Advanced Prostate Cancer: Androgen-Receptor Testing May Guide Selection of Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Diagram_showing_prostate_cancer_that_has_spread_to_the_bones_CRUK_183.svg.png

Prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bone: Wikipedia Image

Vincenza Conteduca, MD, PhD
Istituto Scientifico Romagnolo per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori (IRST) Srl – IRCCS
Meldola , Italy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In our previous publications, we showed that the study of plasma cell-free DNA holds promise for improving treatment choice in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Specifically, we demonstrated that the detection in plasma of aberrations (copy number alterations and/or point somatic mutations) of androgen receptor (AR), using an easy and robust multiplex droplet digital PCR method, predicted an adverse outcome in mCRPC patients treated with second-generation AR-directed therapies (abiraterone or enzalutamide) in both settings: chemotherapy-naïve and post-docetaxel.

This current multi-institution work builds on our previous discoveries. We investigated the association of androgen receptor status and survival in men treated with docetaxel. Moreover, we performed an exploratory analysis in patients treated with docetaxel or AR-directed therapies as first-line therapy.

Interestingly, we observed that plasma AR-gained patients do not have a worse outcome compared to AR-normal patients when treated with docetaxel as first-line therapy. This introduces the opportunity to use plasma to select for docetaxel in preference to androgen receptor-directed therapies in AR gained mCRPC patients.

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Disease-Free and Overall Survival Among Patients With Operable HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Treated With Sequential vs Concurrent Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kelly K. Hunt, MD Department of Breast Surgical Oncology The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston

Dr. Hunt

Kelly K. Hunt, MD
Department of Breast Surgical Oncology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We completed a neoadjuvant trial at MD Anderson Cancer Center and published the results in 2005 demonstrating that trastuzumab delivered in combination with anthracycline and taxane based chemotherapy resulted in pathologic complete response rates of up to 60% in patients with HER-2 positive breast cancer. This was a single institutions study and there was concern about cardiac toxicity when using anthracyclines and trastuzumab concurrently.

We therefore worked with the NCI cooperative groups, the American College of surgeons oncology group (ACOSOG), to design the ACOSOG Z1041 trial. This trial compared to different regimens in the neoadjuvant setting, one regimen utilizing concurrent anthracycline and taxanes based chemotherapy with trastuzumab and the other regimen utilizing concurrent taxanes with trastuzumab but the anthracycline was delivered in a sequential fashion.

The primary end point of the trial was pathologic complete response rates in the breast.

The results from this primary end point were published in the Lancet Oncology in 2013 and showed that the pathologic complete response rates were the same with the 2 different regimens. This was important since patients could be assured of similar efficacy without the potential added toxicity of delivering anthracyclines and trastuzumab together.

The current publication is a report of the disease-free and overall survival rates from the Z1041 trial. Several studies have shown an association between pathologic complete response rates and survival. The current study shows that there is no difference in survival rates between the 2 different regimens. So once again there is an association between pathologic complete response and survival and it is not important that the anthracycline and trastuzumab are given concurrently in order to achieve these high pathologic complete response rates and improve survival rates. Continue reading

Serial Liquid Biopsies May Predict Response to Colon Cancer Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrea Sottoriva, PhD, MSc Reader in Cancer Evolutionary Dynamics | Evolutionary Genomics & Modelling Lab Centre for Evolution and Cancer | The Institute of Cancer Research London

Dr. Sottoriva

Dr. Andrea Sottoriva, PhD
Centre for Evolution and Cancer, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom


MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Would you briefly explain what is meant by a liquid biopsy?


Response:
Cetuximab is a targeted treatment available for metastatic colorectal cancer patients. Unfortunately, although many patients benefit from Cetuximab, after an initial response to the treatment many patients relapse and become resistant to the drug.

We know that this resistance is due to the tumour evolving and adapting to therapy. Liquid biopsies allow to look for residual cancer DNA in the blood of a patient and hence monitor the emergence of resistance over time. We used blood samples take every 4 weeks (quite frequently for this type of study) to monitor the evolution of the cancers under treatment and see if there were some measurements that would predict if and when patients will relapse.

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Continued Aggressive Treatment Indicated For Younger Women with Breast Cancer Who Have Incomplete Response to Chemo

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kathleen Horst, MD Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology (Radiation Therapy)  Stanford University Medical Center

Dr. Kathleen Horst

Kathleen Horst, MD
Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology (Radiation Therapy)
Stanford University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We were interested in focusing on young women with breast cancer as this is a high-risk patient population that is not studied on its own in clinical trials. Furthermore, the available data on treating breast cancer with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) does not include detailed outcomes for women under the age of 40 years.

Because most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in this age group will have aggressive disease, most of them will be treated with NAC followed by surgery. From prospective randomized trials we know that women with breast cancer who attain a pathologic complete response (PCR) to neoadjuvant chemotherapy fare significantly better than those who do not. In addition, existing data suggest that a complete response in the lymph nodes also portends a better prognosis. This is the foundation for the currently ongoing NSABP B-51/RTOG 1304 trial, which is evaluating the role of nodal irradiation in those women who attain a pathologic complete response in the lymph nodes after NAC. We wanted to know whether differences in pathologic response in the breast versus lymph nodes led to different clinical outcomes in this patient group.

We evaluated outcomes following neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer in 155 women age 40 and younger. We focused on pathologic response in the breast and lymph nodes as predictors of disease recurrence and survival. We found that any residual disease in either the breast or lymph nodes lessened the chance of cure significantly.

Importantly, women who attained a complete response in the lymph nodes but continued to have residual disease in the breast fared just as poorly as those who remained lymph node positive following neoadjuvant chemotherapy.  Continue reading

Pancreatic Cancer: Cannabidiol + Chemotherapy Improved Survival (in mice)

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof Marco Falasca Head Metabolic Signalling Group  School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences | Faculty of Health Sciences Curtin University Western University

Prof. Falasca

Prof Marco Falasca
Head Metabolic Signalling Group
School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences
Curtin University
Western University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Each year around 9,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease is particularly aggressive and has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers.

Indeed, the life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available. Given the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is less than seven per cent, the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed.

In this study, we decided to concentrate on a protein, named GPR55, found in high levels in pancreatic cancer. Our results show that GPR55 promotes pancreatic cancer progression. Consequently, we decided to use its inhibitor cannabidiol, a naturally occurring constituent of medicinal cannabis, as a pharmacological strategy to block GPR55 activity.

Strikingly, mice with pancreatic cancer that were treated with cannabidiol alongside chemotherapy, survived almost three times longer than those treated with chemotherapy alone, our study reports.  Continue reading

Acupuncture For Pain in Breast Cancer Patients on Aromatase Inhibitors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dawn Hershman, MD, MS, FASCO Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Leader, Breast Cancer Program Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Hershman

Dawn Hershman, MD, MS, FASCO
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Leader, Breast Cancer Program
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Aromatase inhibitors are effective in reducing the risk of recurrence in hormone sensitive breast cancer, however they commonly cause joint pain and stiffness that can lead to early discontinuation of treatment. We know that women who stop early do not get the same benefits as those who continue for the full duration.

Acupuncture has been shown to improve a variety of pain syndromes. We conducted a large multicenter trial among women with joint pain on aromatase inhibitors and randomized patients to true acupuncture, sham acupuncture and a waitlist control arm.

We found that acupuncture resulted in more pain reduction than the other 2 control groups. Measuring pain can be challenging in clinical trials. We now know that a meaningful reduction for a patient is 2 points on a 10 point scale. We found that nearly 60 percent of women in the true acupuncture group experienced at least a 2-point reduction in pain, versus 33 percent of the sham acupuncture group and 31 percent of the controls. These results where highly statistically significant.  Continue reading

Everolimus Plus Exemestane vs Monotherapy for ER+ HER2- Advanced Breast Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Guy Jerusalem, MD, PhD CHU Sart Tilman Liege and Liege University Liege, Belgium

Dr. Jerusalem

Dr. Guy Jerusalem, MD, PhD
CHU Sart Tilman Liege and Liege University
Liege, Belgium

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: BOLERO-6 was conducted to fulfill postapproval regulatory commitments to the FDA and EMA to estimate treatment benefit with EVE + EXE vs EVE alone or CAP for ER+, HER2− ABC that had progressed on an NSAI. Everolimus plus exemestane has not previously been compared with everolimus alone or capecitabine in a randomized setting.Data describing everolimus alone are limited to a single phase 2 study of just 19 patients. Thus, the FDA deemed it important to ascertain the efficacy of everolimus alone for ER+ breast cancer, and to determine the contribution of exemestane to combination therapy with everolimus. Capecitabine is often the first chemotherapeutic agent given for ER+ breast cancer that has progressed on anti-estrogen therapy. It has a reported PFS of 4.1–7.9 months among patients with HER2-negative advanced breast cancer. However, it has a different safety profile to everolimus or exemestane, and a comparison of endocrine-based combination therapy with single-agent chemotherapy was yet to be conducted.

The median PFS with EVE + EXE (8.4 months) was consistent with BOLERO-2 (7.8 months), and compared to EVE alone here (6.8 months) corresponded to an estimated 26% reduction of risk of disease progression or death (HR 0.74).

A numerical median PFS difference was observed for CAP over EVE + EXE (9.6 vs 8.4 months), which may be attributed to various baseline characteristics favoring CAP and potential informative censoring. The median PFS with capacitabine was longer than expected based on previous trials. Interpretation of the results of BOLERO-6 must consider the limited sample size and open-label design.  Continue reading

Erectile Dysfunction Drugs May Boost Effects of Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Pan Pantziarka

Dr Pan Pantziarka

Dr Pan Pantziarka, PhD
Program Director, Drug Repurposing: Anticancer Fund
Coordinator: Repurposing Drugs in Oncology
(www.redo-project.org) 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project is an on-going collaboration assessing the evidence of anticancer activity in a wide range of already licensed non-cancer drugs. A subset of these drugs have a sufficient level of evidence to support clinical investigation and these are profiled in detail in order to synthesise the existing evidence and to bring it to the attention of clinical researchers.

In the case of the PDE5 inhibitors sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil the evidence is clear that these drugs have multiple anticancer mechanisms of action at clinically relevant dosing. In particular there is evidence that these drugs target anti-tumour immune responses, as shown from a small number of early stage clinical trials. This opens up the prospect of using these cheap and widely available drugs in combination with existing therapies to improve the number and duration of responses. The chance to increase the therapeutic effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitors is especially compelling and definitely warrants clinical research.

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Combination EGFR + TNF Inhibition May Knock Out Most Lung Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amyn Habib, M.D. Associate Professor, Neurology & Neurotherapeutics UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Amyn Habib

Amyn Habib, M.D.
Associate Professor, Neurology & Neurotherapeutics
UT Southwestern Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is expressed in most lung cancers and could play an important role in driving the growth of lung cancer.  Drugs are available that can block the activity of the EGFR. However, EGFR inhibitors are successful in only a small subset of lung cancers that have a mutant form of the EGFR, and do not work in the majority of lung cancers that have the normal form of the EGFR.  Continue reading

AI Trained Computer Program Can Monitor Health Forums To Detect Adverse Drug Reactions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kavita Sarin, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Sarin

Kavita Sarin, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Stanford University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Drug reactions occur in the majority of patients undergoing cancer therapies. Half of serious drug reactions are detected after market approval which can result in painful complications and interruption in therapy. Post-market drug surveillance platforms such as FDA monitoring rely on medical publications and physician reporting and take time to identify trends. We sought to determine if we could identify trends in patient discussions in internet health forums to more rapidly identify chemotherapeutic drug reactions. We chose skin reactions as a proof-of-principle because patients can more easily describe what they see on their skin.

Julia Ransohoff, a medical student, and Azadeh Nikfarham, an informatics postdoctoral fellow trained a computer to recognize when a patient undergoing anti-cancer treatment with PD-1 antagonists or EGFR-inhibitors described a drug reaction in their internet forum posts.

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ASPIRE: Combination Therapy With KYPROLIS (carfilzomib) Extended Overall Survival in Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David S. Siegel, MD, PhD Chief, Myeloma Division John Theurer Cancer Center Hackensack University Medical Center Hackensack, NJ 07601

Dr. Siegel

David S. Siegel, MD, PhD
Chief, Myeloma Division
John Theurer Cancer Center
Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack, NJ 07601

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  •  We reported results from the prospectively planned final analysis of overall survival (OS) from the Phase 3 ASPIRE trial, an international, randomized study evaluating KYPROLIS (carfilzomib) in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone (KRd) versus lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (Rd) in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma following treatment with one to three prior regimens. Overall survival was a secondary endpoint in the trial.
  • Data published last week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology demonstrated that the addition of KYPROLIS to Rd reduced the risk of death by 21 percent versus Rd alone and extended OS by 7.9 months (median OS 48.3 months for KRd versus 40.4 months for Rd, HR = 0.79, 95 percent CI, 0.67 – 0.95; one-sided p=0.0045).
  • Notably, an OS improvement of 11.4 months was observed for patients at first relapse (47.3 versus 35.9 months [HR = 0.81, 95 percent CI, 0.62 – 1.06]), supporting early use of KRd.
  • The safety data from ASPIRE was consistent with the known safety profile of KYPROLIS. The most common adverse events (greater than or equal to 20 percent) in the KYPROLIS arm were diarrhea, anemia, neutropenia, fatigue, upper respiratory tract infection, pyrexia, cough, hypokalemia, thrombocytopenia, muscle spasms, pneumonia, nasopharyngitis, nausea, constipation, insomnia and bronchitis.

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Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy Improves Longevity in Some Ovarian Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. W.J. van Driel Gynaecologic Oncologist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Amsterdam 

Dr. W.J. van Drie

Dr. W.J. van Driel
Gynaecologic Oncologist
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek
Amsterdam 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study reports on the results of a randomized phase 3 study in patients with FIGO stage III ovarian cancer who were ineligible for primary cytoreductive surgery and therefore treated with neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and interval cytoreductive surgery. Following optimal or complete cytoreductive surgery another 3 cycles of chemotherapy were given. During the interval cytoreductive surgery patients were randomized between surgery alone or surgery + HIPEC. During hyperthermic intraperitoneal administration of chemotherapy (HIPEC) the abdomen is perfused with cisplatin to expose any remaining minimal or microscopic disease to a high dose of heated chemotherapy.

The main findings are that the addition of HIPEC to interval cytoreductive surgery resulted in longer recurrence-free survival and overall survival than surgery alone and the addition of HIPEC did not result in higher rates of side effects.  Continue reading

Repurposed Drug Hydroxyurea May Improve Glioblastoma’s Response to Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bakhos Tannous

Dr. Tannous

Bakhos Tannous, PhD
Neuro-Oncology Division
Department of Neurology
MGH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and most aggressive type of brain tumors in adults. Over the last two decades, the major improvement in the treatment for GBM has been the addition of the chemotherapeutic temozolomide (TMZ) to the standard of care (surgery and radiation), however, despite this aggressive therapy, over 90% of patients die within five years after diagnosis. Further, only about half of GBM patients really benefit from TMZ treatment, while the other half are somewhat resistant to TMZ since their tumor endogenously carry a DNA repair mechanism that removes DNA adducts caused by TMZ.

We therefore wanted to find a combination therapy that overcomes TMZ resistance and works in all GBM patient populations, with a fast transition to the clinic. Through a repurposing drug screening aiming at recycling of old known drugs for new therapies, we found that the FDA-approved drug hydroxyurea to synergizes with temozolomide in patient-derived GBM cells from newly diagnosed and recurrent tumors, irrespective of their DNA repair mechanism. The combination of hydroxyurea and TMZ worked very well in all different patient cell population tested, and was not specific to one subtype, and lead to a significant increase in survival rate in different mouse models.

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Ovarian Cancer Trial: Disappointing Results of Paclitaxel With/Without Pazopanib

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Debra Richardson, MD, FACOG, FACS
Associate Professor, Section of Gynecologic Oncology,
Oklahoma TSET Phase I Program
Stephensen Cancer Center
The University of Oklahoma

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer deaths. Pazopanib is an oral multitarget tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF receptors 1, 2, and 3; platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors α and β and c-KIT. Weekly paclitaxel is an active agent for recurrent ovarian cancer.

This was a national, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled phase 2b trial of weekly paclitaxel with or without pazopanib for the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer. The primary objective was to estimate the progression-free survival (PFS) hazard ratio (HR) of the combination of weekly paclitaxel (80mg/m2 D1, 8, 15 every 28 days) and pazopanib (800mg PO daily) compared with weekly paclitaxel and placebo in women with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer. 106 women were enrolled. There was no difference in median PFS, overall survival (OS), or proportion responding. Severe hypertension was more common on the pazopanib plus paclitaxel arm. More patients discontinued treatment on the paclitaxel arm for disease progression, and more on the pazopanib plus paclitaxel arm for adverse events. Patients with VEGFA CC genotype may be more resistant to weekly paclitaxel than those with the AC or AA genotype.

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Multiple Myeloma: Phase 3 Study of DARZALEX + VMP Reduced Risk of Disease Progression and Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos MD Professor and Chairman Department of Clinical Therapeutics University Athens School of Medicine Athens, Greece

Dr. Dimopoulos

DrMeletios A. Dimopoulos MD
Professor and Chairman
Department of Clinical Therapeutics
University Athens School of Medicine
Athens, Greece

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Updated data from the Phase 3 POLLUX trials showed DARZALEX, in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56 percent, compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (Hazard Ratio [HR]=0.44; 95 percent CI [0.34-0.55], p<0.0001). After a median follow-up of 32.9 months, the median progression-free survival (PFS) in the DARZALEX arm has not been reached, compared with a median PFS of 17.5 months for patients who received lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone.

DARZALEX in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone also significantly increased the overall response rate (ORR) compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone (93 percent vs. 76 percent, p<0.0001), including rates of complete response (CR) or better (55 percent vs. 23 percent, p<0.0001). DARZALEX also showed significantly higher (>3-fold) MRD-negative rates compared to lenalidomide and dexamethasone alone. These data were featured as an oral presentation (Abstract #739) at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in early December.

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Older Diabetes Drug Metformin May Resensitize Tumors to Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada 

Dr. Arnason

Terra G Arnason, MD PhD, Associate Professor,
Division of Endocrinology,
Department of Medicine
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK, Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Response: Metformin has been used worldwide for decades to treat Type diabetes.

Metformin is a cheap non-toxic compound that was originally plant derived. In the past decade a number of meta-analyses have demonstrated that Type 2 individuals taking
metformin have a reduced risk of developing many different cancers and do better
longterm. The molecular events facilitating metformin’s activity remain obscure and
it is unknown whether metformin can help cancer patients avoid the development of
drug resistant cancers years after successful treatment.

In our study we asked whether metformin can not only restore sensitivity of multiple drug resistant tumors to chemotherapy once again, but whether metformin can prevent the development of multiple drug resistance in the “rst place. We demonstrate that metformin can sensitize drug resistant cells to chemotherapy once again, which supports recent
studies, but we also show for the “first time that Metformin can prevent the
progression of cancer cells towards drug resistance using cell culture experiments.

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Thinking Abilities May Decline After Treatment For Head and Neck Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN Clinical Research Unit Member, Princess Margaret Research Institute Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine University of Toronto Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in Psychology, York University

Dr. Bernstein

Lori J Bernstein, PhD, CPsych
Neuropsychologist, Dept. of Supportive Care
Core Member, Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program
ELLICSR Centre for Health Wellness and Cancer Survivorship
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN
Clinical Research Unit Member,
Princess Margaret Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Despite the increasing role of (chemo-)radiation treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), and involvement of central nervous system structures in the radiation field, we don’t know a lot about whether there are short or long term consequences in thinking abilities in survivors. So our question was this: Do people treated for head and neck cancer with radiation or chemoradiation have short or long term neurocognitive deficits after treatment?

We assessed head and neck cancer patients and healthy non-cancer controls four times, first at baseline (after diagnosis but before treatment), and then again 6, 12, and 24 months later. We found that compared to the controls, patients decline over time in several different neurocognitive domains, including concentration, verbal memory, and executive function. We found that as many as 38% of patients suffered from impaired global neurocognitive functioning by two years after treatment compared to none of the controls.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: The findings indicate that some (but not all) head and neck cancer survivors are at risk of suffering from declines in thinking abilities such as attention and memory. These changes can be subtle and increase gradually. We didn’t follow people beyond 2 years after treatment, so we don’t know whether these deficits would improve, worsen, or stabilize after that.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Longer longitudinal follow-up is needed to determine if symptoms change after 2 years. More investigation of the relationships between treatment variables such as radiation dosing and long term neurocognitive function is important. Further research is also needed to find ways to avoid, reduce and compensate for declines.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We are extremely grateful to the people who participated in this study. We plan to reassess participants for several more years, so we hope to know more about even longer term cognitive function in people treated for head and neck cancer. In addition, I want to acknowledge that we could not have done this work without the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and The Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Alona Zer, Gregory R. Pond, Albiruni R. Abdul Razak, Kattleya Tirona, Hui K. Gan, Eric X. Chen, Brian O’Sullivan, John Waldron, David P. Goldstein, Ilan Weinreb, Andrew J. Hope, John J. Kim, Kelvin K. W. Chan, Andrew K. Chan, Lillian L. Siu, Lori J. Bernstein. Association of Neurocognitive Deficits With Radiotherapy or Chemoradiotherapy for Patients With Head and Neck Cancer. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online November 22, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.2235

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medical Tetrahydrocannabinol May Be Beneficial For Seizures and Chemotherapy Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Wong

Dr. Wong

Shane Shucheng Wong, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Medical cannabis is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and in those areas with active programs, children and adolescents can legally access medical cannabis with certification from their doctor and consent from a parent. This means that doctors and families need to understand what we know and what we don’t yet know about medical cannabis in order to make the best decision for the health of the individual child. Two synthetic cannabinoids – compounds that act on specific receptors in the brain – have been approved for medical use in the U.S., both of which mimic a form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound responsible for the “high” of recreational cannabis use. Dronabinol (Marinol) is approved to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in both children and adults, while the pediatric use of nabilone (Cesamet) carries a caution. A third cannabinoid, cannabidiol, is currently in phase 3 trials for treatment of seizures.

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Patients With Dementia Less Likely To Receive Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Chen

Yingjia Chen, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Both colon cancer and dementia are prevalent among the elderly and have a high risk of co-occurrence. Previous studies found that patients with dementia were treated less aggressively. In this study, we hypothesized that presence of pre-existing dementia was associated with worse survival for stage III colon cancer patients, and that post-operative chemotherapy was on the causal pathway.

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Some Breast Cancer Patients With Complete Response To Neoadjuvant Therapy Can Avoid Further Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Audree Tadros, MD, MPH Chief Administrative Fellow, Breast Surgical Oncology Training Program Department of Breast Surgical Oncology MD Anderson Cancer Center and

Dr. Tadros

Audree Tadros, MD, MPH
Chief Administrative Fellow, Breast Surgical Oncology Training Program
Department of Breast Surgical Oncology
MD Anderson Cancer Center and

Henry M. Kuerer, MD, PhD, FACS Executive Director, Breast Programs MD Anderson Cancer Network PH and Fay Etta Robinson Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research Department of Breast Surgical Oncology Director, Breast Surgical Oncology Training Program

Dr. Kuerer

Henry M. Kuerer, MD, PhD, FACS
Executive Director, Breast Programs
MD Anderson Cancer Network
PH and Fay Etta Robinson Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research
Dept of Breast Surgical Oncology
Director, Breast Surgical Oncology Training Program

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT) has the ability to confer a pCR (pathologic complete response-when no residual cancer is found) in both the breast and axillary lymph nodes. We know that this is most likely to occur in women with HER2 positive and triple negative disease. The high rate of pCR among these patients raises the question of whether surgery is still required, particularly among those who will receive adjuvant radiation therapy.

Until recently, we lacked the ability to pre-operatively predict patients who achieved a breast pCR. Recently, we completed a clinical feasibility trial examining the ability of image-guided biopsy to predict a pCR after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Our biopsy technique was able to accurately predict a pCR in 98% of patients with only a 5% false negative rate. Based upon these findings, we believe we can accurately determine which patients achieve a breast pCR. This led us to develop a clinical trial to see if breast surgery is redundant in patients who achieve a pCR. An important question that remained was if we are going to omit breast surgery in these exceptional responders, can we also omit axillary surgery?

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For African American Women, Breast Cancer Symptoms Worsen During Initial Treatments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with::

Margaret Q. Rosenzweig PhD, CRNP-C, AOCNP, FAAN Acute and Tertiary Care Department University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Margaret Rosenzweig

Margaret Q. Rosenzweig PhD, CRNP-C, AOCNP, FAAN
Acute and Tertiary Care Department
University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A significant survival disparity still exists between African American and non-Hispanic white women diagnosed with breast cancer. There is evidence that symptom incidence, associated distress, and overall cancer-related distress may be unexplored, important contributing factors. The current study was a secondary, exploratory aim from the Attitudes, Communication, Treatment, and Support (ACTS) Intervention to Reduce Breast Cancer Treatment Disparity study, which is a randomized controlled trial of a psychoeducational intervention to encourage acceptance and adherence to chemotherapy compared with usual care for  African American women with breast cancer. The purpose of the current study was to:

1) describe and compare the number of chemotherapy-related symptoms and associated distress among AA women with breast cancer over the course of chemotherapy at 3 time points (at baseline before initiating chemotherapy, midpoint, and at the completion of chemotherapy); and

2) to describe the relationship between the number of chemotherapy-related symptoms and overall cancer distress compared with the ability to receive at least 85% of the prescribed chemotherapy within the prescribed timeframe.

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Diabetes Drug May Enhance Melanoma Chemotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bin Zheng, PhD Assistant Professor Cutaneous Biology Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Charlestown, MA 02129

Dr. Bin Zheng

Bin Zheng, PhD
Assistant Professor
Cutaneous Biology Research Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Charlestown, MA 02129 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with more than 75,000 newly diagnosed cases in the US each year. Over the years, various genetic driver mutations have been identified that cause melanoma, including mutations in the genes BRAF and NRAS. Recent genetic insights into the development of melanoma showed that also mutations in NF1 can lead to melanoma. While there are targeted therapies available for BRAF-mutant melanoma, thus far no such therapies are available for NF1-mutant melanoma. We identified that using a combination of an ERK inhibitor, SCH772984, and the antidiabetic drug phenformin could provide a novel therapeutic strategy for NF1-mutatnt melanomas.

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ER-beta May Identify Breast Cancer Patients For Whom Chemotherapy is Sufficient

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Helena Jernström, PhD
Associate Professor in Experimental Oncology
Study Coordinator for Graduate studies Division of Oncology and Pathology
Coordinator of the programmes in statistics and epidemiology for doctoral students at the Medical Faculty, Lund University
Division of Oncology and Pathology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund
Lund University Cancer Center/Kamprad
Lund, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There is a need for better predictive markers to guide selection of therapy in breast cancer patients. Estrogen receptor beta (ER-beta) may confer prognostic information beyond what is currently obtained by the established clinical markers, including ER-alpha, which is routinely evaluated.

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Predictors of Chemosensitivity in Triple Negative Breast Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christos Hatzis, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Director of Bioinformatics, Breast Medical Oncology Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center Yale School of Medicine New Haven, CT

Dr. Christos Hatzis,

Christos Hatzis, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Director of Bioinformatics, Breast Medical Oncology
Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, CT

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a highly heterogeneous and aggressive disease, and although no effective targeted therapies are available to date, about one-third of patients with TNBC achieve pathologic complete response (pCR) from standard-of-care anthracycline/taxane (ACT) chemotherapy. The heterogeneity of these tumors, however, has hindered the discovery of effective biomarkers to identify such patients.

Identifying chemosensitive triple negative breast cancers could significantly impact
the survival of patients with these difficult to treat cancers until novel targeted
therapies become available. We hypothesized that genomic somatic aberrations may
provide important molecular clues about chemosensitivity in TNBC. Our study used
a carefully selected cohort of 29 uniformly treated TNBC patients who either achieved
pathologic complete response (pCR) or had extensive residual disease after neoadjuvant
anthracycline/taxane chemotherapy.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We sequenced the coding genomic DNA of TNBC tumors and compared the somatic mutations found in the two groups at the two extremes of the chemosensitivity spectrum.

Our analysis revealed that, although mutations in single genes were not individually predictive, TNBC tumors bearing mutations in genes involved in the androgen receptor
(AR) and FOXA1 pathways were much more sensitive to chemotherapy.
We also found that mutations that lowered the levels of functional BRCA1 or BRCA2 RNA
were associated with significantly better survival outcomes; we derived a BRCA
deficiency signature to define this new, highly chemosensitive subtype of TNBC.
BRCA-deficient TNBC tumors have a higher rate of clonal mutation burden, defined as
more clonal tumors with a higher number of mutations per clone, and are also associated
with a higher level of immune activation, which may explain their greater chemosensitivity.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Mutations in the AR/FOXA1 pathway provide a novel marker for identifying chemosensitive TNBC patients who may benefit from current standard-of-care chemotherapy regimens.

The newly defined RNA-based BRCA-deficient subtype includes up to 50% of the
Triple negative breast cancer tumors that appear to be immune primed, and it would be of interest to investigate combinations of chemotherapy with immunotherapies, which could provide clinical benefit for these patients. Although our study showed concordant results in three different datasets, our key findings need to be further validated in a larger, prospectively designed study with archival samples.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The comprehensive molecular analysis presented in this study directly links BRCA deficiency with increased clonal mutation burden and significantly enhanced chemosensitivity in Triple negative breast cancer and suggests that functional RNA-based BRCA deficiency needs to be further examined in TNBC. Our results suggest that the combination of immunotherapies with ACT chemotherapy or PARP inhibitors might be an effective strategy for treating BRCA-D tumors.

The strong connection of ACT chemosensitivity and immune activity with a new transcriptionally defined BRCA-D phenotype could help inform future therapeutic strategies for TNBC patients.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Predictors of Chemosensitivity in Triple Negative Breast Cancer: An Integrated Genomic AnalysisTingting Jiang,Weiwei Shi,Vikram B. Wali,Lőrinc S. Pongor,Charles Li,Rosanna Lau,Balázs Győrffy,Richard P. Lifton,William F. Symmans,Lajos Pusztai,Christos Hatzis

PLOS Medicine Published: December 13, 2016http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002193

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Breast Cancer: PARP Inhibitor Veliparib Has Potential To Enhance Platinum Chemotherapy in Recurrent or Metastatic Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Vince Giranda, M.D., PH.D.
Project Director
AbbVie Oncology Development

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In this Phase 2 study, called BROCADE 2, veliparib combined with the platinum chemotherapy regimen carboplatin and paclitaxel showed positive trends in overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), although these were not statistically significant. Importantly there were no meaningful increase in side effects with the addition of veliparib to carboplatin and paclitaxel. The veliparib combination regimen also demonstrated a significantly higher objective response rate.

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