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1.  Evaluating the Feasibility of Performing Window of Opportunity Trials in Breast Cancer 
Background. The waiting period to surgery represents a valuable “window of opportunity” to evaluate novel therapeutic strategies. Interventional studies performed during this period require significant multidisciplinary collaboration to overcome logistical hurdles. We undertook a one-year prospective window of opportunity study to assess feasibility. Methods. Eligible newly diagnosed postmenopausal, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients awaiting primary surgery received anastrozole daily until surgery. Feasibility was assessed by (a) the proportion of patients who consented and (b) completed the study. Comparison of pre- and poststudy Ki67 labelling index and cleaved caspase 3 scores (CC3) was performed. Results. 22/131 (16.8%) patients were confirmed eligible and 20/22 (91%) patients completed the study. 19/20 (95%) patients agreed to undergo optional additional tissue biopsies. The mean duration of anastrozole use was 24.7 (15–44) days. There were a statistically significant decline in mean Ki67 indices of 48.8% (p < 0.001) and a trend towards significance in the decline of CC3 (p = 0.17) when comparing pre- with posttreatment values. Conclusion. window of opportunity trials in breast cancer are a feasible way of assessing the biologic efficacy of different therapies in the presurgical setting. The majority of eligible women were willing to participate including undergoing additional tissue biopsies.
PMCID: PMC4320871
2.  Evaluation of second-line and subsequent targeted therapies in metastatic renal cell cancer (mRCC) patients treated with first-line cediranib 
Pivotal phase III trials have positioned angiogenesis inhibitors as first-line therapy for the management of most advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinomas (mRCC). Approaches to second-line therapy, however, remain more controversial with respect to drug selection and drug sequencing.
In this study we evaluated mRCC patients who were initially treated on the first-line National Cancer Institute (NCI) trial with the highly potent vascular endothelial growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), cediranib, to determine the efficacy and tolerability of subsequent therapies.
Twenty-eight (65.1%) of the 43 patients enrolled on the first-line cediranib trial were known to receive second-line therapy, most commonly sunitinib (n = 21), with 4 (14%), 2 (7%) and 1 (3%) patients receiving temsirolimus, sorafenib, and interleukin, respectively. Of these, 14 (50%) went on to have 3 or more lines of therapy. The progression-free survival (PFS) proportion (PFS) at 1 year from starting second line was 30% (14.5%–47.9%). Longer duration of first-line cediranib treatment was modestly associated with longer duration of second-line treatment (Spearman rho 0.26). Patients who discontinued cediranib for toxicity were less likely to receive second-line sunitinib.
In this real world evaluation, sequential use of TKIs for the management of mRCC was common. PFS with sequential TKIs was similar to observed and published results for any second-line therapy. Prior toxicity affected treatment patterns and the frequent use of at least 3 lines of therapy underscores the need for prospective sequencing trials in this disease.
PMCID: PMC4277518  PMID: 25553152
3.  Effects of de-escalated bisphosphonate therapy on bone turnover biomarkers in breast cancer patients with bone metastases 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:577.
While de-escalation of bisphosphonates from 4 to 12-weekly dosing has been shown to be clinically non-inferior to standard dosing, there is evidence the de-escalation is associated with increased bone turnover biomarkers. Here we evaluated the effect of de-escalated dosing on a panel of biomarkers and determined their association with incidence of skeletal related events (SREs) in breast cancer patients with ‘low risk’ bone metastases. As part of a pilot randomized trial, women with baseline C-telopeptide levels <600 ng/L after >3 months of 3–4 weekly pamidronate were randomized to continue pamidronate every 4 weeks or de-escalation to 12-weekly treatment. Serum was analysed for bone biomarkers (C-telopeptide, N-telopeptide, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, transforming growth factor-β, procollagen type 1 N-propeptide, activinA and bone sialoprotein) using ELISA. The associations between changes in biomarkers, pain scores and SREs were assessed by univariable logistic regression. Numerical increases in all biomarkers were observed between baseline and 12 weeks but were of higher magnitude in the de-escalated arm. Pain scores in the de-escalated treatment arm showed a greater magnitude of pain reduction from baseline to 12 weeks. Neither baseline levels nor changes in biomarkers from baseline to 12 weeks on treatment were associated with on study SREs. Baseline pain as measured by the FACT-BP was associated with increased risk of SRE. In conclusion, biomarkers of bone activity do not appear to predict for SREs in ‘low risk’ cohorts. However, baseline bone pain appears to be associated with SRE occurrence, a finding which warrants evaluation in larger cohorts.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-577) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4194305  PMID: 25332877
Bisphosphonate; Bone metastasis; Breast cancer; Biomarker; Skeletal related event; De-escalated therapy
4.  Time from Prior Chemotherapy Enhances Prognostic Risk Grouping in the Second-line Setting of Advanced Urothelial Carcinoma: A Retrospective Analysis of Pooled, Prospective Phase 2 Trials 
European urology  2012;63(4):717-723.
Outcomes for patients in the second-line setting of advanced urothelial carcinoma (UC) are dismal. The recognized prognostic factors in this context are Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) >0, hemoglobin level (Hb) <10 g/dl, and liver metastasis (LM).
The purpose of this retrospective study of prospective trials was to investigate the prognostic value of time from prior chemotherapy (TFPC) independent of known prognostic factors. Design, setting, and participants: Data from patients from seven prospective trials with available baseline TFPC, Hb, PS, and LM values were used for retrospective analysis (n = 570). External validation was conducted in a second-line phase 3 trial comparing best supportive care (BSC) versus vinflunine plus BSC (n = 352).
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis
Cox proportional hazards regression was used to evaluate the association of factors, with overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) being the respective primary and secondary outcome measures.
Results and limitations
ECOG-PS >0, LM, Hb <10 g/dl, and shorter TFPC were significant prognostic factors for OS and PFS on multivariable analysis. Patients with zero, one, two, and three to four factors demonstrated median OS of 12.2, 6.7, 5.1, and 3.0 mo, respectively (concordance statistic = 0.638). Setting of prior chemotherapy (metastatic disease vs perioperative) and prior platinum agent (cisplatin or carboplatin) were not prognostic factors. External validation demonstrated a significant association of TFPC with PFS on univariable and most multivariable analyses, and with OS on univariable analyses. Limitations of retrospective analyses are applicable.
Shorter TFPC enhances prognostic classification independent of ECOG-PS>0, Hb<10 g/ dl, and LM in the setting of second-line therapy for advanced UC. These data may facilitate drug development and interpretation of trials.
PMCID: PMC4127896  PMID: 23206856
Urothelial carcinoma; Second line; Prognosis; Time from prior chemotherapy; Hemoglobin; Liver metastasis; Performance status
5.  The Association Between Radiographic Response and Overall Survival in Men With Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Receiving Chemotherapy 
Cancer  2011;117(17):3963-3971.
In men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the association of measurable tumor responses with overall survival (OS) is unknown. The authors retrospectively evaluated the TAX327 phase 3 trial to study this relation.
Eligible patients for this analysis included those with World Health Organization (WHO)-defined measurable metastatic disease randomized to receive either docetaxel or mitoxantrone. OS was estimated by using the Kaplan-Meier method, and the prognostic relation of WHO-defined radiologic response with OS was performed by using Cox proportional hazards regression. Landmark analyses evaluated survival from baseline and at 2, 3, 4, and 6 months after baseline.
Four hundred twelve patients enrolled on the TAX327 trial had measurable tumors. Thirty-seven patients exhibited a complete or partial objective response (CR/PR, 9.0%), 116 had stable disease (SD, 28.2%), 99 had progressive disease (PD, 24%) and 160 (38.8%) did not have a after-baseline objective assessment. Partial responders demonstrated longer median OS (29.0 months) than patients with SD (22.1 months) or those with PD (10.8 months) or those who were not assessed (12.7 months). These results remained after landmark analysis. The authors found a significant association between ≥30% prostate-specific antigen (PSA) declines and radiologic response, with ≥30% PSA declines occurring in all patients with CR/PR, 79.8% of patients with SD, and 34.4% with PD. Radiologic response remained a significant but modest post-treatment prognostic factor for OS after adjusting for treatment, pain response, and ≥30% PSA decline (P = .009).
In men with metastatic CRPC and measurable disease receiving chemotherapy, objective tumor response was prognostic for OS and appeared to complement PSA assessment.
PMCID: PMC3483075  PMID: 21365623
castration-resistant prostate cancer; measurable disease; WHO response; PSA response; overall survival
6.  Evaluating the Value of Number of Cycles of Docetaxel and Prednisone in Men With Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer 
European urology  2011;61(2):363-369.
The optimal number of 3-wk docetaxel plus prednisone (DP) cycles for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) is unclear.
A retrospective analysis of two clinical trials was performed to evaluate the association of the number of cycles with overall survival (OS).
Design, setting, and participants
An exploratory analysis compared outcomes of 332 men who received DP in the TAX-327 trial, which stipulated up to 10 cycles, and 220 men who received DP in CS-205, a randomized phase 2 trial comparing DP plus AT-101 (bcl-2 inhibitor) versus DP plus placebo, which allowed up to 17 cycles.
Patients who completed 10 cycles of DP without progression in both trials were included. Men in both arms of CS-205 were combined for analysis, as no significant differences in outcomes were observed. OS was estimated from the date of cycle 10 docetaxel infusion.
Results and limitations
The number of men receiving 10 cycles was similar (p = 0.26) in the two trials (166 [50.0%] in TAX-327 vs 99 [45.0%] in CS-205; the latter group received a median of five additional cycles). Six- and 12-mo estimated survival after cycle 10 was 92.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 86.9–95.4%) and 74.6% (CI, 67.2–80.5%) in TAX-327, compared with 92.8% (CI, 85.5–96.5) and 63.4% (CI, 51.8–72.9%) in CS-205. Subanalyses suggested that <10 cycles may have a negative impact and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) declines at cycle 10 may carry a favorable impact. The significance of continued PSA declines up to 17 cycles is unclear. Limitations of a retrospective analysis apply.
A survival benefit was not detected with >10 cycles of DP in men with mCRPC in this retrospective hypothesis-generating analysis.
PMCID: PMC3483076  PMID: 21715086
Docetaxel; Prednisone; Metastatic castration-resistant; prostate cancer
7.  A phase II multi-institutional study assessing simultaneous in-field boost helical tomotherapy for 1-3 brain metastases 
Our research group has previously published a dosimetric planning study that demonstrated that a 60 Gy/10 fractions intralesional boost with whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) to 30 Gy/10 fractions was biologically equivalent with a stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) boost of 18 Gy/1 fraction with 30 Gy/10 fractions WBRT. Helical tomotherapy (HT) was found to be dosimetrically equivalent to SRS in terms of target coverage and superior to SRS in terms of normal tissue tolerance. A phase I trial has been now completed at our institution with a total of 60 enrolled patients and 48 evaluable patients. The phase II dose has been determined to be the final phase I cohort dose of 60 Gy/10 fractions.
The objective of this clinical trial is to subject the final phase I cohort dose to a phase II assessment of the endpoints of overall survival, intracranial control (ICC) and intralesional control (ILC). We hypothesize HT would be considered unsuitable for further study if the median OS for patients treated with the HT SIB technique is degraded by 2 months, or the intracranial progression-free rates (ICC and ILC) are inferior by 10% or greater compared to the expected results with treatment by whole brain plus SRS as defined by the RTOG randomized trial. A sample size of 93 patients was calculated based on these parameters as well as the statistical assumptions of alpha = 0.025 and beta = 0.1 due to multiple statistical testing. Secondary assessments of toxicity, health-related quality-of-life, cognitive changes, and tumor response are also integrated into this research protocol.
To summarize, the purpose of this phase II trial is to assess this non-invasive alternative to SRS in terms of central nervous system (CNS) control when compared to SRS historical controls. A follow-up phase III trial may be required depending on the results of this trial in order to definitively assess non-inferiority/superiority of this approach. Ultimately, the purpose of this line of research is to provide patients with metastatic disease to the brain a shorter course, dose intense, non-invasive radiation treatment with equivalent or improved CNS control/survival and health-related quality-of-life/toxicity profile when compared to SRS radiotherapy.
Trial registration - NCT01543542.
PMCID: PMC3341183  PMID: 22436144
Brain metastases; Radiotherapy; Phase II; Clinical trial; Radiosurgery
8.  Fluorescence in situ hybridization gene amplification analysis of EGFR and HER2 in patients with malignant salivary gland tumors treated with lapatinib 
Head & neck  2009;31(8):1006-1012.
Gene amplification status of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) were analyzed and correlated with clinical outcome in patients with progressive malignant salivary glands tumors (MSGT) treated with the dual EGFR/Her2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis for both EGFR and HER2 gene amplification was performed successfully in the archival tumor specimens of 20 patients with adenoid cystic carcinomas (ACC) and 17 patients with non-ACC, all treated with lapatinib.
For ACC, no EGFR or HER2 amplifications were detected. For non-ACC, no EGFR gene amplifications were detected but 3 patients (18%) were HER2 amplified and all had stained 3+ for both EGFR and HER2 by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in their archival specimens. Two of these patients had time-to-progression (TTP) durations of 8.3 months and 18.4 months respectively. Interestingly, patients with low and high HER2/chromosome-specific centromeric enumeration probe (CEP) 17 ratio had a prolonged TTP than those with moderate ratios for both ACC and non-ACC subtypes.
HER2 to CEP17 FISH ratio may predict which patients with MSGT have an increased likelihood to benefit from lapatinib. The finding of HER2:CEP17 ratio as a predictive marker of efficacy to lapatinib warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2711990  PMID: 19309723
MSGT; lapatinib; EGFR and HER2 gene amplification; FISH
9.  Barriers in phase I cancer clinical trials referrals and enrollment: five-year experience at the Princess Margaret Hospital 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:263.
There is a paucity of literature on the referral outcome of patients seen in phase I trial clinics in academic oncology centres. This study aims to provide information on the accrual rate and to identify obstacles in the recruitment process.
A retrospective chart review was performed for all new patients referred and seen in the phase I clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital between January 2000 and June 2005. Data on their demographics, medical history, and details of trial participation or non-entry were recorded.
A total of 667 new phase I referrals were seen during the stated period. Of these patients, 197 (29.5%) patients were enrolled into a phase I trial, and 64.5% of them started trial within 1 month of the initial visit. About a quarter (165 of 667) of the patients referred were deemed ineligible at their first visit, with the most frequent reasons for ineligibility being poor performance status, unacceptable bloodwork, too many prior treatments and rapid disease progression. The remaining 305 patients (45.7%) were potentially eligible at their initial visit, but never entered a phase I trial. The main reasons for their non-entry were patient refusal, other treatment recommended first, and lack of available trials or trial spots.
This study provides information on the clinical realities underlying a referral to a phase I clinic and eventual trial enrollment. Better selection of patients, appropriate education of referring physicians, and opening phase I trials with fewer restrictions on some criteria such as prior therapy may enhance their recruitment rates.
PMCID: PMC1636658  PMID: 17092349
10.  Understanding the attitudes of the elderly towards enrolment into cancer clinical trials 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:34.
The optimal cancer treatment for an older population is largely unknown because of the low numbers of elderly patients accrued into clinical trials. This project focuses on the attitudes of the elderly about participation in clinical trials to determine if this is one of the barriers to the involvement of this population in clinical trials.
The first phase of this study was a self-administered questionnaire mailed to 425 elderly persons with cancer, selected from Princess Margaret Hospital oncology clinics. The second phase consisted of individual semi-structured interviews with cancer patients to assess their attitudes towards cancer, its management and enrolment into cancer clinical trials.
Ninety-four patients responded to the survey giving a response rate of 22.1%. Three quarters of respondents stated that they would be willing to participate in a clinical trial. The factors that most influenced older patients' willingness to participate in a cancer study were recommendations from a cancer doctor and the chance that the study treatment may help them feel better. Seventeen survey responders participated in interviews. Common themes from these interviews included patient-physician communication, the referral process, and the role of age in cancer care decision-making.
Most elderly people, who responded to this survey, are willing to consider participation in cancer clinical trials however, elderly patients do not appear to actively seek clinical trials and few were informed of the availability of clinical trials. Physician barriers and availability of appropriate clinical trials may play a bigger role in preventing accrual of elderly cancer patients into trials.
PMCID: PMC1382233  PMID: 16466574
11.  Speech Recognition as a Transcription Aid: A Randomized Comparison With Standard Transcription 
Objective. Speech recognition promises to reduce information entry costs for clinical information systems. It is most likely to be accepted across an organization if physicians can dictate without concerning themselves with real-time recognition and editing; assistants can then edit and process the computer-generated document. Our objective was to evaluate the use of speech-recognition technology in a randomized controlled trial using our institutional infrastructure.
Design. Clinical note dictations from physicians in two specialty divisions were randomized to either a standard transcription process or a speech-recognition process. Secretaries and transcriptionists also were assigned randomly to each of these processes.
Measurements. The duration of each dictation was measured. The amount of time spent processing a dictation to yield a finished document also was measured. Secretarial and transcriptionist productivity, defined as hours of secretary work per minute of dictation processed, was determined for speech recognition and standard transcription.
Results. Secretaries in the endocrinology division were 87.3% (confidence interval, 83.3%, 92.3%) as productive with the speech-recognition technology as implemented in this study as they were using standard transcription. Psychiatry transcriptionists and secretaries were similarly less productive. Author, secretary, and type of clinical note were significant (p < 0.05) predictors of productivity.
Conclusion. When implemented in an organization with an existing document-processing infrastructure (which included training and interfaces of the speech-recognition editor with the existing document entry application), speech recognition did not improve the productivity of secretaries or transcriptionists.
PMCID: PMC150361  PMID: 12509359

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