Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, NIH / 08.03.2015

Dr. Clarice R. Weinberg Ph.D Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Triangle Park, NC 27709Medicalresearch.com Interview with: Dr. Clarice R. Weinberg Ph.D Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Weinberg: Hormone therapy (HT) was commonly prescribed in the U.S. late in the 20th century to help women through the challenges of menopause. Several decades ago, therapy with estrogen alone was shown to cause endometrial cancer, and the combined use of both estrogen and progesterone replaced treatment with estrogen alone. But research published around 2002 had far reaching effects on gynecologic practice. Both the randomized trial component of the US Women’s Health Initiative and the observational European Million Women’s Study reported that postmenopausal women who were older than 50 and were taking the combination HT had an increased risk of breast cancer. Physicians and patients responded quickly, and Hormone therapy use plummeted. However, it remained unclear whether there were risks of Hormone therapy use in women under age 50. Some factors, for example obesity, have opposite effects on the risk of breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women, so one cannot assume risk findings from older women necessarily apply to younger women. We carried out a sibling-based study of 1,419 women with breast cancer diagnosed under the age of 50 (http://sisterstudy.niehs.nih.gov/English/2sis.htm). Each case had a sister (also studied) who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer, who could serve as her control. The study was funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the National Institutes of Health. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma / 06.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alberto Pappo, M.D. Member, Oncology; Director, Solid Tumor Division St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Pappo: Researchers have identified three distinct subtypes of childhood and adolescent tumors of pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes. The subtypes have different genetic alterations and often different outcomes for patients. The findings should aid efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of melanoma, which is the most common skin cancer in children and adolescents. The study provides the most comprehensive analysis yet of the genetic alteration underlying pediatric melanoma, including the first genetic evidence that sun damage causes melanoma in children and adolescents as well as adults. Researchers used whole genome sequencing and other techniques to study the normal and cancer genomes of 23 young patients with a variety of melanocytic tumors, including conventional melanoma. Patients ranged in age from 9 months to 19 years old. The melanoma subtypes in this study included conventional melanoma, which scientists showed was the same disease in children, adolescents and adults. More than 90 percent of pediatric conventional melanoma had DNA changes linked to sun damage. (more…)
Author Interviews, Prostate Cancer / 05.03.2015

M. Minhaj Siddiqui, MD Director of Urologic Robotic Surgery Assistant Professor of Surgery - Urology University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore MD 21201MedicalResearch.com Interview with: M. Minhaj Siddiqui, MD Director of Urologic Robotic Surgery Assistant Professor of Surgery - Urology University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore MD 21201 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: A history of testicular cancer has been suggested to have an association with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer (PCa) in epidemiologic studies. We hypothesized that there may be an increased risk of developing intermediate to high-risk prostate cancer as well. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: 147,044 men with melanoma and 32,435 men with testicular cancer were identified. Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 3,205 men in total. The cumulative incidence of all prostate cancer by age 80 was 2.8% in the control melanoma cohort and 12.6% in the case cohort of men with history of testicular cancer (p<0.0001 for KM survival curves, Figure 1). For intermediate/high-risk disease, the incidence was 1.1% versus 5.8% for each cohort respectively (p<0.0001 for KM survival curves, Figure 2). No association with prostate cancer was seen with non-seminomatous versus seminomatous germ cell tumors. Upon multivariate analysis, testis cancer was associated with an increased risk of all prostate cancer (HR 4.7, p<0.0001) and intermediate/high-risk PCa (HR 5.2, p<0.0001) when controlling for race and radiation history. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Duke, Genetic Research, JAMA, Personalized Medicine / 05.03.2015

Dr. Michaela A. Dinan Ph.D Department of Medicine Duke UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Michaela A. Dinan Ph.D Department of Medicine Duke University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dinan: We wanted to examine how  Oncotype DX® Breast Cancer Test (ODX) was being used in real-world practice at the population level. ODX has been examined in clinical trials and limited academic settings but we know that these patients are often younger, have fewer medical comorbidities, and do not necessarily accurately reflect the majority patients with cancer.  In our study, we observed that Oncotype DX® Breast Cancer Test was being used predominately in accordance with guidelines which recommend the test for women with estrogen-receptor positive, node negative disease. We also looked just at women under the age of 70 who met guideline criteria for testing, because this population would include those women who were more likely to be chemotherapy candidates, and we saw a rapid uptake of the test between 2005 and 2009, with use of the test increasing from 8% to 39%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Cleveland Clinic, NEJM / 04.03.2015

Halle C.F. Moore, M.D. Cleveland Clinic Foundation Taussig Cancer Institute Cleveland, OH 44195MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Halle C.F. Moore, M.D. Cleveland Clinic Foundation Taussig Cancer Institute Cleveland, OH 44195 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Moore: Ovarian failure is a common long-term side effect of chemotherapy. Previous studies investigating whether suppressing ovarian function during chemotherapy treatment will preserve ovarian function following chemotherapy have had mixed results. Our study found that suppressing the ovaries with the GnRH analog goserelin during chemotherapy treatment for early stage ER-negative breast cancer resulted in a reduced risk of ovarian failure two years after initiation of treatment. Also, more women who received the goserelin with chemotherapy became pregnant than women who received chemotherapy without goserelin. In addition, there was an apparent improvement in survival among the goserelin group, confirming the safety of this approach in this patient population. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Lancet / 04.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Lucia Del Mastro MD Department of Medical Oncology Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro Genova, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Adjuvant chemotherapy regimens with anthracyclines and taxanes improve the outcome of patients with early breast cancer. Among the most widely used anthracycline-based chemotherapy in sequential combinations with the taxane paclitaxel (P) there are epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (EC) and fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide (FEC). The contribution of fluorouracil to the anthracycline-cyclophosphamide regimen (EC) was unclear until now. Various randomized trials attempted to assess the role of a more intense schedule of chemotherapy (i.e. dose-dense chemotherapy with cycles administered every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks) in patients with early breast cancer. However, most of these trials compared dose-dense chemotherapy with regimens that use standard intervals but with different drugs or dose in the treatment groups, thus making difficult to extrapolate the true role of the dose-dense strategy. The results of GIM2 study show that the addition of fluorouracil to  a sequential regimen with epirubicin, cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel increases the toxicity, in terms of neutropenia, fever, nausea, and vomiting, and is not associated with an improved outcome compared with the same treatment without fluorouracil. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, MD Anderson, PNAS / 04.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kristen Turner PhD. (first author) and Wei Zhang, Ph.D. Professor Department of Pathology Director, Cancer Genomics Core Lab University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas 77030 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most commonly diagnosed type of brain tumor and is among the most aggressive and challenging cancer types to treat. The traditional approaches to combat this pervasive cancer include surgery combined with radiation and chemotherapy (temozolomide); yet, most will succumb to the disease in just over one year. In this study, we investigated the Akt family of proteins that are known to be highly active in the majority of Glioblastoma cases. We compared each Akt family member and its ability to initiate glioma progression. We discovered that activation of the third Akt member (Akt3) led to glioma progression and very aggressive tumors. We then studied these tumors to compare their molecular attributes and found evidence of increased DNA repair. Finally, we discovered that the Akt3-induced DNA repair function led to increased survival of Glioblastoma cells after treatment with the DNA damaging agents, radiation and temozolomide. (more…)
Genetic Research, MD Anderson, Melanoma, Personalized Medicine / 04.03.2015

Linda Chin, MD Department Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Linda Chin, MD Department Chair, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chin: BRAF inhibitors have worked very well against melanoma in the clinic, but when the tumors relapse on treatment, it is not always clear what causes it. Without this information, it can be difficult for doctors to identify specific second-line therapies likely to overcome the drug resistance. In this study, we used both mouse and patient melanoma samples to identify patterns of selected protein levels that can categorize modes of drug resistance when other assays such as DNA sequencing are uninformative. We hope that this information can provide missing clues for clinicians. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, MD Anderson, Nature, Personalized Medicine / 28.02.2015

Dr. Anil Sood MD Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Anil Sood MD Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? MedicalResearch: What is the background for this approach? What are the main findings? Dr. Sood: The background involves several different issues: management approaches have varied quite a bit across the US; definition of “optimal” surgery and rates of complete surgical removal of tumor (R0) have also varied. It is quite apparent that patients who benefit the most from surgery upfront are those who have removal of tumor resection. To address these issues, we have implanted a much more personalized approach whereby patients with suspected advanced ovarian cancer undergo laparoscopic assessment using a validated scoring system (based on the pattern and extent of disease noted during laparoscopic assessment); patients with a score <8 undergo upfront debulking surgery and those with a score ≥8 receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery after 3-4 cycles. To date, this program has been fully implemented as part of the Moonshot Program at M.D. Anderson. This program has already resulted in several benefits – for example, prior to this algorithm being put into place among all patients with suspected advanced ovarian cancer, around 20% would have removal of tumor resection; after the implementation of the algorithm, of those going to upfront debulking surgery (after laparoscopic assessment), almost 85% of times removal of tumor resection can be achieved. Also, this method of treatment is allowing for new and innovative clinical trial designs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, JAMA, Leukemia, Neurological Disorders / 25.02.2015

William E. Evans, Pharm.D. Member, Pharmaceutical Sciences St. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: William E. Evans, Pharm.D. Member, Pharmaceutical Sciences St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Evans: We are currently curing over 85 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children. While we continue to focus on pushing cure rates closer to 100 percent through the development of new treatments, we are also increasingly focused on reducing the acute and chronic side effects of treatment. This is important to improve the quality of life for patients during treatment and as they become adults after being cured, because some side effects can persist for decades after treatment is completed. One of the medications that every child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia received 30-40 times during their 2+ years of treatment is vincristine. The major side effect of vincristine is peripheral neuropathy (about 25 percent of patients develop this side effect), which can cause loss of sensation, numbness, neuropathic pain and alter their motor skills including manual dexterity, balance and ability to walk properly. This can have very practical consequences, such as writing, using a smart phone, and the use of eating utensils. It can also alter their gait. Our main finding is we discovered that an inherited variant of the CEP72 gene enhanced the risk and severity of vincristine neuropathy in two groups of patients we studied. Those children who inherited two copies of the high-risk CEP72 gene (one from each parent, about 16 percent of patients) had a significantly higher likelihood (about 3.5-fold) of developing vincristine neuropathy and had a more severe form of neuropathy (about 2.5-fold higher severity). The CEP72 gene encodes a protein essential for normal microtubule formation in cells—a critical process for cell division. Vincristine inhibits this same cellular process. The inherited form of CEP72 that increases the risk and severity of vincristine neuropathy is associated with lower expression of the CEP72 protein. When coupled with vincristine treatment, CEP72 increases a cell’s sensitivity to vincristine. We were able to reproduce this in the laboratory by lowering CEP72 expression in human neurons made from induced pluripotent stem cells and in human leukemia cells, increasing the sensitivity of both to vincristine. We also showed that the leukemia cells from patients who inherited two copies of the CEP72 risk allele were more sensitive to vincristine, suggesting it may be possible to treat these patients with a lower dose of vincristine to reduce their neuropathy without compromising the treatment of their leukemia—a possibility we plan to test in our next clinical trial at St. Jude. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Lung Cancer, Mayo Clinic / 24.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Mithun, M.D. Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Mithun: Lung cancer screening should be pursued for those people at highest risk who are otherwise in good enough health to be able to undergo curative intent treatment if cancer is found. The current criteria for screening recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force of age 55-80 years, 30 pack-years of smoking, and if quit, have done so within 15 years and are based on the National Lung Screening Study (NLST). Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Mithun: Our data was retrospective over a 28 year time period and showed that an increasing number of people who actually got cancer would not have been candidates for screening based on the current criteria.  This suggests there may be some degree of mismatch between risk as defined by the current criteria to screen and those who developed cancer.  An increasing number of those who would not have been candidates for screening yet got lung cancer were among those who quit smoking 15 years or longer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mayo Clinic, Nature, Pancreatic / 24.02.2015

Peter Storz, Ph.D. Associate Professor & Consultant Department of Cancer Biology Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL 32224MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Storz, Ph.D. Associate Professor & Consultant Department of Cancer Biology Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL 32224   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Storz:   Our study focuses on cellular signaling mechanisms that lead to the initiation of pancreatic cancer. After acquisition of an oncogenic mutation of Kras, pancreatic acinar cells can undergo a transdifferentiation process to a phenotype that gives rise to pancreatic intraepithelial lesions (PanINs). These lesions then can further progress to pancreatic cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vanderbilt / 24.02.2015

Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TennesseeMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wei Zheng: Substantial progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, resulting in a steady improvement in cancer survival. However, the degree of improvement by age, race and sex remains unclear. We quantified the differences in the improvement of cancer survival by race, age, and sex over the last two decades. We used cancer diagnosis and follow-up data from more than 1 million cancer patients, collected in nine SEER registries, to investigate trends in improved survival for seven major cancers in the United States by age, race, and sex between 1990 and 2010. We found that elderly patients experienced a smaller improvement in survival for cancers of the colon/rectum, breast, prostate, lung, and liver than their younger counterparts. In particular, the age-related disparities were most pronounced for those cancers with the greatest advancements in diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades, including cancers of colon/rectum, breast and prostate. African Americans experienced poorer survival than whites for all cancers. Because of a greater improvement in prostate cancer survival in African Americans than for whites, the racial difference in the survival of this cancer decreased during the study period. For ovarian cancer, however, the survival rate declined in African Americans but slightly increased in whites, leading to a wider racial gap in the survival of this deadly cancer. No apparent disparities in survival improvement by sex were noted. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Melanoma, NYU, Personalized Medicine / 24.02.2015

Iman Osman, MD Professor, Departments of Dermatology, Medicine and Urology Associate Director, NYU Cancer Institute  Director, Interdisciplinary Melanoma Program  New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Iman Osman, MD Professor, Departments of Dermatology, Medicine and Urology Associate Director The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center Director, Interdisciplinary Melanoma Program New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Osman: We were interested in exploring molecules that could be biomarkers or functional regulators of metastasis in melanoma in early-stage tumor lesions on the skin. Though these tumors are treated largely the same (by surgical removal ), patients with these tumors have vastly different outcomes (apparent cure vs. metastatic spread of the disease). The reasons for these disparities are unclear and we have little ability to identify or predict the patients that will be cured and those that won’t. We also don’t have much data to know even if these tumors have differences at the molecular level. Our findings indicate that there are molecular differences in these tumors and that some of these differences contribute to tumor spread.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Melanoma, Yale / 22.02.2015

Douglas E. Brash, PhD Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Dermatology Yale School of Medicine New Haven, CTMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Douglas E. Brash, PhD Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Dermatology Yale School of Medicine New Haven, CT MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Brash: We wanted to know whether the origin of melanoma differed from other cancers because of the melanin. It has long been known that blondes and redheads are sensitive to sunlight, but the prevailing view was that this was because their skin is light. But there are light-skinned, dark-haired people in countries near the equator and they don't have the high skin cancer incidence seen in Australia. Several labs, including ours, had irradiated cells or mice with UV and found more cell death in cells containing melanin than cells lacking melanin. In the last couple of years, two papers have focused attention on the issue; one study found that irradiating mice with UVA only gave melanomas if the skin contained melanin and the other study found that mice genetically predisposed to UV-induced melanoma developed melanomas even without UV if they also had red melanin. The most important findings are: First, our skin continues to be damaged by sunlight even when we're out of the sun. Second, the melanin pigment in your skin is bad for you as well as good: it may be carcinogenic as well as protective. Third, the chemistry underlying these events, chemical excitation of electrons, has not been seen in mammals before. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hormone Therapy, Lancet, Prostate Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 22.02.2015

Almudena Zapatero MD PhD Senior Consultant Dpt Radiation Oncology Instituto Investigación Sanitaria IIS-IP Hospital Universitario de la Princesa MadridMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Almudena Zapatero MD PhD Senior Consultant Dpt Radiation Oncology Instituto Investigación Sanitaria IIS-IP Hospital Universitario de la Princesa Madrid Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zapatero: There is a significant body of evidence from randomized trials showing a significant improvement in clinical outcome with the combination of androgen deprivation and conventional-dose radiotherapy (≤70 Gy) in patients with high-risk and intermediate-risk prostate cancer. However, the optimal duration the optimum duration of androgen deprivation in the setting of high-dose radiotherapy remained to be determined. The results of our trial (DART01/05) show that 2 years of adjuvant androgen deprivation is superior to 4 months androgen deprivation when combined with plus high-dose radiotherapy  in terms of biochemical control, freedom from metastasis and overall survival, particularly in patients with high-risk prostate cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Prostate Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 22.02.2015

Ann Caroline Raldow, M.D. Brigham and Women's Hospital Resident in Radiation OncologyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ann Caroline Raldow, M.D. Brigham and Women's Hospital Resident in Radiation Oncology Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Raldow: Active surveillance (AS) means monitoring the course of prostate cancer (PC) with the expectation to start treatment if the cancer progresses. Men who enter an AS program are able to defer and possibly avoid the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, active surveillance is currently considered as an initial treatment approach for men with low-risk PC and a life expectancy of at least 10 years. However, no direct comparison has been made between favorable intermediate-risk and low-risk PC with regard to PC-specific mortality or all-cause mortality following treatment with high-dose radiation therapy such as brachytherapy, where radioactive seeds are placed inside the prostate to kill the cancer. We therefore assessed whether the risks of prostate cancer-specific mortality and all-cause mortality following brachytherapy were increased in men with favorable intermediate-risk versus low-risk prostate cancer. The study consisted of more than 5,000 men who were treated with brachytherapy at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago. After a median follow-up of 7.69 years, there were no significant differences in prostate cancer-specific mortality and all-cause mortality between men with low-risk and favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancer, suggesting that men with favorable intermediate-risk prostate may also be candidates for AS. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Prostate Cancer / 21.02.2015

Karim Chamie MD Department of Urology Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center UCLA Medical Center, Santa MonicaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karim Chamie MD Department of Urology Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Active surveillance has been shown to be safe and effective. There are multiple longitudinal studies that have demonstrated the safety of active surveillance for men with indolent prostate cancer. In this context, we sought out to determine national practice patterns for localized prostate cancer. Moreover, we wanted to identify patient, tumor, and physician factors that influence treatment decision. What we found was that the vast majority of patients undergo radiation therapy, regardless of patient age and health or severity of tumor. Instead, by far the most significant predictor of whether a patient undergoes radiation therapy is whether they have been referred to a radiation oncologist. On the other hand, surgeons significantly incorporate patient age and health and tumor severity when considering radical prostatectomy (surgery). (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research / 20.02.2015

Dr Cristina Renzi Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, Health Behaviour Research Centre, London, UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Cristina Renzi Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, Health Behaviour Research Centre, London, UK MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Renzi: Only a minority of symptomatic individuals undergoing cancer investigations are diagnosed with cancer and more than 80% receive an 'all-clear' or non-cancer diagnosis (here called a 'false alarm'). This makes it important to consider the possible unintended consequences of a false alarm. Several studies have shown that investigations for a suspected cancer can have negative psychological effects, even for individuals ultimately diagnosed with a benign condition. In addition, an association between false alarms and subsequent delayed diagnosis has been reported for various cancers, with both patients and healthcare providers contributing to delays. Our review published by BMJ Open focused on 19 research papers which reported information on false alarms and subsequent symptom attribution or help-seeking. By integrating the available evidence from qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies this review allowed us to identify areas that need to be addressed in order to reduce the risk of delayed help-seeking after a previous false alarm. In particular, over-reassurance and under-support of patients can be an unintended consequence of a false alarm leading to delays in help-seeking, even years later, if patients notice possible symptoms of the disease again. The review, funded by Cancer Research UK, looked only at adult patients who had a false alarm after raising concerns about their symptoms; the effect of a false alarm might be different in patients who are investigated for suspected cancer following cancer screening. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Duke, JAMA, Radiation Therapy, Thyroid / 19.02.2015

Sanziana Roman MD FACS Professor of Surgery Duke University  Section of Endocrine Surgery Director of the Endocrine Surgery Fellows and Scholars Program Duke University School of Medicine Chief, General Surgery and Associate Chief of Surgery for Clinical Affairs, DVAMCMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sanziana Roman MD FACS Professor of Surgery Duke University Section of Endocrine Surgery Director of the Endocrine Surgery Fellows and Scholars Program Duke University School of Medicine Chief, General Surgery and Associate Chief of Surgery for Clinical Affairs, DVAMC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Roman: Adjuvant radioactive iodine (RAI) is commonly used in the management of differentiated thyroid cancer. The main goals of adjuvant RAI therapy are to ablate remnant thyroid tissue in order to facilitate long-term follow-up of patients, decrease the risk of recurrence, or treat persistent and metastatic lesions. On the other hand, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( therapy is expensive, with an average cost per patient ranging between $5,429.58 and $9,105.67. It also carries the burden of several potential complications, including loss of taste, nausea, stomatitis with ulcers, acute and/or chronic sialoadenitis, salivary duct obstruction, dental caries, tooth loss, epiphora, anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, acute radiation pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, male infertility, and radiation-induced malignancies. Therefore, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( should be used only for appropriately selected patients, for whom the benefits would outweigh the risks. Based on current guidelines, adjuvant RAI is not recommended for patients with papillary thyroid cancers confined to the thyroid gland when all foci are ≤1 cm (papillary thyroid microcarcinoma, or PTMC). Similarly, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( does not have a role in the treatment of medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Given the fact that variation in treatments exist, our goal was to analyze patterns of inappropriate adjuvant RAI use in the U.S. in order to identify potential misuses leading to an increase of costs for the healthcare system and unnecessary patients’ exposure to risks of complications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, NEJM / 19.02.2015

  Swain_SandraMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sandra M Swain, MD, FACP, FASCO Medical Director, Washington Cancer Institute MedStar Washington Hospital Center Washington DC 20010 MedicalResearch: What take-home message would you like the general public to understand about this new analysis from the Cleopatra study? Potential Key Message Options:
  • Updated results from the CLEOPATRA study showed that people treated with the combination of pertuzumab, trastuzumb and chemotherapy lived 15.7 months longer than those who received trastuzumab and chemotherapy alone (median survival of 56.5 months versus 40.8 months).
  • The survival improvement of nearly 16 months observed in CLEOPATRA is unprecedented among studies of metastatic breast cancer. This is the kind of survival improvement that those of us who treat breast cancer strive for, and this data will be incredibly meaningful to patients and their families.
  • Furthermore, the median survival of nearly five years observed in CLEOPATRA patients treated with the pertuzumab regimen is the longest ever observed in a clinical study of people with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, once one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
  • Patients who responded with shrinkage of their tumor had a response that was 8 months longer with the pertuzumab regimen compared to the trastuzumab and chemotherapy regimen.
(more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 17.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Caroline Watts| PhD Candidate Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research | Sydney School of Public Health The University of Sydney MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A clinic for people at high risk of melanoma was established at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney in 2006 to look at the impact of surveillance regime which included regular full body skin examination supported by dermoscopy and total body photography at 6 monthly intervals. If a suspicious lesion was identified, the lesion was either removed or sequential digital dermoscopy was performed and the patient returned in 3 months for review. This study aimed to estimate the costs associated with surveillance in this type of specilaised clinic. The mean number of clinic visits per year was 2.7 (95% CI, 2.5-2.8) for surveillance and 3.8 (95% CI, 3.4-4.1) for patients requiring surgical excisions. The mean annual cost per patient to the health system was A $882 (95% CI, A $783-$982) (US $599 [95% CI, US $532-$665]) and mean annual societal cost per patient (excluding health system costs) was A $972 (95% CI, A $899-$1045) (US $660 [95% CI, US $611-$710). Diagnosis of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer and frequent excisions for benign lesions in a relatively small number of patients was responsible for skewed health system costs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 13.02.2015

Ezekiel Jonathan Emanuel MD PhD Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy Perelman School of Medicine and Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ezekiel Jonathan Emanuel MD PhD Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy Perelman School of Medicine and Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Editor’s note: Dr. Emanuel is a medical oncologist as well as director of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Emanuel was kind enough to answer several questions regarding his most recent study, published in the new JAMA Oncology journal, Patient Demands and Requests for Cancer Tests and Treatments. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Emanuel: The genesis for this study is twofold. One, the first referenced article, by John Tilbert1 discussed how physicians explain US health care costs. In this study, physicians felt patients, insurance companies, drug companies, government regulations and malpractice lawyers...all were more to blame than doctors themselves for the high cost of US health care. Secondly, I give lots of presentations to doctors who offer two explanations for escalating health care costs: fear of malpractice litigation, and demanding patients, who request extensive testing and drugs. We decided to see whether the impression doctors frequently held of patients’ demands driving up health care costs, had been previously investigated. We could find no article to substantiate this belief. In addition, demanding patients were not common in my medical experience. In our study we included 5050 patient encounters. We asked the clinician coming out of the encounter, did the patient make a demand or request? (By asking immediately after the doctor left the examination room, there was little risk of inaccurate recall of the specifics of visit). In 8.7% there was a patient request and of these, over 70% were deemed clinically appropriate as determined by the physician (i.e. a request for pain medication, palliative care or imaging to address a new symptom or finding). In only 1% of all encounters (50/5050) was a clinically inappropriate request made as determined by the doctor, and the doctors hardly filled any of these inappropriate requests (total of 7 of 5050 encounters). We concluded that it is pretty rare for patients to make demands or requests, at least in this oncology setting, and even less common for the demands to be complied with by the doctor. Therefore it seems unlikely to us that health care costs are significantly driven by inappropriate patient requests. It is possible that there are more or different patient demands in other health care settings but we were very surprised to find no difference in patient requests based on patient-income, i.e. wealthier, more educated patients made no more demands than patients of lesser means. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Lung Cancer, NIH, Radiology / 13.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paul F. Pinsky, PhD MPH Acting Chief Early Detection Research Group National Cancer Institute Bethesda, MD, 20892 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) reported, in 2011, a 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality with low-dose CT screening. However, there was a high false positive rate, around 25% in the first two screening rounds, and somewhat lower in the final round. In order to reduce the high false positive rate, and also to standardize the reported system for low-dose CT screening, analogous to the use of BIRADS for mammography screening, the American College of Radiology (ACR) developed the Lung-RADS classification system. It was released in May, 2014. Although it was developed based on published summary data from several studies, including the NLST, it was never applied to a large group of screened subjects on an individual basis. Therefore, we retrospectively applied Lung-RADS to previously collected, detailed screening data from the National Lung Screening Trial . The major findings were that the false positive rate decreased very substantially using Lung-RADS instead of the original National Lung Screening Trial criteria. At the baseline screen, it decreased by 50% and at subsequent screens it decreased by 75%. There was also, however, a modest decrease in the sensitivity rate, from 93% to 85% at baseline and from 93% to 79% at subsequent screens. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, MD Anderson, Outcomes & Safety / 12.02.2015

Kenneth L. Kehl, MD Division of Cancer Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TexasMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth L. Kehl, MD Division of Cancer Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior studies have demonstrated that most patients with cancer wish to participate in their treatment decisions.  We studied a cohort of patients with lung or colorectal cancer and assessed whether patient involvement in decision-making was associated with perceived quality of care or ratings of physician communication.  We found that patients who described a more shared decision-making process gave higher ratings of their care quality and physician communication.  This effect was independent of patients' stated preferences regarding involvement in decision-making. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Infections / 12.02.2015

Dr. Cornejo-Juárez Department of Infectious Disease, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología Tlalpan MexicoMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Cornejo-Juárez Department of Infectious Disease, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología Tlalpan Mexico MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cornejo: Critically ill patients in the intensive care unit are at major risk of hospital-acquired infections. Immunosuppressed patients have a higher risk related with continuous exposure to the hospital setting, mucositis and disruption of skin integrity, presence of indwelling catheters and abnormal immune system because of primary malignancy or chemotherapy. Our aimed was to investigate prevalence and outcome of hospital-acquired infections in an oncology ICU. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Cornejo: We found that hospital-acquired infections are a major problem in the ICU. Hospital-acquired infections are related with higher mortality. Multidrug resistant bacteria are frequently involved in these infections, and are associated with increased mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Leukemia, NEJM, Personalized Medicine / 11.02.2015

David G. Kent, Ph.D From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Wellcome Trust–Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute University of CambridgeMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David G. Kent, Ph.D From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Wellcome Trust–Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute University of Cambridge Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kent: Cancers are the result of the sequential acquisition of errors in the genetic code.  Most studies have focused on the sum of these mutations (e.g., A+B+C = cancer) but no study in patients has asked the question of whether or not the order of genetic mutations impacts the disease (e.g., does A to AB equal B to BA).  We studied patients with chronic blood disorders (known as myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs) that are precursors to cancer to access the earliest stages of tumour development and studied whether or not the order of mutation acquisition impacted disease.  We studied patients with mutations in two genes (JAK2 and TET2) and showed that the order of acquisition of these mutations impacted timing of clinical presentation, disease subtype, frequency of thrombotic events, and differed in their response to targeted therapy in the lab. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, NEJM, Thyroid / 11.02.2015

Dr. Martin S. Schlumberger MD Department of Nuclear Medicine and Endocrine Oncology Centre de Référence Tumeurs Réfractaires de la Thyroïde Institut Gustave Roussy and University Paris-Sud Villejuif, FranceMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Martin S. Schlumberger MD Department of Nuclear Medicine and Endocrine Oncology Centre de Référence Tumeurs Réfractaires de la Thyroïde Institut Gustave Roussy and University Paris-Sud Villejuif, France   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schlumberger: Patients with advanced refractory thyroid cancer is rare (4-5 patients/million population) but portends a poor prognosis with a median overall survival of 3-5 years from the diagnosis of metastases. Before the availability of kinase inhibitors there was no effective treatment, and for this reason placebo was used as control in SELECT trial. This trial showed an improvement of PFS lenvatinib vs placebo (hazard ratio: 0.21; 99% CI: 0.14–0.31, P<0.001; median PFS: 18.3 vs 3.6 months, respectively) and objective response rate of 65% with some complete responses. Time to response was short (2 months). Similar benefits were observed in naive patients and in patients who had been treated with another tyrosine kinase inhibitor, demonstrating the absence of cross resistance. Toxicity was significant and could be controlled with dose reduction and symptomatic treatment. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? (more…)