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1.  Sodium iodide symporter (NIS) in extrathyroidal malignancies: focus on breast and urological cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:303.
Expression and function of sodium iodide symporter (NIS) is requisite for efficient iodide transport in thyrocytes, and its presence in cancer cells allows the use of radioiodine as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in thyroid neoplasia. Discovery of NIS expression in extrathyroidal tissues, including transformed cells, has opened a novel field of research regarding NIS-expressing extrathyroidal neoplasia. Indeed, expression of NIS may be used as a biomarker for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic purposes. Moreover, stimulation of endogenous NIS expression may permit the radioiodine treatment of extrathyroidal lesions by concentrating this radioisotope.
This review describes recent findings in NIS research in extrathyroidal malignancies, focusing on breast and urological cancer, emphasizing the most relevant developments that may have clinical impact.
Given the recent progress in the study of NIS regulation as molecular basis for new therapeutic approaches in extrathyroidal cancers, particular attention is given to studies regarding the relationship between NIS and clinical-pathological aspects of the tumors and the regulation of NIS expression in the experimental models.
PMCID: PMC4019362  PMID: 24884806
Sodium iodide symporter (NIS); Extrathyroidal tissues; Breast cancer; Urological malignancies; Gene therapy
2.  Resolving breast cancer heterogeneity by searching reliable protein cancer biomarkers in the breast fluid secretome 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:344.
One of the major goals in cancer research is to find and evaluate the early presence of biomarkers in human fluids and tissues. To resolve the complex cell heterogeneity of a tumor mass, it will be useful to characterize the intricate biomolecular composition of tumor microenvironment (the so called cancer secretome), validating secreted proteins as early biomarkers of cancer initiation and progression. This approach is not broadly applicable because of the paucity of well validated and FDA-approved biomarkers and because most of the candidate biomarkers are mainly organ-specific rather than tumor-specific. For these reasons, there is an urgent need to identify and validate a panel of biomarker combinations for early detection of human tumors. This is especially important for breast cancer, the cancer spread most worldwide among women. It is well known that patients with early diagnosed breast cancer live longer, require less extensive treatment and fare better than patients with more aggressive and/or advanced disease.
In the frame of searching breast cancer biomarkers (especially using nipple aspirate fluid mirroring breast microenvironment), studies have highlighted an optimal combination of well-known biomarkers: uPA + PAI-1 + TF. When individually investigated they did not show perfect accuracy in predicting the presence of breast cancer, whereas the triple combination has been demonstrated to be highly predictive of pre-cancer and/or cancerous conditions, approaching 97-100% accuracy.
Despite the heterogeneous composition of breast cancer and the difficulties to find specific breast cancer biomolecules, the noninvasive analysis of the nipple aspirate fluid secretome may significantly improve the discovery of promising biomarkers, helping also the differentiation among benign and invasive breast diseases, opening new frontiers in early oncoproteomics.
PMCID: PMC3721990  PMID: 23849048
3.  Functional significance of erythropoietin in renal cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:14.
One of the molecules regulated by the transcription factor, hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), is the hypoxia-responsive hematopoietic factor, erythropoietin (EPO). This may have relevance to the development of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), where mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene are major risk factors for the development of familial and sporadic RCC. VHL mutations up-regulate and stabilize HIF, which in turn activates many downstream molecules, including EPO, that are known to promote angiogenesis, drug resistance, proliferation and progression of solid tumours. HIFs typically respond to hypoxic cellular environment. While the hypoxic microenvironment plays a critical role in the development and progression of tumours in general, it is of special significance in the case of RCC because of the link between VHL, HIF and EPO. EPO and its receptor, EPOR, are expressed in many cancers, including RCC. This limits the use of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) to treat anaemia in cancer patients, because the rhEPO may be stimulatory to the cancer. EPO may also stimulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in RCC, and pathological EMT has a key role in cancer progression. In this mini review, we summarize the current knowledge of the role of EPO in RCC. The available data, either for or against the use of EPO in RCC patients, are equivocal and insufficient to draw a definitive conclusion.
PMCID: PMC3554558  PMID: 23305401
4.  Patient-tailored modulation of the immune system may revolutionize future lung cancer treatment 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:580.
Cancer research has devoted most of its energy over the past decades on unraveling the control mechanisms within tumor cells that govern its behavior. From this we know that the onset of cancer is the result of cumulative genetic mutations and epigenetic alterations in tumor cells leading to an unregulated cell cycle, unlimited replicative potential and the possibility for tissue invasion and metastasis. Until recently it was often thought that tumors are more or less undetected or tolerated by the patient’s immune system causing the neoplastic cells to divide and spread without resistance. However, it is without any doubt that the tumor environment contains a wide variety of recruited host immune cells. These tumor infiltrating immune cells influence anti-tumor responses in opposing ways and emerges as a critical regulator of tumor growth. Here we provide a summary of the relevant immunological cell types and their complex and dynamic roles within an established tumor microenvironment. For this, we focus on both the systemic compartment as well as the local presence within the tumor microenvironment of late-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), admitting that this multifaceted cellular composition will be different from earlier stages of the disease, between NSCLC patients. Understanding the paradoxical role that the immune system plays in cancer and increasing options for their modulation may alter the odds in favor of a more effective anti-tumor immune response. We predict that the future standard of care of lung cancer will involve patient-tailor-made combination therapies that associate (traditional) chemotherapeutic drugs and biologicals with immune modulating agents and in this way complement the therapeutic armamentarium for this disease.
PMCID: PMC3533940  PMID: 23217146
Lung cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Immune system; Personalized medicine; Cancer immunology
5.  Myeloid malignancies: mutations, models and management 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:304.
Myeloid malignant diseases comprise chronic (including myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative neoplasms and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia) and acute (acute myeloid leukemia) stages. They are clonal diseases arising in hematopoietic stem or progenitor cells. Mutations responsible for these diseases occur in several genes whose encoded proteins belong principally to five classes: signaling pathways proteins (e.g. CBL, FLT3, JAK2, RAS), transcription factors (e.g. CEBPA, ETV6, RUNX1), epigenetic regulators (e.g. ASXL1, DNMT3A, EZH2, IDH1, IDH2, SUZ12, TET2, UTX), tumor suppressors (e.g. TP53), and components of the spliceosome (e.g. SF3B1, SRSF2). Large-scale sequencing efforts will soon lead to the establishment of a comprehensive repertoire of these mutations, allowing for a better definition and classification of myeloid malignancies, the identification of new prognostic markers and therapeutic targets, and the development of novel therapies. Given the importance of epigenetic deregulation in myeloid diseases, the use of drugs targeting epigenetic regulators appears as a most promising therapeutic approach.
PMCID: PMC3418560  PMID: 22823977
6.  Cancer and non-cancer brain and eye effects of chronic low-dose ionizing radiation exposure 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:157.
According to a fundamental law of radiobiology (“Law of Bergonié and Tribondeau”, 1906), the brain is a paradigm of a highly differentiated organ with low mitotic activity, and is thus radio-resistant. This assumption has been challenged by recent evidence discussed in the present review.
Ionizing radiation is an established environmental cause of brain cancer. Although direct evidence is lacking in contemporary fluoroscopy due to obvious sample size limitation, limited follow-up time and lack of focused research, anecdotal reports of clusters have appeared in the literature, raising the suspicion that brain cancer may be a professional disease of interventional cardiologists. In addition, although terminally differentiated neurons have reduced or mild proliferative capacity, and are therefore not regarded as critical radiation targets, adult neurogenesis occurs in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb, and is important for mood, learning/memory and normal olfactory function, whose impairment is a recognized early biomarker of neurodegenerative diseases. The head doses involved in radiotherapy are high, usually above 2 Sv, whereas the low-dose range of professional exposure typically involves lifetime cumulative whole-body exposure in the low-dose range of < 200 mSv, but with head exposure which may (in absence of protection) arrive at a head equivalent dose of 1 to 3 Sv after a professional lifetime (corresponding to a brain equivalent dose around 500 mSv).
At this point, a systematic assessment of brain (cancer and non-cancer) effects of chronic low-dose radiation exposure in interventional cardiologists and staff is needed.
PMCID: PMC3495891  PMID: 22540409
Brain cancer; Cognitive effects; Interventional cardiologist; Radiation exposure; Risk
7.  Targeting hypoxic tumour cells to overcome metastasis 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:504.
The microenvironment within solid tumours can influence the metastatic dissemination of tumour cells, and recent evidence suggests that poorly oxygenated (hypoxic) cells in primary tumours can also affect the survival and proliferation of metastatic tumour cells in distant organs. Hypoxic tumour cells have been historically targeted during radiation therapy in attempts to improve loco-regional control rates of primary tumours since hypoxic cells are known to be resistant to ionizing radiation-induced DNA damage. There are, therefore, a number of therapeutic strategies to directly target hypoxic cells in primary (and metastatic) tumours, and several compounds are becoming available to functionally inhibit hypoxia-induced proteins that are known to promote metastasis. This mini-review summarizes several established and emerging experimental strategies to target hypoxic cells in primary tumours with potential clinical application to the treatment of patients with tumour metastases or patients at high risk of developing metastatic disease. Targeting hypoxic tumour cells to reduce metastatic disease represents an important advance in the way scientists and clinicians view the influence of tumour hypoxia on therapeutic outcome.
PMCID: PMC3247198  PMID: 22128892
8.  Micro-RNAs as diagnostic or prognostic markers in human epithelial malignancies 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:500.
Micro-RNAs (miRs) are important regulators of mRNA and protein expression; the ability of miR expression profilings to distinguish different cancer types and classify their sub-types has been well-described. They also represent a novel biological entity with potential value as tumour biomarkers, which can improve diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of treatment response for human cancers. This endeavour has been greatly facilitated by the stability of miRs in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, and their detection in circulation. This review will summarize some of the key dysregulated miRs described to date in human epithelial malignancies, and their potential value as molecular bio-markers in FFPE tissues and blood samples. There remain many challenges in this domain, however, with the evolution of different platforms, the complexities of normalizing miR profiling data, and the importance of evaluating sufficiently-powered training and validation cohorts. Nonetheless, well-conducted miR profiling studies should contribute important insights into the molecular aberrations driving human cancer development and progression.
PMCID: PMC3260334  PMID: 22128797
9.  Current views on the role of Notch signaling and the pathogenesis of human leukemia 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:502.
The Notch signaling pathway is highly conserved from Drosophila to humans and plays an important role in the regulation of cellular proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.
Constitutive activation of Notch signaling has been shown to result in excessive cellular proliferation and a wide range of malignancies, including leukemia, glioblastoma and lung and breast cancers. Notch can also act as a tumor suppressor, and its inactivation has been associated with an increased risk of spontaneous squamous cell carcinoma. This minireview focuses on recent advances related to the mechanisms and roles of activated Notch1, Notch2, Notch3 and Notch4 signaling in human lymphocytic leukemia, myeloid leukemia and B cell lymphoma, as well as their significance, and recent advances in Notch-targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3262490  PMID: 22128846
10.  The breast cancer genome - a key for better oncology 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:501.
Molecular classification has added important knowledge to breast cancer biology, but has yet to be implemented as a clinical standard. Full sequencing of breast cancer genomes could potentially refine classification and give a more complete picture of the mutational profile of cancer and thus aid therapy decisions. Future treatment guidelines must be based on the knowledge derived from histopathological sub-classification of tumors, but with added information from genomic signatures when properly clinically validated. The objective of this article is to give some background on molecular classification, the potential of next generation sequencing, and to outline how this information could be implemented in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3268769  PMID: 22128823
11.  Increased fracture rate in women with breast cancer: a review of the hidden risk 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:384.
Women with breast cancer, particularly individuals diagnosed at a relatively early age, have an increased incidence of fractures. Fractures can have serious clinical consequences including the need for major surgery, increased morbidity and mortality, increased cost of disease management, and reduced quality of life for patients. The primary cause of the increased fracture risk appears to be an accelerated decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) resulting from the loss of estrogenic signaling that occurs with most treatments for breast cancer, including aromatase inhibitors. However, factors other than BMD levels alone may influence treatment decisions to reduce fracture risk in this setting. Our purpose is to review current evidence for BMD loss and fracture risk during treatment for breast cancer and discuss pharmacologic means to reduce this risk.
Fracture risk during treatment for breast cancer may be influenced by the rate of BMD loss and the consequent rapid alterations in bone microarchitecture, in addition to the established fracture risk factors in postmenopausal osteoporosis. The rapid decrease in BMD during adjuvant chemoendocrine therapy for breast cancer may necessitate more aggressive pharmacotherapy than is indicated for healthy postmenopausal women who develop osteoporosis. Over the last few years, clinical trials have established the effectiveness of bisphosphonates and other antiresorptive agents to preserve BMD during adjuvant therapy for early breast cancer. In addition, some bisphosphonates (eg, zoledronic acid) may also delay disease recurrence in women with hormone-responsive tumors, thereby providing an adjuvant benefit in addition to preserving BMD and potentially preventing fractures.
It is likely that a combined fracture risk assessment (eg, as in the WHO FRAX algorithm) will more accurately identify both women with postmenopausal osteoporosis and women with breast cancer who require bone-protective therapy.
PMCID: PMC3175226  PMID: 21875433
adjuvant therapy; aromatase inhibitor; bisphosphonate; chemotherapy-induced menopause; osteoporosis; zoledronic acid
12.  Renal cell cancer among African Americans: an epidemiologic review 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:133.
Incidence rates for renal cell cancer, which accounts for 85% of kidney cancers, have been rising more rapidly among blacks than whites, almost entirely accounted for by an excess of localized disease. This excess dates back to the 1970s, despite less access among blacks to imaging procedures in the past. In contrast, mortality rates for this cancer have been virtually identical among blacks and whites since the early 1990s, despite the fact that nephrectomy rates, regardless of stage, are lower among blacks than among whites. These observations suggest that renal cell cancer may be a less aggressive tumor in blacks. We have reviewed the epidemiology of renal cell cancer, with emphasis on factors which may potentially play a role in the observed differences in incidence and mortality patterns of renal cell cancer among blacks and whites. To date, the factors most consistently, albeit modestly, associated with increased renal cell cancer risk in epidemiologic studies among whites - obesity, hypertension, cigarette smoking - likely account for less than half of these cancers, and there is virtually no epidemiologic evidence in the literature pertaining to their association with renal cell cancer among blacks. There is a long overdue need for detailed etiologic cohort and case-control studies of renal cell cancer among blacks, as they now represent the population at highest risk in the United States. In particular, investigation of the influence on renal cell cancer development of hypertension and chronic kidney disease, both of which occur substantially more frequently among blacks, is warranted, as well as investigations into the biology and natural history of this cancer among blacks.
PMCID: PMC3087713  PMID: 21486465
13.  Molecular fingerprinting of radiation resistant tumors: Can we apprehend and rehabilitate the suspects? 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:225.
Radiation therapy continues to be one of the more popular treatment options for localized prostate cancer. One major obstacle to radiation therapy is that there is a limit to the amount of radiation that can be safely delivered to the target organ. Emerging evidence suggests that therapeutic agents targeting specific molecules might be combined with radiation therapy for more effective treatment of tumors. Recent studies suggest that modulation of these molecules by a variety of mechanisms (e.g., gene therapy, antisense oligonucleotides, small interfering RNA) may enhance the efficacy of radiation therapy by modifying the activity of key cell proliferation and survival pathways such as those controlled by Bcl-2, p53, Akt/PTEN and cyclooxygenase-2. In this article, we summarize the findings of recent investigations of radiosensitizing agents in the treatment of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC2719662  PMID: 19589167
14.  Breast cancer stem cells: tools and models to rely on 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:202.
There is increasing evidence for the "cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis", which holds that cancers are driven by a cellular component that has stem cell properties, including self-renewal, tumorigenicity and multi-lineage differentiation capacity. Researchers and oncologists see in this model an explanation as to why cancer may be so difficult to cure, as well as a promising ground for novel therapeutic strategies. Given the specific stem cell features of self-renewal and differentiation, which drive tumorigenesis and contribute to cellular heterogeneity, each marker and assay designed to isolate and characterize CSCs has to be functionally validated. In this review, we survey tools and markers available or promising to identify breast CSCs. We review the main models used to study breast CSCs and how they challenge the CSC hypothesis.
PMCID: PMC2708191  PMID: 19555472
15.  Cytochrome P450 CYP1A1: wider roles in cancer progression and prevention 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:187.
CYP1A1 is one of the main cytochrome P450 enzymes, examined extensively for its capacity to activate compounds with carcinogenic properties. Continuous exposure to inhalation chemicals and environmental carcinogens is thought to increase the level of CYP1A1 expression in extrahepatic tissues, through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Although the latter has long been recognized as a ligand-induced transcription factor, which is responsible for the xenobiotic activating pathway of several phase I and phase II metabolizing enzymes, recent evidence suggests that the AhR is involved in various cell signaling pathways critical to cell cycle regulation and normal homeostasis. Disregulation of these pathways is implicated in tumor progression. In addition, it is becoming increasingly evident that CYP1A1 plays an important role in the detoxication of environmental carcinogens, as well as in the metabolic activation of dietary compounds with cancer preventative activity. Ultimately the contribution of CYP1A1 to cancer progression or prevention may depend on the balance of procarcinogen activation/detoxication and dietary natural product extrahepatic metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2703651  PMID: 19531241
16.  Kaposi sarcoma in unusual locations 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:190.
Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a multifocal, vascular lesion of low-grade malignant potential that presents most frequently in mucocutaneous sites. KS also commonly involves lymph nodes and visceral organs. This article deals with the manifestation of KS in unusual anatomic regions. Unusual locations of KS involvement include the musculoskeletal system, central and peripheral nervous system, larynx, eye, major salivary glands, endocrine organs, heart, thoracic duct, urinary system and breast. The development of KS within wounds and blood clots is also presented. KS in these atypical sites may prove difficult to diagnose, resulting in patient mismanagement. Theories to explain the rarity and development of KS in these unusual sites are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2464778  PMID: 18605999
17.  Radiotherapeutic alternatives for previously irradiated recurrent gliomas 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:167.
Re-irradiation for recurrent gliomas has been discussed controversially in the past. This was mainly due to only marginal palliation while being associated with a high risk for side effects using conventional radiotherapy.
With modern high-precision radiotherapy re-irradiation has become a more wide-spread, effective and well-tolerated treatment option. Besides external beam radiotherapy, a number of invasive and/or intraoperative radiation techniques have been evaluated in patients with recurrent gliomas.
The present article is a review on the available methods in radiation oncology and summarizes results with respect to outcome and side effects in comparison to clinical results after neurosurgical resection or different chemotherapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC2212655  PMID: 17760992

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