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1.  Is breast cancer prognosis inherited? 
Breast Cancer Research  2007;9(3):R39.
A genetic component is well established in the etiology of breast cancer. It is not well known, however, whether genetic traits also influence prognostic features of the malignant phenotype.
We carried out a population-based cohort study in Sweden based on the nationwide Multi-Generation Register. Among all women with breast cancer diagnosed from 1961 to 2001, 2,787 mother-daughter pairs and 831 sister pairs with breast cancer were identified; we achieved complete follow-up and classified 5-year breast cancer-specific prognosis among proband (mother or oldest sister) into tertiles as poor, intermediary, or good. We used Kaplan-Meier estimates of survival proportions and Cox models to calculate relative risks of dying from breast cancer within 5 years depending on the proband's outcome.
The 5-year survival proportion among daughters whose mothers died within 5 years was 87% compared to 91% if the mother was alive (p = 0.03). Among sisters, the corresponding proportions were 70% and 88%, respectively (p = 0.001). After adjustment for potential confounders, daughters and sisters of a proband with poor prognosis had a 60% higher 5-year breast cancer mortality compared to those of a proband with good prognosis (hazard ratio [HR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 2.2; p for trend 0.002). This association was slightly stronger among sisters (HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.0 to 3.4) than among daughters (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.3).
Breast cancer prognosis of a woman predicts the survival in her first-degree relatives with breast cancer. Our novel findings suggest that breast cancer prognosis might be inherited.
PMCID: PMC1929105  PMID: 17598882
2.  Higher incidence of premenopausal breast cancer in less developed countries; myth or truth? 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:343.
Fundamental etiologic differences have been suggested to cause earlier onset of breast cancer in less developed countries (LDCs) than in more developed countries (MDCs). We explored this hypothesis using world-wide breast cancer incidence data.
We compared international age-standardized incidence rates (ASR) of pre- (<50 years) and postmenopausal (≥50 years) breast cancers as well as temporal trends in ASRs of pre-and postmenopausal breast cancer among selected countries during 1975–2008. We used joinpoint log-linear regression analysis to estimate annual percent changes (APC) for premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer in the northern Europe and in Black and White women population in the US.
Premenopausal breast cancers comprised a substantially higher proportion of all incident breast cancers in LDCs (average 47.3%) compared to MDCs (average 18.5%). However, the ASR of premenopausal breast cancer was consistently higher in MDCs (29.4/100,000) than LDCs (12.8/100,000). The ASR of postmenopausal cancer was about five-fold higher in the MDCs (307.6/100,000) than the LDCs (65.4/100,000). The APC of breast cancer in Denmark was substantially higher in postmenopausal (1.33%) than premenopausal cancer (0.98%). Higher incidence of breast cancer among the white than black women in the US was pertained only to the postmenopausal cancer.
The substantial and consistent lower age-specific incidence of breast cancer in LDCs than in MDCs contradicts the theory of earlier onset. Demographic differences with fewer old women in LDCs and lower prevalence of risk factors of postmenopausal cancer are the most likely explanation to the lower mean age at diagnosis in these countries.
PMCID: PMC4032450  PMID: 24884841
Breast cancer; Age-standardized rate; Risk factor; Annual percent change; Less developed countries; Premenopausal
A strong association has been shown between high viral DNA load (VL) of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 and risk for cervical cancer in situ (CIS). However, little data is available for the significance of VL in invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
In two nested case-control studies among women participating in cervical screening, with a cytologically normal first smear, we collected 5665 smears from 621 women with CIS, 457 with SCC, and individually matched controls. All smears were tested for HPV, and VLs of HPV16 positive smears were quantified using realtime-PCR. The median follow-up until diagnosis of CIS or SCC was 6.1-7.7 years.
Low VL’s were common among both CIS and SCC case women, until 1-2 years before diagnosis when a surge in VL occurred. The relative risk (RR) associated with low viral load of HPV16 was around 10 for CIS, and 10-20 for SCC throughout 10 years before diagnosis, compared to HPV16-negative women. For women with medium to high VL, the risk for CIS was greatly increased from five years before diagnosis (RR=19, 95% confidence interval 7-48). In SCC, a high VL conferred an increased risk, but only from 3 years before diagnosis (RR=60, 95% CI 6-580).
We demonstrate differing risk functions associated with HPV16 viral load in CIS and SCC, respectively. We further show that viral loads were unexpectedly low early in the SCC disease process.
HPV16 viral load appears highly complex which may limit its use in cervical screening.
PMCID: PMC3538961  PMID: 23155137
Cervical cancer; HPV; HPV16; viral load; sensitivity
4.  Increasing use of radical prostatectomy for non-lethal prostate cancer in Sweden 
The number of patients in Sweden treated with radical prostatectomy for localized prostate cancer has increased exponentially. The extent to which this increase reflects treatment of non-lethal disease detected through PSA screening is unknown.
Experimental design
We undertook a nationwide study of all 18,837 prostate cancer patients treated with radical prostatectomy in Sweden from 1988 to 2008 with complete follow-up through 2009. We compared cumulative incidence curves, fit Cox regression and cure models and performed a simulation study to determine changes in treatment of non-lethal cancer, in cancer-specific survival over time, and effect of lead-time due to PSA screening.
The annual number of radical prostatectomies increased 25-fold during the study period. The five-year cancer-specific mortality decreased from 3.9% (95% CI 2.5 to 5.3) among patients diagnosed between 1988 and 1992 to 0.7% (95% CI 0.4–1.1) among those diagnosed between 1998 and 2002 (p for trend < 0.001). According to the cure model, the risk of not being cured declined by 13% (95% CI 12–14%) with each calendar year. The simulation study indicated that only about half of the improvement in disease-specific survival could be accounted for by lead-time.
Patients overdiagnosed with non-lethal prostate cancer appear to account for a substantial and growing part of the dramatic increase in radical prostatectomies in Sweden but increasing survival rates are likely also due to true reductions in the risk of disease-specific death over time. Because the magnitude of harm and costs due to overtreatment can be considerable, identification of men who likely benefit from radical prostatectomy is urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC3711175  PMID: 22927485
Overdiagnosis; prostate cancer; PSA screening; radical prostatectomy
5.  Temporal Trends in Cause of Death Among Swedish and US Men with Prostate Cancer 
A growing proportion of men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer detected through prostate-specific antigen testing are dying from causes other than prostate cancer. Temporal trends in specific causes of death among prostate cancer patients have not been well described.
We analyzed causes of death among all incident prostate cancer cases recorded in the nationwide Swedish Cancer Registry (1961–2008; n = 210 112) and in the US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (1973–2008; n = 490 341). We calculated the cumulative incidence of death due to seven selected causes that accounted for more than 80% of the reported deaths (including ischemic heart disease and non–prostate cancer) and analyzed mortality trends by calendar year and age at diagnosis and length of follow-up.
During follow-up through 2008, prostate cancer accounted for 52% of all reported deaths in Sweden and 30% of reported deaths in the United States among men with prostate cancer; however, only 35% of Swedish men and 16% of US men diagnosed with prostate cancer died from this disease. In both populations, the cumulative incidence of prostate cancer–specific death declined during follow-up, while the cumulative incidences of death from ischemic heart disease and non–prostate cancer remained constant. The 5-year cumulative incidence of death from prostate cancer among all men was 29% in Sweden and 11% in the United States.
In Sweden and the United States, men diagnosed with prostate cancer are less likely to die from prostate cancer than from another cause. Because many of these other causes of death are preventable through changes in lifestyle, interventions that target lifestyle factors should be integrated into prostate cancer management.
PMCID: PMC3529593  PMID: 22835388
6.  Results From the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group Trial Number 4: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Radical Prostatectomy Versus Watchful Waiting 
In the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group Trial Number 4 (SPCG-4), 347 men were randomly assigned to radical prostatectomy and 348 to watchful waiting. In the most recent analysis (median follow-up time = 12.8 years), the cumulative mortality curves had been stable over the follow-up. At 15 years, the absolute risk reduction of dying from prostate cancer was 6.1% following randomization to radical prostatectomy, compared with watchful waiting. Hence, 17 need to be randomized to operation to avert one death. Data on self-reported symptoms, stress from symptoms, and quality of life were collected at 4 and 12.2 years of median follow-up. These questionnaire studies show an intricate pattern of symptoms evolving after surgery, hormonal treatments, signs of tumor progression, and also from natural aging. This article discusses some of the main findings of the SPCG-4 study.
PMCID: PMC3540876  PMID: 23271778
7.  Genetic variation in the upstream region of ERG and prostate cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2009;20(7):1173-1180.
A considerable fraction of prostate cancers harbor a gene fusion between the androgen-regulated TMPRSS2 and ERG, one of the most frequently over-expressed proto-oncogenes in prostate cancer. Here, we investigated if inherited genetic variation upstream of ERG alters prostate cancer risk and survival.
We genotyped 21 haplotype tagging SNPs (htSNPs) covering 123 kb of 5′UTR DNA including exon 3 of ERG in 2,760 incident prostate cancer cases and 1,647 controls from a population-based Swedish case–control study (CAPS). Individual SNPs and haplotypes were tested for association with prostate cancer risk and survival.
One haplotype—′CTCGTATG′ located 100 kb upstream of ERG—was associated with lethal prostate cancer (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.2–1.9, p = 0.006). Carriers of the variant ‘T’ allele of rs2836626 were diagnosed with higher TNM-stage (p = 0.009) and had an increased risk of prostate cancer-specific death (HR = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1–1.7, p = 0.009). However, this association did not remain statistically significant after adjusting for multiple testing. We found overall no association between ERG variation and prostate cancer risk.
Genetic variation upstream of ERG may alter prostate cancer stage and ultimately prostate cancer-specific death but it is unlikely that it plays a role in prostate cancer development.
PMCID: PMC3755494  PMID: 19205910
Prostate cancer; ERG; Haplotype; Polymorphism; Survival
8.  Individualized Estimation of the Benefit of Radical Prostatectomy from the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group Randomized Trial 
European Urology  2012;62(2):204-209.
Although there is randomized evidence that radical prostatectomy improves survival, there are few data on how benefit varies by baseline risk.
We aimed to create a statistical model to calculate the decrease in risk of death associated with surgery for an individual patient, using stage, grade, prostate-specific antigen, and age as predictors.
Design, setting, and participants
A total of 695 men with T1 or T2 prostate cancer participated in the Scandinavian Prostate Cancer Group 4 trial (SPCG-4).
Patients in SPCG-4 were randomized to radical prostatectomy or conservative management.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis
Competing risk models were created separately for the radical prostatectomy and the watchful waiting group, with the difference between model predictions constituting the estimated benefit for an individual patient.
Results and limitations
Individualized predictions of surgery benefit varied widely depending on age and tumor characteristics. At 65 yr of age, the absolute 10-yr risk reduction in prostate cancer mortality attributable to radical prostatectomy ranged from 4.5% to 17.2% for low- versus high-risk patients. Little expected benefit was associated with surgery much beyond age 70. Only about a quarter of men had an individualized benefit within even 50% of the mean. A limitation is that estimates from SPCG-4 have to be applied cautiously to contemporary patients.
Our model suggests that it is hard to justify surgery in patients with Gleason 6, T1 disease or in those patients much above 70 yr of age. Conversely, surgery seems unequivocally of benefit for patients who have Gleason 8, or Gleason 7, stage T2. For patients with Gleason 6 T2 and Gleason 7 T1, treatment is more of a judgment call, depending on patient preference and other clinical findings, such as the number of positive biopsy cores and comorbidities.
PMCID: PMC3389180  PMID: 22541389
Prostatic neoplasms; Statistics and research design; Randomized controlled trial; Prostatectomy
9.  Rye Bread Consumption in Early Life and Reduced Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;23(6):941-950.
To determine whether consumption of whole-grain; rye bread, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread, during different periods of life, is associated with risk of prostate cancer (PCa).
In 2002 to 2006, 2,268 men, aged 67-96 years, reported their dietary habits in the AGES-Reykjavik cohort study. Dietary habits were assessed for early-, mid- , and current life using a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Through linkage to cancer- and mortality registers, we retrieved information on PCa diagnosis and mortality through 2009. We used regression models to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and hazard ratios (HRs) for PCa according to whole grain consumption, adjusted for possible confounding factors including fish-, fish liver oil-, meat-, and milk intake.
Of the 2,268 men, 347 had or were diagnosed with PCa during follow-up, 63 with advanced disease (stage 3+ or died of PCa). Daily rye bread consumption in adolescence (vs. less than daily) was associated with a decreased risk of PCa diagnosis (OR = 0.76, 95% Confidence interval (CI): 0.59-0.98), and of advanced PCa (OR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.27-0.84). High intake of oatmeal in adolescence (≥5 vs. ≤4 times/ week) was not significantly associated with risk of PCa diagnosis (OR = 0.99, 95% CI: 0.77-1.27) nor advanced PCa (OR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.37-1.20). Mid-, and late life consumption of rye bread, oatmeal, or whole-wheat bread was not associated with PCa risk.
Our results suggest that rye bread consumption in adolescence may be associated with reduced risk of PCa, particularly advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC3568695  PMID: 22527172
adolescent; diet; epidemiology; rye bread; prostatic neoplasms; whole-grain; AGES Reykjavik study
10.  Genome-Wide Association Study of Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma and Epstein–Barr Virus Status–Defined Subgroups 
Accumulating evidence suggests that risk factors for classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) differ by tumor Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) status. This potential etiological heterogeneity is not recognized in current disease classification.
We conducted a genome-wide association study of 1200 cHL patients and 6417 control subjects, with validation in an independent replication series, to identify common genetic variants associated with total cHL and subtypes defined by tumor EBV status. Multiple logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) assuming a log-additive genetic model for the variants. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Two novel loci associated with total cHL irrespective of EBV status were identified in the major histocompatibility complex region; one resides adjacent to MICB (rs2248462: OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.53 to 0.69, P = 1.3 × 10−13) and the other at HLA-DRA (rs2395185: OR = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.50 to 0.62, P = 8.3 × 10−25) with both results confirmed in an independent replication series. Consistent with previous reports, associations were found between EBV-positive cHL and genetic variants within the class I region (rs2734986, HLA-A: OR = 2.45, 95% CI = 2.00 to 3.00, P = 1.2 × 10−15; rs6904029, HCG9: OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.36 to 0.59, P = 5.5 × 10−10) and between EBV-negative cHL and rs6903608 within the class II region (rs6903608, HLA-DRA: OR = 2.08, 95% CI = 1.84 to 2.35, P = 6.1 × 10−31). The association between rs6903608 and EBV-negative cHL was confined to the nodular sclerosis histological subtype. Evidence for an association between EBV-negative cHL and rs20541 (5q31, IL13: OR = 1.53, 95% CI = 1.32 to 1.76, P = 5.4 x 10−9), a variant previously linked to psoriasis and asthma, was observed; however, the evidence for replication was less clear. Notably, one additional psoriasis-associated variant, rs27524 (5q15, ERAP1), showed evidence of an association with cHL in the genome-wide association study (OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.10 to 1.33, P = 1.5 × 10−4) and replication series (P = .03).
Overall, these results provide strong evidence that EBV status is an etiologically important classification of cHL and also suggest that some components of the pathological process are common to both EBV-positive and EBV-negative patients.
PMCID: PMC3274508  PMID: 22286212
11.  Macrophage Inhibitory Cytokine 1: A New Prognostic Marker in Prostate Cancer 
High serum levels of macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1 (MIC-1) are strongly associated with metastatic prostate cancer, suggesting MIC-1 is a biomarker for prostate cancer prognosis.
Experimental Design
We conducted a prospective cohort study of 1,442 Swedish men with a pathologically verified diagnosis of prostate cancer between 2001 and 2003. Blood was drawn either pretreatment (n = 431) or posttreatment (n = 1,011) and cases were followed for a mean time of 4.9 years (range, 0.1–6.8 years).
MIC-1 serum levels independently predicted poor cancer-specific survival with an almost 3-fold higher cancer death rate in patients with serum levels in the highest quartile compared with men with serum levels in the lowest quartile (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.98; 95% confidence interval, 1.82–4.68). Pretreatment MIC-1 levels revealed an even stronger association with disease outcome with an 8-fold higher death rate in the highest compared with the lowest category (adjusted hazard ratio, 7.98; 95% confidence interval, 1.73–36.86). Among patients considered to have localized disease, MIC-1 significantly increased the discriminative capacity between indolent and lethal prostate cancer compared with the established prognostic markers clinical stage, pathologic grade, and prostate-specific antigen level (P = 0.016). A sequence variant in the MIC-1 gene was associated with decreased MIC-1 serum levels (P = 0.002) and decreased prostate cancer mortality (P = 0.003), suggesting a causative role of MIC-1 in prostate cancer prognosis.
Serum MIC-1 concentration is a novel biomarker capable of predicting prostate cancer prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3557964  PMID: 19843661
12.  Mammographic density as a mediator for breast cancer risk: analytic approaches 
Mammographic breast density has been found to be associated with breast cancer risk. Many of the traditional risk factors for breast cancer are themselves associated with mammographic breast density. A natural question that arises in this setting is the extent to which the effects of breast cancer risk factors are mediated by breast density and the extent to which such effects are through other pathways. We discuss analytic approaches to address these questions of mediation and also discuss how such approaches can accommodate potential interaction between risk factors and mammographic density and can accommodate case-control study designs.
PMCID: PMC3680927  PMID: 22838961
13.  Milk Intake in Early Life and Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;175(2):144-153.
The authors investigated whether early-life residency in certain areas of Iceland marked by distinct differences in milk intake was associated with risk of prostate cancer in a population-based cohort of 8,894 men born between 1907 and 1935. Through linkage to cancer and mortality registers, the men were followed for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality from study entry (in waves from 1967 to 1987) through 2009. In 2002–2006, a subgroup of 2,268 participants reported their milk intake in early, mid-, and current life. During a mean follow-up period of 24.3 years, 1,123 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 371 with advanced disease (stage 3 or higher or prostate cancer death). Compared with early-life residency in the capital area, rural residency in the first 20 years of life was marginally associated with increased risk of advanced prostate cancer (hazard ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.97, 1.73), particularly among men born before 1920 (hazard ratio = 1.64, 95% CI: 1.06, 2.56). Daily milk consumption in adolescence (vs. less than daily), but not in midlife or currently, was associated with a 3.2-fold risk of advanced prostate cancer (95% CI: 1.25, 8.28). These data suggest that frequent milk intake in adolescence increases risk of advanced prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3249408  PMID: 22190107
adolescent; diet; Iceland; milk; prostatic neoplasms; risk factors
14.  Postmenopausal breast cancer in Iran; risk factors and their population attributable fractions 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:414.
Causes of the rapidly increasing incidence of breast cancer in Middle East and Asian countries are incompletely understood. We evaluated risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer and estimated their attributable fraction in Iran.
We performed a hospital-based case–control study, including 493 women, diagnosed with breast cancer at 50 years or later between 2005–2008, and 493 controls. We used logistic regression models to estimate multivariable odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), and population attributable fractions (PAF) for significant risk factors.
The risk of breast cancer decreased with increasing parity. Compared with nulliparous women, the adjusted OR (95% CI) was 0.53 (0.25-1.15) for parity 1–3, 0.47 (0.29-0.93) for parity 4–6 and 0.23 (0.11-0.50) for parity ≥7. The estimated PAF for parity (<7) was 52%. The positive association between body mass index (BMI) and breast cancer risk was confined to women diagnosed at 58 years or later. Compared with normal weight women (BMI 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25–29.9) and obese (BMI ≥30) women were at increased risk of breast cancer diagnosed at 58 years or later (ORs [95% CI] 1.27 [0.97-2.65] and 2.34 [1.33-4.14], respectively). The estimated PAF for obesity/overweight (BMI >25) was approximately 25%. The family history was significantly associated with increased breast cancer risk, but not increasing height, early age at menarche, late age at first birth or short breastfeeding.
Decreasing parity and increasing obesity are determinants of increasing breast cancer incidence among Iranian women. These trends predict a continuing upward trend of postmenopausal breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3517420  PMID: 22992276
Breast neoplasm; Postmenopausal; Middle East; Risk factor; Attributable fraction
15.  mRNA Expression Signature of Gleason Grade Predicts Lethal Prostate Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(17):2391-2396.
Prostate-specific antigen screening has led to enormous overtreatment of prostate cancer because of the inability to distinguish potentially lethal disease at diagnosis. We reasoned that by identifying an mRNA signature of Gleason grade, the best predictor of prognosis, we could improve prediction of lethal disease among men with moderate Gleason 7 tumors, the most common grade, and the most indeterminate in terms of prognosis.
Patients and Methods
Using the complementary DNA–mediated annealing, selection, extension, and ligation assay, we measured the mRNA expression of 6,100 genes in prostate tumor tissue in the Swedish Watchful Waiting cohort (n = 358) and Physicians' Health Study (PHS; n = 109). We developed an mRNA signature of Gleason grade comparing individuals with Gleason ≤ 6 to those with Gleason ≥ 8 tumors and applied the model among patients with Gleason 7 to discriminate lethal cases.
We built a 157-gene signature using the Swedish data that predicted Gleason with low misclassification (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.91); when this signature was tested in the PHS, the discriminatory ability remained high (AUC = 0.94). In men with Gleason 7 tumors, who were excluded from the model building, the signature significantly improved the prediction of lethal disease beyond knowing whether the Gleason score was 4 + 3 or 3 + 4 (P = .006).
Our expression signature and the genes identified may improve our understanding of the de-differentiation process of prostate tumors. Additionally, the signature may have clinical applications among men with Gleason 7, by further estimating their risk of lethal prostate cancer and thereby guiding therapy decisions to improve outcomes and reduce overtreatment.
PMCID: PMC3107753  PMID: 21537050
16.  Established Prostate Cancer Susceptibility Variants are not Associated with Disease Outcome 
Recent genome-wide association studies have been successful in identifying common sequence variants associated with prostate cancer risk; however, their importance in prostate cancer prognosis remains unknown. To assess confirmed prostate cancer susceptibility variants with prostate cancer prognosis, we genotyped 16 established susceptibility variants in a Swedish cohort of 2,875 prostate cancer cases, ascertained between 2001 and 2003, with complete follow-up regarding vital status through January 2008. Cox regression models, adjusted for age, clinical stage, pathologic grade, nodal or distant metastases, and diagnostic serum levels of prostate-specific antigen level, were used to assess association between risk variants and prostate cancer–specific survival. During follow-up, 626 men died, and of those, 440 had prostate cancer classified as their underlying cause of death. We found no association between any of the explored sequence variants and prostate cancer–specific mortality, either in exploring individual variants or in assessing the cumulative effect of all variants. We conclude that hitherto established prostate cancer susceptibility variants are not associated with the lethal potential of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3353269  PMID: 19423541
17.  Association of Reported Prostate Cancer Risk Alleles With PSA Levels Among Men Without a Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer 
The Prostate  2009;69(4):419-427.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is widely used for prostate cancer screening but its levels are influenced by many non cancer-related factors. The goal of the study is to estimate the effect of genetic variants on PSA levels.
We evaluated the association of SNPs that were reported to be associated with prostate cancer risk in recent genome-wide association studies with plasma PSA levels in a Swedish study population, including 1,722 control subjects without a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Of the 16 SNPs analyzed in control subjects, significant associations with PSA levels (P≤0.05) were found for six SNPs. These six SNPs had a cumulative effect on PSA levels; the mean PSA levels in men were almost twofold increased across increasing quintile of number of PSA associated alleles, P-trend=3.4×10−14. In this Swedish study population risk allele frequencies were similar among T1c case patients (cancer detected by elevated PSA levels alone) as compared to T2 and above prostate cancer case patients.
Results from this study may have two important clinical implications. The cumulative effect of six SNPs on PSA levels suggests genetic-specific PSA cutoff values may be used to improve the discriminatory performance of this test for prostate cancer; and the dual associations of these SNPs with PSA levels and prostate cancer risk raise a concern that some of reported prostate cancer risk-associated SNPs may be confounded by the prevalent use of PSA screening.
PMCID: PMC3348520  PMID: 19116992
genetic; bias; KLK3
18.  Ethnic Differences in Survival after Breast Cancer in South East Asia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30995.
The burden of breast cancer in Asia is escalating. We evaluated the impact of ethnicity on survival after breast cancer in the multi-ethnic region of South East Asia.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the Singapore-Malaysia hospital-based breast cancer registry, we analyzed the association between ethnicity and mortality following breast cancer in 5,264 patients diagnosed between 1990 and 2007 (Chinese: 71.6%, Malay: 18.4%, Indian: 10.0%). We compared survival rates between ethnic groups and calculated adjusted hazard ratios (HR) to estimate the independent effect of ethnicity on survival. Malays (n = 968) presented at a significantly younger age, with larger tumors, and at later stages than the Chinese and Indians. Malays were also more likely to have axillary lymph node metastasis at similar tumor sizes and to have hormone receptor negative and poorly differentiated tumors. Five year overall survival was highest in the Chinese women (75.8%; 95%CI: 74.4%–77.3%) followed by Indians (68.0%; 95%CI: 63.8%–72.2%), and Malays (58.5%; 95%CI: 55.2%–61.7%). Compared to the Chinese, Malay ethnicity was associated with significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR: 1.34; 95%CI: 1.19–1.51), independent of age, stage, tumor characteristics and treatment. Indian ethnicity was not significantly associated with risk of mortality after breast cancer compared to the Chinese (HR: 1.14; 95%CI: 0.98–1.34).
In South East Asia, Malay ethnicity is independently associated with poorer survival after breast cancer. Research into underlying reasons, potentially including variations in tumor biology, psychosocial factors, treatment responsiveness and lifestyle after diagnosis, is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3283591  PMID: 22363531
19.  Genetic Variants and Family History predict Prostate Cancer similar to PSA 
While PSA is the best biomarker for predicting prostate cancer, its predictive performance needs to be improved. Results from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) revealed the overall performance measured by the areas under curve (AUC) of the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) at 0.68. The goal of the present study is to assess the ability of genetic variants as a PSA independent method to predict prostate cancer risk.
Experimental Design
We systematically evaluated all prostate cancer risk variants that were identified from genome-wide association studies during the past year in a large population-based prostate cancer case-control study population in Sweden, including 2,893 prostate cancer patients and 1,781 men without prostate cancer.
Twelve SNPs were independently associated with prostate cancer risk in this Swedish study population. Using a cutoff of any 11 risk alleles or family history, the sensitivity and specificity for predicting prostate cancer were 0.25 and 0.86, respectively. The overall predictive performance of prostate cancer using genetic variants, family history, and age, measured by AUC was 0.65 (95% CI: 0.63–0.66), significantly improved over that of family history and age (0.61%, 95% CI: 0.59–0.62), P = 2.3 × 10−10.
The predictive performance for prostate cancer using genetic variants and family history is similar to that of PSA. The utility of genetic testing, alone and in combination with PSA levels, should be evaluated in large studies such as the European Randomized Study for Prostate Cancer trial and PCPT.
PMCID: PMC3187807  PMID: 19188186
prostate cancer; prediction; PSA; association
20.  Evidence for two independent prostate cancer risk associated loci in the HNF1B gene at 17q12 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1153-1155.
A fine mapping study in the HNF1B gene at 17q12 among two study populations revealed a second prostate cancer locus, ~26 kb centromeric to the first known locus (rs4430796); these are separated by a recombination hotspot. A SNP in the second locus (rs11649743) was confirmed in five additional populations, and P=1.7×10−9 for an allelic test in the seven combined studies. The association at each SNP remains significant after adjusting for the other SNP.
PMCID: PMC3188432  PMID: 18758462
21.  Prospective study of HPV types, HPV persistence and risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix 
The link between squamous cell cervical carcinoma and HPV 16/18 is well-established but the magnitude of the risk association is uncertain and the importance of other high-risk HPV types unclear.
In two prospective nested case-control series among women participating in cytological screening in Sweden, we collected 2772 cervical smears from 515 women with cancer in situ (CIS), 315 with invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and individually matched controls. All smears were tested for HPV with PCR assays and the median follow-up until diagnosis was 5-7 years. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Presence of HPV16/18 in the first smear was associated with 8.5-fold (95% CI 5.3-13.7), and 18.6-fold (95% CI 9.0-38.9) increased risks of CIS and SCC, respectively, compared to women negative for HPV. Infection with other high-risk HPV types in the first smear was also associated with significantly increased risks for both CIS and SCC. Persistence of HPV16 infection conferred a RR of 18.5 (95% CI, 6.5-52.9) for CIS and 19.5 (95% CI 4.7-81.7) for SCC. The HPV16/18 attributable risk proportion was estimated to 30-50% of CIS, and 41-47% of SCC. Other high-risk HPV types also conferred significant proportions.
Our large population-based study provides quantification of risks for different HPV types and prospective evidence that non-16/18 high-risk HPV types increase the risk for future cervical cancer.
This study gives further insights into cervical cancer risk stratification with implications for HPV-based prevention strategies.
PMCID: PMC2952359  PMID: 20671136
Cervical cancer; HPV; risk; prevalence; persistence
22.  Homogeneous Prostate Cancer Mortality in the Nordic Countries Over Four Decades 
European urology  2010;58(3):427-432.
Incidence of prostate cancer (PCa) has greatly increased in the Nordic region over the past two decades, following the advent of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. Consequently, interpreting temporal trends in PCa has become difficult, and the impact of changes in exposure to causal factors is uncertain.
To reveal geographic differences and temporal trends in PCa in the Nordic countries. Because the recorded incidence of PCa has been profoundly influenced by PSA screening, we focused our analyses primarily on PCa mortality.
Design, setting, and participants
We analyzed national PCa incidence and mortality data from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden from 1965 to 2006 using the PC-NORDCAN software program and the online NORDCAN database.
Cumulative incidence and cumulative mortality from PCa were calculated for selected calendar years during four decades, along with age-standardized mortality rates. Incidence data in NORDCAN come from individual countries’ cancer registries, and mortality data come from national mortality registries.
Results and limitations
From 1965 to 2006, 172 613 deaths from PCa were reported in the four Nordic countries. A substantial rise in incidence was observed across the region, with some geographic variation, since the late 1980s. In contrast, both disease-specific mortality rates and cumulative risk of PCa mortality lacked consistent temporal trends over the same period. Cumulative risk of PCa mortality ranged between 3.5% and 7.5% in the region over four decades, whereas cumulative incidence jumped from about 9% to >20%. Mortality has remained fairly constant among the countries, with a minimally lower risk in Finland.
Unlike most malignancies, the occurrence of lethal PCa showed minimal geographic variation and lacked consistent temporal trends over four decades. These findings may guide our search for important causes of PCa, a malignancy with etiology that is still largely unknown.
PMCID: PMC2936655  PMID: 20541313
Cancer trends; Mortality; Nordic region; Prostate cancer
23.  Diet and expression of estrogen alpha and progesterone receptors in the normal mammary gland 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2008;20(5):601-607.
It has been recently reported that expression of estrogen alpha (ER-α) and progesterone (PR) receptors in the normal mammary gland is inversely associated with breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. We investigated whether dietary intakes are associated with the expression of ER-α and PR receptors in the apparently normal, as opposed to pathological, mammary tissue.
In a study in Greece, we examined associations of dietary intakes with ER-α and PR expression in the adjacent-to-pathological apparently normal mammary tissue of 562 women with either breast cancer (267 women) or BBD (299 women). Diet was assessed through an extensive food frequency questionnaire and results were analyzed using multiple logistic regression.
Monounsaturated (p=0.03) and, to a lesser extent, polyunsaturated lipids (p=0.08) were positively associated with ER-α expression. Cereals and starchy roots were inversely associated with ER-α (p=0.01), whereas milk and dairy products were inversely associated with PR expression (p=0.02). Ethanol intake was non-significantly inversely associated with ER-α expression (p=0.07).
Our findings suggest that the weak associations of diet with breast cancer risk could be explained, to some extent, by effects of diet on receptor expression in the normal mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC3096822  PMID: 19037733
breast cancer; estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; mammary tissue
24.  Toxicology and Epidemiology: Improving the Science with a Framework for Combining Toxicological and Epidemiological Evidence to Establish Causal Inference 
Toxicological Sciences  2011;122(2):223-234.
Historically, toxicology has played a significant role in verifying conclusions drawn on the basis of epidemiological findings. Agents that were suggested to have a role in human diseases have been tested in animals to firmly establish a causative link. Bacterial pathogens are perhaps the oldest examples, and tobacco smoke and lung cancer and asbestos and mesothelioma provide two more recent examples. With the advent of toxicity testing guidelines and protocols, toxicology took on a role that was intended to anticipate or predict potential adverse effects in humans, and epidemiology, in many cases, served a role in verifying or negating these toxicological predictions. The coupled role of epidemiology and toxicology in discerning human health effects by environmental agents is obvious, but there is currently no systematic and transparent way to bring the data and analysis of the two disciplines together in a way that provides a unified view on an adverse causal relationship between an agent and a disease. In working to advance the interaction between the fields of toxicology and epidemiology, we propose here a five-step “Epid-Tox” process that would focus on: (1) collection of all relevant studies, (2) assessment of their quality, (3) evaluation of the weight of evidence, (4) assignment of a scalable conclusion, and (5) placement on a causal relationship grid. The causal relationship grid provides a clear view of how epidemiological and toxicological data intersect, permits straightforward conclusions with regard to a causal relationship between agent and effect, and can show how additional data can influence conclusions of causality.
PMCID: PMC3155086  PMID: 21561883
epidemiology; causation; framework
25.  Estrogen-dependent signaling in a molecularly distinct subclass of aggressive prostate cancer 
The majority of prostate cancers harbor gene fusions of the 5′-untranslated region of the androgen-regulated transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2) promoter with erythroblast transformation specific (ETS) transcription factor family members. The common v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog [avian] (TMPRSS2–ERG) fusion is associated with a more aggressive clinical phenotype, implying the existence of a distinct subclass of prostate cancer defined by this fusion.
We used cDNA-mediated annealing, selection, ligation, and extension to determine the expression profiles of 6144 transcriptionally informative genes in archived biopsy samples from 455 prostate cancer patients in the Swedish Watchful Waiting cohort (1987–1999) and the US-based Physicians Health Study cohort (1983–2003). A gene expression signature for prostate cancers with the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion was determined using partitioning and classification models and used in computational functional analysis. Cell proliferation and TMPRSS2-ERG expression in androgen receptor–negative (NCI-H660) and –positive (VCaP-ERβ) prostate cancer cells after treatment with vehicle or estrogenic compounds were assessed by viability assays and quantitative polymerase chain reaction, respectively. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We identified an 87-gene expression signature that distinguishes TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer as a discrete molecular entity (area under the curve = 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.792 to 0.81; P<.001). Computational analysis suggested that this fusion signature was associated with estrogen receptor (ER) signaling. Viability of NCI-H660 cells decreased after treatment with estrogen (viability normalized to day 0, estrogen vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 2.04 vs 3.40, difference = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.62) or ERβ agonist (ERβ agonist vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 1.86 vs 3.40, difference = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.39 to 1.69) but increased after ERα agonist treatment (ERα agonist vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 4.36 vs 3.40, difference = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.68 to 1.23). Similarly, expression of TMPRSS2-ERG decreased after ERβ agonist treatment (fold change over internal control, ERβ agonist vs vehicle at 24 hours, NCI H660, mean = 0.57-fold vs 1.0-fold, difference = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.29-fold to 0.57-fold) and increased after ERα agonist treatment (ERα agonist vs vehicle at 24 hours, mean = 5.63-fold vs 1.0-fold, difference = 4.63-fold, 95% CI = 4.34-fold to 4.92-fold).
TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer is a distinct molecular subclass. TMPRSS2-ERG expression is regulated by a novel ER-dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3073404  PMID: 18505969

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