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2.  Complete pathologic response of HER2-positive breast cancer liver metastasis with dual Anti-HER2 antagonism 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:242.
Although breast cancer frequently metastasizes to the bones and brain, rarely breast cancer patients may develop isolated liver metastasis. There is increasing data that anti-HER2 targeted therapy in conjunction with systemic chemotherapy may lead to increased rates of pathologic complete response in the primary breast cancer. However, little is known about its effects on metastatic liver disease.
Case presentation
We report the treatment of a 54-year-old female who was diagnosed with HER2-positive invasive ductal carcinoma and synchronous breast cancer liver metastasis (BCLM). The patient underwent eight cycles of standard docetaxel with two anti-HER2 targeted agents, trastuzumab and pertuzumab. Subsequent radiographic imaging demonstrated complete radiographic response in the primary lesion with an approximate 75% decrease in the liver metastasis. After informed consent the patient underwent modified radical mastectomy that revealed pathologic complete response. Re-staging demonstrated no new disease outside the liver and a left hepatectomy was performed for resection of BCLM. Final pathologic examination revealed no residual malignant cells in the liver specimen, indicating pathologic complete response. Herein, we discuss the anti-HER2 targeted agents trastuzumab and pertuzumab and review the data on dual HER2 antagonism for HER2-positive breast cancer and the role of surgical resection of BCLM.
The role of targeted agents for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer is under active clinical trial investigation and we await the maturation of trial results and long-term survival data. Our results suggest that these agents may also be effective for producing considerable pathologic response in patients with BCLM.
PMCID: PMC3978138  PMID: 24708527
HER2-positive breast cancer; Targeted therapy; Breast cancer liver metastases; Trastuzumab; Pertuzumab; Complete pathologic response
3.  Effect of physical therapy on breast cancer related lymphedema: protocol for a multicenter, randomized, single-blind, equivalence trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:239.
Physical therapy treatment of patients with lymphedema includes treatment based on the principles of ‘Complete Decongestive Therapy’ (CDT). CDT consists of the following components; skin care, manual lymphatic drainage, bandaging and exercises. The scientific evidence regarding what type of treatment is most effective is sparse. The objective of this study is to investigate whether CDT is equally effective if it includes manual lymphatic drainage or not in the treatment of arm lymphedema among patients with breast cancer.
A randomized, single-blind, equivalence trial. A total of 160 breast cancer patients with arm lymphedema will be recruited from 3 hospitals and randomized into one of two treatment groups A: Complete Decongestive Therapy including manual drainage or B: Complete Decongestive Therapy without manual lymphatic drainage. The intervention period will be approximately 4 weeks followed by a 6 month follow-up period (7 months from baseline). Primary outcome variable: the percentage volume reduction of lymphedema (%) from baseline to 7 months. Secondary outcome variables: Differences from baseline to week 4 and from week 4 to month 7 in circumference of the arm (cm), body weight (kg), patient sensation of heaviness (scale range: 0–10), patient sensation of tension (scale range: 0–10), and quality of life (EQ-5D-5 L-questionnaire).
All measurements are standardized and will be performed before randomization, after 4 weeks and after 7 months.
This randomized controlled study seeks to provide data on an effective treatment for patients with breast cancer related arm lymphedema and which at the same time causes minimal patient inconvenience.
Trial registration Identifier NCT02015897
PMCID: PMC3978135  PMID: 24708851
Manual lymphatic drainage; Complete Decongestive Therapy; Breast cancer
4.  Factors associated with work disability in employed cancer survivors at 24-month sick leave 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:236.
Identification of factors associated with work disability in cancer survivors on long term sick leave may support these survivors in choosing effective measures to facilitate vocational rehabilitation and return to work. Therefore, this study aims to disclose factors associated with work disability in cancer survivors at 24 months of sick leave.
A cross sectional study was conducted. The study population consisted of employed sick-listed cancer survivors, aged between 18 and 64 years. They received a questionnaire at 24-month sick leave, the maximum period of sick leave allowed by Dutch social security legislation. Data were linked with the outcome of work disability assessment, as performed by the Dutch social security agency. A hierarchical multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with work disability.
Data of 351 valid cases were analysed. The multivariate analysis showed that, for cancer survivors at 24-month sick leave, Dutch nationality, higher education, receiving hormone therapy, metastatic disease, physical limitations and low self-reported work ability were associated with an increased risk for work disability.
This study identified factors associated with work disability of employed cancer survivors at 24 months of sick leave. The results of the current study may serve as a starting point to investigate the course of work disability beyond the maximum period of 24 months of sick leave. In order to enhance work participation of cancer survivors beyond this term, prospective data on work disability in the Netherlands are required.
PMCID: PMC3976500  PMID: 24693855
Cancer; Survivors; Work disability; Return to work; Limitations; Sick leave
5.  Outcome after intensity modulated radiotherapy for anaplastic thyroid carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:235.
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is a malignancy with one of the highest fatality rates. We reviewed our recent clinical experience with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) combined with surgery and chemotherapy for the management of ATC.
13 patients with ATC who were treated by IMRT in our institution between October 2008 and February 2011, have been analyzed. The target volume for IMRT was planned to include Gross tumor volume (GTV): primary tumor plus any N + disease (66 Gy/33 F/6.6 W), with elective irradiation of thyroid bed, bilateral level II through VI and mediastinal lymph nodes to the level of the carina (54-60 Gy). Seven patients received surgical intervention and eleven patients had chemotherapy.
The median radiotherapy dose to GTV was 60 Gy/30 fractions/6 weeks. The median survival time of the 13 patients was 9 months. The direct causes of death were distant metastases (75%) and progression of the locoregional disease (25%). Ten patients were spared dyspnea and tracheostomy because their primary neck lesion did not progress.
The results showed that IMRT combined by surgery and chemotherapy for ATC might be beneficial to improve locoregional control. Further new therapies are needed to control metastases.
PMCID: PMC3976675  PMID: 24690325
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma; ATC; Intensity modulated radiotherapy; Locoregional control; Distant metastases
6.  Can an alert in primary care electronic medical records increase participation in a population-based screening programme for colorectal cancer? COLO-ALERT, a randomised clinical trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:232.
Colorectal cancer is an important public health problem in Spain. Over the last decade, several regions have carried out screening programmes, but population participation rates remain below recommended European goals. Reminders on electronic medical records have been identified as a low-cost and high-reach strategy to increase participation. Further knowledge is needed about their effect in a population-based screening programme. The main aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an electronic reminder to promote the participation in a population-based colorectal cancer screening programme. Secondary aims are to learn population’s reasons for refusing to take part in the screening programme and to find out the health professionals’ opinion about the official programme implementation and on the new computerised tool.
This is a parallel randomised trial with a cross-sectional second stage. Participants: all the invited subjects to participate in the public colorectal cancer screening programme that includes men and women aged between 50–69, allocated to the eleven primary care centres of the study and all their health professionals. The randomisation unit will be the primary care physician. The intervention will consist of activating an electronic reminder, in the patient’s electronic medical record, in order to promote colorectal cancer screening, during a synchronous medical appointment, throughout the year that the intervention takes place. A comparison of the screening rates will then take place, using the faecal occult blood test of the patients from the control and the intervention groups. We will also take a questionnaire to know the opinions of the health professionals. The main outcome is the screening status at the end of the study. Data will be analysed with an intention-to-treat approach.
We expect that the introduction of specific reminders in electronic medical records, as a tool to facilitate and encourage direct referral by physicians and nurse practitioners to perform colorectal cancer screening will mean an increase in participation of the target population. The introduction of this new software tool will have good acceptance and increase compliance with recommendations from health professionals.
Trial registration
Clinical identifier NCT01877018
PMCID: PMC3976172  PMID: 24685117
7.  Calcitriol restores antiestrogen responsiveness in estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells: A potential new therapeutic approach 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:230.
Approximately 30% of breast tumors do not express the estrogen receptor (ER) α, which is necessary for endocrine therapy approaches. Studies are ongoing in order to restore ERα expression in ERα-negative breast cancer. The aim of the present study was to determine if calcitriol induces ERα expression in ER-negative breast cancer cells, thus restoring antiestrogen responses.
Cultured cells derived from ERα-negative breast tumors and an ERα-negative breast cancer cell line (SUM-229PE) were treated with calcitriol and ERα expression was assessed by real time PCR and western blots. The ERα functionality was evaluated by prolactin gene expression analysis. In addition, the effects of antiestrogens were assessed by growth assay using the XTT method. Gene expression of cyclin D1 (CCND1), and Ether-à-go-go 1 (EAG1) was also evaluated in cells treated with calcitriol alone or in combination with estradiol or ICI-182,780. Statistical analyses were determined by one-way ANOVA.
Calcitriol was able to induce the expression of a functional ERα in ER-negative breast cancer cells. This effect was mediated through the vitamin D receptor (VDR), since it was abrogated by a VDR antagonist. Interestingly, the calcitriol-induced ERα restored the response to antiestrogens by inhibiting cell proliferation. In addition, calcitriol-treated cells in the presence of ICI-182,780 resulted in a significant reduction of two important cell proliferation regulators CCND1 and EAG1.
Calcitriol induced the expression of ERα and restored the response to antiestrogens in ERα-negative breast cancer cells. The combined treatment with calcitriol and antiestrogens could represent a new therapeutic strategy in ERα-negative breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3972996  PMID: 24678876
Estrogen receptor; Breast cancer; Hormonal therapy; Calcitriol; VDR
8.  Oral cancer cells may rewire alternative metabolic pathways to survive from siRNA silencing of metabolic enzymes 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:223.
Cancer cells may undergo metabolic adaptations that support their growth as well as drug resistance properties. The purpose of this study is to test if oral cancer cells can overcome the metabolic defects introduced by using small interfering RNA (siRNA) to knock down their expression of important metabolic enzymes.
UM1 and UM2 oral cancer cells were transfected with siRNA to transketolase (TKT) or siRNA to adenylate kinase (AK2), and Western blotting was used to confirm the knockdown. Cellular uptake of glucose and glutamine and production of lactate were compared between the cancer cells with either TKT or AK2 knockdown and those transfected with control siRNA. Statistical analysis was performed with student T-test.
Despite the defect in the pentose phosphate pathway caused by siRNA knockdown of TKT, the survived UM1 or UM2 cells utilized more glucose and glutamine and secreted a significantly higher amount of lactate than the cells transferred with control siRNA. We also demonstrated that siRNA knockdown of AK2 constrained the proliferation of UM1 and UM2 cells but similarly led to an increased uptake of glucose/glutamine and production of lactate by the UM1 or UM2 cells survived from siRNA silencing of AK2.
Our results indicate that the metabolic defects introduced by siRNA silencing of metabolic enzymes TKT or AK2 may be compensated by alternative feedback metabolic mechanisms, suggesting that cancer cells may overcome single defective pathways through secondary metabolic network adaptations. The highly robust nature of oral cancer cell metabolism implies that a systematic medical approach targeting multiple metabolic pathways may be needed to accomplish the continued improvement of cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3972515  PMID: 24666435
9.  Prospective study of high-risk, BRCA1/2-mutation negative women: the ‘negative study’ 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:221.
We previously reported that women from high-risk families who tested negative for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) mutation were four times more likely to develop breast cancer compared to women in the general population. Preventive measures and risk factors for breast cancer development in these high-risk women have not been evaluated to the same extent as BRCA1/2 positive women. Further, there is virtually no scientific evidence about best practices in their management and care. The proposed study will examine a role of genetic and non-genetic factors and develop the systems and parameters for the monitoring and surveillance necessary to help establish guidelines for the care of this high-risk population.
To achieve our goals, we will assemble and follow a Canadian cohort of 1,000 cancer-free women with a strong family history breast cancer (defined as two or more relatives affected by breast cancer under the age of 50, or three or more relatives diagnosed with breast cancer at any age from one side of the family and with no BRCA1/2 mutation in the family). All eligible participants will be mailed a study package including invitation to participate, consent form, a research questionnaire to collect data regarding family history, reproductive and lifestyle factors, as well as screening and surgery. Usual dietary intake will be assessed by a diet history questionnaire. Biological samples including toenail clippings, urine and blood samples will be collected. These women will be followed every two years by questionnaire to update exposure information, screening practices, surgical and chemoprevention, and disease development.
Findings from this study will serve to help establish clinical guidelines for the implementation of prevention, counseling, and treatment practices for women who face an elevated risk of breast cancer due to family history, but who do not carry a BRCA1/2 mutation.
PMCID: PMC3973748  PMID: 24667084
Family history; Breast cancer; Risk factors; Prevention; BRCA1/2 mutation; Diet; Lifestyle; Hormones; Prospective cohort; Screening
10.  Therapeutic effects of lentivirus-mediated shRNA targeting of cyclin D1 in human gastric cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:175.
Gastric cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in males and the fourth in females. Traditional treatment has poor prognosis because of recurrence and systemic side effects. Therefore, the development of new therapeutic strategies is an important issue. Lentivirus-mediated shRNA stably inhibits target genes and can efficiently transduce most cells. Since overexpressed cyclin D1 is closely related to human gastric cancer progression, inhibition of cyclin D1 using specific targeting could be an effective treatment method of human gastric cancer.
The therapeutic effect of lentivirus-mediated shRNA targeting of cyclin D1 (ShCCND1) was analyzed both in vitro and in vivo experiments.
In vitro, NCI-N87 cells with downregulation of cyclin D1 by ShCCND1 showed significant inhibition of cell proliferation, cell motility, and clonogenicity. Downregulation of cyclin D1 in NCI-N87 cells also resulted in significantly increased G1 arrest and apoptosis. In vivo, stable NCI-N87 cells expressing ShCCND1 were engrafted into nude mice. Then, the cancer-growth inhibition effect of lentivirus was confirmed. To assess lentivirus including ShCCND1 as a therapeutic agent, intratumoral injection was conducted. Tumor growth of the lentivirus-treated group was significantly inhibited compared to growth of the control group. These results are in accordance with the in vitro data and lend support to the mitotic figure count and apoptosis analysis of the tumor mass.
The lentivirus-mediated ShCCND1 was constructed, which effectively inhibited growth of NCI-N87-derived cancer both in vitro and in vivo. The efficiency of shRNA knockdown and variation in the degree of inhibition is mediated by different shRNA sequences and cancer cell lines. These experimental results suggest the possibility of developing new gastric cancer therapies using lentivirus-mediated shRNA.
PMCID: PMC3975285  PMID: 24618206
Gastric cancer; Cyclin D1; Lentivirus; shRNA
11.  Metformin enhances tamoxifen-mediated tumor growth inhibition in ER-positive breast carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:172.
Tamoxifen, an endocrine therapy drug used to treat breast cancer, is designed to interrupt estrogen signaling by blocking the estrogen receptor (ER). However, many ER-positive patients are low reactive or resistant to tamoxifen. Metformin is a widely used anti-diabetic drug with noteworthy anti-cancer effects. We investigated whether metformin has the additive effects with tamoxifen in ER-positive breast cancer therapy.
The efficacy of metformin alone and in combination with tamoxifen against ER-positive breast cancer was analyzed by cell survival, DNA replication activity, plate colony formation, soft-agar, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and nude mice model assays. The involved signaling pathways were detected by western blot assay.
When metformin was combined with tamoxifen, the concentration of tamoxifen required for growth inhibition was substantially reduced. Moreover, metformin enhanced tamoxifen-mediated inhibition of proliferation, DNA replication activity, colony formation, soft-agar colony formation, and induction of apoptosis in ER-positive breast cancer cells. In addition, these tamoxifen-induced effects that were enhanced by metformin may be involved in the bax/bcl-2 apoptotic pathway and the AMPK/mTOR/p70S6 growth pathway. Finally, two-drug combination therapy significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo.
The present work shows that metformin and tamoxifen additively inhibited the growth and augmented the apoptosis of ER-positive breast cancer cells. It provides leads for future research on this drug combination for the treatment of ER-positive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3976359  PMID: 24612549
Metformin; Tamoxifen; Estrogen receptor; Breast cancer
12.  Zoledronic acid inhibits pulmonary metastasis dissemination in a preclinical model of Ewing’s sarcoma via inhibition of cell migration 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:169.
Ewing’s sarcoma (ES) is the second most frequent primitive malignant bone tumor in adolescents with a very poor prognosis for high risk patients, mainly when lung metastases are detected (overall survival <15% at 5 years). Zoledronic acid (ZA) is a potent inhibitor of bone resorption which induces osteoclast apoptosis. Our previous studies showed a strong therapeutic potential of ZA as it inhibits ES cell growth in vitro and ES primary tumor growth in vivo in a mouse model developed in bone site. However, no data are available on lung metastasis. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of ZA on ES cell invasion and metastatic properties.
Invasion assays were performed in vitro in Boyden’s chambers covered with Matrigel. Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP) activity was analyzed by zymography in ES cell culture supernatant. In vivo, a relevant model of spontaneous lung metastases which disseminate from primary ES tumor was induced by the orthotopic injection of 106 human ES cells in the tibia medullar cavity of nude mice. The effect of ZA (50 μg/kg, 3x/week) was studied over a 4-week period. Lung metastases were observed macroscopically at autopsy and analysed by histology.
ZA induced a strong inhibition of ES cell invasion, probably due to down regulation of MMP-2 and −9 activities as analyzed by zymography. In vivo, ZA inhibits the dissemination of spontaneous lung metastases from a primary ES tumor but had no effect on the growth of established lung metastases.
These results suggest that ZA could be used early in the treatment of ES to inhibit bone tumor growth but also to prevent the early metastatic events to the lungs.
PMCID: PMC3975287  PMID: 24612486
Ewing’s sarcoma; Zoledronic acid; Lung metastases; Animal models
13.  Ovarian cancer symptom awareness and anticipated delayed presentation in a population sample 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:171.
While ovarian cancer is recognised as having identifiable early symptoms, understanding of the key determinants of symptom awareness and early presentation is limited. A population-based survey of ovarian cancer awareness and anticipated delayed presentation with symptoms was conducted as part of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP).
Women aged over 50 years were recruited using random probability sampling (n = 1043). Computer-assisted telephone interviews were used to administer measures including ovarian cancer symptom recognition, anticipated time to presentation with ovarian symptoms, health beliefs (perceived risk, perceived benefits/barriers to early presentation, confidence in symptom detection, ovarian cancer worry), and demographic variables. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the contribution of independent variables to anticipated presentation (categorised as < 3 weeks or ≥ 3 weeks).
The most well-recognised symptoms of ovarian cancer were post-menopausal bleeding (87.4%), and persistent pelvic (79.0%) and abdominal (85.0%) pain. Symptoms associated with eating difficulties and changes in bladder/bowel habits were recognised by less than half the sample. Lower symptom awareness was significantly associated with older age (p ≤ 0.001), being single (p ≤ 0.001), lower education (p ≤ 0.01), and lack of personal experience of ovarian cancer (p ≤ 0.01). The odds of anticipating a delay in time to presentation of ≥ 3 weeks were significantly increased in women educated to degree level (OR = 2.64, 95% CI 1.61 – 4.33, p ≤ 0.001), women who reported more practical barriers (OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.34 – 1.91, p ≤ 0.001) and more emotional barriers (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.06 – 1.40, p ≤ 0.01), and those less confident in symptom detection (OR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.42 – 0.73, p ≤ 0.001), but not in those who reported lower symptom awareness (OR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.91 – 1.07, p = 0.74).
Many symptoms of ovarian cancer are not well-recognised by women in the general population. Evidence-based interventions are needed not only to improve public awareness but also to overcome the barriers to recognising and acting on ovarian symptoms, if delays in presentation are to be minimised.
PMCID: PMC3975332  PMID: 24612526
Ovarian cancer; Symptoms; Awareness; Anticipated delay
14.  Phase II randomized trial of neoadjuvant metformin plus letrozole versus placebo plus letrozole for estrogen receptor positive postmenopausal breast cancer (METEOR) 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:170.
Neoadjuvant endocrine therapy with an aromatase inhibitor has shown efficacy comparable to that of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with postmenopausal breast cancer. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that the antidiabetic drug metformin has anti-tumor activity. This prospective, multicenter, phase II randomized, placebo controlled trial was designed to evaluate the direct anti-tumor effect of metformin in non-diabetic postmenopausal women with estrogen-receptor (ER) positive breast cancer.
Patients meeting the inclusion criteria and providing written informed consent will be randomized to 24 weeks of neoadjuvant treatment with letrozole (2.5 mg/day) and either metformin (2000 mg/day) or placebo. Target accrual number is 104 patients per arm. The primary endpoint will be clinical response rate, as measured by calipers. Secondary endpoints include pathologic complete response rate, breast conserving rate, change in Ki67 expression, breast density change, and toxicity profile. Molecular assays will be performed using samples obtained before treatment, at week 4, and postoperatively.
This study will provide direct evidence of the anti-tumor effect of metformin in non-diabetic, postmenopausal patients with ER-positive breast cancer.
Trial registration Identifier NCT01589367
PMCID: PMC3984742  PMID: 24612502
Metformin; Letrozole; Neoadjuvant; Estrogen receptor-positive Breast cancer
15.  Study protocol: a randomised controlled trial of a theory-based online intervention to improve sun safety among Australian adults 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:162.
The effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation are a significant concern in Australia which has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Despite most skin cancers being preventable by encouraging consistent adoption of sun-protective behaviours, incidence rates are not decreasing. There is a dearth of research examining the factors involved in engaging in sun-protective behaviours. Further, online multi-behavioural theory-based interventions have yet to be explored fully as a medium for improving sun-protective behaviour in adults. This paper presents the study protocol of a randomised controlled trial of an online intervention based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) that aims to improve sun safety among Australian adults.
Approximately 420 adults aged 18 and over and predominantly from Queensland, Australia, will be recruited and randomised to the intervention (n = 200), information only (n = 200) or the control group (n = 20). The intervention focuses on encouraging supportive attitudes and beliefs toward sun-protective behaviour, fostering perceptions of normative support for sun protection, and increasing perceptions of control/self-efficacy over sun protection. The intervention will be delivered online over a single session. Data will be collected immediately prior to the intervention (Time 1), immediately following the intervention (Time 1b), and one week (Time 2) and one month (Time 3) post-intervention. Primary outcomes are intentions to sun protect and sun-protective behaviour. Secondary outcomes are the participants’ attitudes toward sun protection, perceptions of normative support for sun protection (i.e. subjective norms, group norms, personal norms and image norms) and perceptions of control/self-efficacy toward sun protection.
The study will contribute to an understanding of the effectiveness of a TPB-based online intervention to improve Australian adults’ sun-protective behaviour.
Trials registry
Australian and New Zealand Trials Registry number ACTRN12613000470796
PMCID: PMC3973973  PMID: 24602210
Sun protection; Theory of planned behaviour; Online intervention; Sun-protective behaviour; Adult; Oncology; Skin cancer
16.  Increasing rates of surgical treatment and preventing comorbidities may increase breast cancer survival for Aboriginal women 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:163.
Lower breast cancer survival has been reported for Australian Aboriginal women compared to non-Aboriginal women, however the reasons for this disparity have not been fully explored. We compared the surgical treatment and survival of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women diagnosed with breast cancer in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
We analysed NSW cancer registry records of breast cancers diagnosed in 2001–2007, linked to hospital inpatient episodes and deaths. We used unconditional logistic regression to compare the odds of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women receiving surgical treatment. Breast cancer-specific survival was examined using cumulative mortality curves and Cox proportional hazards regression models.
Of the 27 850 eligible women, 288 (1.03%) identified as Aboriginal. The Aboriginal women were younger and more likely to have advanced spread of disease when diagnosed than non-Aboriginal women. Aboriginal women were less likely than non-Aboriginal women to receive surgical treatment (odds ratio 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42-0.86). The five-year crude breast cancer-specific mortality was 6.1% higher for Aboriginal women (17.7%, 95% CI 12.9-23.2) compared with non-Aboriginal women (11.6%, 95% CI 11.2-12.0). After accounting for differences in age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, spread of disease and surgical treatment received the risk of death from breast cancer was 39% higher in Aboriginal women (HR 1.39, 95% CI 1.01-1.86). Finally after also accounting for differences in comorbidities, socioeconomic disadvantage and place of residence the hazard ratio was reduced to 1.30 (95% CI 0.94-1.75).
Preventing comorbidities and increasing rates of surgical treatment may increase breast cancer survival for NSW Aboriginal women.
PMCID: PMC3975643  PMID: 24606675
Australia/epidemiology; Breast Neoplasms/epidemiology; Female health services; Indigenous; Survival rate
17.  Cyr61 Expression is associated with prognosis in patients with colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:164.
Cysteine-rich 61 (Cyr61), a member of the CCN protein family, possesses diverse functionality in cellular processes such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, and survival. Cyr61 can also function as an oncogene or a tumour suppressor, depending on the origin of the cancer. Only a few studies have reported Cyr61 expression in colorectal cancer. In this study, we assessed the Cyr61 expression in 251 colorectal cancers with clinical follow up.
We examined Cyr61 expression in 6 colorectal cancer cell lines (HT29, Colo205, Lovo, HCT116, SW480, SW620) and 20 sets of paired normal and colorectal cancer tissues by western blot. To validate the association of Cyr61 expression with clinicopathological parameters, we assessed Cyr61 expression using tissue microarray analysis of primary colorectal cancer by immunohistochemical analysis.
We verified that all of the cancer cell lines expressed Cyr61; 2 cell lines (HT29 and Colo205) demonstrated Cyr61 expression to a slight extent, while 4 cell lines (Lovo, HCT116, SW480, SW620) demonstrated greater Cyr61 expression than HT29 and Colo205 cell lines. Among the 20 cases of paired normal and tumour tissues, greater Cyr61 expression was observed in 16 (80%) tumour tissues than in normal tissues. Furthermore, 157 out of 251 cases (62.5%) of colorectal cancer examined in this study displayed strong Cyr61 expression. Cyr61 expression was found to be associated with pN (p = 0.018). Moreover, Cyr61 expression was associated with statistically significant cancer-specific mortality (p = 0.029). The duration of survival was significantly lesser in patients with Cyr61 high expression than in patients with Cyr61 low expression (p = 0.001). These results suggest that Cyr61 expression plays several important roles in carcinogenesis and may also be a good prognostic marker for colorectal cancer.
Our data confirmed that Cyr61 was expressed in colorectal cancers and the expression was correlated with worse prognosis of colorectal cancers.
PMCID: PMC3975645  PMID: 24606730
Colorectal cancer; Cyr61; Immunohistochemistry; Prognosis
18.  Histological review of skin cancers in African Albinos: a 10-year retrospective review 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:157.
Skin cancer is rare among Africans and albinism is an established risk for skin cancer in this population. Ultraviolet radiation is highest at the equator and African albinos living close to the equator have the highest risk of developing skin cancers.
This was a retrospective study that involved histological review of all specimens with skin cancers from African albinos submitted to The Regional Dermatology Training Center in Moshi, Tanzania from 2002 to 2011.
A total of 134 biopsies from 86 patients with a male to female ratio of 1:1 were reviewed. Head and neck was the commonest (n = 75, 56.0%) site affected by skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) was more common than basal cell carcinoma (BCC) with a ratio of 1.2:1. Only one Acral lentiginous melanoma was reported. Majority (55.6%) of SCC were well differentiated while nodular BCC (75%) was the most common type of BCC.
Squamous cell carcinoma is more common than basal cell carcinoma in African albinos.
PMCID: PMC3975641  PMID: 24597988
Albinos; African; Skin Cancer
19.  Tumor-stroma metabolic relationship based on lactate shuttle can sustain prostate cancer progression 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:154.
Cancer cell adopts peculiar metabolic strategies aimed to sustain the continuous proliferation in an environment characterized by relevant fluctuations in oxygen and nutrient levels. Monocarboxylate transporters MCT1 and MCT4 can drive such adaptation permitting the transport across plasma membrane of different monocarboxylic acids involved in energy metabolism.
Role of MCTs in tumor-stroma metabolic relationship was investigated in vitro and in vivo using transformed prostate epithelial cells, carcinoma cell lines and normal fibroblasts. Moreover prostate tissues from carcinoma and benign hypertrophy cases were analyzed for individuating clinical-pathological implications of MCT1 and MCT4 expression.
Transformed prostate epithelial (TPE) and prostate cancer (PCa) cells express both MCT1 and MCT4 and demonstrated variable dependence on aerobic glycolysis for maintaining their proliferative rate. In glucose-restriction the presence of L-lactate determined, after 24 h of treatment, in PCa cells the up-regulation of MCT1 and of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COX1), and reduced the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase respect to untreated cells. The blockade of MCT1 function, performed by si RNA silencing, determined an appreciable antiproliferative effect when L-lactate was utilized as energetic fuel. Accordingly L-lactate released by high glycolytic human diploid fibroblasts WI-38 sustained survival and growth of TPE and PCa cells in low glucose culture medium. In parallel, the treatment with conditioned medium from PCa cells was sufficient to induce glycolytic metabolism in WI-38 cells, with upregulation of HIF-1a and MCT4. Co-injection of PCa cells with high glycolytic WI-38 fibroblasts determined an impressive increase in tumor growth rate in a xenograft model that was abrogated by MCT1 silencing in PCa cells. The possible interplay based on L-lactate shuttle between tumor and stroma was confirmed also in human PCa tissue where we observed a positive correlation between stromal MCT4 and tumor MCT1 expression.
Our data demonstrated that PCa progression may benefit of MCT1 expression in tumor cells and of MCT4 in tumor-associated stromal cells. Therefore, MCTs may result promising therapeutic targets in different phases of neoplastic transformation according to a strategy aimed to contrast the energy metabolic adaptation of PCa cells to stressful environments.
PMCID: PMC3945608  PMID: 24597899
Aerobic glycolysis; Monocarboxylate transporters; Cancer associated fibroblasts; Warburg effect; Tumor stroma
20.  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
21.  Pharmacological inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 modulates resistance of human glioblastoma stem cells to temozolomide 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:151.
Chemoresistance of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) has been attributed to the presence within the tumor of cancer stem cells (GSCs). The standard therapy for GBM consists of surgery followed by radiotherapy and the chemotherapeutic agent temozolomide (TMZ). However, TMZ efficacy is limited by O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) and Mismatch Repair (MMR) functions. Strategies to counteract TMZ resistance include its combination with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi), which hamper the repair of N-methylpurines. PARPi are also investigated as monotherapy for tumors with deficiency of homologous recombination (HR). We have investigated whether PARPi may restore GSC sensitivity to TMZ or may be effective as monotherapy.
Ten human GSC lines were assayed for MMR proteins, MGMT and PARP-1 expression/activity, MGMT promoter methylation and sensitivity to TMZ or PARPi, alone and in combination. Since PTEN defects are frequently detected in GBM and may cause HR dysfunction, PTEN expression was also analyzed. The statistical analysis of the differences in drug sensitivity among the cell lines was performed using the ANOVA and Bonferroni’s post-test or the non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis analysis and Dunn’s post-test for multiple comparisons. Synergism between TMZ and PARPi was analyzed by the median-effect method of Chou and Talalay. Correlation analyses were done using the Spearman’s rank test.
All GSCs were MMR-proficient and resistance to TMZ was mainly associated with high MGMT activity or low proliferation rate. MGMT promoter hypermethylation of GSCs correlated both with low MGMT activity/expression (Spearman’s test, P = 0.004 and P = 0.01) and with longer overall survival of GBM patients (P = 0.02). Sensitivity of each GSC line to PARPi as single agent did not correlate with PARP-1 or PTEN expression. Notably, PARPi and TMZ combination exerted synergistic antitumor effects in eight out of ten GSC lines and the TMZ dose reduction achieved significantly correlated with the sensitivity of each cell line to PARPi as single agent (P = 0.01).
The combination of TMZ with PARPi may represent a valuable strategy to reverse GSC chemoresistance.
PMCID: PMC3975727  PMID: 24593254
Temozolomide; PARP inhibitor; Cancer stem cells; O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase; Chemoresistance
22.  Methylene blue-assisted technique for harvesting lymph nodes after radical surgery for gastric cancer: a prospective randomized phase III study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:155.
This randomized Phase III trial will evaluate whether the methylene blue-assisted technique is efficient for harvesting lymph nodes after radical surgery for gastric cancer.
Patients that undergo distal or total gastrectomy with radical nodal dissection will be randomly assigned to Group A: the standard group, the lymph nodes (LNs) will be harvested from the fresh specimen immediately after surgery, or Group B: the methylene blue-assisted group, where the LNs will be harvested from specimens fixed with 10% buffered formalin with methylene blue for 48 hours after surgery. The primary endpoint is the ratio of the number of the harvested LNs per time (minute). The secondary endpoint is the number of harvested LNs. A 25% reduction in the ratio of harvested lymph-node/time (minute) was determined to be necessary for this test treatment, considering the balance between the cost and benefit. Retrospective data was used to estimate the ratio of the number of the harvested LNs per time (minute) to be 40/30 minutes in Group A. A 25% risk reduction and a rate of 40/22.5 minutes is expected in Group B. Therefore, the sample size required ensuring a two-sided alpha error of 5% and statistical power of 80% is 52 patients, with 26 patients per arm. The number of patients to be accrued was set at 60 in total, due to the likelihood of enrolling ineligible patients.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3975851  PMID: 24597931
Clinical trial design; Gastrointestinal surgery; Pathology
23.  Tumor cells with low proteasome subunit expression predict overall survival in head and neck cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:152.
Experimental and clinical data suggest that solid cancers contain treatment-resistant cancer stem cells that will impair treatment efficacy. The objective of this study was to investigate if head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) also contain cancer stem cells that can be identified by low 26S proteasome activity and if their presence correlates to clinical outcome.
Human HNSCC cells, engineered to report lack of proteasome activity based on accumulation of a fluorescent fusion protein, were separated based on high (ZsGreen-cODCneg) or low (ZsGreen-cODCpos) proteasome activity. Self-renewal capacity, tumorigenicity and radioresistance were assessed. Proteasome subunit expression was analyzed in tissue microarrays and correlated to survival and locoregional cancer control of 174 patients with HNSCC.
HNSCC cells with low proteasome activity showed a significantly higher self-renewal capacity and increased tumorigenicity. Irradiation enriched for ZsGreen-cODCpos cells. The survival probability of 82 patients treated with definitive radio- or chemo-radiotherapy exhibiting weak, intermediate, or strong proteasome subunit expression were 21.2, 28.8 and 43.8 months (p = 0.05), respectively. Locoregional cancer control was comparably affected.
Subpopulations of HNSCC display stem cell features that affect patients’ tumor control and survival. Evaluating cancer tissue for expression of the proteasome subunit PSMD1 may help identify patients at risk for relapse.
PMCID: PMC3975871  PMID: 24593279
Cancer stem cells; Head and neck cancer; Proteasome; Radiotherapy
24.  Age and stage at diagnosis: a hospital series of 11 women with intellectual disability and breast carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:150.
Breast cancer has been poorly studied in women with intellectual disability (ID), which makes designing a policy for screening the nearly 70 million women with ID in the world difficult. As no data is available in the literature, we evaluated breast cancer at diagnosis in women with ID.
Women with ID were searched retrospectively among all women treated for invasive breast cancer in a single hospital over 18 years. Age at diagnosis was compared among the whole group of women. Tumor size, lymph node involvement, SBR grade, TNM classification, and AJCC stage were compared to controls matched for age and period of diagnosis using conditional logistic regression.
Among 484 women with invasive breast cancer, 11 had ID. The mean age at diagnosis was 55.6 years in women with ID and 62.4 years in the other women. The mean tumor size in women with ID was 3.53 cm, compared to 1.80 cm in 44 random controls from among the 473 women without ID. Lymph node involvement was observed in 9 of the 11 women with ID compared to 12 of the controls (OR = 11.53, p = 0.002), and metastases were found in 3 of the 11 women with ID compared to 1 of the 44 controls (OR = 12.00, p = 0.031). The AJCC stage was higher in women with ID compared to controls (OR = 3.19, p = 0.010).
Women with ID presented at an earlier age with tumors of a higher AJCC stage than controls despite no significant differences in tumor grade and histological type. Thus, delayed diagnosis may be responsible for the differences between disabled and non-disabled women.
PMCID: PMC3943992  PMID: 24593240
Breast cancer; Cancer screening; Cancer stage; Diagnosis delay; Intellectual disability
25.  Treatment of gastric peritoneal carcinomatosis by combining complete surgical resection of lesions and intraperitoneal immunotherapy using catumaxomab 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:148.
The peritoneum is one of the most frequent sites of recurrent gastric carcinoma after curative treatment, despite the administration of pre- and/or postoperative systemic chemotherapy. Indeed, the prognosis of peritoneal carcinomatosis from gastric carcinoma continues to be poor, with a median survival of less than one year with systemic chemotherapy. Whereas the prognosis of peritoneal carcinomatosis from colorectal cancer has changed with the development of locally administered hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), survival results following carcinomatosis from gastric cancer remain disappointing, yielding a 5-year survival rate of less than 20%. Innovative surgical therapies such as intraperitoneal immunotherapy therefore need to be developed for the immediate postoperative period after complete cytoreductive surgery. In a recent randomised study, a clinical effect was obtained after intraperitoneal infusion of catumaxomab in patients with malignant ascites, notably from gastric carcinoma. Catumaxomab, a nonhumanized chimeric antibody, is characterized by its unique ability to bind to three different types of cells: tumour cells expressing the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), T lymphocytes (CD3) and also accessory cells (Fcγ receptor). Because the peritoneum is an immunocompetent organ and up to 90% of gastric carcinomas express EpCAM, intraperitoneal infusion of catumaxomab after complete resection of all macroscopic disease (as defined in the treatment of carcinomatosis from colorectal cancer) could therefore efficiently treat microscopic residual disease.
The aim of this randomized phase II study is to assess 2-year overall survival after complete resection of limited carcinomatosis synchronous with gastric carcinoma, followed by an intraperitoneal infusion of catumaxomab with different total doses administered in each of the 2 arms. Close monitoring of peri-opertive mortality, morbidity and early surgical re-intervention will be done with stopping rules. Besides this analysis, translational research will be conducted to determine immunological markers of catumaxomab efficacy and to correlate these markers with clinical efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3973895  PMID: 24589307
Peritoneal carcinomatosis; Gastric carcinoma; Intraperitoneal chemotherapy; Immunotherapy; Catumaxomab

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