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1.  Lymphopenia combined with low TCR diversity (divpenia) predicts poor overall survival in metastatic breast cancer patients 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(4):432-440.
Lymphopenia (< 1Giga/L) detected before initiation of chemotherapy is a predictive factor for death in metastatic solid tumors. Combinatorial T cell repertoire (TCR) diversity was investigated and tested either alone or in combination with lymphopenia as a prognostic factor at diagnosis for overall survival (OS) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. The combinatorial TCR diversity was measured by semi quantitative multi-N-plex PCR on blood samples before the initiation of the first line chemotherapy in a development (n = 66) and validation (n = 67) MBC patient cohorts. A prognostic score, combining lymphocyte count and TCR diversity was evaluated. Univariate and multivariate analyses of prognostic factors for OS were performed in both cohorts. Lymphopenia and severe restriction of TCR diversity called “divpenia” (diversity ≤ 33%) were independently associated with shorter OS. Lympho-divpenia combining lymphopenia and severe divpenia accurately identified patients with poor OS in both cohorts (7.6 and 10.6 vs 24.5 and 22.9 mo). In multivariate analysis including other prognostic clinical factors, lympho-divpenia was found to be an independent prognostic factor in the pooled cohort (p = 0.005) along with lack of HER2 and hormonal receptors expression (p = 0.011) and anemia (p = 0.009). Lympho-divpenia is a novel prognostic factor that will be used to improve quality of MBC patients’ medical care.
PMCID: PMC3382902  PMID: 22754761
divpenia; first line chemotherapy; lymphodivpenia; lymphopenia; metatastatic breast cancer; overall survival
2.  Incidence of Sarcoma Histotypes and Molecular Subtypes in a Prospective Epidemiological Study with Central Pathology Review and Molecular Testing 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e20294.
The exact overall incidence of sarcoma and sarcoma subtypes is not known. The objective of the present population-based study was to determine this incidence in a European region (Rhone-Alpes) of six million inhabitants, based on a central pathological review of the cases.
Methodology/Principal Findings
From March 2005 to February 2007, pathology reports and tumor blocks were prospectively collected from the 158 pathologists of the Rhone-Alpes region. All diagnosed or suspected cases of sarcoma were collected, reviewed centrally, examined for molecular alterations and classified according to the 2002 World Health Organization classification. Of the 1287 patients screened during the study period, 748 met the criteria for inclusion in the study. The overall crude and world age-standardized incidence rates were respectively 6.2 and 4.8 per 100,000/year. Incidence rates for soft tissue, visceral and bone sarcomas were respectively 3.6, 2.0 and 0.6 per 100,000. The most frequent histological subtypes were gastrointestinal stromal tumor (18%; 1.1/100,000), unclassified sarcoma (16%; 1/100,000), liposarcoma (15%; 0.9/100,000) and leiomyosarcoma (11%; 0.7/100,000).
The observed incidence of sarcomas was higher than expected. This study is the first detailed investigation of the crude incidence of histological and molecular subtypes of sarcomas.
PMCID: PMC3149593  PMID: 21826194
3.  Transferability of health cost evaluation across locations in oncology: cluster and principal component analysis as an explorative tool 
The transferability of economic evaluation in health care is of increasing interest in today’s globalized environment. Here, we propose a methodology for assessing the variability of data elements in cost evaluations in oncology. This method was tested in the context of the European Network of Excellence “Connective Tissues Cancers Network”.
Using a database that was previously aimed at exploring sarcoma management practices in Rhône-Alpes (France) and Veneto (Italy), we developed a model to assess the transferability of health cost evaluation across different locations. A nested data structure with 60 final factors of variability (e.g., unit cost of chest radiograph) within 16 variability areas (e.g., unit cost of imaging) within 12 objects (e.g., diagnoses) was produced in Italy and France, separately. Distances between objects were measured by Euclidean distance, Mahalanobis distance, and city-block metric. A hierarchical structure using cluster analysis (CA) was constructed. The objects were also represented by their projections and area of variability through correlation studies using principal component analysis (PCA). Finally, a hierarchical clustering based on principal components was performed.
CA suggested four clusters of objects: chemotherapy in France; follow-up with relapse in Italy; diagnosis, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and follow-up without relapse in Italy; and diagnosis, surgery, and follow-up with or without relapse in France. The variability between clusters was high, suggesting a lower transferability of results. Also, PCA showed a high variability (i.e. lower transferability) for diagnosis between both countries with regard to the quantities and unit costs of biopsies.
CA and PCA were found to be useful for assessing the variability of cost evaluations across countries. In future studies, regression methods could be applied after these methods to elucidate the determinants of the differences found in these analyses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0537-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4241216  PMID: 25399725
Cluster analysis; Cancer network; Cost; Economic evaluation; Oncology; Principal component analysis; Sarcoma; Transferability; Variability
4.  Perspective on Updated Treatment Guidelines for Patients With Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors 
Cancer  2010;116(22):5126-5137.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and present predominantly in middle-aged and older individuals. Historically, the outlook for patients with GISTs was very poor because of the general lack of efficacy of conventional chemotherapy and the often limited surgical options. However, the recognition of the role of mutations of the v-kit Hardy/Zuckerman 4 feline sarcoma viral oncogene homolog KIT and the platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha gene PDGFRα in the development of GISTs led to the evaluation of potential antitumor effects of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors imatinib and, more recently, sunitinib. Consequently, these molecularly targeted therapies were introduced into clinical practice, and the outcome for patients with GISTs improved considerably. In the last few years, the European Society of Medical Oncology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and the Canadian Advisory Committee on GIST each published a major set of guidelines or practice recommendations for the management of patients with GIST. In the current review, the latest recommendations from each organization are summarized in terms of diagnosis and risk assessment, tumor staging, surgical and/or drug treatment of primary resectable and recurrent metastatic disease, and patient follow-up and assessment. In addition, areas of consensus and points of divergence among the guidelines are highlighted along with any unresolved issues.
PMCID: PMC4167025  PMID: 20661913
gastrointestinal; stromal; tumors; imatinib; practice guideline; protein tyrosine; kinases; sunitinib
5.  Impact of KIT exon 10 M541L allelic variant on the response to imatinib in aggressive fibromatosis: analysis of the desminib series by competitive allele specific Taqman PCR technology 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):632.
Aggressive fibromatosis (AF) is a rare fibroblastic proliferative disease with a locally aggressive behavior and no distant metastasis, characterized by driver mutations in CTNNB1 or the APC gene. When progressive and/or symptomatic AF is not amenable to local management, a variety of medical treatments may be efficient, including imatinib mesylate. The phase II “Desminib trial” included 40 patients with AF to evaluate the toxicity and efficacy of imatinib resulting in a 65% tumor control rate at 1 year. We investigated a potential predictive value of KIT exon 10 M541L variant (KITL541) on this prospective series.
DNA was extracted in sufficient quantity from 33 patients included in the Desminib trial. The detection of KITL541 was performed by Competitive Allele-Specific Taqman® PCR technology. Chi-2 analyses were performed to search for a correlation between KIT status and tumor response. Progression free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were compared by log-rank test after Kaplan-Meier analysis.
In 6 out of 33 cases (18%), the technique failed to determine the mutational status; 5 patients (19%) harboured KITL541 and 22 patients (81%) were classified as KIT wild type. Compared with total cohort, KITL541 frequency did not distinguish between different clinical characteristics. In the KITL541 and the KITWT subgroups, the tumor control rate at 1 year was 100% and 68%, respectively (p = 0.316). The median PFS of patients harboring KITL541 or not is 29.9 and 24.5 months, respectively (p = 0.616), and the median OS is not reached, in any of the groups.
Our results do not support a predictive effect of KITL541 on the efficacy of imatinib for patients with AF.
PMCID: PMC4161827  PMID: 25174682
Aggressive fibromatosis; KIT exon 10 M541L allelic variant; Imatinib
6.  Pazopanib in advanced desmoplastic small round cell tumours: a multi-institutional experience 
We retrospectively reviewed data from nine pre-treated metastatic desmoplastic small round cell tumour (DSRCT) patients who received pazopanib.
Patients and methods
Three patients received pazopanib within the EORTC phase II 62043, three in the EORTC phase III 62072, and three in the context of UK named patient program.
Nine patients were retrieved from the databases, the median age was 30 years (range: 21–47), they were all males. All had received prior chemotherapy. At the time of treatment start, 4 patients (44%) had ECOG PS 0, 4 (44%) PS 1, 1 (11%) PS 2. Best response was partial response (PR) in 2/9 (22%) patients, stable disease (SD) in 5/9 (56%) and progressive disease (PD) in 2/9 (22%) with a clinical benefit rate (PR + SD > 12 weeks) of 78%. Median PFS and OS were 9.2 (95%CI: 0–23.2) and 15.4 (95%CI: 1.5-29.3) months respectively. With a median follow-up of 20 months, 2/9 (22%) patients are still alive, all progressed. The most common toxicities included neutropenia (G1-2 45%; G3-4 11%), anaemia (G1-2 45%), fatigue (G1-2 67%), diarrhoea (G1-2 45%; G3-4 11%), nausea (G1-2 45%), hypertension (G1-2 45%) and increase in liver enzymes (G1-2 34%; G3-4 11%). Three patients (34%) required a dose reduction. One of the patients discontinued treatment because of persistent increase in total bilirubin level, one due to patient’s choice.
In this series, pazopanib showed interesting activity in DSRCT patients who progressed after prior chemotherapy without major toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4118147  PMID: 25089183
Pazopanib; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Desmoplastic small round cell tumour
7.  Workshop report on the 2nd Joint ENCCA/EuroSARC European bone sarcoma network meeting: integration of clinical trials with tumour biology 
This is the report of the 2nd Joint ENCCA/EuroSARC European Bone Sarcoma Network Meeting held in Leiden, The Netherlands, on 26-27 September 2013, bringing together preclinical and clinical investigators on bone sarcoma. The purpose of this workshop was to present the achievements of biological research and clinical trials in bone sarcomas and to stimulate crosstalk.
PMCID: PMC4014081
Osteosarcoma; Ewing sarcoma; Bone tumours; Translational research; ENCCA; EuroSARC
8.  Sunitinib in combination with trastuzumab for the treatment of advanced breast cancer: activity and safety results from a phase II study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:166.
This phase II study evaluated the efficacy and safety/tolerability of sunitinib plus trastuzumab in patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer (ABC).
Eligible patients received sunitinib 37.5 mg/day and trastuzumab administered either weekly (loading, 4 mg/kg; then weekly 2 mg/kg) or 3-weekly (loading, 8 mg/kg; then 3-weekly 6 mg/kg). Prior trastuzumab and/or lapatinib treatment were permitted. The primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR).
Sixty patients were enrolled and evaluable for safety; 57 were evaluable for efficacy. The majority of patients (58%) had received no prior chemotherapy in the metastatic setting. The ORR was 37%; the clinical benefit rate (CBR; percent objective response plus stable disease ≥ 24 weeks) was 56%. Among patients who were treatment-naïve or had received only adjuvant therapy, the ORR was 44% and the CBR was 59%. Overall, median overall survival had not been reached and the 1-year survival rate was 91%. The majority of adverse events (AEs) were mild to moderate in severity. Forty percent of patients experienced AEs related to measured left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) declines, which occurred more frequently in patients who had received prior anthracycline treatment. Ten percent of patients exhibited symptoms related to LVEF declines. One patient died on study from cardiogenic shock. Antitumor response and several safety parameters appeared to correlate with sunitinib exposure.
Sunitinib plus trastuzumab demonstrated antitumor activity in patients with HER2-positive ABC, particularly those who were treatment-naïve or had only received prior adjuvant treatment. Sunitinib plus trastuzumab had acceptable safety and tolerability in patients with HER2-positive ABC who had not received prior anthracycline therapy.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3995914  PMID: 24606768
Sunitinib; Trastuzumab; Advanced breast cancer
9.  Primary localized rectal/pararectal gastrointestinal stromal tumors: results of surgical and multimodal therapy from the French Sarcoma group 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:156.
Rectal and pararectal gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are rare. The optimal management strategy for primary localized GISTs remains poorly defined.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of 41 patients with localized rectal or pararectal GISTs treated between 1991 and 2011 in 13 French Sarcoma Group centers.
Of 12 patients who received preoperative imatinib therapy for a median duration of 7 (2-12) months, 8 experienced a partial response, 3 had stable disease, and 1 had a complete response. Thirty and 11 patients underwent function-sparing conservative surgery and abdominoperineal resection, respectively. Tumor resections were mostly R0 and R1 in 35 patients. Tumor rupture occurred in 12 patients. Eleven patients received postoperative imatinib with a median follow-up of 59 (2.4-186) months. The median time to disease relapse was 36 (9.8-62) months. The 5-year overall survival rate was 86.5%. Twenty patients developed local recurrence after surgery alone, two developed recurrence after resection combined with preoperative and/or postoperative imatinib, and eight developed metastases. In univariate analysis, the mitotic index (≤5) and tumor size (≤5 cm) were associated with a significantly decreased risk of local relapse. Perioperative imatinib was associated with a significantly reduced risk of overall relapse and local relapse.
Perioperative imatinib therapy was associated with improved disease-free survival. Preoperative imatinib was effective. Tumor shrinkage has a clear benefit for local excision in terms of feasibility and function preservation. Given the complexity of rectal GISTs, referral of patients with this rare disease to expert centers to undergo a multidisciplinary approach is recommended.
PMCID: PMC3975725  PMID: 24597959
10.  Outcome of patients with advanced solitary fibrous tumors: the Centre Léon Bérard experience 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:109.
Solitary Fibrous Tumor is a rare type of soft tissue tumor of intermediate malignant potential which may recur or metastasize in 15-20% of cases. Data on the management of patients with advanced SFT is scarce: chemotherapy has been described as ineffective, while recent data suggests that anti-angiogenic therapies may be more efficient.
We conducted a retrospective study on patients treated for advanced SFT at a single institution: from January 1994 to December 2011, 30 patients were treated in the Centre Léon Bérard for an advanced SFT.
Twenty-three patients received cytotoxic chemotherapy as first-line therapy. Best responses were 2 (9%) partial responses, 13 (57%) stable diseases (SD) and 8 (35%) progressive diseases (PD). Median Progression Free Survival (PFS) was 5.2 (95% CI: 3.2-7.1) months and 9 patients were free of progression at 6 months. Ten patients received an anti-angiogenic treatment (sunitinib or pazopanib) as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th line. Best responses were 5 SD and 5 PD; median PFS was 5.1 months (95% CI 0.7-9.6). Four patients (36%) were progression-free for more than 6 months. Two patients receiving pazopanib were without progression at 6 and 8 months and two patients receiving sunitinib were free of progression at 30 months.
Response rate with standard chemotherapy was low and PFS appear similar between cytotoxic chemotherapy and anti-angiogenic agents.
PMCID: PMC3623626  PMID: 23496996
11.  Long-term outcome and effect of maintenance therapy in patients with advanced sarcoma treated with trabectedin: an analysis of 181 patients of the French ATU compassionate use program 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:64.
The long term outcome of advanced sarcoma patients treated with trabectedin outside of clinical trials and the utility of maintenance treatment has not been reported.
Between 2003 and 2008, patients with advanced sarcoma failing doxorubicin could be treated within a compassionate use program (ATU, Temporary Use Authorization) of trabectedin in France using the standard 3-weekly regimen. Data from 181 patients (55%) were collected from 11 centres and analyzed.
Trabectedin was given in first, second, third or fourth line in metastatic phase in 6%, 37%, 33% and 23% of patients respectively. With a median follow-up of 6 years, median PFS and OS were 3.6 months and 16.1 months respectively. The median number of cycles was 3 (range 1–19). Best response were partial response (PR, n = 18, 10%), stable disease (SD, n = 69, 39%) and progressive disease (PD, n = 83, 46%), non evaluable (NE, n = 9, 5%). Thirty patients (17%) had to be hospitalized for treatment- related side effects. Independent prognostic factors in multivariate analysis (Cox model) were myxoid LPS and line of trabectedin for PFS, and myxoid LPS and retroperitoneal sarcomas for OS. Patients in PR or SD after 6 cycles continuing treatment had a better PFS (median 5.3 vs 10.5 months, p = 0.001) and OS (median 13.9 vs 33.4 months, p = 0.009) as compared to patients who stopped after 6 cycles.
In this compassionate use program, trabectedin yielded similar or better PFS and OS than in clinical trials. Maintenance treatment beyond 6 cycles was associated with an improved survival.
PMCID: PMC3620689  PMID: 23388156
12.  Sorafenib for Patients with Advanced Angiosarcoma: A Phase II Trial from the French Sarcoma Group (GSF/GETO) 
The Oncologist  2012;17(2):260-266.
The antitumor activity of sorafenib in patients with metastatic or advanced angiosarcomas was investigated in a phase II trial. Sorafenib showed limited antitumor activity in pretreated patients only, but tumor control was of short duration.
Angiosarcomas account for <2% of all soft tissue sarcomas. This subtype is one of the most aggressive forms of soft tissue sarcoma. The prognosis for angiosarcoma patients in the advanced phase remains poor with current cytotoxic agents (progression-free survival [PFS] time of ∼4 months and overall survival [OS] time of ∼8 months). We investigated the antitumor activity of sorafenib in patients with metastatic or advanced angiosarcomas in a phase II trial.
We conducted a stratified phase II trial. The primary endpoint was the progression-free rate (PFR) at 9 months according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. A two-stage design (optimal Simon design) was used. Patients received sorafenib (400 mg twice daily) for 9 months until unacceptable toxicity or tumor progression. Central pathological and radiological reviews were performed. Data on stratum A (superficial angiosarcoma) and stratum B (visceral angiosarcoma) are currently available. This trial is registered with (identifier, NCT00874874).
Strata A and B recruited 26 and 15 patients, respectively. The median age was 63 years (range, 31–82 years), with 17 male and 24 female patients. Fourteen cases arose in irradiated fields. Thirty patients (73.0%) had been pretreated with conventional chemotherapy. No unexpected toxicity occurred. The PFR at 9 months was 3.8% in stratum A and 0.0% in stratum B. The median PFS times were 1.8 months and 3.8 months, respectively, whereas the median OS times were 12.0 months and 9.0 months, respectively. No responses were observed in chemotherapy-naïve patients, whereas a 40% tumor control rate and 23% response rate were observed in the pretreated population. In this cohort, no activating mutation of the KDR gene (exons 15, 16, 24) was detected.
Sorafenib showed limited antitumor activity in pretreated patients only, for both visceral and superficial angiosarcoma, but tumor control was of short duration.
PMCID: PMC3286175  PMID: 22285963
Angiosarcoma; Sorafenib; Antiangiogenic agents
13.  Management of imatinib-associated skin rash in a patient with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor: a case report 
Long-term continuous imatinib is recommended for adult patients with unresectable and/or metastatic KIT+ gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) as long as the patient continues to benefit. In the adjuvant setting, recent findings indicate that patients at considerable risk of recurrence should receive at least 3 years of imatinib. Because imatinib is often administered for prolonged periods, proper management of imatinib-associated adverse events is crucial.
Case report
We report a 56-year-old man with metastatic KIT+ GIST of the liver who had Grade 3 imatinib intolerance (skin rash) when treatment was started. The rash was managed with antihistamine treatment (Dexchlorpheniramine maleate 4 mg per day) and several temporary (up to 2 weeks) dose interruptions. The patient’s skin rash partially improved, and he tolerated gradual reintroduction of imatinib over several months. The patient maintained imatinib 400 mg/d, and tolerated it during the 2 years when he was on antihistamine treatment. After 2 years, the patient continued imatinib therapy without having to take antihistamines. The patient responded according to RECIST 1.1 and Choi to imatinib treatment for his metastatic GIST (partial response). As of September, 2012, the patient has been on imatinib therapy for 131 months and remains progression free.
The results of this case report demonstrated that a patient with metastatic KIT+ GIST who was initially intolerant to imatinib maintained, and responded to imatinib therapy after treatment of an imatinib-associated adverse effect. These results suggest that initial intolerance to imatinib should not necessarily result in treatment discontinuation, as these adverse effects, when managed properly, may be tolerated and may decrease over time.
PMCID: PMC3547745  PMID: 23206868
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor; GIST; Metastasis; Imatinib mesylate; Skin rash
14.  Recombinant erythropoietin for the anaemia of patients with advanced Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours (GIST) receiving imatinib: an active agent only in non progressive patients 
Recombinant erythropoietin for the anaemia of patients with advanced Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours (GIST) receiving imatinib : an active agent only in non progressive patients.
Imatinib is a standard treatment for advanced/metastatic GIST and in adjuvant setting. Anaemia is frequently observed in patients with advanced GIST, and is one of the most frequent side effects of imatinib with grade 3–4 anaemia in 10% of patients. Whether EPO treatment is useful in the management of GIST patients receiving imatinib treatment is unknown.
A retrospective study of EPO treatment in GIST patients receiving imatinib was undertaken in 4 centres. Thirty four patients received EPO treatment among the 319 GIST patients treated with imatinib in clinical trials or with compassionate use between 2001 and 2003. The efficacy of EPO on the anaemia of patients with GIST treated with imatinib was analyzed.
There were 18 males and 16 females with a median age of 59 years. Median WHO-PS was 1. Primary tumour sites were mainly gastric (32%) and small bowel (29%). Sites of metastases were mainly liver (82%) and peritoneum (79%). The median delay between the initiation of imatinib treatment and EPO was 58 days (range 0–553). Median haemoglobin (Hb) level prior to EPO was 9 g/dL (range 6,9-11,8) and 11,7 g/dL (range 6,8-14,4) after 2 months. An increase of more than 2 g/dL was observed in 18 (53%) of patients. None of the 7 patients who progressed (PD) under imatinib treatment (400 mg/day) experienced HB response, as compared to 66% (18/27) of the remaining patients (PR + SD) (p = 0,002). Primary tumour site, liver metastases, peritoneal metastases, age, gender did not correlate with HB response to EPO. Response to EPO was observed in 2/11 patients receiving high-dose imatinib (800 mg/day) vs 16/23 of others. Using logistic regression, only PD before EPO treatment was retained as a predictive factor for EPO response.
EPO enables to increase Hb in most anaemic GIST patients who do not progress under imatinib, but not in patients with progressive disease.
PMCID: PMC3502564  PMID: 22950685
GIST; Imatinib; Anaemia
15.  Clinicians' adherence versus non adherence to practice guidelines in the management of patients with sarcoma: a cost-effectiveness assessment in two European regions 
Although the management of sarcoma is improving, non adherence to clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) remains high, mainly because of the low incidence of the disease and the variety of histological subtypes. Since little is known about the health economics of sarcoma, we undertook a cost-effectiveness analysis (within the CONnective TIssue CAncer NETwork, CONTICANET) comparing costs and outcomes when clinicians adhered to CPGs and when they did not.
Patients studied had a histological diagnosis of sarcoma, were older than 15 years, and had been treated in the Rhône-Alpes region of France (in 2005/2006) or in the Veneto region of Italy (in 2007). Data collected retrospectively for the three years after diagnosis were used to determine relapse free survival and health costs (adopting the hospital's perspective and a microcosting approach). All costs were expressed in euros (€) at their 2009 value. A 4% annual discount rate was applied to both costs and effects. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was expressed as cost per relapse-free year gained when management was compliant with CPGs compared with when it was not. To capture uncertainty surrounding ICER, a probabilistic sensitivity analysis was performed based on a non-parametric bootstrap method.
A total of 219 patients were included in the study. Compliance with CPGs was observed for 118 patients (54%). Average total costs reached 23,571 euros when treatment was in accordance with CPGs and 27,313 euros when it was not. In relation to relapse-free survival, compliance with CPGs strictly dominates non compliance, i.e. it is both less costly and more effective. Taking uncertainty into account, the probability that compliance with CPGs still strictly dominates was 75%.
Our findings should encourage physicians to increase their compliance with CPGs and healthcare administrators to invest in the implementation of CPGs in the management of sarcoma.
PMCID: PMC3382421  PMID: 22455759
Sarcoma; Cancer; Clinical practice guidelines; Adherence; Compliance; Cost-effectiveness
16.  A Phase I Combination Study of Trabectedin and Doxorubicin in Patients With Soft Tissue Sarcoma 
To determine the dose of trabectedin plus doxorubicin with granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) support associated with manageable neutropenia and acceptable dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) in patients with recurrent or persistent soft tissue sarcoma (STS).
In this phase I, open-label, multicenter trial, patients previously treated with 0–1 prior chemotherapy regimens excluding doxorubicin, an ECOG performance status 0–1, and adequate organ function received a 10–15-minute intravenous (IV) infusion of doxorubicin 60 mg/m2 immediately followed by a 3-hour IV infusion of trabectedin 0.9–1.3 mg/m2 on day 1 of a 3-week cycle. Because four of the first six patients experienced DLT-defining neutropenia during cycle 1, all subsequent patients received primary prophylactic G-CSF. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was the highest dose level with ≥6 patients in which less than one third of the patients experienced severe neutropenia or DLT. Blood was collected during cycle 1 for pharmacokinetic analyses. Adverse events (AEs), tumor response, and survival were assessed.
Patients (N = 41) received a median of six cycles of treatment (range, 2–13). The MTD was trabectedin 1.1 mg/m2 and doxorubicin 60 mg/m2. Common grade 3/4 treatment-emergent AEs were neutropenia (71%), ALT increase (46%), and thrombocytopenia (37%). Overall, five (12%) patients achieved a partial response, and 34 (83%) maintained stable disease. Median progression-free survival was 9.2 months. Doxorubicin and trabectedin pharmacokinetics were not altered substantially with concomitant administration.
The combination of doxorubicin 60 mg/m2 followed by trabectedin 1.1 mg/m2 every 21 days is safe and active in patients with STS.
PMCID: PMC2777645  PMID: 18927308
trabectedin; ET-743; doxorubicin; sarcoma; pharmacokinetics; YONDELIS
17.  Disequilibrium of BMP2 Levels in the Breast Stem Cell Niche Launches Epithelial Transformation by Overamplifying BMPR1B Cell Response 
Stem Cell Reports  2015;4(2):239-254.
Understanding the mechanisms of cancer initiation will help to prevent and manage the disease. At present, the role of the breast microenvironment in transformation remains unknown. As BMP2 and BMP4 are important regulators of stem cells and their niches in many tissues, we investigated their function in early phases of breast cancer. BMP2 production by tumor microenvironment appeared to be specifically upregulated in luminal tumors. Chronic exposure of immature human mammary epithelial cells to high BMP2 levels initiated transformation toward a luminal tumor-like phenotype, mediated by the receptor BMPR1B. Under physiological conditions, BMP2 controlled the maintenance and differentiation of early luminal progenitors, while BMP4 acted on stem cells/myoepithelial progenitors. Our data also suggest that microenvironment-induced overexpression of BMP2 may result from carcinogenic exposure. We reveal a role for BMP2 and the breast microenvironment in the initiation of stem cell transformation, thus providing insight into the etiology of luminal breast cancer.
Graphical Abstract
•High BMP2 levels are provided by endothelial and stroma cells in luminal tumors•Chronic exposure to high BMP2 levels initiate mammary epithelial transformation•Luminal tumors likely arise from an amplified BMP2/BMPR1B-mediated normal response•Radiation and bisphenols perturbed BMP2 production by the mammary niche stroma
Carcinogens alter stromal cells, increasing local concentrations of BMP2 as specifically measured in human breast luminal tumors. Chronic exposure of immature mammary epithelial cells to high BMP2 levels initiated transformation toward a luminal tumor-like phenotype through the receptor BMPR1B. Maguer-Satta and colleagues show that the stem cell microenvironment could therefore represent a driving force to promote transformation and dictate the ultimate breast tumor subtype.
PMCID: PMC4325271  PMID: 25601208
18.  Optimizing Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Therapy in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors: Exploring the Benefits of Continuous Kinase Suppression 
The Oncologist  2013;18(11):1192-1199.
This review discusses data supporting continuous kinase suppression with imatinib for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors and key issues, including response to imatinib reintroduction, effect of treatment interruption on secondary resistance to imatinib, and prognostic factors associated with sustained response to imatinib. Results from recent studies provide a strong rationale for continuous imatinib treatment for 3 years following surgical resection and long-term continuous administration in advanced or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
The oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) imatinib has revolutionized the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), most of which harbor oncogenic mutation in genes that encode the receptor tyrosine kinases KIT or PDGFA. Imatinib is the standard of care for patients with advanced GIST and for patients with primary GIST at significant risk of recurrence after surgery.
This review discusses data supporting continuous kinase suppression with imatinib and key issues, including response to imatinib reintroduction, effect of treatment interruption on secondary resistance to imatinib, and prognostic factors associated with sustained response to imatinib.
Long-term follow-up results of the B2222 study and updated results of the BFR14 trial demonstrate that continuous imatinib treatment in patients with advanced GIST is associated with reduced risk of progression. For patients progressing on or intolerant of imatinib, continuing therapy with TKIs sunitinib followed by regorafenib is recommended. In the adjuvant setting, final results of the trial by the Scandinavian Sarcoma Group and the Sarcoma Group of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Internistische Onkologie demonstrate that 3 years of adjuvant imatinib, compared with 1 year, significantly reduces the risk of recurrence and improves overall survival of patients with KIT-positive GIST at high risk of recurrence.
Maintenance of therapy with TKIs is the key to successful treatment of GIST. Results from recent studies provide a strong rationale for continuous imatinib treatment for 3 years following surgical resection and long-term continuous administration in advanced or metastatic GIST.
PMCID: PMC3825304  PMID: 24136010
Gastrointestinal stromal tumor; Imatinib; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; KIT; Metastatic; Adjuvant
19.  Primary CNS Lymphoma in Children and Adolescents: A Descriptive Analysis from the International Primary CNS Lymphoma Collaborative Group (IPCG) 
To describe the demographic and clinical features and outcomes for children and adolescents with primary CNS lymphoma (PCNSL).
Experimental Design
A retrospective series of children and adolescents with PCNSL was assembled from ten cancer centers in three countries.
Twenty-nine patients with a median age of 14 years were identified. Sixteen (55%) had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) ≥ 1. Front line therapy consisted of chemotherapy (CT) only in twenty patients (69%), while 9 (31%) had CT plus cranial radiotherapy. Most patients received methotrexate (MTX)-based regimens. Overall response rate was 86% (CR 69%, PR 17%). The 2 year PFS and OS rates were 61% and 86%, respectively; the 3 year OS was 82%. Univariate analyses were conducted for age (≤ 14 vs > 14 years), PS (0 or 1 vs >1), deep brain lesions, MTX dose, primary treatment with CT alone, intrathecal chemotherapy and high-dose therapy. Primary treatment with CT alone was associated with better overall response rates with an OR of 0.125 (p=0.02). There was a marginally significant relationship between higher doses of MTX and response (OR =1.5, p = 0.06). ECOG-PS of 0–1 was the only factor associated with better outcome with hazard ratios of 0.136 (p = 0.017) and 0.073(p = 0.033) for PFS and OS, respectively.
This is the largest series collected of pediatric PCNSL. The outcome of children and adolescents appears to be better than in adults. PS of 0–1 is associated with better survival.
PMCID: PMC4058714  PMID: 21224370
20.  Complete Longitudinal Analyses of the Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Phase III Trial of Sunitinib in Patients with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Following Imatinib Failure 
To analyze final long-term survival and clinical outcomes from the randomized phase III study of sunitinib in gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) patients after imatinib failure; to assess correlative angiogenesis biomarkers with patient outcomes.
Experimental Design
Blinded sunitinib or placebo was given daily on a 4-week-on/2-week-off treatment schedule. Placebo-assigned patients could cross over to sunitinib at disease progression/study unblinding. Overall survival (OS) was analyzed using conventional statistical methods and the rank-preserving structural failure time (RPSFT) method to explore crossover impact. Circulating levels of angiogenesis biomarkers were analyzed.
In total, 243 patients were randomized to receive sunitinib and 118 to placebo, 103 of whom crossed over to open-label sunitinib. Conventional statistical analysis showed that OS converged in the sunitinib and placebo arms (median 72.7 versus 64.9 weeks; hazard ratio [HR], 0.876; P = 0.306) as expected, given the crossover design. RPSFT analysis estimated median OS for placebo of 39.0 weeks (HR, 0.505, 95% CI, 0.262–1.134; P = 0.306). No new safety concerns emerged with extended sunitinib treatment. No consistent associations were found between the pharmacodynamics of angiogenesis-related plasma proteins during sunitinib treatment and clinical outcome.
The crossover design provided evidence of sunitinib clinical benefit based on prolonged time to tumor progression during the double-blind phase of this trial. As expected, following crossover there was no statistical difference in OS. RPSFT analysis modeled the absence of crossover, estimating a substantial sunitinib OS benefit relative to placebo. Long-term sunitinib treatment was tolerated without new adverse events.
PMCID: PMC4030710  PMID: 22661587
Phase III; GIST; sunitinib; antiangiogenic; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
21.  Nilotinib: a Novel, Selective Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor 
Seminars in oncology  2011;38(0 1):S3-S9.
The development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was based on the discovery that CML stem and progenitor cells overexpress the abnormal fusion protein kinase BCR-ABL. The prototype TKI, imatinib, selectively inhibits BCR-ABL, as well as several other kinases, including DDR, KIT, PDGFR, and CSF-1R. Although the management of CML improved dramatically with the introduction of imatinib, not all patients benefit from treatment because of resistance or intolerance. Consequently, research efforts have focused on developing more potent TKIs with the ability to circumvent imatinib resistance. Nilotinib, a second-generation oral TKI, was rationally designed based on the crystal structure of imatinib to be highly active against a wide range of imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL mutants and is approved for the treatment of newly diagnosed or imatinib-resistant or -intolerant CML, and has shown superiority over imatinib in first-line in newly diagnosed CML. Furthermore, the activity of nilotinib against KIT and PDGFRα has led to its evaluation in advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). The purpose of this review is to describe the development of nilotinib, providing a structural explanation for the differential activity of nilotinib and imatinib in GIST. Activity of nilotinib against KIT and PDGFR and emerging evidence of differences in cellular uptake between nilotinib and imatinib are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4004101  PMID: 21419934
Nilotinib; AMN107; fusion proteins; BCR-ABL; stem cell factor receptor; receptors; platelet-derived growth factor; gastrointestinal stromal tumors; drug resistance
22.  Utility of 18F-FDG PET with a Semi-Quantitative Index in the Detection of Sarcomatous Transformation in Patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e85954.
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are a serious complications of neurofibromatosis type 1 associated with poor prognosis and deeper lesions can be difficult to diagnose. 18-FDG PET improves the detection of malignancies. However, the criteria for malignancy, notably the SUVmax threshold, are not standardized. Therefore, the aim of the study was to evaluate a semi-quantitative index for the reproducible detection of MPNST with FDG PET.
It is a multicenter retrospective study conducted between 2000 to 2012. All patients with NF1 referred for suspected MPNST underwent PET. Since SUVmax was not available until 2004 in our centers, we had to settle for the semi-quantitative method used at that time, the uptake ratio between the tumor and the normal liver (T/L ratio) with 1.5 as the cut-off for malignancy. When dedicated PET with SUVmax became available, the semi-quantitative analysis of PET images remained, along with SUVmax.
113 patients with 145 tumors were included. PET assessment revealed 65 suspected lesions with T/L >1.5 and among these, 40 were MPNSTs. 80 tumors were classified as non-suspicious, and 79 were benign. The 1.5 T/L cut-off had a negative predictive value (NPV) of 98,8% and a positive predictive value of 61,5%. The positive likelihood ratio (LR) was 4,059, the negative LR was 0,032 with 97% sensitivity and 76% specificity.
This study, which is among the largest published, confirms the utility of PET for detecting NF1-associated MPNSTs. A semi-quantitative index, the T/L ratio with a cut-off of 1.5, allowed sensitive and specific differentiation of malignant from benign tumors better than SUVmax. When T/L was <1.5, MPNSTs were ruled out with 98,8% NPV. When T/L was >1.5, there was a strong suspicion of malignancy. This semi-quantitative analytical method is as simple as SUVmax, but is more sensitive, more reproducible and non-user-dependent.
PMCID: PMC3916322  PMID: 24516522
23.  Efficacy and safety of regorafenib for advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours after failure of imatinib and sunitinib: an international, multicentre, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial (GRID) 
Lancet  2012;381(9863):10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61857-1.
To date, only two agents, imatinib and sunitinib, have shown clinical benefit in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), but almost all metastatic GISTs eventually develop resistance to these agents, resulting in fatal disease progression. This phase 3 trial assessed efficacy and safety of regorafenib in patients with metastatic and/or unresectable GIST progressing after failure of at least imatinib and sunitinib.
Patients were randomised 2:1 to receive either regorafenib 160 mg orally daily or placebo, plus best supportive care in both arms, for the first 3 weeks of each 4-week cycle. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Upon disease progression, patients on placebo could cross over to regorafenib. Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), objective response rate, disease control rate (DCR: rate of durable stable disease lasting for ≥12 weeks plus complete or partial responses), and safety. This trial is registered at (NCT01271712).
From January to August 2011, 240 patients were screened at 57 centres in 17 countries, and 199 patients were randomised to receive regorafenib (n=133) or matching placebo (n=66). Median PFS per independent blinded central review was 4·8 months and 0·9 months, respectively (hazard ratio [HR] 0·27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0·19–0·39; p<0·0001). Following progression, 56/66 patients (84·8%) on placebo crossed over to regorafenib, resulting in no significant difference in OS between study arms (HR 0·77, 95% CI 0·42–1·41; p=0·199). A best response of partial response or stable disease was observed in 101/133 patients (75·9%) on regorafenib and 23/66 patients (34·8%) on placebo. DCR was 52·6% (70/133 patients) and 9·1% (6/66 patients), respectively. Drug-related adverse events were reported in 130 (98·5%) of 132 regorafenib patients and 45 (68·2%) of 66 placebo patients. The most common grade ≥3 regorafenib-related adverse events were hypertension (31/132, 23·5%), hand–foot skin reaction (26/132, 19·7%), and diarrhoea (7/132, 5·3%).
Regorafenib significantly improved PFS and DCR, compared with placebo, in patients with advanced GIST progressing after failure of at least imatinib and sunitinib.
PMCID: PMC3819942  PMID: 23177515
25.  Giant-cell tumor of bone, anti-RANKL therapy 
BoneKEy Reports  2012;1:149.
Giant-cell tumor of bone (GCTB) is a rare osteolytic tumor of the bone. Although classified as a benign tumor, GCTB is characterized by local aggressiveness and risk of local recurrence. In addition, GTCB can in some cases lead to the development of so-called 'benign' chest metastases. Surgical resection by intralesional curettage with high-speed burring and polymethylmethacrylate cement is the standard treatment for resectable tumors. In cases of metastatic or unresectable disease (when planned surgical procedure is impossible or would result in severe morbidity), medical treatments such as cytotoxic chemotherapy or interferon-α have limited efficacy. Bisphosphonates have been proposed as a therapeutic option to reduce osteoclast activity. In bone, various pathological states may result from an imbalance in the RANK (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B)/RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand)/OPG (osteoprotegerin) pathway. Involvement of the RANKL pathway in pathogenesis of GCTB was first proposed in 2000. Denosumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that binds and inhibits RANKL, thereby preventing the activation of the RANK pathway. As it showed the possibility to counteract osteoclast activation in GCTB and prevent the known physiopathological role of RANKL, denosumab has been under evaluation in the clinic as a treatment for GCTB since 2005. Results of a first Phase II trial demonstrate the therapeutic potential of denosumab to inhibit progressive bone destruction and metastatic progression in patients with unsalvageable giant-cell tumor (GCT), and have also provided key insights into the biology of GCT. Denosumab is currently a therapeutic option for patients with unresectable GCTB but its place in the global therapeutic strategy has not yet been defined.
PMCID: PMC3868728  PMID: 24363925

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