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1.  Breast cancer (non-metastatic) 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0102.
Introduction
Breast cancer affects at least 1 in 10 women in the UK, but most present with primary operable disease, which has an 80% 5-year survival rate overall.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions after breast-conserving surgery for ductal carcinoma in situ? What are the effects of treatments for primary operable breast cancer? What are the effects of interventions in locally advanced breast cancer (stage 3B)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to April 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 83 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adding chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide/methotrexate/fluorouracil and/or anthracycline and/or taxane-based regimens), or hormonal treatment to radiotherapy; adjuvant treatments (aromatase inhibitors, adjuvant anthracycline regimens, tamoxifen); axillary clearance; axillary dissection plus sentinel node dissection; axillary radiotherapy; axillary sampling; combined chemotherapy plus tamoxifen; chemotherapy plus monoclonal antibody (trastuzumab); extensive surgery; high-dose chemotherapy; hormonal treatment; less extensive mastectomy; less than whole-breast radiotherapy plus breast-conserving surgery; multimodal treatment; ovarian ablation; primary chemotherapy; prolonged adjuvant combination chemotherapy; radiotherapy (after breast-conserving surgery, after mastectomy, plus tamoxifen after breast-conserving surgery, to the internal mammary chain, and to the ipsilateral supraclavicular fossa, and total nodal radiotherapy); sentinel node biopsy; and standard chemotherapy regimens.
Key Points
Breast cancer affects at least 1 in 10 women in the UK, but most present with primary operable disease, which has an 80% 5-year survival rate overall.
In women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), radiotherapy reduces local recurrence and invasive carcinoma after breast-conserving surgery. The role of tamoxifen added to radiotherapy for DCIS remains unclear because of conflicting results.
In women with primary operable breast cancer, survival may be increased by full surgical excision, tamoxifen, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, ovarian ablation, or trastuzumab (in women who over-express HER2/neu oncogene). Incomplete excision may increase the risk of local recurrence, but less-extensive mastectomy that excises all local disease is as effective as radical mastectomy at prolonging survival, with better cosmetic results. Axillary clearance (removal of all axillary lymph nodes) achieves local disease control, but has not been shown to increase survival, and can cause arm lymphoedema. Sentinel lymph node biopsy or 4-node sampling may adequately stage the axilla with less morbidity compared with axillary clearance. Adjuvant tamoxifen reduces the risk of recurrence and death in women with oestrogen-positive tumours. Primary chemotherapy may facilitate successful breast-conserving surgery instead of mastectomy. Adjuvant combination chemotherapy improves survival compared with no chemotherapy, with greatest benefit likely with anthracycline-based regimens at standard doses for 4 to 6 months.Radiotherapy decreases recurrence and mortality after breast-conserving surgery. Post-mastectomy radiotherapy for women who are node-positive or at high risk of recurrence decreases recurrence and mortality. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitors improve disease-free survival compared with tamoxifen, but their effect on overall survival is unclear. Adjuvant taxane-based regimens may improve disease-free survival over standard anthracycline-based therapy.
In women with locally advanced breast cancer, radiotherapy may be as effective as surgery or tamoxifen at increasing survival and local disease control. Adding tamoxifen or ovarian ablation to radiotherapy increases survival compared with radiotherapy alone, but adding chemotherapy may not reduce recurrence or mortality compared with radiotherapy alone.We don't know if chemotherapy alone improves survival in women with locally advanced breast cancer as we found few trials.
PMCID: PMC3217212  PMID: 21718560
2.  Breast cancer (non-metastatic) 
Clinical Evidence  2007;2007:0102.
Introduction
Breast cancer affects at least 1 in 10 women in the UK, but most present with primary operable disease, which has an 80% 5-year survival rate overall.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions after breast-conserving surgery for ductal carcinoma in situ? What are the effects of treatments for primary operable breast cancer? What are the effects of interventions in locally advanced breast cancer (stage IIIB)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to February 2006 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 79 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adding chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide/methotrexate/ fluorouracil and/or anthracycline and/or taxane-based regimens), or hormonal treatment to radiotherapy; adjuvant treatments (aromatase inhibitors, adjuvant anthracycline regimens, tamoxifen); axillary clearance; axillary dissection plus sentinel node dissection; axillary radiotherapy; axillary sampling; combined chemotherapy plus tamoxifen; chemotherapy plus monoclonal antibody (trastuzumab); extensive surgery; high-dose chemotherapy; hormonal treatment; less extensive mastectomy; less than whole breast radiotherapy plus breast conserving surgery; multimodal treatment; ovarian ablation; primary chemotherapy; prolonged adjuvant combination chemotherapy; radiotherapy (after breast-conserving surgery, after mastectomy, plus tamoxifen after breast-conserving surgery, to the internal mammary chain, and to the ipsilateral supraclavicular fossa, and total nodal radiotherapy); sentinel node biopsy; and standard chemotherapy regimens.
Key Points
Breast cancer affects at least 1 in 10 women in the UK, but most present with primary operable disease, which has an 80% 5-year survival rate overall.
In women with ductal carcinoma in situ, radiotherapy reduces local recurrence and invasive carcinoma after breast-conserving surgery, but may not improve survival.
In women with primary operable breast cancer, survival may be increased by full surgical excision, tamoxifen, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, ovarian ablation or trastuzumab (in women who overexpress HER2/neu oncogene). Incomplete excision may increase the risk of local recurrence, but less-extensive mastectomy that excises all local disease is as effective as radical mastectomy at prolonging survival, with better cosmetic results. Axillary clearance (removal of all axillary lymph nodes) achieves local disease control, but has not been shown to increase survival, and can cause arm lymphoedema. Sentinel lymph node biopsy or 4-node sampling may adequately stage the axilla with less morbidity compared with axillary clearance. Adjuvant tamoxifen reduces the risk of recurrence and death in women with oestrogen-positive tumours, but adverse effects begin to outweigh benefit after 5 years of treatment. Primary chemotherapy may facilitate successful breast-conserving surgery instead of mastectomy. Adjuvant combination chemotherapy improves survival compared with no chemotherapy, with greatest benefit likely with anthracycline-based regimens at standard doses for 4-6 months.Radiotherapy decreases recurrence and mortality after breast-conserving surgery. Post-mastectomy radiotherapy for women who are node-positive or at high risk of recurrence decreases recurrence and mortality, but may increase mortality in node-negative women. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitors improve disease-free survival compared with tamoxifen, but their effect on overall survival is unclear.Adjuvant taxoid regimens may improve disease-free survival over standard anthracycline-based therapy.
In women with locally advanced breast cancer, radiotherapy may be as effective as surgery or tamoxifen at increasing survival and local disease control. Adding tamoxifen or ovarian ablation to radiotherapy increases survival compared with radiotherapy alone, but adding chemotherapy may not reduce recurrence or mortality compared with radiotherapy alone.Chemotherapy alone, while widely used, does not improve survival in women with locally advanced breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2943780  PMID: 19450345
3.  DEAR1 Is a Dominant Regulator of Acinar Morphogenesis and an Independent Predictor of Local Recurrence-Free Survival in Early-Onset Breast Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000068.
Ann Killary and colleagues describe a new gene that is genetically altered in breast tumors, and that may provide a new breast cancer prognostic marker.
Background
Breast cancer in young women tends to have a natural history of aggressive disease for which rates of recurrence are higher than in breast cancers detected later in life. Little is known about the genetic pathways that underlie early-onset breast cancer. Here we report the discovery of DEAR1 (ductal epithelium–associated RING Chromosome 1), a novel gene encoding a member of the TRIM (tripartite motif) subfamily of RING finger proteins, and provide evidence for its role as a dominant regulator of acinar morphogenesis in the mammary gland and as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival in early-onset breast cancer.
Methods and Findings
Suppression subtractive hybridization identified DEAR1 as a novel gene mapping to a region of high-frequency loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in a number of histologically diverse human cancers within Chromosome 1p35.1. In the breast epithelium, DEAR1 expression is limited to the ductal and glandular epithelium and is down-regulated in transition to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early histologic stage in breast tumorigenesis. DEAR1 missense mutations and homozygous deletion (HD) were discovered in breast cancer cell lines and tumor samples. Introduction of the DEAR1 wild type and not the missense mutant alleles to complement a mutation in a breast cancer cell line, derived from a 36-year-old female with invasive breast cancer, initiated acinar morphogenesis in three-dimensional (3D) basement membrane culture and restored tissue architecture reminiscent of normal acinar structures in the mammary gland in vivo. Stable knockdown of DEAR1 in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) recapitulated the growth in 3D culture of breast cancer cell lines containing mutated DEAR1, in that shDEAR1 clones demonstrated disruption of tissue architecture, loss of apical basal polarity, diffuse apoptosis, and failure of lumen formation. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining of a tissue microarray from a cohort of 123 young female breast cancer patients with a 20-year follow-up indicated that in early-onset breast cancer, DEAR1 expression serves as an independent predictor of local recurrence-free survival and correlates significantly with strong family history of breast cancer and the triple-negative phenotype (ER−, PR−, HER-2−) of breast cancers with poor prognosis.
Conclusions
Our data provide compelling evidence for the genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 in breast cancer, for the functional role of DEAR1 in the dominant regulation of acinar morphogenesis in 3D culture, and for the potential utility of an immunohistochemical assay for DEAR1 expression as an independent prognostic marker for stratification of early-onset disease.
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, more than one million women discover that they have breast cancer. This type of cancer begins when cells in the breast that line the milk-producing glands or the tubes that take the milk to the nipples (glandular and ductal epithelial cells, respectively) acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The uncontrolled division leads to the formation of a lump that can be detected by mammography (a breast X-ray) or by manual breast examination. Breast cancer is treated by surgical removal of the lump or, if the cancer has started to spread, by removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Surgery is usually followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These “adjuvant” therapies are designed to kill any remaining cancer cells but can make patients very ill. Generally speaking, the outlook for women with breast cancer is good. In the US, for example, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although breast cancer is usually diagnosed in women in their 50s or 60s, some women develop breast cancer much earlier. In these women, the disease is often very aggressive. Compared to older women, young women with breast cancer have a lower overall survival rate and their cancer is more likely to recur locally or to metastasize. It would be useful to be able to recognize those younger women at the greatest risk of cancer recurrence so that they could be offered intensive surveillance and adjuvant therapy; those women at a lower risk could have gentler treatments. To achieve this type of “stratification,” the genetic changes that underlie breast cancer in young women need to be identified. In this study, the researchers discover a gene that is genetically altered (by mutations or deletion) in early-onset breast cancer and then investigate whether its expression can predict outcomes in women with this disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “suppression subtractive hybridization” to identify a new gene in a region of human Chromosome 1 where loss of heterozygosity (LOH; a genetic alteration associated with cancer development) frequently occurs. They called the gene DEAR1 (ductal epithelium-associated RING Chromosome 1) to indicate that it is expressed in ductal and glandular epithelial cells and encodes a “RING finger” protein (specifically, a subtype called a TRIM protein; RING finger proteins such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been implicated in early cancer development and in a large fraction of inherited breast cancers). DEAR1 expression was reduced or lost in several ductal carcinomas in situ (a local abnormality that can develop into breast cancer) and advanced breast cancers, the researchers report. Furthermore, many breast tumors carried DEAR1 missense mutations (genetic changes that interfere with the normal function of the DEAR1 protein) or had lost both copies of DEAR1 (the human genome contains two copies of most genes). To determine the function of DEAR1, the researchers replaced a normal copy of DEAR1 into a breast cancer cell that had a mutation in DEAR1. They then examined the growth of these genetically manipulated cells in special three-dimensional cultures. The breast cancer cells without DEAR1 grew rapidly without an organized structure while the breast cancer cells containing the introduced copy of DEAR1 formed structures that resembled normal breast acini (sac-like structures that secrete milk). In normal human mammary epithelial cells, the researchers silenced DEAR1 expression and also showed that without DEAR1, the normal mammary cells lost their ability to form proper acini. Finally, the researchers report that DEAR1 expression (detected “immunohistochemically”) was frequently lost in women who had had early-onset breast cancer and that the loss of DEAR1 expression correlated with reduced local recurrence-free survival, a strong family history of breast cancer and with a breast cancer subtype that has a poor outcome.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that genetic alteration and loss of expression of DEAR1 are common in breast cancer. Although laboratory experiments may not necessarily reflect what happens in people, the results from the three-dimensional culture of breast epithelial cells suggest that DEAR1 may regulate the normal acinar structure of the breast. Consequently, loss of DEAR1 expression could be an early event in breast cancer development. Most importantly, the correlation between DEAR1 expression and both local recurrence in early-onset breast cancer and a breast cancer subtype with a poor outcome suggests that it might be possible to use DEAR1 expression to identify women with early-onset breast cancer who have an increased risk of local recurrence so that they get the most appropriate treatment for their cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000068.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Senthil Muthuswamy
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of breast cancer, including information on genetic alterations in breast cancer (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information for patients about breast cancer; MedlinePlus also provides links to many other breast cancer resources (in English and Spanish)
The UK charities Cancerbackup (now merged with MacMillan Cancer Support) and Cancer Research UK also provide detailed information about breast cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000068
PMCID: PMC2673042  PMID: 19536326
4.  Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer 
Executive Summary
In February 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on evidence-based reviews of published literature surrounding three pharmacogenomic tests. This project came about when Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) asked MAS to provide evidence-based analyses on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three oncology pharmacogenomic tests currently in use in Ontario.
Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these technologies. These have been completed in conjunction with internal and external stakeholders, including a Provincial Expert Panel on Pharmacogenomics (PEPP). Within the PEPP, subgroup committees were developed for each disease area. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA) and is summarized within the reports.
The following reports can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: www.health.gov.on.ca/mas or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html
Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer: An Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: An Evidence-Based and Ecopnomic Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
Objective
To review and synthesize the available evidence regarding the laboratory performance, prognostic value, and predictive value of Oncotype-DX for the target population.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
The target population of this review is women with newly diagnosed early stage (stage I–IIIa) invasive breast cancer that is estrogen-receptor (ER) positive and/or progesterone-receptor (PR) positive. Much of this review, however, is relevant for women with early stage (I and II) invasive breast cancer that is specifically ER positive, lymph node (LN) negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2/neu) negative. This refined population represents an estimated incident population of 3,315 new breast cancers in Ontario (according to 2007 data). Currently it is estimated that only 15% of these women will develop a distant metastasis at 10 years; however, a far great proportion currently receive adjuvant chemotherapy, suggesting that more women are being treated with chemotherapy than can benefit. There is therefore a need to develop better prognostic and predictive tools to improve the selection of women that may benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.
Technology of Concern
The Oncotype-DX Breast Cancer Assay (Genomic Health, Redwood City, CA) quantifies gene expression for 21 genes in breast cancer tissue by performing reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumour blocks that are obtained during initial surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, or core biopsy) of women with early breast cancer that is newly diagnosed. The panel of 21 genes include genes associated with tumour proliferation and invasion, as well as other genes related to HER-2/neu expression, ER expression, and progesterone receptor (PR) expression.
Research Questions
What is the laboratory performance of Oncotype-DX?
How reliable is Oncotype-DX (i.e., how repeatable and reproducible is Oncotype-DX)?
How often does Oncotype-DX fail to give a useable result?
What is the prognostic value of Oncotype-DX?*
Is Oncotype-DX recurrence score associated with the risk of distant recurrence or death due to any cause in women with early breast cancer receiving tamoxifen?
What is the predictive value of Oncotype-DX?*
Does Oncoytpe-DX recurrence score predict significant benefit in terms of improvements in 10-year distant recurrence or death due to any cause for women receiving tamoxifen plus chemotherapy in comparison to women receiving tamoxifen alone?
How does Oncotype-DX compare to other known predictors of risk such as Adjuvant! Online?
How does Oncotype-DX impact patient quality of life and clinical/patient decision-making?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on March 19th, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1st, 2006 to March 19th, 2010. A starting search date of January 1st, 2006 was because a comprehensive systematic review of Oncotype-DX was identified in preliminary literature searching. This systematic review, by Marchionni et al. (2008), included literature up to January 1st, 2007. All studies identified in the review by Marchionni et al. as well as those identified in updated literature searching were used to form the evidentiary base of this review. The quality of the overall body of evidence was identified as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
Any observational trial, controlled clinical trial, randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis or systematic review that reported on the laboratory performance, prognostic value and/or predictive value of Oncotype-DX testing, or other outcome relevant to the Key Questions, specific to the target population was included.
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that did not report original data or original data analysis,
Studies published in a language other than English,
Studies reported only in abstract or as poster presentations (such publications were not sought nor included in this review since the MAS does not generally consider evidence that is not subject to peer review nor does the MAS consider evidence that lacks detailed description of methodology).
Outcomes of Interest
Outcomes of interest varied depending on the Key Question. For the Key Questions of prognostic and predictive value (Key Questions #2 and #3), the prospectively defined primary outcome was risk of 10-year distant recurrence. The prospectively defined secondary outcome was 10-year death due to any cause (i.e., overall survival). All additional outcomes such as risk of locoregional recurrence or disease-free survival (DFS) were not prospectively determined for this review but were reported as presented in included trials; these outcomes are referenced as tertiary outcomes in this review. Outcomes for other Key Questions (i.e., Key Questions #1, #4 and #5) were not prospectively defined due to the variability in endpoints relevant for these questions.
Summary of Findings
A total of 26 studies were included. Of these 26 studies, only five studies were relevant to the primary questions of this review (Key Questions #2 and #3). The following conclusions were drawn from the entire body of evidence:
There is a lack of external validation to support the reliability of Oncotype-DX; however, the current available evidence derived from internal industry validation studies suggests that Oncotype-DX is reliable (i.e., Oncotype-DX is repeatable and reproducible).
Current available evidence suggests a moderate failure rate of Oncotype-DX testing; however, the failure rate observed across clinical trials included in this review is likely inflated; the current Ontario experience suggests an acceptably lower rate of test failure.
In women with newly diagnosed early breast cancer (stage I–II) that is estrogen-receptor positive and/or progesterone-receptor positive and lymph-node negative:
There is low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has prognostic value in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen or anastrozole (the latter for postmenopausal women only),
There is very low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX can predict which women will benefit from adjuvant CMF/MF chemotherapy in women being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
In postmenopausal women with newly diagnosed early breast cancer that is estrogen-receptor positive and/or progesterone-receptor positive and lymph-node positive:
There is low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has limited prognostic value in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen or anastrozole,
There is very low quality evidence that Oncotype-DX has limited predictive value for predicting which women will benefit from adjuvant CAF chemotherapy in women who are being treated with adjuvant tamoxifen.
There are methodological and statistical limitations that affect both the generalizability of the current available evidence, as well as the magnitude and statistical strength of the observed effect sizes; in particular:
Of the major predictive trials, Oncotype-DX scores were only produced for a small subset of women (<40% of the original randomized population) potentially disabling the effects of treatment randomization and opening the possibility of selection bias;
Data is not specific to HER-2/neu-negative women;
There were limitations with multivariate statistical analyses.
Additional trials of observational design may provide further validation of the prognostic and predictive value of Oncotype-DX; however, it is unlikely that prospective or randomized data will become available in the near future due to ethical, time and resource considerations.
There is currently insufficient evidence investigating how Oncoytpe-DX compares to other known prognostic estimators of risk, such as Adjuvant! Online, and there is insufficient evidence investigating how Oncotype-DX would impact clinician/patient decision-making in a setting generalizable to Ontario.
PMCID: PMC3382301  PMID: 23074401
5.  Advances in First-Line Treatment for Patients with HER-2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(5):631-644.
The results of a literature review of well-established and recently published trials, reviews, and ongoing clinical trials examining first-line treatment for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–positive metastatic breast cancer patients are presented.
Learning Objectives:
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Discuss the optimal strategies to treat HER-2+ metastatic breast cancer patients in the first-line setting and after recurrence with adjuvant trastuzumab.Identify the current first-line therapeutic options for HER-2+ metastatic breast cancer, including HER-2/hormone receptor copositive tumors.Discuss the most important advances for HER-2+ metastatic breast cancer and the potential of novel anti-HER-2 therapies.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at CME.TheOncologist.com
Background.
The prognosis for breast cancer patients overexpressing human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 has changed with anti–HER-2–targeted therapy. Although anti–HER-2 therapy with trastuzumab and chemotherapy is the standard first-line treatment, the best therapeutic regimen has yet to be defined, and new strategies are evolving.
Methods.
A literature review of well-established and recently published trials, reviews, and ongoing clinical trials addressing first-line treatment for HER-2+ metastatic breast cancer patients was performed.
Results.
Taxanes are the agents most commonly used in combination with trastuzumab, but other chemotherapy drugs, such as anthracyclines, vinorelbine, and gemcitabine and triple-combination therapies including platinum compounds, capecitabine, and taxanes have been studied. The combination of aromatase inhibitors with anti–HER-2 therapies is a new therapeutic option for some patients who coexpress HER-2 and hormone receptors, although its activity observed in randomized clinical trials seems to be inferior to that of chemotherapy plus anti–HER-2 therapies. In addition, new anti–HER-2 therapies have shown activity in HER-2+ tumors, both alone and in combination with trastuzumab.
Conclusions.
Trastuzumab plus chemotherapy is the current standard of care for the upfront treatment of HER-2+ breast cancer patients, though other anti–HER-2–targeting agents may appear as new standards in the upcoming years.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0187
PMCID: PMC3360903  PMID: 22523199
Metastatic breast cancer; HER-2+; Trastuzumab; First-line treatment
6.  Evolution of Long-Term Adjuvant Anti-hormone Therapy: Consequences and Opportunities. The St. Gallen Prize Lecture 
Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland)  2011;20(Suppl 3):S1-11.
The successful translation of the scientific principles of targeting the breast tumour oestrogen receptor (ER) with the nonsteroidal anti-oestrogen tamoxifen and using extended durations (at least 5-years) of adjuvant therapy, dramatically increased patient survivorship and significantly enhanced a drop in national mortality rates from breast cancer. The principles are the same for the validation of aromatase inhibitors to treat post-menopausal patients but tamoxifen remains a cheap, life-saving medicine for the pre-menopausal patient. Results from the Oxford Overview Analysis illustrate the scientific principle of “longer is better” for adjuvant therapy in pre-menopausal patients. One-year of adjuvant therapy is ineffective at preventing disease recurrence or reducing mortality, whereas five-years of adjuvant tamoxifen reduces recurrence by 50% which is maintained for a further ten-years after treatment stops. Mortality is reduced but the magnitude continues to increase to 30% over a 15-year period. With this clinical database, it is now possible to implement simple solutions to enhance survivorship. Compliance with long-term anti-hormone adjuvant therapy is critical. In this regard, the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to reduce severe menopausal side effects may be inappropriate. It is known that SSRIs block the CYP2D6 enzyme that metabolically activates tamoxifen to its potent anti-oestrogenic metabolite, endoxifen. The selective nor-epinephrine reuptake inhibitor, venlafaxine, does not block CYP2D6, and may be a better choice. Nevertheless, even with perfect compliance, the relentless drive of the breast cancer cell to acquire resistance to therapy persists. The clinical application of long-term anti-hormonal therapy for the early treatment and prevention of breast cancer, focused laboratory research on the discovery of mechanisms involved in acquired anti-hormone resistance. Decades of laboratory study to reproduce clinical experience described not only the unique mechanism of SERM-stimulated breast cancer growth, but also a new apoptotic biology of oestradiol action in breast cancer, following 5-years of anti-hormonal treatment. Oestradiol-induced apoptotic therapy is currently shown to be successful for the short-term treatment of metastatic ER positive breast cancer following exhaustive treatment with anti-hormones. The “oestrogen purge” concept is now being integrated into trials of long-term adjuvant anti-hormone therapy. The Study of Letrazole Extension (SOLE) trial employs “anti-hormonal drug holidays” so that a woman’s own oestrogen may periodically purge and kill the nascent sensitized breast cancer cells that are developing. This is the translation of an idea first proposed at the 1992 St. Gallen Conference. Although tamoxifen is the first successful targeted therapy in cancer, the pioneering medicine is more than that. A study of the pharmacology of tamoxifen opened the door for a pioneering application in cancer chemoprevention and created a new drug group: the Selective ER Modulators (SERMs) with group members (raloxifene and lasofoxifene) approved for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis with a simultaneous reduction of breast cancer risk. Thus, the combined strategies of long-term anti-hormone adjuvant therapy, targeted to the breast tumour ER, coupled with the expanding use of SERMs to prevent osteoporosis and prevent breast cancer as a beneficial side effect have advanced patient survivorship significantly and promises to reduce breast cancer incidence.
doi:10.1016/S0960-9776(11)70287-9
PMCID: PMC3521565  PMID: 22015273
tamoxifen; selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs); raloxifene; apoptosis; oestrogen; acquired drug resistance; chemoprevention
7.  Early Breast Cancer in the Older Woman 
The Oncologist  2011;16(4):479-485.
A literature review of recently published trials, reviews, and practice guidelines outlining the surgical and adjuvant management of early breast cancer in older women is presented.
Background.
Women aged ≥65 are generally underrepresented in early breast cancer studies. Therefore, the optimal management of this group of women remains less certain.
Methods.
A literature review of recently published trials, reviews, and practice guidelines outlining the surgical and adjuvant management of early breast cancer in older women was performed.
Results.
Surgery remains as the cornerstone treatment for early breast cancer in the elderly. Adjuvant radiation is generally considered if the projected lifespan is >5 years. Hormone receptor–positive disease is best treated with adjuvant endocrine treatment; aromatase inhibitors and tamoxifen are both options. Evidence for the use of adjuvant chemotherapy and trastuzumab for high-risk disease in the elderly is more limited. Polychemotherapy is still preferred in fit older women. Certain toxicities from systemic treatments can be more pronounced and should be carefully managed. Treatment with systemic agents should be individualized, with consideration of patient preference, performance status, comorbidities, and projected lifespan. Molecular tumor signatures may help better select patients for treatment in the future.
Conclusions.
Age in itself should not be an absolute contraindication to any breast cancer therapy. Comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment of elderly patients is imperative in evaluating eligibility for beneficial therapies.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0279
PMCID: PMC3228114  PMID: 21415085
Breast neoplasms; Aged; Geriatrics; General surgery; Adjuvant chemotherapy; Adjuvant radiation
8.  Adjuvant trastuzumab in the treatment of her-2-positive early breast cancer: a meta-analysis of published randomized trials 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:153.
Background
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. and Western Europe. Amplification of the her-2/neu gene occurs in approximately 25% of invasive ductal carcinomas of the breast. The first HER-2/neu-targeted approach to reach the clinic was trastuzumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against the extracellular domain of the HER-2/neu protein. Trastuzumab therapy prolongs the survival of patients with metastático HER-2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer when combined with chemotherapy and has recently been demonstrated to lead to dramatic improvements in disease-free survival when used in the adjuvant therapy setting in combination with or following chemotherapy. Here, we performed a meta-analysis of completed clinical trials of adjuvant trastuzumab in the adjuvant setting. Survival, recurrence, brain metastases, cardiotoxicity and directions for future research are discussed.
Methods
A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCT) was performed comparing adjuvant trastuzumab treatment for HER2-positive early breast cancer (EBC) to observation. The MEDLINE, EMBASE, CANCERLIT and Cochrane Library databases, and abstracts published in the annual proceedings were systematically searched for evidence. Relevant reports were reviewed by two reviewers independently and the references from these reports were searched for additional trials, using guidelines set by QUOROM statement criteria.
Results
Pooled results from that five randomized trials of adjuvant Trastuzumab showed a significant reduction of mortality (p < 0.00001), recurrence (p < 0.00001), metastases rates (p < 0.00001) and second tumors other than breast cancer (p = 0.007) as compared to no adjuvant Trastuzumab patients. There were more grade III or IV cardiac toxicity after trastuzumab (203/4555 = 4.5%) versus no trastuzumab (86/4562 = 1.8%). The likelihood of cardiac toxicity was 2.45-fold higher (95% CI 1.89 – 3.16) in trastuzumab arms, however that result was associated with heterogeneity. The likelihood of brain metastases was 1.82-fold higher (95% CI 1.16 – 2.85) in patients who received trastuzumab.
Conclusion
The results from this meta-analysis are sufficiently compelling to consider 1 year of adjuvant trastuzumab treatment for women with HER-2-positive EBC based on the risk: benefit ratio demonstrated in these studies. Adequate assessment of HER-2/neu status is critical, and careful cardiac monitoring is warranted because of cardiac toxicity. Clinical trials should be designed to answer unsolved questions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-153
PMCID: PMC1959236  PMID: 17686164
9.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
Technology
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT Trial
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
Conclusions
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
10.  Adjuvant hormonal therapy for stage I endometrial cancer 
Current Oncology  2008;15(3):126-135.
Question
What is the role of hormonal therapy as adjuvant therapy in patients with stage i endometrial cancer?
Perspectives
There is little consensus on the role of adjuvant treatment for patients with stage i endometrial cancer. Although the use of hormonal therapy has been established in advanced disease, less agreement has emerged concerning the benefits of adjuvant hormonal therapy for patients with early-stage disease. The objective of the present evidence series was to review the existing literature on the role of hormonal therapy as adjuvant therapy in patients with stage i endometrial cancer.
Outcomes
Reports were sought that included at least one of the following outcomes: overall survival, disease-free survival, recurrence (local, or distant, or both), adverse effects, and quality of life. Because of the potential for long-term adverse effects with adjuvant hormonal treatment in this patient population, especially with regard to thromboembolic or cardiovascular events, the rates of non-cancer-related death were also of interest.
Methodology
The medline, embase, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials, practice guidelines, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. The resulting evidence informed the development of the clinical practice guideline. The systematic review with meta-analyses and practice guideline were approved by the Report Approval Panel of the Program in Evidence-Based Care, and by the Gynecology Cancer Disease Site Group (dsg).
Results
Nine randomized trials and one published meta-analysis comparing adjuvant hormonal therapy with no adjuvant therapy in women with stage i endometrial cancer constituted the evidence base. One trial reported a statistically significant survival benefit with adjuvant progestogen as compared with no further treatment (97% vs. 69%, p < 0.001). In that trial, the treatment group had a higher number of patients with less myometrial invasion, and a lower number of patients with advanced-stage disease. These differences in baseline characteristics between the randomized groups were considered to be clinically important. In addition, the results of that trial were not consistent with those of other trials, and the trial was a source of statistical heterogeneity when data were pooled across trials.
In two of the nine randomized trials, statistically significant recurrence-free benefits were detected with adjuvant hormonal therapy as compared with no further therapy. In one trial, the difference between the rates of recurrence was 16%; however, the methodologic concerns related to that that trial limited its relevance. In the other trial, the difference between the rates of recurrence was 5%. In that trial, patients were at a high risk of recurrence. None of the remaining seven randomized trials reported any significant difference in recurrence rates between treatment groups.
The meta-analysis identified in the literature detected no statistically significant recurrence-free or overall survival benefit associated with adjuvant hormonal therapy as compared with no adjuvant therapy [odds ratio (or): 1.05; 95% confidence interval (ci): 0.88 to 1.24). Those results are consistent with the results of the meta-analysis in the present report, which included an additional two trials (or: 1.10; 95% ci: 0.91 to 1.34).
Practice Guideline
Target Population
This clinical recommendation applies to women with newly diagnosed stage i endometrial cancer.
Recommendation
The available evidence does not demonstrate any benefit for adjuvant hormonal therapy. The use of hormonal therapy is not recommended as adjuvant treatment for patients with stage i endometrial cancer.
PMCID: PMC2442763  PMID: 18596890
Adjuvant hormonal therapy; stage i endometrial cancer; early-stage endometrial cancer
11.  The Implications of Breast Cancer Molecular Phenotype for Radiation Oncology 
The identification of distinct molecular subtypes of breast cancer has advanced the understanding and treatment of breast cancer by providing insight into prognosis, patterns of recurrence, and effectiveness of therapy. The prognostic significance of molecular phenotype with regard to distant recurrences and overall survival are well established in the literature and has been readily incorporated into systemic therapy management decisions. However, despite the accumulating data suggesting similar prognostic significance for locoregional recurrence, integration of molecular phenotype into local management decision making has lagged. Although there are some conflicting reports, collectively the literature supports a low risk of local recurrence (LR) in the hormone receptor (HR) positive luminal subtypes compared to HR negative subtypes [triple negative (TN) and HER2-enriched]. The development of targeted therapies, such as trastuzumab for the treatment of HER2-enriched subtype, has been shown to mitigate the increased risk of LR. Unfortunately, no such remedy exists to address the increased risk of LR for patients with TN tumors, making it a clinical challenge for radiation oncologists. In this review we discuss the correlation between molecular subtype and LR following either breast conservation therapy or mastectomy. We also explore the possible mechanisms for increased LR in TN breast cancer and radiotherapeutic implications for this population, such as the safety of breast conservation, consideration of dose escalation, and the appropriateness of accelerated partial breast irradiation.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2011.00012
PMCID: PMC3355956  PMID: 22649753
breast; cancer; subtype; local; recurrence; triple; negative; radiotherapy
12.  External influences and priority-setting for anti-cancer agents: a case study of media coverage in adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:110.
Background
Setting priorities for the funding of new anti-cancer agents is becoming increasingly complex. The funding of adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer has brought this dilemma to the fore. In this paper we review external factors that may influence decision-making bodies and present a case study of media response in Ontario, Canada to adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer.
Methods
A comprehensive search of the databases of Canadian national and local newspapers and television was performed. Articles pertaining to trastuzumab in adjuvant breast cancer as well as 17 other anti-cancer drugs and indications were retrieved. The search period was from the date when individual trial results were announced to the date funding was made available in Ontario.
Results
During the 2.6 months between the release of the trastuzumab results to funding approval in Ontario, we identified 51 episodes of media coverage. For the 17 other drugs/indications (7 breast and 10 non-breast), the median time to funding approval was 31 months (range 14–46). Other recent major advances in oncology such as adjuvant vinorelbine/cisplatin for resected NSCLC and docetaxel for advanced prostate cancer received considerably less media attention (17 media reports for each) than trastuzumab. The median number of media reports for breast cancer drugs was 4.5 compared to 2.5 for non-breast cancer drugs (p = 0.56).
Conclusion
Priority-setting for novel anti-cancer agents is a complex process that tries to ensure fair use of constrained resources to fund therapies with the best evidence of clinical benefit. However, this process is subject to external factors including the influence of media, patient advocates, politicians, and industry. The data in this case study serve to illustrate the significant involvement one (or all) of these external factors may play in the debate over priority-setting.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-110
PMCID: PMC1925109  PMID: 17598896
13.  Basal/HER2 breast carcinomas 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(2):225-245.
High rates of inherent primary resistance to the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) are frequent among HER2 gene-amplified breast carcinomas in both metastatic and adjuvant settings. The clinical efficacy of trastuzumab is highly correlated with its ability to specifically and efficiently target HER2-driven populations of breast cancer stem cells (CSCs). Intriguingly, many of the possible mechanisms by which cancer cells escape trastuzumab involve many of the same biomarkers that have been implicated in the biology of CS-like tumor-initiating cells. In the traditional, one-way hierarchy of CSCs in which all cancer cells descend from special self-renewing CSCs, HER2-positive CSCs can occur solely by self-renewal. Therefore, by targeting CSC self-renewal and resistance, trastuzumab is expected to induce tumor shrinkage and further reduce breast cancer recurrence rates when used alongside traditional therapies. In a new, alternate model, more differentiated non-stem cancer cells can revert to trastuzumab-refractory, CS-like cells via the activation of intrinsic or microenvironmental paths-to-stemness, such as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Alternatively, stochastic transitions of trastuzumab-responsive CSCs might also give rise to non-CSC cellular states that lack major attributes of CSCs and, therefore, can remain “hidden” from trastuzumab activity. Here, we hypothesize that a better understanding of the CSC/non-CSC social structure within HER2-overexpressing breast carcinomas is critical for trastuzumab-based treatment decisions in the clinic. First, we decipher the biological significance of CSC features and the EMT on the molecular effects and efficacy of trastuzumab in HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Second, we reinterpret the genetic heterogeneity that differentiates trastuzumab-responders from non-responders in terms of CSC cellular states. Finally, we propose that novel predictive approaches aimed at better forecasting early tumor responses to trastuzumab should identify biological determinants that causally underlie the intrinsic flexibility of HER2-positive CSCs to “enter” into or “exit” from trastuzumab-sensitive states. An accurate integration of CSC cellular states and EMT-related biomarkers with the currently available breast cancer molecular taxonomy may significantly improve our ability to make a priori decisions about whether patients belonging to HER2 subtypes differentially enriched with a “mesenchymal transition signature” (e.g., luminal/HER2 vs. basal/HER2) would distinctly benefit from trastuzumab-based therapy ab initio.
doi:10.4161/cc.23274
PMCID: PMC3575452  PMID: 23255137
basal-like; cancer stem cells; EMT; HER2; trastuzumab; breast cancer; reprogramming
14.  Risk Prediction for Breast, Endometrial, and Ovarian Cancer in White Women Aged 50 y or Older: Derivation and Validation from Population-Based Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001492.
Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe models to calculate absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-Hispanic women over 50 years old using easily obtainable risk factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers share some hormonal and epidemiologic risk factors. While several models predict absolute risk of breast cancer, there are few models for ovarian cancer in the general population, and none for endometrial cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50+ y from two large population-based cohorts (the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [PLCO] and the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study [NIH-AARP]), we estimated relative and attributable risks and combined them with age-specific US-population incidence and competing mortality rates. All models included parity. The breast cancer model additionally included estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use, other MHT use, age at first live birth, menopausal status, age at menopause, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, benign breast disease/biopsies, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI); the endometrial model included menopausal status, age at menopause, BMI, smoking, oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and an interaction term between BMI and MHT use; the ovarian model included oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and family history or breast or ovarian cancer. In independent validation data (Nurses' Health Study cohort) the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated; expected to observed cancer ratios were 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–1.04) for breast cancer and 1.08 (95% CI: 0.97–1.19) for ovarian cancer. The number of endometrial cancers was significantly overestimated, expected/observed = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.11–1.29). The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; discriminatory power) were 0.58 (95% CI: 0.57–0.59), 0.59 (95% CI: 0.56–0.63), and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.66–0.70) for the breast, ovarian, and endometrial models, respectively.
Conclusions
These models predict absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers from easily obtainable risk factors and may assist in clinical decision-making. Limitations are the modest discriminatory ability of the breast and ovarian models and that these models may not generalize to women of other races.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, just three types of cancer accounted for 10% of global cancer-related deaths. That year, about 460,000 women died from breast cancer (the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death). Another 140,000 women died from ovarian cancer, and 74,000 died from endometrial (womb) cancer (the 14th and 20th most common causes of cancer-related death, respectively). Although these three cancers originate in different tissues, they nevertheless share many risk factors. For example, current age, age at menarche (first period), and parity (the number of children a woman has had) are all strongly associated with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk. Because these cancers share many hormonal and epidemiological risk factors, a woman with a high breast cancer risk is also likely to have an above-average risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several statistical models (for example, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool) have been developed that estimate a woman's absolute risk (probability) of developing breast cancer over the next few years or over her lifetime. Absolute risk prediction models are useful in the design of cancer prevention trials and can also help women make informed decisions about cancer prevention and treatment options. For example, a woman at high risk of breast cancer might decide to take tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention, but ideally she needs to know her absolute endometrial cancer risk before doing so because tamoxifen increases the risk of this cancer. Similarly, knowledge of her ovarian cancer risk might influence a woman's decision regarding prophylactic removal of her ovaries to reduce her breast cancer risk. There are few absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, and none for endometrial cancer, so here the researchers develop models to predict the risk of these cancers and of breast cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Absolute risk prediction models are constructed by combining estimates for risk factors from cohorts with population-based incidence rates from cancer registries. Models are validated in an independent cohort by testing their ability to identify people with the disease in an independent cohort and their ability to predict the observed numbers of incident cases. The researchers used data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older that were collected during two large prospective US cohort studies of cancer screening and of diet and health, and US cancer incidence and mortality rates provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to build their models. The models all included parity as a risk factor, as well as other factors. The model for endometrial cancer, for example, also included menopausal status, age at menopause, body mass index (an indicator of the amount of body fat), oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, and an interaction term between menopausal hormone therapy use and body mass index. Individual women's risk for endometrial cancer calculated using this model ranged from 1.22% to 17.8% over the next 20 years depending on their exposure to various risk factors. Validation of the models using data from the US Nurses' Health Study indicated that the endometrial cancer model overestimated the risk of endometrial cancer but that the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated—the predicted and observed risks for these cancers in the validation cohort agreed closely. Finally, the discriminatory power of the models (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) was modest for the breast and ovarian cancer models but somewhat better for the endometrial cancer model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer can all be predicted using information on known risk factors for these cancers that is easily obtainable. Because these models were constructed and validated using data from white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older, they may not accurately predict absolute risk for these cancers for women of other races or ethnicities. Moreover, the modest discriminatory power of the breast and ovarian cancer models means they cannot be used to decide which women should be routinely screened for these cancers. Importantly, however, these well-calibrated models should provide realistic information about an individual's risk of developing breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer that can be used in clinical decision-making and that may assist in the identification of potential participants for research studies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer;
Information on the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and on the prospective cohort study of screening and the diet and health study that provided the data used to build the models is also available on the NCI site
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer; the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer and ovarian cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492
PMCID: PMC3728034  PMID: 23935463
15.  Clinical practice guidelines for the care and treatment of breast cancer: 15. Treatment for women with stage III or locally advanced breast cancer 
Objective
To define the optimal treatment for women with stage III or locally advanced breast cancer (LABC).
Evidence
Systematic review of English-language literature retrieved from MEDLINE (1984 to June 2002) and CANCERLIT (1983 to June 2002). A nonsystematic review of the literature was continued through December 2003.
Recommendations
· The management of LABC requires a combined modality treatment approach involving surgery, radiotherapy and systemic therapy.
Systemic therapy: chemotherapy
Operable tumours
· Patients with operable stage IIIA disease should be offered chemotherapy. They should receive adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery, or primary chemotherapy followed by locoregional management.
· Chemotherapy should contain an anthracycline. Acceptable regimens are 6 cycles of FAC, CAF, CEF or FEC. Taxanes are under intense investigation.
Inoperable tumours
· Patients with stage IIIB or IIIC disease, including those with inflammatory breast cancer and those with isolated ipsilateral internal mammary or supraclavicular lymph-node involvement, should be treated with primary anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
· Acceptable chemotherapy regimens are FAC, CAF, CEF or FEC. Taxanes are under intense investigation.
· Patients with stage IIIB or IIIC disease who respond to primary chemotherapy should be treated until the response plateaus or to a maximum of 6 cycles (minimum 4 cycles). Patients with stage IIIB disease should then undergo definitive surgery and irradiation. The locoregional management of patients with stage IIIC disease who respond to chemotherapy should be individualized. In patients with stage IIIB or IIIC disease who achieve maximum response with fewer than 6 cycles, further adjuvant chemotherapy can be given following surgery and irradiation. Patients whose tumours do not respond to primary chemotherapy can be treated with taxane chemotherapy or can proceed directly to irradiation followed by modified radical mastectomy, if feasible.
Systemic therapy: hormonal therapy
Operable and inoperable tumours
· Tamoxifen for 5 years should be recommended to pre- and postmenopausal women whose tumours are hormone responsive.
Locoregional management
Operable tumours
· Patients with stage IIIA disease should receive both modified radical mastectomy (MRM) and locoregional radiotherapy if feasible. They may be managed with MRM followed by chemotherapy and locoregional radiotherapy, or chemotherapy first followed by MRM and locoregional radiotherapy. Breast-conserving surgery is currently not a standard approach.
· Locoregional radiotherapy should be delivered to the chest wall and to the supraclavicular and axillary nodes. The role of internal mammary irradiation is unclear.
Inoperable tumours
· Patients with stage IIIB disease who respond to chemotherapy should receive surgery plus locoregional radiotherapy.
· The locoregional management of patients with stage IIIC disease who respond to chemotherapy is unclear and should be individualized.
· Patients whose disease remains inoperable following chemotherapy should receive locoregional radiotherapy with subsequent surgery, if feasible.
Validation
The authors' original text was revised by members of the Steering Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Care and Treatment of Breast Cancer. Subsequently, feedback was provided by 9 oncologists from across Canada. The final document was approved by the steering committee.
Sponsor
The Steering Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Care and Treatment of Breast Cancer was convened by Health Canada.
Completion date
December 2003.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.1030944
PMCID: PMC359433  PMID: 15023926
16.  Zurich Consensus: German Expert Opinion on the St. Gallen Votes on 15 March 2009 (11th International Conference at St. Gallen: Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer) 
Breast Care  2009;4(2):109-116.
Summary
A German working group of 23 breast cancer experts discussed the results from the vote at this year's St. Gallen Consensus Conference on Primary Therapy for Early Breast Cancer (March 11–14, 2009) and came up with some concrete recommendations for day-to-day therapeutic decisions in Germany. Due the fact that the concept of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference merely allows for a minimal consensus, the objective of the working group was to provide practice-related recommendations for day-to-day clinical decisions in Germany. One area of emphasis at St. Gallen was tumor biology as a starting point for reaching individual therapeutic decisions. Intensive discussion was necessary with respect to the clinical relevance of predictive and prognostic factors. A new addition to the area of systemic therapy was a first-ever discussion of the adjuvant administration of bisphosponates and the fact that therapy with trastuzumab in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer has been defined as the standard for neoadjuvant therapy. The value of taxanes as a component of (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy as well as the value of aromatase inhibitors for the endocrine adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal patients were affirmed.
doi:10.1159/000212164
PMCID: PMC2931071  PMID: 21049070
17.  Use of mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of breast cancer: an evaluation of factors that influence patient outcomes 
Many systemic treatment options are available for advanced breast cancer, including endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) therapy, and other targeted agents. Recently, everolimus, a mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, combined with exemestane, an aromatase inhibitor, has been approved in Europe and the USA for patients suffering from estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative advanced breast cancer previously treated by a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor, based on the results of BOLERO-2 (Breast cancer trials of OraL EveROlimus). This study showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in median progression-free survival. Results concerning the impact on overall survival are expected in the near future. This clinically oriented review focuses on the use of mTOR inhibitors in breast cancer. Results reported with first-generation mTOR inhibitors (ridaforolimus, temsirolimus, everolimus) are discussed. The current and potential role of mTOR inhibitors is reported according to breast cancer subtype (estrogen receptor-positive HER2-negative, triple-negative, and HER2-positive ER-positive/negative disease). Everolimus is currently being evaluated in the adjuvant setting in high-risk estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative early breast cancer. Continuing mTOR inhibition or alternatively administering other drugs targeting the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B-mTOR pathway after progression on treatments including an mTOR inhibitor is under evaluation. Potential biomarkers to select patients showing a more pronounced benefit are reviewed, but we are not currently using these biomarkers in routine practice. Subgroup analysis of BOLERO 2 has shown that the benefit is consistent in all subgroups and that it is impossible to select patients not benefiting from addition of everolimus to exemestane. Side effects and impact on quality of life are other important issues discussed in this review. Second-generation mTOR inhibitors and dual mTOR-phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase inhibitors are currently being evaluated in clinical trials.
doi:10.2147/BCTT.S38679
PMCID: PMC4000187  PMID: 24833916
breast cancer; treatment; everolimus; mTOR inhibitors; biomarkers; phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B-mTOR pathway
18.  Estimation of the cost of treatment by chemotherapy for early breast cancer in Morocco 
Background
Breast cancer is the first cancer in women both in incidence and mortality. The treatment of breast cancer benefited from the progress of chemotherapy and targeted therapies, but there was a parallel increase in treatment costs. Despite a relatively high incidence of many sites of cancer, so far, there is no national register for this disease in Morocco.
The main goal of this paper is to estimate the total cost of chemotherapy in the early stages of breast cancer due to its frequency and the chances of patients being cured. This study provides health decision-makers with a first estimate of costs and the opportunity to achieve the optimal use of available data to estimate the needs of antimitotics and trastuzumab in Morocco.
Method
We start by evaluating the individual cost according to the therapeutic sub-groups, namely:
1. Patients needing chemotherapy with only anthracycline-based therapy.
2. Patients needing chemotherapy with both anthracycline and taxane but without trastuzumab.
3. Patients needing trastuzumab in addition to chemotherapy.
For each sub-group, the protocol of treatment is described, and the individual costs per unit, and for the whole cycle, are evaluated.
Then we estimate the number of women suffering from breast cancer on the basis of two data bases available in Morocco.
Finally, we calculate the total annual cost of treatment of breast cancer in Morocco.
Results
The total cost of breast cancer in Morocco is given in Moroccan dirhams (MAD), the US dollar at the current exchange rate (MAD 10 = USD 1.30) and in international dollars or purchasing power parity (MAD 10 = PPP 1.95).
The cost of a therapy with trastuzumab is 8.4 times the cost of a sequential chemotherapy combining anthracycline and taxane, and nearly 60 times the cost of chemotherapy based on anthracycline alone.
Globally, between USD 13.3 million and USD 28.6 million need to be devoted every year by the Moroccan health authorities to treat women with localized breast cancer in keeping with international recommendations.
Discussion
According to our estimation methods, the complete cost of adjuvant chemotherapy including trastuzumab will range from 1.3 to 2.4% of the global budget of the Moroccan Health Department (MAD 9.8 billion or USD 1.274 billion). Unfortunately, only one-third of the Moroccan population has healthcare insurance whereas for each patient the treatment with chemotherapy alone costs 1.15 times the annual minimum income (MAD 23,710 or USD 3,082), and treatment requiring both chemotherapy and trastuzumab costs 9.76 times the annual minimum income. For the tumour over expressing HER2Neu, we need to treat 25 women in order to save (cure) one woman: the calculated cost for one life saved is USD 663,000. The question is, is it cost-effective for an emerging country?
Conclusion
In this paper we aimed at evaluating the total cost of chemotherapy in the early stages of breast cancer in order to provide health decision-makers with a first estimation and a good opportunity for the optimal use of available data for the needs of antimitotics and trastuzumab in Morocco. Different protocols were considered and the individual cost of the whole treatment was given according to therapies using anthracycline alone, sequential chemotherapy combining anthracycline and taxane, and sequential chemotherapy with trastuzumab. According to our estimations, Moroccan health authorities need to devote between USD 13.3 million and USD 28.6 million every year in order to treat women suffering from localized breast cancer in ways consistent with international recommended standards.
doi:10.1186/1478-7547-8-16
PMCID: PMC2942794  PMID: 20828417
19.  Ixabepilone development across the breast cancer continuum: a paradigm shift 
The epothilone analog ixabepilone exhibits reduced susceptibility to several important tumor survival mechanisms that limit the efficacy of taxanes and anthracyclines. As a single agent, ixabepilone has shown promise in metastatic breast cancer when anthracyclines, taxanes, or capecitabine have failed; and in early-stage breast cancer that is taxane-naïve or has previously received taxanes in the adjuvant or metastatic setting. Compared with capecitabine alone, ixabepilone used in combination with capecitabine in patients previously treated with and resistant to anthracyclines and taxanes produced a 25% reduction in the risk of disease progression. Triple-negative tumors showed particular susceptibility to this doublet. Ixabepilone has also demonstrated efficacy as first-line therapy in combination with targeted agents such as bevacizumab and trastuzumab. Ongoing investigations should provide insight as to how this agent could be integrated into treatment of early-stage disease. In clinical studies, toxicities with ixabepilone were manageable and reversible through dose reduction or delay, even in patients with extensive or heavily-pretreated disease. Thus, ixabepilone represents a useful addition to the therapeutic options available for advanced breast cancer, and it may extend progression-free survival in patients with limited treatment options.
PMCID: PMC3004591  PMID: 21188108
ixabepilone; breast cancer; efficacy; metastasis; adjuvant
20.  Subtyping of Breast Cancer by Immunohistochemistry to Investigate a Relationship between Subtype and Short and Long Term Survival: A Collaborative Analysis of Data for 10,159 Cases from 12 Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000279.
Paul Pharoah and colleagues evaluate the prognostic significance of immunohistochemical subtype classification in more than 10,000 breast cancer cases with early disease, and examine the influence of a patient's survival time on the prediction of future survival.
Background
Immunohistochemical markers are often used to classify breast cancer into subtypes that are biologically distinct and behave differently. The aim of this study was to estimate mortality for patients with the major subtypes of breast cancer as classified using five immunohistochemical markers, to investigate patterns of mortality over time, and to test for heterogeneity by subtype.
Methods and Findings
We pooled data from more than 10,000 cases of invasive breast cancer from 12 studies that had collected information on hormone receptor status, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) status, and at least one basal marker (cytokeratin [CK]5/6 or epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]) together with survival time data. Tumours were classified as luminal and nonluminal tumours according to hormone receptor expression. These two groups were further subdivided according to expression of HER2, and finally, the luminal and nonluminal HER2-negative tumours were categorised according to expression of basal markers. Changes in mortality rates over time differed by subtype. In women with luminal HER2-negative subtypes, mortality rates were constant over time, whereas mortality rates associated with the luminal HER2-positive and nonluminal subtypes tended to peak within 5 y of diagnosis and then decline over time. In the first 5 y after diagnosis the nonluminal tumours were associated with a poorer prognosis, but over longer follow-up times the prognosis was poorer in the luminal subtypes, with the worst prognosis at 15 y being in the luminal HER2-positive tumours. Basal marker expression distinguished the HER2-negative luminal and nonluminal tumours into different subtypes. These patterns were independent of any systemic adjuvant therapy.
Conclusions
The six subtypes of breast cancer defined by expression of five markers show distinct behaviours with important differences in short term and long term prognosis. Application of these markers in the clinical setting could have the potential to improve the targeting of adjuvant chemotherapy to those most likely to benefit. The different patterns of mortality over time also suggest important biological differences between the subtypes that may result in differences in response to specific therapies, and that stratification of breast cancers by clinically relevant subtypes in clinical trials is urgently required.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, more than one million women discover they have breast cancer. Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast's milk-producing glands or in the tubes (ducts) that take milk to the nipples acquire genetic changes that allow them to divide uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The uncontrolled cell division leads to the formation of a lump that can be detected by mammography (a breast X-ray) or by manual breast examination. Breast cancer is treated by surgical removal of the lump or, if the cancer has started to spread, by removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Surgery is usually followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. These “adjuvant” therapies are designed to kill any remaining cancer cells but can make women very ill. Generally speaking, the outlook (prognosis) for women with breast cancer is good. In the United States, for example, nearly 90% of affected women are still alive five years after their diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because there are several types of cells in the milk ducts and glands, there are several subtypes of breast cancer. Luminal tumors, for example, begin in the cells that line the ducts and glands and usually grow slowly; basal-type tumors arise in deeper layers of the ducts and glands and tend to grow quickly. Clinicians need to distinguish between different breast cancer subtypes so that they can give women a realistic prognosis and can give adjuvant treatments to those women who are most likely to benefit. One way to distinguish between different subtypes is to stain breast cancer samples using antibodies (immune system proteins) that recognize particular proteins (antigens). This “immunohistochemical” approach can identify several breast cancer subtypes but its prognostic value and the best way to classify breast tumors remains unclear. In this study, the researchers investigate the survival over time of women with six major subtypes of breast cancer classified using five immunohistochemical markers: the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor (two hormone receptors expressed by luminal cells), the human epidermal growth factors receptor-2 (HER2, a protein marker used to select specific adjuvant therapies), and CK5/6 and EGFR (proteins expressed by basal cells).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pooled data on survival time and on the expression of the five immunohistochemical markers from more than 10,000 cases of breast cancer from 12 studies. They then divided the tumors into six subtypes on the basis of their marker expression: luminal (hormone receptor-positive), HER2-positive tumors; luminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-positive tumors; luminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-negative tumors; nonluminal (hormone receptor-negative), HER2-positive tumors; nonluminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-positive tumors; and nonluminal, HER2-negative, basal marker-negative tumors. In the first five years after diagnosis, women with nonluminal tumor subtypes had the worst prognosis but at 15 years after diagnosis, women with luminal HER2-positive tumors had the worst prognosis. Furthermore, death rates (the percentage of affected women dying each year) differed by subtype over time. Thus, women with the two luminal HER2-negative subtypes were as likely to die soon after diagnosis as at later times whereas the death rates associated with nonluminal subtypes peaked within five years of diagnosis and then declined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings indicate that the six subtypes of breast cancer defined by the expression of five immunohistochemical markers have distinct biological characteristics that are associated with important differences in short-term and long-term outcomes. Because different laboratories measured the immunohistochemical markers using different methods, it is possible that some of the tumors included in this study were misclassified. However, the finding of clear differences in the behavior of the immunochemically classified subtypes suggests that the use of the five markers for tumor classification might be robust enough for routine clinical practice. The application of these markers in the clinical setting, suggest the researchers, could improve the targeting of adjuvant therapies to those women most likely to benefit. Furthermore, note the researchers, these findings strongly suggest that subtype-specific responses should be evaluated in future clinical trials of treatments for breast cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000279.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Stefan Ambs
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of breast cancer (in English and Spanish)
The American Cancer Society has a detailed guide to breast cancer, which includes information on the immunochemical classification of breast cancer subtypes
The UK charities MacMillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK also provide detailed information about breast cancer
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information for patients about breast cancer; Medline Plus provides links to many other breast cancer resources (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000279
PMCID: PMC2876119  PMID: 20520800
21.  Health-related quality of life in breast cancer patients: A bibliographic review of the literature from 1974 to 2007 
Background
Quality of life in patients with breast cancer is an important outcome. This paper presents an extensive overview on the topic ranging from descriptive findings to clinical trials.
Methods
This was a bibliographic review of the literature covering all full publications that appeared in English language biomedical journals between 1974 and 2007. The search strategy included a combination of key words 'quality of life' and 'breast cancer' or 'breast carcinoma' in titles. A total of 971 citations were identified and after exclusion of duplicates, the abstracts of 606 citations were reviewed. Of these, meetings abstracts, editorials, brief commentaries, letters, errata and dissertation abstracts and papers that appeared online and were indexed ahead of publication were also excluded. The remaining 477 papers were examined. The major findings are summarized and presented under several headings: instruments used, validation studies, measurement issues, surgical treatment, systemic therapies, quality of life as predictor of survival, psychological distress, supportive care, symptoms and sexual functioning.
Results
Instruments-Several valid instruments were used to measure quality of life in breast cancer patients. The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) and its breast cancer specific complementary measure (EORTC QLQ-BR23) and the Functional Assessment Chronic Illness Therapy General questionnaire (FACIT-G) and its breast cancer module (FACIT-B) were found to be the most common and well developed instruments to measure quality of life in breast cancer patients. Surgery-different surgical procedures led to relatively similar results in terms of quality of life assessments, although mastectomy patients compared to conserving surgery patients usually reported a lower body image and sexual functioning. Systemic therapies-almost all studies indicated that breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy might experience several side-effects and symptoms that negatively affect their quality of life. Adjuvant hormonal therapies also were found to have similar negative impact on quality of life, although in general they were associated with improved survival. Quality of life as predictor of survival-similar to known medical factors, quality of life data in metastatic breast cancer patients was found to be prognostic and predictive of survival time. Psychological distress-anxiety and depression were found to be common among breast cancer patients even years after the disease diagnosis and treatment. Psychological factors also were found to predict subsequent quality of life or even overall survival in breast cancer patients. Supportive care-clinical treatments to control emesis, or interventions such as counseling, providing social support and exercise could improve quality of life. Symptoms-Pain, fatigue, arm morbidity and postmenopausal symptoms were among the most common symptoms reported by breast cancer patients. As recommended, recognition and management of these symptoms is an important issue since such symptoms impair health-related quality of life. Sexual functioning-breast cancer patients especially younger patients suffer from poor sexual functioning that negatively affect quality of life.
Conclusion
There was quite an extensive body of the literature on quality of life in breast cancer patients. These papers have made a considerable contribution to improving breast cancer care, although their exact benefit was hard to define. However, quality of life data provided scientific evidence for clinical decision-making and conveyed helpful information concerning breast cancer patients' experiences during the course of the disease diagnosis, treatment, disease-free survival time, and recurrences; otherwise finding patient-centered solutions for evidence-based selection of optimal treatments, psychosocial interventions, patient-physician communications, allocation of resources, and indicating research priorities were impossible. It seems that more qualitative research is needed for a better understanding of the topic. In addition, issues related to the disease, its treatment side effects and symptoms, and sexual functioning should receive more attention when studying quality of life in breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-27-32
PMCID: PMC2543010  PMID: 18759983
22.  Differences between the non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors anastrozole and letrozole – of clinical importance? 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;104(7):1059-1066.
Aromatase inhibition is the gold standard for treatment of early and advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women suffering from an estrogen receptor-positive disease. The currently established group of anti-aromatase compounds comprises two reversible aromatase inhibitors (anastrozole and letrozole) and on the other hand, the irreversible aromatase inactivator exemestane. Although exemestane is the only widely used aromatase inactivator at this stage, physicians very often have to choose between either anastrozole or letrozole in general practice. These third-generation aromatase inhibitors (letrozole/Femara (Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Basel, Switzerland) and anastrozole/Arimidex (AstraZeneca, Pharmaceuticals, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK)), have recently demonstrated superior efficacy compared with tamoxifen as initial therapy for early breast cancer improving disease-free survival. However, although anastrozole and letrozole belong to the same pharmacological class of agents (triazoles), an increasing body of evidence suggests that these aromatase inhibitors are not equipotent when given in the clinically established doses. Preclinical and clinical evidence indicates distinct pharmacological profiles. Thus, this review focuses on the differences between the non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors allowing physicians to choose between these compounds based on scientific evidence. Although we are waiting for the important results of a still ongoing head-to-head comparison in patients with early breast cancer at high risk for relapse (Femara Anastrozole Clinical Evaluation trial; ‘FACE-trial'), clinicians have to make their choices today. On the basis of available evidence summarised here and until FACE-data become available, letrozole seems to be the best choice for the majority of breast cancer patients whenever a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor has to be chosen in a clinical setting. The background for this recommendation is discussed in the following chapters.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.58
PMCID: PMC3068499  PMID: 21364577
aromatase inhibitors; breast cancer; anastrozole; letrozole; exemestane
23.  Hormonal therapies in young breast cancer patients: when, what and for how long? 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(Suppl 1):S36-S46.
Breast cancer in young women (<40 years) is a rare and complex clinical and psychosocial condition, which deserves multidisciplinary and personalized approaches. In young women with hormone-receptor positive disease, 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen, with or without ovarian suppression/ablation, is considered the standard endocrine therapy. The definitive role of adjuvant aromatase inhibitors has still to be elucidated: the upcoming results of the Tamoxifen and EXemestane Trial (TEXT) and Suppression of Ovarian Function Trial (SOFT) trials will help understanding if we can widen our current endocrine therapeutic options. The optimal duration of adjuvant endocrine therapy in young women also remains an unresolved issue. The recently reported results of the ATLAS and aTToM trials represent the first evidence of a beneficial effect of extended endocrine therapy in premenopausal women and provide an important opportunity in high-risk young patients.
In the metastatic setting, endocrine therapy should be the preferred choice for endocrine responsive disease, unless there is evidence of endocrine resistance or need for rapid disease and/or symptom control. Tamoxifen in combination with ovarian suppression/ablation remains the 1st-line endocrine therapy of choice. Aromatase inhibitors in combination with ovarian suppression/ablation can be considered after progression on tamoxifen and ovarian suppression/ablation. Fulvestrant has not yet been studied in pre-menopausal women. Specific age-related treatment side effects (i.e., menopausal symptoms, change in body image and weight gain, cognitive function impairment, fertility damage/preservation, long-term organ dysfunction, sexuality) and the social impact of diagnosis and treatment (i.e., job discrimination, family management) should be carefully addressed when planning long-lasting endocrine therapies in young women with hormone-receptor positive early and advanced breast cancer.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2013.05.25
PMCID: PMC3695542  PMID: 23819026
Early breast cancer; young women; premenopausal; advanced breast cancer; endocrine therapy
24.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Executive Summary
In February 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on evidence-based reviews of the literature surrounding three pharmacogenomic tests. This project came about when Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) asked MAS to provide evidence-based analyses on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three oncology pharmacogenomic tests currently in use in Ontario.
Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these technologies. These have been completed in conjunction with internal and external stakeholders, including a Provincial Expert Panel on Pharmacogenetics (PEPP). Within the PEPP, subgroup committees were developed for each disease area. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA) and is summarized within the reports.
The following reports can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/mas or at www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html
Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: an Evidence-Based Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based Analysis
Objective
The Medical Advisory Secretariat undertook a systematic review of the evidence on the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation testing compared with no EGFR mutation testing to predict response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), gefitinib (Iressa®) or erlotinib (Tarceva®) in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
With an estimated 7,800 new cases and 7,000 deaths last year, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Ontario. Those with unresectable or advanced disease are commonly treated with concurrent chemoradiation or platinum-based combination chemotherapy. Although response rates to cytotoxic chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC are approximately 30 to 40%, all patients eventually develop resistance and have a median survival of only 8 to 10 months. Treatment for refractory or relapsed disease includes single-agent treatment with docetaxel, pemetrexed or EGFR-targeting TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib). TKIs disrupt EGFR signaling by competing with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for the binding sites at the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain, thus inhibiting the phosphorylation and activation of EGFRs and the downstream signaling network. Gefitinib and erlotinib have been shown to be either non-inferior or superior to chemotherapy in the first- or second-line setting (gefitinib), or superior to placebo in the second- or third-line setting (erlotinib).
Certain patient characteristics (adenocarcinoma, non-smoking history, Asian ethnicity, female gender) predict for better survival benefit and response to therapy with TKIs. In addition, the current body of evidence shows that somatic mutations in the EGFR gene are the most robust biomarkers for EGFR-targeting therapy selection. Drugs used in this therapy, however, can be costly, up to C$ 2000 to C$ 3000 per month, and they have only approximately a 10% chance of benefiting unselected patients. For these reasons, the predictive value of EGFR mutation testing for TKIs in patients with advanced NSCLC needs to be determined.
The Technology: EGFR mutation testing
The EGFR gene sequencing by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays is the most widely used method for EGFR mutation testing. PCR assays can be performed at pathology laboratories across Ontario. According to experts in the province, sequencing is not currently done in Ontario due to lack of adequate measurement sensitivity. A variety of new methods have been introduced to increase the measurement sensitivity of the mutation assay. Some technologies such as single-stranded conformational polymorphism, denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography, and high-resolution melting analysis have the advantage of facilitating rapid mutation screening of large numbers of samples with high measurement sensitivity but require direct sequencing to confirm the identity of the detected mutations. Other techniques have been developed for the simple, but highly sensitive detection of specific EGFR mutations, such as the amplification refractory mutations system (ARMS) and the peptide nucleic acid-locked PCR clamping. Others selectively digest wild-type DNA templates with restriction endonucleases to enrich mutant alleles by PCR. Experts in the province of Ontario have commented that currently PCR fragment analysis for deletion and point mutation conducts in Ontario, with measurement sensitivity of 1% to 5%.
Research Questions
In patients with locally-advanced or metastatic NSCLC, what is the clinical effectiveness of EGFR mutation testing for prediction of response to treatment with TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib) in terms of progression-free survival (PFS), objective response rates (ORR), overall survival (OS), and quality of life (QoL)?
What is the impact of EGFR mutation testing on overall clinical decision-making for patients with advanced or metastatic NSCLC?
What is the cost-effectiveness of EGFR mutation testing in selecting patients with advanced NSCLC for treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib in the first-line setting?
What is the budget impact of EGFR mutation testing in selecting patients with advanced NSCLC for treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib in the second- or third-line setting?
Methods
A literature search was performed on March 9, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2004 until February 28, 2010 using the following terms:
Non-Small-Cell Lung Carcinoma
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor
An automatic literature update program also extracted all papers published from February 2010 until August 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, and then a group of epidemiologists, until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
The inclusion criteria were as follows:
Population: patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC (stage IIIB or IV)
Procedure: EGFR mutation testing before treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib
Language: publication in English
Published health technology assessments, guidelines, and peer-reviewed literature (abstracts, full text, conference abstract)
Outcomes: progression-free survival (PFS), Objective response rate (ORR), overall survival (OS), quality of life (QoL).
The exclusion criteria were as follows:
Studies lacking outcomes specific to those of interest
Studies focused on erlotinib maintenance therapy
Studies focused on gefitinib or erlotinib use in combination with cytotoxic agents or any other drug
Grey literature, where relevant, was also reviewed.
Outcomes of Interest
PFS
ORR determined by means of the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST)
OS
QoL
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the Phase II trials and observational studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Since the last published health technology assessment by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in 2007 there have been a number of phase III trials which provide evidence of predictive value of EGFR mutation testing in patients who were treated with gefitinib compared to chemotherapy in the first- or second-line setting. The Iressa Pan Asian Study (IPASS) trial showed the superiority of gefitinib in terms of PFS in patients with EGFR mutations versus patients with wild-type EGFR (Hazard ratio [HR], 0.48, 95%CI; 0.36-0.64 versus HR, 2.85; 95%CI, 2.05-3.98). Moreover, there was a statistically significant increased ORR in patients who received gefitinib and had EGFR mutations compared to patients with wild-type EGFR (71% versus 1%). The First-SIGNAL trial in patients with similar clinical characteristics as IPASS as well as the NEJ002 and WJTOG3405 trials that included only patients with EGFR mutations, provide confirmation that gefitinib is superior to chemotherapy in terms of improved PFS or higher ORR in patients with EGFR mutations. The INTEREST trial further indicated that patients with EGFR mutations had prolonged PFS and higher ORR when treated with gefitinib compared with docetaxel.
In contrast, there is still a paucity of strong evidence regarding the predictive value of EGFR mutation testing for response to erlotinib in the second- or third-line setting. The BR.21 trial randomized 731 patients with NSCLC who were refractory or intolerant to prior first- or second-line chemotherapy to receive erlotinib or placebo. While the HR of 0.61 (95%CI, 0.51-0.74) favored erlotinib in the overall population, this was not a significant in the subsequent retrospective subgroup analysis. A retrospective evaluation of 116 of the BR.21 tumor samples demonstrated that patients with EGFR mutations had significantly higher ORRs when treated with erlotinib compared with placebo (27% versus 7%; P=0.03). However, erlotinib did not confer a significant survival benefit compared with placebo in patients with EGFR mutations (HR, 0.55; 95%CI, 0.25-1.19) versus wild-type (HR, 0.74; 95%CI, 0.52-1.05). The interaction between EGFR mutation status and erlotinib use was not significant (P=0.47). The lack of significance could be attributable to a type II error since there was a low sample size that was available for subgroup analysis.
A series of phase II studies have examined the clinical effectiveness of erlotinib in patients known to have EGFR mutations. Evidence from these studies has consistently shown that erlotinib yields a very high ORR (typically 70% vs. 4%) and a prolonged PFS (9 months vs. 2 months) in patients with EGFR mutations compared with patients with wild-type EGFR. Although having a prolonged PFS and higher respond in EGFR mutated patients might be due to a better prognostic profile regardless of the treatment received. In the absence of a comparative treatment or placebo control group, it is difficult to determine if the observed differences in survival benefit in patients with EGFR mutation is attributed to prognostic or predictive value of EGFR mutation status.
Conclusions
Based on moderate quality of evidence, patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC with adenocarcinoma histology being treated with gefitinib in the first-line setting are highly likely to benefit from gefitinib if they have EGFR mutations compared to those with wild-type EGFR. This advantage is reflected in improved PFS, ORR and QoL in patients with EGFR mutation who are being treated with gefitinib relative to patients treated with chemotherapy.
Based on low quality of evidence, in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC who are being treated with erlotinib, the identification of EGFR mutation status selects those who are most likely to benefit from erlotinib relative to patients treated with placebo in the second or third-line setting.
PMCID: PMC3377519  PMID: 23074402
25.  Incidence and risk of central nervous system metastases as site of first recurrence in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer treated with adjuvant trastuzumab 
Annals of Oncology  2013;24(6):1526-1533.
Background
Central nervous system (CNS) disease as the site of first relapse after exposure to adjuvant trastuzumab has been reported. We carried out comprehensive meta-analysis to determine the risk of CNS metastases as the first site of recurrence in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who received adjuvant trastuzumab.
Methods
Eligible studies include randomized trials of adjuvant trastuzumab administered for 1 year to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who reported CNS metastases as first site of disease recurrence. Statistical analyses were conducted to calculate the incidence, relative risk (RR), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using fixed-effects inverse variance and random-effects models.
Results
A total of 9020 patients were included. The incidence of CNS metastases as first site of disease recurrence in HER2-positive patients receiving adjuvant trastuzumab was 2.56% (95% CI 2.07% to 3.01%) compared with 1.94% (95% CI 1.54% to 2.38%) in HER2-positive patients who did not receive adjuvant trastuzumab. The RR of the CNS as first site of relapse in trastuzumab-treated patients was 1.35 (95% CI 1.02–1.78, P = 0.038) compared with control arms without trastuzumab therapy. The ratio of CNS metastases to total number of recurrence events was 16.94% (95% CI 10.85% to 24.07%) and 8.33% (95% CI 6.49% to 10.86%) for the trastuzumab-treated and control groups, respectively. No statistically significant differences were found based on trastuzumab schedule or median follow-up time. No evidence of publication bias was observed.
Conclusions
Adjuvant trastuzumab is associated with a significant increased risk of CNS metastases as the site of first recurrence in HER2-positive breast cancer patients.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mdt036
PMCID: PMC3660080  PMID: 23463626
breast cancer; central nervous system; hER2; meta-analysis; metastases; trastuzumab

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