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1.  Impact of breast cancer stage, time from diagnosis and chemotherapy on plasma and cellular biomarkers of hypercoagulability 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:991.
Background
In breast cancer patients routine thromboprophylaxis is not recommended but individualized risk assessment is encouraged. The incorporation of hypercoagulability biomarkers could increase the sensitivity of risk assessment models (RAM) to identify patients at VTE risk. To this aim we investigated the impact of cancer-related characteristics on hypercoagulability biomarkers.
Methods
Thrombin generation (TG) assessed with the Thrombogramme-Thrombinoscope®, levels of platelet derived microparticles (Pd-MP) assessed with flow cytometry, procoagulant phospholid dependent clotting time (PPL-ct) measured with a clotting assay and D-Dimers (were assessed in a cohort of 62 women with breast cancer and in 30 age matched healthy women.
Results
Patients showed significantly higher TG, Pd-MP, D-Dimers levels and shortened PPL-ct compared to the controls. The PPL-ct was inversely correlated with the levels of Pd-MP, which were increased in 97% of patients. TG and D-Dimers were increased in 76% and 59% of patients respectively. In any stage of the disease TG was significantly increased as compared to the controls. There was no significant difference of TG in patients with local, regional of metastatic stage. There was no significant difference in Pd-MP or Pd-MP/PS+ between the subgroups of patients with local or regional stage of cancer. Patients with metastatic disease had significantly higher levels of Pd-MP and Pd-MP/PS+ compared to those with regional stage. The D-Dimers increased in patients with metastatic stage. In patients on chemotherapy with less than 6 months since diagnosis TG was significantly higher compared to those on chemotherapy who diagnosed in interval > 6 months. Patients with metastatic disease had significantly higher levels of Pd-MP and D-Dimers compared to those with non-metastatic disease.
Conclusion
In breast cancer patients the stage, the time elapsed since the diagnosis and the administration of chemotherapy are determinants of cellular and plasma hypercoagulability. The levels and the procoagulant activity of Pd-MP are interconnected with the biological activity and the overall burden of cancer. TG reflects the procoagulant properties of both breast cancer and chemotherapy in the initial period of cancer diagnosis. Thus the weighted incorporation of the biomarkers of cellular and plasma hypercoagulabilty in RAM for VTE might improve their predictive value.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-991
PMCID: PMC4324665  PMID: 25535397
Breast cancer; Venous thromboembolism; Thrombin generation; Microparticles; D-Dimers; Risk assessment model
2.  Closing the global cancer divide- performance of breast cancer care services in a middle income developing country 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:212.
Background
Cancer is the leading cause of deaths in the world. A widening disparity in cancer burden has emerged between high income and low-middle income countries. Closing this cancer divide is an ethical imperative but there is a dearth of data on cancer services from developing countries.
Methods
This was a multi-center, retrospective observational cohort study which enrolled women with breast cancer (BC) attending 8 participating cancer centers in Malaysia in 2011. All patients were followed up for 12 months from diagnosis to determine their access to therapies. We assess care performance using measures developed by Quality Oncology Practice Initiative, American Society of Clinical Oncology/National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American College of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers as well as our local guideline.
Results
Seven hundred and fifty seven patients were included in the study; they represent about 20% of incident BC in Malaysia. Performance results were mixed. Late presentation was 40%. Access to diagnostic and breast surgery services were timely; the interval from presentation to tissue diagnosis was short (median = 9 days), and all who needed surgery could receive it with only a short wait (median = 11 days). Performance of radiation, chemo and hormonal therapy services showed that about 75 to 80% of patients could access these treatments timely, and those who could not were because they sought alternative treatment or they refused treatment. Access to Trastuzumab was limited to only 19% of eligible patients.
Conclusions
These performance results are probably acceptable for a middle income country though far below the 95% or higher adherence rates routinely reported by centres in developed countries. High cost trastuzumab was inaccessible to this population without public funding support.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-212
PMCID: PMC3994538  PMID: 24650245
Breast cancer; Cancer burden; Developing country; Performance measurement; Healthcare quality; Health policy; Health services research; Health system research
3.  Intensity-modulated radiotherapy with simultaneous modulated accelerated boost technique and chemotherapy in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:318.
Background
To present our experience of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) with simultaneous modulated accelerated radiotherapy (SMART) boost technique in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).
Methods
Sixty eight patients of NPC were treated between April 2006 and December 2011 including 45 males and 23 females with mean age of 46 (range 15–78). Stage distribution was; stage I 3, stage II 7, stage III 26 and stage IV 32. Among 45 (66.2%) evaluated patients for presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), 40 (88.8%) were positive for EBV. Median radiation doses delivered to gross tumor volume (GTV) and positive neck nodes were 66–70 Gy, 63 Gy to clinical target volume (CTV) and 50.4 Gy to clinically negative neck. In addition 56 (82.4%) patients with bulky tumors (T4/N2+) received neoadjuvant chemotherapy 2–3 cycles (Cisplatin/Docetaxel or Cisplatin/Epirubicin or Cisplatin/5 Flourouracil). Concurrent chemotherapy with radiation was weekly Cisplatin 40 mg/m2 (40 patients) or Cisplatin 100 mg/m2 (28 patients).
Results
With a median follow up of 20 months (range 3–43), one patient developed local recurrence, two experienced regional recurrences and distant failure was seen in 3 patients. Estimated 3 year disease free survival (DFS) was 94%. Three year DFS for patients with EBV was 100% as compared to 60% without EBV (p = 0.0009). Three year DFS for patients with undifferentiated histology was 98% as compared to 82% with other histologies (p = 0.02). Acute grade 3 toxicity was seen as 21 (30.9%) having G-III mucositis and 6 (8.8%) with G-III skin reactions. Late toxicity was minimal and loss of taste was seen in 3 patients (7.5%) at time of analysis.
Conclusions
IMRT with SMART in combination with chemotherapy is feasible and effective in terms of both the clinical response and safety profile. EBV, histopathology and nodal involvement were found important prognostic factors for locoregional recurrence.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-318
PMCID: PMC3700828  PMID: 23815822
Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT); Simultaneous Modulated Accelerated Radiotherapy (SMART) Boost Technique; Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
4.  Health-related quality of life among colorectal cancer patients in Malaysia: a study protocol 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:384.
Background
Colorectal cancer is a major public health problem in Malaysia. However, it is also one of the most treatable cancers, resulting in significant numbers of survivors. Therefore, the impact of surviving treatment for colorectal cancer on health related quality of life is important for the patients, clinicians and policy makers, and may differ in different cultures and populations. The aim of this study was to validate the Malaysian versions of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life instruments among colorectal cancers patients.
Methods/design
This is a cross sectional multi centre study. Three hospitals were included, the University of Malaya Medical Centre, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre and Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban. Malaysian citizens and permanent residence were studied and demographic and clinical information obtained from hospital records. The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of life Core 30, colorectal cancer CR29, and the colorectal cancer liver metastasis LMC 21 were used and an observer assessment of performance obtained with the Karnofsky Performance Scale. Questionnaires were translated into three most commonly spoken languages in Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil), then administered, scored and analyzed following the developers’ guidelines. Ethical approval was obtained from the participating centres. Tests of reliability and validity were performed to examine the validity of these instruments.
Conclusion
The result of pilot testing shows that the use of the Malaysian versions of EORTC QLQ C30, CR29 instruments is feasible in our sample of colorectal cancer patients. Instructions for completion as well as questions were well understood except the questions on the overall quality of life, overall health status and sexual activity. Thus we anticipate obtaining good psychometric properties for the instruments at the end of the study.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-384
PMCID: PMC3443003  PMID: 22937765
Colorectal cancer; Health related quality of life; Malaysia
5.  Establishing the added benefit of measuring MMP9 in FOB positive patients as a part of the Wolverhampton colorectal cancer screening programme 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:36.
Background
Bowel cancer is common and a major cause of death. The NHS is currently rolling out a national bowel cancer screening programme that aims to cover the entire population by 2010. The programme will be based on the Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt) that reduces mortality from colon cancer by 16%. However, FOB testing has a relatively low positive predictive value, with associated unnecessary cost, risk and anxiety from subsequent investigation, and is unacceptable to a proportion of the target population. Increased levels of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) have been found to be associated with colorectal cancer, and this can be measured from a blood sample. MMP9 has potential for detecting those at risk of having colorectal cancer. The aim of this study is to assess whether MMP9 estimation enhances the predictive value of a positive FOBt.
Methods and design
FOBt positive people aged 60–69 years attending the Wolverhampton NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Unit and providing consent for colonoscopy will be recruited. Participants will provide a blood sample prior to colonoscopy and permission for collection of the clinical outcome from screening unit records. Multivariate logistic regression analyses will determine the independent factors (patient and disease related, MMP9) associated with the prediction of neoplasia.
Discussion
Colorectal cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Pilot studies have confirmed the feasibility of the national cancer screening programme that is based on FOBt. However, the test has high false positive rates. MMP9 has significant potential as a marker for both adenomas and cancers. This study is to examine whether using MMP9 as an adjunct to FOBt improves the accuracy of screening and reduces the number of false positive tests that cause anxiety and require invasive and potentially harmful investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-36
PMCID: PMC2639610  PMID: 19175925
6.  Evaluation of the accuracy of serum MMP-9 as a test for colorectal cancer in a primary care population 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:258.
Background
Bowel cancer is common and is a major cause of death. Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials estimates that screening for colorectal cancer using faecal occult blood (FOB) test reduces mortality from colorectal cancer by 16%. However, FOB testing has a low positive predictive value, with associated unnecessary cost, risk and anxiety from subsequent investigation, and is unacceptable to a proportion of the target population. Increased levels of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) have been found to be associated with colorectal cancer, and this can be measured from a blood sample. Serum MMP-9 is potentially an accurate, low risk and cost-effective population screening tool. This study aims to evaluate the accuracy of serum MMP-9 as a test for colorectal cancer in a primary care population.
Methods/Design
People aged 50 to 69 years, who registered in participating general practices in the West Midlands Region, will be asked to complete a questionnaire that asks about symptoms. Respondents who describe any colorectal symptoms (except only abdominal bloating and/or anal symptoms) and are prepared to provide a blood sample for MMP9 estimation and undergo a colonoscopy (current gold standard investigation) will be recruited at GP based clinics by a research nurse. Those unfit for colonoscopy will be excluded. Colonoscopies will be undertaken in dedicated research clinics. The accuracy of MMP-9 will be assessed by comparing the MMP-9 level with the colonoscopy findings, and the combination of factors (e.g. symptoms and MMP-9 level) that best predict a diagnosis of malignancy (invasive disease or polyps) will be determined.
Discussion
Colorectal cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Most colorectal cancers arise from adenomas and there is a period for early detection by screening, but available tests have risks, are unacceptable to many, have high false positive rates or are expensive.
This study will establish the potential of serum MMP-9 as a screening test for colorectal cancer. If it is confirmed as accurate and acceptable, this serum marker has the potential to assist with reducing the morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-258
PMCID: PMC1654179  PMID: 17076885
7.  A prospective study to assess the value of MMP-9 in improving the appropriateness of urgent referrals for colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:251.
Background
Bowel cancer is common and is a major cause of death. Most people with bowel symptoms who meet the criteria for urgent referral to secondary care will not be found to have bowel cancer, and some people who are found to have cancer will have been referred routinely rather than urgently. If general practitioners could better identify people who were likely to have bowel cancer or conditions that may lead to bowel cancer, the pressure on hospital clinics may be reduced, enabling these patients to be seen more quickly. Increased levels of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) have been found to be associated with such conditions, and this can be measured from a blood sample. This study aims to find out whether measuring MMP-9 levels could improve the appropriateness of urgent referrals for patients with bowel symptoms.
Methods
People aged 18 years or older referred to a colorectal clinic will be asked to complete a questionnaire about symptoms, recent injuries or chronic illnesses (these can increase the level of matrix metalloproteinases) and family history of bowel cancer. A blood sample will be taken from people who consent to take part to assess MMP-9 levels, and the results of examination at the clinic and/or investigations arising from the clinic visit will be collected from hospital records. The accuracy of MMP-9 will be assessed by comparing the MMP-9 level with the resulting diagnosis. The combination of factors (e.g. symptoms and MMP-9 level) that best predict a diagnosis of malignancy (invasive disease or polyps) will be determined.
Discussion
Although guidelines are in place to facilitate referrals to colorectal clinics, symptoms alone do not adequately distinguish people with malignancy from people with benign conditions. This study will establish whether MMP-9 could assist this process. If this were the case, measurement of MMP-9 levels could be used by general practitioners to assist in the identification of people who were most likely to have bowel cancer or conditions that may lead to bowel cancer, and who should, therefore, be referred most urgently to secondary care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-251
PMCID: PMC1635060  PMID: 17059590

Results 1-7 (7)