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Concept: Chemotherapy


Increasing knowledge concerning the biology of hematologic malignancies as well as the role of the immune system in the control of these diseases has led to the development and approval of immunotherapies that are resulting in impressive clinical responses. Therefore, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) convened a hematologic malignancy Cancer Immunotherapy Guidelines panel consisting of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and patients to develop consensus recommendations for the clinical application of immunotherapy for patients with multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and acute leukemia. These recommendations were developed following the previously established process based on the Institute of Medicine’s clinical practice guidelines. In doing so, a systematic literature search was performed for high-impact studies from 2004 to 2014 and was supplemented with further literature as identified by the panel. The consensus panel met in December of 2014 with the goal to generate consensus recommendations for the clinical use of immunotherapy in patients with hematologic malignancies. During this meeting, consensus panel voting along with discussion were used to rate and review the strength of the supporting evidence from the literature search. These consensus recommendations focus on issues related to patient selection, toxicity management, clinical endpoints, and the sequencing or combination of therapies. Overall, immunotherapy is rapidly emerging as an effective therapeutic strategy for the management of hematologic malignances. Evidence-based consensus recommendations for its clinical application are provided and will be updated as the field evolves.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Cancer, Bone marrow, Chemotherapy, Types of cancer, Leukemia, Hematological malignancy


Payment for health care services, including oncology services, is shifting from volume-based fee-for-service to value-based accountable care. The objective of accountable care is to support providers with flexibility and resources to reform care delivery, accompanied by accountability for maintaining or improving outcomes while lowering costs. These changes depend on health care payers, systems, physicians, and patients having meaningful measures to assess care delivery and outcomes and to balance financial incentives for lowering costs while providing greater value. Gaps in accountable care measure sets may cause missed signals of problems in care and missed opportunities for improvement. Measures to balance financial incentives may be particularly important for oncology, where high cost and increasingly targeted diagnostics and therapeutics intersect with the highly complex and heterogeneous needs and preferences of cancer patients. Moreover, the concept of value in cancer care, defined as the measure of outcomes achieved per costs incurred, is rarely incorporated into performance measurement. This article analyzes gaps in oncology measures in accountable care, discusses challenging measurement issues, and offers strategies for improving oncology measurement. Discern Health analyzed gaps in accountable care measure sets for 10 cancer conditions that were selected based on incidence and prevalence; impact on cost and mortality; a diverse range of high-cost diagnostic procedures and treatment modalities (e.g., genomic tumor testing, molecularly targeted therapies, and stereotactic radiotherapy); and disparities or performance gaps in patient care. We identified gaps by comparing accountable care set measures with high-priority measurement opportunities derived from practice guidelines developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and other oncology specialty societies. We found significant gaps in accountable care measure sets across all 10 conditions. For each gap, we searched for available measures not already being used in programs. Where existing measures did not cover gaps, we recommended refinements to existing measures or proposed measures for development. We shared the results of the measure gap analysis with a roundtable of national experts in cancer care and oncology measurement. During a web meeting and an in-person meeting, the roundtable reviewed the gap analysis and identified priority opportunities for improving measurement. The group determined that overreliance on condition-specific process measures is problematic because of rapidly changing evidence and increasing personalization of cancer care. The group’s primary recommendation for enhancing measure sets was to prioritize and develop effective cross-cutting measures that assess clinical and patient-reported outcomes, including shared decision making, care planning, and symptom control. The group also prioritized certain safety and structural measures to complement condition-specific process measures. Further, the group explored strategies for using clinical pathways and devising layered measurement approaches to improve measurement for accountable care. This article presents the roundtable’s conclusions and recommendations for next steps.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health insurance, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Tumor, Cancer patient


As with many anti-cancer drugs, the topoisomerase II inhibitor etoposide is considered safe for administration to women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, but assessment of effects on the developing fetus have been limited. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of etoposide on germ cells in the developing ovary. Mouse ovary tissue culture was used as the experimental model, thus allowing us to examine effects of etoposide on all stages of germ cell development in the same way, in vitro.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Embryo, Chemotherapy, Cellular differentiation, Puberty, Germ cell


Background Abiraterone acetate, an androgen biosynthesis inhibitor, improves overall survival in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer after chemotherapy. We evaluated this agent in patients who had not received previous chemotherapy. Methods In this double-blind study, we randomly assigned 1088 patients to receive abiraterone acetate (1000 mg) plus prednisone (5 mg twice daily) or placebo plus prednisone. The coprimary end points were radiographic progression-free survival and overall survival. Results The study was unblinded after a planned interim analysis that was performed after 43% of the expected deaths had occurred. The median radiographic progression-free survival was 16.5 months with abiraterone-prednisone and 8.3 months with prednisone alone (hazard ratio for abiraterone-prednisone vs. prednisone alone, 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.62; P<0.001). Over a median follow-up period of 22.2 months, overall survival was improved with abiraterone-prednisone (median not reached, vs. 27.2 months for prednisone alone; hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.93; P=0.01) but did not cross the efficacy boundary. Abiraterone-prednisone showed superiority over prednisone alone with respect to time to initiation of cytotoxic chemotherapy, opiate use for cancer-related pain, prostate-specific antigen progression, and decline in performance status. Grade 3 or 4 mineralocorticoid-related adverse events and abnormalities on liver-function testing were more common with abiraterone-prednisone. Conclusions Abiraterone improved radiographic progression-free survival, showed a trend toward improved overall survival, and significantly delayed clinical decline and initiation of chemotherapy in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development, formerly Cougar Biotechnology; number, NCT00887198 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, Androgen, Prostate-specific antigen


There is limited available information on patterns of utilization and efficacy of alternative medicine (AM) for patients with cancer. We identified 281 patients with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer who chose AM, administered as sole anticancer treatment among patients who did not receive conventional cancer treatment (CCT), defined as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy. Independent covariates on multivariable logistic regression associated with increased likelihood of AM use included breast or lung cancer, higher socioeconomic status, Intermountain West or Pacific location, stage II or III disease, and low comorbidity score. Following 2:1 matching (CCT = 560 patients and AM = 280 patients) on Cox proportional hazards regression, AM use was independently associated with greater risk of death compared with CCT overall (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.88 to 3.27) and in subgroups with breast (HR = 5.68, 95% CI = 3.22 to 10.04), lung (HR = 2.17, 95% CI = 1.42 to 3.32), and colorectal cancer (HR = 4.57, 95% CI = 1.66 to 12.61). Although rare, AM utilization for curable cancer without any CCT is associated with greater risk of death.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Cancer staging, Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are important targets for cancer biology studies. To further elucidate the role of CTCs in cancer metastasis and prognosis, effective methods for isolating extremely rare tumor cells from peripheral blood must be developed. Acoustic-based methods, which are known to preserve the integrity, functionality, and viability of biological cells using label-free and contact-free sorting, have thus far not been successfully developed to isolate rare CTCs using clinical samples from cancer patients owing to technical constraints, insufficient throughput, and lack of long-term device stability. In this work, we demonstrate the development of an acoustic-based microfluidic device that is capable of high-throughput separation of CTCs from peripheral blood samples obtained from cancer patients. Our method uses tilted-angle standing surface acoustic waves. Parametric numerical simulations were performed to design optimum device geometry, tilt angle, and cell throughput that is more than 20 times higher than previously possible for such devices. We first validated the capability of this device by successfully separating low concentrations (∼100 cells/mL) of a variety of cancer cells from cell culture lines from WBCs with a recovery rate better than 83%. We then demonstrated the isolation of CTCs in blood samples obtained from patients with breast cancer. Our acoustic-based separation method thus offers the potential to serve as an invaluable supplemental tool in cancer research, diagnostics, drug efficacy assessment, and therapeutics owing to its excellent biocompatibility, simple design, and label-free automated operation while offering the capability to isolate rare CTCs in a viable state.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Chemotherapy, Tumor, Neoplasm


Postoperative nausea (PON) is a common complication of anesthesia and surgery. Antiemetic medication for higher-risk patients may reduce but does not reliably prevent PON. We examined aromatherapy as a treatment for patients experiencing PON after ambulatory surgery. Our primary hypothesis was that in comparison with inhaling a placebo, PON will be reduced significantly by aromatherapy with (1) essential oil of ginger, (2) a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom, or (3) isopropyl alcohol. Our secondary hypothesis was that the effectiveness of aromatherapy will depend upon the agent used.

Concepts: Alcohol, Ethanol, Chemotherapy, Carbon, Anesthesia, Essential oil, Ginger, Oil


Background Abiraterone acetate, a drug that blocks endogenous androgen synthesis, plus prednisone is indicated for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. We evaluated the clinical benefit of abiraterone acetate plus prednisone with androgen-deprivation therapy in patients with newly diagnosed, metastatic, castration-sensitive prostate cancer. Methods In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 1199 patients to receive either androgen-deprivation therapy plus abiraterone acetate (1000 mg daily, given once daily as four 250-mg tablets) plus prednisone (5 mg daily) (the abiraterone group) or androgen-deprivation therapy plus dual placebos (the placebo group). The two primary end points were overall survival and radiographic progression-free survival. Results After a median follow-up of 30.4 months at a planned interim analysis (after 406 patients had died), the median overall survival was significantly longer in the abiraterone group than in the placebo group (not reached vs. 34.7 months) (hazard ratio for death, 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51 to 0.76; P<0.001). The median length of radiographic progression-free survival was 33.0 months in the abiraterone group and 14.8 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.55; P<0.001). Significantly better outcomes in all secondary end points were observed in the abiraterone group, including the time until pain progression, next subsequent therapy for prostate cancer, initiation of chemotherapy, and prostate-specific antigen progression (P<0.001 for all comparisons), along with next symptomatic skeletal events (P=0.009). These findings led to the unanimous recommendation by the independent data and safety monitoring committee that the trial be unblinded and crossover be allowed for patients in the placebo group to receive abiraterone. Rates of grade 3 hypertension and hypokalemia were higher in the abiraterone group. Conclusions The addition of abiraterone acetate and prednisone to androgen-deprivation therapy significantly increased overall survival and radiographic progression-free survival in men with newly diagnosed, metastatic, castration-sensitive prostate cancer. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; LATITUDE number, NCT01715285 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Cancer, Metastasis, Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer, Androgen, Placebo, Prostate-specific antigen


BACKGROUND: Regardless of the availability of therapeutic options, the overall 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer remains less than 5%. Gum resins from Boswellia species, also known as frankincense, have been used as a major ingredient in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health-related conditions. Both frankincense chemical extracts and essential oil prepared from Boswellia species gum resins exhibit anti-neoplastic activity, and have been investigated as potential anti-cancer agents. The goals of this study are to identify optimal condition for preparing frankincense essential oil that possesses potent anti-tumor activity, and to evaluate the activity in both cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and a xenograft mouse cancer model. METHODS: Boswellia sacra gum resins were hydrodistilled at 78 [degree sign]C; and essential oil distillate fractions were collected at different durations (Fraction I at 0–2 h, Fraction II at 8–10 h, and Fraction III at 11–12 h). Hydrodistillation of the second half of gum resins was performed at 100 [degree sign]C; and distillate was collected at 11–12 h (Fraction IV). Chemical compositions were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS); and total boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Frankincense essential oil-modulated pancreatic tumor cell viability and cytotoxicity were determined by colorimetric assays. Levels of apoptotic markers, signaling molecules, and cell cycle regulators expression were characterized by Western blot analysis. A heterotopic (subcutaneous) human pancreatic cancer xenograft nude mouse model was used to evaluate anti-tumor capability of Fraction IV frankincense essential oil in vivo. Frankincense essential oil-induced tumor cytostatic and cytotoxic activities in animals were assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Longer duration and higher temperature hydrodistillation produced more abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, in frankincense essential oil fraactions. Human pancreatic cancer cells were sensitive to Fractions III and IV (containing higher molecular weight compounds) treatment with suppressed cell viability and increased cell death. Essential oil activated the caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway, induced a rapid and transient activation of Akt and Erk1/2, and suppressed levels of cyclin D1 cdk4 expression in cultured pancreatic cancer cells. In addition, Boswellia sacra essential oil Fraction IV exhibited anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities against pancreatic tumors in the heterotopic xenograft mouse model. CONCLUSION: All fractions of frankincense essential oil from Boswellia sacra are capable of suppressing viability and inducing apoptosis of a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Potency of essential oil-suppressed tumor cell viability may be associated with the greater abundance of high molecular weight compounds in Fractions III and IV. Although chemical component(s) responsible for tumor cell cytotoxicity remains undefined, crude essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins might be a useful alternative therapeutic agent for treating patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Apoptosis, Chemotherapy, Tumor, Neoplasm, Cell cycle, Pancreatic cancer


RAS and BRAF mutations impact treatment and prognosis of metastatic colorectal cancer patients (mCRC), but the knowledge is based on trial patients usually not representative for the general cancer population. Patient characteristics, treatment and efficacy according to KRAS, BRAF and MSI status were analyzed in a prospectively collected unselected population-based cohort of 798 non-resectable mCRC patients. The cohort contained many patients with poor performance status (39% PS 2-4) and elderly (37% age>75), groups usually not included in clinical trials. Patients without available tissue micro array (TMA) (42%) had worse prognostic factors and inferior survival (all patients; 7m vs 11m, chemotherapy-treated;12m vs 17m). The 92 patients (21%) with BRAF mutation had a poor prognosis regardless of microsatellite instability, but receipt of 1-2nd chemotherapy was similar to wildtype BRAF patients. Median survival in this cohort varied from 1 month in BRAF mutated patients not given chemotherapy to 26 months in wildtype KRAS/BRAF patients <75 years in good PS. TMA availability, BRAF mutation and KRAS mutation were all independent prognostic factors for survival. The observed 21% BRAF mutation incidence is higher than the previously and repeatedly reported incidence of 5-12% in mCRC. Screening for BRAF mutations before selection of treatment is relevant for many patients, especially outside clinical trials. A BRAF mutation only partly explained the very poor prognosis of many mCRC patients. Survival in unselected metastatic colorectal cancer patients is extremely variable and subgroups have an extremely short survival compared to trial patients. Patients without available TMA had worse prognostic factors and shorter survival, which questions the total generalizability of present TMA studies and implies that we lack information on the biologically worst mCRC cases. Lack of available tissue is an important underexposed issue which introduces sample bias, and this should be recognized more clearly when conclusions are made from translational mCRC studies.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Cancer, Mutation, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Colorectal cancer, Mutation rate