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1.  14-3-3σ induces heat shock protein 70 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:425.
14-3-3σ is implicated in promoting tumor development of various malignancies. However, the clinical relevance of 14-3-3σ in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor progression and modulation and pathway elucidation remain unclear.
We investigated 14-3-3σ expression in 109 HCC tissues by immunohistochemistry. Overexpression and knockdown experiments were performed by transfection with cDNA or siRNA. Protein expression and cell migration were determined by Western blot and Boyden chamber assay.
In this study, we found that 14-3-3σ is abundantly expressed in HCC tumors. Stable or transient overexpression of 14-3-3σ induces the expression of heat shock factor-1α (HSF-1α) and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) in HCC cells. Moreover, expression of 14-3-3σ significantly correlates with HSF-1α/HSP70 in HCC tumors and both 14-3-3σ and HSP70 overexpression are associated with micro-vascular thrombi in HCC patients, suggesting that 14-3-3σ/HSP70 expression is potentially involved in cell migration/invasion. Results of an in vitro migration assay indicate that 14-3-3σ promotes cell migration and that 14-3-3σ-induced cell migration is impaired by siRNA knockdown of HSP70. Finally, 14-3-3σ-induced HSF-1α/HSP70 expression is abolished by the knockdown of β-catenin or activation of GSK-3β.
Our findings indicate that 14-3-3σ participates in promoting HCC cell migration and tumor development via β-catenin/HSF-1α/HSP70 pathway regulation. Thus, 14-3-3σ alone or combined with HSP70 are potential prognostic biomarkers for HCC.
PMCID: PMC4061114  PMID: 24923353
14-3-3σ; β-catenin; Hepatocellular carcinoma; HSF-1; HSP70
2.  Monitoring changes in circulating tumour cells as a prognostic indicator of overall survival and treatment response in patients with metastatic melanoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:423.
New effective treatments for metastatic melanoma greatly improve survival in a proportion of patients. However biomarkers to identify patients that are more likely to benefit from a particular treatment are needed. We previously reported on a multimarker approach for the detection of heterogenous melanoma circulating tumour cells (CTCs). Here we evaluated the prognostic value of this multimarker quantification of CTCs and investigated whether changes in CTC levels during therapy can be used as a biomarker of treatment response and survival outcomes.
CTCs were captured by targeting the melanoma associated markers MCSP and MCAM as well as the melanoma stem cell markers ABCB5 and CD271. CTCs were quantified in 27 metastatic melanoma patients treated by surgery or with vemurafenib, ipilimumab or dacarbazine. Patients were enrolled prospectively and CTC counts performed at baseline (prior to treatment), during and after treatment.
Baseline CTC numbers were not found to be prognostic of overall survival nor of progression free survival. However, a low baseline CTC number was associated with a rapid response to vemurafenib therapy. A decrease in CTCs after treatment initiation was associated with response to treatment and prolonged overall survival in vemurafenib treated patients.
Measuring changes in CTC numbers during treatment is useful for monitoring therapy response in melanoma patients and for providing prognostic information relating to overall survival. Further studies with larger sample sizes are required to confirm the utility of CTC quantification as a companion diagnostic for metastatic melanoma treatment.
PMCID: PMC4060872  PMID: 24915896
Circulating tumour cells; Melanoma; Vemurafenib
3.  Inaugural bone metastases in non-small cell lung cancer: a specific prognostic entity? 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:416.
In non-small cell lung cancer patients (NSCLC), median survival from the time patients develop bone metastasis is classically described being inferior to 6 months. We investigated the subcategory of patients having an inaugural skeletal-related-event revealing NSCLC. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of bone involvement on overall survival and to determine biological and tumoral prognosis factors on OS and PFS. An analysis of the subgroup of solitary bone metastasis patients was also performed.
In a population of 1208 lung cancer patients, 55 consecutive NSCLC patients revealed by inaugural bone metastasis and treated between 2003 and 2010, were retrospectively analysed. Survival was measured with a Kaplan-Meyer curve. Univariate and multivariate analysis were performed using the Stepwise Cox proportional hazard regression model. A p value of less than 0,05 was considered statistically significant.
Estimated incidence of revealing bone metastasis is 4,5% among newly diagnosed lung cancer patients. Median duration of skeletal symptoms before diagnosis was 3 months and revealing bone site was located on axial skeleton in 70% of the cases. Histology was adenocarcinoma (78%), with small primary tumors Tx-T1-2 accounting for 71% of patients. Rate of second SRE is 37%.
Median overall survival was 8.15 months, IQR [5–16 months], mean survival 13.4 months, and PFS was 3.5 months. In multivariate analysis, variables significantly associated with shortened survival were advanced T stage (HR = 2.8; p = 0.004), weight loss > 10% (HR = 3.1; p = 0.02), inaugural spinal epidural metastasis (HR 2.5; p = 0.0036), elevated C-reactive protein (HR = 4.3; p = 0.002) and TTF-1 status (HR = 2.42; p = 0.004). Inaugural spinal epidural metastasis is a very strong adverse pronostic factor in these cases, with a 3 months median survival. Single bone metastasis patients showed prolonged survival of 14.2 months versus 7.6 months, only in univariate analysis (HR = 0.42; p = 0.0059).
Prognosis of lung cancer patients with inaugural SRE remains pejorative. Accurately estimating the survival of this population is helpful for bone surgical decision-making at diagnosis. The trend for a higher proportion of adenocarcinoma in NSCLC patients should result with an increasing number of patients with inaugural SRE at diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4057924  PMID: 24913188
Bone metastasis; Skeletal-related events; Lung adenocarcinoma; Spinal epidural metastasis
4.  Increased health care utilization by survivors of childhood lymphoblastic leukemia is confined to those treated with cranial or total body irradiation: a case cohort study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:419.
Previous studies have indicated that survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have an increased morbidity measured in terms of health care utilization. However, earlier studies have several potentially important limitations. To overcome some of these, we investigated hospital contact rates, and predictors thereof, among 5-year survivors of ALL in a population-based setting, and compared them to a control cohort regarding outcome measures from a comprehensive nation-wide health register.
All individuals diagnosed with ALL before the age of 18 in Southern Sweden during 1970–1999 and alive January 2007 (n = 213; male = 107) were identified through the Swedish Cancer Register. Each subject was matched to fifty controls, identified in the Swedish Population Register. All study subjects were linked to the National Hospital Register and detailed information was obtained on all hospital contacts (hospital admissions and outpatients visits) starting five years after cancer diagnosis, and the corresponding date for the controls, until 2009.
The median follow-up among the 5-year survivors of ALL was 16 years (range 5–33), accruing a total of 3,527 person-years. Of the 213 5-year survivors, 105 (49.3%) had at least one hospital contact compared to 3,634 (34.1%) of the controls (p < 0.001). Survivors had more hospital contacts (3 [1–6] vs. 2 [1–4] contacts, p < 0.001) and more total days in hospital (6 [2–18] vs. 3 [1–7] days, p < 0.001) than the controls during the study period. Logistic regression analysis showed that survivors treated with cranial irradiation and/or total body irradiation (45% and 7%, respectively) had an increased risk of at least one hospital contact (OR 2.3, 95%CI; 1.5–3.6 and OR 11.0, 95%CI; 3.2–50.7, respectively), while there was no significant difference between the non-irradiated survivors and controls.
We show that irradiated survivors of childhood ALL have an increased morbidity measured in terms of hospital contacts, in comparison to non-irradiated survivors and controls, while non-irradiated survivors have not. These findings are encouraging regarding the future morbidity of children currently treated for ALL, as radiotherapy is necessary only for a minority of these.
PMCID: PMC4059084  PMID: 24917272
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Survivors; Late complications; Morbidity; Health care utilization
5.  A germline mutation in the BRCA1 3’UTR predicts Stage IV breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:421.
A germline, variant in the BRCA1 3’UTR (rs8176318) was previously shown to predict breast and ovarian cancer risk in women from high-risk families, as well as increased risk of triple negative breast cancer. Here, we tested the hypothesis that this variant predicts tumor biology, like other 3’UTR mutations in cancer.
The impact of the BRCA1-3’UTR-variant on BRCA1 gene expression, and altered response to external stimuli was tested in vitro using a luciferase reporter assay. Gene expression was further tested in vivo by immunoflourescence staining on breast tumor tissue, comparing triple negative patient samples with the variant (TG or TT) or non-variant (GG) BRCA1 3’UTR. To determine the significance of the variant on clinically relevant endpoints, a comprehensive collection of West-Irish breast cancer patients were tested for the variant. Finally, an association of the variant with breast screening clinical phenotypes was evaluated using a cohort of women from the High Risk Breast Program at the University of Vermont.
Luciferase reporters with the BRCA1-3’UTR-variant (T allele) displayed significantly lower gene expression, as well as altered response to external hormonal stimuli, compared to the non-variant 3’UTR (G allele) in breast cancer cell lines. This was confirmed clinically by the finding of reduced BRCA1 gene expression in triple negative samples from patients carrying the homozygous TT variant, compared to non-variant patients. The BRCA1-3’UTR-variant (TG or TT) also associated with a modest increased risk for developing breast cancer in the West-Irish cohort (OR = 1.4, 95% CI 1.1-1.8, p = 0.033). More importantly, patients with the BRCA1-3’UTR-variant had a 4-fold increased risk of presenting with Stage IV disease (p = 0.018, OR = 3.37, 95% CI 1.3-11.0). Supporting that this finding is due to tumor biology, and not difficulty screening, obese women with the BRCA1-3’UTR-variant had significantly less dense breasts (p = 0.0398) in the Vermont cohort.
A variant in the 3’UTR of BRCA1 is functional, leading to decreased BRCA1 expression, modest increased breast cancer risk, and most importantly, presentation with stage IV breast cancer, likely due to aggressive tumor biology.
PMCID: PMC4059881  PMID: 24915755
BRCA1-3’UTR-variant; Mutation; Breast cancer; Stage IV breast cancer; Metastatic breast cancer; Biomarker; Diagnostic marker
6.  Survival analysis of patients with non-small cell lung cancer who underwent surgical resection following 4 lung cancer resection guidelines 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:422.
To compare survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who underwent surgical resection and lymph node sampling based on guidelines proposed by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG), National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the OSI Pharmaceutical RADIANT trial, and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).
Medical records of patients with NSCLC who underwent surgical resection from 2001 to 2008 at our hospital were reviewed. Staging was according to the 7th edition of the AJCC TNM classification of lung cancer. Patients who received surgical resection following the IASLC, ACOSOG, RADIANT or NCCN resection criteria were identified.
A total of 2,711 patients (1803 males, 908 females; mean age, 59.6 ± 9.6 years) were included. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis indicated that increasing age, adenosquamous histology, and TNM stage II or III were associated with decreased overall survival (OS). Univariate analysis and log-rank test showed that surgical resection following the guidelines proposed by the IASLC, NCCN, ACOSOG, or RADIANT trial was associated with higher cumulative OS rates (relative to resection not following the guidelines). Multivariate analysis revealed that there was a significant improvement in OS only when IASLC resection guidelines (complete resection) were followed (hazard ratio = 0.84, 95% confidence interval 0.716 to 0.985, P = 0.032).
Surgical resection following the criteria proposed by IASLC, NCCN, ACOSOG, or the RADIANT trial was associated with a higher cumulative OS rate. However, significant improvement in OS only occurred when IASLC resection guidelines were followed.
PMCID: PMC4062499  PMID: 24915848
Non-small cell lung cancer; Resection; Guidelines; Accurate staging; Lymph node dissection
7.  NQO1 overexpression is associated with poor prognosis in squamous cell carcinoma of the uterine cervix 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:414.
NQO1 (NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase-1), located on chromosome 16q22, functions primarily to protect normal cells from oxidant stress and electrophilic attack. Recent studies have revealed that NQO1 is expressed at a high level in most human solid tumors including those of the colon, breast, pancreas, ovaries and thyroid, and it has also been detected following the induction of cell cycle progression and proliferation of melanoma cells. In this study, we aimed to investigate the clinicopathological significance of upregulated NQO1 protein expression in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the uterine cervix.
The localization of the NQO1 protein was determined in the SiHa cervical squamous cancer cell line using immunofluorescence (IF) staining, and immunohistochemical (IHC) staining performed on paraffin-embedded cervical SCC specimens from 177 patients. For comparison, 94 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and 25 normal cervical epithelia samples were also included. QRT-PCR was performed on RNA from fresh tissues to detect NQO1 mRNA expression levels, and HPV infection status was genotyped using oligonucleotide microarray. Disease-free survival (DFS) and 5-year overall survival (OS) rates for all cervical SCC patients were calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method, and univariate and multivariate analysis was performed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model.
The NQO1 protein showed a mainly cytoplasmic staining pattern in cervical cancer cells, and only three cases of cervical SCC showed a nuclear staining pattern. The strongly positive rate of NQO1 protein expression was significantly higher in cervical SCCs and CINs than in normal cervical epithelia. High-level NQO1 expression was closely associated with poor differentiation, late-stage, lymph node metastasis and high-risk for HPV infection. Additionally, high-level NQO1 expression was associated with lower DFS and 5-year OS rates, particularly for patients with early-stage cervical SCCs. Furthermore, Cox analysis revealed that NQO1 expression emerged as a significant independent hazard factor for DFS rate in patients with cervical SCC.
NQO1 overexpression might be an independent biomarker for prognostic evaluation of cervical SCCs.
PMCID: PMC4058702  PMID: 24912939
Squamous cell carcinoma; Cervix uteri; NQO1; Human papillomavirus; Prognosis; Survival analysis
8.  Sequential neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) followed by curative surgery vs. primary surgery alone for resectable, non-metastasized pancreatic adenocarcinoma: NEOPA- a randomized multicenter phase III study (NCT01900327, DRKS00003893, ISRCTN82191749) 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:411.
Median OS after surgery in curative intent for non-metastasized pancreas cancer ranges under study conditions from 17.9 months to 23.6 months. Tumor recurrence occurs locally, at distant sites (liver, peritoneum, lungs), or both. Observational and autopsy series report local recurrence rates of up to 87% even after potentially “curative” R0 resection. To achieve better local control, neoadjuvant CRT has been suggested for preoperative tumour downsizing, to elevate the likelihood of curative, margin-negative R0 resection and to increase the OS rate. However, controlled, randomized trials addressing the impact of neoadjuvant CRT survival do not exist.
The underlying hypothesis of this randomized, two-armed, open-label, multicenter, phase III trial is that neoadjuvant CRT increases the three-year overall survival by 12% compared to patients undergoing upfront surgery for resectable pancreatic cancer. A rigorous, standardized technique of histopathologically handling Whipple specimens will be applied at all participating centers. Overall, 410 patients (n = 205 in each study arm) will be enrolled in the trial, taking into regard an expected drop out rate of 7% and allocated either to receive neoadjuvant CRT prior to surgery or to undergo surgery alone. Circumferential resection margin status, i.e. R0 and R1 rates, respectively, surgical resectability rate, local and distant disease-free and global survival, and first site of tumor recurrence constitute further essential endpoints of the trial.
For the first time, the NEOPA study investigates the impact of neoadjuvant CRT on survival of resectable pancreas head cancer in a prospectively randomized manner. The results of the study have the potential to change substantially the treatment regimen of pancreas cancer.
Trial registration
Clinical Trial gov: NCT01900327, DRKS00003893, ISRCTN82191749
PMCID: PMC4057592  PMID: 24906700
Pancreas cancer; Surgery; Neoadjuvant chemoradiation; EBRT; Gemcitabine; Randomized trial
9.  Identification of prognostic factors and surgical indications for metastatic gastric cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:409.
The treatment of metastatic gastric cancer is not uniform, and the prognostic factors and indications for surgery are currently unclear. This retrospective study aimed to identify the prognostic factors and clinical indications for surgery in patients with metastatic gastric cancer.
A total of 123 consecutive patients with gastric cancer and synchronous distant metastasis treated between January 1999 and December 2011 were reviewed. Patient, tumor, laboratory, surgical, and chemotherapy factors were analyzed, with overall survival as the endpoint. Univariate analyses were performed using the log-rank test, multivariate analyses were performed using the Cox proportional hazards model, and Kaplan-Meier curves were used to estimate survival. Significance was set at p < 0.05.
The median overall survival time was 13.1 months. Ninety-eight patients received chemotherapy. Twenty-eight patients underwent gastrectomy with metastasectomy and 55 underwent gastrectomy without metastasectomy. The median overall survival time for patients who underwent gastrectomy with metastasectomy, gastrectomy without metastasectomy, and no surgical intervention was 21.9 months, 12.5 months, and 7.2 months, respectively (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis identified gastrectomy with or without metastasectomy, performance status (PS) ≥3, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) >3.1, and carbohydrate antigen 19–9 (CA19-9) level >37 U/mL as predictors of poor survival. NLR and CA19-9 level were also independent prognostic factors in the group of patients who underwent surgery.
High pretreatment NLR, CA19-9 level, and PS are predictors of poor prognosis in patients with metastatic gastric cancer. In selected patients, gastrectomy can be performed safely, and may be associated with longer survival.
PMCID: PMC4057566  PMID: 24906485
10.  Association of interferon regulatory factor 4 gene polymorphisms rs12203592 and rs872071 with skin cancer and haematological malignancies susceptibility: a meta-analysis of 19 case–control studies 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:410.
Research has indicated that the rs12203592 and rs872071 interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) gene polymorphisms correlate with the risk of cancer, especially skin cancer and haematological malignancies, but the results remain controversial. To understand better the effects of these two polymorphisms on skin cancer and haematological malignancies susceptibility, a cumulative meta-analysis was performed.
We conducted a search using the PubMed and Web of Science databases for relevant case-control studies published before April 2014. Summary odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using fixed- or random-effects models where appropriate. Heterogeneity test, publication bias test, and sensitivity analysis were also performed.
In total, 11 articles comprised of 19 case–control studies were identified; five focused on the rs12203592 polymorphism with 7,992 cases and 8,849 controls, and six were on the rs872071 polymorphism with 3108 cases and 8300 controls. As for rs12203592, a significant correlation with overall skin cancer and haematological malignancies risk was found with the homozygote comparison model (OR = 1.566, 95% CI 1.087-2.256) and recessive model (OR = 1.526, 95% CI 1.107-2.104). For rs872071, a significantly elevated haematological malignancies risk was observed in all genetic models (homozygote comparison: OR = 1.805, 95% CI 1.402-2.323; heterozygote comparison: OR = 1.427, 95% CI 1.203-1.692; dominant: OR = 1.556, 95% CI 1.281-1.891; recessive: OR = 1.432, 95% CI 1.293-1.587; additive: OR = 1.349, 95% CI 1.201-1.515). Similarly, increased skin cancer and haematological malignancies risk was also identified after stratification of the SNP data by cancer type, ethnicity and source of controls for both polymorphisms.
Our meta-analysis indicated that the rs12203592 and rs872071 IRF4 gene polymorphisms are associated with individual susceptibility to skin cancer and haematological malignancies. Moreover, the effect of the rs12203592 polymorphism on skin cancer risk was particularly prominent among Caucasians. Further functional research should be performed to validate the association.
PMCID: PMC4059085  PMID: 24906573
Meta-analysis; IRF4; Interferon regulatory factor 4; Polymorphisms; rs12203592; rs872071; Cancer risk
11.  Recurrent differentiated thyroid cancer: towards personalized treatment based on evaluation of tumor characteristics with PET (THYROPET Study): study protocol of a multicenter observational cohort study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:405.
After initial treatment of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) patients are followed with thyroglobulin (Tg) measurements to detect recurrences. In case of elevated levels of Tg and negative neck ultrasonography, patients are treated 'blindly' with Iodine-131 (131I). However, in up to 50% of patients, the post-therapy scan reveals no 131I-targeting of tumor lesions. Such patients derive no benefit from the blind therapy but are exposed to its toxicity. Alternatively, iodine-124 (124I) Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) has become available to visualize DTC lesions and without toxicity. In addition to this, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT detects the recurrent DTC phenotype, which lost the capacity to accumulate iodine. Taken together, the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT has potential to stratify patients for treatment with 131I.
In a multicenter prospective observational cohort study the hypothesis that the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT can avoid futile 131I treatments in patients planned for ‘blind’ therapy with 131I, is tested.
One hundred patients planned for 131I undergo both 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT after rhTSH stimulation. Independent of the outcome of the scans, all patients will subsequently receive, after thyroid hormone withdrawal, the 131I therapy. The post 131I therapeutic scintigraphy is compared with the outcome of the 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT in order to evaluate the diagnostic value of the combined PET modalities.
This study primary aims to reduce the number of futile 131I therapies. Secondary aims are the nationwide introduction of 124I PET/CT by a quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) program, to correlate imaging outcome with histopathological features, to compare 124I PET/CT after rhTSH and after withdrawal of thyroid hormone, and to compare 124I and 131I dosimetry.
This study aims to evaluate the potential value of the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT in the prevention of futile 131I therapies in patients with biochemically suspected recurrence of DTC. To our best knowledge no studies addressed this in a prospective cohort of patients. This is of great clinical importance as a futile 131I is a costly treatment associated with morbidity and therefore should be restricted to those likely to benefit from this treatment.
Trial registration identifier: NCT01641679
PMCID: PMC4058699  PMID: 24906384
Thyroid cancer; Recurrence; 124I; 18F-FDG; PET/CT; Cross-calibration; Thyropet
12.  Clinicopathologic features and prognostic implications of NOK/STYK1 protein expression in non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:402.
The expression of novel oncogenic kinase (NOK), a member of the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) family, has been observed in several human malignancies including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the clinic relevance of NOK expression in NSCLC remains unclear.
In this study, NOK expression in tumor cells was assessed using immunohistochemical methods in 191 patients with resected NSCLC. The association of NOK expression with clinicopathological parameters, including the Ki-67 labeling index (LI), was also evaluated. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the effect of NOK expression on survival.
Data showed that NOK was expressed in 75.4% and 14.1% of cancer lesions and corresponding adjacent non-cancerous tissue, respectively. Out of all the clinicopathological factors analyzed, NOK expression was significantly correlated with the grade of tumor differentiation (P = 0.035), pTNM stage (P = 0.020), lymphatic metastasis (P = 0.005) and high Ki-67 LI (P < 0.001). NOK positive NSCLC patients had a significantly shorter survival time (P = 0.004, Log-rank test) and the prognostic significance of NOK expression was apparent in squamous cell carcinoma patients (P = 0.022). Multivariate analysis indicated that NOK expression may be an independent prognostic factor in NSCLC (hazard ratio [HR], 1.731; P = 0.043).
Our results indicate that NOK expression is of clinical significance and can serve as a prognostic biomarker in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4051150  PMID: 24894011
NOK; Oncogene; Lung cancer; NSCLC; Survival; Prognosis; Immunohistochemistry
13.  Perioperative rehabilitation in operation for lung cancer (PROLUCA) – rationale and design 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:404.
The purpose of the PROLUCA study is to investigate the efficacy of preoperative and early postoperative rehabilitation in a non-hospital setting in patients with operable lung cancer with special focus on exercise.
Using a 2x2 factorial design with continuous effect endpoint (Maximal Oxygen Uptake (VO2peak)), 380 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) stage I-IIIa referred for surgical resection will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) preoperative and early postoperative rehabilitation (starting two weeks after surgery); (2) preoperative and late postoperative rehabilitation (starting six weeks after surgery); (3) early postoperative rehabilitation alone; (4) today’s standard care which is postoperative rehabilitation initiated six weeks after surgery. The preoperative rehabilitation program consists of an individually designed, 30-minute home-based exercise program performed daily. The postoperative rehabilitation program consists of a supervised group exercise program comprising cardiovascular and resistance training two-hour weekly for 12 weeks combined with individual counseling. The primary study endpoint is VO2peak and secondary endpoints include: Six-minute walk distance (6MWD), one-repetition-maximum (1RM), pulmonary function, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), symptoms and side effects of the cancer disease and the treatment of the disease, anxiety, depression, wellbeing, lifestyle, hospitalization time, sick leave, work status, postoperative complications (up to 30 days after surgery) and survival. Endpoints will be assessed at baseline, the day before surgery, pre-intervention, post-intervention, six months after surgery and one year after surgery.
The results of the PROLUCA study may potentially contribute to the identification of the optimal perioperative rehabilitation for operable lung cancer patients focusing on exercise initiated immediately after diagnosis and rehabilitation shortly after surgery.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC4053552  PMID: 24898680
Cancer; Rehabilitation; Exercise; Lung cancer; NSCLC
14.  Evaluation of the impact of transient interruption of antiangiogenic treatment using ultrasound-based techniques in a murine model of hepatocellular carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:403.
Development of escape pathways from antiangiogenic treatments was reported to be associated with enhanced tumor aggressiveness and rebound effect was suggested after treatment stop. Aim of the study was to evaluate tumor response simulating different conditions of administration of antiangiogenic treatment (transient or definitive treatment stop) in a mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Subcutaneous tumors were created by inoculating 5×106 Huh7 cells into the right flank of 14 nude mice. When tumor size reached 5–10 mm, mice were divided in 3 groups: group 1 was treated with placebo, group 2 was treated with sorafenib (62 mg/kg via gavage) but temporarily suspended from day +5 to +9, whereas in group 3 sorafenib was definitively stopped at day +5. At day +13 all mice were sacrificed, collecting masses for Western-Blot analyses. Volume was calculated with B-mode ultrasonography at day 0, +5, +9, +11 and +13. VEGFR2-targeted contrast-enhanced ultrasound using BR55 (Bracco Imaging) was performed at day +5 and +13 and elastonosography (Esaote) at day +9 and +11 to assess tumor stiffness.
Median growth percentage delta at day +13 versus day 0 was 197% (115–329) in group 1, 81% (48–144) in group 2 and 111% (27–167) in group 3. Median growth delta at day +13 with respect to day +5 was 79% (48–127), 37% (−14128) and 81% (15–87) in groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Quantification of targeted-CEUS at day +13 showed higher values in group 3 (509 Arbitrary Units AI, range 293–652) than group 1 (275 AI, range 191–494) and group 2 (181 AI, range 63–318) (p = 0.033). Western-Blot analysis demonstrated higher VEGFR2 expression in group 3 with respect to group 1 and 2.
A transient interruption of antiangiogenic treatment does not impede restoration of tumor response, while a definitive interruption tends to stimulate a rebound of angiogenesis to higher level than without treatment.
PMCID: PMC4057590  PMID: 24902850
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Antiangiogenic treatment; Molecular contrast-enhanced ultrasonography; Elastosonography
15.  Carbonic anhydrase 9 is associated with chemosensitivity and prognosis in breast cancer patients treated with taxane and anthracycline 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:400.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) is one of the standard care regimens for patients with resectable early-stage breast cancer. It would be advantageous to determine the chemosensitivity of tumors before initiating NAC. One of the parameters potentially compromising such chemosensitivity would be a hypoxic microenvironment of cancer cells. The aim of this study was thus to clarify the correlation between expression of the hypoxic marker carbonic anhydrase-9 (CA9) and chemosensitivity to NAC as well as prognosis of breast cancer patients.
A total of 102 patients with resectable early-stage breast cancer was treated with NAC consisting of FEC (5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide) followed by weekly paclitaxel before surgery. Core needle biopsy (CNB) specimens and resected tumors were obtained from all patients before and after NAC, respectively. Chemosensitivity to NAC and the prognostic potential of CA9 expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
CA9 positivity was detected in the CNB specimens from 47 (46%) of 102 patients. The CA9 expression in CNB specimens was significantly correlated with pathological response, lymph node metastasis, and lymph-vascular invasion. Multivariate analysis revealed that the CA9 expression in CNB specimens was an independent predictive factor for pathological response. The Kaplan-Meier survival curve revealed a significant negative correlation (p = 0.013) between the disease-free survival (DFS) and the CA 9 expression in resected tissues after NAC. Multivariate regression analyses indicated that the CA9 expression in resected tissues was an independent prognostic factor for DFS.
CA9 expression in CNB specimens is a useful marker for predicting chemosensitivity, and CA9 expression in resected tissue is prognostic of DFS in patients with resectable early-stage breast cancer treated by sequential FEC and weekly paclitaxel prior to resection.
PMCID: PMC4058694  PMID: 24893880
Breast cancer; Carbonic anhydrase 9; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Predictive marker; Chemosensitivity
16.  Leptomeningeal metastasis from hepatocellular carcinoma with other unusual metastases: a case report 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:399.
Leptomeningeal metastasis, which results from metastasis of tumors to the arachnoid and pia mater, can lead to the dissemination of tumor cells throughout the subarachnoid space via the cerebral spinal fluid, and frequently with a poor prognosis. The primary tumor in adults is most often breast cancer, lung cancer, or melanoma. Although leptomeningeal metastasis due to cholangiocarcinoma has been reported, to the best of our knowledge there is no cytologically confirmed report of leptomeningeal metastasis from hepatocellular carcinoma.
Case presentation
We herein report a case of leptomeningeal metastasis from hepatocellular carcinoma in a 53-year-old woman with concomitant systemic metastases to the lung, bone, brain, kidney, adrenal gland, subcutaneous tissues, and abdominal pelvis. The neurological symptoms of the patient were relieved after treatment with methotrexate intra-cerebral spinal fluid chemotherapy concurrent with whole brain radiotherapy.
To our knowledge this is the first report of leptomeningeal metastasis from hepatocellular carcinoma confirmed by cytology. Treatment with methotrexate intra-cerebral spinal fluid chemotherapy concurrent with whole brain radiotherapy was effective.
PMCID: PMC4048255  PMID: 24893802
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Metastasis; Leptomeningeal metastasis
17.  Expression of E-cadherin and β-catenin in basaloid and conventional squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity: are potential prognostic markers? 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:395.
Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma presents with a preference for the head and neck region, and shows a distinct aggressive behavior, with frequent local recurrences, regional and distant metastasis. The alterations in the cadherin-catenin complex are fundamental requirements for the metastasis process, and this is the first study to evaluate the immunostaining of E-cadherin and β-catenin in oral basaloid squamous cell carcinoma.
Seventeen cases of this tumor located exclusively in the mouth were compared to 26 cases of poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma and 28 cases of well to moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma matched by stage and tumor site. The immunostaining of E-cadherin and β-catenin were evaluated in the three groups and compared to their clinicopathological features and prognosis.
For groups poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma and basaloid squamous cell carcinoma, reduction or absence of E-cadherin staining was observed in more than 80.0% of carcinomas, and it was statistically significant compared to well to moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (p = .019). A strong expression of β-catenin was observed in 26.9% and 20.8% of well to moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma and poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma, respectively, and in 41.2% of basaloid squamous cell carcinoma. The 5-year and 10-year overall and disease-free survival rates demonstrated no significant differences among all three groups.
The clinical and biological behavior of three groups of the oral cavity tumors evaluated are similar. E-cadherin and β-catenin immunostaining showed no prognostic value for basaloid and conventional squamous cell carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC4049437  PMID: 24893577
Carcinoma; Squamous Cell; Cadherins; Beta-Catenin; Prognosis; Immunohistochemistry
18.  A combination of p300 and Braf expression in the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:398.
To date only a handful of drugs are available for the treatment of melanoma. Among them vemurafenib, a BrafV600E specific inhibitor, showed promising results in terms of response rate and increase in median survival time. However, its effectiveness is limited by development of resistance and the search for additional drugs for melanoma treatment is ongoing. The present study was performed to analyze the correlation between Braf expression and the expression of p300, a known down stream target of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, which was recently shown by us to be a prognostic marker for melanoma progression and patient survival.
The expression of Braf and p300 expression were correlated and analyzed by Chi-square test. A total of 327 melanoma patient cases (193 primary melanoma and 134 metastatic melanoma) were used for the study. Classification & regression tree (CRT), Kaplan-Meier, and multivariate Cox regression analysis were used to elucidate the significance of the combination of Braf and p300 expression in the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma.
Our results demonstrate that Braf expression is inversely correlated with nuclear p300 and positively correlated with cytoplasmic p300 expression. Braf and cytoplasmic p300 were found to be associated with melanoma progression, tumor size and ulceration status. CRT analysis revealed that a combination of Braf and p300 expression (nuclear and cytoplasmic), could be used to distinguish between nevi and melanoma, and primary from metastatic melanoma lesions. The combination of Braf and nuclear p300 was significantly associated with patient survival and nuclear p300 was found to be an independent predictor of patient survival.
Our results indicate a cross-talk between Braf and p300 in melanoma and demonstrate the importance Braf and p300 expression in the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma.
PMCID: PMC4051389  PMID: 24893747
p300; Braf; Melanoma; Prognosis; AJCC; Patient survival
19.  Prognostic relevance of induced and spontaneous apoptosis of disseminated tumor cells in primary breast cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:394.
An imbalance between cell proliferation and programmed cell death can result in tumor growth. Although most systemic cytotoxic agents induce apoptosis in tumor cells, a high apoptotic rate in primary breast cancer correlates with poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence and the prognostic significance of apoptotic disseminated tumor cells (DTC) in the bone marrow (BM) of breast cancer patients who either underwent primary surgery or primary systemic chemotherapy (PST).
A total of 383 primary breast cancer patients with viable DTC in the BM were included into this study. Eighty-five patients were initially treated with primary systemic chemotherapy whereas 298 patients underwent surgery first. Detection of apoptotic DTC were performed by immunocytochemistry using the M30 antibody which detects a neo-epitope expressed after caspase cleavage of cytokeratin 18 during early apoptosis. The median follow up was 44 months (range 10–88 months).
Eighty-two of 298 (27%) primary operated patients and 41 of 85 (48%) patients treated with primary systemic systemic therapy had additional apoptotic DTC (M30 positive). In the neoadjuvant group M30-positive patients were less likely to suffer relapse than those without apoptotic DTC (7% vs. 23% of the events, p = 0.049). In contrast, the detection of apoptotic DTC in patients treated by primary surgery was significantly associated with poor overall survival (5% vs. 12% of the events, p = 0.008).
Apoptotic DTC can be detected in breast cancer patients before and after systemic treatment. The presence of apoptotic DTC in patients with PST may be induced by the cytotoxic agents. Thus, both spontaneous and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis may have different prognostic significance.
PMCID: PMC4055221  PMID: 24894702
Apoptosis; M30; Breast cancer; Survival; Disseminated tumor cell
20.  Adherence to hormone therapy among women with breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:397.
Despite the excellent results obtained with hormone therapy, the long treatment period and the side effects associated with its use make patient adherence difficult. Moreover, certain aspects of health care can mitigate or exacerbate non-adherence. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with adherence to hormone therapy for breast cancer, with the goal of contributing to the reformulation of the care process and to improvements in outcomes.
This was a retrospective longitudinal study based on secondary data. The study integrated and analyzed data from a cohort of 5,861 women with breast cancer who were identified in the databases of the Brazilian National Cancer Institute [Instituto Nacional de Câncer - INCA] and the Unified Health System [Sistema Único de Saúde - SUS]. All of the patients were treated at INCA, which dispenses free medication, and the follow-up period lasted from 01/01/2004 to 10/29/2010. The outcome of interest was hormone treatment adherence, which was defined as the possession of medication, and a logistic regression model was employed to identify the socio-demographic, behavioral, clinical, and health care variables that were independently associated with the variations in this outcome.
The proportion of women who adhered to hormone therapy was 76.3%. The likelihood of adherence to hormone therapy increased with each additional year of age, as well as among women with a secondary or higher level education, those with a partner, those who underwent surgery, those who had more consultations with a breast specialist and clinical oncologist, and those who underwent psychotherapy; the effect for the latter increased with each additional consultation. Conversely, the likelihood of adherence was lower among patients at a non-curable stage, those who were alcohol drinkers, those who received chemotherapy, those who had undergone more tests and had more hospitalizations, and those who used tamoxifen and combined aromatase inhibitors.
This study shows that approximately a quarter of the women with breast cancer did not adhere to hormone treatment, thus risking clinical responses below the expected standards. It also identifies the most vulnerable subgroups in the treatment process and the aspects of care that provide better results.
PMCID: PMC4057651  PMID: 24893670
Breast cancer; Adherence; Hormone therapy; Tamoxifen; Aromatase inhibitors; Organization of care; Risk factors; Health care organization; Quality of health care
21.  FOXP1 and TP63 involvement in the progression of myelodysplastic syndrome with 5q- and additional cytogenetic abnormalities 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:396.
The progression of low-risk del(5q) myelodysplastic syndrome to acute myeloid leukemia is increased when associated with mutations of TP53, or with additional chromosomal abnormalities. However, to date the prognostic impact and molecular consequences of these rearrangements were poorly investigated. Single additional alterations to del(5q) by balanced chromosome rearrangements were rarely found in myelodysplasia. In particular, balanced alterations involving TP63 and FOXP1 genes were never reported in the literature.
Case presentation
Here we report on a 79-year woman with an aggressive form of myelodysplastic syndrome with del(5q), no TP53 mutation, and a novel complex rearrangement of chromosome 3 in bone marrow cells. Our results revealed that the FOXP1 and TP63 genes were both relocated along chromosome 3. Strikingly, immunohistochemistry analysis showed altered protein levels, disclosing that this rearrangement triggered the expression of FOXP1 and TP63 genes. FOXP1 was also found activated in other patients with myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia, showing that it is an important, recurrent event.
We document an apparent role of FOXP1 and TP63, up to now poorly documented, in the progression of MDS in our patient who is lacking mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene normally associated with poor outcome in myelodysplastic syndrome with 5q-. Finally, our results may suggest a possible broader role of FOXP1 in the pathogenesis and progression of myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia.
PMCID: PMC4059025  PMID: 24893616
Double inversion; Myeloid leukemia; TP53; Gene activation; Chromosome 3
22.  Bimodal mortality dynamics for uveal melanoma: a cue for metastasis development traits? 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:392.
The study estimates mortality dynamics (event-specific hazard rates over a follow-up time interval) for uveal melanoma.
Three thousands six hundred seventy two patients undergoing radical or conservative treatment for unilateral uveal melanoma, whose yearly follow-up data were reported in three published datasets, were analysed. Mortality dynamics was studied by estimating with the life-table method the discrete hazard rate for death. Smoothed curves were obtained by a Kernel-like smoothing procedure and a piecewise exponential regression model. The ratio deaths/patients at risk per year was the main outcome measure.
The three explored hazard rate curves display a common bimodal pattern, with a sudden increase peaking at about three years, followed by reduction until the sixth-seventh year and a second surge peaking at about nine years after treatment.
The bimodal pattern of mortality indicates that uveal melanoma metastatic development cannot be explained by a continuous growth model. Similar metastasis dynamics have been reported for other tumours, including early breast cancer, for which it supported a paradigm shift to an interrupted growth model, the implications of which are episodes of ‘tumour dormancy’. We propose that the concepts of tumour homeostasis, tumour dormancy and enhancement of metastasis growth related to primary tumour removal, convincingly explaining the clinical behaviour of breast cancer, may be used for uveal melanoma as well. To confirm this proposition, a careful analysis of uveal melanoma metastasis dynamics is strongly warranted.
PMCID: PMC4047778  PMID: 24890689
23.  Identification of genes regulating migration and invasion using a new model of metastatic prostate cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:387.
Understanding the complex, multistep process of metastasis remains a major challenge in cancer research. Metastasis models can reveal insights in tumor development and progression and provide tools to test new intervention strategies.
To develop a new cancer metastasis model, we used DU145 human prostate cancer cells and performed repeated rounds of orthotopic prostate injection and selection of subsequent lymph node metastases. Tumor growth, metastasis, cell migration and invasion were analyzed. Microarray analysis was used to identify cell migration- and cancer-related genes correlating with metastasis. Selected genes were silenced using siRNA, and their roles in cell migration and invasion were determined in transwell migration and Matrigel invasion assays.
Our in vivo cycling strategy created cell lines with dramatically increased tumorigenesis and increased ability to colonize lymph nodes (DU145LN1-LN4). Prostate tumor xenografts displayed increased vascularization, enlarged podoplanin-positive lymphatic vessels and invasive margins. Microarray analysis revealed gene expression profiles that correlated with metastatic potential. Using gene network analysis we selected 3 significantly upregulated cell movement and cancer related genes for further analysis: EPCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule), ITGB4 (integrin β4) and PLAU (urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA)). These genes all showed increased protein expression in the more metastatic DU145-LN4 cells compared to the parental DU145. SiRNA knockdown of EpCAM, integrin-β4 or uPA all significantly reduced cell migration in DU145-LN4 cells. In contrast, only uPA siRNA inhibited cell invasion into Matrigel. This role of uPA in cell invasion was confirmed using the uPA inhibitors, amiloride and UK122.
Our approach has identified genes required for the migration and invasion of metastatic tumor cells, and we propose that our new in vivo model system will be a powerful tool to interrogate the metastatic cascade in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4046438  PMID: 24885350
Prostate cancer; Invasion; Migration; Metastasis; Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis; Lymph node; EpCAM; Integrin; Beta4; uPA; New model
24.  What do women with gynecologic cancer know about HPV and their individual disease? A pilot study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:388.
The vaccinations against human papilloma virus (HPV) are highly effective in preventing persistent infection. The level of knowledge about HPV and the consequences of an infection with this virus are low in the general population and in patients who suffer from HPV-associated diseases. We aimed to compare the level of knowledge about HPV and about the women’s individual malignant disease between women with and without HPV-associated gynecologic cancer as well as the knowledge about individual malignant diseases.
In a pilot study, 51 women with HPV-related cancer (cervical cancer: n = 30; vulvar or vaginal cancer: n = 21) and 60 women with non-HPV associated gynecologic malignancies (ovarian cancer: n = 30; endometrial cancer, n = 30) were included. They answered a questionnaire including questions about personal medical history, risk factors for cancer development, and HPV.
The general level of knowledge of the term “HPV” was low (29.7%, 33/111) and it was similar in patients with HPV-related and non-HPV-associated cancer (18/60, 30.0% vs. 15/51, 29.4%, respectively; p = 1.000). When asked about their disease, 80% (24/30) of women with ovarian cancer correctly named their diagnosis, followed by women with cervical cancer (73.3%, 22/30), endometrial cancer (70%, 21/30) and vaginal or vulvar cancer (42.9%, 9/21; p = 0.008).
The level of knowledge about HPV and the malignant diseases the patient suffered from was low. This applied even to patients with HPV associated malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4046847  PMID: 24885465
HPV; Awareness; Disease knowledge; Patient information; Cancer
25.  Correlating tumor metabolic progression index measured by serial FDG PET-CT, apparent diffusion coefficient measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and blood genomics to patient’s outcome in advanced colorectal cancer: the CORIOLAN study 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:385.
Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) may present various behaviours that define different courses of tumor evolution. There is presently no available tool designed to assess tumor aggressiveness, despite the fact that this is considered to have a major impact on patient outcome.
CORIOLAN is a single-arm prospective interventional non-therapeutic study aiming mainly to assess the natural tumor metabolic progression index (TMPI) measured by serial FDG PET-CT without any intercurrent antitumor therapy as a prognostic factor for overall survival (OS) in patients with mCRC.
Secondary objectives of the study aim to test the TMPI as a prognostic marker for progression-free survival (PFS), to assess the prognostic value of baseline tumor FDG uptake on PFS and OS, to compare TMPI to classical clinico-biological assessment of prognosis, and to test the prognostic value on OS and PFS of MRI-based apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and variation of vADC using voxel-based diffusion maps.
Additionally, this study intends to identify genomic and epigenetic factors that correlate with progression of tumors and the OS of patients with mCRC. Consequently, this analysis will provide information about the signaling pathways that determine the natural and therapy-free course of the disease. Finally, it would be of great interest to investigate whether in a population of patients with mCRC, for which at present no known effective therapy is available, tumor aggressiveness is related to elevated levels of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and to patient outcome.
Tumor aggressiveness is one of the major determinants of patient outcome in advanced disease. Despite its importance, supported by findings reported in the literature of extreme outcomes for patients with mCRC treated with chemotherapy, no objective tool allows clinicians to base treatment decisions on this factor. The CORIOLAN study will characterize TMPI using FDG-PET-based metabolic imaging of patients with chemorefractory mCRC during a period of time without treatment. Results will be correlated to other assessment tools like DW-MRI, CTCs and circulating DNA, with the aim to provide usable tools in daily practice and in clinical studies in the future.
Clinical number
PMCID: PMC4051382  PMID: 24885112
Colorectal cancer; Progression rate assessment; FDG-PET; PET/CT

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