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1.  A brief symptom index for advanced renal cell carcinoma 
Our objective was to test a brief, symptom index for advanced renal cell carcinoma, a disease affecting over 38,000 Americans each year and often diagnosed in late stages.
We conducted secondary data analyses on patient-reported outcomes of 209 metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients participating in a Phase III clinical trial. Patient-reported outcomes, obtained from the FACT-Biological Response Modifier (FACT-BRM) scale, were available at baseline, 2, and 8 weeks. We analyzed data from eight FACT-BRM items previously identified by clinical experts to represent the most important symptoms of advanced renal cell carcinoma. Items comprising this index assess nausea, pain, appetite, perceived sickness, fatigue and weakness, with higher scores indicating fewer symptoms. We determined reliability and validity of the index and estimated a minimally important difference.
The index had excellent internal reliability at all three time points (alphas ≥ 0.83). Baseline scores were able to discriminate patients across Karnofsky performance status, number of metastatic sites, and risk group categories (ps < .01). Mean index scores declined over time likely indicative of the toxic nature of the administered treatments. Distribution- and anchor-based methods converged on a minimally important difference estimate of 2 to 3 points.
The 8-item index of patient-reported symptoms of renal cell carcinoma appears to be a psychometrically sound measure. It is a brief, reliable, and valid measure that can easily be adapted for use in clinical trials and observational studies.
PMCID: PMC1592075  PMID: 17002808
2.  Role of promoter hypermethylation in Cisplatin treatment response of male germ cell tumors 
Molecular Cancer  2004;3:16.
Male germ cell tumor (GCT) is a highly curable malignancy, which exhibits exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin treatment. The genetic pathway(s) that determine the chemotherapy sensitivity in GCT remain largely unknown.
We studied epigenetic changes in relation to cisplatin response by examining promoter hypermethylation in a cohort of resistant and sensitive GCTs. Here, we show that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes is associated with resistance. The promoter hypermethylation and/or the down-regulated expression of MGMT is seen in the majority of tumors. We hypothesize that these epigenetic alterations affecting MGMT play a major role in the exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin, characteristic of GCTs. We also demonstrate that cisplatin treatment induce de novo promoter hypermethylation in vivo. In addition, we show that the acquired cisplatin resistance in vitro alters the expression of specific genes and the highly resistant cells fail to reactivate gene expression after treatment to demethylating and histone deacetylase inhibiting agents.
Our findings suggest that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes play a role in resistance of GCT, while the transcriptional inactivation of MGMT by epigenetic alterations confer exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin. These results also implicate defects in epigenetic pathways that regulate gene transcription in cisplatin resistant GCT.
PMCID: PMC420487  PMID: 15149548

Results 1-2 (2)