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1.  Socioeconomic Inequalities in Lung Cancer Treatment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001376.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Lynne Forrest and colleagues find that patients with lung cancer who are more socioeconomically deprived are less likely to receive surgical treatment, chemotherapy, or any type of treatment combined, compared with patients who are more socioeconomically well off, regardless of cancer stage or type of health care system.
Background
Intervention-generated inequalities are unintended variations in outcome that result from the organisation and delivery of health interventions. Socioeconomic inequalities in treatment may occur for some common cancers. Although the incidence and outcome of lung cancer varies with socioeconomic position (SEP), it is not known whether socioeconomic inequalities in treatment occur and how these might affect mortality. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research on socioeconomic inequalities in receipt of treatment for lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Scopus were searched up to September 2012 for cohort studies of participants with a primary diagnosis of lung cancer (ICD10 C33 or C34), where the outcome was receipt of treatment (rates or odds of receiving treatment) and where the outcome was reported by a measure of SEP. Forty-six papers met the inclusion criteria, and 23 of these papers were included in meta-analysis. Socioeconomic inequalities in receipt of lung cancer treatment were observed. Lower SEP was associated with a reduced likelihood of receiving any treatment (odds ratio [OR] = 0.79 [95% CI 0.73 to 0.86], p<0.001), surgery (OR = 0.68 [CI 0.63 to 0.75], p<0.001) and chemotherapy (OR = 0.82 [95% CI 0.72 to 0.93], p = 0.003), but not radiotherapy (OR = 0.99 [95% CI 0.86 to 1.14], p = 0.89), for lung cancer. The association remained when stage was taken into account for receipt of surgery, and was found in both universal and non-universal health care systems.
Conclusions
Patients with lung cancer living in more socioeconomically deprived circumstances are less likely to receive any type of treatment, surgery, and chemotherapy. These inequalities cannot be accounted for by socioeconomic differences in stage at presentation or by differences in health care system. Further investigation is required to determine the patient, tumour, clinician, and system factors that may contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in receipt of lung cancer treatment.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer worldwide and the commonest cause of cancer-related death. Like all cancers, lung cancer occurs when cells begin to grow uncontrollably because of changes in their genes. The most common trigger for these changes in lung cancer is exposure to cigarette smoke. Most cases of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer, the treatment for which depends on the “stage” of the disease when it is detected. Stage I tumors, which are confined to the lung, can be removed surgically. Stage II tumors, which have spread to nearby lymph nodes, are usually treated with surgery plus chemotherapy or radiotherapy. For more advanced tumors, which have spread throughout the chest (stage III) or throughout the body (stage IV), surgery generally does not help to slow tumor growth and the cancer is treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Small cell lung cancer, the other main type of lung cancer, is nearly always treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy but sometimes with surgery as well. Overall, because most lung cancers are not detected until they are quite advanced, less than 10% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for 5 years.
Why Was This Study Done?
As with many other cancers, socioeconomic inequalities have been reported for both the incidence of and the survival from lung cancer in several countries. It is thought that the incidence of lung cancer is higher among people of lower socioeconomic position than among wealthier people, in part because smoking rates are higher in poorer populations. Similarly, it has been suggested that survival is worse among poorer people because they tend to present with more advanced disease, which has a worse prognosis (predicted outcome) than early disease. But do socioeconomic inequalities in treatment exist for lung cancer and, if they do, could these inequalities contribute to the poor survival rates among populations of lower socioeconomic position? In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers investigate the first of these questions. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 46 published papers that studied people with lung cancer in whom receipt of treatment was reported in terms of an indicator of socioeconomic position, such as a measure of income or deprivation. Twenty-three of these papers were suitable for inclusion in a meta-analysis. Lower socioeconomic position was associated with a reduced likelihood of receiving any treatment. Specifically, the odds ratio (chance) of people in the lowest socioeconomic group receiving any treatment was 0.79 compared to people in the highest socioeconomic group. Lower socioeconomic position was also associated with a reduced chance of receiving surgery (OR = 0.68) and chemotherapy (OR = 0.82), but not radiotherapy. The association between socioeconomic position and surgery remained after taking cancer stage into account. That is, when receipt of surgery was examined in early-stage patients only, low socioeconomic position remained associated with reduced likelihood of surgery. Notably, the association between socioeconomic position and receipt of treatment was similar in studies undertaken in countries where health care is free at the point of service for everyone (for example, the UK) and in countries with primarily private insurance health care systems (for example, the US).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that patients in more socioeconomically deprived circumstances are less likely to receive any type of treatment, surgery, and chemotherapy (but not radiotherapy) for lung cancer than people who are less socioeconomically deprived. Importantly, these inequalities cannot be explained by socioeconomic differences in stage at presentation or by differences in health care system. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by several factors. For example, it is possible that only studies that found an association between socioeconomic position and receipt of treatment have been published (publication bias). Moreover, the studies identified did not include information regarding patient preferences, which could help explain at least some of the differences. Nevertheless, these results do suggest that socioeconomic inequalities in receipt of treatment may exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities in the incidence of lung cancer and may contribute to the observed poorer outcomes in lower socioeconomic position groups. Further research is needed to determine the system and patient factors that contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in lung cancer treatment before clear recommendations for changes to policy and practice can be made.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001376.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about all aspects of lung cancer for patients and health care professionals (in English and Spanish); a monograph entitled Area Socioeconomic Variations in U. S. Cancer Incidence, Mortality, Stage, Treatment, and Survival, 19751999 is available
Cancer Research UK also provides detailed information about lung cancer and links to other resources, such as a policy statement on socioeconomic inequalities in cancer and a monograph detailing cancer and health inequalities in the UK
The UK National Health Service Choices website has a page on lung cancer that includes personal stories about diagnosis and treatment
MedlinePlus provides links to other US sources of information about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001376
PMCID: PMC3564770  PMID: 23393428
2.  Analysing Recent Socioeconomic Trends in Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in England, 2000–2007: A Population Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001237.
A modeling study conducted by Madhavi Bajekal and colleagues estimates the extent to which specific risk factors and changes in uptake of treatment contributed to the declines in coronary heart disease mortality in England between 2000 and 2007, across and within socioeconomic groups.
Background
Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in England fell by approximately 6% every year between 2000 and 2007. However, rates fell differentially between social groups with inequalities actually widening. We sought to describe the extent to which this reduction in CHD mortality was attributable to changes in either levels of risk factors or treatment uptake, both across and within socioeconomic groups.
Methods and Findings
A widely used and replicated epidemiological model was used to synthesise estimates stratified by age, gender, and area deprivation quintiles for the English population aged 25 and older between 2000 and 2007. Mortality rates fell, with approximately 38,000 fewer CHD deaths in 2007. The model explained about 86% (95% uncertainty interval: 65%–107%) of this mortality fall. Decreases in major cardiovascular risk factors contributed approximately 34% (21%–47%) to the overall decline in CHD mortality: ranging from about 44% (31%–61%) in the most deprived to 29% (16%–42%) in the most affluent quintile. The biggest contribution came from a substantial fall in systolic blood pressure in the population not on hypertension medication (29%; 18%–40%); more so in deprived (37%) than in affluent (25%) areas. Other risk factor contributions were relatively modest across all social groups: total cholesterol (6%), smoking (3%), and physical activity (2%). Furthermore, these benefits were partly negated by mortality increases attributable to rises in body mass index and diabetes (−9%; −17% to −3%), particularly in more deprived quintiles. Treatments accounted for approximately 52% (40%–70%) of the mortality decline, equitably distributed across all social groups. Lipid reduction (14%), chronic angina treatment (13%), and secondary prevention (11%) made the largest medical contributions.
Conclusions
The model suggests that approximately half the recent CHD mortality fall in England was attributable to improved treatment uptake. This benefit occurred evenly across all social groups. However, opposing trends in major risk factors meant that their net contribution amounted to just over a third of the CHD deaths averted; these also varied substantially by socioeconomic group. Powerful and equitable evidence-based population-wide policy interventions exist; these should now be urgently implemented to effectively tackle persistent inequalities.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Coronary heart disease is a chronic medical condition in which the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle become narrowed or even blocked by fatty deposits on the inner linings of the blood vessels—a process known as arthrosclerosis; this restricts blood flow to the heart, and if the blood vessels completely occlude, it may cause a heart attack. Lifestyle behaviors, such as unhealthy diets high in saturated fat, smoking, and physical inactivity, are the main risk factors for coronary heart disease, so efforts to reduce this condition are directed towards these factors. Global rates of coronary heart disease are increasing and the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, it will be the biggest cause of death worldwide. However, in high-income countries, such as England, deaths due to coronary heart disease have actually fallen substantially over the past few decades with an accelerated reduction in annual death rates since 2000.
Why Was This Study Done?
Socioeconomic factors play an important role in chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, with mortality rates almost twice as high in deprived than affluent areas. However, the potential effect of population-wide interventions on reducing inequalities in deaths from coronary heart disease remains unclear. So in this study, the researchers investigated the role of behavioral (changing lifestyle) and medical (treatments) management of coronary heart disease that contributed to the decrease in deaths in England for the period 2000–2007, within and between socioeconomic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a well-known, tried and tested epidemiological model (IMPACT) but adapted it to include socioeconomic inequalities to analyze the total population of England aged 25 and older in 2000 and in 2007. The researchers included all the major risk factors for coronary heart disease plus 45 current medical and surgical treatments in their model. They used the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2007 as a proxy indicator of socioeconomic circumstances of residents in neighborhoods. Using the postal code of residence, the researchers matched deaths from, and patients treated for, coronary heart disease to the corresponding deprivation category (quintile). Changes in risk factor levels in each quintile were also calculated using the Health Survey for England. Using their model, the researchers calculated the total number of deaths prevented or postponed for each deprivation quintile by measuring the difference between observed deaths in 2007 and expected deaths based on 2000 data, if age, sex, and deprivation quintile death rates had remained the same.
The researchers found that between 2000 and 2007, death rates from coronary heart disease fell from 229 to 147 deaths per 100,000—a decrease of 36%. Both death rates and the number of deaths were lowest in the most affluent quintile and the pace of fall was also faster, decreasing by 6.7% per year compared to just 4.9% in the most deprived quintile. Furthermore, the researchers found that overall, about half of the decrease in death rates was attributable to improvements in uptake of medical and surgical treatments. The contribution of medical treatments to the deaths averted was very similar across all quintiles, ranging from 50% in the most affluent quintile to 53% in the most deprived. Risk factor changes accounted for approximately a third fewer deaths in 2007 than occurred in 2000, but were responsible for a smaller proportion of deaths prevented in the most affluent quintile compared with the most deprived (approximately 29% versus 44%, respectively). However, the benefits of improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and physical activity were partly negated by rises in body mass index and diabetes, particularly in more deprived quintiles.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that approximately half the recent substantial fall in deaths from coronary heart disease in England was attributable to improved treatment uptake across all social groups; this is consistent with equitable service delivery across the UK's National Health Service. However, opposing trends in major risk factors, which varied substantially by socioeconomic group, meant that their net contribution accounted for just a third of deaths averted. Other countries have implemented effective, evidence-based interventions to tackle lifestyle risk factors; the most powerful measures involve legislation, regulation, taxation, or subsidies, all of which tend to be equitable. Such measures should be urgently implemented in England to effectively tackle persistent inequalities in deaths due to coronary heart disease.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001237.
The World Health Organization has information about the global statistics of coronary heart disease
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides a patient-friendly description of coronary heart disease
The National Heart Forum is the leading UK organization facilitating the prevention of coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases
The British Heart Foundation supports research and promotes preventative activity
Heart of Mersey is the UK's largest regional organization promoting the prevention of coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases
More information about the social determinants of health is available from WHO
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001237
PMCID: PMC3373639  PMID: 22719232
3.  Variation in incidence of breast, lung and cervical cancer and malignant melanoma of skin by socioeconomic group in England 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:271.
Background
Cancer incidence varies by socioeconomic group and these variations have been linked with environmental and lifestyle factors, differences in access to health care and health seeking behaviour. Socioeconomic variations in cancer incidence by region and age are less clearly understood but they are crucial for targeting prevention measures and health care commissioning.
Methods
Data were obtained from all eight English cancer registries for patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2003, for all invasive cases of female breast cancer (ICD-10 code C50), lung cancer (ICD-10 codes C33-C34), cervical cancer (ICD-10 code C53), and malignant melanoma of the skin (ICD-10 code C43). Socioeconomic status was assigned to each patient based on their postcode of residence at diagnosis, using the income domain of the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. We analysed the socioeconomic variations in the incidence of breast, lung and cervical cancer and malignant melanoma of the skin for England, and regionally and by age.
Results
Incidence was highest for the most deprived patients for lung cancer and cervical cancer, whilst the opposite was observed for malignant melanoma and breast cancer. The difference in incidence between the most and the least deprived groups was higher for lung cancer patients aged under 65 at diagnosis than those over 65 at diagnosis, which may indicate a cohort effect. There were regional differences in the socioeconomic gradients with the gap being widest for lung and cervical cancer in the North (North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside) and for malignant melanoma in the East and South West. There were only modest variations in breast cancer incidence by region. If the incidence of lung and cervical cancer were decreased to that of the least deprived group it would prevent 36% of lung cancer cases in men, 38% of lung cancer cases in women and 28% of cervical cancer cases. Incidence of breast cancer and melanoma was highest in the least deprived group, therefore if all socioeconomic groups had incidence rates similar to the least deprived group it is estimated that the number of cases would increase by 7% for breast cancer, 27% for melanoma in men and 29% for melanoma in women.
Conclusion
National comparison of socioeconomic variations in cancer incidence by region and age can provide an unbiased basis for public health prevention and health commissioning. Decreasing inequalities in incidence requires the integration of information on risk factors, incidence and projected incidence but targeted public health interventions could help to reduce regional inequalities in incidence and reduce the future cancer burden.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-8-271
PMCID: PMC2577116  PMID: 18822122
4.  Emergency presentation of cancer and short-term mortality 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(8):2027-2034.
Background:
The short-term survival following a cancer diagnosis in England is lower than that in comparable countries, with the difference in excess mortality primarily occurring in the months immediately after diagnosis. We assess the impact of emergency presentation (EP) on the excess mortality in England over the course of the year following diagnosis.
Methods:
All colorectal and cervical cancers presenting in England and all breast, lung, and prostate cancers in the East of England in 2006–2008 are included. The variation in the likelihood of EP with age, stage, sex, co-morbidity, and income deprivation is modelled. The excess mortality over 0–1, 1–3, 3–6, and 6–12 months after diagnosis and its dependence on these case-mix factors and presentation route is then examined.
Results:
More advanced stage and older age are predictive of EP, as to a lesser extent are co-morbidity, higher income deprivation, and female sex. In the first month after diagnosis, we observe case-mix-adjusted excess mortality rate ratios of 7.5 (cervical), 5.9 (colorectal), 11.7 (breast ), 4.0 (lung), and 20.8 (prostate) for EP compared with non-EP.
Conclusion:
Individuals who present as an emergency experience high short-term mortality in all cancer types examined compared with non-EPs. This is partly a case-mix effect but EP remains predictive of short-term mortality even when age, stage, and co-morbidity are accounted for.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.569
PMCID: PMC3798965  PMID: 24045658
diagnosis; pathways; referral; survival; emergency; route
5.  Social and geographical factors affecting access to treatment of colorectal cancer: a cancer registry study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000410.
Objective
Cancer outcomes vary between and within countries with patients from deprived backgrounds known to have inferior survival. The authors set out to explore the effect of deprivation in relation to the accessibility of hospitals offering diagnostic and therapeutic services on stage at presentation and receipt of treatment.
Design
Analysis of a Cancer Registry Database. Data included stage and treatment details from the first 6 months. The socioeconomic status of the immediate area of residence and the travel time from home to hospital was derived from the postcode.
Setting
Population-based study of patients resident in a large area in the north of England.
Participants
39 619 patients with colorectal cancer diagnosed between 1994 and 2002.
Outcomes measured
Stage of diagnosis and receipt of treatment in relation to deprivation and distance from hospital.
Results
Patients in the most deprived quartile were significantly more likely to be diagnosed at stage 4 for rectal cancer (OR 1.516, p<0.05) but less so for colonic cancer. There was a trend for both sites for patients in the most deprived quartile to be less likely to receive chemotherapy for stage 4 disease. Patients with colonic cancer were very significantly less likely to receive any treatment if they came from any but the most affluent area (ORs 0.639, 0.603 and 0.544 in increasingly deprived quartiles), this may have been exacerbated if the hospital was distant from their residence (OR for forth quartile for both travel and deprivation 0.731, not significant). The effect was less for rectal cancer and no effect of distance was seen.
Conclusions
Residing in a deprived area is associated with tendencies to higher stage at diagnosis and especially in the case of colonic cancer to reduced receipt of treatment. These observations are consistent with other findings and indicate that access to diagnosis requires further investigation.
Article summary
Article focus
There is evidence that the poorer survival of British patients' with bowel cancer is related to more advanced stage than in similar countries.
Is this related to the environment in which people live?
Are there differences in this regard between colonic and rectal cancer?
Key messages
Residing in a deprived area is associated with:
tendencies to higher stage at diagnosis.
especially in the case of colonic cancer with reduced receipt of treatment.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A cancer registry study looks at the whole population of a defined area and so does not depend on access to specific institutions.
A large number of patients have been studied.
The patients analysed were diagnosed some years ago.
Deprivation indices relate to area of residence rather than to individuals.
This is a cross-sectional study so inferences of causality must be cautious.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000410
PMCID: PMC3341592  PMID: 22535788
6.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
Background
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
Conclusions
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378.
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000378
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
7.  Variation in advanced stage at diagnosis of lung and female breast cancer in an English region 2006–2009 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;106(6):1068-1075.
Background:
Understanding variation in stage at diagnosis can inform interventions to improve the timeliness of diagnosis for patients with different cancers and characteristics.
Methods:
We analysed population-based data on 17 836 and 13 286 East of England residents diagnosed with (female) breast and lung cancer during 2006–2009, with stage information on 16 460 (92%) and 10 435 (79%) patients, respectively. Odds ratios (ORs) of advanced stage at diagnosis adjusted for patient and tumour characteristics were derived using logistic regression.
Results:
We present adjusted ORs of diagnosis in stages III/IV compared with diagnosis in stages I/II. For breast cancer, the frequency of advanced stage at diagnosis increased stepwise among old women (ORs: 1.21, 1.46, 1.68 and 1.78 for women aged 70–74, 75–79, 80–84 and ⩾85, respectively, compared with those aged 65–69 , P<0.001). In contrast, for lung cancer advanced stage at diagnosis was less frequent in old patients (ORs: 0.82, 0.74, 0.73 and 0.66, P<0.001). Advanced stage at diagnosis was more frequent in more deprived women with breast cancer (OR: 1.23 for most compared with least deprived, P=0.002), and in men with lung cancer (OR: 1.14, P=0.011). The observed patterns were robust to sensitivity analyses approaches for handling missing stage data under different assumptions.
Conclusion:
Interventions to help improve the timeliness of diagnosis of different cancers should be targeted at specific age groups.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.30
PMCID: PMC3304409  PMID: 22382691
stage; diagnosis; advanced; age; multiple; imputation
8.  Deprivation and survival from breast cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1995;72(3):738-743.
We studied the association between deprivation and survival from breast cancer in 29,676 women aged 30 and over who were diagnosed during the period 1980-89 in the area covered by the South Thames Regional Health Authority. The measure of deprivation was the Carstairs Index of the census enumeration district of each woman's residence at diagnosis. We studied the impact of stage at diagnosis, morphology and type of treatment on this association, with the relative survival rate and the hazard ratio as measures of outcome. There was a clear gradient in survival, with better survival for women from more affluent areas. At all ages, women in the most deprived category had a 35% greater hazard of death than women from the most affluent areas after adjustment for stage at diagnosis, morphological type and type of treatment. In younger women (30-64 years), the survival gradient by deprivation category cannot be explained by these prognostic factors. In older women (65-99 years), part of the unadjusted gradient in survival can be explained by differences in the stage of disease: older women in the most deprived category were more often diagnosed with advanced disease. Other factors, so far unidentified, are responsible for the gradient in breast cancer survival by deprivation category. The potential effect on breast cancer mortality of eliminating the gradient in survival by deprivation category is substantial (7.4%). In women aged 30-64 years, 10% of all deaths within 5 years might be avoidable, while in older women this figure is 5.8%.
PMCID: PMC2033898  PMID: 7669587
9.  Impact of mammographic screening on ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in breast cancer stage at diagnosis and survival in New Zealand: a cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:46.
Background
Indigenous Māori women experience a 60% higher breast cancer mortality rate compared with European women in New Zealand. We explored the impact of differences in rates of screen detected breast cancer on inequities in cancer stage at diagnosis and survival between Māori and NZ European women.
Methods
All primary breast cancers diagnosed in screening age women (as defined by the New Zealand National Breast Cancer Screening Programme) during 1999–2012 in the Waikato area (n = 1846) were identified from the Waikato Breast Cancer Register and the National Screening Database. Stage at diagnosis and survival were compared for screen detected (n = 1106) and non-screen detected (n = 740) breast cancer by ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
Results
Indigenous Māori women were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced cancer compared with NZ European women (OR = 1.51), and approximately a half of this difference was explained by lower rate of screen detected cancer for Māori women. For non-screen detected cancer, Māori had significantly lower 10-year breast cancer survival compared with NZ European (46.5% vs. 73.2%) as did most deprived compared with most affluent socioeconomic quintiles (64.8% vs. 81.1%). No significant survival differences were observed for screen detected cancer by ethnicity or socioeconomic deprivation.
Conclusions
The lower rate of screen detected breast cancer appears to be a key contributor towards the higher rate of advanced cancer at diagnosis and lower breast cancer survival for Māori compared with NZ European women. Among women with screen-detected breast cancer, Māori women do just as well as NZ European women, demonstrating the success of breast screening for Māori women who are able to access screening. Increasing breast cancer screening rates has the potential to improve survival for Māori women and reduce breast cancer survival inequity between Māori and NZ European women.
doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1383-4
PMCID: PMC4314740  PMID: 25637343
Breast cancer; Screening, Ethnicity, Deprivation, Inequity
10.  Socio-demographic inequalities in stage of cancer diagnosis: evidence from patients with female breast, lung, colon, rectal, prostate, renal, bladder, melanoma, ovarian and endometrial cancer 
Annals of Oncology  2012;24(3):843-850.
Background
Understanding socio-demographic inequalities in stage at diagnosis can inform priorities for cancer control.
Patients and methods
We analysed data on the stage at diagnosis of East of England patients diagnosed with any of 10 common cancers, 2006–2010. Stage information was available on 88 657 of 98 942 tumours (89.6%).
Results
Substantial socio-demographic inequalities in advanced stage at diagnosis (i.e. stage III/IV) existed for seven cancers, but their magnitude and direction varied greatly by cancer: advanced stage at diagnosis was more likely for older patients with melanoma but less likely for older patients with lung cancer [odds ratios for 75–79 versus 65–69 1.60 (1.38–1.86) and 0.83 (0.77–0.89), respectively]. Deprived patients were more likely to be diagnosed in advanced stage for melanoma, prostate, endometrial and (female) breast cancer: odds ratios (most versus least deprived quintile) from 2.24 (1.66–3.03) for melanoma to 1.31 (1.15–1.49) for breast cancer. In England, elimination of socio-demographic inequalities in stage at diagnosis could decrease the number of patients with cancer diagnosed in advanced stage by ∼5600 annually.
Conclusions
There are substantial socio-demographic inequalities in stage at diagnosis for most cancers. Earlier detection interventions and policies can be targeted on patients at higher risk of advanced stage diagnosis.
doi:10.1093/annonc/mds526
PMCID: PMC3574550  PMID: 23149571
cancer; demographic; diagnosis; inequalities; socio-economic; stage
11.  Inequalities in survival from colorectal cancer: a comparison of the impact of deprivation, treatment, and host factors on observed and cause specific survival 
Objective: To investigate whether socioeconomic deprivation is associated with cause specific and all cause survival for colorectal cancer and to what extent this is independent of significant prognostic factors.
Design: Prospective cohort.
Setting: The former Wessex Health Region, South West England.
Participants: All patients resident in Wessex registered with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer over three years (n=5176). Survival analysis was carried out on those patients with compete data for all factors and a positive survival time (n=4419).
Outcomes: Death from colorectal cancer and all cause over five year follow up from initial diagnosis.
Main results: Deprivation was significantly associated with survival for both outcomes in univariate analysis; the unadjusted hazard ratio for dying from colorectal cancer (most deprived compared with most affluent) was 1.12 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.25) and for all cause was 1.18 (1.07 to 1.30). Significant prognostic factors for both outcomes were age, specialisation of surgeon, Dukes's stage, and emergency compared with elective surgery. Comorbidity and gender were only associated with all cause survival. After adjustment for prognostic factors, the effect of deprivation on both cause specific and all cause mortality was reduced, and it was non-significant for colorectal cancer. However, the most deprived group had consistently worse survival than the most affluent.
Conclusions: Factors associated with survival with colorectal cancer depend on the outcome measure. Socioeconomic deprivation is adversely associated with survival in patients with colorectal cancer. This is strongest for non-colorectal cancer death, partly reflecting higher comorbidity, but it is there for colorectal cancer though not statistically significant. Conclusive evidence of the inequalities by socioeconomic status and underlying reasons needs to come from studies using individual based measures of socioeconomic status and more detail on treatment and host related factors.
doi:10.1136/jech.57.4.301
PMCID: PMC1732424  PMID: 12646548
12.  Survival among women with cancer of the uterine cervix: influence of marital status and social class. 
STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to investigate whether the survival of women with cancer of the uterine cervix is associated with their marital status and social class. DESIGN--The study was a survey of survival up to 5 years from diagnosis of women with cancer of the cervix registered in the South Thames Cancer Registry, using Cox regression to adjust for marital status, social class, age, and stage at registration. Because of deficiencies in social class data held by the Registry (social class was assigned in only 51% of cases, as opposed to 93% for marital status), the findings were compared with survival data from the OPCS Longitudinal Study. SETTING--During the period of study (1977-81) the South Thames Cancer Registry covered a female population of about 3.5 million in the south east of England. PATIENTS--Data on 1728 women were analysed. MEASUREMENTS AND AND MAIN RESULTS--Apparent differences in crude survival by marital status and social class were examined. These were found to be accounted for by adjustment for age and stage. The better survival of those whose social class was unknown was found to be an artefact of the way in which cancer registries assign social class, but this did not appear to bias registry based studies of social class survival seriously. CONCLUSIONS--(1) After adjusting for age, factors affecting survival in women with cancer of the cervix, such as stage at presentation or host resistance, appear to be similarly distributed in the different marital status and social class groups; (2) for cervical cancer, the marked social class gradient and unusual marital status distribution found in cross sectional mortality data reflect the incidence of the disease, not differences in survival; (3) explanations for these patterns in incidence and mortality data are to be found in the aetiology of the disease.
PMCID: PMC1060672  PMID: 2277250
13.  A Gene Expression Signature Predicts Survival of Patients with Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e467.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Nearly 50% of patients with stages I and II non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will die from recurrent disease despite surgical resection. No reliable clinical or molecular predictors are currently available for identifying those at high risk for developing recurrent disease. As a consequence, it is not possible to select those high-risk patients for more aggressive therapies and assign less aggressive treatments to patients at low risk for recurrence.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we applied a meta-analysis of datasets from seven different microarray studies on NSCLC for differentially expressed genes related to survival time (under 2 y and over 5 y). A consensus set of 4,905 genes from these studies was selected, and systematic bias adjustment in the datasets was performed by distance-weighted discrimination (DWD). We identified a gene expression signature consisting of 64 genes that is highly predictive of which stage I lung cancer patients may benefit from more aggressive therapy. Kaplan-Meier analysis of the overall survival of stage I NSCLC patients with the 64-gene expression signature demonstrated that the high- and low-risk groups are significantly different in their overall survival. Of the 64 genes, 11 are related to cancer metastasis (APC, CDH8, IL8RB, LY6D, PCDHGA12, DSP, NID, ENPP2, CCR2, CASP8, and CASP10) and eight are involved in apoptosis (CASP8, CASP10, PIK3R1, BCL2, SON, INHA, PSEN1, and BIK).
Conclusions
Our results indicate that gene expression signatures from several datasets can be reconciled. The resulting signature is useful in predicting survival of stage I NSCLC and might be useful in informing treatment decisions.
Meta-analysis of several lung cancer gene expression studies yields a set of 64 genes whose expression profile is useful in predicting survival of patients with early-stage lung cancer and possibly informing treatment decisions.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are mainly caused by smoking. Like other cancers, how NSCLC is treated depends on the “stage” at which it is detected. Stage IA NSCLCs are small and confined to the lung and can be removed surgically; patients with slightly larger stage IB tumors often receive chemotherapy after surgery. In stage II NSCLC, cancer cells may be present in lymph nodes near the tumor. Surgery plus chemotherapy is the usual treatment for this stage and for some stage III NSCLCs. However, in this stage, the tumor can be present throughout the chest and surgery is not always possible. For such cases and in stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread throughout the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. The stage at which NSCLC is detected also determines how well patients respond to treatment. Those who can be treated surgically do much better than those who can't. So, whereas only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer survive for 5 years after diagnosis, about 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer live at least this long.
Why Was This Study Done?
Even stage I and II lung cancers often recur and there is no accurate way to identify the patients in which this will happen. If there was, these patients could be given aggressive chemotherapy, so the search is on for a “molecular signature” to help identify which NSCLCs are likely to recur. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral differences are caused by changes in their genetic material that alter their patterns of RNA transcription and protein expression. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether data from several microarray studies (a technique used to catalog the genes expressed in cells) can be pooled to construct a gene expression signature that predicts the survival of patients with stage I NSCLC.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took the data from seven independent microarray studies (including a new study of their own) that recorded gene expression profiles related to survival time (less than 2 years and greater than 5 years) for stage I NSCLC. Because these studies had been done in different places with slightly different techniques, the researchers applied a statistical tool called distance-weighted discrimination to smooth out any systematic differences among the studies before identifying 64 genes whose expression was associated with survival. Most of these genes are involved in cell adhesion, cell motility, cell proliferation, and cell death, all processes that are altered in cancer cells. The researchers then developed a statistical model that allowed them to use the gene expression and survival data to calculate risk scores for nearly 200 patients in five of the datasets. When they separated the patients into high and low risk groups on the basis of these scores, the two groups were significantly different in terms of survival time. Indeed, the gene expression signature was better at predicting outcome than routine staging. Finally, the researchers validated the gene expression signature by showing that it predicted survival with more than 85% accuracy in two independent datasets.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The 64 gene expression signature identified here could help clinicians prepare treatment plans for patients with stage I NSCLC. Because it accurately predicts survival in patients with adenocarcinoma or squamous cell cancer (the two major subtypes of NSCLC), it potentially indicates which of these patients should receive aggressive chemotherapy and which can be spared this unpleasant treatment. Previous attempts to establish gene expression signatures to predict outcome have used data from small groups of patients and have failed when tested in additional patients. In contrast, this new signature seems to be generalizable. Nevertheless, its ability to predict outcomes must be confirmed in further studies before it is routinely adopted by oncologists for treatment planning.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030467.
US National Cancer Institute information on lung cancer for patients and health professionals.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entries on small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer.
Cancer Research UK, information on patients about all aspects of lung cancer.
Wikipedia pages on DNA microarrays and expression profiling (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit).
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030467
PMCID: PMC1716187  PMID: 17194181
14.  Breast cancer incidence, stage, treatment and survival in ethnic groups in South East England 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;100(3):545-550.
Studies from the US have shown variations in breast cancer incidence, stage distribution, treatment and survival between ethnic groups. Data on 35 631 women diagnosed with breast cancer in South East England between 1998 and 2003 with self-assigned ethnicity information available were analysed. Results are reported for White, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African and Chinese women. Age-standardised breast cancer incidence rate ratios, patterns of stage of disease at diagnosis, treatment, overall and breast cancer-specific survival were examined. All ethnic groups studied had lower age-standardised breast cancer incidence rates than White women, with Bangladeshi women having the lowest rate ratio (0.23, 95% CI: 0.20–0.26). White women were the most likely to have a stage recorded at diagnosis (adjusted proportion 75%), and least likely to be diagnosed with metastatic disease (7%). Black African women were the least likely to have a record of cancer surgery (63%) or hormone therapy (32%), and most likely to receive chemotherapy (38%). After fully adjusting for age, socioeconomic deprivation, stage of disease and treatment received, there was no significant variation in breast cancer-specific survival. However, Black African women had significantly worse overall survival (hazard ratio 1.24, P=0.025). These findings suggest that a strategy of earlier detection should be pursued in Black and South Asian women.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604852
PMCID: PMC2658548  PMID: 19127253
ethnicity; breast cancer; incidence; stage; treatment; survival
15.  Deprivation and emergency admissions for cancers of colorectum, lung, and breast in south east England: ecological study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7153):245-252.
Objectives: To examine the relation between deprivation and acute emergency admissions for cancers of the colon, rectum, lung, and breast in south east England.
Design: Ecological analysis with data from hospital episode statistics and 1991 census.
Setting: North and South Thames Regional Health Authorities (population about 14 million), divided into 10 aggregations of 31 470 census enumeration districts (median population 462).
Subjects: 146 639 admissions relating to 76 552 patients aged <100 years on admission, resident in the Thames regions, admitted between 1 April 1992 and 31 March 1995.
Results: Residents living in deprived areas were more likely to be admitted as emergencies and has ordinary inpatient admissions and less likely to be admitted as day cases. Adjusted odds of ordinary admissions from the most deprived tenth occurring as emergencies (relative to admissions from the most affluent tenth) were 2.29 (95% confidence interval 2.09 to 2.52) for colorectal cancer, 2.20 (1.99 to 2.43) for lung cancer, and 2.41 (2.17 to 2.67) for female breast cancer; adjusted odds of admissions as day cases were 0.70 (0.64 to 0.76), 0.50 (0.44 to 0.56), and 0.56 (0.50 to 0.62), respectively. Patients from deprived areas with lung or breast cancers were less likely to be recorded as having surgical interventions. Adjusted odds of patients from the most deprived tenth receiving surgery were 0.88 (0.78 to 1.00), 0.58 (0.48 to 0.70), and 0.63 (0.56 to 0.71), respectively. Admissions for colorectal cancer from the most deprived areas were less likely to be to hospitals admitting 100 or more new patients a year; the opposite held true for breast cancer admissions. No association was found for lung cancer admissions.
Conclusions: Earlier diagnostic and referral procedures in primary care in deprived areas are required if there are to be significant reductions in mortality from these cancers. A national information strategy is required to ensure the continued availability of population based data on NHS patients and to mandate standardised datasets from the private sector. Rationalisation of acute services, hospital mergers, and plans for bed closures must take into account the increased healthcare needs and inequities in access to treatment and care of residents in areas with high levels of deprivation. Health authorities and primary care groups should re-examine their purchasing intentions, service reviews, and monitoring arrangements in the light of these findings.
Key messages A major reorganisation of cancer services is under way in England and Wales with the aim of improving access to and quality of treatment Residents with cancers of the bowel, lung, or breast in deprived areas in the Thames region were more likely to be admitted as emergencies and ordinary inpatients than their counterparts from more affluent areas, and patients with lung or breast cancers from deprived areas were less likely to receive surgical treatment Patients with colorectal cancer from the most deprived areas were less likely to be seen at hospitals with a large caseload than were patients from affluent areas; the opposite held true for patients with breast cancer, but no association was found for admissions for lung cancer More effective early diagnostic and referral procedures in primary care in deprived areas are required if reductions in mortality are to be achieved Hospital mergers and plans for service reconfiguration and bed closures must take into account inequities in access to treatment among residents in deprived areas
PMCID: PMC28615  PMID: 9677214
16.  Ovarian Carcinoma Subtypes Are Different Diseases: Implications for Biomarker Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e232.
Background
Although it has long been appreciated that ovarian carcinoma subtypes (serous, clear cell, endometrioid, and mucinous) are associated with different natural histories, most ovarian carcinoma biomarker studies and current treatment protocols for women with this disease are not subtype specific. With the emergence of high-throughput molecular techniques, distinct pathogenetic pathways have been identified in these subtypes. We examined variation in biomarker expression rates between subtypes, and how this influences correlations between biomarker expression and stage at diagnosis or prognosis.
Methods and Findings
In this retrospective study we assessed the protein expression of 21 candidate tissue-based biomarkers (CA125, CRABP-II, EpCam, ER, F-Spondin, HE4, IGF2, K-Cadherin, Ki-67, KISS1, Matriptase, Mesothelin, MIF, MMP7, p21, p53, PAX8, PR, SLPI, TROP2, WT1) in a population-based cohort of 500 ovarian carcinomas that was collected over the period from 1984 to 2000. The expression of 20 of the 21 biomarkers differs significantly between subtypes, but does not vary across stage within each subtype. Survival analyses show that nine of the 21 biomarkers are prognostic indicators in the entire cohort but when analyzed by subtype only three remain prognostic indicators in the high-grade serous and none in the clear cell subtype. For example, tumor proliferation, as assessed by Ki-67 staining, varies markedly between different subtypes and is an unfavourable prognostic marker in the entire cohort (risk ratio [RR] 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2%–2.4%) but is not of prognostic significance within any subtype. Prognostic associations can even show an inverse correlation within the entire cohort, when compared to a specific subtype. For example, WT1 is more frequently expressed in high-grade serous carcinomas, an aggressive subtype, and is an unfavourable prognostic marker within the entire cohort of ovarian carcinomas (RR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2%–2.3%), but is a favourable prognostic marker within the high-grade serous subtype (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3%–0.8%).
Conclusions
The association of biomarker expression with survival varies substantially between subtypes, and can easily be overlooked in whole cohort analyses. To avoid this effect, each subtype within a cohort should be analyzed discretely. Ovarian carcinoma subtypes are different diseases, and these differences should be reflected in clinical research study design and ultimately in the management of ovarian carcinoma.
David Huntsman and colleagues describe the associations between biomarker expression patterns and survival in different ovarian cancer subtypes. They suggest that the management of ovarian cancer should reflect differences between these subtypes.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, about 200,000 women develop ovarian cancer and more than 100,000 die from the disease. Ovarian epithelial cancer (carcinoma) occurs when epithelial cells from the ovary or fallopian tube acquire mutations or equivalent changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably within one of the ovaries (two small organs in the pelvis that produce eggs) and acquire the potential to spread around the body (metastasize). While the cancer is confined to the ovaries, cancer specialists call this stage I disease; 70%–80% of women diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer survive for at least 5 y. However, only a fifth of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at this stage; in the majority of patients the cancer has spread into the pelvis (stage II disease), into the peritoneal cavity (the space around the gut, stomach, and liver; stage III disease), or metastasized to distant organs such as brain (stage IV disease). This peritoneal spread might be associated with often only vague abdominal pain and mild digestive disturbances. Patients with advanced-stage ovarian carcinoma are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy but, despite recent advances in treatment, only 15% of women diagnosed with stage IV disease survive for 5 y.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although it is usually regarded as a single disease, there are actually several distinct subtypes of ovarian carcinoma. These are classified according to their microscopic appearance as high-grade serous, low-grade serous, clear cell, endometrioid, and mucinous ovarian carcinomas. These subtypes develop differently and respond differently to chemotherapy. Yet scientists studying ovarian carcinoma usually regard this cancer as a single entity, and current treatment protocols for the disease are not subtype specific. Might better progress be made toward understanding ovarian carcinoma and toward improving its treatment if each subtype were treated as a separate disease? Why are some tumors confined to the ovary, whereas the majority spread beyond the ovary at time of diagnosis? In this study, the researchers address these questions by asking whether correlations between the expression of “biomarkers” (molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to detect tumors and to monitor treatment effectiveness) and the stage at diagnosis or length of survival can be explained by differential biomarker expression between different subtypes of ovarian carcinoma. They also address the question of whether early stage and late stage ovarian carcinomas are fundamentally different.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the expression of 21 candidate protein biomarkers in 500 ovarian carcinoma samples collected in British Columbia, Canada, between 1984 and 2000. For 20 of the biomarkers, the fraction of tumors expressing the biomarker varied significantly between ovarian carcinoma subtypes. Considering all the tumors together, ten biomarkers had different expression levels in early and late stage tumors. However, when each subtype was considered separately, the expression of none of the biomarkers varied with stage. When the researchers asked whether the expression of any of the biomarkers correlated with survival times, they found that nine biomarkers were unfavorable indicators of outcome when all the tumors were considered together. That is, women whose tumors expressed any of these biomarkers had a higher risk of dying from ovarian cancer than women whose tumors did not express these biomarkers. However, only three biomarkers were unfavorable indicators for high-grade serous carcinomas considered alone and the expression of a biomarker called WT1 in this subtype of ovarian carcinoma is associated with a lower risk of dying. Similarly, expression of the biomarker Ki-67 was an unfavorable prognostic indicator when all the tumors were considered, but was not a prognostic indicator for any individual subtype.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings indicate that biomarker expression is more strongly associated with ovarian carcinoma subtype than with stage. In other words, biomarker expression is constant from early to late stage, but only within a given subtype. Second, the association of biomarker expression with survival varies between subtypes, hence lumping all subtypes together can yield misleading results. Although these findings need confirming in more tumor samples, they support the view that ovarian carcinoma subtypes are different diseases. In practical terms, therefore, these findings suggest that better ways to detect and treat ovarian cancer are more likely to be found if future biomarker studies and clinical research studies investigate each subtype of ovarian carcinoma separately rather than grouping them all together.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050232.
The US National Cancer Institute provides a brief description of what cancer is and how it develops and information on all aspects of ovarian cancer for patients and professionals. It also provides a fact sheet on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Cancerbackup provides general information about cancer and more specific information about ovarian cancer, including tumor staging
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050232
PMCID: PMC2592352  PMID: 19053170
17.  Socioeconomic inequalities in cancer survival in England after the NHS cancer plan 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;103(4):446-453.
Background:
Socioeconomic inequalities in survival were observed for many cancers in England during 1981–1999. The NHS Cancer Plan (2000) aimed to improve survival and reduce these inequalities. This study examines trends in the deprivation gap in cancer survival after implementation of the Plan.
Materials and method:
We examined relative survival among adults diagnosed with 1 of 21 common cancers in England during 1996–2006, followed up to 31 December 2007. Three periods were defined: 1996–2000 (before the Cancer Plan), 2001–2003 (initialisation) and 2004–2006 (implementation). We estimated the difference in survival between the most deprived and most affluent groups (deprivation gap) at 1 and 3 years after diagnosis, and the change in the deprivation gap both within and between these periods.
Results:
Survival improved for most cancers, but inequalities in survival were still wide for many cancers in 2006. Only the deprivation gap in 1-year survival narrowed slightly over time. A majority of the socioeconomic disparities in survival occurred soon after a cancer diagnosis, regardless of the cancer prognosis.
Conclusion:
The recently observed reduction in the deprivation gap was minor and limited to 1-year survival, suggesting that, so far, the Cancer Plan has little effect on those inequalities. Our findings highlight that earlier diagnosis and rapid access to optimal treatment should be ensured for all socioeconomic groups.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605752
PMCID: PMC2939774  PMID: 20588275
relative survival; deprivation; socioeconomic inequalities; health policy
18.  Conditional survival of cancer patients: an Australian perspective 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:460.
Background
Estimated conditional survival for cancer patients diagnosed at different ages and disease stage provides important information for cancer patients and clinicians in planning follow-up, surveillance and ongoing management.
Methods
Using population-based cancer registry data for New South Wales Australia, we estimated conditional 5-year relative survival for 11 major cancers diagnosed 1972–2006 by time since diagnosis and age and stage at diagnosis.
Results
193,182 cases were included, with the most common cancers being prostate (39,851), female breast (36,585) and colorectal (35,455). Five-year relative survival tended to increase with increasing years already survived and improvement was greatest for cancers with poor prognosis at diagnosis (lung or pancreas) and for those with advanced stage or older age at diagnosis. After surviving 10 years, conditional 5-year survival was over 95% for 6 localised, 6 regional, 3 distant and 3 unknown stage cancers. For the remaining patient groups, conditional 5-year survival ranged from 74% (for distant stage bladder cancer) to 94% (for 4 cancers at different stages), indicating that they continue to have excess mortality 10–15 years after diagnosis.
Conclusion
These data provide important information for cancer patients, based on age and stage at diagnosis, as they continue on their cancer journey. This information may also be used by clinicians as a tool to make more evidence-based decisions regarding follow-up, surveillance, or ongoing management according to patients' changing survival expectations over time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-460
PMCID: PMC3519618  PMID: 23043308
Conditional survival; Relative survival; Cancer registry; Australia
19.  Predicting Survival within the Lung Cancer Histopathological Hierarchy Using a Multi-Scale Genomic Model of Development 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e232.
Background
The histopathologic heterogeneity of lung cancer remains a significant confounding factor in its diagnosis and prognosis—spurring numerous recent efforts to find a molecular classification of the disease that has clinical relevance.
Methods and Findings
Molecular profiles of tumors from 186 patients representing four different lung cancer subtypes (and 17 normal lung tissue samples) were compared with a mouse lung development model using principal component analysis in both temporal and genomic domains. An algorithm for the classification of lung cancers using a multi-scale developmental framework was developed. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis was conducted for lung adenocarcinoma patient subgroups identified via their developmental association. We found multi-scale genomic similarities between four human lung cancer subtypes and the developing mouse lung that are prognostically meaningful. Significant association was observed between the localization of human lung cancer cases along the principal mouse lung development trajectory and the corresponding patient survival rate at three distinct levels of classical histopathologic resolution: among different lung cancer subtypes, among patients within the adenocarcinoma subtype, and within the stage I adenocarcinoma subclass. The earlier the genomic association between a human tumor profile and the mouse lung development sequence, the poorer the patient's prognosis. Furthermore, decomposing this principal lung development trajectory identified a gene set that was significantly enriched for pyrimidine metabolism and cell-adhesion functions specific to lung development and oncogenesis.
Conclusions
From a multi-scale disease modeling perspective, the molecular dynamics of murine lung development provide an effective framework that is not only data driven but also informed by the biology of development for elucidating the mechanisms of human lung cancer biology and its clinical outcome.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer causes the most deaths from cancer worldwide—around a quarter of all cancer deaths—and the number of deaths is rising each year. There are a number of different types of the disease, whose names come from early descriptions of the cancer cells when seen under the microscope: carcinoid, small cell, and non–small cell, which make up 2%, 13%, and 86% of lung cancers, respectively. To make things more complicated, each of these cancer types can be subdivided further. It is important to distinguish the different types of cancer because they differ in their rates of growth and how they respond to treatment; for example, small cell lung cancer is the most rapidly progressing type of lung cancer. But although these current classifications of cancers are useful, researchers believe that if the underlying molecular changes in these cancers could be discovered then a more accurate way of classifying cancers, and hence predicting outcome and response to treatment, might be possible.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous work has suggested that some cancers come from very immature cells, that is, cells that are present in the early stages of an animal's development from an embryo in the womb to an adult animal. Many animals have been closely studied so as to understand how they develop; the best studied model that is also relevant to human disease is the mouse, and researchers have previously studied lung development in mice in detail. This group of researchers wanted to see if there was any relation between the activity (known as expression) of mouse genes during the development of the lung and the expression of genes in human lung cancers, particularly whether they could use gene expression to try to predict the outcome of lung cancer in patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They compared the gene expression in lung cancer samples from 186 patients with four different types of lung cancer (and in 17 normal lung tissue samples) to the gene expression found in normal mice during development. They found similarities between expression patterns in the lung cancer subtypes and the developing mouse lung, and that these similarities explain some of the different outcomes for the patients. In general, they found that when the gene expression in the human cancer was similar to that of very immature mouse lung cells, patients had a poor prognosis. When the gene expression in the human cancer was more similar to mature mouse lung cells, the prognosis was better. However, the researchers found that carcinoid tumors had rather different expression profiles compared to the other tumors.
  The researchers were also able to discover some specific gene types that seemed to have particularly strong associations between mouse development and the human cancers. Two of these gene types were ones that are involved in building and breaking down DNA itself, and ones involved in how cells stick together. This latter group of genes is thought to be involved in how cancers spread.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results provide a new way of thinking about how to classify lung cancers, and also point to a few groups of genes that may be particularly important in the development of the tumor. However, before these results are used in any clinical assessment, further work will need to be done to work out whether they are true for other groups of patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030232.
•  MedlinePlus has information from the United States National Library of Medicine and other government agencies and health-related organizations [MedlinePlus]
•  National Institute on Aging is also a good place to start looking for information [National Institute for Aging]
•  [The National Cancer Institute] and Lung Cancer Online [ Lung Cancer Online] have a wide range of information on lung cancer
Comparison of gene expression patterns in patients with lung cancer and in mouse lung development showed that those tumors associated with earlier mouse lung development had a poorer prognosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030232
PMCID: PMC1483910  PMID: 16800721
20.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Background
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Conclusions
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108.
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040108
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
21.  Lung cancer incidence and survival in different ethnic groups in South East England 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;105(7):1049-1053.
Background:
This study aimed to examine the incidence and survival of lung cancer patients from several different ethnic groups in a large ethnically diverse population in the United Kingdom.
Methods:
Data on residents of South East England diagnosed with lung cancer between 1998 and 2003 were extracted from the Thames Cancer Registry database. Age- and socioeconomic deprivation-standardised incidence rate ratios were calculated for males and females in each ethnic group. Overall survival was examined using Cox regression, adjusted for age, socioeconomic deprivation, stage of disease and treatment. Results are presented for White, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African and Chinese patients, apart from female survival results where only the White, South Asian and Black ethnic groups were analysed.
Results:
Compared with other ethnic groups of the same sex, Bangladeshi men, White men and White women had the highest incidence rates. Bangladeshi men had consistently higher survival estimates compared with White men (fully adjusted hazard ratio 0.46; P<0.001). Indian (0.84; P=0.048), Black Caribbean (0.87; P=0.47) and Black African (0.68; P=0.007) men also had higher survival estimates. South Asian (0.73; P=0.006) and Black (0.74; P=0.004) women had higher survival than White women.
Conclusion:
Smoking prevention messages need to be targeted for different ethnic groups to ensure no groups are excluded. The apparent better survival of South Asian and Black patients is surprising, and more detailed follow-up studies are needed to verify these results.
doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.282
PMCID: PMC3185928  PMID: 21863024
ethnicity; lung cancer; incidence; survival
22.  Breast cancer survival in South Asian women in England and Wales 
Study objectives: To estimate ethnic and socioeconomic differences in breast cancer incidence and survival between South Asians and non-South Asians in England and Wales, and to provide a baseline for surveillance of cancer survival in South Asians, the largest ethnic minority.
Setting: 115 712 women diagnosed with first primary invasive breast cancer in England and Wales during 1986–90 and followed up to 1995.
Methods/design: Ethnic group was ascribed by a computer algorithm on the basis of the name. Incidence rates were derived from 1991 census population denominators for each ethnic group. One and five year relative survival rates were estimated by age, quintile of material deprivation, and ethnic group, using national mortality rates to estimate expected survival.
Main results: Age standardised incidence was 29% lower among South Asian women (40.5 per 100 000 per year) than among all other women (57.4 per 100 000). Five year age standardised relative survival was 70.3% (95%CI 65.2 to 75.4) for South Asian women and 66.7% (66.4 to 67.0) for other women. For both ethnic groups, survival was 8%–9% higher for women in the most affluent group than those in the most deprived group. In each deprivation category, however, survival was 3%–8% higher for South Asian women than other women.
Conclusions: This national study confirms that breast cancer incidence is substantially lower in South Asians than other women in England and Wales. It also provides some evidence that South Asian women diagnosed up to 1990 had higher breast cancer survival than other women in England and Wales, both overall and in each category of deprivation.
doi:10.1136/jech.2004.030965
PMCID: PMC1733081  PMID: 15831690
23.  Cervical cancer 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0818.
Introduction
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women. In the UK, incidence fell after the introduction of the cervical screening programme, to the current level of approximately 2334 women in 2008, with a mortality to incidence ratio of 0.33. Survival ranges from almost 100% 5-year disease-free survival for treated stage Ia disease to 5–15% in stage IV disease. Survival is also influenced by tumour bulk, age, and comorbid conditions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions to prevent cervical cancer? What are the effects of interventions to manage early-stage cervical cancer? What are the effects of interventions to manage bulky early-stage cervical cancer? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to October 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 14 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for preventing cervical cancer; conisation of the cervix for microinvasive carcinoma (stage Ia1), conisation of the cervix plus lymphadenectomy (stage Ia2 and low-volume, good prognostic factor stage Ib), radical trachelectomy for low-volume stage Ib disease, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, or different types of hysterectomy versus each other for treating early-stage and bulky early-stage cervical cancer.
Key Points
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women. In the UK, incidence fell after the introduction of the cervical screening programme to the current level of approximately 2334 women in 2008, with a mortality to incidence ratio of 0.33.About 80% of tumours are squamous type, and staging is based on the FIGO classification.Survival ranges from almost 100% 5-year disease-free survival for treated stage Ia disease to 5–15% in stage IV disease. Survival is also influenced by tumour bulk, age, and comorbid conditions.Development of cervical cancer is strongly associated with HPV infection, acquired mainly by sexual intercourse.The peak prevalence of HPV infection is 20–40% in women aged 20 to 30 years, but in 80% of cases the infection resolves within 12 to 18 months.Other risk factors for cervical cancer include early onset of sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, long-term use of oral contraceptives, tobacco smoking, low socioeconomic status, and immunosuppressive therapy.
Vaccination against HPV is effective in preventing certain types of oncogenic HPV infection, and at reducing rates of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, but there has been insufficient long-term follow-up to assess effects on cervical cancer rates.
Conisation with adequate excision margins is considered effective for microinvasive carcinoma (stage Ia1), and can preserve fertility, unlike simple hysterectomy; however, it has been associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. Conisation is often performed for stage Ia1 disease, but evidence for its benefit is from observational studies only.
We don’t know how conisation of the cervix with pelvic lymphadenectomy and simple or radical hysterectomy compare with each other for stage Ia2 and low volume stage 1b cervical cancer, as we found no RCTs.
We don’t know how simple hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy and radical hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy compare with each other, in early cervical cancer, as we found no RCT evidence.
Limited observational evidence shows that radical trachelectomy plus lymphadenectomy results in similar disease-free survival as radical hysterectomy in women with early-stage cervical cancer; however, we found no RCTs. Radical trachelectomy plus lymphadenectomy can preserve fertility.
Limited RCT evidence shows that radiotherapy is as effective as surgery in early-stage disease. Overall and disease-free survival are similar after radiotherapy or radical hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy, but radiotherapy is less likely to cause severe adverse effects.
Chemoradiotherapy improves survival compared with radiotherapy in women with bulky early-stage cervical cancer. Combined chemoradiotherapy improves overall and progression-free survival when used either before or after hysterectomy, but is associated with more haematological and gastrointestinal toxicity compared with radiotherapy alone.
The benefits of neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus surgery compared with radiotherapy alone are unknown.
PMCID: PMC3217784  PMID: 21791123
24.  Integrative Genomic Analyses Identify BRF2 as a Novel Lineage-Specific Oncogene in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(7):e1000315.
William Lockwood and colleagues show that the focal amplification of a gene, BRF2, on Chromosome 8p12 plays a key role in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Background
Traditionally, non-small cell lung cancer is treated as a single disease entity in terms of systemic therapy. Emerging evidence suggests the major subtypes—adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to therapy. Identification of the molecular differences between these tumor types will have a significant impact in designing novel therapies that can improve the treatment outcome.
Methods and Findings
We used an integrative genomics approach, combing high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray profiles, to compare AC and SqCC tumors in order to uncover alterations at the DNA level, with corresponding gene transcription changes, which are selected for during development of lung cancer subtypes. Through the analysis of multiple independent cohorts of clinical tumor samples (>330), normal lung tissues and bronchial epithelial cells obtained by bronchial brushing in smokers without lung cancer, we identified the overexpression of BRF2, a gene on Chromosome 8p12, which is specific for development of SqCC of lung. Genetic activation of BRF2, which encodes a RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription initiation factor, was found to be associated with increased expression of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) that are involved in processes essential for cell growth, such as RNA splicing. Ectopic expression of BRF2 in human bronchial epithelial cells induced a transformed phenotype and demonstrates downstream oncogenic effects, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown suppressed growth and colony formation of SqCC cells overexpressing BRF2, but not AC cells. Frequent activation of BRF2 in >35% preinvasive bronchial carcinoma in situ, as well as in dysplastic lesions, provides evidence that BRF2 expression is an early event in cancer development of this cell lineage.
Conclusions
This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that the focal amplification of a gene in Chromosome 8p12, plays a key role in squamous cell lineage specificity of the disease. Our data suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 represents a unique mechanism of SqCC lung tumorigenesis through the increase of Pol III-mediated transcription. It can serve as a marker for lung SqCC and may provide a novel target for therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death. Every year, 1.3 million people die from this disease, which is mainly caused by smoking. Most cases of lung cancer are “non-small cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs). Like all cancers, NSCLC starts when cells begin to divide uncontrollably and to move round the body (metastasize) because of changes (mutations) in their genes. These mutations are often in “oncogenes,” genes that, when activated, encourage cell division. Oncogenes can be activated by mutations that alter the properties of the proteins they encode or by mutations that increase the amount of protein made from them, such as gene amplification (an increase in the number of copies of a gene). If NSCLC is diagnosed before it has spread from the lungs (stage I disease), it can be surgically removed and many patients with stage I NSCLC survive for more than 5 years after their diagnosis. Unfortunately, in more than half of patients, NSCLC has metastasized before it is diagnosed. This stage IV NSCLC can be treated with chemotherapy (toxic chemicals that kill fast-growing cancer cells) but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditionally, NSCLC has been regarded as a single disease in terms of treatment. However, emerging evidence suggests that the two major subtypes of NSCLC—adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to chemotherapy. Adenocarcinoma and SqCC start in different types of lung cell and experts think that for each cell type in the body, specific combinations of mutations interact with the cell type's own unique characteristics to provide the growth and survival advantage needed for cancer development. If this is true, then identifying the molecular differences between adenocarcinoma and SqCC could provide targets for more effective therapies for these major subtypes of NSCLC. Amplification of a chromosome region called 8p12 is very common in NSCLC, which suggests that an oncogene that drives lung cancer development is present in this chromosome region. In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility by looking for an amplified gene in the 8p12 chromosome region that makes increased amounts of protein in lung SqCC but not in lung adenocarcinoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called comparative genomic hybridization to show that focal regions of Chromosome 8p are amplified in about 40% of lung SqCCs, but that DNA loss in this region is the most common alteration in lung adenocarcinomas. Ten genes in the 8p12 chromosome region were expressed at higher levels in the SqCC samples that they examined than in adenocarcinoma samples, they report, and overexpression of five of these genes correlated with amplification of the 8p12 region in the SqCC samples. Only one of the genes—BRF2—was more highly expressed in squamous carcinoma cells than in normal bronchial epithelial cells (the cell type that lines the tubes that take air into the lungs and from which SqCC develops). Artificially induced expression of BRF2 in bronchial epithelial cells made these normal cells behave like tumor cells, whereas reduction of BRF2 expression in squamous carcinoma cells made them behave more like normal bronchial epithelial cells. Finally, BRF2 was frequently activated in two early stages of squamous cell carcinoma—bronchial carcinoma in situ and dysplastic lesions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Together, these findings show that the focal amplification of chromosome region 8p12 plays a role in the development of lung SqCC but not in the development of lung adenocarcinoma, the other major subtype of NSCLC. These findings identify BRF2 (which encodes a RNA polymerase III transcription initiation factor, a protein that is required for the synthesis of RNA molecules that help to control cell growth) as a lung SqCC-specific oncogene and uncover a unique mechanism for lung SqCC development. Most importantly, these findings suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 could be used as a marker for lung SqCC, which might facilitate the early detection of this type of NSCLC and that BRF2 might provide a new target for therapy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000315.
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small cell carcinoma (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000315
PMCID: PMC2910599  PMID: 20668658
25.  Prognostic factors in women with breast cancer: distribution by socioeconomic status and effect on differences in survival 
STUDY OBJECTIVE—To quantify and investigate differences in survival from breast cancer between women resident in affluent and deprived areas and define the contribution of underlying factors to this variation.
DESIGN—Analysis of two datasets relating to breast cancer patients in Scotland: (1) population-based cancer registry data; (2) a subset of cancer registration records supplemented by abstraction of prognostic variables (stage, node status, tumour size, oestrogen receptor (ER) status, type of surgery, use of radiotherapy and use of adjuvant systemic therapy) from medical records.
SETTING—Scotland.
PATIENTS—(1) Cancer registration data on 21 751 women aged under 85 years diagnosed with primary breast cancer between 1978 and 1987; (2) national clinical audit data on 2035 women aged under 85 years diagnosed with primary breast cancer during 1987 for whom adequate medical records were available.
MAIN RESULTS—Survival differences of 10% between affluent and deprived women were observed in both datasets, across all age groups. In the audit dataset, the distribution of ER status varied by deprivation group (65% ER positive in affluent group v 48% ER positive in deprived group; under 65 age group). Women aged under 65 with non-metastatic disease were more likely to have breast conservation than a mastectomy if they were affluent (45%) than deprived (32%); the affluent were more likely to receive endocrine therapy (65%) than the deprived (50%). However, these factors accounted for about 20% of the observed difference in survival between women resident in affluent and deprived areas.
CONCLUSIONS—Deprived women with breast cancer have poorer outcomes than affluent women. This can only partly be explained by deprived women having more ER negative tumours than affluent women. Further research is required to identify other reasons for poorer outcomes in deprived women, with a view to reducing these survival differences.


Keywords: socioeconomic status; survival; oestrogen receptor status
doi:10.1136/jech.55.5.308
PMCID: PMC1731899  PMID: 11297648

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