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1.  Exemestane Versus Anastrozole in Postmenopausal Women With Early Breast Cancer: NCIC CTG MA.27—A Randomized Controlled Phase III Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(11):1398-1404.
In patients with hormone-dependent postmenopausal breast cancer, standard adjuvant therapy involves 5 years of the nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors anastrozole and letrozole. The steroidal inhibitor exemestane is partially non–cross-resistant with nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors and is a mild androgen and could prove superior to anastrozole regarding efficacy and toxicity, specifically with less bone loss.
Patients and Methods
We designed an open-label, randomized, phase III trial of 5 years of exemestane versus anastrozole with a two-sided test of superiority to detect a 2.4% improvement with exemestane in 5-year event-free survival (EFS). Secondary objectives included assessment of overall survival, distant disease–free survival, incidence of contralateral new primary breast cancer, and safety.
In the study, 7,576 women (median age, 64.1 years) were enrolled. At median follow-up of 4.1 years, 4-year EFS was 91% for exemestane and 91.2% for anastrozole (stratified hazard ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.18; P = .85). Overall, distant disease–free survival and disease-specific survival were also similar. In all, 31.6% of patients discontinued treatment as a result of adverse effects, concomitant disease, or study refusal. Osteoporosis/osteopenia, hypertriglyceridemia, vaginal bleeding, and hypercholesterolemia were less frequent on exemestane, whereas mild liver function abnormalities and rare episodes of atrial fibrillation were less frequent on anastrozole. Vasomotor and musculoskeletal symptoms were similar between arms.
This first comparison of steroidal and nonsteroidal classes of aromatase inhibitors showed neither to be superior in terms of breast cancer outcomes as 5-year initial adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal breast cancer by two-way test. Less toxicity on bone is compatible with one hypothesis behind MA.27 but requires confirmation. Exemestane should be considered another option as up-front adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal hormone receptor–positive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3612593  PMID: 23358971
2.  Phase III Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Docetaxel With or Without Gefitinib in Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer: An Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(11):1405-1414.
We hypothesized that the addition of gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor, to docetaxel would enhance therapeutic efficacy in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
Patients and Methods
Patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 2, or patients with ECOG performance status of 0 to 2 but were previously treated with chemotherapy, were randomly assigned to receive weekly docetaxel plus either placebo (arm A) or gefitinib 250 mg/d, orally (arm B) until disease progression. At the time of progression, patients in the placebo arm could receive single-agent gefitinib. EGFR, c-MET, and KRAS mutations and polymorphisms in drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters were evaluated by pyrosequencing.
Two hundred seventy patients were enrolled before the study was closed early at interim analysis (arm A, n = 136; arm B, n = 134). Median overall survival was 6.0 months in arm A versus 7.3 months in arm B (hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.72 to 1.21; P = .60). An unplanned subset analysis showed that gefitinib improved survival in patients younger than 65 years (median 7.6 v 5.2 months; P = .04). Also, there was a trend for improved survival in patients with c-MET wild-type (5.7 v 3.6 months; P = .09) regardless of treatment. Grade 3/4 toxicities were comparable between the two arms except that grade 3/4 diarrhea was more common with docetaxel/gefitinib. Of 18 eligible patients who received gefitinib after disease progression in arm A, one patient had a partial response.
The addition of gefitinib to docetaxel was well tolerated but did not improve outcomes in poor prognosis but otherwise unselected patients with SCCHN.
PMCID: PMC3612594  PMID: 23460714
3.  Effects of Melatonin on Appetite and Other Symptoms in Patients With Advanced Cancer and Cachexia: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(10):1271-1276.
Prior studies have suggested that melatonin, a frequently used integrative medicine, can attenuate weight loss, anorexia, and fatigue in patients with cancer. These studies were limited by a lack of blinding and absence of placebo controls. The primary purpose of this study was to compare melatonin with placebo for appetite improvement in patients with cancer cachexia.
Patients and Methods
We performed a randomized, double-blind, 28-day trial of melatonin 20 mg versus placebo in patients with advanced lung or GI cancer, appetite scores ≥ 4 on a 0 to 10 scale (10 = worst appetite), and history of weight loss ≥ 5%. Assessments included weight, symptoms by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale, and quality of life by the Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy (FAACT) questionnaire. Differences between groups from baseline to day 28 were analyzed using one-sided, two-sample t tests or Wilcoxon two-sample tests. Interim analysis halfway through the trial had a Lan-DeMets monitoring boundary with an O'Brien-Fleming stopping rule. Decision boundaries were to accept the null hypothesis of futility if the test statistic z < 0.39 (P ≥ .348) and reject the null hypothesis if z > 2.54 (P ≤ .0056).
After interim analysis of 48 patients, the study was closed for futility. There were no significant differences between groups for appetite (P = .78) or other symptoms, weight (P = .17), FAACT score (P = .95), toxicity, or survival from baseline to day 28.
In cachectic patients with advanced cancer, oral melatonin 20 mg at night did not improve appetite, weight, or quality of life compared with placebo.
PMCID: PMC3607670  PMID: 23439759
4.  Lack of Specificity of Plasma Concentrations of Inhibin B and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone for Identification of Azoospermic Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Report From the St Jude Lifetime Cohort Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(10):1324-1328.
Many male survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for azoospermia. Although both the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and inhibin B are correlated with sperm concentration, their ability to predict azoospermia in survivors of childhood cancer remains uncertain.
Patients and Methods
Semen analysis was performed and serum levels of FSH and inhibin B were measured in 275 adult male survivors of childhood cancer who had received gonadotoxic therapy. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to determine the optimal inhibin B and FSH values for identifying patients with azoospermia. The patient sample was divided into a learning set and a validation set. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive value were calculated.
Inhibin B was dichotomized as ≤ 31 ng/L or more than 31 ng/L and FSH was dichotomized as ≤ 11.5 mIU/mL or more than 11.5 mIU/mL based on results of the ROC analysis. Using these values, the specificity of the serum level of inhibin B for identifying azoospermic survivors was 45.0%, and the positive predictive value was 52.1%. The specificity for FSH was 74.1%, and the positive predictive value was 65.1%.
Neither serum inhibin B nor FSH is a suitable surrogate for determination of sperm concentration in a semen sample. Young men and their physicians should be aware of the limitations of these measures for assessment of fertility potential.
PMCID: PMC3607671  PMID: 23423746
5.  Specificity of Problem-Solving Skills Training in Mothers of Children Newly Diagnosed With Cancer: Results of a Multisite Randomized Clinical Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(10):1329-1335.
Diagnosis of cancer in a child can be extremely stressful for parents. Bright IDEAS, a problem-solving skills training (PSST) intervention, has been shown to decrease negative affectivity (anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms) in mothers of newly diagnosed patients. This study was designed to determine the specificity of PSST by examining its direct and indirect (eg, social support) effects compared with a nondirective support (NDS) intervention.
Patients and Methods
This randomized clinical trial included 309 English- or Spanish-speaking mothers of children diagnosed 2 to 16 weeks before recruitment. Participants completed assessments prerandomization (T1), immediately postintervention (T2), and at 3-month follow-up (T3). Both PSST and NDS consisted of eight weekly 1-hour individual sessions. Outcomes included measures of problem-solving skill and negative affectivity.
There were no significant between-group differences at baseline (T1). Except for level of problem-solving skill, which was directly taught in the PSST arm, outcome measures improved equally in both groups immediately postintervention (T2). However, at the 3-month follow-up (T3), mothers in the PSST group continued to show significant improvements in mood, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress; mothers in the NDS group showed no further significant gains.
PSST is an effective and specific intervention whose beneficial effects continue to grow after the intervention ends. In contrast, NDS is an effective intervention while it is being administered, but its benefits plateau when active support is removed. Therefore, teaching coping skills at diagnosis has the potential to facilitate family resilience over the entire course of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3607672  PMID: 23358975
6.  Quality of Care for Comorbid Conditions During the Transition to Survivorship: Differences Between Cancer Survivors and Noncancer Controls 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1140-1148.
Building on previous research documenting differences in preventive care quality between cancer survivors and noncancer controls, this study examines comorbid condition care.
Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) –Medicare database, we examined comorbid condition quality of care in patients with locoregional breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer diagnosed in 2004 who were age ≥ 66 years at diagnosis, who had survived ≥ 3 years, and who were enrolled in fee-for-service Medicare. Controls were frequency matched to cases on age, sex, race, and region. Quality of care was assessed from day 366 through day 1,095 postdiagnosis using published indicators of chronic (n = 10) and acute (n = 19) condition care. The proportion of eligible cancer survivors and controls who received recommended care was compared by using Fisher's exact tests. The chronic and acute indicators, respectively, were then combined into single logistic regression models for each cancer type to compare survivors' care receipt to that of controls, adjusting for clinical and sociodemographic variables and controlling for within-patient variation.
The sample matched 8,661 cancer survivors to 17,322 controls (mean age, 75 years; 65% male; 85% white). Colorectal cancer survivors were less likely than controls to receive appropriate care on both the chronic (odds ratio [OR], 0.88; 95% CI, 0.81 to 0.95) and acute (OR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.85) indicators. Prostate cancer survivors were more likely to receive appropriate chronic care (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.19 to 1.38) but less likely to receive quality acute care (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.65 to 0.87). Breast cancer survivors received care equivalent to controls on both the chronic (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.96 to 1.17) and acute (OR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.76 to 1.13) indicators.
Because we found differences by cancer type, research exploring factors associated with these differences in care quality is needed.
PMCID: PMC3595422  PMID: 23401438
7.  Prevalence of Off-Label Use and Spending in 2010 Among Patent-Protected Chemotherapies in a Population-Based Cohort of Medical Oncologists 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1134-1139.
The prevalence of off-label anticancer drug use is not well characterized. The extent of off-label use is a policy concern because the clinical benefits of such use to patients may not outweigh costs or adverse health outcomes.
Prescribing data from IntrinsiQ Intellidose data systems, a pharmacy software provider maintaining a population-based cohort database of medical oncologists, was analyzed. Use of the most commonly prescribed anticancer drugs (“chemotherapies”) that were patent protected and administered intravenously to patients in 2010 was examined. Use was classified as “on-label” if the cancer site, stage, and therapy line met the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved indication. All other use was “off-label.” Off-label use was divided by whether it conformed to National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN) Compendium recommendations, a basis of insurer coverage policies. IMS Health National Sales Perspectives was used to estimate national spending by use category.
Ten chemotherapies met inclusion criteria. On-label use amounted to 70%, and off-label use amounted to 30%. Fourteen percent of use conformed to an NCCN-supported off-label indication, and 10% of off-label use was associated with an FDA-approved cancer site, but an NCCN-unsupported cancer stage and/or line of therapy. Total national spending on these chemotherapies amounted to $12 billion (B; $7.3B on-label, $2B off-label and NCCN supported; $2.5B off-label and NCCN unsupported).
Commonly used, novel chemotherapies are more often used on-label than off-label in contemporary practice. Off-label use is composed of a roughly equal mix of chemotherapy applied in clinical settings supported by the NCCN and those that are not.
PMCID: PMC3595423  PMID: 23423747
8.  Postinduction Dexamethasone and Individualized Dosing of Escherichia Coli L-Asparaginase Each Improve Outcome of Children and Adolescents With Newly Diagnosed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Results From a Randomized Study—Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ALL Consortium Protocol 00-01 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1202-1210.
We assessed the toxicity and efficacy of dexamethasone and a novel dosing method of Escherichia coli L-asparaginase (EC-Asnase) in children and adolescents with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Patients and Methods
Patients achieving complete remission (CR) on Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ALL Consortium Protocol 00-01 were eligible for random assignment to 1) dexamethasone or prednisone, administered as 5-day pulses, every 3 weeks, and 2) weekly EC-Asnase, administered as a 25,000 IU/m2 fixed dose (FD) or individualized dose (ID) starting at 12,500-IU/m2, adjusted every 3 weeks based on nadir serum asparaginase activity (NSAA) determinations.
Between 2000 and 2004, 492 evaluable patients (ages 1 to 18 years) enrolled; 473 patients (96%) achieved CR. Four hundred eight patients (86%) participated in the corticosteroid randomization and 384 patients (81%) in the EC-Asnase randomization. With 4.9 years of median follow-up, dexamethasone was associated with superior 5-year event-free survival (EFS; 90% v 81% for prednisone; P = .01) but higher rates of infection (P = .03) and, in older children, higher cumulative incidence of osteonecrosis (P = .02) and fracture (P = .06). ID EC-Asnase had superior 5-year EFS (90% v 82% for FD; P = .04), but did not reduce the frequency of asparaginase-related toxicity. Multivariable analysis identified both dexamethasone and ID EC-Asnase as independent predictors of favorable EFS.
There was no overall difference in skeletal toxicity by corticosteroid type; dexamethasone was associated with more infections and, in older children, increased incidence of osteonecrosis and fracture. There was no difference in asparaginase-related toxicity by EC-Asnase dosing method. Dexamethasone and ID EC-Asnase were each associated with superior EFS. Monitoring NSAA during treatment with EC-Asnase may be an effective strategy to improve outcome in pediatric ALL.
PMCID: PMC3595424  PMID: 23358966
9.  Identification of a 24-Gene Prognostic Signature That Improves the European LeukemiaNet Risk Classification of Acute Myeloid Leukemia: An International Collaborative Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1172-1181.
To identify a robust prognostic gene expression signature as an independent predictor of survival of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and use it to improve established risk classification.
Patients and Methods
Four independent sets totaling 499 patients with AML carrying various cytogenetic and molecular abnormalities were used as training sets. Two independent patient sets composed of 825 patients were used as validation sets. Notably, patients from different sets were treated with different protocols, and their gene expression profiles were derived using different microarray platforms. Cox regression and Kaplan-Meier methods were used for survival analyses.
A prognostic signature composed of 24 genes was derived from a meta-analysis of Cox regression values of each gene across the four training sets. In multivariable models, a higher sum value of the 24-gene signature was an independent predictor of shorter overall (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) in both training and validation sets (P < .01). Moreover, this signature could substantially improve the European LeukemiaNet (ELN) risk classification of AML, and patients in three new risk groups classified by the integrated risk classification showed significantly (P < .001) distinct OS and EFS.
Despite different treatment protocols applied to patients and use of different microarray platforms for expression profiling, a common prognostic gene signature was identified as an independent predictor of survival of patients with AML. The integrated risk classification incorporating this gene signature provides a better framework for risk stratification and outcome prediction than the ELN classification.
PMCID: PMC3595425  PMID: 23382473
10.  Clinicopathologic Findings Predictive of Relapse in Children With Stage III Favorable-Histology Wilms Tumor 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1196-1201.
Stage III designation in NWTS-5 (National Wilms Tumor Study–5) was determined by four pathologic criteria: positive lymph nodes (LNs), peritoneal implants, residual disease, and tumor rupture. The objective of this study was to determine the prognostic significance of each of the stage III criteria.
Patients and Methods
Children with stage III Wilms tumor (WT) treated in NWTS-5 were assessed for event-free (EFS) and overall survival (OS). Sites of relapse and molecular status of tumors are reported. EFS and OS are reported 8 years after diagnosis.
There were 569 patients with local stage III favorable-histology (FH) WT in this analysis, of whom 109 had overall stage IV disease. LN involvement alone was the most frequent criterion for stage III designation (38%), followed by microscopic residual disease alone (20%), microscopic residual disease and LN involvement (14%), and spill or soilage alone (9%). The 8-year EFS and OS estimates for all patients with local stage III FHWT were 82% and 91%, respectively. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that both LN involvement (relative risk, 1.89; P = .005) and microscopic residual disease (relative risk, 1.87; P = .007) were predictive of EFS, and OS results were similar. There was no apparent difference in pattern of relapse according to stage III subtype. The rate of loss of heterozygosity was higher (6%) for those with positive LNs than for those without (2%; P = .05).
LN involvement and microscopic residual are the stage III criteria highly predictive of EFS and OS for patients with stage III FHWT. It is possible that in future studies, patients with different stage III criteria may receive different therapies.
PMCID: PMC3595426  PMID: 23382471
11.  Role of Ubiquitin Ligases and the Proteasome in Oncogenesis: Novel Targets for Anticancer Therapies 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(9):1231-1238.
The ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) regulates the ubiquitination, and thus degradation and turnover, of many proteins vital to cellular regulation and function. The UPS comprises a sequential series of enzymatic processes using four key enzyme families: E1 (ubiquitin-activating enzymes), E2 (ubiquitin-carrier proteins), E3 (ubiquitin-protein ligases), and E4 (ubiquitin chain assembly factors). Because the UPS is a crucial regulator of the cell cycle, and abnormal cell-cycle control can lead to oncogenesis, aberrancies within the UPS pathway can result in a malignant cellular phenotype and thus has become an attractive target for novel anticancer agents. This article will provide an overall review of the mechanics of the UPS, describe aberrancies leading to cancer, and give an overview of current drug therapies selectively targeting the UPS.
PMCID: PMC3807137  PMID: 23358974
12.  Computed Tomography Screening for Lung Cancer: Has It Finally Arrived? Implications of the National Lung Screening Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1002-1008.
The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) has provided compelling evidence of the efficacy of lung cancer screening using low-dose helical computed tomography (LDCT) to reduce lung cancer mortality. The NLST randomized 53,454 older current or former heavy smokers to receive LDCT or chest radiography (CXR) for three annual screens. Participants were observed for a median of 6.5 years for outcomes. Vital status was available in more than 95% of participants. LDCT was positive in 24.2% of screens, compared with 6.9% of CXRs; more than 95% of all positive LDCT screens were not associated with lung cancer. LDCT detected more than twice the number of early-stage lung cancers and resulted in a stage shift from advanced to early-stage disease. Complications of LDCT screening were minimal. Lung cancer–specific mortality was reduced by 20% relative to CXR; all-cause mortality was reduced by 6.7%. The major harms of LDCT are radiation exposure, high false-positive rates, and the potential for overdiagnosis. This review discusses the risks and benefits of LDCT screening as well as an approach to LDCT implementation that incorporates systematic screening practice with smoking cessation programs and offers opportunities for better determination of appropriate risk cohorts for screening and for better diagnostic prediction of lung cancer in the setting of screen-detected nodules. The challenges of implementation are considered for screening programs, for primary care clinicians, and across socioeconomic strata. Considerations for future research to complement imaging-based screening to reduce the burden of lung cancer are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3589698  PMID: 23401434
13.  Maintenance Chemotherapy for Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: New Life for an Old Idea 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1009-1020.
Although well established for the treatment of certain hematologic malignancies, maintenance therapy has only recently become a treatment paradigm for advanced non–small-cell lung cancer. Maintenance therapy, which is designed to prolong a clinically favorable state after completion of a predefined number of induction chemotherapy cycles, has two principal paradigms. Continuation maintenance therapy entails the ongoing administration of a component of the initial chemotherapy regimen, generally the nonplatinum cytotoxic drug or a molecular targeted agent. With switch maintenance (also known as sequential therapy), a new and potentially non–cross-resistant agent is introduced immediately on completion of first-line chemotherapy. Potential rationales for maintenance therapy include increased exposure to effective therapies, decreasing chemotherapy resistance, optimizing efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents, antiangiogenic effects, and altering antitumor immunity. To date, switch maintenance therapy strategies with pemetrexed and erlotinib have demonstrated improved overall survival, resulting in US Food and Drug Administration approval for this indication. Recently, continuation maintenance with pemetrexed was found to prolong overall survival as well. Factors predicting benefit from maintenance chemotherapy include the degree of response to first-line therapy, performance status, the likelihood of receiving further therapy at the time of progression, and tumor histology and molecular characteristics. Several aspects of maintenance therapy have raised considerable debate in the thoracic oncology community, including clinical trial end points, the prevalence of second-line chemotherapy administration, the role of treatment-free intervals, quality of life, economic considerations, and whether progression-free survival is a worthy therapeutic goal in this disease setting.
PMCID: PMC3589699  PMID: 23401441
14.  Genotyping and Genomic Profiling of Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Implications for Current and Future Therapies 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1039-1049.
Substantial advances have been made in understanding critical molecular and cellular mechanisms driving tumor initiation, maintenance, and progression in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Over the last decade, these findings have led to the discovery of a variety of novel drug targets and the development of new treatment strategies. Already, the standard of care for patients with advanced-stage NSCLC is shifting from selecting therapy empirically based on a patient's clinicopathologic features to using biomarker-driven treatment algorithms based on the molecular profile of a patient's tumor. This approach is currently best exemplified by treating patients with NSCLC with first-line tyrosine kinase inhibitors when their cancers harbor gain-of-function hotspot mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene or anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements. These genotype-based targeted therapies represent the first step toward personalizing NSCLC therapy. Recent technology advances in multiplex genotyping and high-throughput genomic profiling by next-generation sequencing technologies now offer the possibility of rapidly and comprehensively interrogating the cancer genome of individual patients from small tumor biopsies. This advance provides the basis for categorizing molecular-defined subsets of patients with NSCLC in whom a growing list of novel molecularly targeted therapeutics are clinically evaluable and additional novel drug targets can be discovered. Increasingly, practicing oncologists are facing the challenge of determining how to select, interpret, and apply these new genetic and genomic assays. This review summarizes the evolution, early success, current status, challenges, and opportunities for clinical application of genotyping and genomic tests in therapeutic decision making for NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3589700  PMID: 23401433
15.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor–Resistant Disease 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1070-1080.
EGFR-mutant lung cancer was first described as a new clinical entity in 2004. Here, we present an update on new controversies and conclusions regarding the disease.
This article reviews the clinical implications of EGFR mutations in lung cancer with a focus on epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance.
The discovery of EGFR mutations has altered the ways in which we consider and treat non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients whose metastatic tumors harbor EGFR mutations are expected to live longer than 2 years, more than double the previous survival rates for lung cancer.
The information presented in this review can guide practitioners and help them inform their patients about EGFR mutations and their impact on the treatment of NSCLC. Efforts should now concentrate on making EGFR-mutant lung cancer a chronic rather than fatal disease.
PMCID: PMC3589701  PMID: 23401451
16.  MET As a Possible Target for Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1089-1096.
Lung cancer is a heterogeneous group of disorders that is now being subdivided into molecular subtypes with dedicated targeted therapies. The MET receptor tyrosine kinase has been identified as aberrantly overexpressed, potentially having activating mutations, and amplified in certain subsets of lung cancers. The ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) can also be overexpressed in lung cancer or expressed in stroma, and both the MET receptor and the HGF ligand can be targets for therapeutics, especially in lung cancer. Activation of MET leads to a plethora of biochemical and biologic changes both in normal and cancerous cells. Preclinically, it has been shown that silencing or inactivating MET leads to decreased viability of cancer cells. There are a number of compounds against MET/HGF in clinical trials that have been shown to be active in lung cancers. This review will summarize the biology of MET as well as its therapeutic inhibition in lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3589702  PMID: 23401458
17.  New Targetable Oncogenes in Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(8):1097-1104.
The identification of oncogenic driver mutations underlying sensitivity to epidermal growth factor receptor and anaplastic lymphoma kinase tyrosine kinase inhibitors has led to a surge of interest in identifying additional targetable oncogenes in non–small-cell lung cancer. A number of new potentially oncogenic gene alterations have been characterized in recent years, including BRAF mutations, HER2 insertions, PIK3CA mutations, FGFR1 amplifications, DDR2 mutations, ROS1 rearrangements, and RET rearrangements. In this review, we will discuss the techniques used to discover each of these candidate oncogenes, the prevalence of each in non–small-cell lung cancer, the preclinical data supporting their role in lung cancer, and data on small molecular inhibitors in development.
PMCID: PMC3589703  PMID: 23401445
18.  Long-Term Results of RTOG 91-11: A Comparison of Three Nonsurgical Treatment Strategies to Preserve the Larynx in Patients With Locally Advanced Larynx Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;31(7):845-852.
To report the long-term results of the Intergroup Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 91-11 study evaluating the contribution of chemotherapy added to radiation therapy (RT) for larynx preservation.
Patients and Methods
Patients with stage III or IV glottic or supraglottic squamous cell cancer were randomly assigned to induction cisplatin/fluorouracil (PF) followed by RT (control arm), concomitant cisplatin/RT, or RT alone. The composite end point of laryngectomy-free survival (LFS) was the primary end point.
Five hundred twenty patients were analyzed. Median follow-up for surviving patients is 10.8 years. Both chemotherapy regimens significantly improved LFS compared with RT alone (induction chemotherapy v RT alone: hazard ratio [HR], 0.75; 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.95; P = .02; concomitant chemotherapy v RT alone: HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.98; P = .03). Overall survival did not differ significantly, although there was a possibility of worse outcome with concomitant relative to induction chemotherapy (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.61; P = .08). Concomitant cisplatin/RT significantly improved the larynx preservation rate over induction PF followed by RT (HR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.37 to 0.89; P = .0050) and over RT alone (P < .001), whereas induction PF followed by RT was not better than treatment with RT alone (HR, 1.26; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.82; P = .35). No difference in late effects was detected, but deaths not attributed to larynx cancer or treatment were higher with concomitant chemotherapy (30.8% v 20.8% with induction chemotherapy and 16.9% with RT alone).
These 10-year results show that induction PF followed by RT and concomitant cisplatin/RT show similar efficacy for the composite end point of LFS. Locoregional control and larynx preservation were significantly improved with concomitant cisplatin/RT compared with the induction arm or RT alone. New strategies that improve organ preservation and function with less morbidity are needed.
PMCID: PMC3577950  PMID: 23182993
19.  Phase II Trial of Erlotinib Plus Concurrent Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy for Patients With Brain Metastases From Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(7):895-902.
Brain metastasis (BM) is a leading cause of death from non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Reasoning that activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) contributes to radiation resistance, we undertook a phase II trial of the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib with whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) in an attempt to extend survival time for patients with BM from NSCLC. Additional end points were radiologic response and safety.
Patients and Methods
Eligible patients had BM from NSCLC, regardless of EGFR status. Erlotinib was given at 150 mg orally once per day for 1 week, then concurrently with WBRT (2.5 Gy per day 5 days per week, to 35 Gy), followed by maintenance. EGFR mutation status was tested by DNA sequencing at an accredited core facility.
Forty patients were enrolled and completed erlotinib plus WBRT (median age, 59 years; median diagnosis-specific graded prognostic assessment score, 1.5). The overall response rate was 86% (n = 36). No increase in neurotoxicity was detected, and no patient experienced grade ≥ 4 toxicity, but three patients required dose reduction for grade 3 rash. At a median follow-up of 28.5 months (for living patients), median survival time was 11.8 months (95% CI, 7.4 to 19.1 months). Of 17 patients with known EGFR status, median survival time was 9.3 months for those with wild-type EGFR and 19.1 months for those with EGFR mutations.
Erlotinib was well tolerated in combination with WBRT, with a favorable objective response rate. The higher-than-expected rate of EGFR mutations in these unselected patients raises the possibility that EGFR-mutated tumors are prone to brain dissemination.
PMCID: PMC3577951  PMID: 23341526
20.  Bortezomib Added to Daunorubicin and Cytarabine During Induction Therapy and to Intermediate-Dose Cytarabine for Consolidation in Patients With Previously Untreated Acute Myeloid Leukemia Age 60 to 75 Years: CALGB (Alliance) Study 10502 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;31(7):923-929.
The purpose of this study was to determine remission induction frequency when bortezomib was combined with daunorubicin and cytarabine in previously untreated older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and safety of bortezomib in combination with consolidation chemotherapy consisting of intermediate-dose cytarabine (Int-DAC).
Patients and Methods
Ninety-five adults (age 60 to 75 years; median, 67 years) with previously untreated AML (including therapy-related and previous myelodysplastic syndrome) received bortezomib 1.3 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) on days 1, 4, 8, and 11 with daunorubicin 60 mg/m2 on days 1 through 3 and cytarabine 100 mg/m2 by continuous IV infusion on days 1 through 7. Patients who achieved complete remission (CR) received up to two courses of consolidation chemotherapy with cytarabine 2 gm/m2 on days 1 through 5 with bortezomib. Three cohorts with escalating dose levels of bortezomib were tested (0.7, 1.0, and 1.3 mg/m2). Dose-limiting toxicities were assessed during the first cycle of consolidation. The relationship between cell surface expression of CD74 and clinical outcome was assessed.
Frequency of CR was 65% (62 of 95), and 4% of patients (four of 95) achieved CR with incomplete platelet recovery (CRp). Eleven patients developed grade 3 sensory neuropathy. Bortezomib plus Int-DAC proved tolerable at the highest dose tested. Lower CD74 expression was associated with CR/CRp (P = .04) but not with disease-free or overall survival.
The addition of bortezomib to standard 3 + 7 daunorubicin and cytarabine induction chemotherapy for AML resulted in an encouraging remission rate. The maximum tested dose of bortezomib administered in combination with Int-DAC for remission consolidation was 1.3 mg/m2 and proved tolerable. Further testing of this regimen is planned.
PMCID: PMC3577952  PMID: 23129738
21.  Systematic Review of Acupuncture in Cancer Care: A Synthesis of the Evidence 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(7):952-960.
Many cancer centers offer acupuncture services. To date, a comprehensive systematic review of acupuncture in cancer care has not been conducted. The purpose of this review was to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for symptom management in patients with cancer.
Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane (all databases), Scopus, and PubMed were searched from inception through December 2011 for prospective randomized clinical trials (RCT) evaluating acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care. Only studies involving needle insertion into acupuncture points were included. No language limitations were applied. Studies were assessed for risk of bias (ROB) according to Cochrane criteria. Outcomes by symptom were designated as positive, negative, or unclear.
A total of 2,151 publications were screened. Of those, 41 RCTs involving eight symptoms (pain, nausea, hot flashes, fatigue, radiation-induced xerostomia, prolonged postoperative ileus, anxiety/mood disorders, and sleep disturbance) met all inclusion criteria. One positive trial of acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting had low ROB. Of the remaining studies, eight had unclear ROB (four positive, three negative, and one with unclear outcomes). Thirty-three studies had high ROB (19 positive, 11 negative, and three with both positive and negative outcomes depending on the symptom).
Acupuncture is an appropriate adjunctive treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting, but additional studies are needed. For other symptoms, efficacy remains undetermined owing to high ROB among studies. Future research should focus on standardizing comparison groups and treatment methods, be at least single-blinded, assess biologic mechanisms, have adequate statistical power, and involve multiple acupuncturists.
PMCID: PMC3577953  PMID: 23341529
22.  Randomized Phase III Trial of ABVD Versus Stanford V With or Without Radiation Therapy in Locally Extensive and Advanced-Stage Hodgkin Lymphoma: An Intergroup Study Coordinated by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (E2496) 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;31(6):684-691.
Although ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine) has been established as the standard of care in patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma, newer regimens have been investigated, which have appeared superior in early phase II studies. Our aim was to determine if failure-free survival was superior in patients treated with the Stanford V regimen compared with ABVD.
Patients and Methods
The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, along with the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, the Southwest Oncology Group, and the Canadian NCIC Clinical Trials Group, conducted this randomized phase III trial in patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma. Stratification factors included extent of disease (localized v extensive) and International Prognostic Factors Project Score (0 to 2 v 3 to 7). The primary end point was failure-free survival (FFS), defined as the time from random assignment to progression, relapse, or death, whichever occurred first. Overall survival, a secondary end point, was measured from random assignment to death as a result of any cause. This design provided 87% power to detect a 33% reduction in FFS hazard rate, or a difference in 5-year FFS of 64% versus 74% at two-sided .05 significance level.
There was no significant difference in the overall response rate between the two arms, with complete remission and clinical complete remission rates of 73% for ABVD and 69% for Stanford V. At a median follow-up of 6.4 years, there was no difference in FFS: 74% for ABVD and 71% for Stanford V at 5 years (P = .32).
ABVD remains the standard of care for patients with advanced Hodgkin lymphoma.
PMCID: PMC3574266  PMID: 23182987
23.  Gene Expression–Based Model Using Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Biopsies Predicts Overall Survival in Advanced-Stage Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;31(6):692-700.
Our aim was to reliably identify patients with advanced-stage classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) at increased risk of death by developing a robust predictor of overall survival (OS) using gene expression measured in routinely available formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPET).
Expression levels of 259 genes, including those previously reported to be associated with outcome in cHL, were determined by digital expression profiling of pretreatment FFPET biopsies from 290 patients enrolled onto the E2496 Intergroup trial comparing doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine (ABVD) and Stanford V regimens in locally extensive and advanced-stage cHL. A model for OS separating patients into low- and high-risk groups was produced using penalized Cox regression. The model was tested in an independent cohort of 78 patients enriched for treatment failure but otherwise similar to patients in a population-based registry of patients treated with ABVD. Weighted analysis methods generated unbiased estimates of predictor performance in the population-based registry.
A 23-gene outcome predictor was generated. The model identified a population at increased risk of death in the validation cohort. There was a 29% absolute difference in 5-year OS between the high- and low-risk groups (63% v 92%, respectively; log-rank P < .001; hazard ratio, 6.7; 95% CI, 2.6 to 17.4). The predictor was superior to the International Prognostic Score and CD68 immunohistochemistry in multivariate analyses.
A gene expression–based predictor, developed in and applicable to routinely available FFPET biopsies, identifies patients with advanced-stage cHL at increased risk of death when treated with standard-intensity up-front regimens.
PMCID: PMC3574267  PMID: 23182984
24.  Phase II Study of Gemcitabine, Carboplatin, and Bevacizumab in Patients With Advanced Unresectable or Metastatic Urothelial Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(6):724-730.
Although gemcitabine and carboplatin (GCa) is a standard option for patients with advanced urothelial cancer (UC) who are ineligible for cisplatin, outcomes remain poor. This trial evaluated the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab with GCa in advanced UC.
Patients and Methods
Patients with Karnofsky performance status of 60% to 70%, creatinine clearance less than 60 mL/min, visceral metastasis, or solitary kidney were eligible and received a lead-in dose of bevacizumab 10 mg/kg followed 2 weeks later by gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 and carboplatin at area under the [concentration-time] curve (AUC) 5.0 or 4.5 and bevacizumab 15 mg/kg on day 1 every 21 days for six cycles. Patients achieving at least stable disease (SD) continued bevacizumab 15 mg/kg every 21 days for 18 additional cycles. The study was powered to detect a 50% improvement in median progression-free survival (PFS) over a historical control.
Fifty-one patients, median age 67 years (range, 42 to 83 years), were enrolled onto the study and were evaluable for toxicity. Twenty (39%) experienced grade 3 to 4 toxicity, and 10 (20%) had thromboembolic events (deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism). Four received one or fewer cycles leaving 47 evaluable for outcomes. Twenty-three (49%) achieved response (three complete; 20 partial), and 11 had SD. Median PFS was 6.5 months (95% CI, 4.7 to 7.8 months); PFS was greater in the carboplatin AUC 5.0 group (P = .04). Median overall survival (OS) was 13.9 months.
The 95% one-sided lower confidence bound of 4.77 months for median PFS did not meet the predesignated PFS of more than 4.8 months considered sufficient for further study. Median OS was greater than expected. An ongoing phase III trial in patients who are eligible for therapy with cisplatin will define the role of bevacizumab in UC.
PMCID: PMC3574268  PMID: 23341513
25.  Declining Second Primary Ovarian Cancer After First Primary Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(6):738-743.
Although ovarian cancer incidence rates have declined in the United States, less is known of ovarian cancer trends among survivors of breast cancer. Therefore, we examined second primary ovarian cancers after first primary breast cancer.
Data were obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (1973 to 2008). Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated as the observed numbers of ovarian cancers among survivors of breast cancer compared with the expected numbers in the general population. Absolute rates were measured as the incidence rates for second primary ovarian cancer by year of diagnosis of the first primary breast cancer adjusted for age of breast cancer diagnosis and years since diagnosis.
SIRs for second primary ovarian cancer were elevated over the entire study period (SIR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.2 to 1.3), whereas the absolute rates declined with an estimated annual percentage change near 1% (−1.34% to −0.09% per year). Secular trends for second ovarian cancers were similar after estrogen receptor (ER) –positive and ER-negative breast cancers, whereas the age-specific patterns varied significantly by ER expression (P for interaction < .001). The largest SIR was among women age less than 50 years with ER-negative breast cancer (SIR, 4.35; 95% CI, 3.5 to 5.4).
Persistently elevated SIRs along with decreasing absolute rates over the entire study period suggest that ovarian cancers in both the general population and survivors of breast cancer are declining in parallel, possibly because of common risk factor exposures. Analytic studies are needed to further assess the parallel overall trends and the age-specific interaction by ER expression.
PMCID: PMC3574269  PMID: 23284037

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