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1.  Exome sequencing reveals frequent deleterious germline variants in cancer susceptibility genes in women with invasive breast cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy 
When sequencing blood and tumor samples to identify targetable somatic variants for cancer therapy, clinically relevant germline variants may be uncovered. We evaluated the prevalence of deleterious germline variants in cancer susceptibility genes in women with breast cancer referred for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and returned clinically actionable results to patients. Exome sequencing was performed on blood samples from women with invasive breast cancer referred for neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Germline variants within 142 hereditary cancer susceptibility genes were filtered and reviewed for pathogenicity. Return of results was offered to patients with deleterious variants in actionable genes if they were not aware of their result through clinical testing. 124 patients were enrolled (median age 51) with the following subtypes: triple negative (n = 43, 34.7 %), HER2+ (n = 37, 29.8 %), luminal B (n = 31, 25 %), and luminal A (n = 13, 10.5 %). Twenty-eight deleterious variants were identified in 26/124 (21.0 %) patients in the following genes: ATM (n = 3), BLM (n = 1), BRCA1 (n = 4), BRCA2 (n = 8), CHEK2 (n = 2), FANCA (n = 1), FANCI (n = 1), FANCL (n = 1), FANCM (n = 1), FH (n = 1), MLH3 (n = 1), MUTYH (n = 2), PALB2 (n = 1), and WRN (n = 1). 121/124 (97.6 %) patients consented to return of research results. Thirteen (10.5 %) had actionable variants, including four that were returned to patients and led to changes in medical management. Deleterious variants in cancer susceptibility genes are highly prevalent in patients with invasive breast cancer referred for neoadjuvant chemotherapy undergoing exome sequencing. Detection of these variants impacts medical management.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-015-3545-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4559569  PMID: 26296701
Breast cancer; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; High-risk breast cancer; Return of results; Exome sequencing; Germline mutation/pathogenic germline variant
2.  A phase II study of AZD2171 (cediranib) in the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2014;56(7):2061-2066.
Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) not fit for intensive treatment need novel therapy options. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor inhibition is one potential mechanism by which AML and MDS could be treated. The receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor AZD2171 (cediranib) has activity against VEGF receptors KDR and FLT-1. This multicenter phase II study was designed to test cediranib's activity in patients with AML or high-risk MDS. The primary endpoint was confirmed disease response defined as a composite of complete remission, partial remission or hematologic improvement. The study enrolled 23 subjects in the AML cohort and 16 subjects in the MDS cohort. There were no confirmed responses in either group. Since the study met the stopping rule after the first stage of enrollment, the trial was closed to further accrual. Common adverse events in both cohorts included thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, anemia, fatigue, dyspnea, diarrhea, nausea and dehydration.
PMCID: PMC4451441  PMID: 25329007
Myeloid leukemias and dysplasias; pharmacotherapeutics; signal transduction
4.  Adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer: To use or not to use, the anthracyclines 
Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer mortality in the world. The treatment generally involves multiple modalities including surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Anthracyclines, one of the first chemotherapeutic agents introduced in the 1960s, has been the backbone for the last 30 years and has been used extensively so far. However, the cardiac toxicity and the concern for secondary hematological malignancy has always been a challenge. A better understanding of the tumor biology, role of Her2 expression and the discovery of trastuzumab and other anti-Her 2 agents along with other effective novel therapeutic options, have revolutionized the treatment for breast cancer. The role of anthracyclines has come under close scrutiny, especially in the adjuvant setting for patients with early stage breast cancer and those with low or intermediate risk of disease recurrence. Recent studies have highlighted such a shift in the use of anthracyclines in both the academic and community clinical practice. However, in patients with a high risk of relapse, anthracyclines still hold promise. Ongoing clinical trials are underway to further define the role of anthracyclines in such a patient population. This review highlights the development, clinical utility, limitations and potential future use of anthracyclines in the adjuvant setting for patients with breast cancer. We consulted PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE, ASCO annual symposium abstracts, and for the purpose of this review.
PMCID: PMC4127622  PMID: 25114866
Breast cancer; Adjuvant; Neoadjuvant; Chemotherapy; Anthracyclines
5.  Effect of Body Mass Index (BMI) on Tumor Characteristics and Disease-Free Survival in Patients from the HER2-Positive Adjuvant Trastuzumab Trial N9831 
Cancer  2013;119(13):2447-2454.
Data suggest that weight, and specifically BMI, plays a role in breast cancer development and outcome. We hypothesized there would be a correlation between BMI and clinical outcome in patients with early stage HER2-positive breast cancer enrolled in the N9831 adjuvant trial.
Patients were grouped according to baseline BMI: normal, BMI < 25; overweight, 25 ≤ BMI < 30; and obese, BMI ≥30. Disease-free survival (DFS) was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Comparisons between treatment arms A, B, and C (chemotherapy +/− trastuzumab) were performed using a stratified Cox proportional hazards model.
Analysis was completed on 3017 eligible patients. Obese patients were more likely to be older and postmenopausal (p<0.0001 for both), have larger tumors (p=0.002) and positive lymph nodes (p=0.004). In the pooled analysis cohort, differences in DFS among the BMI groups were statistically significant (5-year DFS rates were 82.5%, 78.6%, and 78.5% for normal weight, overweight and obese women, respectively; logrank p-value = 0.02). The adjusted HR comparing the DFS of overweight to normal women was 1.30 (95% CI: 1.06 to 1.61) and obese to normal women was 1.31 (95% CI: 1.07 to 1.59). There were no statistically significant differences in DFS by weight group for women within any trial arm.
Patients with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer and normal BMI had a better 5-year DFS compared with overweight and obese women. Adjuvant trastuzumab improves clinical outcome regardless of BMI.
PMCID: PMC3686994  PMID: 23585192
obesity; BMI; adjuvant therapy; trastuzumab
6.  Current strategies for the prevention of breast cancer 
Due to the high incidence of breast cancer in the United States, optimal strategies for its prevention are imperative. This entails identification of women who are at an increased risk for breast cancer and an integrative approach that includes effective screening methods as well as nutritional, pharmacologic, and surgical management. Several breast cancer risk-assessment tools, such as the Gail and Claus models, can help clinicians determine the quantitative risk of breast cancer. The role of selective estrogen receptor modulators, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, for the prevention of breast cancer has been well established. Several other agents, such as aromatase inhibitors, are currently being investigated. The potential adverse effects of these chemopreventive agents, which include an impact on the quality of life, must be discussed with the patient before deciding on this approach. Additionally, breast cancer risk factors have been identified over the years; some of them are modifiable, but others are not. Although there is no conclusive evidence to suggest the protective role of specific dietary components, alcohol consumption and obesity are associated with an increased breast cancer risk; thus lifestyle changes can lead to a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Surgical approaches, including bilateral risk-reduction mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy, are usually limited to women with a hereditary predisposition to development of breast cancer. The objective of this review is to summarize the various approaches directed at reducing the incidence of breast cancer.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4018310  PMID: 24833917
chemoprevention; tamoxifen; raloxifene; prophylactic surgery
7.  Adjuvant Therapy of Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
Patients with the triple negative subtype of breast cancer have an overall poor outcome, with earlier relapses, distinct patterns of metastases, and lack of specific targets for treatment selection. Classification of these tumors has begun to be modified by inclusion of immunohistochemistry for various markers, and gene profiling, to further characterize this subtype of breast cancer, may aid in the identification of new targeted therapies. Anthracyclines and taxanes remain the standard of care in the adjuvant setting. However, novel anti-angiogenesis, anti-tubulin, and DNA repair agents are already under evaluation in (neo) adjuvant trials. Molecular characterization is being included in trials to identify optimal adjuvant strategies. The aim of this manuscript is to review data concerning the molecular characterization of triple negative breast cancers as well as the clinical outcomes of treating patients with existing adjuvant treatments, and to highlight newer adjuvant research strategies in development.
PMCID: PMC3918886  PMID: 20094772
Breast cancer; triple negative; basal-like breast cancer; adjuvant therapy
8.  Platelet count is a sensitive predictor of autologous peripheral blood progenitor cell collection yield in previously treated plasma cell disease patients 
Transfusion  2008;48(6):1106-1114.
It is often a clinical dilemma to determine when to collect autologous peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPCs) in patients who received prior chemotherapy. It is also challenging to predict if the collected cells will be enough for one or two transplants.
A total of 103 PBPC donors were followed to evaluate factors that predict poor autologous PBPC collection. The donors were categorized into three groups: plasma cell disorders (PCDs), lymphomas, and normal allogeneic donors.
Our evaluation showed that platelet (PLT) count before growth factor administration significantly correlated with total CD34+ cell yield (Spearman r = 0.38, p < 0.001). Further analysis showed this correlation was only significant in plasma cell disease patients who received prior chemotherapy (Spearman r = 0.5, p = 0.008). Baseline PLT counts did not correlate with PBPC collection yield in untreated PCD, lymphoma, and normal allogeneic donors. In addition, daily PLT count during PBPC harvest correlated with CD34+ cell yield for that day (Spearman r = 0.41, p < 0.001). With a multiple linear regression model (adjusted R2 = 0.31, AIC = 63.1), it has been determined that the baseline PLT count significantly correlates with total CD34+ cell yield in treated PCD patients.
Baseline PLT count is a sensitive indicator of autologous PBPC mobilization in PCD patients who received prior chemotherapy. This finding may be considered before growth factor administration to determine the optimal period to mobilize treated PCD patients and to predict if enough cells can be collected for one or two transplants.
PMCID: PMC3919131  PMID: 18315528
9.  RC0639: phase II study of paclitaxel, trastuzumab, and lapatinib as adjuvant therapy for early stage HER2-positive breast cancer 
Lapatinib adds to the efficacy of trastuzumab in preclinical models and also in the neo-adjuvant setting. This study assesses the safety and feasibility of adding lapatinib to paclitaxel and trastuzumab (THL) as part of the adjuvant therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer (HER2+ BC). In this single-arm phase II study, patients with stages I–III HER2+ BC received standard anthracycline-based chemotherapy followed by weekly taxane, with concurrent standard trastuzumab, plus daily lapatinib for a total of 12 months. The primary endpoint was symptomatic congestive heart failure, secondary endpoints included overall safety. A total of 109 eligible patients were enrolled. Median follow-up is 4.3 years. No patients experienced congestive heart failure while on treatment. Mean left ventricular ejection fraction at baseline and at the end of THL were 63.6 % (N = 109, SD = 5.7) and 59.8 % (N = 98, SD = 8.1), respectively [mean change −3.95 % (N = 98, SD = 8.3), p < 0.001]. One hundred and two patients initiated post-AC treatment; of them, 31 % experienced grade 3 (no G4) diarrhea with lapatinib at 750 mg/day. The addition of lapatinib to paclitaxel and trastuzumab following AC does not add cardiac toxicity. Lapatinib dose of 750 mg/day in combination with standard chemotherapy plus trastuzumab has acceptable overall tolerability.
PMCID: PMC3608861  PMID: 23479422
Breast cancer; HER2 cardiac; Gastrointestinal; Tolerability; Lapatinib; Adjuvant
10.  Sequential Versus Concurrent Trastuzumab in Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(34):4491-4497.
NCCTG (North Central Cancer Treatment Group) N9831 is the only randomized phase III trial evaluating trastuzumab added sequentially or used concurrently with chemotherapy in resected stages I to III invasive human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–positive breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
Patients received doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide every 3 weeks for four cycles, followed by paclitaxel weekly for 12 weeks (arm A), paclitaxel plus sequential trastuzumab weekly for 52 weeks (arm B), or paclitaxel plus concurrent trastuzumab for 12 weeks followed by trastuzumab for 40 weeks (arm C). The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS).
Comparison of arm A (n = 1,087) and arm B (n = 1,097), with 6-year median follow-up and 390 events, revealed 5-year DFS rates of 71.8% and 80.1%, respectively. DFS was significantly increased with trastuzumab added sequentially to paclitaxel (log-rank P < .001; arm B/arm A hazard ratio [HR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.85). Comparison of arm B (n = 954) and arm C (n = 949), with 6-year median follow-up and 313 events, revealed 5-year DFS rates of 80.1% and 84.4%, respectively. There was an increase in DFS with concurrent trastuzumab and paclitaxel relative to sequential administration (arm C/arm B HR, 0.77; 99.9% CI, 0.53 to 1.11), but the P value (.02) did not cross the prespecified O'Brien-Fleming boundary (.00116) for the interim analysis.
DFS was significantly improved with 52 weeks of trastuzumab added to adjuvant chemotherapy. On the basis of a positive risk-benefit ratio, we recommend that trastuzumab be incorporated into a concurrent regimen with taxane chemotherapy as an important standard-of-care treatment alternative to a sequential regimen.
PMCID: PMC3236650  PMID: 22042958
11.  Efficacy of Bevacizumab-Capecitabine in Combination for the First-Line Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer 
There is an ongoing need for development of new chemotherapeutic regimens for metastatic breast cancer [mBC], especially when tumors lack therapeutic targets such as the estrogen or progesterone receptor [ER/PR], or the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 [HER2]. Capecitabine is an orally bioavailable fluoropyrimidine approved for monotherapy in mBC, and bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody targeting vascular endothelial growth factor which has shown to be active in mBC and tolerable in combination with other chemotherapeutics. The combination of these two agents has been explored in multiple phase II and III clinical studies, with improvements in progression-free survival and overall response rates noted as compared to capecitabine monotherapy. However, the use of bevacizumab in combination with capecitabine and other chemotherapy agents for mBC remains beset with controversy due to safety concerns, cost issues, and pending regulatory decisions.
PMCID: PMC3235996  PMID: 22174585
metastatic breast cancer; capecitabine; bevacizumab
12.  Phase II Trial of Sorafenib in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer Previously Exposed to Anthracyclines or Taxanes: North Central Cancer Treatment Group and Mayo Clinic Trial N0336 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2008;27(1):11-15.
We conducted a cooperative group phase II study to assess antitumor activity and toxicity of sorafenib in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) who had received prior treatment for their disease.
Patient and Methods
Patients were eligible if they had measurable disease and had previously received an anthracycline and/or a taxane in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant, or metastatic setting. The primary end point of the study was tumor response per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST). The study was designed in two stages. Sorafenib was administered as 400 mg twice daily on days 1 through 28 of each 4-week cycle.
Twenty-three patients were enrolled with a median age of 54 years (range, 37 to 70 years). Twenty-two (96%) had prior anthracycline treatment and 16 (70%) had prior taxane treatment. Patients received sorafenib for a median of two cycles (range, one to 15 cycles) with a median follow-up of 2.4 years (range, 2.2 to 2.6 years). There were no grade 4 toxicities and few grade 3 toxicities. Among the 20 patients eligible for efficacy analysis, no patients experienced a partial response or complete response per RECIST criteria. Thus, the trial stopped at the end of the first stage per study design. Two patients (10%; 90% CI, 1.8% to 28.3%) achieved stable disease lasting longer than 6 months.
Sorafenib as a single agent, although well tolerated, did not exhibit activity when measured by tumor shrinkage in patients with MBC who had received prior treatment. Further research should focus on combinations with standard therapy and end points more sensitive to effects of targeted agents, such as disease stabilization.
PMCID: PMC2645094  PMID: 19047293
13.  Treatment Options for Breast Cancer Resistant to Anthracycline and Taxane 
Mayo Clinic Proceedings  2009;84(6):533-545.
Breast cancer is the most common noncutaneous malignancy among every major ethnic group of women in the United States. Anthracyclines and taxanes are the most active and widely used chemotherapeutic agents for breast cancer, but the increased use of these agents at an early stage of disease often renders tumors resistant to these drugs by the time the disease recurs, thereby reducing the number of treatment options for metastatic disease. Moreover, even when these agents can be used in the metastatic setting, treatment failure occurs in most cases, and as a result the 5-year survival rates of patients with metastatic breast cancer are low. This outcome underscores the need for new, effective treatments of metastatic breast cancer and has led to investigation of novel ways to overcome the problem of drug resistance. This article reviews the current treatment options for breast cancer resistant to anthracycline and taxane and provides recommendations for disease management. Published sources for this review were found by searching PubMed ( and congress Web sites.
PMCID: PMC2688627  PMID: 19483170

Results 1-13 (13)