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1.  Eribulin Mesylate in Pretreated Breast Cancer Patients: A Multicenter Retrospective Observational Study 
Journal of Cancer  2014;5(5):320-327.
Background: Eribulin was recently approved in patients progressing after being treated with anthracyclines and taxanes and after two or more chemotherapy lines for advanced disease.
Objectives: This multicenter observational retrospective study was performed in order to evaluate activity and tolerability of eribulin in real-world patient population.
Methods: 133 advanced breast cancer patients pretreated with ≥ 2 chemotherapy lines for metastatic disease were retrospectively enrolled in the observational trial in 11 italian cancer centres.
Results: A median of 5 cycles of eribulin (range, 1-15) were administered. Twenty-eight partial responses were observed, for an overall response rate of 21.1% (95%CI,14.1-28.0). A stable disease was recorded in 57 patients (42.8%), and a clinical benefit (response or stable disease lasting ≥ six months) was observed in 51 patients (38.3%, 95%CI, 30.1-46.6). The subgroup analysis showed that a significant improvement in term of partial response and clinical benefit was achieved when eribulin was administered in HER-2 negative tumors (p=0.01 and p=0.004, respectively) and when it is given as third-line (p=0.09 and p=0.02, respectively). Toxicity was manageable; fatigue is the most common side effect observed, usually of low-grade, and clearly cumulative-dose related.
Conclusions: In this retrospective, observational analysis eribulin confirmed its efficacy and manageable tolerability even in real-world population and in heavily pretreated patients.
doi:10.7150/jca.8748
PMCID: PMC3982178  PMID: 24723974
advanced breast cancer; eribulin mesylate; real-world population; heavily pretreated patients; chemotherapy.
2.  An Italian cost-effectiveness analysis of paclitaxel albumin (nab-paclitaxel) versus conventional paclitaxel for metastatic breast cancer patients: the COSTANza study 
Purpose
Paclitaxel albumin (nab-paclitaxel) is a nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel formulation aimed at increasing therapeutic index in metastatic breast cancer. When compared to conventional paclitaxel, nab-paclitaxel has a reported longer time to progression, higher response, lower incidence of neutropenia, no need for premedication, shorter time of administration, and in pretreated metastatic breast cancer patients, extended overall survival. This study investigates the cost-effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel versus conventional paclitaxel for pretreated metastatic breast cancer patients in Italy.
Materials and methods
A Markov model with progression-free, progressed, and dead states was developed to estimate costs, outcomes, and quality adjusted life years over 5 years from the Italian National Health Service viewpoint. Patients were assumed to receive nab-paclitaxel 260 mg/m2 three times weekly or conventional paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 three times weekly. Data on health care resource consumption was collected from a convenience sample of five Italian centers. Resources were valued at Euro (€) 2011. Published utility weights were applied to health states to estimate the impact of response, disease progression, and adverse events on quality adjusted life years. Three sensitivity analyses tested the robustness of the base case incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).
Results and conclusion
Compared to conventional paclitaxel, nab-paclitaxel gains an extra 0.165 quality adjusted life years (0.265 life years saved) and incurs additional costs of €2506 per patient treated. This translates to an ICER of €15,189 (95% confidence interval: €11,891–€28,415). One-way sensitivity analysis underscores that ICER for nab-paclitaxel remains stable despite varying taxanes cost. Threshold analysis shows that ICER for nab-paclitaxel exceeds €40,000 only if cost per mg of conventional paclitaxel is set to zero. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis highlights that nab-paclitaxel has a 0.99 probability to be cost-effective for a threshold value of €40,000 and is the optimal alternative from a threshold value of €16,316 onwards. Based on these findings, nab-paclitaxel can be considered highly cost-effective when compared to the acceptability range for ICER proposed by the Italian Health Economics Association (€25,000–€40,000).
doi:10.2147/CEOR.S41850
PMCID: PMC3629871  PMID: 23610525
metastatic breast cancer; nab-paclitaxel; conventional paclitaxel; cost-effectiveness analysis; Italy
3.  Randomised phase 3 open-label trial of first-line treatment with gemcitabine in association with docetaxel or paclitaxel in women with metastatic breast cancer: a comparison of different schedules and treatments 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:164.
Background
This open-label study compared docetaxel/gemcitabine vs. paclitaxel/gemcitabine and a weekly (W) vs. 3-weekly (3 W) schedule in metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
Methods
Patients relapsed after adjuvant/neoadjuvant anthracycline-containing chemotherapy were randomized to: A) gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 Day 1,8 + docetaxel 75 mg/m2 Day 1 q3W; B) gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 Day 1,8 + paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 Day 1 q3W; C) gemcitabine 800 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 + docetaxel 30 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 q4W; D) gemcitabine 800 mg/m2 Day 1,15 + paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 Day 1,8,15 q4W. Primary endpoint was time-to-progression (TTP). Secondary endpoints were overall survival (OS) and overall response rate (ORR).
Results
Interim analysis led to accrual interruption (241 patients enrolled of 360 planned). Median TTP (months) was 8.33 (95% CI: 6.19-10.16) with W and 7.51 (95% CI: 5.93-8.33) with 3 W (p=0.319). No differences were observed in median TTP between docetaxel and paclitaxel, with 85.6% and 87.0% of patients progressing, respectively. OS did not differ between regimens/schedules. ORR was comparable between regimens (HR: 0.882; 95% CI: 0.523-1.488; p=0.639), while it was significantly higher in W than in the 3 W (HR: 0.504; 95% CI: 0.299-0.850; p=0.010) schedule. Grade 3/4 toxicities occurred in 69.2% and 71.9% of patients on docetaxel and paclitaxel, and in 65.8% and 75.2% in W and 3 W.
Conclusions
Both treatment regimens showed similar TTP. W might be associated with a better tumour response compared with 3 W.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrial.gov ID NCT00236899
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-164
PMCID: PMC3621657  PMID: 23537313
Metastatic breast cancer; Weekly schedule; 3-weekly schedule
4.  Maintenance bevacizumab beyond first-line paclitaxel plus bevacizumab in patients with Her2-negative hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer: efficacy in combination with hormonal therapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:482.
Background
Data on efficacy of bevacizumab (B) beyond first-line taxane -including regimen (BT) as first-line treatment are lacking. Although preclinical results that anti-angiogenic agents combined with hormonal therapy (HT) could be active, no clinical data exist about combination of maintenance Bevacizumab (mBev) with HT.
Methods
Thirty-five patients who experienced a response after first-line BT, were given mBev at the dose of 15 mg/kg every 3 weeks. Among 30 pts with hormonal receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC), 20 (66.6%) received HT with mBev (mHTBev). Objective of the study was the outcome and safety of mBev and in two groups of patients receiving HT or not.
Results
Complete response and partial response was achieved/maintained in 4 (11.4%) and 13 (37.1%) patients, respectively (overall response rate: 48.5%). Clinical benefit was obtained on 23 patients (65.7%). Median of mBev PFS and clinical benefit were 6.8 months (95% CI: 0.8-12.7) and 17.1 months (95% CI :12.2-21.9), respectively. Median PFS of patients who received mHTBev was longer than mBev without HT (13 months and 4.1 months, respectively, p = 0.05). The most common severe toxicities were proteinuria (11.4%) and hypertension (8.5%). No additional toxicity was observed with HTBev.
Conclusion
Maintenance bevacizumab with or without anti-hormonal therapy in patients with hormone receptor positive breast cancer is tolerable and associated with long-term clinical outcome; these results encourage the strategy of prolonging bevacizumab until progression in combination with anti-hormonal agents.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-482
PMCID: PMC3488474  PMID: 23083011
Maintenance Bevacizumab; Antiangiogenic agents; HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer
5.  Early perfusion changes in patients with recurrent high-grade brain tumor treated with Bevacizumab: preliminary results by a quantitative evaluation 
Background
To determine whether early monitoring of the effects of bevacizumab in patients with recurrent high-grade gliomas, by a Perfusion Computed Tomography (PCT), may be a predictor of the response to treatment assessed through conventional MRI follow-up.
Methods
Sixteen patients were enrolled in the present study. For each patient, two PCT examinations, before and after the first dose of bevacizumab, were acquired. Areas of abnormal Cerebral Blood Volume (CBV) were manually defined on the CBV maps, using co-registered T1- weighted images, acquired before treatment, as a guide to the tumor location. Different perfusion metrics were derived from the histogram analysis of the normalized CBV (nCBV) maps; both hyper and hypo-perfused sub-volumes were quantified in the lesion, including tumor necrosis. A two-tailed Wilcoxon test was used to establish the significance of changes in the different perfusion metrics, observed at baseline and during treatment. The relationships between changes in perfusion and morphological MRI modifications at first follow-up were investigated.
Results
Significant reductions in mean and median nCBV were detected throughout the entire patient population, after only a single dose of bevacizumab. The nCBV histogram modifications indicated the normalization effect of bevacizumab on the tumor abnormal vasculature. An improvement in hypoxia after a single dose of bevacizumab was predictive of a greater reduction in T1-weighted contrast-enhanced volumes at first follow-up.
Conclusions
These preliminary results show that a quantification of changes in necrotic intra-tumoral regions could be proposed as a potential imaging biomarker of tumor response to anti-VEGF therapies.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-31-33
PMCID: PMC3583244  PMID: 22494770
Perfusion CT; Anti-angiogenic therapy; Bevacizumab; Brain tumor; Hypoxia
6.  Magnitude of risks and benefits of the addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients: Meta-regression analysis of randomized trials 
Background
Although the addition of bevacizumab significantly improves the efficacy of chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer, regulatory concerns still exist with regard to the magnitude of the benefits and the overall safety profile.
Methods
A literature-based meta-analysis to quantify the magnitude of benefit and safety of adding bevacizumab to chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer patients was conducted. Meta-regression and sensitivity analyses were also performed to identify additional predictors of outcome and to assess the influence of trial design.
Results
Five trials (3,841 patients) were gathered. A significant interaction according to treatment line was found for progression-free survival (PFS, p = 0.027); PFS was significantly improved for 1st line (Hazard Ratio, HR 0.68, p < 0.0001), with a 1-yr absolute difference (AD) of 8.4% (number needed to treat, NNT 12). A non-significant trend was found in overall survival (OS), and in PFS for 2nd line. Responses were improved with the addition of bevacizumab, without interaction between 1st line (Relative Risk, RR 1.46, p < 0.0001) and 2nd line (RR 1.58, p = 0.05). The most important toxicity was hypertension, accounting for a significant AD of 4.5% against bevacizumab (number needed to harm, NNH 22). Other significant, although less clinically meaningful, adverse events were proteinuria, neurotoxicity, febrile neutropenia, and bleeding. At the meta-regression analysis for 1st-line, more than 3 metastatic sites (p = 0.032), no adjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.00013), negative hormonal receptor status (p = 0.009), and prior anthracyclines-exposure (p = 0.019), did significantly affect PFS.
Conclusions
Although with heterogeneity, the addition of bevacizumab to 1st-line chemotherapy significantly improves PFS, and overall activity. Hypertension should be weighted with the overall benefit on the individual basis.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-30-54
PMCID: PMC3120715  PMID: 21569417
7.  Brain metastases from solid tumors: disease outcome according to type of treatment and therapeutic resources of the treating center 
Background
To evaluate the therapeutic strategies commonly employed in the clinic for the management of brain metastases (BMs) and to correlate disease outcome with type of treatment and therapeutic resources available at the treating center.
Methods
Four Cancer centres participated to the survey. Data were collected through a questionnaire filled in by one physician for each centre.
Results
Clinical data regarding 290 cancer patients with BMs from solid tumors were collected. Median age was 59 and 59% of patients had ≤ 3 brain metastases. A local approach (surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery) was adopted in 31% of patients. The local approach demonstrated to be superior in terms of survival compared to the regional/systemic approach (whole brain radiotherapy and chemotherapy, p = <.0001 for survival at 2 years). In the multivariate analysis local treatment was an independent prognostic factor for survival. When patients were divided into 2 groups whether they were treated in centers where local approaches were available or not (group A vs group B respectively, 58% of patients with ≤ 3 BMs in both cohorts), more patients in group A received local strategies although no difference in time to brain progression at 1 year was observed between the two groups of patients.
Conclusions
In clinical practice, local strategies should be integrated in the management of brain metastases. Proper selection of patients who are candidate to local treatments is of crucial importance.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-30-10
PMCID: PMC3033846  PMID: 21244695
8.  Palonosetron in combination with 1-day versus 3-day dexamethasone for prevention of nausea and vomiting following moderately emetogenic chemotherapy: a randomized, multicenter, phase III trial 
Supportive Care in Cancer  2010;19(8):1217-1225.
Purpose
A phase III trial assessed the efficacy of palonosetron plus dexamethasone given once in preventing acute and delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) following a broad range of moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (MEC) regimens.
Methods
This multicentre, randomized, open-label, non-inferiority trial evaluated two different treatment groups. One group received palonosetron (0.25 mg intravenously) and dexamethasone (8 mg intravenously) before chemotherapy, while the other was administered the same regimen on day 1 followed by dexamethasone 8 mg orally on days 2 and 3. The primary endpoint was complete response (CR; defined as no emetic episodes and no rescue medication) during the overall phase (days 1–5 after chemotherapy initiation). The non-inferiority margin was predefined as a 15% difference between groups in the primary endpoint.
Results
Of 332 chemotherapy-naïve patients included in the intention-to-treat analysis, 65.1% were female, and 35.2% received anthracycline plus cyclophosphamide (AC)-based regimens. Overall CR rates were 67.5% for those administered dexamethasone only on day 1 (n = 166), and 71.1% for those also administered dexamethasone on days 2 and 3 (n = 166; difference −3.6% (95% confidence interval, −13.5 to 6.3)). CR rates were not significantly different between groups during the acute (0–24 h post-chemotherapy; 88.6% versus 84.3%; P = 0.262) and delayed phases (days 2–5; 68.7% versus 77.7%; P = 0.116).
Conclusions
Palonosetron plus single-dose dexamethasone administered before common MEC regimens provide protection against acute and delayed CINV which is non-inferior to that of palonosetron plus dexamethasone for 3 days. However, the major benefit of the single-day regimen occurs in patients receiving non-AC MEC regimens.
doi:10.1007/s00520-010-0941-7
PMCID: PMC3128271  PMID: 20574663
Palonosetron; Serotonin antagonists; Dexamethasone; Moderately emetogenic chemotherapy; Nausea; Vomiting
9.  The role side effects play in the choice of antiepileptic therapy in brain tumor-related epilepsy: a comparative study on traditional antiepileptic drugs versus oxcarbazepine 
Background
Seizure control doesn't represent the only challenging goal in patients with brain tumor-related epilepsy. Side effects have often taken precedence for patients' quality of life.
Methods
We performed an observational retrospective study on patients with brain tumor-related epilepsy: 35 who had assumed oxcarbazepine monotherapy and 35 patients who had undergone treatment with traditional antiepileptic drugs. Primary variable of efficacy was the mean seizure frequency per month and safety variables were the drop-out for side effects and total incidence of side effects. We applied the Propensity Score technique to minimize selection bias.
Results
Our results showed a similar efficacy of oxcarbazepine and traditional antiepileptic drugs over time, but the difference in safety and tolerability between the two groups was significant: traditional AEDs caused more side effects, both serious and non serious.
Conclusion
This study highlights the importance of taking into consideration not only seizure control but also the appearance of side effects when choosing antiepileptic drugs in this patients population.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-28-60
PMCID: PMC2686682  PMID: 19419544
10.  Treatment of recurrent malignant gliomas with fotemustine monotherapy: impact of dose and correlation with MGMT promoter methylation 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:101.
Background
In recurrent malignant gliomas (MGs), a high rate of haematological toxicity is observed with the use of fotemustine at the conventional schedule (100 mg/m2 weekly for 3 consecutive weeks followed by triweekly administration after a 5-week rest period). Also, the impact of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status on fotemustine activity has never been explored in the clinical setting.
Methods
40 patients with recurrent pretreated MG were identified as being treated with fotemustine at doses ranging from 65 mg/m2 to 100 mg/m2. Patients were classified into 3 groups according to the dose of fotemustine received, from the lowest dosage received in group A, to the highest in group C. Analysis of MGMT promoter methylation in tumor tissue was successfully performed in 19 patients.
Results
Overall, 20% of patients responded to treatment, for a disease control rate (DCR, responses plus stabilizations) of 47.5%. Groups A and B experienced a response rate of 40% and 26.5% respectively, while the corresponding value for group C was 10%. Out of 19 patients, MGMT promoter was found methylated in 12 cases among which a DCR of 66.5% was observed. All 7 patients with unmethylated MGMT promoter were progressive to fotemustine.
Conclusion
Low-dose fotemustine at 65–75 mg/m2 (induction phase) followed by 75–85 mg/m2 (maintenance phase) has an activity comparable to that of the conventional schedule. By determination of the MGMT promoter methylation status patients might be identified who are more likely to benefit from fotemustine chemotherapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-101
PMCID: PMC2667532  PMID: 19335893
11.  Quantitative analysis of CT-perfusion parameters in the evaluation of brain gliomas and metastases 
Background
The paper reports a quantitative analysis of the perfusion maps of 22 patients, affected by gliomas or by metastasis, with the aim of characterizing the malignant tissue with respect to the normal tissue. The gold standard was obtained by histological exam or nuclear medicine techniques. The perfusion scan provided 11 parametric maps, including Cerebral Blood Volume (CBV), Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF), Average Perfusion (Pmean) and Permeability-surface area product (PS).
Methods
The perfusion scans were performed after the injection of 40 ml of non-ionic contrast agent, at an injection rate of 8 ml/s, and a 40 s cine scan with 1 s interval was acquired. An expert radiologist outlined the region of interest (ROI) on the unenhanced CT scan, by using a home-made routine. The mean values with their standard deviations inside the outlined ROIs and the contralateral ROIs were calculated on each map. Statistical analyses were used to investigate significant differences between diseased and normal regions. Receiving Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were also generated.
Results
Tumors are characterized by higher values of all the perfusion parameters, but after the statistical analysis, only the PS, PatRsq (Patlak Rsquare) and Tpeak (Time to Peak) resulted significant. ROC curves, confirmed both PatRsq and PS as equally reliable metrics for discriminating between malignant and normal tissues, with areas under curves (AUCs) of 0.82 and 0.81, respectively.
Conclusion
CT perfusion is a useful and non invasive technique for evaluating brain neoplasms. Malignant and normal tissues can be accurately differentiated using perfusion map, with the aim of performing tumor diagnosis and grading, and follow-up analysis.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-28-38
PMCID: PMC2661315  PMID: 19284885
12.  A divergent role for estrogen receptor-beta in node-positive and node-negative breast cancer classified according to molecular subtypes: an observational prospective study 
Introduction
Estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-α) and progesterone receptor (PgR) are consolidated predictors of response to hormonal therapy (HT). In contrast, little information regarding the role of estrogen receptor-beta (ER-β) in various breast cancer risk groups treated with different therapeutic regimens is available. In particular, there are no data concerning ER-β distribution within the novel molecular breast cancer subtypes luminal A (LA) and luminal B (LB), HER2 (HS), and triple-negative (TN).
Methods
We conducted an observational prospective study using immunohistochemistry to evaluate ER-β expression in 936 breast carcinomas. Associations with conventional biopathological factors and with molecular subtypes were analyzed by multiple correspondence analysis (MCA), while univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis and classification and regression tree analysis were applied to determine the impact of ER-β on disease-free survival in the 728 patients with complete follow-up data.
Results
ER-β evenly distributes (55.5%) across the four molecular breast cancer subtypes, confirming the lack of correlation between ER-β and classical prognosticators. However, the relationships among the biopathological factors, analyzed by MCA, showed that ER-β positivity is located in the quadrant containing more aggressive phenotypes such as HER2 and TN or ER-α/PgR/Bcl2- tumors. Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression analysis identified ER-β as a significant discriminating factor for disease-free survival both in the node-negative LA (P = 0.02) subgroup, where it is predictive of response to HT, and in the node-positive LB (P = 0.04) group, where, in association with PgR negativity, it conveys a higher risk of relapse.
Conclusion
Our data indicated that, in contrast to node-negative patients, in node-positive breast cancer patients, ER-β positivity appears to be a biomarker related to a more aggressive clinical course. In this context, further investigations are necessary to better assess the role of the different ER-β isophorms.
doi:10.1186/bcr2139
PMCID: PMC2614505  PMID: 18771580
13.  Induction of ErbB-3 Expression by α6β4 Integrin Contributes to Tamoxifen Resistance in ERβ1-Negative Breast Carcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(2):e1592.
Background
Tamoxifen is still the most widely used drug in hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. Its benefits in adjuvant treatment are well documented in controlled and randomized clinical studies, which have demonstrated an increase in disease-free intervals of patients with positive hormonal receptors. However, the mechanisms involved in endocrine resistance are not clear. Laboratory and clinical data now indicate that bi-directional molecular cross-talk between nuclear or membrane ER and growth factor receptor pathways may be involved in endocrine resistance. We recently found a functional interaction between α6β4 integrin and ErbB-3 receptor to maintain the PI3K/Akt survival pathway of mammary tumour cells. We sought to improve understanding of this process in order to provide the involvement of both receptors insight into mechanism of Tamoxifen resistance.
Methods and Findings
Using human breast cancer cell lines displaying different levels of α6β4 and ErbB-3 receptors and a series of 232 breast cancer biopsies from patients submitted to adjuvant Tamoxifen monotherapy for five years, we evaluated the functional interaction between both receptors in relationship to Tamoxifen responsiveness. In mammary carcinoma cells, we evidenced that the α6β4 integrin strongly influence Akt phosphorylation through ErbB-3 protein regulation. Moreover, the ErbB-3 inactivation inhibits Akt phosphorylation, induces apoptosis and inhibits in vitro invasion favouring Tamoxifen responsiveness. The analysis of human tumors revealed a significant relationship between α6β4 and ErbB-3 in P-Akt-positive and ERβ1-negative breast cancers derived from patients with lower disease free survival.
Conclusions
We provided evidence that a strong relationship occurs between α6β4 and ErbB-3 positivity in ERβ1-negative breast cancers. We also found that the association between ErbB-3 and P-Akt positivity mainly occurs in ERβ1-negative breast cancer derived from patients with lower DFS indicating that both receptors are clinically relevant in predicting the response to Tamoxifen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001592
PMCID: PMC2220038  PMID: 18270579

Results 1-13 (13)