: The occurrence of thyroid cancer is increasing faster than any other cancer in the United States. If this trend continues, thyroid cancer will become the third most frequent cancer in women in the next five years. Despite this increase, death related to thyroid cancer has not increased. The reason is that the majority of the new cases of thyroid cancer are small papillary thyroid cancers. These cancers are the most benign variant of thyroid cancer and most patients diagnosed with this type of cancer never experience any symptoms or other negative effects. To better understand how these new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed we studied every case of thyroid cancer diagnosed in Olmsted, County, MN from 1935-2012. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Brito: We found that almost half the new cases of thyroid cancer were found among people who did not have any symptoms related to thyroid cancer. The most frequent reasons for identifying these patients presenting were review of thyroid tissue removed for benign conditions; incidental discovery during an imaging test ; and investigations of patients with symptoms or palpable nodules that were clearly not associated with thyroid cancer, but triggered the use of imaging tests of the neck. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, UCSF / 04.09.2015

Dr. Elisa Long PhD Assistant professor UCLA Anderson School of Management MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Elisa Long PhD Assistant professor UCLA Anderson School of Management Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Long: The study was motivated by my own diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer last year, at the age of 33. I also learned that I carried a BRCA1 mutation, despite no family history. As a patient, I would have benefitted tremendously from a universal BRCA screening program, but as a health services researcher, I had to ask if indiscriminate screening of all women in the U.S.—where only 1 in 400 carry a mutation—is a good use of resources. Using a previously published decision analytic model, we calculated the cost-effectiveness of universal BRCA screening. We find that compared to screening based on family history, it is not cost-effective, assuming a test price of $2,000 to $4,000. However, as the price of genetic testing continues to fall, as indicated by the $249 test now offered by Color Genomics, universal BRCA screening becomes much more affordable. Additionally, population screening of Ashkenazi Jewish women—among whom 1 in 50 carry a BRCA mutation—is very cost-effective, because the chances of finding a carrier are much higher. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Genetic Research, Melanoma / 04.09.2015

Rutao Cui M. D., Ph. D. Vice Chair, Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutic Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Dermatology, and Member The Cancer Center Director The Laboratory of Skin Cancer Therapeutics (LSCT) Boston University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rutao Cui M. D., Ph. D. Vice Chair, Professor Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutic Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Dermatology, and Member The Cancer Center Director The Laboratory of Skin Cancer Therapeutics (LSCT) Boston University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cui: Recent studies have revealed that the APC/CCdh1 E3 ubiquitin ligase may function as a tumor suppressor. However, the tumor suppressor role of APC/CCdh1 in melanoma remains largely unclear. Here, we report sporadic mutations occurring in APC components, including Cdh1 in human melanoma samples and that loss of APC/CCdh1 may predispose human melanomagenesis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 03.09.2015

Simone Ribero, M.D., Ph.D. University of Turin Department of Medical Sciences Turin Italy and King’s College London Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology St Thomas’ campus London, UK MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Simone Ribero, M.D., Ph.D. University of Turin Department of Medical Sciences Turin Italy and King’s College London Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology St Thomas’ campus London, UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The histologic regression is a discussed feature and its prognostic role is debated in literature. Our group has previously described a favorable prognostic role of histological regression in stage I-II melanoma patients. Some clinicians still perform Sentinel Lymph Node biopsy on the basis of regression in thin melanoma considering this feature as able to underestimate Breslow Thickness. In this study we described in a metanalyses with more then 10000 melanoma patients that histological regression is inversely associated with Sentinel Lymph Node positivity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research / 03.09.2015

Kenneth R. Shroyer, MD, PhD The Marvin Kuschner Professor and Chair Department of Pathology Stony Brook Medicine Stony Brook, NY MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth R. Shroyer, MD, PhD The Marvin Kuschner Professor and Chair Department of Pathology Stony Brook Medicine Stony Brook, NY   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shroyer: Patients that appear to have the same type of cancer often respond very differently to treatment; while some patients appear to go into long-term regression or are cured, others follow a rapid downhill course and ultimately die of their disease. This suggests that there are fundamental differences between tumors at the biologic level that are not detected by current clinical measures. In this study, we report the unexpected finding that cancer patients that have high levels of a protein called Keratin 17 (K17) have decreased long-term survival when compared to patients that express little to no K17 in their tumors. In addition, we found that K17 enters the nucleus of tumor cells to mediate the degradation of the master regulator of cell division and tumor growth key tumor suppressor protein, p27. Furthermore, we identified that K17 increases the resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapy. These are critical findings because this is the first report that a keratin is an oncoprotein that can enter the nucleus to promote the development of cancer and resistance to chemotherapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Melatonin, Sleep Disorders / 03.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Charlotte Lund Rasmussen Research Unit, Department of Palliative Medicine Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We see that patients with advanced cancer often suffer from fatigue, pain, depression, insomnia and other symptoms, which can have a profound impact on quality of life. Melatonin is a neurohormone and its secretion is closely tied to the circadian rhythm making it a regulator of the sleep-cycle. Studies have shown that cancer patients have lower levels of melatonin than healthy controls, which may contribute to their fatigue and lowered quality of life. Furthermore, previous studies have found a possible effect of melatonin in cancer therapy, and non-clinical trials have shown melatonin to inhibit cell division in tumors. To our knowledge, no trials to date have investigated the effects of melatonin on fatigue. Given the role of melatonin in the sleep cycle, the lowered levels of melatonin noted among cancer patients, and results from previous studies, we wanted to investigate melatonin’s effect on fatigue among patients with advanced cancer. The primary objective of our study was to determine whether oral melatonin administered at night would reduce physical fatigue in patients with advanced cancer who were being treated in a palliative care facility. The effect of melatonin on other cancer-related symptoms including mental fatigue, insomnia, pain, emotional function, loss of appetite, and overall QoL were also investigated. In this trial we tested a dose of 20 mg of melatonin taken orally at night. However, melatonin did not improve physical fatigue in patients with advanced cancer. Furthermore, we were unable to identify improvements in any other cancer-related symptoms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research / 02.09.2015

Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, College of Medicine Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy Department of Internal Medicine Division of Medical Oncology Wexner Medical Center The Ohio State University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sameek Roychowdhury, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, College of Medicine Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology College of Pharmacy Department of Internal Medicine Division of Medical Oncology Wexner Medical Center The Ohio State University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Roychowdhury: Precision cancer medicine is a new paradigm to match patients to therapies based on the molecular alterations in their cancer. Novel genomic testing of cancer using next generation sequencing can reveal numerous mutations for each patient across many genes and types of cancer, and this requires detailed time-intensive interpretation. Driver mutations can confer a selective growth or survival advantage to cancer cells, while passenger mutations do not. Cancer Driver Log, or CanDL, is meant to aid interpretation of mutations by providing the latest literature evidence for individual driver mutations, and thereby aiding pathologists, lab directors, and oncologists in interpreting mutations found in their patient’s cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Genetic Research / 02.09.2015

Roger Packer MD Senior Vice President Center for Neuroscience & Behavioral Health Children's National Medical Center Washington, D.C. Medicalresearch.com Interview with: Roger Packer MD Senior Vice President Center for Neuroscience & Behavioral Health Children's National Medical Center Washington, D.C.   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Packer: The background is that medulloblastoma is the most common childhood malignant brain tumor. It carries with it a variable prognosis. For some subsets of patients, with current available treatment which includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, we see survival rates as high as 90% (and often cures) 5 years following diagnosis and treatment. However, for some subsets of patients, survival rates are much poorer, in those with higher risk characteristics as low as 40% at 5 years. Current treatment also carries with it a significant risk for long term sequelae, including intellectual loss secondary to radiation therapy and persistent, at times devastating neurologic complications such as unsteadiness. To try to improve our understanding and ultimately our therapy for medulloblastoma, an international working group has shared patient specimens and patient information to attempt to determine what the molecular predictors of outcome are for children with medulloblastoma and if such molecular genetic findings can be used to develop better, safer therapies. Children’s National is part of this international collective of institutions, which published this and other studies. The main findings of this study are that complex, integrated genetic analysis of tumor specimens can be used to better understand and set the scene for better treatment of medulloblastoma. Medulloblastoma can be broken into relatively distinct, molecular subtypes each with its own prognosis and potential therapy. A major finding of this study was that within a given tumor, different areas showed the same molecular genetic pattern. The importance of this is that since the tumors are relatively the same in different areas, molecularly-targeted therapies have an excellent chance of working on the entire tumor, resulting in better tumor control and safer treatments. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Surgical Research / 01.09.2015

Dr. Rachel A Freedman MD MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Rachel A Freedman MD MPH Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Freedman: Despite a lack of medical benefit for most patients, the rates for bilateral mastectomy (double mastectomy) are on the rise in the U.S. Many factors have been cited as potential reasons for this increase, such as one’s race/ethnicity, education level, family history, and use of MRI. Cancer stage has not consistently been a factor in past studies. In this study, we surveyed 487 women who were treated for breast cancer in Northern California within the California Cancer Registry, we examined factors associated with the type of surgery a woman received. In our study, we found strong associations for stage III cancer with receipt of unilateral and bilateral mastectomy. In addition, higher (vs. lower) income and older age were associated with lower odds of having bilateral surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, NIH, Weight Research / 31.08.2015

Dr. Alexandra White PhD in Epidemiology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Postdoctoral fellow National Institute of Environmental Health Science MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Alexandra White PhD in Epidemiology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Postdoctoral fellow National Institute of Environmental Health Science MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. White: Many studies have shown that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer. We know less about how obesity impacts breast cancer risk in premenopausal women. About a third of U.S. adults are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Similarly, the prevalence of abdominal obesity, measured by a person’s waist circumference, has increased by 10% in the last decade. In 2012, more than two-thirds of U.S. women had a waist circumference that indicated abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity may be a better predictor than BMI for breast cancer risk and other chronic diseases, because it is related to insulin resistance and can reflect metabolically active fat stores. In order to understand how different types of obesity (overall vs. abdominal) influence breast cancer risk, we used information from >50,000 participants in the Sister Study. The Sister Study, led by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health investigates environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Pancreatic / 28.08.2015

Jenny Permuth Wey, PhD, MS Assistant Member Departments of Cancer Epidemiology and Gastrointestinal Oncology Moffitt Cancer Cente MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jenny Permuth Wey, PhD, MS Assistant Member Departments of Cancer Epidemiology and Gastrointestinal Oncology Moffitt Cancer Center   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wey: Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers world-wide. It is currently the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and is predicted to become the second leading cause by 2030. Currently there are no accurate methods to diagnose pancreatic cancer early when a patient may be eligible for surgery to remove the tumor and hopefully survive longer. To beat this disease, early detection is key, and our team has dedicated efforts to studying pancreatic cancer in its ‘precancerous’ state because we and other researchers believe that the identification and treatment of precancerous pancreatic lesions offers a promising strategy to reduce the number of people losing their lives to this disease. Similar to how colon polyps can progress into colon cancer, we now know that certain types of pancreatic cystic lesions can progress into pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer precursors/pre-cancers known as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) account for nearly one-half of the estimated 150,000 asymptomatic pancreatic cysts detected as ‘incidental findings’ on computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans each year during the clinical work-up for an unrelated condition. Imaging alone cannot reliably distinguish between benign, pre-cancerous, and cancerous cysts, and cannot differentiate ‘low-risk’intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms' (defined as low- or moderate-grade disease) that can be monitored from ‘high-risk’ IPMNs (defined as high-grade or invasive disease) that should be surgically removed. The decision to undergo pancreatic surgery is not trivial for the patient and medical team since pancreatic surgery can be associated with an estimated 40% chance of complications and a 4% chance of death. Noninvasive tests are needed to accurately detect precancerous lesions of the pancreas so that personalized risk assessment and care can be provided. microRNAs (miRNAs) are small molecules that act as ‘master-regulators’ of cancer-related processes in the body. One of the main purposes of our ‘proof of principle’ study was to measure miRNAs in the blood and determine whether a set of miRNAs could distinguish patients with IPMNs from healthy individuals. We then sought to determine whether a set of miRNAs could distinguish patients known to have ‘low-risk’ IPMNs from those with ‘high-risk’ IPMNs. We show that new, relatively inexpensive digital technology could reliably measure miRNAs in blood plasma (the pale yellow liquid component of blood) from individuals newly-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer precursors (IPMNs) and healthy individuals. Thirty miRNAs out of 800 tested showed higher levels in IPMN patients compared to healthy individuals, providing a preliminary ‘miRNA signature’ that may be found only in people with early pancreatic disease, suggesting it could serve as an early diagnostic tool. Furthermore, we also provide preliminary data to suggest that a 5-miRNA signature can partially distinguish high-risk IPMNs that warrant resection from low-risk IPMNs that can be watched. This is important clinically because it would be opportune to personalize care such that high-risk IPMNs that warrant resection are properly identified while individuals with low-risk IPMNs are spared the substantial risks of mortality and morbidity associated with overtreatment from unnecessary surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Duke, Genetic Research, JAMA / 27.08.2015

Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Medicine Member of Duke Cancer Institute Duke University School of Medicin MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Medicine Member of Duke Cancer Institute Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dinan: For many years we have known that overall, women with early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer show an overall survival benefit from the receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy. However, depending on the age of the patient, we have also known that between 3 to 10% of patients appear to be truly experiencing this survival benefit and that we are treating a lot of women unnecessarily. The use of the Oncotype DX assay has provided additional information for patients to assess who at low risk of disease progression and can forgo chemotherapy. In this study we looked to see whether the adoption of this assay was associated with reduce rates of chemotherapy in women over the age of 65. We found that somewhat surprisingly, there was no overall association with receipt of the assay and use of chemotherapy. However, in women who had high risk disease, receipt of the assay was associated with reduced rates of chemotherapy use. In patients with low risk disease, receipt of the assay was associated with increased chemotherapy use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Pain Research / 27.08.2015

Dr. Sebastiano Mercadante MD Director, Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit La Maddalena Cancer Center, Palermo, Italy MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Sebastiano Mercadante MD Director, Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit La Maddalena Cancer Center, Palermo, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mercadante: Breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP) has been defined as a transitory increase in pain intensity that occurs either spontaneously, or in relation to a specific predictable or unpredictable trigger, despite relatively stable and adequately controlled background (1). Breakthrough cancer pain is a common problem in patients with cancer and is associated with significant morbidity. In a recent report in which a pragmatic definition of breakthrough cancer pain was used (2), the prevalence of BTcP was 75% (3). Oral morphine (OM) has been traditionally offered as a breakthrough cancer pain medication in doses of about 1/6 of the daily opioid regimen for years, although this approach has never been supported by any evidence. Different technologies have been developed to provide a rapid onset of effect with potent opioid drugs such as fentanyl (rapid onset opioids, ROOs) delivered by non-invasive routes. Fentanyl products have been shown to be significantly superior to oral opioids, but it has been suggested that the dose of fentanyl should be individually titrated in order to enable effective analgesia to be delivered while minimizing the risk of clinically significant adverse effects. The need of dose titration with rapid onset opioids has never been appropriately assessed and this statement is derived by a series of weaknesses of papers published for regulatory issues. Indeed, the only existing study comparing dose titration and proportional doses, reported that proportional doses of (Fentanyl buccal tablet) FBT are more effective and safe over dose titration method. NICE guidelines did not provide evidence for that, at least at certain time intervals after administration. To scientifically compare rapid onset opioids and oral morphine, we used a similar approach and made a strict selection of patients, according to a more specific algorithm for a diagnosis o fbreakthrough cancer pain. Thus, patients were randomized to receive in a crossover design Fentanyl buccal tablet and oral morphine, both given in doses proportional to opioid daily doses, for the management of breakthrough cancer pain. This comparative study has shown that, when giving the drugs for breakthrough cancer pain in doses proportional to the opioid regimen for background pain, Fentanyl was clearly superior for efficacy and rapidity in comparison with oral morphine. The analgesic effect was more intense either at 15 and 30 minutes after study medications were given. A larger number of episodes treated with Fentanyl buccal tablet presented a decrease in pain intensity of ≥33% and ≥50% in comparison with episodes treated with oral morphine, and a relevant difference in SPID30 was reported. Of interest, adverse effects commonly observed in patients receiving opioids were not severe and did not differ between the treatments, suggesting that the use of proportional doses of both drugs are safe, reflecting what is derived by the long-lasting experience with oral morphine. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 26.08.2015

Tuya Pal MD Division of Population Sciences Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa, Florida MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tuya Pal MD Division of Population Sciences Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa, Florida Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Pal: Young Black women bear a disproportionate burden associated with breast cancer incidence and mortality compared to their White counterparts. Given that inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are more common among young breast cancer survivors, we questioned to what extent mutations in these genes might contribute to the racial disparity in breast cancer incidence among young women. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Pal: Through conducting the largest U.S. based study of BRCA mutation frequency in young black women diagnosed with breast cancer at or below age 50, we discovered they have a much higher BRCA mutation frequency than that previously reported among young white women with breast cancer. Specifically, of the 396 Black women with breast cancer diagnosed at or below age 50, 12.4% had mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2. Furthermore, over 40 percent of those with a mutation had no close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer, which suggests that family history alone may not identify those at risk for carrying a BRCA mutation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Journal Clinical Oncology / 25.08.2015

Anna Lin, MBA, PHD Senior Epidemiologist, Health Services Research American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams St. Atlanta, GA 30303 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anna Lin, MBA, PHD Senior Epidemiologist, Health Services Research American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams St. Atlanta, GA 30303 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Lin: Evidence-based guidelines recommend the use of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with Stage III colon cancer within 90 days of colectomy to improve disease-free and overall survival; however, a substantial proportion of patients do not receive this treatment. Geographic access to care may be associated with receipt of chemotherapy but has not been fully examined. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Lin: The main findings of this study indicate that patients traveling more than 50 miles were less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy for Stage III node-positive colon cancer. In addition, patients who had either no insurance or public (non-private) insurance and resided in areas with low density of oncologists were less likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Colon Cancer / 25.08.2015

Søren Friis, Senior Scientist, Associate Professor, MD Danish Cancer Society Research Center Danish Cancer Society Department of Public Health University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Institute of Clinical Medicine Department of Clinical Epidemiology Aarhus University Denmark MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Søren Friis, Senior Scientist, Associate Professor, MD Danish Cancer Society Research Center Danish Cancer Society Department of Public Health University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health Institute of Clinical Medicine Department of Clinical Epidemiology Aarhus University Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Friis: Although laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies have all provided strong evidence for protection against colorectal cancer from regular use of aspirin, the optimal dose and duration of use for cancer prevention remain to be established. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Friis: Continuous use of low-dose aspirin for five or more years was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, but overall long-term use (continuous or non-continuous) was not. Long-term, high-intensity use (average of ≥0.3 daily doses) of non-aspirin NSAIDs was associated with a substantially reduced risk of colorectal cancer, particularly for NSAIDs with the highest COX-2 selectivity. The results for long-term continuous users of low-dose aspirin should be interpreted cautiously, since these patients comprised only a small proportion of the low-dose aspirin users and might have a risk profile different from that of the general population. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Cancer Research, Electronic Records, Journal Clinical Oncology / 25.08.2015

Hardeep Singh, MD MPH Chief, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program, Houston Veterans Affairs Health Services Research Center for Innovations Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine Houston TX 77030 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hardeep Singh, MD MPH Chief, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program, Houston Veterans Affairs Health Services Research Center for Innovations Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine Houston TX 77030 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Singh: Missed or delayed diagnoses are among the most common patient safety concerns in outpatient settings, and measuring and reducing them is a high priority. Our computerized triggers scanned huge amounts of patient data in the electronic health record and flagged individuals at risk for delays in follow-up of cancer-related abnormal clinical findings. Records of all patients flagged by the computerized trigger algorithm in the intervention group were reviewed to determine the presence of delay and if delay was confirmed, we communicated this information to their clinicians. We found that patients seeing clinicians who were notified of potential delays had more timely diagnostic evaluation for both prostate and colon cancer and more patients in the intervention part of the study had received diagnostic evaluation by the time we completed our final review. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Nutrition / 23.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Andrew Kunzmann & Dr Helen Coleman Joint first authorsCentre for Public Health Queen’s University Belfast Northern Ireland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: There is now a large amount of evidence to suggest that individuals who consume diets high in fiber tend to be at a lower risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer. However, it is not known whether this association begins at the early stages of bowel cancer development or at later stages, in individuals with polyps (adenomas) that can lead to bowel cancer if left untreated. The best source of dietary fiber (cereals, fruit or vegetables) for bowel adenoma and cancer prevention is also debatable. We analysed data from individuals taking part in a large U.S trial assessing bowel screening, who completed a dietary questionnaire and received sigmoidoscopy screening at the start of the trial and received further screening 3 to 5 years later. This allowed us to investigate whether individuals with higher fiber diets had a lower risk of developing their first left-sided adenoma, but also for having adenomas recur at a later time, or indeed risk of bowel cancer, than individuals with diets low in fiber. By analysing only the screened participants, everyone had an equal opportunity to have their recurrent adenomas diagnosed – something that previous studies of dietary fiber have been unable to address. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Chemotherapy, Neurology, Radiation Therapy / 20.08.2015

Jorg Dietrich, MBA MMSc MD PhD Director, Cancer & Neurotoxicity Clinic and Brain Repair Research Program Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center Assistant Professor of Neurology Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jorg Dietrich, MBA MMSc MD PhD Director, Cancer & Neurotoxicity Clinic and Brain Repair Research Program Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center Assistant Professor of Neurology Harvard Medical School Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dietrich: Understanding the adverse effects associated with cancer therapy is an important issue in oncology. Specifically, management of acute and delayed neurotoxicity of chemotherapy and radiation in brain cancer patients has been challenging. There is an unmet clinical need to better characterize the effects of standard cancer therapy on the normal brain and to identify patients at risk of developing neurotoxicity. In this regard, identifying novel biomarkers of neurotoxicity is essential to develop strategies to protect the brain and promote repair of treatment-induced damage. In this study, we demonstrate that standard chemotherapy and radiation in patients treated for glioblastoma is associated with progressive brain volume loss and damage to gray matter – the area of the brain that contains most neurons. A cohort of 14 patients underwent sequential magnetic resonance imaging studies prior to, during and following standard chemoradiation to characterize the pattern of structural changes that occur as a consequence of treatment. (more…)