Category: Oncology

Hot Topics: Health-Related Quality of Life Not Sufficiently Measured in Oncology Studies

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology, Research and Scholarly Communication

Evaluating Progression-Free Survival as a Surrogate Outcome for Health-Related Quality of Life in Oncology: A Systematic Review and Quantitative Analysis

Kovic B, Jin X, Kennedy S, et al. Evaluating progression-free survival as a surrogate outcome for health-related quality of life in oncology: A systematic review and quantitative analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2018. http://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4710.

Importance  Progression-free survival (PFS) has become a commonly used outcome to assess the efficacy of new cancer drugs. However, it is not clear if delay in progression leads to improved quality of life with or without overall survival benefit.

Objective  To evaluate the association between PFS and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in oncology through a systematic review and quantitative analysis of published randomized clinical trials. Eligible trials addressed oral, intravenous, intraperitoneal, or intrapleural chemotherapy or biological treatments, and reported PFS or health-related quality of life.

Data Sources  For this systematic review and quantitative analysis of randomized clinical trials of patients with cancer, we searched Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from January 1, 2000, through May 4, 2016.

Study Selection  Paired reviewers independently screened citations, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias of included studies.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  We examined the association of difference in median PFS duration (in months) between treatment groups with difference in global, physical, and emotional HRQoL scores between groups (standardized to a range of 0-100, with higher scores representing better HRQoL) using weighted simple regressions.

Main Outcome and Measure  The association between PFS duration and HRQoL.

Results  Of 35 960 records screened, 52 articles reporting on 38 randomized clinical trials involving 13 979 patients across 12 cancer types using 6 different HRQoL instruments were included. The mean (SD) difference in median PFS between the intervention and the control arms was 1.91 (3.35) months. The mean (SD) differences in change of HRQoL adjusted to per-month values were −0.39 (3.59) for the global domain, 0.26 (5.56) for the physical domain, and 1.08 (3.49) for the emotional domain. The slope of the association between the difference in median PFS and the difference in change for global HRQoL (n = 30 trials) was 0.12 (95% CI, −0.27 to 0.52); for physical HRQoL (n = 20 trials) it was −0.20 (95% CI, −0.62 to 0.23); and for emotional HRQoL (n = 13 trials) it was 0.78 (95% CI, −0.05 to 1.60).

Conclusions and Relevance  We failed to find a significant association between PFS and HRQoL in cancer clinical trials. These findings raise questions regarding the assumption that interventions prolonging PFS also improve HRQoL in patients with cancer. Therefore, to ensure that patients are truly obtaining important benefit from cancer therapies, clinical trial investigators should measure HRQoL directly and accurately, ensuring adequate duration and follow-up.

Hot Topics: Nuclear Medicine Imaging Targets Cancer

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology, Radiology

A Tumor-Imaging Method Targeting Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts

Loktev A, Lindner T, Mier W, et al. A tumor-imaging method targeting cancer-associated fibroblasts. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 2018;59(9):1423-1429. http://dx.doi.org/10.2967/jnumed.118.210435.

The tumor stroma, which accounts for a large part of the tumor mass, represents an attractive target for the delivery of diagnostic and therapeutic compounds. Here, the focus is notably on a subpopulation of stromal cells, known as cancer-associated fibroblasts, which are present in more than 90% of epithelial carcinomas, including pancreatic, colon, and breast cancer. Cancer-associated fibroblasts feature high expression of fibroblast activation protein (FAP), which is not detectable in adult normal tissue but is associated with a poor prognosis in cancer patients. Methods: We developed an iodinated and a DOTA-coupled radiotracer based on a FAP-specific enzyme inhibitor (FAPI) and evaluated them in vitro using uptake, competition, and efflux studies as well as confocal microscopy of a fluorescence-labeled variant. Furthermore, we performed imaging and biodistribution studies on tumor-bearing animals. Finally, proof of concept was realized by imaging patients with 68Ga-labeled FAPI. Results: Both FAPIs showed high specificity, affinity, and rapid internalization into FAP-expressing cells in vitro and in vivo. Biodistribution studies on tumor-bearing mice and on the first cancer patients demonstrated high intratumoral uptake of the tracer and fast body clearance, resulting in high-contrast images and negligible exposure of healthy tissue to radiation. A comparison with the commonly used radiotracer 18F-FDG in a patient with locally advanced lung adenocarcinoma revealed that the new FAP ligand was clearly superior. Conclusion: Radiolabeled FAPIs allow fast imaging with very high contrast in tumors having a high stromal content and may therefore serve as pantumor agents. Coupling of these molecules to DOTA or other chelators allows labeling not only with 68Ga but also with therapeutic isotopes such as 177Lu or 90Y.

Hot Topics: Childhood Cancer Tumor Pathway Discovered Through Zebrafish

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology, Pediatrics

PAX3-FOXO1 transgenic zebrafish models identify HES3 as a mediator of rhabdomyosarcoma tumorigenesis

Kendall GC, Watson S, Xu L, et al. PAX3-FOXO1 transgenic zebrafish models identify HES3 as a mediator of rhabdomyosarcoma tumorigenesis. eLife. 2018;7:e33800. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.33800.

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is a pediatric soft-tissue sarcoma caused by PAX3/7-FOXO1fusion oncogenes and is characterized by impaired skeletal muscle development. We developed human PAX3-FOXO1 -driven zebrafish models of tumorigenesis and found that PAX3-FOXO1 exhibits discrete cell lineage susceptibility and transformation. Tumors developed by 1.6–19 months and were primitive neuroectodermal tumors or rhabdomyosarcoma. We applied this PAX3-FOXO1 transgenic zebrafish model to study how PAX3-FOXO1 leverages early developmental pathways for oncogenesis and found that her3 is a unique target. Ectopic expression of the her3 human ortholog, HES3, inhibits myogenesis in zebrafish and mammalian cells, recapitulating the arrested muscle development characteristic of rhabdomyosarcoma. In patients, HES3 is overexpressed in fusion-positive versus fusion-negative tumors. Finally, HES3 overexpression is associated with reduced survival in patients in the context of the fusion. Our novel zebrafish rhabdomyosarcoma model identifies a new PAX3-FOXO1 target, her3/HES3, that contributes to impaired myogenic differentiation and has prognostic significance in human disease.

Hot Topics: Animal Model May Show How to Reduce Chemotherapy Pain

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Chemotherapy-induced pain is promoted by enhanced spinal adenosine kinase levels through astrocyte-dependent mechanisms

Wahlman C, Doyle TM, Little JW, et al. Chemotherapy-induced pain is promoted by enhanced spinal adenosine kinase levels through astrocyte-dependent mechanisms. Pain. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001177

Development of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CINP) compromises the use of chemotherapy and greatly impacts thousands of lives. Unfortunately, there are no Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs to prevent or treat CINP. Neuropathological changes within CNS, including neuroinflammation and increased neuronal excitability, are driven by alterations in neuro-glia communication; but, the molecular signaling pathways remain largely unexplored. Adenosine is a potent neuroprotective purine nucleoside released to counteract the consequences of these neuropathological changes. Adenosine signaling at its adenosine receptors (ARs) is dictated by adenosine kinase (ADK) in astrocytes, which provides a cellular sink for the removal of extracellular adenosine. We now demonstrate that chemotherapy (oxaliplatin) in rodents caused ADK overexpression in reactive astrocytes and reduced adenosine signaling at the A3AR subtype (A3AR) within the spinal cord. Dysregulation of ADK and A3AR signaling was associated with increased proinflammatory and neuroexcitatory interleukin-1β expression and activation of nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor protein 3 inflammasome, but not putative oxaliplatin-associated GSK3β transcriptional regulation. Intrathecal administration of the highly selective A3AR agonist MRS5698 attenuated IL-1β production and increased the expression of potent anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective IL-10. The effects of MRS5698 were blocked by attenuating IL-10 signaling in rats with intrathecal neutralizing IL-10 antibody and in IL-10−/− knockout mice. These findings provide new molecular insights implicating astrocyte-based ADK-adenosine axis and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor protein 3 in the development of CINP and IL-10 in the mechanism of action of A3AR agonists. These findings strengthen the pharmacological rationale for clinical evaluation of A3AR agonists already in advanced clinical trials as anticancer agents as an adjunct to chemotherapy.

Hot Topics: Mass Spectroscopy “Cancer Pen” Could Quickly Detect Tumors

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology, Uncategorized

Nondestructive tissue analysis for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis using a handheld mass spectrometry system

Zhang J, Rector J, Lin JQ, et al. Nondestructive tissue analysis for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis using a handheld mass spectrometry system. Science Translational Medicine. 2017;9(406). http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aan3968

Conventional methods for histopathologic tissue diagnosis are labor- and time-intensive and can delay decision-making during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. We report the development of an automated and biocompatible handheld mass spectrometry device for rapid and nondestructive diagnosis of human cancer tissues. The device, named MasSpec Pen, enables controlled and automated delivery of a discrete water droplet to a tissue surface for efficient extraction of biomolecules. We used the MasSpec Pen for ex vivo molecular analysis of 20 human cancer thin tissue sections and 253 human patient tissue samples including normal and cancerous tissues from breast, lung, thyroid, and ovary. The mass spectra obtained presented rich molecular profiles characterized by a variety of potential cancer biomarkers identified as metabolites, lipids, and proteins. Statistical classifiers built from the histologically validated molecular database allowed cancer prediction with high sensitivity (96.4%), specificity (96.2%), and overall accuracy (96.3%), as well as prediction of benign and malignant thyroid tumors and different histologic subtypes of lung cancer. Notably, our classifier allowed accurate diagnosis of cancer in marginal tumor regions presenting mixed histologic composition. Last, we demonstrate that the MasSpec Pen is suited for in vivo cancer diagnosis during surgery performed in tumor-bearing mouse models, without causing any observable tissue harm or stress to the animal. Our results provide evidence that the MasSpec Pen could potentially be used as a clinical and intraoperative technology for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis.

Hot Topics: Combination of Traditional and New Drugs Effective for Esophageal Cancer

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology

Inhibition of pRB pathway differentially modulates apoptosis in esophageal cancer cells

Soletti RC, Biasoli D, Rodrigues NALV, et al. Inhibition of pRB pathway differentially modulates apoptosis in esophageal cancer cells. Translational Oncology. 2017;10(5):726-733. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tranon.2017.06.008.

Esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Current chemotherapy regimens include a combination of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin, but more efficient therapy strategies are needed to increase 5-year survival. Alterations in the signaling pathway of the tumor suppressor gene Rb-1, which encodes a phosphoprotein (pRB) that negatively regulates the G1/S transition of the cell cycle, are present in 70% of all tumors, but its role in esophageal cancer is still unclear. Most of these are alterations leading to up-regulation of the activity of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) to phosphorylate pRB, which suggests that keeping the wild type pRB phosphorylated might be advantageous. Besides proliferation, pRB also regulates apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and DNA-damage. We investigated the status of phosphorylation of pRB along esophageal tumorigenesis stages, as well as whether hyperphosphorylation of pRB could suppress apoptosis induced by cisplatin, 5-FU, or TNF-α in esophageal cancer cells. pRB phosphorylation increased progressively from normal esophageal tissue to metaplasia and adenocarcinoma, suggesting that pRB phosphorylation increases along esophageal tumor stages. When RB-1 was knocked down or CDK inhibitors reduced the levels of phosphorylated pRB, opposite apoptotic effects were observed, depending on the combination of drugs tested: whereas TNF-α- and cisplatin-induced apoptosis increased, 5-FU-induced apoptosis decreased. Taken together, these data suggest that pRB plays a role in esophageal adenocarcinoma and that, depending on the type of anti-cancer treatment, combining CDK inhibitors and chemotherapy has the potential to increase the sensitivity of esophageal cancer cells to cell death.

Hot Topics: Financial Concerns Hinder Younger Cancer Survivors’ Treatment Compliance

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology

Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States

Zheng Z, Han X, Guy GP, et al. Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States. Cancer. 2017:n/a-n/a. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.30560.

BACKGROUND
There is limited evidence from nationally representative samples about changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons among cancer survivors in the United States.
METHODS
The 2011 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey was used to identify adults who reported ever having been told they had cancer (cancer survivors; n = 8931) and individuals without a cancer history (n = 126,287). Measures of changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons included: 1) skipping medication doses, 2) taking less medicine, 3) delaying filling a prescription, 4) asking a doctor for lower cost medication, 5) buying prescription drugs from another country, and 6) using alternative therapies. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were controlled for demographic characteristics, number of comorbid conditions, interactions between cancer history and number of comorbid conditions, and health insurance coverage. Main analyses were stratified by age (nonelderly, ages 18-64 years; elderly, ages ≥65 years) and time since diagnosis (recently diagnosed, <2 years; previously diagnosed, ≥2 years).
RESULTS
Among nonelderly individuals, both recently diagnosed (31.6%) and previously diagnosed (27.9%) cancer survivors were more likely to report any change in prescription drug use for financial reasons than those without a cancer history (21.4%), with the excess percentage changes for individual measures ranging from 3.5% to 9.9% among previously diagnosed survivors and from 2.6% to 2.7% among recently diagnosed survivors (P < .01). Elderly cancer survivors and those without a cancer history had comparable rates of changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons.
CONCLUSIONS
Nonelderly cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons, suggesting that targeted efforts are needed. Cancer 2017. © 2017 American Cancer Society.

Hot Topics: Larger Racial Disparity in Cervical Cancer Gap Than Previously Estimated

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology

Hysterectomy-corrected cervical cancer mortality rates reveal a larger racial disparity in the United States

Beavis AL, Gravitt PE, Rositch AF. Hysterectomy-corrected cervical cancer mortality rates reveal a larger racial disparity in the United States. Cancer. 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.30507.

BACKGROUND
The objectives of this study were to determine the age-standardized and age-specific annual US cervical cancer mortality rates after correction for the prevalence of hysterectomy and to evaluate disparities by age and race.

METHODS
Estimates for deaths due to cervical cancer stratified by age, state, year, and race were derived from the National Center for Health Statistics county mortality data (2000-2012). Equivalently stratified data on the prevalence of hysterectomy for women 20 years old or older from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey were used to remove women who were not at risk from the denominator. Age-specific and age-standardized mortality rates were computed, and trends in mortality rates were analyzed with Joinpoint regression.

RESULTS
Age-standardized rates were higher for both races after correction. For black women, the corrected mortality rate was 10.1 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.6-10.6), whereas the uncorrected rate was 5.7 per 100,000 (95% CI, 5.5-6.0). The corrected rate for white women was 4.7 per 100,000 (95% CI, 4.6-4.8), whereas the uncorrected rate was 3.2 per 100,000 (95% CI, 3.1-3.2). Without the correction, the disparity in mortality between races was underestimated by 44%. Black women who were 85 years old or older had the highest corrected rate: 37.2 deaths per 100,000. A trend analysis of corrected rates demonstrated that white women’s rates decreased at 0.8% per year, whereas the annual decrease for black women was 3.6% (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS
A correction for hysterectomy has revealed that cervical cancer mortality rates are underestimated, particularly in black women. The highest rates are seen in the oldest black women, and public health efforts should focus on appropriate screening and adequate treatment in this population. Cancer 2017. © 2017 American Cancer Society.

Hot Topics: New Free Database Crowdsources Cancer Mutation Research

Jackie Werner Hot Topics in Research, Oncology

CIViC is a Community Knowledgebase for Expert Crowdsourcing the Clinical Interpretation of Variants in Cancer

Griffith M, Spies NC, Krysiak K, et al. CIViC is a community knowledgebase for expert crowdsourcing the clinical interpretation of variants in cancer. Nat Genet. 2017;49(2):170-174. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3774.

CIViC is an expert-crowdsourced knowledgebase for Clinical Interpretation of Variants in Cancer describing the therapeutic, prognostic, diagnostic and predisposing relevance of inherited and somatic variants of all types. CIViC is committed to open-source code, open-access content, public application programming interfaces (APIs) and provenance of supporting evidence to allow for the transparent creation of current and accurate variant interpretations for use in cancer precision medicine.