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1.  Brachytherapy for cervix cancer: low-dose rate or high-dose rate brachytherapy – a meta-analysis of clinical trials 
Background
The literature supporting high-dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) in the treatment of cervical carcinoma derives primarily from retrospective series. However, controversy still persists regarding the efficacy and safety of HDR brachytherapy compared to low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, in particular, due to inadequate tumor coverage for stage III patients. Whether LDR or HDR brachytherapy produces better results for these patients in terms of survival rate, local control rate and the treatment complications remain controversial.
Methods
A meta-analysis of RCT was performed comparing LDR to HDR brachytherapy for cervix cancer treated for radiotherapy alone. The MEDLINE, EMBASE, CANCERLIT and Cochrane Library databases, as well as abstracts published in the annual proceedings were systematically searched. We assessed methodological quality for each outcome by grading the quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology. We used "recommend" for strong recommendations, and "suggest" for weak recommendations.
Results
Pooled results from five randomized trials (2,065 patients) of HDR brachytherapy in cervix cancer showed no significant increase of mortality (p = 0.52), local recurrence (p = 0.68), or late complications (rectal; p = 0.7, bladder; p = 0.95 or small intestine; p = 0.06) rates as compared to LDR brachytherapy. In the subgroup analysis no difference was observed for overall mortality and local recurrence in patients with clinical stages I, II and III. The quality of evidence was low for mortality and local recurrence in patients with clinical stage I, and moderate for other clinical stages.
Conclusion
Our meta-analysis shows that there are no differences between HDR and LDR for overall survival, local recurrence and late complications for clinical stages I, II and III. By means of the GRADE system, we recommend the use of HDR for all clinical stages of cervix cancer.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-28-47
PMCID: PMC2673206  PMID: 19344527
2.  High Dose Rate versus Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy for Oral Cancer – A Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65423.
Objective
To compare the efficacy and safety of high dose rate (HDR) and low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy in treating early-stage oral cancer.
Data Sources
A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Library databases, restricted to English language up to June 1, 2012, was performed to identify potentially relevant studies.
Study Selection
Only randomized controlled trials (RCT) and controlled trials that compared HDR to LDR brachytherapy in treatment of early-stage oral cancer (stages I, II and III) were of interest.
Data Extraction and Synthesis
Two investigators independently extracted data from retrieved studies and controversies were solved by discussion. Meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.1. One RCT and five controlled trials (607 patients: 447 for LDR and 160 for HDR) met the inclusion criteria. The odds ratio showed no statistically significant difference between LDR group and HDR group in terms of local recurrence (OR = 1.12, CI 95% 0.62–2.01), overall mortality (OR = 1.01, CI 95% 0.61–1.66) and Grade 3/4 complications (OR = 0.86, CI 95% 0.52–1.42).
Conclusions
This meta-analysis indicated that HDR brachytherapy was a comparable alternative to LDR brachytherapy in treatment of oral cancer. HDR brachytherapy might become a routine choice for early-stage oral cancer in the future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065423
PMCID: PMC3677879  PMID: 23762369
3.  Development of ProCaRS Clinical Nomograms for Biochemical Failure-free Survival Following Either Low-Dose Rate Brachytherapy or Conventionally Fractionated External Beam Radiation Therapy for Localized Prostate Cancer 
Cureus  null;7(6):e276.
Purpose: Although several clinical nomograms predictive of biochemical failure-free survival (BFFS) for localized prostate cancer exist in the medical literature, making valid comparisons can be challenging due to variable definitions of biochemical failure, the disparate distribution of prognostic factors, and received treatments in patient populations. The aim of this investigation was to develop and validate clinically-based nomograms for 5-year BFFS using the ASTRO II “Phoenix” definition for two patient cohorts receiving low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy or conventionally fractionated external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) from a large Canadian multi-institutional database.
Methods and Materials: Patients were selected from the GUROC (Genitourinary Radiation Oncologists of Canada) Prostate Cancer Risk Stratification (ProCaRS) database if they received (1) LDR brachytherapy ≥ 144 Gy (n=4208) or (2) EBRT ≥ 70 Gy  (n=822). Multivariable Cox regression analysis for BFFS was performed separately for each cohort and used to generate clinical nomograms predictive of 5-year BFFS. Nomograms were validated using calibration plots of nomogram predicted probability versus observed probability via Kaplan-Meier estimates.
Results: Patients receiving LDR brachytherapy had a mean age of 64 ± 7 years, a mean baseline PSA of 6.3 ± 3.0 ng/mL, 75% had a Gleason 6, and 15% had a Gleason 7, whereas patients receiving EBRT had a mean age of 70 ± 6 years, a mean baseline PSA of 11.6 ± 10.7 ng/mL, 30% had a Gleason 6, 55% had a Gleason 7, and 14% had a Gleason 8-10. Nomograms for 5-year BFFS included age, use and duration of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), baseline PSA, T stage, and Gleason score for LDR brachytherapy and an ADT (months), baseline PSA, Gleason score, and biological effective dose (Gy) for EBRT.
Conclusions: Clinical nomograms examining 5-year BFFS were developed for patients receiving either LDR brachytherapy or conventionally fractionated EBRT and may assist clinicians in predicting an outcome. Future work should be directed at examining the role of additional prognostic factors, comorbidities, and toxicity in predicting survival outcomes.
doi:10.7759/cureus.276
PMCID: PMC4494461  PMID: 26180700
radiotherapy; prostate cancer; ldr brachytherapy; fractionated external beam radiation therapy; biochemical failure; nomogram
4.  Low-Dose-Rate Definitive Brachytherapy for High-Grade Vaginal Intraepithelial Neoplasia 
The Oncologist  2011;16(2):182-188.
The efficacy and safety results of treatment with low-dose-rate vaginal brachytherapy for grade 3 vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia over a 25-year period at Gustave Roussy Institute are presented. This treatment was found to be both safe and effective.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Utilize data supporting the efficacy of low-dose definitive brachytherapy to inform clinical decisions about treating women with high-grade vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia.Implement methods for delivering low-dose definitive brachytherapy that minimize toxicity.Communicate to patients the type and incidence of toxic events associated with low-dose definitive brachytherapy.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at CME.TheOncologist.com
Background.
Treatment of high-grade vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) is controversial and could include surgical excision, topical medication, brachytherapy, or other treatments. We report the results of low-dose-rate (LDR) vaginal brachytherapy for grade 3 VAIN (VAIN-3) over a 25-year period at Gustave Roussy Institute.
Patients and Methods.
We retrospectively reviewed the files of all patients treated at Gustave Roussy Institute for VAIN-3 since 1985. The treatment consisted of LDR brachytherapy using a personalized vaginal mold and delivered 60 Gy to 5 mm below the vaginal mucosa. All patients had at least an annual gynecological examination, including a vaginal smear.
Results.
Twenty-eight patients were eligible. The median follow-up was 41 months. Seven patients had a follow-up <2 years, and the median follow-up for the remaining 21 patients was 79 months. The median age at brachytherapy was 63 years (range, 38–80 years). Twenty-six patients had a history of VAIN recurring after cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and 24 had a previous hysterectomy. The median brachytherapy duration was 4.5 days. Median doses to the International Commission of Radiation Units and Measurements rectum and bladder points were 68 Gy and 45 Gy, respectively. The median prescription volume (60 Gy) was 74 cm3. Only one “in field” recurrence occurred, corresponding to a 5- and 10-year local control rate of 93% (95% confidence interval, 70%–99%). The treatment was well tolerated, with no grade 3 or 4 late toxicity and only one grade 2 digestive toxicity. No second cancers were reported.
Conclusion.
LDR brachytherapy is an effective and safe treatment for vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0326
PMCID: PMC3228085  PMID: 21262875
Vaginal neoplasms; Carcinoma in situ; Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; Brachytherapy
5.  Minimal percentage of dose received by 90% of the urethra (%UD90) is the most significant predictor of PSA bounce in patients who underwent low-dose-rate brachytherapy (LDR-brachytherapy) for prostate cancer 
BMC Urology  2012;12:28.
Background
To clarify the significant clinicopathological and postdosimetric parameters to predict PSA bounce in patients who underwent low-dose-rate brachytherapy (LDR-brachytherapy) for prostate cancer.
Methods
We studied 200 consecutive patients who received LDR-brachytherapy between July 2004 and November 2008. Of them, 137 patients did not receive neoadjuvant or adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy. One hundred and forty-two patients were treated with LDR-brachytherapy alone, and 58 were treated with LDR-brachytherapy in combination with external beam radiation therapy. The cut-off value of PSA bounce was 0.1 ng/mL. The incidence, time, height, and duration of PSA bounce were investigated. Clinicopathological and postdosimetric parameters were evaluated to elucidate independent factors to predict PSA bounce in hormone-naïve patients who underwent LDR-brachytherapy alone.
Results
Fifty patients (25%) showed PSA bounce and 10 patients (5%) showed PSA failure. The median time, height, and duration of PSA bounce were 17 months, 0.29 ng/mL, and 7.0 months, respectively. In 103 hormone-naïve patients treated with LDR-brachytherapy alone, and univariate Cox proportional regression hazard model indicated that age and minimal percentage of the dose received by 30% and 90% of the urethra were independent predictors of PSA bounce. With a multivariate Cox proportional regression hazard model, minimal percentage of the dose received by 90% of the urethra was the most significant parameter of PSA bounce.
Conclusions
Minimal percentage of the dose received by 90% of the urethra was the most significant predictor of PSA bounce in hormone-naïve patients treated with LDR-brachytherapy alone.
doi:10.1186/1471-2490-12-28
PMCID: PMC3487947  PMID: 22974428
Prostate cancer; Brachytherapy; PSA bounce; Post-dosimetry; UD90 (%)
6.  Gastric Electrical Stimulation 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of gastric electrical stimulation (GES) for the treatment of chronic, symptomatic refractory gastroparesis and morbid obesity.
Background
Gastroparesis - Epidemiology
Gastroparesis (GP) broadly refers to impaired gastric emptying in the absence of obstruction. Clinically, this can range from the incidental detection of delayed gastric emptying in an asymptomatic person to patients with severe nausea, vomiting and malnutrition. Symptoms of GP are nonspecific and may mimic structural disorders such as ulcer disease, partial gastric or small bowel obstruction, gastric cancer, and pancreaticobiliary disorders.
Gastroparesis may occur in association with diabetes, gastric surgery (consequence of peptic ulcer surgery and vagotomy) or for unknown reasons (idiopathic gastroparesis). Symptoms include early satiety, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. The majority of patients with GP are women.
The relationship between upper gastrointestinal symptoms and the rate of gastric emptying is considered to be weak. Some patients with markedly delayed gastric emptying are asymptomatic and sometimes, severe symptoms may remit spontaneously.
Idiopathic GP may represent the most common form of GP. In one tertiary referral retrospective series, the etiologies in 146 GP patients were 36% idiopathic, 29% diabetic, 13% postgastric surgery, 7.5% Parkinson’s disease, 4.8% collagen vascular disorders, 4.1% intestinal pseudoobstruction and 6% miscellaneous causes.
The true prevalence of digestive symptoms in patients with diabetes and the relationship of these symptoms to delayed gastric emptying are unknown. Delayed gastric emptying is present in 27% to 58% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 30% with type 2 diabetes. However, highly variable rates of gastric emptying have been reported in type 1 and 2 diabetes, suggesting that development of GP in patients with diabetes is neither universal nor inevitable. In a review of studies examining gastric emptying in patients with diabetes compared to control patients, investigators noted that in many cases the magnitude of the delay in gastric emptying is modest.
GP may occur as a complication of a number of different surgical procedures. For example, vagal nerve injury may occur in 4% to 40% of patients who undergo laparoscopic fundoplication1 for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is scantily reported in the literature. Using data from a past study, it has been estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and refractory GP in the United States population is 0.017%. Assuming an Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to approximately 2,000 people in Ontario having severe, symptomatic, refractory GP.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year.
Treatment for Gastroparesis
To date, there have been no long-term studies confirming the beneficial effects of maintaining euglycemia on GP symptoms. However, it has been suggested that consistent findings of physiologic studies in healthy volunteers and diabetes patients provides an argument to strive for near-normal blood glucose levels in affected diabetes patients.
Dietary measures (e.g., low fibre, low fat food), prokinetic drugs (e.g., domperidone, metoclopramide and erythromycin) and antiemetic or antinausea drugs (e.g, phenothiazines, diphenhydramine) are generally effective for symptomatic relief in the majority of patients with GP.
For patients with chronic, symptomatic GP who are refractory to drug treatment, surgical options may include jejunostomy tube for feeding, gastrotomy tube for stomach decompression and pyloroplasty for gastric emptying.
Few small studies examined the use of botulinum toxin injections into the pyloric sphincter. However, the contribution of excessive pyloric contraction to GP has been insufficiently defined and there have been no controlled studies of this therapy.
Treatment with GES is reversible and may be a less invasive option compared to stomach surgery for the treatment of patients with chronic, drug-refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP. In theory, GES represents an intermediate step between treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology, and the treatment of symptoms. It is based on studies of gastric electrical patterns in GP that have identified the presence of a variety of gastric arrhythmias. Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, it was hypothesized that GES could override the abnormal rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and eliminate symptoms.
Morbid Obesity Epidemiology
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of at last 30 kg/m2. Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemias, obstructive sleep apnea, weight-related arthropathies, and stress urinary incontinence.
In the United States, the age-adjusted prevalence of extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) for adults aged 20 years and older has increased significantly in the population, from 2.9% (1988–1994) to 4.7% (1999–2000). An expert estimated that about 160,000 to 180,000 people are morbidly obese in Ontario.
Treatment for Morbid Obesity
Diet, exercise, and behavioural therapy are used to help people lose weight.
Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management.
Gastric stimulation has been investigated for the treatment of morbid obesity; the intention being to reduce appetite and induce early satiety possibly due to inhibitory effects on gastric motility and effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and hormones related to satiety and/or appetite.
Possible advantages to GES for the treatment of morbid obesity include reversibility of the procedure, less invasiveness than some bariatric procedures, e.g., gastric bypass, and less side effects (e.g., dumping syndrome).
The Device
Electrical stimulation is delivered via an implanted system that consists of a neurostimulator and 2 leads. The surgical procedure can be performed via either an open or laparoscopic approach. An external programmer used by the physician can deliver instructions to the GES, i.e., adjust the rate and amplitude of stimulation (Figure 1). GES may be turned off by the physician at any time or may be removed. The battery life is approximately 4-5 years
For treatment of GP, the GES leads are secured in the muscle of the lower stomach, 10 cm proximal to the pylorus (the opening from the stomach to the intestine), 1 cm apart and connected to an implantable battery-powered neurostimulator which is placed in a small pocket in the abdominal wall
For treatment of morbid obesity, GES leads are implanted along the lesser curvature of the stomach where the vagal nerve branches spread, approximately 8 cm proximal to the pylorus. However, the implant positioning of the leads has been variably reported in the literature.
Regulatory Status
The Enterra Therapy System and the Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System (Medtronic Inc.) are both licensed as class 3 devices by Health Canada (license numbers 60264 and 66948 respectively). The Health Canada indications for use are:
Enterra Therapy System
“For use in the treatment of chronic intractable (drug-refractory) nausea and vomiting.”
Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System
“For use in weight reduction for obese adults with a body mass index greater than 35.”
The GES device that is licensed by Health Canada for treatment of GP, produces high-frequency GES. Most clinical studies examining GES for GP have used high-frequency (4 times the intrinsic slow wave frequency, i.e., 12 cycles per minute), low energy, short duration pulses. This type of stimulation does not alter gastric muscular contraction and has no effect on slow wave dysrhythmias. The mechanism of action is unclear but it is hypothesized that high-frequency GES may act on sensory fibers directed to the CNS.
The GES device licensed by Health Canada for treatment of morbid obesity produces low-frequency GES, which is close to or just above the normal/native gastric slow wave cycle (approximately 3 cycles/min.). This pacing uses low-frequency, high-energy, long-duration pulses to induce propagated slow waves that replace the spontaneous ones. Low-frequency pacing does not invoke muscular contractions.
Most studies examining the use of GES for the treatment of morbid obesity use low-frequency GES. Under normal circumstances, the gastric slow wave propagates distally and determines the frequency and propagation direction of gastric peristalsis. Low-frequency GES aims to produce abnormal gastric slow waves that can induce gastric dysrhythmia, disrupt regular propagation of slow waves, cause hypomotility of the stomach, delay gastric emptying, reduce food intake, prolong satiety, and produce weight loss.
In the United States, the Enterra Therapy System is a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD), meaning it is a medical device designated by the FDA for use in the treatment of medical conditions that affect fewer than 4,000 individuals per year.2 The Enterra Therapy System is indicated for “the treatment of chronic, drug- refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP of diabetes or idiopathic etiology” (not postsurgical etiologies).
GES for morbid obesity has not been approved by the FDA and is for investigational use only in the United States.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of GES to treat patients who have: a) chronic refractory symptomatic GP; or b) morbid obesity.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search strategy to retrieve international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles from selected databases.
The GRADE approach was used to systematically and explicitly make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
Findings
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence in Tables 1 and 2.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Gastroparesis
Confounders related to diabetes.
Possible Type 2 error for subgroup analyses.
Subjective self-reported end point.
Posthoc change in primary end point analysis.
No sample size justification.
Concomitant prokinetic/antiemetic therapy.
Only 1 RCT (with different results for FDA and publication).
GES originally hypothesized to correct gastric rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and therefore eliminate symptoms.
Now hypothesized to directly act on neurons to the CNS to control symptoms.
Weak correlation between symptoms and gastric emptying.
Unclear whether gastric emptying is still considered an end point to investigate.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Morbid Obesity
No sample size calculation.
Small sample size.
No ITT analysis.
Lack of detail regarding dropouts.
Possible Type 2 error.
Sparse details about randomization/blinding.
Full, final results not published.
Only 1 RCT (technically grey literature).
Economic Analysis
No formal economic analysis was identified in the literature search.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research reported that the cost of implanting a GES in the United States for the treatment of GP is estimated to be $30,000 US. In Canada, the device costs approximately $10,700 Cdn; this does not include costs associated with the physician’s training, the implantation procedure, or device programming and maintenance.
Ontario Context
There is no Schedule of Benefits code for GES.
There is no Canadian Classification of Health Interventions Index (CCI) procedure code for GES.
Since the ICD-10 diagnosis code for gastroparesis falls under K31.8 “Other specified diseases of the stomach and duodenum”, it is impossible to determine how many patients in Ontario had discharge abstracts because of gastroparesis.
In 2005, there were less than 5 out-of-country requests for GES (for either consultation only or for surgery).
Gastroparesis
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is variably reported in the literature.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and medically refractory GP in the United States population was 0.017%. Assuming a total Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $23.6 M
Cdn ($10,700 Cdn x 2,210 patients) for the device cost alone.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the FDA is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year. This corresponds to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn per year for the device cost alone.
Morbid Obesity
An expert in the field estimated that there are 160,000 to 180,000 people in Ontario who are morbidly obese. This would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake). However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
Conclusion
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors.
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence.
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 shows the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For GP, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality, consistency and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn for the device cost alone, while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high-quality studies of effectiveness. Further evidence of effectiveness should be available in the future since there is a RCT underway that is examining the use of GES in patients with severe refractory GP associated with diabetes and idiopathic etiologies (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00157755).
For morbid obesity, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and consistency), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake) while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3413096  PMID: 23074486
7.  Low-dose-rate brachytherapy for patients with transurethral resection before implantation in prostate cancer. Long-term results 
ABSTRACT
Objectives
We analyzed the long-term oncologic outcome for patients with prostate cancer and transurethral resection who were treated using low-dose-rate (LDR) prostate brachytherapy.
Methods and Materials
From January 2001 to December 2005, 57 consecutive patients were treated with clinically localized prostate cancer. No patients received external beam radiation. All of them underwent LDR prostate brachytherapy. Biochemical failure was defined according to the “Phoenix consensus”. Patients were stratified as low and intermediate risk based on The Memorial Sloan Kettering group definition.
Results
The median follow-up time for these 57 patients was 104 months. The overall survival according to Kaplan-Meier estimates was 88% (±6%) at 5 years and 77% (±6%) at 12 years. The 5 and 10 years for failure in tumour-free survival (TFS) was 96% and respectively (±2%), whereas for biochemical control was 94% and respectively (±3%) at 5 and 10 years, 98% (±1%) of patients being free of local recurrence. A patient reported incontinence after treatment (1.7%). The chronic genitourinary complains grade I were 7% and grade II, 10%. At six months 94% of patients reported no change in bowel function.
Conclusions
The excellent long-term results and low morbidity presented, as well as the many advantages of prostate brachytherapy over other treatments, demonstrates that brachytherapy is an effective treatment for patients with transurethral resection and clinical organ-confined prostate cancer.
doi:10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2014.0531
PMCID: PMC4811225  PMID: 27136466
Brachytherapy; Transurethral Resection of Prostate; Prostatic Neoplasms
8.  Impact of point A asymmetry on local control and survival for low dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy in cervical cancer 
Purpose
To evaluate whether Point A asymmetry in low dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy is associated with local control (LC), disease-free survival (DFS) and/or overall survival (OS).
Material and methods
A retrospective analysis of disease control and survival outcomes was conducted for patients who underwent LDR brachytherapy for advanced cervical cancer. Institutional protocol entailed concurrent chemotherapy and whole pelvis radiotherapy (WPRT) over 5 weeks, followed by placement of Fletcher-Suit tandem and colpostat applicators at weeks 6 and 8. Objective Point A doses, 80-85 Gy, were accomplished by placement of Cesium-137 (Cs-137) sources. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess associations between disease control and survival endpoints with variables of interest.
Results
The records of 50 patients with FIGO stage IB1-IVA cervical cancer undergoing LDR brachytherapy at our institution were identified. Thirty of these patients had asymmetry > 2.5%, and 11 patients had asymmetry > 5%. At a median survivor follow-up of 20.25 months, 15 patients had experienced disease failure (including 5 cervical/vaginal apex only failures and 2 failures encompassing the local site). Right/left dose asymmetry at Point A was associated with statistically significantly inferior LC (p = 0.035) and inferior DFS (p = 0.011) for patients with mean Point A dose of > 80 Gy. Insufficient evidence existed to conclude an association with OS.
Conclusions
LDR brachytherapy may be associated with clinically significant dose asymmetry. The present study demonstrates that patients with Point A asymmetry have a higher risk of failure for DFS and LC.
doi:10.5114/jcb.2012.27945
PMCID: PMC3551371  PMID: 23346133
brachytherapy; cervical; point A; Fletcher-Suit system
9.  Biological equivalence between LDR and PDR in cervical cancer: multifactor analysis using the linear-quadratic model 
Purpose
The purpose of this work was the biological comparison between Low Dose Rate (LDR) and Pulsed Dose Rate (PDR) in cervical cancer regarding the discontinuation of the afterloading system used for the LDR treatments at our Institution since December 2009.
Material and methods
In the first phase we studied the influence of the pulse dose and the pulse time in the biological equivalence between LDR and PDR treatments using the Linear Quadratic Model (LQM). In the second phase, the equivalent dose in 2 Gy/fraction (EQD2) for the tumor, rectum and bladder in treatments performed with both techniques was evaluated and statistically compared. All evaluated patients had stage IIB cervical cancer and were treated with External Beam Radiotherapy (EBRT) plus two Brachytherapy (BT) applications. Data were collected from 48 patients (26 patients treated with LDR and 22 patients with PDR).
Results
In the analyses of the influence of PDR parameters in the biological equivalence between LDR and PDR treatments (Phase 1), it was calculated that if the pulse dose in PDR was kept equal to the LDR dose rate, a small the-rapeutic loss was expected. If the pulse dose was decreased, the therapeutic window became larger, but a correction in the prescribed dose was necessary. In PDR schemes with 1 hour interval between pulses, the pulse time did not influence significantly the equivalent dose. In the comparison between the groups treated with LDR and PDR (Phase 2) we concluded that they were not equivalent, because in the PDR group the total EQD2 for the tumor, rectum and bladder was smaller than in the LDR group; the LQM estimated that a correction in the prescribed dose of 6% to 10% was ne-cessary to avoid therapeutic loss.
Conclusions
A correction in the prescribed dose was necessary; this correction should be achieved by calculating the PDR dose equivalent to the desired LDR total dose.
doi:10.5114/jcb.2011.24820
PMCID: PMC3551353  PMID: 23346123
brachytherapy; cervical cancer; LDR; PDR; EQD2; LQM
10.  Difference in the rate of rectal complications following prostate brachytherapy based on the prostate-rectum distance and the prostate longitudinal length among early prostate cancer patients 
Korean Journal of Urology  2015;56(9):637-643.
Purpose
To investigate the difference in rectal complications rate following prostate low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy based on prostate-rectum distance and prostate longitudinal length among early prostate cancer patients.
Materials and Methods
From March 2008 to February 2013, 245 prostate cancer patients with a Gleason score ≤7 were treated with 125-I LDR brachytherapy. Among them, 178 patients with prostate volume 20-35 mL and a follow-up period ≥6 months were evaluated for radiation proctitis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed for a prebrachytherapy evaluation, and prostate-rectum distance and prostate longitudinal length were measured. The radiation proctitis was confirmed and graded via colonoscopy based on the radiation therapy oncology group (RTOG) toxicity criteria.
Results
Twenty-three patients received a colonoscopy for proctitis evaluation, and 12 were identified as grade 1 on the RTOG scale. Nine patients were diagnosed as grade 2 and 2 patients were grade 3. No patient developed grade 4 proctitis. The rectal-complication group had a mean prostate-rectum distance of 2.51±0.16 mm, while non-rectal-complication control group had 3.32±0.31 mm. The grade 1 proctitis patients had a mean prostate-rectum distance of 2.80±0.15 mm, which was significantly longer than 2.12±0.31 mm of grades 2 and 3 patient groups (p=0.045). All 11 patients of grades 2 and 3 had a prostate longitudinal length of 35.22±2.50 mm, which was longer than group 1, but the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.214).
Conclusions
As the prostate-rectum distance increased, fewer postimplantation rectal symptoms were observed. Patients with a shorter prostate-rectum distance in MRI should receive modified implantation techniques or radical prostatectomy.
doi:10.4111/kju.2015.56.9.637
PMCID: PMC4565898  PMID: 26366276
Brachytherapy; Proctitis; Prostatic neoplasms
11.  Age is not a limiting factor for brachytherapy for carcinoma of the node negative oral tongue in patients aged eighty or older 
Background
To examine the role of brachytherapy for aged patients 80 or more in the trend of rapidly increasing number.
Methods
We examined the outcomes for elderly patients with node negative oral tongue cancer (T1-3N0M0) treated with brachytherapy. The 21 patients (2 T1, 14 T2, and 5 T3 cases) ranged in age from 80 to 89 years (median 81), and their cancer was pathologically confirmed. All patients underwent definitive radiation therapy, with low dose rate (LDR) Ra-226 brachytherapy (n = 4; median 70Gy), with Ir-192 (n = 12; 70Gy), with Au-198 (n = 1) or with high dose rate (HDR) Ir-192 brachytherapy (n = 4; 60 Gy). Eight patients also underwent external radiotherapy (median 30 Gy). The period of observation ranged from 13 months to 14 years (median 2.5 years). We selected 226 population matched younger counterpart from our medical chart.
Results
Definitive radiation therapy was completed for all 21 patients (100%), and acute grade 2-3 mucositis related to the therapy was tolerable. Local control (initial complete response) was attained in 19 of 21 patients (90%). The 2-year and 5-year local control rates were 91%, (100% for T1, 83% for T2 and 80% for T3 tumors after 2 years). These figures was not inferior to that of younger counterpart (82% at 5-year, n.s.). The cause-specific survival rate was 83% and the regional control rate 84% at the 2-years follow-up. However, 12 patients died because of intercurrent diseases or senility, resulting in overall survival rates of 55% at 2 years and 34% at 5 years.
Conclusion
Age is not a limiting factor for brachytherapy for appropriately selected elderly patients, and brachytherapy achieved good local control with acceptable morbidity.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-5-116
PMCID: PMC3016284  PMID: 21143904
12.  Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients with Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to determine the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in reducing the incidence of influenza-related illness or pneumococcal pneumonia.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Influenza Disease
Influenza is a global threat. It is believed that the risk of a pandemic of influenza still exists. Three pandemics occurred in the 20th century which resulted in millions of deaths worldwide. The fourth pandemic of H1N1 influenza occurred in 2009 and affected countries in all continents.
Rates of serious illness due to influenza viruses are high among older people and patients with chronic conditions such as COPD. The influenza viruses spread from person to person through sneezing and coughing. Infected persons can transfer the virus even a day before their symptoms start. The incubation period is 1 to 4 days with a mean of 2 days. Symptoms of influenza infection include fever, shivering, dry cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, muscle ache, and sore throat. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur.
Complications of influenza infection include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, and other secondary bacterial infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and otitis media. In viral pneumonia, patients develop acute fever and dyspnea, and may further show signs and symptoms of hypoxia. The organisms involved in bacterial pneumonia are commonly identified as Staphylococcus aureus and Hemophilus influenza. The incidence of secondary bacterial pneumonia is most common in the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as congestive heart disease and chronic bronchitis.
Healthy people usually recover within one week but in very young or very old people and those with underlying medical conditions such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, influenza is associated with higher risks and may lead to hospitalization and in some cases death. The cause of hospitalization or death in many cases is viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia. Influenza infection can lead to the exacerbation of COPD or an underlying heart disease.
Streptococcal Pneumonia
Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, is an encapsulated Gram-positive bacterium that often colonizes in the nasopharynx of healthy children and adults. Pneumococcus can be transmitted from person to person during close contact. The bacteria can cause illnesses such as otitis media and sinusitis, and may become more aggressive and affect other areas of the body such as the lungs, brain, joints, and blood stream. More severe infections caused by pneumococcus are pneumonia, bacterial sepsis, meningitis, peritonitis, arthritis, osteomyelitis, and in rare cases, endocarditis and pericarditis.
People with impaired immune systems are susceptible to pneumococcal infection. Young children, elderly people, patients with underlying medical conditions including chronic lung or heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, sickle cell disease, and people who have undergone a splenectomy are at a higher risk for acquiring pneumococcal pneumonia.
Technology
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines
Trivalent Influenza Vaccines in Canada
In Canada, 5 trivalent influenza vaccines are currently authorized for use by injection. Four of these are formulated for intramuscular use and the fifth product (Intanza®) is formulated for intradermal use.
The 4 vaccines for intramuscular use are:
Fluviral (GlaxoSmithKline), split virus, inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Vaxigrip (Sanofi Pasteur), split virus inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months;
Agriflu (Novartis), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in adults and children ≥ 6 months; and
Influvac (Abbott), surface antigen inactivated vaccine, for use in persons ≥ 18 years of age.
FluMist is a live attenuated virus in the form of an intranasal spray for persons aged 2 to 59 years. Immunization with current available influenza vaccines is not recommended for infants less than 6 months of age.
Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines were developed more than 50 years ago and have progressed from 2-valent vaccines to the current 23-valent vaccines to prevent diseases caused by 23 of the most common serotypes of S pneumoniae. Canada-wide estimates suggest that approximately 90% of cases of pneumococcal bacteremia and meningitis are caused by these 23 serotypes. Health Canada has issued licenses for 2 types of 23-valent vaccines to be injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously:
Pneumovax 23® (Merck & Co Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA), and
Pneumo 23® (Sanofi Pasteur SA, Lion, France) for persons 2 years of age and older.
Other types of pneumococcal vaccines licensed in Canada are for pediatric use. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is injected only once. A second dose is applied only in some conditions.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccination compared with no vaccination in COPD patients?
What is the safety of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
What is the budget impact and cost-effectiveness of these 2 vaccines in COPD patients?
Research Methods
Literature search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on July 5, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2000 to July 5, 2010. The search was updated monthly through the AutoAlert function of the search up to January 31, 2011. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. Data extraction was carried out by the author.
Inclusion Criteria
studies comparing clinical efficacy of the influenza vaccine or the pneumococcal vaccine with no vaccine or placebo;
randomized controlled trials published between January 1, 2000 and January 31, 2011;
studies including patients with COPD only;
studies investigating the efficacy of types of vaccines approved by Health Canada;
English language studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-randomized controlled trials;
studies investigating vaccines for other diseases;
studies comparing different variations of vaccines;
studies in which patients received 2 or more types of vaccines;
studies comparing different routes of administering vaccines;
studies not reporting clinical efficacy of the vaccine or reporting immune response only;
studies investigating the efficacy of vaccines not approved by Health Canada.
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcomes
Influenza vaccination: Episodes of acute respiratory illness due to the influenza virus.
Pneumococcal vaccination: Time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia either due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology.
Secondary Outcomes
rate of hospitalization and mechanical ventilation
mortality rate
adverse events
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses. The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Efficacy of the Influenza Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The influenza vaccination was associated with significantly fewer episodes of influenza-related acute respiratory illness (ARI). The incidence density of influenza-related ARI was:
All patients: vaccine group: (total of 4 cases) = 6.8 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 17 cases) = 28.1 episodes per 100 person-years, (relative risk [RR], 0.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06−0.70; P = 0.005).
Patients with severe airflow obstruction (forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] < 50% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.6 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 7 cases) = 31.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.1; 95% CI, 0.003−1.1; P = 0.04).
Patients with moderate airflow obstruction (FEV1 50%−69% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 2 cases) = 13.2 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 4 cases) = 23.8 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.05−3.8; P = 0.5).
Patients with mild airflow obstruction (FEV1 ≥ 70% predicted): vaccine group: (total of 1 case) = 4.5 episodes per 100 person-years; placebo group: (total of 6 cases) = 28.2 episodes per 100 person-years, (RR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.003−1.3; P = 0.06).
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the vaccinated group and the placebo group regarding the probability of not acquiring influenza-related ARI (log-rank test P value = 0.003). Overall, the vaccine effectiveness was 76%. For categories of mild, moderate, or severe COPD the vaccine effectiveness was 84%, 45%, and 85% respectively.
With respect to hospitalization, fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group were hospitalized due to influenza-related ARIs, although these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required hospitalization was 3.4 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 8.3 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.04−2.5; P = 0.3; log-rank test P value = 0.2). Also, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD.
Fewer patients in the vaccine group compared with the placebo group required mechanical ventilation due to influenza-related ARIs. However, these differences were not statistically significant. The incidence density of influenza-related ARIs that required mechanical ventilation was 0 episodes per 100 person-years in the vaccine group and 5 episodes per 100 person-years in the placebo group (RR, 0.0; 95% CI, 0−2.5; P = 0.1; log-rank test P value = 0.4). In addition, no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups were observed for the 3 categories of severity of COPD. The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing influenza-related ARIs and influenza-related hospitalization was not related to age, sex, severity of COPD, smoking status, or comorbid diseases.
safety
Overall, significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced local adverse reactions (vaccine: 17 [27%], placebo: 4 [6%]; P = 0.002). Significantly more patients in the vaccine group than the placebo group experienced swelling (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04) and itching (vaccine 4, placebo 0; P = 0.04). Systemic reactions included headache, myalgia, fever, and skin rash and there were no significant differences between the 2 groups for these reactions (vaccine: 47 [76%], placebo: 51 [81%], P = 0.5).
With respect to lung function, dyspneic symptoms, and exercise capacity, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups at 1 week and at 4 weeks in: FEV1, maximum inspiratory pressure at residual volume, oxygen saturation level of arterial blood, visual analogue scale for dyspneic symptoms, and the 6 Minute Walking Test for exercise capacity.
There was no significant difference between the 2 groups with regard to the probability of not acquiring total ARIs (influenza-related and/or non-influenza-related); (log-rank test P value = 0.6).
Summary of Efficacy of the Pneumococcal Vaccination in Immunocompetent Patients With COPD
Clinical Effectiveness
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed no significant differences between the group receiving the penumoccocal vaccination and the control group for time to the first episode of community-acquired pneumonia due to pneumococcus or of unknown etiology (log-rank test 1.15; P = 0.28). Overall, vaccine efficacy was 24% (95% CI, −24 to 54; P = 0.33).
With respect to the incidence of pneumococcal pneumonia, the Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significant difference between the 2 groups (vaccine: 0/298; control: 5/298; log-rank test 5.03; P = 0.03).
Hospital admission rates and median length of hospital stays were lower in the vaccine group, but the difference was not statistically significant. The mortality rate was not different between the 2 groups.
Subgroup Analysis
The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed significant differences between the vaccine and control groups for pneumonia due to pneumococcus and pneumonia of unknown etiology, and when data were analyzed according to subgroups of patients (age < 65 years, and severe airflow obstruction FEV1 < 40% predicted). The accumulated percentage of patients without pneumonia (due to pneumococcus and of unknown etiology) across time was significantly lower in the vaccine group than in the control group in patients younger than 65 years of age (log-rank test 6.68; P = 0.0097) and patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted (log-rank test 3.85; P = 0.0498).
Vaccine effectiveness was 76% (95% CI, 20−93; P = 0.01) for patients who were less than 65 years of age and −14% (95% CI, −107 to 38; P = 0.8) for those who were 65 years of age or older. Vaccine effectiveness for patients with a FEV1 less than 40% predicted and FEV1 greater than or equal to 40% predicted was 48% (95% CI, −7 to 80; P = 0.08) and −11% (95% CI, −132 to 47; P = 0.95), respectively. For patients who were less than 65 years of age (FEV1 < 40% predicted), vaccine effectiveness was 91% (95% CI, 35−99; P = 0.002).
Cox modelling showed that the effectiveness of the vaccine was dependent on the age of the patient. The vaccine was not effective in patients 65 years of age or older (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% CI, 0.61−a2.17; P = 0.66) but it reduced the risk of acquiring pneumonia by 80% in patients less than 65 years of age (hazard ratio, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.06−0.66; P = 0.01).
safety
No patients reported any local or systemic adverse reactions to the vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3384373  PMID: 23074431
13.  High versus Low-Dose Rate Brachytherapy for Cervical Cancer 
Gynecologic oncology  2015;136(3):534-541.
Objectives
Brachytherapy plays an important role in the treatment of cervical cancer. While small trials have shown comparable survival outcomes between high (HDR) and low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, little data is available in the US. We examined the utilization of HDR brachytherapy and analyzed the impact of type of brachytherapy on survival for cervical cancer.
Methods
Women with stage IB2–IVA cervical cancer treated with primary (external beam and brachytherapy) radiotherapy between 2003–2011 and recorded in the National Cancer Database (NCDB) were analyzed. Generalized linear mixed models and Cox proportional hazards regression were used to examine predictors of HDR brachytherapy use and the association between HDR use and survival.
Results
A total of 10,564 women including 2681 (25.4%) who received LDR and 7883 (74.6%) that received HDR were identified. Use of HDR increased from 50.2% in 2003 to 83.9% in 2011 (P<0.0001). In a multivariable model, year of diagnosis was the strongest predictor of use of HDR. While patients in the Northeast were more likely to receive HDR therapy, there were no other clinical or socioeconomic characteristics associated with receipt of HDR. In a multivariable Cox model, survival was similar between the HDR and LDR groups (HR=0.93; 95% 0.83–1.03). Similar findings were noted in analyses stratified by stage and histology. Kaplan-Meier analyses demonstrated no difference in survival based on type of brachytherapy for stage IIB (P=0.68), IIIB (P=0.17), or IVA (P=0.16) tumors.
Conclusions
The use of HDR therapy has increased rapidly. Overall survival is similar for LDR and HDR brachytherapy.
doi:10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.12.038
PMCID: PMC4355179  PMID: 25575481
14.  Low-dose brachytherapy for early stage penile cancer: a 20-year single-institution study (73 patients) 
Purpose/objectives
The aim of this study is to analyze the results of exclusive interstitial brachytherapy (IBT) as a conservative approach in the treatment of penile cancer confined to the glans or the shaft with long-term follow-up in a single institution.
Materials/methods
Between July 1992 and November 2013, 73 consecutive patients with non-metastatic invasive penile cancer were treated by Low dose rate (LDR) IBT in our institution. The localization of the primary lesion was glands in 67 patients (91.8 %) and shaft in 6 patients (8.2 %). All 73 patients presented with squamous cell carcinoma with grades of differentiation as follows: 34 patients with grade 1 (44.7 %), 9 patients with grade 2 (11.8 %), 9 patients with grade 3 (11.8 %) and 21 patients unknown (28.8 %). Six patients (7.8 %) presented with in situ carcinoma, 55 patients (75,3 %) presented with T1, 11 patients (15 %) presented with T2, and one patient (1.3 %) presented with Tx. Inguinal nodal dissection was performed in 29 patients (38.2 %); 13 patients (17.8 %) presented with histologically confirmed positive ganglion. After circumcision, IBT was performed using a hypodermic needle. The median dose delivered was 60 Gy (range, 40 to 70 Gy). The median activity of the iridium-192 wire was 1.12 mCi/cm, and the median reference isodose rate was 0.4 Gy/h (range, 0.2–1.2). Patients with histological inguinal metastases received external beam radiotherapy to the selected inguinal affected area with a median dose of 45 Gy (30–55 Gy).
Results
The median follow-up time was 51.8 months (range 34.4 to 68.7). The 5-year overall survival was 82.0 %, with eight deaths from cancer and five non-cancer-related deaths. Disease-specific survival was 91.4 %, relapse-free survival was 64.4 %, and local relapse-free survival as 74 %. Total or partial penile preservation was 87.9 % at 5-years. Complications rates at 5 years were 6.6 % urethral stenosis (five patients), two patients (2.6 %) with pain related to sexual intercourse and four patients (5.3 %) with dysuria grade 2. Five patients (6.8 %) required penile amputation for necrosis.
Conclusions
IBT provides good local control with organ preservation, excellent tolerance and low complication rates in early-stage penile cancers.
doi:10.1186/s13014-016-0676-9
PMCID: PMC4964092  PMID: 27464910
Penile cancer; Interstitial brachytherapy; Local control
15.  Biventricular Pacing (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy) 
Executive Summary
Issue
In 2002, (before the establishment of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee), the Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a health technology policy assessment on biventricular (BiV) pacing, also called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). The goal of treatment with BiV pacing is to improve cardiac output for people in heart failure (HF) with conduction defect on ECG (wide QRS interval) by synchronizing ventricular contraction. The Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that there was evidence of short (6 months) and longer-term (12 months) effectiveness in terms of cardiac function and quality of life (QoL). More recently, a hospital submitted an application to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee to review CRT, and the Medical Advisory Secretariat subsequently updated its health technology assessment.
Background
Chronic HF results from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to act as a pump. It is estimated that 1% to 5% of the general population (all ages) in Europe have chronic HF. (1;2) About one-half of the patients with HF are women, and about 40% of men and 60% of women with this condition are aged older than 75 years.
The incidence (i.e., the number of new cases in a specified period) of chronic HF is age dependent: from 1 to 5 per 1,000 people each year in the total population, to as high as 30 to 40 per 1,000 people each year in those aged 75 years and older. Hence, in an aging society, the prevalence (i.e., the number of people with a given disease or condition at any time) of HF is increasing, despite a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
A recent study revealed 28,702 patients were hospitalized for first-time HF in Ontario between April 1994 and March 1997. (3) Women comprised 51% of the cohort. Eighty-five percent were aged 65 years or older, and 58% were aged 75 years or older.
Patients with chronic HF experience shortness of breath, a limited capacity for exercise, high rates of hospitalization and rehospitalization, and die prematurely. (2;4) The New York Heart Association (NYHA) has provided a commonly used functional classification for the severity of HF (2;5):
Class I: No limitation of physical activity. No symptoms with ordinary exertion.
Class II: Slight limitations of physical activity. Ordinary activity causes symptoms.
Class III: Marked limitation of physical activity. Less than ordinary activity causes symptoms. Asymptomatic at rest.
Class IV: Inability to carry out any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms at rest.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that 35% of patients with HF are in functional NYHA class I; 35% are in class II; 25%, class III; and 5%, class IV. (5) Surveys (2) suggest that from 5% to 15% of patients with HF have persistent severe symptoms, and that the remainder of patients with HF is evenly divided between those with mild and moderately severe symptoms.
Overall, patients with chronic, stable HF have an annual mortality rate of about 10%. (2) One-third of patients with new-onset HF will die within 6 months of diagnosis. These patients do not survive to enter the pool of those with “chronic” HF. About 60% of patients with incident HF will die within 3 years, and there is limited evidence that the overall prognosis has improved in the last 15 years.
To date, the diagnosis and management of chronic HF has concentrated on patients with the clinical syndrome of HF accompanied by severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Major changes in treatment have resulted from a better understanding of the pathophysiology of HF and the results of large clinical trials. Treatment for chronic HF includes lifestyle management, drugs, cardiac surgery, or implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. Despite pharmacologic advances, which include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, spironolactone, and digoxin, many patients remain symptomatic on maximally tolerated doses.
The Technology
Owing to the limitations of drug therapy, cardiac transplantation and device therapies have been used to try to improve QoL and survival of patients with chronic HF. Ventricular pacing is an emerging treatment option for patients with severe HF that does not respond well to medical therapy. Traditionally, indications for pacing include bradyarrhythmia, sick sinus syndrome, atrioventricular block, and other indications, including combined sick sinus syndrome with atrioventricular block and neurocardiogenic syncope. Recently, BiV pacing as a new, adjuvant therapy for patients with chronic HF and mechanical dyssynchrony has been investigated. Ventricular dysfunction is a sign of HF; and, if associated with severe intraventricular conduction delay, it can cause dyssynchronous ventricular contractions resulting in decreased ventricular filling. The therapeutic intent is to activate both ventricles simultaneously, thereby improving the mechanical efficiency of the ventricles.
About 30% of patients with chronic HF have intraventricular conduction defects. (6) These conduction abnormalities progress over time and lead to discoordinated contraction of an already hemodynamically compromised ventricle. Intraventricular conduction delay has been associated with clinical instability and an increased risk of death in patients with HF. (7) Hence, BiV pacing, which involves pacing left and right ventricles simultaneously, may provide a more coordinated pattern of ventricular contraction and thereby potentially reduce QRS duration, and intraventricular and interventricular asynchrony. People with advanced chronic HF, a wide QRS complex (i.e., the portion of the electrocardiogram comprising the Q, R, and S waves, together representing ventricular depolarization), low left ventricular ejection fraction and contraction dyssynchrony in a viable myocardium and normal sinus rhythm, are the target patients group for BiV pacing. One-half of all deaths in HF patients are sudden, and the mode of death is arrhythmic in most cases. Internal cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) combined with BiV pacemakers are therefore being increasingly considered for patients with HF who are at high risk of sudden death.
Current Implantation Technique for Cardiac Resynchronization
Conventional dual-chamber pacemakers have only 2 leads: 1 placed in the right atrium and the other in the right ventricle. The technique used for BiV pacemaker implantation also uses right atrial and ventricular pacing leads, in addition to a left ventricle lead advanced through the coronary sinus into a vein that runs along the ventricular free wall. This permits simultaneous pacing of both ventricles to allow resynchronization of the left ventricle septum and free wall.
Mode of Operation
Permanent pacing systems consist of an implantable pulse generator that contains a battery and electronic circuitry, together with 1 (single-chamber pacemaker) or 2 (dual-chamber pacemaker) leads. Leads conduct intrinsic atrial or ventricular signals to the sensing circuitry and deliver the pulse generator charge to the myocardium (muscle of the heart).
Complications of Biventricular Pacemaker Implantation
The complications that may arise when a BiV pacemaker is implanted are similar to those that occur with standard pacemaker implantation, including pneumothorax, perforation of the great vessels or the myocardium, air embolus, infection, bleeding, and arrhythmias. Moreover, left ventricular pacing through the coronary sinus can be associated with rupture of the sinus as another complication.
Conclusion of 2003 Review of Biventricular Pacemakers by the Medical Advisory Secretariat
The randomized controlled trials (RCTs) the Medical Advisory Secretariat retrieved analyzed chronic HF patients that were assessed for up to 6 months. Other studies have been prospective, but nonrandomized, not double-blinded, uncontrolled and/or have had a limited or uncalculated sample size. Short-term studies have focused on acute hemodynamic analyses. The authors of the RCTs reported improved cardiac function and QoL up to 6 months after BiV pacemaker implantation; therefore, there is level 1 evidence that patients in ventricular dyssynchrony who remain symptomatic after medication might benefit from this technology. Based on evidence made available to the Medical Advisory Secretariat by a manufacturer, (8) it appears that these 6-month improvements are maintained at 12-month follow-up.
To date, however, there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of combined ICD/BiV devices in patients with chronic HF with prolonged QRS intervals.
Summary of Updated Findings Since the 2003 Review
Since the Medical Advisory Secretariat’s review in 2003 of biventricular pacemakers, 2 large RCTs have been published: COMPANION (9) and CARE-HF. (10) The characteristics of each trial are shown in Table 1. The COMPANION trial had a number of major methodological limitations compared with the CARE-HF trial.
Characteristics of the COMPANION and CARE-HF Trials*
COMPANION; (9) CARE-HF. (10)
BiV indicates biventricular; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; EF, ejection fraction; QRS, the interval representing the Q, R and S waves on an electrocardiogram; FDA, United States Food and Drug Administration.
Overall, CARE-HF showed that BiV pacing significantly improves mortality, QoL, and NYHA class in patients with severe HF and a wide QRS interval (Tables 2 and 3).
CARE-HF Results: Primary and Secondary Endpoints*
BiV indicates biventricular; NNT, number needed to treat.
Cleland JGF, Daubert J, Erdmann E, Freemantle N, Gras D, Kappenberger L et al. The effect of cardiac resynchronization on morbidity and mortality in heart failure (CARE-HF). New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 352:1539-1549; Copyright 2003 Massachusettes Medical Society. All rights reserved. (10)
CARE H-F Results: NYHA Class and Quality of Life Scores*
Minnesota Living with Heart Failure scores range from 0 to 105; higher scores reflect poorer QoL.
European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions scores range from -0.594 to 1.000; 1.000 indicates fully healthy; 0, dead
Cleland JGF, Daubert J, Erdmann E, Freemantle N, Gras D, Kappenberger L et al. The effect of cardiac resynchronization on morbidity and mortality in heart failure (CARE-HF). New England Journal of Medicine 2005; 352:1539-1549; Copyright 2005 Massachusettes Medical Society. All rights reserved.(10)
GRADE Quality of Evidence
The quality of these 3 trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria, (12) (Table 4).
Quality refers to criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding, and follow-up.
Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there is an important unexplained inconsistency in the results, confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the size of the differences in effect, and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists.
Directness refers to the extent to which the people interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest. For example, there may be uncertainty about the directness of the evidence if the people of interest are older, sicker, or have more comorbid conditions than do the people in the studies.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, (12) the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
High: Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence on the estimate of effect.
Moderate: Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
Low: Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
Very low: Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
Quality of Evidence: CARE-HF and COMPANION
Conclusions
Overall, there is evidence that BiV pacemakers are effective for improving mortality, QoL, and functional status in patients with NYHA class III/IV HF, an EF less than 0.35, a QRS interval greater than 120 ms, who are refractory to drug therapy.
As per the GRADE Working Group, recommendations considered the following 4 main factors:
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome
The quality of the evidence (Table 4)
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 5 shows the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For BiV pacing, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is moderate: the quality of the evidence is moderate/high (because of some uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design, e.g., no blinding), but there is also some risk/uncertainty in terms of the estimated prevalence and wide cost-effectiveness estimates (Table 5).
For the combination BiV pacing/ICD, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is weak—the quality of the evidence is low (because of uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design), but there is also some risk/uncertainty in terms of the estimated prevalence, high cost, and high budget impact (Table 5). There are indirect, low-quality comparisons of the effectiveness of BiV pacemakers compared with the combination BiV/ICD devices.
A stronger recommendation can be made for BiV pacing only compared with the combination BiV/ICD device for patients with an EF less than or equal to 0.35, and a QRS interval over or equal to 120 ms, and NYHA III/IV symptoms, and refractory to optimal medical therapy (Table 5).
There is moderate/high-quality evidence that BiV pacemakers significantly improve mortality, QoL, and functional status.
There is low-quality evidence that combined BiV/ICD devices significantly improve mortality, QoL, and functional status.
To date, there are no direct comparisons of the effectiveness of BiV pacemakers compared with the combined BiV/ICD devices in terms of mortality, QoL, and functional status.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation
BiV refers to biventricular; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; NNT, number needed to treat.
PMCID: PMC3382419  PMID: 23074464
16.  Outcomes of Gleason Score ≤8 among High Risk Prostate Cancer Treated with 125I Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy Based Multimodal Therapy 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2013;54(5):1207-1213.
Purpose
To investigate the role of low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy-based multimodal therapy in high-risk prostate cancer (PCa) and analyze its optimal indications.
Materials and Methods
We reviewed the records of 50 high-risk PCa patients [clinical stage ≥T2c, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) >20 ng/mL, or biopsy Gleason score ≥8] who had undergone 125I LDR brachytherapy since April 2007. We excluded those with a follow-up period <3 years. Biochemical recurrence (BCR) followed the Phoenix definition. BCR-free survival rates were compared between the patients with Gleason score ≥9 and Gleason score ≤8.
Results
The mean initial PSA was 22.1 ng/mL, and mean D90 was 244.3 Gy. During a median follow-up of 39.2 months, biochemical control was obtained in 72% (36/50) of the total patients; The estimated 3-year BCR-free survival was 92% for the patients with biopsy Gleason scores ≤8, and 40% for those with Gleason scores ≥9 (p<0.001). In Cox multivariate analysis, only Gleason score ≥9 was observed to be significantly associated with BCR (p=0.021). Acute and late grade ≥3 toxicities were observed in 20% (10/50) and 36% (18/50) patients, respectively.
Conclusion
Our results showed that 125I LDR brachytherapy-based multimodal therapy in high-risk PCa produced encouraging relatively long-term results among the Asian population, especially in patients with Gleason score ≤8. Despite small number of subjects, biopsy Gleason score ≥9 was a significant predictor of BCR among high risk PCa patients after brachytherapy.
doi:10.3349/ymj.2013.54.5.1207
PMCID: PMC3743192  PMID: 23918571
Prostate cancer; brachytherapy; high risk group; biochemical recurrence
17.  Evidence-based guideline recommendations on low-dose rate brachytherapy in patients with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer 
Objective:
The Genitourinary Cancer Disease Site Group (GU DSG) and Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care (PEBC) in Ontario, Canada developed a guideline on low-dose rate brachytherapy (LDR-BT) in patients with early-stage low-grade prostate cancer in 2001. The current updated guideline focuses on the research questions regarding the effect of LDR-BT alone, the effect of LDR-BT with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and the selection of an isotope.
Methods:
This guideline was developed by using the methods of the Practice Guidelines Development Cycle and the core methodology was a systematic review. MEDLINE and EMBASE (from January 1996 to October 2011), the Cochrane Library, main guideline websites, and main annual meeting abstract websites specific for genitourinary diseases were searched. Internal and external reviews of the draft guideline were conducted.
Results:
The draft guideline was developed according to a total of 10 systematic reviews and 55 full text articles that met the pre-planned study selection criteria. The quality of evidence was low to moderate. The final report reflects integration of the feedback obtained through the internal review (two oncologists and a methodologist) and external review (five target reviewers and 48 professional consultation reviewers) process, with final approval given by the GU DSG and the PEBC.
Conclusion:
The main recommendations are: (1) For patients with newly diagnosed low-risk or intermediate-risk prostate cancer who require or choose active treatment, LDR-BT alone is a treatment option as an alternative to EBRT alone or RP alone; and (2) I-125 and Pd-103 are each reasonable isotope options.
doi:10.5489/cuaj.478
PMCID: PMC3699088  PMID: 23826053
18.  A Phase II Trial of Brachytherapy Alone Following Lumpectomy for Select Breast Cancer: tumor control and survival outcomes of RTOG 95-17 
Purpose:
RTOG 95-17 is a prospective Phase II cooperative group trial of APBI alone using multicatheter brachytherapy following lumpectomy in select early stage breast cancers. Tumor control and survival outcomes are reported.
Materials and Methods:
Eligibility criteria included stage I/II breast carcinoma confirmed to be <3cm, unifocal, invasive non-lobular histology with 0-3 positive axillary nodes without extracapsular extension. APBI treatment was delivered with either Low Dose Rate (LDR) (45 Gy in 3.5-5 days) or High Dose Rate (HDR) (34 Gy in 10 BID fractions over 5 days). Endpoints evaluated included in-breast control, regional control, mastectomy-free rate, mastectomy-free survival, disease-free survival and overall survival. The study was designed to analyze the HDR and LDR groups separately and without comparison.
Results:
Between 1997 and 2000, 100 patients were accrued and 99 were eligible; 66 treated with HDR and 33 treated with LDR. Eighty seven patients had T1 lesions and 12 had T2 lesions. Seventy nine were pathologically N0 and 20 were N1. Median follow-up in the HDR group is 6.14 years with the 5-year estimates of in-breast, regional and contralateral failure rates of 3%, 5% and 2%, respectively. The LDR group experienced similar results with a median follow-up of 6.22 years. The 5-year estimates of in-breast, regional and contralateral failure rates of 6%, 0% and 6%, respectively.
Conclusion:
Patients treated with multicatheter partial breast brachytherapy on this trial experienced excellent in-breast control rates and overall outcome that compare to reports from APBI studies with similar extended follow-up.
doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2007.12.056
PMCID: PMC2604132  PMID: 18294778
Brachytherapy; breast cancer; breast cancer trials; radiation therapy for breast cancer; accelerated partial breast irradiation
19.  After low and high dose-rate interstitial brachytherapy followed by IMRT radiotherapy for intermediate and high risk prostate cancer 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:296.
Background
The study aimed to compare urinary symptoms in patients with clinically localized prostate cancer after a combination of either low-dose-rate or high-dose-rate interstitial brachytherapy along with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (LDR-ISBT + IMRT or HDR-ISBT + IMRT).
Methods
From June 2009 to April 2014, 16 and 22 patients were treated with LDR-ISBT + IMRT and HDR-ISBT + IMRT, respectively. No patient from these groups was excluded from this study. The prescribed dose of LDR-ISBT, HDR-ISBT, and IMRT was 115 Gy, 20 Gy in 2 fractions, and 46 Gy in 23 fractions, respectively. Obstructive and irritative urinary symptoms were assessed by the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) examined before and after treatments. After ISBT, IPSS was evaluated in the 1st and 4th weeks, then every 2–3 months for the 1st year, and every 6 months thereafter.
Results
The median follow-up of the patients treated with LDR-ISBT + IMRT and HDR-ISBT + IMRT was 1070.5 days and 1048.5 days, respectively (p = 0.321). The IPSS-increment in the LDR-ISBT + IMRT group was greater than that in the HDR-ISBT + IMRT between 91 and 180 days after ISBT (p = 0.015). In the LDR-ISBT + IMRT group, the IPSS took longer time to return to the initial level than in the HDR-ISBT + IMRT group (in LDR-ISBT + IMRT group, the recovery time was 90 days later). The dose to urethra showed a statistically significant association with the IPSS-increment in the irritative urinary symptoms (p = 0.011). Clinical outcomes were comparable between both the groups.
Conclusions
Both therapeutic modalities are safe and well suited for patients with clinically localized prostate cancer; however, it took patients longer to recover from LDR-ISBT + IMRT than from HDR-ISBT + IMRT. It is possible that fast dose delivery induced early symptoms and early recovery, while gradual dose delivery induced late symptoms and late recovery. Urethral dose reductions were associated with small increments in IPSS.
doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2329-7
PMCID: PMC4855811  PMID: 27142069
Clinically localized prostate cancer; Low-dose-rate brachytherapy; High-dose-rate brachytherapy; International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS); Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
20.  The impact of comorbidity and stage on ovarian cancer mortality: A nationwide Danish cohort study 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:31.
Background
The incidence of ovarian cancer increases sharply with age, and many elderly patients have coexisting diseases. If patients with comorbidities are diagnosed with advanced stages, this would explain the poor survival observed among ovarian cancer patients with severe comorbidity. Our aims were to examine the prevalence of comorbidity according to stage of cancer at diagnosis, to estimate the impact of comorbidity on survival, and to examine whether the impact of comorbidity on survival varies by stage.
Methods
From the Danish Cancer Registry we identified 5,213 patients (> 15 years old) with ovarian cancer diagnosed from 1995 to 2003. We obtained information on comorbidities from the Danish National Hospital Discharge Registry. Vital status was determined through linkage to the Civil Registration System. We estimated the prevalence of comorbidity by stage and computed absolute survival and relative mortality rate ratios (MRRs) by comorbidity level (Charlson Index score 0, 1–2, 3+), using patients with Charlson Index score 0 as the reference group. We then stratified by stage and computed the absolute survival and MRRs according to comorbidity level, using patients with Charlson score 0 and localized tumour/FIGO I as the reference group. We adjusted for age and calendar time.
Results
Comorbidity was more common among patients with an advanced stage of cancer. One- and five-year survival was higher in patients without comorbidity than in patients with registered comorbidity. After adjustment for age and calendar time, one-year MRRs declined from 1.8 to 1.4 and from 2.7 to 2.0, for patients with Charlson scores 1–2 and 3+, respectively. After adjustment for stage, the MRRs further declined to 1.3 and 1.8, respectively. Five-year MRRs declined similarly after adjustment for age, calendar time, and stage. The impact of severe comorbidity on mortality varied by stage, particularly among patients with tumours with regional spread/FIGO-stages II and III.
Conclusion
The presence of severe comorbidity was associated with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. Mortality was higher among patients with comorbidities and the impact of comorbidity varied by stage.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-8-31
PMCID: PMC2266760  PMID: 18230177
21.  Low-dose-rate or high-dose-rate brachytherapy in treatment of prostate cancer – between options 
Purpose
Permanent low-dose-rate (LDR-BT) and temporary high-dose-rate (HDR-BT) brachytherapy are competitive techniques for clinically localized prostate radiotherapy. Although a randomized trial will likely never to be conducted comparing these two forms of brachytherapy, a comparative analysis proves useful in understanding some of their intrinsic differences, several of which could be exploited to improve outcomes. The aim of this paper is to look for possible similarities and differences between both brachytherapy modalities. Indications and contraindications for monotherapy and for brachytherapy as a boost to external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) are presented. It is suggested that each of these techniques has attributes that advocates for one or the other. First, they represent the extreme ends of the spectrum with respect to dose rate and fractionation, and therefore have inherently different radiobiological properties. Low-dose-rate brachytherapy has the great advantage of being practically a one-time procedure, and enjoys a long-term follow-up database supporting its excellent outcomes and low morbidity. Low-dose-rate brachytherapy has been a gold standard for prostate brachytherapy in low risk patients since many years. On the other hand, HDR is a fairly invasive procedure requiring several sessions associated with a brief hospital stay. Although lacking in significant long-term data, it possesses the technical advantage of control over its postimplant dosimetry (by modulating the source dwell time and position), which is absent in LDR brachytherapy. This important difference in dosimetric control allows HDR doses to be escalated safely, a flexibility that does not exist for LDR brachytherapy.
Conclusions
Radiobiological models support the current clinical evidence for equivalent outcomes in localized prostate cancer with either LDR or HDR brachytherapy, using current dose regimens. At present, all available clinical data regarding these two techniques suggests that they are equally effective, stage for stage, in providing high tumor control rates.
doi:10.5114/jcb.2013.34342
PMCID: PMC3635047  PMID: 23634153
brachytherapy; HDR; LDR; prostate cancer; seeds
22.  Comorbidity, human papillomavirus infection and head and neck cancer survival in an ethnically diverse population 
Oral oncology  2013;49(9):911-917.
Objective
To demonstrate the importance of comorbid conditions in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), we assessed the association between comorbidity and survival in an inner-city population of HNSCC patients.
Patients and Methods
Comorbid status at diagnosis was derived using medical records and the Adult Comorbidity Evaluation-27 (ACE-27) index on 288 patients with histologically confirmed HNSCC from Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx (NY) between 2002 and 2011. The association between comorbidity, tumor human papillomavirus (HPV) status and overall and disease specific survival was assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis and multivariable Cox regression adjusting for clinico-pathologic factors.
Results
The study population consisted of primary oropharyngeal (36%), laryngeal (33%) and oral cavity cancer patients (31%). Overall, 19% had no comorbidity, 43% mild comorbidity, 29% moderate comorbidity, and 9% severe comorbidity. The most common comorbid conditions were hypertension, diabetes mellitus, respiratory disease, other malignancies, and illicit drug use. Survival analyses revealed that increased comorbidity at diagnosis was significantly related to poorer overall survival (p=0.016), but not to cancer survival (p=0.369) or recurrence (p=0.652). Oropharyngeal cancer patients with HPV DNA positive tumors and lower levels of comorbidity had significantly better overall survival compared to patients with HPV negative tumors (hazard ratio = 0.2, 95%CI: 0.04–0.8), however there was no significant difference in overall (or disease specific) survival by HPV status among patients with higher levels of comorbidity at diagnosis (hazard ratio = 0.7, 95%CI: 0.2–2.8).
Conclusion
In an inner-city predominantly minority population, comorbidity at HNSCC diagnosis is relatively common and associated with poor overall survival, but not cancer survival or recurrence. Interestingly, the relationship between HPV and improved survival appears to be specific to patients with low comorbidity at diagnosis.
doi:10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.07.001
PMCID: PMC3759225  PMID: 23891528
ACE-27; comorbidity; head and neck; oropharyngeal; squamous cell carcinoma; survival; human papillomavirus
23.  Salvage brachytherapy in prostate local recurrence after radiation therapy: predicting factors for control and toxicity 
Purpose
To evaluate efficacy and toxicity after salvage brachytherapy (BT) in prostate local recurrence after radiation therapy.
Methods and materials
Between 1993 and 2007, we retrospectively analyzed 56 consecutively patients (pts) undergoing salvage brachytherapy. After local biopsy-proven recurrence, pts received 145 Gy LDR-BT (37 pts, 66%) or HDR-BT (19 pts, 34%) in different dose levels according to biological equivalent doses (BED2 Gy). By the time of salvage BT, only 15 pts (27%) received ADT. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify predictors of biochemical control and toxicities. Acute and late genitourinary (GU) and gastrointestinal (GI) toxicities were graded using Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCv3.0).
Results
Median follow-up after salvage BT was 48 months. The 5-year FFbF was 77%. HDR and LDR late grade 3 GU toxicities were observed in 21% and 24%. Late grade 3 GI toxicities were observed in 2% (HDR) and 2.7% (LDR). On univariate analysis, pre-salvage prostate-specific antigen (PSA) > 10 ng/ml (p = 0.004), interval to relapse after initial treatment < 24 months (p = 0.004) and salvage HDR-BT doses BED2 Gy level < 227 Gy (p = 0.012) were significant in predicting biochemical failure. On Cox multivariate analysis, pre-salvage PSA, and time to relapse were significant in predicting biochemical failure.
HDR-BT BED2 Gy (α/β 1.5 Gy) levels ≥ 227 (p = 0.013), and ADT (p = 0.049) were significant in predicting grade ≥ 2 urinary toxicity.
Conclusions
Prostate BT is an effective salvage modality in some selected prostate local recurrence patients after radiation therapy. Even, we provide some potential predictors of biochemical control and toxicity for prostate salvage BT, further investigation is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-9-102
PMCID: PMC4019368  PMID: 24885287
Salvage brachytherapy; Prostate cancer; High-dose-rate-brachytherapy; Low-dose-rate-brachytherapy; Androgen deprivation therapy
24.  Extracorporeal Photophoresis 
Executive Summary
Objective
To assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of extracorporeal photophoresis (ECP) for the treatment of refractory erythrodermic cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and refractory chronic graft versus host disease (cGvHD).
Background
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a general name for a group of skin affecting disorders caused by malignant white blood cells (T lymphocytes). Cutaneous T cell lymphoma is relatively uncommon and represents slightly more than 2% of all lymphomas in the United States. The most frequently diagnosed form of CTCL is mycosis fungoides (MF) and its leukemic variant Sezary syndrome (SS). The relative frequency and disease-specific 5-year survival of 1,905 primary cutaneous lymphomas classified according to the World Health Organization-European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (WHO-EORTC) classification (Appendix 1). Mycosis fungoides had a frequency of 44% and a disease specific 5-year survival of 88%. Sezary syndrome had a frequency of 3% and a disease specific 5-year survival of 24%.
Cutaneous T cell lymphoma has an annual incidence of approximately 0.4 per 100,000 and it mainly occurs in the 5th to 6th decade of life, with a male/female ratio of 2:1. Mycosis fungoides is an indolent lymphoma with patients often having several years of eczematous or dermatitic skin lesions before the diagnosis is finally established. Mycosis fungoides commonly presents as chronic eczematous patches or plaques and can remain stable for many years. Early in the disease biopsies are often difficult to interpret and the diagnosis may only become apparent by observing the patient over time.
The clinical course of MF is unpredictable. Most patients will live normal lives and experience skin symptoms without serious complications. Approximately 10% of MF patients will experience progressive disease involving lymph nodes, peripheral blood, bone marrow and visceral organs. A particular syndrome in these patients involves erythroderma (intense and usually widespread reddening of the skin from dilation of blood vessels, often preceding or associated with exfoliation), and circulating tumour cells. This is known as SS. It has been estimated that approximately 5-10% of CTCL patients have SS. Patients with SS have a median survival of approximately 30 months.
Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease
Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a treatment used for a variety of malignant and nonmalignant disease of the bone marrow and immune system. The procedure is often associated with serious immunological complications, particularly graft versus host disease (GvHD). A chronic form of GvHD (cGvHD) afflicts many allogeneic HCT recipients, which results in dysfunction of numerous organ systems or even a profound state of immunodeficiency. Chronic GVHD is the most frequent cause of poor long-term outcome and quality of life after allogeneic HCT. The syndrome typically develops several months after transplantation, when the patient may no longer be under the direct care of the transplant team.
Approximately 50% of patients with cGvHD have limited disease and a good prognosis. Of the patients with extensive disease, approximately 60% will respond to treatment and eventually be able to discontinue immunosuppressive therapy. The remaining patients will develop opportunistic infection, or require prolonged treatment with immunosuppressive agents.
Chronic GvHD occurs in at least 30% to 50% of recipients of transplants from human leukocyte antigen matched siblings and at least 60% to 70% of recipients of transplants from unrelated donors. Risk factors include older age of patient or donor, higher degree of histoincompatibility, unrelated versus related donor, use of hematopoietic cells obtained from the blood rather than the marrow, and previous acute GvHD. Bhushan and Collins estimated that the incidence of severe cGvHD has probably increased in recent years because of the use of more unrelated transplants, donor leukocyte infusions, nonmyeloablative transplants and stem cells obtained from the blood rather than the marrow. The syndrome typically occurs 4 to 7 months after transplantation but may begin as early as 2 months or as late as 2 or more years after transplantation. Chronic GvHD may occur by itself, evolve from acute GvHD, or occur after resolution of acute GvHD.
The onset of the syndrome may be abrupt but is frequently insidious with manifestations evolving gradually for several weeks. The extent of involvement varies significantly from mild involvement limited to a few patches of skin to severe involvement of numerous organ systems and profound immunodeficiency. The most commonly involved tissues are the skin, liver, mouth, and eyes. Patients with limited disease have localized skin involvement, evidence of liver dysfunction, or both, whereas those with more involvement of the skin or involvement of other organs have extensive disease.
Treatment
 
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
The optimal management of MF is undetermined because of its low prevalence, and its highly variable natural history, with frequent spontaneous remissions and exacerbations and often prolonged survival.
Nonaggressive approaches to therapy are usually warranted with treatment aimed at improving symptoms and physical appearance while limiting toxicity. Given that multiple skin sites are usually involved, the initial treatment choices are usually topical or intralesional corticosteroids or phototherapy using psoralen (a compound found in plants which make the skin temporarily sensitive to ultraviolet A) (PUVA). PUVA is not curative and its influence on disease progression remains uncertain. Repeated courses are usually required which may lead to an increased risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer. For thicker plaques, particularly if localized, radiotherapy with superficial electrons is an option.
“Second line” therapy for early stage disease is often topical chemotherapy, radiotherapy or total skin electron beam radiation (TSEB).
Treatment of advanced stage (IIB-IV) MF usually consists of topical or systemic therapy in refractory or rapidly progressive SS.
Bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation have been used to treat many malignant hematologic disorders (e.g., leukemias) that are refractory to conventional treatment. Reports on the use of these procedures for the treatment of CTCL are limited and mostly consist of case reports or small case series.
Chronic Graft Versus Host Disease
Patients who develop cGvHD require reinstitution of immunosuppressive medication (if already discontinued) or an increase in dosage and possibly addition of other agents. The current literature regarding cGvHD therapy is less than optimal and many recommendations about therapy are based on common practices that await definitive testing. Patients with disease that is extensive by definition but is indolent in clinical appearance may respond to prednisone. However, patients with more aggressive disease are treated with higher doses of corticosteroids and/or cyclosporine.
Numerous salvage therapies have been considered in patients with refractory cGvHD, including ECP. Due to uncertainty around salvage therapies, Bhushan and Collins suggested that ideally, patients with refractory cGvHD should be entered into clinical trials.
Two Ontario expert consultants jointly estimated that there may be approximately 30 new erythrodermic treatment resistant CTCL patients and 30 new treatment resistant cGvHD patients per year who are unresponsive to other forms of therapy and may be candidates for ECP.
Extracorporeal photopheresis is a procedure that was initially developed as a treatment for CTCL, particularly SS.
Current Technique
Extracorporeal photopheresis is an immunomodulatory technique based on pheresis of light sensitive cells. Whole blood is removed from patients followed by pheresis. Lymphocytes are separated by centrifugation to create a concentrated layer of white blood cells. The lymphocyte layer is treated with methoxsalen (a drug that sensitizes the lymphocytes to light) and exposed to UVA, following which the lymphocytes are returned to the patient. Red blood cells and plasma are returned to the patient between each cycle.
Photosensitization is achieved by administering methoxsalen to the patient orally 2 hours before the procedure, or by injecting methoxsalen directly ino the leucocyte rich fraction. The latter approach avoids potential side effects such as nausea, and provides a more consistent drug level within the machine.
In general, from the time the intravenous line is inserted until the white blood cells are returned to the patient takes approximately 2.5-3.5 hours.
For CTCL, the treatment schedule is generally 2 consecutive days every 4 weeks for a median of 6 months. For cGvHD, an expert in the field estimated that the treatment schedule would be 3 times a week for the 1st month, then 2 consecutive days every 2 weeks after that (i.e., 4 treatments a month) for a median of 6 to 9 months.
Regulatory Status
The UVAR XTS Photopheresis System is licensed by Health Canada as a Class 3 medical device (license # 7703) for the “palliative treatment of skin manifestations of CTCL.” It is not licensed for the treatment of cGvHD.
UVADEX (sterile solution methoxsalen) is not licensed by Health Canada, but can be used in Canada via the Special Access Program. (Personal communication, Therakos, February 16, 2006)
According to the manufacturer, the UVAR XTS photopheresis system licensed by Health Canada can also be used with oral methoxsalen. (Personal communication, Therakos, February 16, 2006) However, oral methoxsalen is associated with side effects, must be taken by the patient in advance of ECP, and has variable absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
According to Health Canada, UVADEX is not approved for use in Canada. In addition, a review of the Product Monographs of the methoxsalen products that have been approved in Canada showed that none of them have been approved for oral administration in combination with the UVAR XTS photophoresis system for “the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma”.
In the United States, the UVAR XTS Photopheresis System is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for “use in the ultraviolet-A (UVA) irradiation in the presence of the photoactive drug methoxsalen of extracorporeally circulating leukocyte-enriched blood in the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of CTCL in persons who have not been responsive to other therapy.”
UVADEX is approved by the FDA for use in conjunction with UVR XTS photopheresis system for “use in the ultraviolet-A (UVA) irradiation in the presence of the photoactive drug methoxsalen of extracorporeally circulating leukocyte-enriched blood in the palliative treatment of the skin manifestations of CTCL in persons who have not been responsive to other therapy.”
The use of the UVAR XTS photopheresis system or UVADEX for cGvHD is an off-label use of a FDA approved device/drug.
Summary of Findings
The quality of the trials was examined.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence.
Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
Overall, there is low-quality evidence that ECP improves response rates and survival in patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL (Table 1).
Limitations in the literature related to ECP for the treatment of refractory erythrodermic CTCL include the following:
Different treatment regimens.
Variety of forms of CTCL (and not necessarily treatment resistant) - MF, erythrodermic MF, SS.
SS with peripheral blood involvement → role of T cell clonality reporting?
Case series (1 small crossover RCT with several limitations)
Small sample sizes.
Retrospective.
Response criteria not clearly defined/consistent.
Unclear how concomitant therapy contributed to responses.
Variation in definitions of concomitant therapy
Comparison to historical controls.
Some patients were excluded from analysis because of progression of disease, toxicity and other reasons.
Unclear/strange statistics
Quality of life not reported as an outcome of interest.
The reported CR range is ~ 16% to 23% and the overall reported CR/PR range is ~ 33% to 80%.
The wide range in reported responses to ECP appears to be due to the variability of the patients treated and the way in which the data were presented and analyzed.
Many patients, in mostly retrospective case series, were concurrently on other therapies and were not assessed for comparability of diagnosis or disease stage (MF versus SS; erythrodermic versus not erythrodermic). Blood involvement in patients receiving ECP (e.g., T cell clonality) was not consistently reported, especially in earlier studies. The definitions of partial and complete response also are not standardized or consistent between studies.
Quality of life was reported in one study; however, the scale was developed by the authors and is not a standard validated scale.
Adverse events associated with ECP appear to be uncommon and most involve catheter related infections and hypotension caused by volume depletion.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Extracorporeal Photopheresis for Refractory Erythrodermic Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma
Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease
Overall, there is low-quality evidence that ECP improves response rates and survival in patients with refractory cGvHD (Table 2).
Patients in the studies had stem cell transplants due to a variety of hematological disorders (e.g., leukemias, aplastic anemia, thalassemia major, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma).
In 2001, The Blue Cross Blue Shield Technology Evaluation Centre concluded that ECP meets the TEC criteria as treatment of cGvHD that is refractory to established therapy.
The Catalan health technology assessment (also published in 2001) concluded that ECP is a new but experimental therapeutic alternative for the treatment of the erythrodermal phase of CTCL and cGvHD in allogenic HPTC and that this therapy should be evaluated in the framework of a RCT.
Quality of life (Lansky/Karnofsky play performance score) was reported in 1 study.
The patients in the studies were all refractory to steroids and other immunosuppressive agents, and these drugs were frequently continued concomitantly with ECP.
Criteria for assessment of organ improvement in cGvHD are variable, but PR was typically defined as >50% improvement from baseline parameters and CR as complete resolution of organ involvement.
Followup was variable and incomplete among the studies.
GRADE Quality of Studies – ECP for Refractory cGvHD
Conclusion
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors.
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence (Tables 1 and 2).
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 is the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For refractory erythrodermic CTCL, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to an annual budget impact of approximately $1.5M Cdn (based on 30 patients) while the cost-effectiveness of ECP is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. The device is licensed by Health Canada, but the sterile solution of methoxsalen is not licensed.
With an annual budget impact of $1.5 M Cdn (based on 30 patients), and the current expenditure is $1.3M Cdn (for out of country for 7 patients), the potential cost savings based on 30 patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL is about $3.8 M Cdn (annual).
For refractory cGvHD, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $1.5M Cdn while the cost-effectiveness of ECP is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. Both the device and sterile solution are not licensed by Health Canada for the treatment of cGvHD.
If all the ECP procedures for patients with refractory erythrodermic CTCL and refractory cGvHD were performed in Ontario, the annual budget impact would be approximately $3M Cdn.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3379535  PMID: 23074497
25.  Safety and efficacy of salvage low-dose-rate brachytherapy for prostate bed recurrences following radical prostatectomy 
Purpose
To report efficacy in our series of nodular recurrences in the post-surgical bed that underwent salvage low-dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy.
Material and methods
Patients with radical prostatectomy (RP) who had biochemical failure with nodular recurrence detected by DRE, ultrasound, and pelvic CT and then salvaged with LDR 125I brachytherapy were included. Nodular recurrences were biopsy confirmed adenocarcinoma, and patients had no evidence of nodal or distant metastasis on imaging including bone scan. Follow up was at least every 6 months with a serial prostate specific antigen (PSA).
Results
Twelve patients had salvage LDR brachytherapy with median age 69 years (range 59-86) and median pre-salvage PSA of 4.22 ng/ml. Nodule biopsy Gleason score was 7, 8, or undifferentiated. Median rectal V100 was 0.00 cc. Compared to pre-salvage, patients reported no additional genitourinary (GU) toxicity. After a median 35 months post-salvage follow up (range 10-81 months), patients had a median PSA nadir of 0.72 ng/ml (range 0.01-22.4). At 6 months post salvage, 90% of patients had a PSA below pre-salvage levels. At last follow up, 4 patients had PSA control.
Conclusions
There was a trend to improved biochemical relapse free survival for lower Gleason score and pre-salvage PSA, which may be indicative of the lack of or only low volume metastatic disease. LDR brachytherapy is an effective salvage technique and can be considered in well selected patients allowing for dose escalation to the nodular recurrence.
doi:10.5114/jcb.2015.54050
PMCID: PMC4643733  PMID: 26622225
LDR brachytherapy; nodular recurrence; post-prostatectomy; prostate cancer; salvage brachytherapy

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