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1.  Autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation following high-dose chemotherapy for non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas: a Cochrane systematic review* 
BMJ Open  2014;4(7):e005033.
We conducted a systematic review to compare the efficacy and adverse events of autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) following high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) versus standard-dose chemotherapy (SDCT) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS).
Patients were observed in hospital units specialised for cancer therapy.
The review evaluated 294 patients with 19 different subtypes of malignant NRSTS. The patients had a median age between 10 and 46 years (range 2–65) and were mostly men.
Primary and secondary outcome measure
The planned and measured primary outcomes were overall survival and treatment-related mortality. The planned and measured secondary outcomes were progression-free survival, grade 3–4 non-haematological toxicity and secondary neoplasia. Other secondary outcomes including disease-free survival, event-free survival and health-related quality of life were not reported.
We included 62 studies reporting on 294 transplanted patients. We identified 1 randomised controlled trial (RCT) with 38 transplanted and 45 non-transplanted patients and judged a low risk of bias. We further identified 61 single-arm studies with 256 transplanted patients. Overall survival in the RCT was reported not statistically significantly different between autologous HSCT following HDCT versus SDCT. The HR was 1.26 (95% CI 0.70 to 2.29; p=0.44) and the point estimates at 3 years were 32.7% vs 49.4%. Data from single-arm studies were used to extract data on adverse events. Treatment-related mortality was reported in 5.1% (15 of 294) transplanted patients.
Overall survival in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NRSTS was not statistically different after autologous HSCT following HDCT compared with SDCT in a single RCT with a total of 83 patients. No other comparative study was available. The proportion of adverse events among the transplanted patients is not clear.
PMCID: PMC4120440  PMID: 25079925
2.  High-dose chemotherapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation in the treatment of children and adolescents with Ewing sarcoma family of tumors 
Korean Journal of Pediatrics  2013;56(9):401-406.
We performed a pilot study to determine the benefit of high-dose chemotherapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (HDCT/autoPBSCT) for patients with Ewing sarcoma family of tumors.
We retrospectively analyzed the data of patients who received HDCT/autoPBSCT at Korea Cancer Center Hospital. Patients with relapsed, metastatic, or centrally located tumors were eligible for the study.
A total of 9 patients (3 male, 6 female), with a median age at HDCT/autoPBSCT of 13.4 years (range, 7.1 to 28.2 years), were included in this study. Patients underwent conventional chemotherapy and local control either by surgery or radiation therapy, and had achieved complete response (CR, n=7), partial response (n=1), or stable disease (n=1) prior to HDCT/autoPBSCT. There was no transplant-related mortality. However, the median duration of overall survival and event-free survival after HDCT/autoPBSCT were 13.3 months (range, 5.3 to 44.5 months) and 6.2 months (range, 2.1 to 44.5 months), respectively. At present, 4 patients are alive and 5 patients who experienced adverse events (2 metastasis, 2 local recur, and 1 progressive disease) survived for a median time of 2.8 months (range, 0.1 to 10.7 months). The 2-year survival after HDCT/autoPBSCT was 44.4%±16.6% and disease status at the time of HDCT/autoPBSCT tended to influence survival (57.1%±18.7% of cases with CR vs. 0% of cases with non-CR, P=0.07).
Disease status at HDCT/autoPBSCT tended to influence survival. Further studies are necessary to define the role of HDCT/autoPBSCT and to identify subgroup of patients who might benefit from this investigational treatment.
PMCID: PMC3819677  PMID: 24223602
Ewing sarcoma; High-dose chemotherapy; Stem cell transplantation
3.  Consolidative high-dose chemotherapy after conventional-dose chemotherapy as first salvage treatment for male patients with metastatic germ cell tumours 
Some men with metastatic germ cell tumours that have progressed after response to initial cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy are cured with conventional dose first salvage chemotherapy (CDCT) – however, many are not. High-dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell rescue (HDCT) may be of value in these patients. Prognosis has recently been better defined by International Prognostic Factor Study Group (IPFSG) prognostic factors. HDCT after response to CDCT has been offered at our institution over the past two decades. We retrospectively assessed the validity of the IPFSG prognostic factors in our patients and evaluated the value of HDCT.
We identified eligible men with metastatic germ cell tumour progressed after at least 3 cycles of cisplatin-based chemotherapy and treated with cisplatin-based CDCT alone or with carboplatin-based HDCT. We also collected their clinical data. Patients were classified into risk groups using IPFSG factors, and progression-free and overall survival factors were analyzed and compared in patients treated with CDCT alone and with HDCT.
We identified 38 eligible first salvage patients who had received a median of 4 cycles (range, 1 to 7 cycles) of CDCT. Twenty patients received CDCT alone and 18 patients received CDCT plus HDCT. The overall median progression- free survival was 24.6 months (95%CI, 7.3 to 28.7 months) and overall median overall survival was 34.6 months (95%CI, 17.2 to 51.3 months). Distribution by IPFSG category and 2-year progression- free survival and 3-year overall survival rates within each risk category were very similar to the IPFSG results. There were two toxic deaths with CDCT and none with HDCT. Overall, patients treated with CDCT plus HDCT had improved progression- free survival and overall survival.
The IPFSG prognostic risk factors appeared valid in our patient population. The safety of HDCT with etoposide and carboplatin was confirmed. HDCT was associated with improved progression- free survival and overall survival outcomes, consistent with observations of the IPFSG group. Ideally, the value of optimal HDCT should be determined in comparison to optimal CDCT as first salvage therapy in men with metastatic germ cell tumour with a randomized trial.
PMCID: PMC3328550  PMID: 22511417
4.  High-Dose Chemotherapy Followed by Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation as a First-Line Therapy for High-Risk Primary Breast Cancer: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33388.
Background and Objectives
Several trials have generated conflicting results about the results of high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation (HDCT) for primary breast cancer. This meta-analysis summarizes the available evidence from all suitable studies.
Design and Methods
Prospective, randomized trials with HDCT as a first-line therapy for primary breast cancer were included in this meta-analysis. The primary outcome of interest for our analysis was survival (disease-free survival and overall survival); secondary endpoints included treatment-related mortality (TRM) and second (non-breast) cancers. We used a median age of 47, a PR positive rate of 50% and a premenopausal rate of 70% as cutoff values to complete the subgroup analyses, which were pre-planned according to the prepared protocol.
Fourteen trials with 5747 patients were eligible for the meta-analysis. Compared with non-HDCT, non-significant second (non-breast) cancers (RR = 1.28; 95% CI = 0.82–1.98) and higher TRM (RR = 3.42; 95% CI = 1.32–8.86) were associated with HDCT for primary breast cancer. A significant DFS benefit of HDCT was documented (HR = 0.89; 95% CI = 0.79–0.99). No difference in OS (overall survival) was found when the studies were pooled (HR = 0.91; 95% CI = 0.82–1.00, p = 0.062). In subgroup analysis, age and hormone receptor status had a significant interaction with prolonged DFS and OS.
HDCT has a benefit on DFS and OS compared to SDC in some special patients with high-risk primary breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3299795  PMID: 22428041
5.  Reduced-dose craniospinal radiotherapy followed by tandem high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation in patients with high-risk medulloblastoma 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;15(3):352-359.
We assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of reduced-dose craniospinal (CS) radiotherapy (RT) followed by tandem high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (HDCT/autoSCT) in reducing late adverse effects without jeopardizing survival among children with high-risk medulloblastoma (MB).
From October 2005 through September 2010, twenty consecutive children aged >3 years with high-risk MB (presence of metastasis and/or postoperative residual tumor >1.5 cm2) were assigned to receive 2 cycles of pre-RT chemotherapy, CSRT (23.4 or 30.6 Gy) combined with local RT to the primary site (total 54.0 Gy), and 4 cycles of post-RT chemotherapy followed by tandem HDCT/autoSCT. Carboplatin-thiotepa-etoposide and cyclophosphamide-melphalan regimens were used for the first and second HDCT, respectively.
Of 20 patients with high-risk MB, 17 had metastatic disease and 3 had a postoperative residual tumor >1.5 cm2 without metastasis. The tumor relapsed/progressed in 4 patients, and 2 patients died of toxicities during the second HDCT/autoSCT. Therefore, 14 patients remained event-free at a median follow-up of 46 months (range, 23−82) from diagnosis. The probability of 5-year event-free survival was 70.0% ± 10.3% for all patients and 70.6% ± 11.1% for patients with metastases. Late adverse effects evaluated at a median of 36 months (range, 12−68) after tandem HDCT/autoSCT were acceptable.
In children with high-risk MB, CSRT dose might be reduced when accompanied by tandem HDCT/autoSCT without jeopardizing survival. However, longer follow-up is needed to evaluate whether the benefits of reduced-dose CSRT outweigh the long-term risks of tandem HDCT/autoSCT.
PMCID: PMC3578484  PMID: 23258845
autologous stem cell transplantation; high-dose chemotherapy; late effect; medulloblastoma; radiotherapy
6.  Tandem High-Dose Chemotherapy and Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Young Children with Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor of the Central Nervous System 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2012;27(2):135-140.
The feasibility and effectiveness of tandem high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (HDCT/autoSCT) were evaluated in children younger than 3 yr of age with atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (ATRT). Tandem HDCT/autoSCT was administered following six cycles of induction chemotherapy. Radiotherapy (RT) was administered if the tumor relapsed or progressed, otherwise, it was administered after 3 yr of age. Tumors relapsed or progressed during induction chemotherapy in 5 of 9 patients enrolled; 3 of these 5 received tandem HDCT/autoSCT as a salvage treatment. One patient died from sepsis during induction chemotherapy. The remaining 3 patients proceeded to tandem HDCT/autoSCT; however, 2 of these patients showed tumor relapse/progression after tandem HDCT/autoSCT. All 7 relapses/progressions occurred at primary sites even in patients with leptomeningeal seeding. Toxicities during tandem HDCT/autoSCT were manageable. A total of 5 patients were alive with a median follow-up of 20 (range 16-70) months from diagnosis. Four of 5 patients who received RT after relapse/progression are alive. The probability of overall survival at 3 yr from diagnosis was 53.3% ± 17.3%. Our tandem HDCT/autoSCT is feasible; however, early administration of RT prior to tandem HDCT/autoSCT should be considered to improve the outcome after tandem HDCT/autoSCT.
PMCID: PMC3271285  PMID: 22323859
Rhabdoid Tumor; Central Nervous System; Drug Therapy; Stem Cell Transplantation; Radiotherapy; Child
7.  Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation 
Executive Summary
The objective of this analysis is to systematically review limbal stem cell transplantation (LSCT) for the treatment of patients with limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This evidence-based analysis reviews LSCT as a primary treatment for nonpterygium LSCD conditions, and LSCT as an adjuvant therapy to excision for the treatment of pterygium.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
The outer surface of the eye is covered by 2 distinct cell layers: the corneal epithelial layer that overlies the cornea, and the conjunctival epithelial layer that overlies the sclera. These cell types are separated by a transitional zone known as the limbus. The corneal epithelial cells are renewed every 3 to 10 days by a population of stem cells located in the limbus.
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
When the limbal stem cells are depleted or destroyed, LSCD develops. In LSCD, the conjunctival epithelium migrates onto the cornea (a process called conjunctivalization), resulting in a thickened, irregular, unstable corneal surface that is prone to defects, ulceration, corneal scarring, vascularization, and opacity. Patients experience symptoms including severe irritation, discomfort, photophobia, tearing, blepharospasm, chronic inflammation and redness, and severely decreased vision.
Depending on the degree of limbal stem cell loss, LSCD may be total (diffuse) or partial (local). In total LSCD, the limbal stem cell population is completed destroyed and conjunctival epithelium covers the entire cornea. In partial LSCD, some areas of the limbus are unharmed, and the corresponding areas on the cornea maintain phenotypically normal corneal epithelium.
Confirmation of the presence of conjunctivalization is necessary for LSCD diagnosis as the other characteristics and symptoms are nonspecific and indicate a variety of diseases. The definitive test for LSCD is impression cytology, which detects the presence of conjunctival epithelium and its goblet cells on the cornea. However, in the opinion of a corneal expert, diagnosis is often based on clinical assessment, and in the expert’s opinion, it is unclear whether impression cytology is more accurate and reliable than clinical assessment, especially for patients with severe LSCD.
The incidence of LSCD is not well understood. A variety of underlying disorders are associated with LSCD including chemical or thermal injuries, ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, multiple surgeries or cryotherapies, contact lens wear, extensive microbial infection, advanced ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, and aniridia. In addition, some LSCD cases are idiopathic. These conditions are uncommon (e.g., the prevalence of aniridia ranges from 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 100,000 people).
Pterygium is a wing-shaped fibrovascular tissue growth from the conjunctiva onto the cornea. Pterygium is the result of partial LSCD caused by localized ultraviolet damage to limbal stem cells. As the pterygium invades the cornea, it may cause irregular astigmatism, loss of visual acuity, chronic irritation, recurrent inflammation, double vision, and impaired ocular motility.
Pterygium occurs worldwide. Incidence and prevalence rates are highest in the “pterygium belt,” which ranges from 30 degrees north to 30 degrees south of the equator, and lower prevalence rates are found at latitudes greater than 40 degrees. The prevalence of pterygium for Caucasians residing in urban, temperate climates is estimated at 1.2%.
Existing Treatments Other Than Technology Being Reviewed
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
In total LSCD, a patient’s limbal stem cells are completely depleted, so any successful treatment must include new stem cells. Autologous oral mucosal epithelium transplantation has been proposed as an alternative to LSCT. However, this procedure is investigational, and there is very limited level 4c evidence1 to support this technique (fewer than 20 eyes examined in 4 case series and 1 case report).
For patients with partial LSCD, treatment may not be necessary if their visual axis is not affected. However, if the visual axis is conjunctivalized, several disease management options exist including repeated mechanical debridement of the abnormal epithelium; intensive, nonpreserved lubrication; bandage contact lenses; autologous serum eye drops; other investigational medical treatments; and transplantation of an amniotic membrane inlay. However, these are all disease management treatments; LSCT is the only curative option.
The primary treatment for pterygium is surgical excision. However, recurrence is a common problem after excision using the bare sclera technique: reported recurrence rates range from 24% to 89%. Thus, a variety of adjuvant therapies have been used to reduce the risk of pterygium recurrence including LSCT, amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT), conjunctival autologous (CAU) transplantation, and mitomycin C (MMC, an antimetabolite drug).
New Technology Being Reviewed
To successfully treat LSCD, the limbal stem cell population must be repopulated. To achieve this, 4 LSCT procedures have been developed: conjunctival-limbal autologous (CLAU) transplantation; living-related conjunctival-limbal allogeneic (lr-CLAL) transplantation; keratolimbal allogeneic (KLAL) transplantation; and ex vivo expansion of limbal stem cells transplantation. Since the ex vivo expansion of limbal stem cells transplantation procedure is considered experimental, it has been excluded from the systematic review. These procedures vary by the source of donor cells and the amount of limbal tissue used. For CLAU transplants, limbal stem cells are obtained from the patient’s healthy eye. For lr-CLAL and KLAL transplants, stem cells are obtained from living-related and cadaveric donor eyes, respectively.
In CLAU and lr-CLAL transplants, 2 to 4 limbal grafts are removed from the superior and inferior limbus of the donor eye. In KLAL transplants, the entire limbus from the donor eye is used.
The recipient eye is prepared by removing the abnormal conjunctival and scar tissue. An incision is made into the conjunctival tissue into which the graft is placed, and the graft is then secured to the neighbouring limbal and scleral tissue with sutures. Some LSCT protocols include concurrent transplantation of an amniotic membrane onto the cornea.
Regulatory Status
Health Canada does not require premarket licensure for stem cells. However, they are subject to Health Canada’s clinical trial regulations until the procedure is considered accepted transplantation practice, at which time it will be covered by the Safety of Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation Regulations (CTO Regulations).
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness and safety of LSCT for the treatment of patients with nonpterygium LSCD and pterygium. A comprehensive search method was used to retrieve English-language journal articles from selected databases.
The GRADE approach was used to systematically and explicitly evaluate the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
Summary of Findings
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
The search identified 873 citations published between January 1, 2000, and March 31, 2008. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria, and 1 additional citation was identified through a bibliography review. The review included 10 case series (3 prospective and 7 retrospective).
Patients who received autologous transplants (i.e., CLAU) achieved significantly better long-term corneal surface results compared with patients who received allogeneic transplants (lr-CLAL, P< .001; KLAL, P< .001). There was no significant difference in corneal surface outcomes between the allogeneic transplant options, lr-CLAL and KLAL (P = .328). However, human leukocyte antigen matching and systemic immunosuppression may improve the outcome of lr-CLAL compared with KLAL. Regardless of graft type, patients with Stevens-Johnson syndrome had poorer long-term corneal surface outcomes.
Concurrent AMT was associated with poorer long-term corneal surface improvements. When the effect of the AMT was removed, the difference between autologous and allogeneic transplants was much smaller.
Patients who received CLAU transplants had a significantly higher rate of visual acuity improvements compared with those who received lr-CLAL transplants (P = .002). However, to achieve adequate improvements in vision, patients with deep corneal scarring will require a corneal transplant several months after the LSCT.
No donor eye complications were observed.
Epithelial rejection and microbial keratitis were the most common long-term complications associated with LSCT (complications occurred in 6%–15% of transplantations). These complications can result in graft failure, so patients should be monitored regularly following LSCT.
The search yielded 152 citations published between January 1, 2000 and May 16, 2008. Six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated LSCT as an adjuvant therapy for the treatment of pterygium met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review.
Limbal stem cell transplantation was compared with CAU, AMT, and MMC. The results showed that CLAU significantly reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence compared with CAU (relative risk [RR], 0.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01–0.69; P = .02). CLAU reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence for primary pterygium compared with MMC, but this comparison did not reach statistical significance (RR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.21–1.10; P = .08). Both AMT and CLAU had similar low rates of recurrence (2 recurrences in 43 patients and 4 in 46, respectively), and the RR was not significant (RR, 1.88; 95% CI, 0.37–9.5; P = .45). Since sample sizes in the included studies were small, failure to detect a significant difference between LSCT and AMT or MMC could be the result of type II error. Limbal stem cell transplantation as an adjuvant to excision is a relatively safe procedure as long-term complications were rare (< 2%).
GRADE Quality of Evidence
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
The evidence for the analyses related to nonpterygium LSCD was based on 3 prospective and 7 retrospective case series. Thus, the GRADE quality of evidence is very low, and any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
The analyses examining LSCT as an adjuvant treatment option for pterygium were based on 6 RCTs. The quality of evidence for the overall body of evidence for each treatment option comparison was assessed using the GRADE approach. In each of the comparisons, the quality of evidence was downgraded due to serious or very serious limitations in study quality (individual study quality was assessed using the Jadad scale, and an assessment of allocation concealment and the degree of loss to follow-up), which resulted in low- to moderate-quality GRADE evidence ratings (low-quality evidence for the CLAU and AMT and CLAU and MMC comparisons, and moderate-quality evidence for the CLAU and CAU comparison).
Ontario Health System Impact Analysis
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Since 1999, Ontario’s out-of-country (OOC) program has approved and reimbursed 8 patients for LSCTs and 1 patient for LSCT consultations. Similarly, most Canadian provinces have covered OOC or out-of-province LSCTs. Several corneal experts in Ontario have the expertise to perform LSCTs.
As there are no standard guidelines for LSCT, patients who receive transplants OOC may not receive care aligned with the best evidence. To date, many of the patients from Ontario who received OOC LSCTs received concurrent AMTs, and the evidence from this analysis questions the use of this procedure. In addition, 1 patient received a cultured LSCT, a procedure that is considered investigational. Many patients with LSCD have bilateral disease and therefore require allogeneic transplants. These patients will require systemic and topical immunosuppression for several years after the transplant, perhaps indefinitely. Thus, systemic side effects associated with immunosuppression are a potential concern, and patients must be monitored regularly.
Amniotic membrane transplantation is a common addition to many ocular surface reconstruction procedures, including LSCT. Amniotic membranes are recovered from human placentas from planned, uneventful caesarean sections. Before use, serological screening of the donor’s blood should be conducted. However, there is still a theoretical risk of disease transmission associated with this procedure.
Financial Impact
For the patients who were reimbursed for OOC LSCTs, the average cost of LSCT per eye was $18,735.20 Cdn (range, $8,219.54–$33,933.32). However, the actual cost per patient is much higher as these costs do not include consultations and follow-up visits, multiple LSCTs, and any additional procedures (e.g., corneal transplants) received during the course of treatment OOC. When these additional costs were considered, the average cost per patient was $57,583 Cdn (range, $8,219.54–$130,628.20).
The estimated average total cost per patient for performing LSCT in Ontario is $2,291.48 Cdn (range, $951.48–$4,538.48) including hospital and physician fees. This cost is based on the assumption that LSCT is technically similar to a corneal transplant, an assumption which needs to be verified. The cost does not include corneal transplantations, which some proportion of patients receiving a LSCT will require within several months of the limbal transplant.
Pterygium recurrence rates after surgical excision are high, ranging from 24% to 89%. However, according to clinical experts, the rate of recurrence is low in Ontario. While there is evidence that the prevalence of pterygium is higher in the “pterygium belt,” there was no evidence to suggest different recurrence rates or disease severity by location or climate.
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Successful LSCTs result in corneal re-epithelialization and improved vision in patients with LSCD. However, patients who received concurrent AMT had poorer long-term corneal surface improvements. Conjunctival-limbal autologous transplantation is the treatment option of choice, but if it is not possible, living-related or cadaveric allogeneic transplants can be used. The benefits of LSCT outweigh the risks and burdens, as shown in Executive Summary Table 1. According to GRADE, these recommendations are strong with low- to very low-quality evidence.
Benefits, Risks, and Burdens – Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Short- and long-term improvement in corneal surface (stable, normal corneal epithelium and decreased vascularization and opacity)
Improvement in vision (visual acuity and functional vision)
Long-term complications are experienced by 8% to 16% of patients
Risks associated with long-term immunosuppression for recipients of allogeneic grafts
Potential risk of induced LSCD in donor eyes
High cost of treatment (average cost per patient via OOC program is $57,583; estimated cost of procedure in Ontario is $2,291.48)
Costs are expressed in Canadian dollars.
GRADE of recommendation: Strong recommendation, low-quality or very low-quality evidence
benefits clearly outweigh risks and burdens
case series studies
strong, but may change if higher-quality evidence becomes available
Conjunctival-limbal autologous transplantations significantly reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence compared with CAU. No other comparison yielded statistically significant results, but CLAU reduced the risk of recurrence compared with MMC. However, the benefit of LSCT in Ontario is uncertain as the severity and recurrence of pterygium in Ontario is unknown. The complication rates suggest that CLAU is a safe treatment option to prevent the recurrence of pterygium. According to GRADE, given the balance of the benefits, risks, and burdens, the recommendations are very weak with moderate quality evidence, as shown in Executive Summary Table 2.
Benefits, Risks, and Burdens – Pterygium
Reduced recurrence; however, if recurrence is low in Ontario, this benefit might be minimal
Long-term complications rare
Increased cost
GRADE of recommendation: Very weak recommendations, moderate quality evidence.
uncertainty in the estimates of benefits, risks, and burden; benefits, risks, and burden may be closely balanced
very weak, other alternatives may be equally reasonable
PMCID: PMC3377549  PMID: 23074512
8.  Long-term Outcome of Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer Treated with High-Dose Chemotherapy and Transplantation of Purified Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cells 
Metastatic breast cancer remains a major treatment challenge. The use of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) with rescue by autologous mobilized peripheral blood (MPB) is controversial, in part due to contamination of MPB by circulating tumor cells. CD34+Thy- 1+ selected hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) represent a graft source with a greater than 250,000-fold reduction in cancer cells. Here, we present the long-term outcome of a pilot study determining feasibility and engraftment using HDCT and purified HSC in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Twenty-two patients who had been treated with standard chemotherapy were enrolled into a phase I/II trial between 12/1996 to 02/1998, and underwent HDCT followed by rescue with CD34+Thy-1+ HSC isolated from autologous MPB. More than 12 years after the end of the study 23% (5/22) of HSC recipients are alive, 18% (4/22) free of recurrence with normal hematopoietic function. Median PFS was 16 months and median OS was 60 months. Retrospective comparison with 74 patients transplanted between 02/1995 and 06/1999 with the identical HDCT regimen but rescue with unmanipulated MPB show that 9% of patients are alive, and 7% without disease. Median PFS was 10 months and median OS was 28 months. In conclusion, cancer-depleted HSC following HDCT resulted in better than expected 12- 14 year PFS and OS in a cohort of metastatic breast cancer patients. These data prompt us to look once again at purified HSC transplantation in a protocol powered to test for efficacy in advanced stage breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4113088  PMID: 21767515
9.  Epidermal growth factor receptor targeted therapy in stages III and IV head and neck cancer 
Current Oncology  2010;17(3):37-48.
What are the benefits associated with the use of anti–epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-egfr) therapies in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (hnscc)? Anti-egfr therapies of interest included cetuximab, gefitinib, lapatinib, zalutumumab, erlotinib, and panitumumab.
Head-and-neck cancer includes malignant tumours arising from a variety of sites in the upper aerodigestive tract. The most common histologic type is squamous cell carcinoma, and most common sites are the oral cavity, the oropharynx, the hypopharynx, and the larynx. Worldwide, hnscc is the sixth most common neoplasm, and despite advances in therapy, long-term survival in hnscc patients is poor. Primary surgery followed by chemoradiation, or primary chemoradiation, are the standard treatment options for patients with locally advanced (stages iii–ivb) hnscc; however, meta-analytic data indicate that the benefit of concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy disappears in patients over the age of 70 years.
Cetuximab is a monoclonal antibody approved for use in combination with radiation in the treatment of patients with untreated locally advanced hnscc and as monotherapy for patients with recurrent or metastatic (stage ivc) hnscc who have progressed on platinum-based therapy.
Given the interest in anti-egfr agents in advanced hnscc, the Head and Neck Cancer Disease Site Group (dsg) of Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care (pebc) chose to systematically review the literature pertaining to this topic so as to develop evidence-based recommendations for treatment.
Outcomes of interest included overall and progression-free survival, quality of life, tumour response rate and duration, and the toxicity associated with the use of anti-egfr therapies.
The medline, embase, and Cochrane Library databases, the American Society of Clinical Oncology online conference proceedings, the Canadian Medical Association InfoBase, and the National Guidelines Clearinghouse were systematically searched to locate primary articles and practice guidelines. The reference lists from relevant review articles were searched for additional trials. All evidence was reviewed, and that evidence informed the development of the clinical practice guideline. The resulting recommendations were approved by the Report Approval Panel of the pebc, and by the Head and Neck Cancer dsg. An external review by Ontario practitioners completed the final phase of the review process. Feedback from all parties was incorporated to create the final practice guideline.
The electronic search identified seventy-four references that were reviewed for inclusion. Only four phase iii trials met the inclusion criteria for the present guideline. No practice guidelines, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses were found during the course of the literature search.
The randomized controlled trials (rcts) involved three distinct patient populations: those with locally advanced hnscc being treated for cure, those with incurable advanced recurrent or metastatic hnscc being treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy, and those with incurable advanced recurrent or metastatic hnscc who had disease progression despite, or who were unsuitable for, first-line platinum-based chemotherapy.
Practice Guideline
These recommendations apply to adult patients with locally advanced (nonmetastatic stages iii–ivb) or recurrent or metastatic (stage ivc) hnscc.
Platinum-based chemoradiation remains the current standard of care for treatment of locally advanced hnscc.
In patients with locally advanced hnscc who are medically unsuitable for concurrent platinumbased chemotherapy or who are over the age of 70 years (because concurrent chemotherapy does not appear to improve overall survival in this patient population), the addition of cetuximab to radical radiotherapy should be considered to improve overall survival, progression-free survival, and time to local recurrence.
Cetuximab in combination with platinum-based combination chemotherapy is superior to chemotherapy alone in patients with recurrent or metastatic hnscc, and is recommended to improve overall survival, progression-free survival, and response rate.
The role of anti-egfr therapies in the treatment of locally advanced hnscc is currently under study in large randomized trials, and patients with hnscc should continue to be offered clinical trials of novel agents aimed at improving outcomes.
Qualifying Statements
Chemoradiation is the current standard of care for patients with locally advanced hnscc, and to date, there is no evidence that compares cetuximab plus radiotherapy with chemoradiation, or that examines whether the addition of cetuximab to chemoradiation is of benefit in these patients. However, five ongoing trials are investigating the effect of the addition of egfr inhibitors concurrently with, before, or after chemoradiotherapy; those trials should provide direction about the best integration of cetuximab into standard treatment.
In patients with recurrent or metastatic hnscc who experience progressive disease despite, or who are unsuitable for, first-line platinum-based chemotherapy, gefitinib at doses of 250 mg or 500 mg daily, compared with weekly methotrexate, did not increase median overall survival [hazard ratio (hr): 1.22; 96% confidence interval (ci): 0.95 to 1.57; p = 0.12 (for 250 mg daily vs. weekly methotrexate); hr: 1.12; 95% ci: 0.87 to 1.43; p = 0.39 (for 500 mg daily vs. weekly methotrexate)] or objective response rate (2.7% for 250 mg and 7.6% for 500 mg daily vs. 3.9% for weekly methotrexate, p > 0.05). As compared with methotrexate, gefitinib was associated with an increased incidence of tumour hemorrhage (8.9% for 250 mg and 11.4% for 500 mg daily vs. 1.9% for weekly methotrexate).
PMCID: PMC2880902  PMID: 20567625
Head-and-neck cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; egfr inhibitors; overall survival; progression-free survival; tumour response rate
10.  Bortezomib in multiple myeloma and lymphoma: a systematic review and clinical practice guideline 
Current Oncology  2006;13(5):160-172.
In patients with multiple myeloma, Waldenström macroglobulinemia, or lymphoma, what is the efficacy of bortezomib alone or in combination as measured by survival, quality of life, disease control (for example, time to progression), response duration, or response rate?
What is the toxicity associated with the use of bortezomib?
Which patients are more or less likely to benefit from treatment with bortezomib?
Evidence was selected and reviewed by two members of the Hematology Disease Site Group and by methodologists from the Program in Evidence-based Care (pebc) at Cancer Care Ontario. The practice guideline report was reviewed and approved by the Hematology Disease Site Group, which comprises hematologists, medical and radiation oncologists, and a patient representative. As part of an external review process, the report was disseminated to practitioners throughout Ontario to obtain their feedback.
Outcomes of interest were overall survival, quality of life, response rates and duration, and rates of adverse events.
A systematic search was conducted of the medline, embase, HealthStar, cinahl, and Cochrane Library databases for primary articles and practice guidelines. The resulting evidence informed the development of clinical practice recommendations. Those recommendations were appraised by a sample of practitioners in Ontario and modified in response to the feedback received. The systematic review and modified recommendations were approved by a review body w theithin pebc.
The literature review found one randomized controlled trial (rct)—the only published rct of bortezomib in relapsed myeloma. A number of phase ii studies were also retrieved, including a randomized phase ii study. No randomized trials were retrieved for lymphoma.
The rct found bortezomib to be superior to high-dose dexamethasone for median time to progression and 1-year survival in patients with relapsed myeloma, although grade 3 adverse events were more common in the bortezomib arm. Bortezomib is recommended as the preferred treatment option in patients with myeloma relapsing within 1 year of the conclusion of initial treatment; it may also be a reasonable option in patients relapsing at least 1 year after autologous stem-cell transplantation.
Practice Guideline
This evidence-based series applies to adult patients with myeloma, Waldenström macroglobulinemia, or lymphoma of any type, stage, histology, or performance status.
Based on the results of a large well-conducted rct, which represents the only published randomized study in relapsed myeloma, the Hematology Disease Site Group (dsg) offers the following recommendations:
For patients with myeloma refractory to or relapsing within 1 year of the conclusion of initial or subsequent treatment or treatments, including autologous stem-cell transplantation, and who are candidates for further chemotherapy, bortezomib is recommended as the preferred treatment option.
Bortezomib is also a reasonable option for patients relapsing at least 1 year after autologous stem-cell transplantation. The dsg is aware that thalidomide, alkylating agents, or repeat transplantation may also be options for these patients. However, evaluation of these other options is beyond the scope of this practice guideline.
For patients with myeloma relapsing at least 1 year after the conclusion of alkylating agent–based chemotherapy who are candidates for further chemotherapy, further treatment with alkylating agent–based chemotherapy is recommended.
Evidence is insufficient to support the use of bortezomib in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Waldenström macroglobulinemia outside of clinical trials.
Qualifying Statements
Limited evidence supports the appropriateness of a specific time-to-relapse period as being indicative of treatment-insensitive disease. The 1-year threshold provided in the foregoing recommendations is based on the opinion of the Hematology dsg.
For specific details related to the administration of bortezomib therapy, the dsg suggests that clinicians refer to the protocols used in major trials. Some of those details are provided here for informational purposes.
Bortezomib 1.3,g/m2 is given as a rapid intravenous bolus over 3–5 seconds on days 1, 4, 8, and 11 of a 21-day cycle; a minimum of 72 hours between doses is required to allow for recovery of normal proteasome function. Vital signs should be checked before and after each dose. A complete blood count is recommended before each dose, with blood chemistries (including electrolyte and creatinine levels) monitored at a minimum on days 1 and 8 of each cycle. The dose of bortezomib should be reduced or held immediately upon development of painful neuropathy, as described in the product monograph; dose modification may also be required for peripheral sensory neuropathy without pain or for other toxicities. Most toxicities are reversible if dose modification guidelines are followed.
Response to Treatment
Responses are usually apparent by 6 weeks (2 cycles). For patients achieving complete remission (determined by negative electrophoresis and immunofixation), bortezomib should be given for 2 additional cycles beyond the date of confirmed complete remission. In patients with progressive disease after 2 cycles or stable disease after 4 cycles, dexamethasone added to the bortezomib regimen (20 mg by mouth the day of and the day after each bortezomib dose) may produce an objective response. Bortezomib (with or without dexamethasone) should be continued in patients showing benefit from therapy (excluding those in complete remission) unless disease progression or significant toxicity is observed. Therapy should be discontinued in patients who do not respond to bortezomib alone if disease progression is seen within 2 cycles of the addition of dexamethasone.
The Hematology dsg recognizes that thalidomide is an active agent in multiple myeloma patients who have relapsed after autologous stem-cell transplantation or who are refractory to alkylating agent–based chemotherapy. To date, no reported rcts have evaluated thalidomide in this role, and specifically, no trials have compared thalidomide with bortezomib. Given these limitations, the members of the Hematology dsg regard thalidomide or bortezomib as therapy alternatives to dexamethasone.
PMCID: PMC3394599  PMID: 22792013
Bortezomib; Velcade; multiple myeloma; lymphoma; clinical practice guideline; systematic review
11.  Efficacy of High-dose Chemotherapy and Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Patients with Relapsed Medulloblastoma: A Report on The Korean Society for Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (KSPNO)-S-053 Study 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2010;25(8):1160-1166.
The efficacy and toxicity of high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (HDCT/ASCT) were investigated for improving the outcomes of patients with relapsed medulloblastoma. A total of 15 patients with relapsed medulloblastoma were enrolled in the KSPNO-S-053 study from May 2005 to May 2007. All patients received approximately 4 cycles of salvage chemotherapy after relapse. Thirteen underwent HDCT/ASCT; CTE and CM regimen were employed for the first HDCT (HDCT1) and second HDCT (HDCT2), respectively, and 7 underwent HDCT2. One transplant related mortality (TRM) due to veno-occlusive disease (VOD) occurred during HDCT1 but HDCT2 was tolerable with no further TRM. The 3-yr overall survival probability and event-free survival rates ±95% confidence intervals (CI) were 33.3±12.2% and 26.7% ±11.4%, respectively. When analysis was confined to only patients who had a complete response (CR) or partial response (PR) prior to HDCT, the probability of 3-yr overall survival rates ±95% CI was 40.0±15.5%. No patients with stable disease (SD) or progressive disease (PD) survived. Survival rates from protocol KSPNO-S-053 are encouraging and show that tumor status prior to HDCT/ASCT is an important factor to consider for improving survival rates of patients with relapsed medulloblastoma.
PMCID: PMC2908784  PMID: 20676326
Recurrence; Medulloblastoma; Transplantation, Autologous; Tandem; Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
12.  Prognostic Value of EMT-Circulating Tumor Cells in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing High-Dose Chemotherapy with Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation 
Journal of Cancer  2012;3:369-380.
Background: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are an independent prognostic factor in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients treated by conventional dose chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to determine the role of CTCs and CTCs undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in metastatic breast cancer. We used the platform of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) to study the CTCs and CTCs with EMT.
Patients and methods: CTCs were enumerated in 21 MBC patients before apheresis and 1 month after AHSCT. CD34-depleted apheresis products were analyzed for CD326+ epithelial and Aldefluor+ cancer stem cells (CSC) by flow cytometry and were depleted of CD45+ cells and assessed for EMT-inducing transcription factors (EMT-TF) by quantitative RT-PCR.
Results: Patients with ≥ 5 CTCs/7.5 mL of peripheral blood 1 month after AHSCT had shorter progression-free survival (PFS) (P=0.02) and overall survival (OS) (P=0.02). Patients with apheresis products containing high percentages of CD326+ epithelial cells or overexpressing EMT-TF had shorter PFS. In multivariate analysis, low percentage of CD326+ epithelial cells and response to HDCT with AHSCT were associated with longer PFS, whereas lower CTCs after AHSCT was associated with longer OS. High CTCs, 1 month after AHSCT correlated with shorter PFS and OS in MBC patients undergoing HDCT and AHSCT, while CTCs with EMT and CSCs phenotype in apheresis products are associated with relapse.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that CTC and CTCs with EMT are prognostic in MBC patients undergoing HDCT followed by AHSCT.
PMCID: PMC3471078  PMID: 23074378
metastatic breast cancer; circulating tumor cells; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; high-dose chemotherapy; autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
13.  KRAS Testing for Anti-EGFR Therapy in Advanced Colorectal 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 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: or at
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 Economic Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis.
The objective of this systematic review is to determine the predictive value of KRAS testing in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with two anti-EGFR agents, cetuximab and panitumumab. Economic analyses are also being conducted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of KRAS testing.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is usually defined as stage IV disease according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer tumour node metastasis (TNM) system or stage D in the Duke’s classification system. Patients with advanced colorectal cancer (mCRC) either present with metastatic disease or develop it through disease progression.
KRAS (Kristen-RAS, a member of the rat sarcoma virus (ras) gene family of oncogenes) is frequently mutated in epithelial cancers such as colorectal cancer, with mutations occurring in mutational hotspots (codons 12 and 13) of the KRAS protein. Involved in EGFR-mediated signalling of cellular processes such as cell proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, enhanced cell motility and neoangiogenesis, a mutation in the KRAS gene is believed to be involved in cancer pathogenesis. Such a mutation is also hypothesized to be involved in resistance to targeted anti-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor with tyrosine kinase activity) treatments such as cetuximab and panitumumab, hence, the important in evaluating the evidence on the predictive value of KRAS testing in this context.
KRAS Mutation Testing in Advanced Colorectal Cancer
Both cetuximab and panitumumab are indicated by Health Canada in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer whose tumours are WT for the KRAS gene. Cetuximab may be offered as monotherapy in patients intolerant to irinotecan-based chemotherapy or in patients who have failed both irinotecan and oxaliplatin-based regimens and who received a fluoropyrimidine. It can also be administered in combination with irinotecan in patients refractory to other irinotecan-based chemotherapy regimens. Panitumumab is only indicated as a single agent after failure of fluoropyrimidine-, oxaliplatin-, and irinotecan-containing chemotherapy regimens.
In Ontario, patients with advanced colorectal cancer who are refractory to chemotherapy may be offered the targeted anti-EGFR treatments cetuximab or panitumumab. Eligibility for these treatments is based on the KRAS status of their tumour, derived from tissue collected from surgical or biopsy specimens. It is believed that KRAS status is not affected by treatments, therefore, for patients for whom surgical tissue is available for KRAS testing, additional biopsies prior to treatment with these targeted agents is not necessary. For patients that have not undergone surgery or for whom surgical tissue is not available, a biopsy of either the primary or metastatic site is required to determine their KRAS status. This is possible as status at the metastatic and primary tumour sites is considered to be similar.
Research Question
To determine if there is predictive value of KRAS testing in guiding treatment decisions with anti-EGFR targeted therapies in advanced colorectal cancer patients refractory to chemotherapy.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The Medical Advisory Secretariat followed its standard procedures and on May 18, 2010, searched the following electronic databases: Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and The International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment database.
The subject headings and keywords searched included colorectal cancer, cetuximab, panitumumab, and KRAS testing. The search was further restricted to English-language articles published between January 1, 2009 and May 18, 2010 resulting in 1335 articles for review. Excluded were case reports, comments, editorials, nonsystematic reviews, and letters. Studies published from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2008 were identified in a health technology assessment conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), published in 2010. In total, 14 observational studies were identified for inclusion in this EBA: 4 for cetuximab monotherapy, 7 for the cetuximab-irinotecan combination therapy, and 3 to be included in the review for panitumumab monotherapy
Inclusion Criteria
English-language articles, and English or French-language HTAs published from January 2005 to May 2010, inclusive.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or observational studies, including single arm treatment studies that include KRAS testing.
Studies with data on main outcomes of interest, overall and progression-free survival.
Studies of third line treatment with cetuximab or panitumumab in patients with advanced colorectal cancer refractory to chemotherapy.
For the cetuximab-irinotecan evaluation, studies in which at least 70% of patients in the study received this combination therapy.
Exclusion Criteria
Studies whose entire sample was included in subsequent publications which have been included in this EBA.
Studies in pediatric populations.
Case reports, comments, editorials, or letters.
Outcomes of Interest
Overall survival (OS), median
Progression-free-survival (PFS), median.
Response rates.
Adverse event rates.
Quality of life (QOL).
Summary of Findings of Systematic Review
Cetuximab or Panitumumab Monotherapy
Based on moderate GRADE observational evidence, there is improvement in PFS and OS favouring patients without the KRAS mutation (KRAS wildtype, or KRAS WT) compared to those with the mutation.
Cetuximab-Irinotecan Combination Therapy
There is low GRADE evidence that testing for KRAS may optimize survival benefits in patients without the KRAS mutation (KRAS wildtype, or KRAS WT) compared to those with the mutation.
However, cetuximab-irinotecan combination treatments based on KRAS status discount any effect of cetuximab in possibly reversing resistance to irinotecan in patients with the mutation, as observed effects were lower than for patients without the mutation. Clinical experts have raised concerns about the biological plausibility of this observation and this conclusion would, therefore, be regarded as hypothesis generating.
Economic Analysis
Cost-effectiveness and budget impact analyses were conducted incorporating estimates of effectiveness from this systematic review. Evaluation of relative cost-effectiveness, based on a decision-analytic cost-utility analysis, assessed testing for KRAS genetic mutations versus no testing in the context of treatment with cetuximab monotherapy, panitumumab monotherapy, cetuximab in combination with irinotecan, and best supportive care.
Of importance to note is that the cost-effectiveness analysis focused on the impact of testing for KRAS mutations compared to no testing in the context of different treatment options, and does not assess the cost-effectiveness of the drug treatments alone.
KRAS status is predictive of outcomes in cetuximab and panitumumab monotherapy, and in cetuximab-irinotecan combination therapy.
While KRAS testing is cost-effective for all strategies considered, it is not equally cost-effective for all treatment options.
PMCID: PMC3377508  PMID: 23074403
14.  Alterations in p53 predict response to preoperative high dose chemotherapy in patients with gastric cancer 
Molecular Pathology  2003;56(5):286-292.
Aims: To evaluate the usefulness of molecular markers in predicting histopathological and clinical response to preoperative high dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and survival of patients with advanced gastric cancer.
Methods: In a phase II trial, 25 patients with metastatic gastric cancer received preoperative tandem HDCT consisting of etoposide, cisplatin, and mitomycin, followed by autologous bone marrow transplantation to achieve surgical resectability. Samples before and after treatment, from normal and tumour tissue, were characterised histopathologically, and both p53 and BAX expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry. Pretreatment formalin fixed, paraffin wax embedded samples from normal and tumour tissue were microdissected, and the extracted DNA was preamplified using improved primer extension preamplification polymerase chain reaction. Detection of microsatellite instability (MSI) or loss of heterozygosity (LOH) was performed using markers for p53, BAX, BAT25, BAT26, D2S123, D17S250, and APC. Exons 5–9 of the p53 gene were sequenced directly on ABI 373.
Results: Four parameters were significantly associated with response to chemotherapy and prolonged overall survival: positive p53 immunostaining, positive p53 mutation status before chemotherapy, strong histological regression induced by preoperative HDCT, and surgical treatment. Patients’s sex or age, tumour location or stage, lymph node status, Lauren classification, MSI, or LOH did not influence duration of survival significantly in this high risk population.
Conclusion: Positive p53 immunostaining and p53 mutation status in pretreatment tumour biopsies might be useful molecular predictors of response and prognosis in patients with advanced gastric cancer treated by preoperative HDCT.
PMCID: PMC1187340  PMID: 14514923
gastric cancer; preoperative high dose chemotherapy; molecular parameters; histological regression; p53
15.  Adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy for early stage epithelial ovarian cancer 
Epithelial ovarian cancer is diagnosed in 4500 women in the UK each year of whom 1700 will ultimately die of their disease.Of all cases 10% to 15% are diagnosed early when there is still a good possibility of cure. The treatment of early stage disease involves surgery to remove disease often followed by chemotherapy. The largest clinical trials of this adjuvant therapy show an overall survival (OS) advantage with adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy but the precise role of this treatment in subgroups of women with differing prognoses needs to be defined.
To systematically review the evidence for adjuvant chemotherapy in early stage epithelial ovarian cancer to determine firstly whether there is a survival advantage of this treatment over the policy of observation following surgery with chemotherapy reserved for treatment of disease recurrence, and secondly to determine if clinical subgroups of differing prognosis based on histological sub-type, or completeness of surgical staging, have more or less to gain from chemotherapy following initial surgery.
Search methods
We performed an electronic search using the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Specialised Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL 2011, Issue 3), MEDLINE (1948 to Aug week 5, 2011) and EMBASE (1980 to week 36, 2011). We developed the search strategy using free-text and medical subject headings (MESH).
Selection criteria
We selected randomised clinical trials that met the inclusion criteria set out based on the populations, interventions, comparisons and outcome measures.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. Disagreements were resolved by discussion with a third review author. We performed random-effects meta-analyses and subgroup analyses.
Main results
Five randomised controlled trials (RCTs), enrolling 1277 women, with a median follow-up of 46 to 121 months, met the inclusion criteria. Four trials were included in the meta-analyses and we considered them to be at a low risk of bias. Meta-analysis of five-year data from three trials indicated that women who received adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy had better overall survival (OS) than those who did not (1008 women; hazard ratio (HR) 0.71; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.93). Likewise, meta-analysis of five-year data from four trials indicated that women who received adjuvant chemotherapy had better progression-free survival (PFS) than those who did not (1170 women; HR 0.67; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.84). The trials included in these meta-analyses gave consistent estimates of the effects of chemotherapy. In addition, these findings were robust over time (10-year PFS: two trials, 925 women; HR 0.67; 95% CI 0.54 to 0.84).
Subgroup analysis suggested that women who had optimal surgical staging of their disease were unlikely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy (HR for OS 1.22; 95% CI 0.63 to 2.37; two trials, 234 women) whereas those who had sub-optimal staging did (HR for OS 0.63; 95% CI 0.46 to 0.85; two trials, 772 women). One trial showed a benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy among women at high risk (HR for OS 0.48; 95% CI 0.32 to 0.72) but not among those at low/medium risk (HR for OS 0.95; 95% CI 0.54 to 1.66). However, these subgroup findings could be due to chance and should be interpreted with caution.
Authors’ conclusions
Adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy is effective in prolonging the survival of the majority of patients who are assessed as having early (FIGO stage I/IIa) epithelial ovarian cancer. However, it may be withheld from women in whom there is well-differentiated encapsulated unilateral disease (stage 1a grade 1) or those with comprehensively staged Ib, well or moderately differentiated (grade 1/2) disease. Others with unstaged early disease or those with poorly differentiated tumours should be offered chemotherapy. A pragmatic approach may be necessary in clinical settings where optimal staging is not normally performed/achieved. In such settings, adjuvant chemotherapy may be withheld from those with encapsulated stage Ia grade 1 serous and endometrioid carcinoma and offered to all others with early stage disease.
PMCID: PMC4164914  PMID: 22419298
Antineoplastic Agents [*therapeutic use]; Carboplatin [therapeutic use]; Chemotherapy, Adjuvant [methods]; Cisplatin [therapeutic use]; Disease-Free Survival; Early Detection of Cancer; Melphalan [therapeutic use]; Neoplasm Staging; Ovarian Neoplasms [*drug therapy; pathology; surgery]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Female; Humans
16.  Immunotherapy with low-dose recombinant interleukin 2 after high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation in neuroblastoma. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;78(4):528-533.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate in a phase I-II trial whether low doses of recombinant human interleukin 2 (rHuIL-2) over a prolonged period of time are safe and effective in eradicating or controlling minimal residual disease in children with neuroblastoma given high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). From January 1992 to July 1996, 17 consecutive patients, with either stage IV or relapsed neuroblastoma, were enrolled. Patients received rHuIL-2 after a median time interval (min-max) of 105 days (56-153) after HDCT and ASCT. The protocol consisted of 2 'priming' courses of rHuIL-2 at escalating doses administered intravenously at 72-h intervals, followed by 'maintenance' with 11 monthly and six bimonthly boosting 5-day courses administered subcutaneously on an outpatient basis. At April 1997, 7 out of the 17 patients had completed the treatment schedule, four had discontinued treatment because of toxicity and four because of relapse; the remaining two patients are still on treatment, having completed 15 courses. Expansion of T lymphocytes, together with an increase in both natural killer cells and in activated T lymphocytes was evidenced. After a median (min-max) follow-up time of 30 (16-64) months, 12 out of 17 patients are alive and well. Two patients relapsed and died 14 and 35 months after transplant. Three patients are alive after having relapsed at 41, 21 and 13 months. The actuarial 2-year event-free survival and overall survival are 67% and 92% respectively. Intermittent administration of low doses of rHuIL-2 given for a long period of time is well tolerated and seems capable of controlling minimal residual disease after HDCT and ASCT in children with high-risk neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC2063104  PMID: 9716039
17.  Treatment of young children with CNS-primitive neuroectodermal tumors/pineoblastomas in the prospective multicenter trial HIT 2000 using different chemotherapy regimens and radiotherapy 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;15(2):224-234.
Especially in young children, primitive neuroectodermal tumors of the central nervous system (CNS-PNET) and pineoblastomas are associated with an unfavorable outcome, and only a few prospective trials have been conducted thus far.
From January 2001 through January 2005, 17 eligible children aged <4 years with CNS-PNET not otherwise specified (n = 8), ependymoblastoma (n = 1), or pineoblastoma (n = 8) confirmed by central review were prospectively treated in the trial HIT 2000. In nonmetastatic disease (n = 11), up to 5 postoperative cycles of HIT-SKK systemic multiagent chemotherapy (8 months duration), followed by craniospinal radiotherapy (CSI), were given. In metastatic disease (M1-M3, n = 6), treatment consisted of a shorter induction chemotherapy (2–3 months) with carboplatin and etoposide, followed by tandem high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) in case of good response to induction. During induction and HDCT, patients received intraventricular methotrexate. CSI was applied to all patients with poor response to induction or residual disease after HDCT and was optional for patients with residual disease before HDCT.
Five-year event-free survival and overall survival rates ± standard error for all eligible patients were 24% ± 10% and 40% ± 12%, respectively (median follow-up of survivors: 8.3 years). Only one patient with nonmetastatic disease remained free of relapse/progressive disease during induction. Three of 6 patients with metastatic disease responded to induction and received tandem-HDCT, followed by preventive CSI, and remain in continuous complete remission.
Short intensive induction chemotherapy followed by tandem-HDCT in young children with CNS-PNET/pineoblastomas seems to be superior to the prolonged and less intensive induction regimen.
PMCID: PMC3548584  PMID: 23223339
brain tumors, chemotherapy; pineoblastoma; primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET); radiotherapy; young children
18.  Kidney and liver organ transplantation in persons with human immunodeficiency virus 
Executive Summary
The objective of this analysis is to determine the effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in persons with end stage organ failure (ESOF) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV+)
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Patients with end stage organ failure who have been unresponsive to other forms of treatment eventually require solid organ transplantation. Similar to persons who are HIV negative (HIV−), persons living with HIV infection (HIV+) are at risk for ESOF from viral (e.g. hepatitis B and C) and non-viral aetiologies (e.g. coronary artery disease, diabetes, hepatocellular carcinoma). Additionally, HIV+ persons also incur risks of ESOF from HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), accelerated liver damage from hepatitis C virus (HCV+), with which an estimated 30% of HIV positive (HIV+) persons are co-infected, and coronary artery disease secondary to antiretroviral therapy. Concerns that the need for post transplant immunosuppression and/or the interaction of immunosuppressive drugs with antiretroviral agents may accelerate the progression of HIV disease, as well as the risk of opportunistic infections post transplantation, have led to uncertainty regarding the overall benefit of transplantation among HIV+ patients. Moreover, the scarcity of donor organs and their use in a population where the clinical benefit of transplantation is uncertain has limited the availability of organ transplantation to persons living with ESOF and HIV.
With the development of highly active anti retroviral therapy (HAART), which has been available in Canada since 1997, there has been improved survival and health-related quality of life for persons living with HIV. HAART can suppress HIV replication, enhance immune function, and slow disease progression. HAART managed persons can now be expected to live longer than those in the pre-HAART era and as a result many will now experience ESOF well before they experience life-threatening conditions related to HIV infection. Given their improved prognosis and the burden of illness they may experience from ESOF, the benefit of solid organ transplantation for HIV+ patients needs to be reassessed.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What are the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in HIV+ persons with ESOF?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on September 22, 2009 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 1, 1996 to September 22, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic review with or without a Meta analysis, RCT, Non-RCT with controls
HIV+ population undergoing solid organ transplantation
HIV+ population managed with HAART therapy
Controls include persons undergoing solid organ transplantation who are i) HIV− ii) HCV+ mono-infected, and iii) HIV+ persons with ESOF not transplanted.
Studies that completed and reported results of a Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve analysis.
Studies with a minimum (mean or medium) follow up of 1-year.
English language citations
Exclusion Criteria
Case reports and case series were excluded form this review.
Outcomes of Interest
i) Risk of Death after transplantation
ii) Death censored graft survival (DCGS)
iii) HIV disease progression defined as the post transplant incidence of:
- opportunistic infections or neoplasms,
- CD4+ T-cell count < 200mm3, and
- any detectable level of plasma HIV viral load.
iv) Acute graft rejection,
v) Return to dialysis,
vi) Recurrence of HCV infection
Summary of Findings
No direct evidence comparing an HIV+ cohort undergoing transplantation with the same not undergoing transplantation (wait list) was found in the literature search.
The results of this review are reported for the following comparison cohorts undergoing transplantation:
i) Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− cohort
ii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− negative cohort
iii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ HCV+ (co-infected) cohort compared with HCV+ (mono-infected) cohort
Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a pooled HIV+ cohort sample size of 285 patients across four studies, the risk of death after kidney transplantation in an HIV+ cohort does not differ to that of an HIV− cohort [hazard ratio (HR): 0.90; 95% CI: 0.36, 2.23]. The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported in one study with an HIV+ cohort sample size of 100, and was statistically significantly different (p=.03) to that in the HIV− cohort (n=36,492). However, the quality of evidence supporting this outcome was determined to be very low. There was also uncertainty in the rate of return to dialysis after kidney transplantation in both the HIV+ and HIV− groups and the effect, if any, this may have on patient survival. Because of the very low quality evidence rating, the effect of kidney transplantation on HIV-disease progression is uncertain.
The rate of acute graft rejection was determined using the data from one study. There was a nonsignificant difference between the HIV+ and HIV− cohorts (OR 0.13; 95% CI: 0.01, 2.64), although again, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in this estimate of effect.
Liver Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a combined HIV+ cohort sample size of 198 patient across five studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation in an HIV+ cohort (with at least 50% of the cohort co-infected with HCV+) is statistically significantly 64% greater compared with an HIV− cohort (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 1.32, 2.02). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported for an HIV+ cohort in one study (n=11) however the DCGS rate of the contemporaneous control HIV− cohort was not reported. Because of sparse data the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low indicating death censored graft survival is uncertain.
Both the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant with an incidence of opportunistic infection of 20.5%. However, the quality of this evidence for these outcomes is very low indicating uncertainty in these effects. Similarly, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the rate of acute graft rejection among both the HIV+ and HIV− groups
Liver Transplantation: HIV+/HCV+ vs. HCV+
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort sample size of 156 from seven studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation is significantly greater (2.8 fold) in a co-infected cohort compared with an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (HR: 2.81; 95% CI: 1.47, 5.37). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. Death censored graft survival evidence was not available.
Regarding disease progression, based on a combined sample size of 71 persons in the co-infected cohort, the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant; however, again the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. The rate of opportunistic infection in the co-infected cohort was 7.2%. The quality of evidence supporting this estimate is very low, indicating uncertainty in these estimates of effect.
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=57) the rate of acute graft rejection does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.44, 1.76). Also based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=83), the rate of HCV+ recurrence does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.27, 1.59). In both cases, the quality of the supporting evidence was very low.
Overall, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the effect of kidney or liver transplantation in HIV+ persons with end stage organ failure compared with those not infected with HIV. Examining the economics of this issue, the cost of kidney and liver transplants in an HIV+ patient population are, on average, 56K and 147K per case, based on both Canadian and American experiences.
PMCID: PMC3377507  PMID: 23074407
19.  Preoperative/Neoadjuvant Therapy in Pancreatic Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Response and Resection Percentages 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(4):e1000267.
Jörg Kleef and colleagues systematically reviewed studies on neoadjuvant therapy and tumor response, toxicity, resection, and survival percentages in pancreatic cancer and suggest that patients with locally nonresectable tumors should be included in neoadjuvant protocols.
Pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis and prolonged survival is achieved only by resection with macroscopic tumor clearance. There is a strong rationale for a neoadjuvant approach, since a relevant percentage of pancreatic cancer patients present with non-metastatic but locally advanced disease and microscopic incomplete resections are common. The objective of the present analysis was to systematically review studies concerning the effects of neoadjuvant therapy on tumor response, toxicity, resection, and survival percentages in pancreatic cancer.
Methods and Findings
Trials were identified by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to December 2009 as well as through reference lists of articles and proceedings of major meetings. Retrospective and prospective studies analyzing neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy of pancreatic cancer patients, followed by re-staging, and surgical exploration/resection were included. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed study quality. Pooled relative risks and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using random-effects models. Primary outcome measures were proportions of tumor response categories and percentages of exploration and resection. A total of 111 studies (n = 4,394) including 56 phase I–II trials were analyzed. A median of 31 (interquartile range [IQR] 19–46) patients per study were included. Studies were subdivided into surveys considering initially resectable tumors (group 1) and initially non-resectable (borderline resectable/unresectable) tumors (group 2). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy was given in 96.4% of the studies with the main agents gemcitabine, 5-FU (and oral analogues), mitomycin C, and platinum compounds. Neoadjuvant radiotherapy was applied in 93.7% of the studies with doses ranging from 24 to 63 Gy. Averaged complete/partial response probabilities were 3.6% (95% CI 2%–5.5%)/30.6% (95% CI 20.7%–41.4%) and 4.8% (95% CI 3.5%–6.4%)/30.2% (95% CI 24.5%–36.3%) for groups 1 and 2, respectively; whereas progressive disease fraction was estimated to 20.9% (95% CI 16.9%–25.3%) and 20.8% (95% CI 14.5%–27.8%). In group 1, resectability was estimated to 73.6% (95% CI 65.9%–80.6%) compared to 33.2% (95% CI 25.8%–41.1%) in group 2. Higher resection-associated morbidity and mortality rates were observed in group 2 versus group 1 (26.7%, 95% CI 20.7%–33.3% versus 39.1%, 95% CI 29.5%–49.1%; and 3.9%, 95% CI 2.2%–6% versus 7.1%, 95% CI 5.1%–9.5%). Combination chemotherapies resulted in higher estimated response and resection probabilities for patients with initially non-resectable tumors (“non-resectable tumor patients”) compared to monotherapy. Estimated median survival following resection was 23.3 (range 12–54) mo for group 1 and 20.5 (range 9–62) mo for group 2 patients.
In patients with initially resectable tumors (“resectable tumor patients”), resection frequencies and survival after neoadjuvant therapy are similar to those of patients with primarily resected tumors and adjuvant therapy. Approximately one-third of initially staged non-resectable tumor patients would be expected to have resectable tumors following neoadjuvant therapy, with comparable survival as initially resectable tumor patients. Thus, patients with locally non-resectable tumors should be included in neoadjuvant protocols and subsequently re-evaluated for resection.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. It begins when a cell in the pancreas (an organ lying behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and hormones such as insulin that controls blood sugar levels) acquires genetic changes that allow it to grow uncontrollably and, sometimes, to spread around the body (metastasize). Because pancreatic cancer rarely causes any symptoms early in its development, it is locally advanced in more than a third of patients and has already metastasized in another half of patients by the time it is diagnosed. Consequently, on average, people die within 5–8 months of a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. At present, the only chance for cure is surgical removal (resection) of the tumor, part of the pancreas, and other nearby digestive organs. This procedure—the Whipple procedure—is only possible in the fifth of patients whose tumor is found when it is small enough to be resectable, and even in these patients, the cure rate associated with surgery is less than 25%, although radiotherapy or chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant therapy) can be beneficial.
Why Was This Study Done?
For patients whose tumor has metastasized, palliative chemotherapy to slow down tumor growth and to minimize pain is the only treatment option. But, for the many patients whose disease is locally advanced and unresectable at diagnosis, experts think that “neoadjuvant” therapy might be helpful. Neoadjuvant therapy—chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy given before surgery—aims to convert unresectable tumors into resectable tumors by shrinking the visible tumor and removing cancer cells that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Randomized phase III trials—studies in which groups of patients are randomly assigned to different interventions and specific outcomes measured—are the best way to determine whether an intervention has any clinical benefits, but no randomized phase III trials of neoadjuvant therapy for unresectable pancreatic cancer have been undertaken. Therefore, in this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of several studies), the researchers analyze data from other types of studies to investigate whether neoadjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer provides any clinical benefits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In their systematic review, the researchers identified 111 studies involving 4,394 patients in which the effects of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy on tumor response, tumor resectability, and patient survival had been investigated. They subdivided the studies into two groups: group 1 studies included patients whose tumors were considered resectable on preoperative examination, and group 2 studies included patients whose tumors were borderline resectable or unresectable. In their meta-analysis, the researchers found that similar percentages of the tumors in both groups responded to neoadjuvant therapy by shrinking or regressing and that about a fifth of the tumors in each group grew larger or metastasized during neoadjuvant therapy. In the group 1 studies, three-quarters of the tumors were resectable after neoadjuvant therapy (a decrease in the proportion of tumors that could be treated surgically) whereas in the group 2 studies, a third of the tumors were resectable after neoadjuvant therapy (an increase in the proportion of tumors that could be treated surgically). After resection, the average survival time for group 1 patients was 23.3 months, a similar survival time to that seen in patients treated with surgery and adjuvant therapy. The average survival time for group 2 patients after resection was 20.5 months.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding that the average survival time after neoadjuvant therapy and surgery in patients whose tumor was judged resectable before neoadjuvant therapy was similar to that of patients treated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy after surgery suggests that for patients with resectable tumors, neoadjuvant therapy will not provide any clinical benefit. By contrast, the finding that a third of patients initially judged unresectable were able to undergo resection after neoadjuvant therapy and then had a similar survival rate to patients judged resectable before neoadjuvant treatment strongly suggests that patients presenting with locally advanced/unresectable tumors should be offered neoadjuvant therapy and then re-evaluated for resection. Randomized trials are now needed to confirm this finding and to determine the optimum neoadjuvant therapy for this group of patients.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides information for patients and health professionals about all aspects of pancreatic cancer (in English and Spanish), including a booklet for patients
The American Cancer Society also provides detailed information about pancreatic cancer
The UK National Health Service and Cancer Research UK include information for patients on pancreatic cancer on their Web sites
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on pancreatic cancer (in English and Spanish),, and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network give more information to pancreatic cancer patients, their families, and caregivers
PMCID: PMC2857873  PMID: 20422030
Leukemia & lymphoma  2010;51(4):664-670.
For patients with relapsed Hodgkin Lymphoma, high dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue may improve survival over chemotherapy alone. We assessed outcomes of HDCT-SCT in 37 consecutive adolescent and young adult patients with relapsed HL whose malignancy was categorized based on sensitivity to chemotherapy. We determined whether current outcomes supported the use of HDCT-SCT in all of our patients or just those patients with lower risk characteristics such as chemosensitivity. With a median follow up of 6.5 years, the 2 year overall survival was 89% (95% CI: 62%–97%) for the chemo-sensitive patients (n=21). Whereas for patients with resistant disease (n=16) OS was 53% (95%CI: 25%–74%). Both autologous and allogeneic transplants were well tolerated, with 100 day treatment related mortality under 10%. Our data show encouraging outcomes for patients with chemosensitive relapsed HL who receives HSCT and supports the value of the procedure even when the disease is chemoresistant.
PMCID: PMC2932472  PMID: 20367182
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Stem Cell Transplant; Salvage Therapy
21.  Efficacy of Tandem High-Dose Chemotherapy and Autologous Stem Cell Rescue in Patients Over 1 Year of Age with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma: The Korean Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Experience Over 6 Years (2000-2005) 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2010;25(5):691-697.
The efficacy of tandem high-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell rescue (HDCT/ASCR) was investigated in patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. Patients over 1 yr of age who were newly diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma from January 2000 to December 2005 were enrolled in The Korean Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology registry. All patients who were assigned to receive HDCT/ASCR at diagnosis were retrospectively analyzed to investigate the efficacy of single or tandem HDCT/ASCR. Seventy and 71 patients were assigned to receive single or tandem HDCT/ASCR at diagnosis. Fifty-seven and 59 patients in the single or tandem HDCT group underwent single or tandem HDCT/ASCR as scheduled. Twenty-four and 38 patients in the single or tandem HDCT group remained event free with a median follow-up of 56 (24-88) months. When the survival rate was analyzed according to intent-to-treat at diagnosis, the probability of the 5-yr event-free survival±95% confidence intervals was higher in the tandem HDCT group than in the single HDCT group (51.2±12.4% vs. 31.3±11.5%, P=0.030). The results of the present study demonstrate that the tandem HDCT/ASCR strategy is significantly better than the single HDCT/ASCR strategy for improved survival in the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma patients.
PMCID: PMC2858826  PMID: 20436703
Neuroblastoma; High-dose Chemotherapy; Transplantation, Autologous
22.  Optimal chemotherapy treatment for women with recurrent ovarian cancer 
Current Oncology  2007;14(5):195-208.
What is the optimal chemotherapy treatment for women with recurrent ovarian cancer who have previously received platinum-based chemotherapy?
Currently, standard primary therapy for advanced disease involves a combination of maximal cytoreductive surgery and chemotherapy with carboplatin plus paclitaxel or with carboplatin alone. Despite initial high response rates, a large proportion of patients relapse, resulting in a therapeutic challenge. Because these patients are not curable, the goal of therapy becomes improvement in both quality and length of life. The search has therefore been to find active agents for women with recurrent disease following platinum-based chemotherapy.
Outcomes of interest included any combination of tumour response rate, progression-free survival, overall survival, adverse events, and quality of life.
The medline, embase, and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched for primary articles and practice guidelines. The resulting evidence informed the development of clinical practice recommendations. The systematic review and recommendations were approved by the Report Approval Panel of the Program in Evidence-Based Care, and by the Gynecology Cancer Disease Site Group (dsg). The practice guideline was externally reviewed by a sample of practitioners from Ontario, Canada.
Thirteen randomized trials compared various chemotherapy regimens for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer.
In five of the thirteen trials in which 100% of patients were considered sensitive to platinum-containing chemotherapy, further platinum-based combination chemotherapy significantly improved response rates (two trials), progression-free survival (four trials), and overall survival (three trials) when compared with single-agent chemotherapy involving carboplatin or paclitaxel. Only two of these randomized trials compared the same chemotherapy regimens: carboplatin alone versus the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel. Both trials were consistent in reporting improved survival outcomes with the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel. In one trial, the combination of carboplatin and gemcitabine resulted in significantly higher response rates and improved progression-free survival when compared with carboplatin alone. Median survival with carboplatin alone ranged from 17 months to 24 months in four trials.
In eight of the thirteen trials in which 35%–100% of patients had platinum-refractory or -resistant disease, one trial reported a statistically significant 2-month improvement in overall survival with liposomal doxorubicin as compared with topotecan (15 months vs. 13 months, p = 0.038; hazard ratio: 1.23; 95% confidence interval: 1.01 to 1.50). In that trial, because of the limited clinical benefit and the unusual finding that a survival difference emerged only after a year of treatment with no corresponding improvement in the rate of response or of progression-free survival, the authors concluded that further confirmation by results from randomized trials were needed to establish the superiority of one agent over another in their trial. In one trial, topotecan was superior to treosulphan in patient progression-free survival by a span of approximately 2 months (5.4 months vs. 3.0 months, p < 0.001).
Toxicity was reported in all of the randomized trials, and although data on adverse events varied by treatment regimen, the observed adverse events correlated with known toxicity profiles. As expected, combination chemotherapy was associated with higher rates of adverse events.
Practice Guideline
Target Population
This clinical recommendation applies to women with recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer who have previously received platinum-based chemotherapy. Of specific interest are women who have previously shown sensitivity to platinum therapy and those who previously were refractory or resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy. As a general categorization within what is actually a continuum, “platinum sensitivity” refers to disease recurrence 6 months or more after prior platinum-containing chemotherapy, and “platinum resistance” refers to a response to platinum-based chemotherapy followed by relapse less than 6 months after chemotherapy is stopped. “Platinum-refractory disease” refers to a lack of response or to progression while on platinum-based chemotherapy.
Although the body of evidence that informs the clinical recommendations is based on randomized trial data, those data are incomplete. Based on the available data and expert consensus opinion, the Gynecology Cancer dsg makes these recommendations:
Systemic therapy for recurrent ovarian cancer is not curative. It is therefore recognized that each patient must be individually assessed to determine optimal therapy in terms of recurrence, sensitivity to platinum, toxicity, ease of administration, and patient preference. All suitable patients should be offered the opportunity to participate in randomized trials, if available.
In the absence of contraindications, combination platinum-based chemotherapy should be considered for patients with prior sensitivity to platinum-containing chemotherapy. As compared with carboplatin alone, the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel significantly improved both progression-free and overall survival.
If combination platinum-based chemotherapy is not indicated, then a single platinum agent should be considered. Carboplatin has demonstrated efficacy across trials and has a manageable toxicity profile.
If a single platinum agent is not being considered, then monotherapy with paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin are seen as reasonable treatment options.
Some patients may be repeatedly sensitive to treatment and may benefit from multiple lines of chemotherapy.
For patients with platinum-refractory or platinum-resistant disease, the goals of treatment should be to improve quality of life by extending the symptom-free interval, by reducing symptom intensity, and by increasing progression-free interval, and, if possible, to prolong life.
With non-platinum agents, monotherapy should be considered because no advantage appears to accrue to the use of non-platinum-containing combination chemotherapy in this group of patients. Single-agent paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin have demonstrated activity in this patient population and are reasonable treatment options.
No evidence either supports or refutes the use of more than one line of chemotherapy in patients with platinum-refractory or platinum-resistant recurrence. Many treatment options have shown modest response rates, but their benefits over best supportive care have not been studied in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2002482  PMID: 17938703
Chemotherapy; drug therapy; ovarian cancer; ovarian neoplasms; practice guideline; systematic review
23.  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: or at
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
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?
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
ORR determined by means of the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST)
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.
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
24.  Reduced Intensity Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation in Children and Young Adults with Ultra-High Risk Pediatric Sarcomas 
Some subsets of pediatric sarcoma patients have very poor survival rates. We sought to determine the feasibility and efficacy of allogeneic HSCT (alloHSCT) in pediatric sarcoma populations with <25% predicted overall survival. Patients with ultra-high risk Ewing’s sarcoma family of tumors (ESFT), alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma or desmoplastic small round cell tumor received EPOCH-fludarabine induction, a cyclophosphamide/fludarabine/melphalan preparative regimen and HLA matched related peripheral blood stem cells. Thirty patients enrolled; 7 did not undergo alloHSCT due to progressive disease with diminishing performance status during induction. All 23 alloHSCT recipients experienced rapid full donor engraftment, with no peri-transplant mortality. Five of 23 alloHSCT recipients (22%) remain alive (overall survival of 30% by Kaplan-Meier analysis at 3 years), including 3 of 7 (42%) transplanted without overt disease (median survival 14.5 vs. 29.0 months from alloHSCT for patients transplanted with vs. without overt disease, respectively). Among the 28 patients who progressed on the study, the median survival from date of progression was 1.9 months for the 7 who did not receive a transplant compared to 11.4 months for the 21 transplanted (p=0.0003). We found prolonged survival after post-transplant progression with several patients exhibiting indolent tumor growth. We also saw several patients with enhanced anti-tumor effects from post-transplant chemotherapy (objective response to pre-transplant EPOCH-F was 24% vs. 67% to post-transplant EOCH), however this was associated with increased toxicity. This largest reported series of alloHSCT in sarcomas demonstrates that alloHSCT is safe in this population, and that patients undergoing alloHSCT without overt disease show higher survival rates than reported using standard therapies. Enhanced chemo- and radio-sensitivity of tumors and normal tissues was observed post-transplant.
PMCID: PMC3262116  PMID: 21896345
25.  Myeloma (multiple) 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2006;2006:2403.
Multiple myeloma is the most common primary cancer of the bones in adults, representing about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the US in 2004, and 14% of all haematological malignancies. In the UK, multiple myeloma accounts for 1% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed each year.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatment in people with asymptomatic early stage multiple myeloma (stage I)? What are the effects of first-line treatments in people with advanced stage multiple myeloma (stages II and III)? What are the effect of salvage treatments, or supportive therapy, in people with advanced stage multiple myeloma (stages II and III)? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to November 2004 (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).
We found 71 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: allogenic transplant (non-myeloablative), autologous stem cell transplant (early or late transplantation, double or single, purging of), bisphosphonates, bone marrow stem cells, bortezomib, chemotherapy (combination, conventional dose, intermediate dose plus stem cell rescue, high-dose plus stem cell rescue), combination chemotherapy plus corticosteroids, deferred treatment (in stage I disease), early chemotherapy plus corticosteroids (in stage I disease), epoetin alpha, first-line treatments, infection prophylaxis, interferon, maintenance therapy (in advanced multiple myeloma), melphalan (normal dose, high dose before autologous stem cell transplantation, plus total body irradiation), optimum priming regimen, peripheral blood stem cells, plasmapheresis, salvage therapy regimens, single-agent chemotherapy (adding prednisolone), single-agent chemotherapy (bendamustine, melphalan, cyclophosphamide, lomustine, carmustine) with or without corticosteroid (prednisolone, dexamethasone), syngeneic transplantation, and thalidomide (and derivatives).
Key Points
Multiple myeloma is a neoplastic proliferation of plasma cells, mainly within the bone marrow, causing anaemia, renal dysfunction, infections and bone lesions. Monoclonal protein is found in serum and/or urine in 97% of people.
Early chemotherapy plus corticosteroids have not been shown to improve survival in people with asymptomatic, early stage multiple myeloma.
In people with advanced multiple myeloma, combination chemotherapy or single agent chemotherapy plus prednisolone improves survival more effectively than single agent chemotherapy alone, and adding corticosteroids to combination chemotherapy is more effective still High or intermediate dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell rescue improves progression free and overall survival compared with conventional dose chemotherapy. Syngeneic (from a twin) or autologous stem cell transplantation may increase event free, but not overall, survival if given early rather than late.An optimum priming regimen with stem cell factor may increase the yield of CD34+ cells for transplantation, but increases the risk of adverse effects. Very high dose melphalan may increase overall survival and have fewer adverse effects compared with high dose melphalan plus total body irradiation.
Adding interferon to chemotherapy increases response rates and progression free, but not overall, survival, but increases toxicity. We don't know which are the most effective salvage regimens,or if thalidomide increases survival, but bortezomib may increase response rates and overall short term survival.
In people with advanced disease, bisphosphonates reduce skeletal fractures and pain, epoetin alpha may improve anaemia, prophylactic treatment with antibiotics and immunoglobulin may reduce infections, and plasmapheresis may improve renal function when added to forced diuresis plus chemotherapy. However, we don't know whether any of these treatments improve survival, and they may increase adverse effects.
PMCID: PMC2907638

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