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1.  Cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccine acceptability among rural and urban women in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania 
BMJ Open  2015;5(3):e005828.
To determine cervical cancer screening coverage and the knowledge, attitudes and barriers toward screening tests among women in rural and urban areas of Tanzania, as well as explore how they view the acceptability of the HPV vaccine and potential barriers to vaccination.
A cross-sectional study using interview-administered questionnaires was conducted using multistage random sampling within urban and rural areas in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania.
Women aged 18–55 were asked to participate in the survey. The overall response rate was 97.5%, with a final sample of 303 rural and 272 urban dwelling women.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Descriptive and simple test statistics were used to compare across rural and urban strata. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate ORs and 95% CIs.
Most women (82%) reported they had heard of cervical cancer, while self-reported cervical cancer screening among women was very low (6%). In urban areas, factors associated with screening were: older age (OR=4.14, 95% CI 1.86 to 9.24 for ages 40–49, and OR=8.38, 95% CI 2.10 to 33.4 for >50 years), having health insurance (OR=4.15, 95% CI 1.52 to 11.4), and having knowledge about cervical cancer (OR=5.81, 95% CI 1.58 to 21.4). In contrast, among women residing in rural areas, only condom use (OR=6.44, 95% CI 1.12 to 37.1) was associated with screening. Women from both rural and urban areas had low vaccine-related knowledge; however, most indicated they would be highly accepting if it were readily available (93%).
The current proportion of women screened for cervical cancer is very low in Kilimanjaro Region, and our study has identified several modifiable factors that could be addressed to increase screening rates. Although best implemented concurrently, the availability of prophylactic vaccination for girls may provide an effective means of prevention if they are unable to access screening in the future.
PMCID: PMC4360576  PMID: 25757944
HPV; Cervical Cancer; Vaccine; Africa; Acceptability
2.  Bevacizumab for Advanced Breast Cancer: Hope, Hype, and Hundreds of Headlines 
The Oncologist  2013;18(11):1174-1179.
In February 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for the use of bevacizumab in metastatic breast cancer; however, approval was revoked in November 2011. We sought to categorize and analyze the newspaper reports related to bevacizumab's use in advanced breast cancer. Media reports are a common source of medical information, and we observed substantial fluidity of media reports over time.
Learning Objectives
Summarize findings regarding the media's portrayal of bevacizumab with each phase of therapeutic development.Identify media sources of information about bevacizumab in each phase of therapeutic development.
On February 22, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for the use of bevacizumab (Avastin) in metastatic breast cancer. Based on subsequent clinical trials, this approval was revoked on November 18, 2011. In this study, we categorize and analyze the newspaper reports related to bevacizumab's use in advanced breast cancer.
Using the Factiva media database, we reviewed all newspaper reports published in North America from January 4, 2002, to January 4, 2013, containing the words “breast cancer” and “Avastin,” or “bevacizumab.” Articles were classified as pre-approval (January 4, 2002–February 21, 2008), approval (February 22, 2008–November 17, 2011), or post-approval loss (November 18, 2011–January 4, 2013). Information regarding benefits, side effects, costs, interviewees, and article tone and theme were abstracted from each article by two independent reviewers. Differences among the three study phases were compared using the chi square analysis.
A total of 359 articles met study inclusion criteria. The number of reports having a positive headline tone and/or positive article tone declined with each study period. The proportion of articles discussing side effects and financial costs increased, whereas those discussing efficacy decreased with each study period. Drug representatives were most likely to be quoted in newspaper articles prior to bevacizumab's approval.
Media reports are a common source of medical information for patients, practitioners, and policy makers. We observed substantial fluidity of media reports over time.
PMCID: PMC3825300  PMID: 24072217
Media; Health services; Bevacizumab; Breast cancer; Drug funding
3.  Adoption of Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Population-Based Outcomes Study  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(21):3472-3478.
Since 2004, several clinical trials have demonstrated that adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) improves survival in patients with early-stage non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we evaluate the uptake of ACT and its impact on outcomes in the general population of Ontario, Canada.
All patients diagnosed with NSCLC in Ontario from 2001 to 2006 who underwent surgical resection (n = 6,304) were identified using the Ontario Cancer Registry. We linked electronic records of treatment to the registry. We described uptake of ACT and compared survival of all patients with surgically resected NSCLC diagnosed from 2001 to 2003 with patients diagnosed from 2004 to 2006. As a proxy measure of ACT-related toxicity, we evaluated hospitalizations within 6 months of surgery.
Demographic, disease, and treatment-related characteristics did not differ between the 2001 to 2003 and 2004 to 2006 study cohorts. Over the study period, the proportion of patients receiving ACT increased from 7% (192 of 2,950 patients) to 31% (1,032 of 3,354 patients; P < .001). The proportion of patients admitted to hospital within 6 months of surgery remained stable and (36% in the 2001 to 2003 cohort and 37% in the 2004 to 2006 cohort). However, within 2 years of surgery, there was a 33% reduction in the proportion of patients admitted to hospital with metastatic disease (P < .001). During the study period, there was a substantial improvement in 4-year survival among surgically resected patients, from 52.5% (2001 to 2003) to 56.1% (2004 to 2006; P = .001).
There has been a rapid uptake of ACT for NSCLC, which was not associated with an increased rate of hospitalization. The adoption of ACT was associated with a substantial improvement in overall survival, suggesting that the benefits seen in clinical trials are generalizable to the general population.
PMCID: PMC2917211  PMID: 20567022
6.  Spontaneous regression of metastatic pulmonary renal cell carcinoma in the setting of sarcomatoid differentiation of the primary tumour 
Canadian Urological Association Journal  2013;7(9-10):E587-E589.
We present a case of spontaneous regression of pulmonary metastases from renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with sarcomatoid differentiation, prior to intervention. The patient presented with conventional type RCC with Furhman Grade 4/4 and sarcomatoid differentiation, complicated by pulmonary metastases. Palliative systemic therapy was planned, but prior to the onset of treatment, serial computed tomography scans demonstrated regression of metastatic disease. Spontaneous regression of metastases is rare, but well-documented in conventional clear cell RCC. To the best of our knowledge, this has not previously been described in the setting of sarcomatoid differentiation of the primary tumour.
PMCID: PMC3776034  PMID: 24069101
8.  Treatment Success in Cancer: Industry Compared to Publicly Sponsored Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58711.
To assess if commercially sponsored trials are associated with higher success rates than publicly-sponsored trials.
Study Design and Settings
We undertook a systematic review of all consecutive, published and unpublished phase III cancer randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (CTG). We included all phase III cancer RCTs assessing treatment superiority from 1980 to 2010. Three metrics were assessed to determine treatment successes: (1) the proportion of statistically significant trials favouring the experimental treatment, (2) the proportion of the trials in which new treatments were considered superior according to the investigators, and (3) quantitative synthesis of data for primary outcomes as defined in each trial.
GSK conducted 40 cancer RCTs accruing 19,889 patients and CTG conducted 77 trials enrolling 33,260 patients. 42% (99%CI 24 to 60) of the results were statistically significant favouring experimental treatments in GSK compared to 25% (99%CI 13 to 37) in the CTG cohort (RR = 1.68; p = 0.04). Investigators concluded that new treatments were superior to standard treatments in 80% of GSK compared to 44% of CTG trials (RR = 1.81; p<0.001). Meta-analysis of the primary outcome indicated larger effects in GSK trials (odds ratio = 0.61 [99%CI 0.47–0.78] compared to 0.86 [0.74–1.00]; p = 0.003). However, testing for the effect of treatment over time indicated that treatment success has become comparable in the last decade.
While overall industry sponsorship is associated with higher success rates than publicly-sponsored trials, the difference seems to have disappeared over time.
PMCID: PMC3605423  PMID: 23555593
10.  Evolution of the Randomized Controlled Trial in Oncology Over Three Decades 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2008;26(33):5458-5464.
The randomized controlled trial (RCT) is the gold standard for establishing new therapies in clinical oncology. Here we document changes with time in design, sponsorship, and outcomes of oncology RCTs.
Reports of RCTs evaluating systemic therapy for breast, colorectal (CRC), and non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) published 1975 to 2004 in six major journals were reviewed. Two authors abstracted data regarding trial design, results, and conclusions. Conclusions of authors were graded using a 7-point Likert scale. For each study the effect size for the primary end point was converted to a summary measure.
A total of 321 eligible RCTs were included (48% breast, 24% CRC, 28% NSCLC). Over time, the number and size of RCTs increased considerably. For-profit/mixed sponsorship increased substantially during the study period (4% to 57%; P < .001). There was increasing use of time-to-event measures (39% to 78%) and decreasing use of response rate (54% to 14%) as primary end point (P < .001). Effect size remained stable over the study period. Authors have become more likely to strongly endorse the experimental arm (P = .017). A significant P value for the primary end point and industry sponsorship were each independently associated with endorsement of the experimental agent (odds ratio [OR] = 19.6, 95% CI, 8.9 to 43.1, and OR = 3.5, 95% CI, 1.6 to 7.5, respectively).
RCTs in oncology have become larger and are more likely to be sponsored by industry. Authors of modern RCTs are more likely to strongly endorse novel therapies. For-profit sponsorship and statistically significant results are independently associated with endorsement of the experimental arm.
PMCID: PMC2651075  PMID: 18955452
11.  External influences and priority-setting for anti-cancer agents: a case study of media coverage in adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:110.
Setting priorities for the funding of new anti-cancer agents is becoming increasingly complex. The funding of adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer has brought this dilemma to the fore. In this paper we review external factors that may influence decision-making bodies and present a case study of media response in Ontario, Canada to adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer.
A comprehensive search of the databases of Canadian national and local newspapers and television was performed. Articles pertaining to trastuzumab in adjuvant breast cancer as well as 17 other anti-cancer drugs and indications were retrieved. The search period was from the date when individual trial results were announced to the date funding was made available in Ontario.
During the 2.6 months between the release of the trastuzumab results to funding approval in Ontario, we identified 51 episodes of media coverage. For the 17 other drugs/indications (7 breast and 10 non-breast), the median time to funding approval was 31 months (range 14–46). Other recent major advances in oncology such as adjuvant vinorelbine/cisplatin for resected NSCLC and docetaxel for advanced prostate cancer received considerably less media attention (17 media reports for each) than trastuzumab. The median number of media reports for breast cancer drugs was 4.5 compared to 2.5 for non-breast cancer drugs (p = 0.56).
Priority-setting for novel anti-cancer agents is a complex process that tries to ensure fair use of constrained resources to fund therapies with the best evidence of clinical benefit. However, this process is subject to external factors including the influence of media, patient advocates, politicians, and industry. The data in this case study serve to illustrate the significant involvement one (or all) of these external factors may play in the debate over priority-setting.
PMCID: PMC1925109  PMID: 17598896
12.  Communication in the Toronto critical care community: important lessons learned during SARS 
Critical Care  2003;7(6):405-406.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 pushed Toronto's health care system to its limits. Staffing shortages, transmission of SARS within the ICU, and the influx of critically ill SARS patients were some unique challenges to the delivery of critical care. Communication strategies were a key component in the critical care response to SARS. Regular teleconference calls, web-based training and education, and the rapid coordination of research studies were some of the initiatives developed within the Toronto critical care community during the SARS outbreak. Other critical care communities should consider their communication strategies in advance of similar events.
PMCID: PMC374381  PMID: 14624673
communication; critical care; disease outbreaks; SARS

Results 1-13 (13)