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Preview: JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute - recent issues

JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute - recent issues

JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute - RSS feed of recent issues (covers the latest 3 issues, including the current issue)


Inactivation of Cancer Mutations Utilizing CRISPR/Cas9


Although whole-genome sequencing has uncovered a large number of mutations that drive tumorigenesis, functional ratification for most mutations remains sparse. Here, we present an approach to test functional relevance of tumor mutations employing CRISPR/Cas9. Combining comprehensive sgRNA design and an efficient reporter assay to nominate efficient and selective sgRNAs, we establish a pipeline to dissect roles of cancer mutations with potential applicability to personalized medicine and future therapeutic use.

Risk of Advanced Neoplasia Using the National Cancer Institutes Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool


Background: There is no validated, discriminating, and easy-to-apply tool for estimating risk of colorectal neoplasia. We studied whether the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Risk Assessment Tool, which estimates future CRC risk, could estimate current risk for advanced colorectal neoplasia among average-risk persons.

Methods: This cross-sectional study involved individuals age 50 to 80 years undergoing first-time screening colonoscopy. We measured medical and family history, lifestyle information, and physical measures and calculated each person’s future CRC risk using the NCI tool’s logistic regression equation. We related quintiles of future CRC risk to the current risk of advanced neoplasia (sessile serrated polyp or tubular adenoma ≥ 1 cm, a polyp with villous histology or high-grade dysplasia, or CRC). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: For 4457 (98.5%) with complete data (mean age = 57.2 years, SD = 6.6 years, 51.7% women), advanced neoplasia prevalence was 8.26%. Based on quintiles of five-year estimated absolute CRC risk, current risks of advanced neoplasia were 2.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3% to 3.3%), 4.8% (95% CI = 3.5% to 6.4%), 6.4% (95% CI = 4.9% to 8.2%), 10.0% (95% CI = 8.1% to 12.1%), and 17.6% (95% CI = 15.5% to 20.6%; P < .001). For quintiles of estimated 10-year CRC risk, corresponding current risks for advanced neoplasia were 2.2% (95% CI = 1.4% to 3.5%), 4.8% (95% CI = 3.5% to 6.4%), 6.5% (95% CI = 5.0% to 8.3%), 9.3% (95% CI = 7.5% to 11.4%), and 18.4% (95% CI = 15.9% to 21.1%; P < .001). Among persons with an estimated five-year CRC risk above the median, current risk for advanced neoplasia was 12.8%, compared with 3.7% among those below the median (relative risk = 3.4, 95 CI = 2.7 to 4.4).

Conclusions: The NCI’s Risk Assessment Tool, which estimates future CRC risk, may be used to estimate current risk for advanced neoplasia, making it potentially useful for tailoring and improving CRC screening efficiency among average-risk persons.



Bilateral Oophorectomy and Breast Cancer Risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers


Background: Whether oophorectomy reduces breast cancer risk among BRCA mutation carriers is a matter of debate. We undertook a prospective analysis of bilateral oophorectomy and breast cancer risk in BRCA mutation carriers.

Methods: Subjects had no history of cancer, had both breasts intact, and had information on oophorectomy status (n = 3722). Women were followed until breast cancer diagnosis, prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, or death. A Cox regression model was used to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of breast cancer associated with oophorectomy (coded as a time-dependent variable). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Over a mean follow-up of 5.6 years, 350 new breast cancers were diagnosed. Among women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, oophorectomy was not associated with breast cancer risk compared with women who did not undergo an oophorectomy. The age-adjusted hazard ratio associated with oophorectomy was 0.96 (95% CI = 0.73 to 1.26, P = .76) for BRCA1 and was 0.65 (95% CI = 0.37 to 1.16, P = .14) for BRCA2 mutation carriers. In stratified analyses, the effect of oophorectomy was statistically significant for breast cancer in BRCA2 mutation carriers diagnosed prior to age 50 years (age-adjusted HR = 0.18, 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.63, P = .007). Oophorectomy was not associated with risk of breast cancer prior to age 50 years among BRCA1 mutation carriers (age-adjusted HR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.55 to 1.13, P = .51).

Conclusions: Findings from this large prospective study support a role of oophorectomy for the prevention of premenopausal breast cancer in BRCA2, but not BRCA1 mutation carriers. These findings warrant further evaluation.

Effects of In Utero Exposure to Ethinyl Estradiol on Tamoxifen Resistance and Breast Cancer Recurrence in a Preclinical Model


Background: Responses to endocrine therapies vary among patients with estrogen receptor (ER+) breast cancer. We studied whether in utero exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds might explain these variations.

Methods: We describe a novel ER+ breast cancer model to study de novo and acquired tamoxifen (TAM) resistance. Pregnant Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to 0 or 0.1 ppm ethinyl estradiol (EE2), and the response of 9,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary tumors to 15 mg/kg TAM, with (n = 17 tumors in the controls and n = 20 tumors in EE2 offspring) or without 1.2 g/kg valproic acid and 5 mg/kg hydralazine (n = 24 tumors in the controls and n = 32 tumors in EE2 offspring) in the female offspring, was assessed. One-sided Chi2 tests were used to calculate P values. Comparisons of differentially expressed genes between mammary tumors in in utero EE2-exposed and control rats, and between anti-estrogen-resistant LCC9 and -sensitive LCC1 human breast cancer cells, were also performed.

Results: In our preclinical model, 54.2% of mammary tumors in the control rats exhibited a complete response to TAM, of which 23.1% acquired resistance with continued anti-estrogen treatment and recurred. Mammary tumors in the EE2 offspring were statistically significantly less likely to respond to TAM (P = .047) and recur (P = .007). In the EE2 offspring, but not in controls, adding valproic acid and hydralazine to TAM prevented recurrence (P < .001). Three downregulated and hypermethylated genes (KLF4, LGALS3, MICB) and one upregulated gene (ETV4) were identified in EE2 tumors and LCC9 breast cancer cells, and valproic acid and hydralazine normalized the altered expression of all four genes.

Conclusions: Resistance to TAM may be preprogrammed by in utero exposure to high estrogen levels and mediated through reversible epigenetic alterations in genes associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition and tumor immune responses.

Selective Activation of Anticancer Chemotherapy by Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts in the Tumor Microenvironment


Background: The tumor microenvironment has recently emerged as a new target of anticancer chemotherapy. Selective activation of anticancer chemotherapy in the tumor microenvironment would further reduce the toxicity of anticancer drugs toward normal tissues. Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is known to be selectively overexpressed on cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the tumor microenvironment. Here, we designed an anticancer chemotherapeutic system based on promelittin, a peptide toxin that is selectively converted from an inactive form to the pore-forming melittin upon cleavage by FAP in the tumor microenvironment.

Methods: We conjugated promelittin-containing FAP-cleavable sequences to pegylated phospholipids and anchored them to reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets. The resulting nanosheets, PL-rGO, were tested for hemolysis and used for doxorubicin delivery. In vitro cocultures and in vivo tumor growth (n = 5 mice per group) with tissue immunostaining were used to test the selective activation of anticancer chemotherapy by FAP expressed on CAFs.

Results: FAP-specific hemolytic activity of PL-rGO was observed in cocultures of CAFs and HT29 cells but not in HT29 cells alone. Doxorubicin-loaded PL-rGO (Dox/PL-rGO) showed 3.4-fold greater cell-killing efficacy (compared with free Dox in the CAF/HT29 coculture system, effects that were not observed in HT29 cells alone). Intravenously administered Dox/PL-rGO reduced the growth of HT29 tumors more effectively than other treatments (Dox/PL-rGO: mean = 200.6 mm3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 148.7 to 252.5 mm3; free Dox: mean = 697.0 mm3, 95% CI = 646.9 to 747.1 mm3, PL: mean = 565.0 mm3, 95% CI = 550.5 to 579.6 mm3; Dox/rGO: mean = 637.6 mm3, 95% CI = 619.5 to 655.7 mm3; PL-rGO: mean = 464.4 mm3, 95% CI = 433.0 to 495.8 mm3). Immunostaining of tumor tissues revealed that survival of CAFs and HT29 cells was lowest in the group treated with Dox/PL-rGO.

Conclusions: The demonstration of selective activation of PL-rGO by FAP on CAFs suggests that PL-rGO may serve as a tumor microenvironment–responsive anticancer chemotherapy system.

Regulation of Head and Neck Squamous Cancer Stem Cells by PI3K and SOX2


Background: We have an incomplete understanding of the differences between cancer stem cells (CSCs) in human papillomavirus–positive (HPV-positive) and –negative (HPV-negative) head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC). The PI3K pathway has the most frequent activating genetic events in HNSCC (especially HPV-positive driven), but the differential signaling between CSCs and non-CSCs is also unknown.

Methods: We addressed these unresolved questions using CSCs identified from 10 HNSCC patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). Sored populations were serially passaged in nude mice to evaluate tumorigenicity and tumor recapitulation. The transcription profile of HNSCC CSCs was characterized by mRNA sequencing, and the susceptibility of CSCs to therapy was investigated using an in vivo model. SOX2 transcriptional activity was used to follow the asymmetric division of PDX-derived CSCs. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: CSCs were enriched by high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and CD44 expression and were similar between HPV-positive and HPV-negative cases (percent tumor formation injecting ≤ 1x103 cells: ALDH+CD44high = 65.8%, ALDH-CD44high = 33.1%, ALDH+CD44high = 20.0%; and injecting 1x105 cells: ALDH-CD44low = 4.4%). CSCs were resistant to conventional therapy and had PI3K/mTOR pathway overexpression (GSEA pathway enrichment, P < .001), and PI3K inhibition in vivo decreased their tumorigenicity (40.0%–100.0% across cases). PI3K/mTOR directly regulated SOX2 protein levels, and SOX2 in turn activated ALDH1A1 (P < .001 013C and 067C) expression and ALDH activity (ALDH+ [%] empty-control vs SOX2, 0.4% ± 0.4% vs 14.5% ± 9.8%, P = .03 for 013C and 1.7% ± 1.3% vs 3.6% ± 3.4%, P = .04 for 067C) in 013C and 067 cells. SOX2 enhanced sphere and tumor growth (spheres/well, 013C P < .001 and 067C P = .04) and therapy resistance. SOX2 expression prompted mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) by inducing CDH1 (013C P = .002, 067C P = .01), followed by asymmetric division and proliferation, which contributed to tumor formation.

Conclusions: The molecular link between PI3K activation and CSC properties found in this study provides insights into therapeutic strategies for HNSCC. Constitutive expression of SOX2 in HNSCC cells generates a CSC-like population that enables CSC studies.

Beyond Composite Endpoints Analysis: Semicompeting Risks as an Underutilized Framework for Cancer Research


Background: Composite endpoints (CEP), such as progression-free survival, are commonly used in cancer research. Notwithstanding their popularity, however, CEP analyses suffer from a number of drawbacks, especially when death is combined with a nonterminal event (ie, progression or recurrence), exemplifying the semicompeting risks setting. We investigated the semicompeting risks framework as a complementary analysis strategy that avoids certain drawbacks of CEPs.

Methods: The illness-death model under the semicompeting risks framework was compared with standard analysis approaches: CEP analyses and (separate) univariate analyses for each component endpoint. Data from a previously published phase III randomized clinical trial in metastatic colon cancer including 1419 participants in the N9741 trial (conducted between 1997 and 2003) were used to determine the impact of the loss of information associated with combining multiple endpoints, as well as of ignoring the potentially informative role of death. A simulation study was conducted to further explore these issues.

Results: Failure to account for critical features of semicompeting risks data can lead to potentially severely misleading conclusions. Advantages of semicompeting risks analyses include a clear delineation of treatment effects on both events, the ability to draw conclusions about a patient’s joint risk of the two events, and an assessment of the dependence between the two event types.

Conclusions: Embedding and analyzing component outcomes in the semicompeting risks framework, either as a supplement or alternative to CEP analyses, represents an important, underutilized, and feasible opportunity for cancer research.

Distribution and Patterns of Industry-Related Payments to Oncologists in 2014


Background: Industry-physician collaboration is critical for anticancer therapeutic development, but financial relationships introduce conflicts of interest. We examined the specialty variation and context of physician payments and ownership interest among oncologists.

Methods: We performed a population-based multivariable analysis of 2014 Open Payments reports of industry payments to US physicians matched to physician and practice data, including sex, specialty, practice location, and sole proprietor status. Payment data were aggregated per physician and compared by specialty (medical, radiation, surgical, and nononcology), and practice location linked with spending level (low, average, and high). Primary outcomes included likelihood, mean annual amount, and number of general payments. Secondary outcomes included likelihood of holding ownership interests and receipt of royalty/license payments. Estimates for each outcome were determined using multivariable models, including logistic regression for likelihood and linear regression with gamma distribution and log-link for value, adjusted for physician specialty, sex, sole proprietor status, and practice spending. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: In 2014, there were 883 438 physicians, including 22 712 oncologists, licensed to practice in the United States. Among oncology specialties, 52.4% to 63.0% of physicians received a general payment in 2014, totaling $76 million, $4 million, and $5 million to medical, radiation, and surgical oncology, respectively. The median annual per-physician payment to medical oncologists was $632 (IQR = 136–2500), compared with $124 (IQR = 39–323) in radiation oncology and $250 (IQR = 84–1369) in surgical oncology. After controlling for physician and practice characteristics, oncologists were 1.09 to 1.75 times as likely to receive a general payment compared with nononcologists (overall P < .001). There was a 67.6% difference (95% confidence interval [CI] = 63.6 to 71.5, P < .001) in the mean annual value of payments between medical oncology and nononcology specialties (vs –92.7%, 95%CI = –100.2 to –85.0, P < .001] for radiation oncology). Medical and radiation oncologists were more likely to hold ownership interest (adjusted OR = 3.72, 95% CI = 3.22 to 4.27, and 2.27, 95% CI = 1.65 to 3.03, respectively, P < .001 both comparisons).

Conclusions: In 2014, industry-oncologist financial relationships were common, and their impact on oncology practice should be further explored.

Repeat Prostate-Specific Antigen Tests Before Prostate Biopsy Decisions


Despite limited scientific support, a repeat prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test before prostate biopsy decisions is common. We analyzed biopsy outcomes in 1686 men from the STHLM3 study with PSA 3-10 ng/mL and two PSA tests taken within eight weeks and before prostate biopsy using percentages and multinomial logistic regression. We found that omitting prostate biopsy for men with PSA values decreasing to PSAs of 3 ng/mL or less would save 16.8% of biopsy procedures, while missing 5.4% of the cancers with Gleason scores (GSs) of 7 or higher. The proportion of cancers with GSs of 6 or lower was independent of the first PSA value, as well as of PSA change. Also, the risk of tumors with GSs of 7 or higher decreased with both decreasing and increasing PSA levels: It was 18.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 16.3% to 20.9%) for men with PSA changes of less than 20%, 12.1% (95% CI = 8.0% to 16.2%) for men with PSA levels increasing at least 20%, and 6.6% (95% CI = 3.8% to 9.3%) for men with PSA levels decreasing at least 20%.

Long-term Outcome of an Organ Preservation Program After Neoadjuvant Treatment for Rectal Cancer


Background: The aim of this study was to establish the oncological and functional results of organ preservation with a watch-and-wait approach (W&W) and selective transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) in patients with a clinical complete or near-complete response (cCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation for rectal cancer.

Methods: Between 2004 and 2014, organ preservation was offered if response assessment with digital rectal examination, endoscopy, and MRI showed (near) cCR. Watch-and-wait was offered for cCR, and two options were offered for near cCR: TEM or reassessment after three months. Follow-up included endoscopy and MRIs every three months during the first year, and every six months thereafter. Long-term outcome was assessed with Kaplan-Meier curves. Functional outcome was assessed with colostomy-free survival and Vaizey incontinence score (0 = perfect continence, 24 = totally incontinent).

Results: One hundred patients were included, with median follow-up of 41.1 months. Sixty-one had cCR at initial response assessment. Thirty-nine had near cCR, of whom 24 developed cCR at the second assessment and 15 patients underwent TEM (9 ypT0, 1 ypT1, 5 ypT2). Fifteen patients developed a local regrowth (12 luminal, 3 nodal), all salvageable and within 25 months. Five patients developed metastases, and five patients died. Three-year overall survival was 96.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 89.9% to 98.9%), distant metastasis–free survival was 96.8% (95% CI = 90.4% to 99.0%), local regrowth–free survival was 84.6% (95% CI = 75.8% to 90.5%), and disease-free survival was 80.6% (95% CI = 70.9% to 87.4%). Colostomy-free survival was 94.8% (95% CI = 88.0% to 97.8%), with a good continence after watch-and-wait (Vaizey = 3.4, SD = 3.9) and moderate after TEM (Vaizey = 9.7, SD = 5.1).

Conclusions: Organ preservation appears oncologically safe for selected rectal cancer patients with a cCR or near cCR after neoadjuvant chemoradiation when applying strict selection criteria and frequent follow-up, including endoscopy and MRI. The low colostomy rate and the good long-term functional outcome warrant discussing this option with the patient as an alternative to major surgery.

Celecoxib for the Prevention of Colorectal Adenomas: Results of a Suspended Randomized Controlled Trial


Background: Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors such as celecoxib were designed to preserve anti-inflammatory activity without inhibiting COX-1. Downregulation of COX-2 inhibits colorectal carcinogenesis.

Methods: The Selenium and Celecoxib Trial was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of once-daily selenium 200 µg and celecoxib 400 mg, alone or together, for colorectal adenoma prevention. Men and women between age 40 and 80 years were eligible following colonoscopic removal of adenomas. The primary outcome was development of new adenomas. Celecoxib was suspended early because of cardiovascular toxicity in other trials. Accrual to selenium or placebo continued. Before suspension, 824 participants were randomly assigned to celecoxib or placebo, of whom 712 (86.4%) were available for analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: In the placebo and celecoxib arms of 356 participants each, adenoma detection was 47.5% and 49.7% (relative risk [RR] = 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.90 to 1.21, P = .58), respectively, after median periods of 13.6 and 14.2 months on intervention. Among participants colonoscoped within 12 months of discontinuing intervention (n = 244), overall adenoma recurrence (RR = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.48 to 0.98, P = .04) and recurrence with advanced adenomas (RR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.07 to 0.80, P = .02) were reduced with celecoxib. Reduction of adenoma recurrence was greatest in participants with previous advanced adenomas. Celecoxib increased risk of hypertension in participants with pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors compared with placebo (hazard ratio = 2.19, 95% CI = 1.07 to 4.50, P = .03).

Conclusions: Limited-duration celecoxib prevents adenoma recurrence in patients with prior high-risk adenomas, in whom strategies to minimize cardiovascular toxicity might be feasible.

Selenium Supplementation for Prevention of Colorectal Adenomas and Risk of Associated Type 2 Diabetes


Background: Selenium supplementation may help to prevent colorectal cancer; as precursors of colorectal cancer, colorectal adenomas are a surrogate for colorectal cancer. Selenium supplementation may increase risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Methods: The Selenium and Celecoxib (Sel/Cel) Trial was a randomized, placebo controlled trial of selenium 200 µg daily as selenized yeast and celecoxib 400 mg once daily, alone or together, for colorectal adenoma prevention. Men and women between age 40 and 80 years were eligible following colonoscopic removal of colorectal adenomas. The primary outcome was adenoma development. Celecoxib was suspended because of cardiovascular toxicity in other trials, but accrual continued to selenium and placebo. A total of 1621 participants were randomly assigned to selenium or placebo, of whom 1374 (84.8%) were available for analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: In the respective placebo and selenium arms of 689 and 685 participants, adenoma detection after medians of 33.6 (range = 0.0–85.1 months) and 33.0 months (range = 0.0–82.6 months) were 42.8% and 44.1% (relative risk [RR] = 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.91 to 1.16, P = .68). In participants with baseline advanced adenomas, adenoma recurrence was reduced by 18% with selenium (RR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.71 to 0.96, P = .01). In participants receiving selenium, the hazard ratio for new-onset T2D was 1.25 (95% CI = 0.74 to 2.11, P = .41), with a statistically significantly increased risk of selenium-associated T2D among older participants (RR = 2.21; 95% CI = 1.04 to 4.67, P = .03).

Conclusions: Overall, selenium did not prevent colorectal adenomas and showed only modest benefit in patients with baseline advanced adenomas. With limited benefit and similar increases in T2D to other trials, selenium is not recommended for preventing colorectal adenomas in selenium-replete individuals.

Pleiotropic Analysis of Lung Cancer and Blood Triglycerides


Epidemiologically related traits may share genetic risk factors, and pleiotropic analysis could identify individual loci associated with these traits. Because of their shared epidemiological associations, we conducted pleiotropic analysis of genome-wide association studies of lung cancer (12 160 lung cancer case patients and 16 838 control subjects) and cardiovascular disease risk factors (blood lipids from 188 577 subjects, type 2 diabetes from 148 821 subjects, body mass index from 123 865 subjects, and smoking phenotypes from 74 053 subjects). We found that 6p22.1 (rs6904596, ZNF184) was associated with both lung cancer (P = 5.50x10-6) and blood triglycerides (P = 1.39x10-5). We replicated the association in 6097 lung cancer case patients and 204 657 control subjects (P = 2.40 x 10-4) and in 71 113 subjects with triglycerides data (P = .01). rs6904596 reached genome-wide significance in lung cancer meta-analysis (odds ratio = 1.15, 95% confidence interval = 1.10 to 1.21, Pcombined = 5.20x10-9). The large sample size provided by the lipid GWAS data and the shared genetic risk factors between the two traits contributed to the uncovering of a hitherto unidentified genetic locus for lung cancer.

Long-term Consequences of Finasteride vs Placebo in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial


Background: Finasteride has been found to reduce the risk of low-grade prostate cancer but to have no impact on overall survival. The long-term adverse and beneficial consequences of finasteride have not been examined.

Methods: We used a linkage between data from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and Medicare claims. Patients were examined by randomized study arm (finasteride vs placebo for 7 years) for long-term consequences of the intervention, including cardiac, endocrine, and sexual dysfunction, depression, diabetes, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)–related events. To examine time to events, we used cumulative incidence and Cox regression, adjusting for covariates. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: A total of 13 935 of 18 880 participants (73.8%) in the PCPT were linked to Medicare claims, with median Medicare follow-up assessment time of 16 years from trial registration. There were no differences between finasteride and placebo participants with respect to important baseline factors or amount of Medicare follow-up assessment time. Finasteride patients had a 10% higher risk of new claims for depression (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01 to 1.19, P = .04) and a 6% lower risk of procedures for BPH-related events (primarily lower urinary tract symptoms; HR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.89 to 1.00, P = .03). No other differences were found in rates of long-term consequences of intervention in the two study arms.

Conclusions: Finasteride use is associated with reduced need for procedures for relief of BPH-related events and a modest increase in depression. Overall, there is little need to worry about long-term noncancer consequences of finasteride use in those who use it for treatment of symptomatic BPH, hair growth, or prevention of cancer.

IGF-1R and mTOR Blockade: Novel Resistance Mechanisms and Synergistic Drug Combinations for Ewing Sarcoma


Background: Therapies cotargeting insulin-like growth factor receptor 1 (IGF-1R) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) have demonstrated remarkable, albeit short-lived, clinical responses in a subset of Ewing sarcoma (ES) patients. However, the mechanisms of resistance and applicable strategies for overcoming drug resistance to the IGF-1R/mTOR blockade are still undefined.

Methods: To elucidate predominant mechanism(s) of acquired drug resistance while identifying synergistic drug combinations that improve clinical efficacy, we generated more than 18 ES cell lines resistant to IGF-1R- or mTOR-targeted therapy. Two small-molecule inhibitors of IGF-1R were chosen, NVP-ADW-742 (IGF-1R-selective) and OSI-906 (a dual IGF-1R/insulin receptor alpha [IR-α] inhibitor). Reverse-phase protein lysate arrays (RPPAs) revealed proteomic changes linked to IGF-1R/mTOR resistance, and selected proteins were validated in cell-based assays, xenografts, and within human clinical samples. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Novel mechanisms of resistance (MOR) emerged after dalotuzumab-, NVP-ADW-742-, and OSI-906-based targeting of IGF-1R. MOR to dalotuzumab included upregulation of IRS1, PI3K, and STAT3, as well as p38 MAPK, which was also induced by OSI-906. pEIF4E(Ser209), a key regulator of Cap-dependent translation, was induced in ridaforolimus-resistant ES cell lines. Unique drug combinations targeting IGF-1R and PI3K-alpha or Mnk and mTOR were synergistic in vivo and vitro (P < .001) as assessed respectively by Mantel-Cox and isobologram testing.

Conclusions: We discovered new druggable targets expressed by chemoresistant ES cells, xenografts, and relapsed human tumors. Joint suppression of these newfound targets, in concert with IGF-1R or mTOR blockade, should improve clinical outcomes.

Adverse Clinical Outcome Associated With Mutations That Typify African American Colorectal Cancers


African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC) of any US racial group. We recently described a panel of 15 genes that are statistically significantly more likely to be mutated in CRCs from African Americans than in Caucasians (AA-CRC genes). The current study investigated the outcomes associated with these mutations in African American CRCs (AA-CRCs). In a cohort of 66 patients with stage I-III CRCs, eight of 27 CRCs with AA-CRC gene mutations (Mut+) developed metastatic disease vs only four of 39 mutation-negative (Mut-) cases (P = .03, Cox regression model with two-sided Wald test). Moreover, among stage III cases (n = 33), Mut+ cancers were nearly three times more likely to relapse as Mut- cases (7 of 15 Mut+ vs 3 of 18 Mut-; P = .03, Cox regression model with two-sided Wald test). AA-CRC mutations may thus define a high-risk subset of CRCs that contributes to the overall disparity in CRC outcomes observed in African Americans.



Comparison of Eligibility Criteria Between Protocols, Registries, and Publications of Cancer Clinical Trials


Trial registration and public accessibility of appended or published protocols of phase III randomized clinical trials (RCTs) allow comparison of reported research with essential aspects of trial design. We determined how eligibility criteria of participants specified in protocols were described in trial registries and articles of 255 cancer RCTs published in leading journals. The mean proportion of matching eligibility criteria between protocols and publications per trial (the primary endpoint) was 44.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 40.8% to 47.3%). Almost all discrepancies in eligibility criteria (96.7%, 95% CI = 96.1% to 97.3%) suggested to readers of articles that a broader study population was included. The mean proportion of matching eligibility criteria between protocols and registries was 72.9% (95% CI = 68.2% to 77.7%, the secondary endpoint). We conclude that there are substantial differences in eligibility criteria between trial protocols, registries and articles. Inaccurate reporting of eligibility criteria may prevent appropriate assessment of the applicability of trial results.

Germline CDKN2A Mutation Status and Survival in Familial Melanoma Cases


Background: Germline mutations in CDKN2A have been associated with increased risk of melanoma and tobacco-related cancers in respiratory and upper digestive tissues. In CDKN2A wild-type (wt) melanoma families, other known high-risk, melanoma-predisposing mutations are rare, and no increased risk has been observed for nonskin cancers in this group. This study is the first to compare survival in germline CDKN2A mutated (mut) and nonmutated melanoma cases.

Methods: Melanoma-prone families participating in this study were identified through a nationwide predictive program starting in 1987. Information on cancer diagnoses (types, stages, and dates) and deaths (causes and dates) were obtained through the Swedish Cancer Registry and Cause of Death Registry. Kaplan Meier and Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess survival in CDKN2Amut (n = 96) and CDKN2Awt (n = 377) familial melanoma cases and in matched sporadic melanoma cases (n = 1042). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: When comparing CDKN2Amut and CDKN2Awt melanoma cases, after adjusting for age, sex, and T classification, CDKN2Amut had worse survival than melanoma (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.49 to 4.21) and than nonmelanoma cancers (HR = 7.77, 95% CI = 3.65 to 16.51). Compared with matched sporadic cases, CDKN2Amut cases had statistically significantly worse survival from both melanoma and nonmelanoma cancers while no differences in survival were seen in CDKN2Awt compared with sporadic cases.

Conclusions: CDKN2Amut cases had statistically significantly worse survival than nonmelanoma cancers and, intriguingly, also from melanoma, compared with melanoma cases with no CDKN2A mutations. Further studies are required to elucidate possible mechanisms behind increased carcinogen susceptibility and the more aggressive melanoma phenotype in CDKN2A mutation carriers.

Molecularly Defined Adult Granulosa Cell Tumor of the Ovary: The Clinical Phenotype


The histopathologic features of adult granulosa cell tumors (AGCTs) are relatively nonspecific, resulting in misdiagnosis of other cancers as AGCT, a problem that has not been well characterized. FOXL2 mutation testing was used to stratify 336 AGCTs from three European centers into three categories: 1) FOXL2 mutant molecularly defined AGCT (MD-AGCT) (n = 256 of 336), 2) FOXL2 wild-type AGCT (n = 17 of 336), 3) misdiagnosed other tumor types (n = 63 of 336). All statistical tests were two-sided. The overall and disease-specific survival of the misdiagnosed cases was lower than in the MD-AGCTs (P < .001). The misdiagnosed cases accounted for 71.9% of disease-specific deaths within five years. In the population-based cohort, overall survival of MD-AGCT patients was not different from age-matched, population-based controls. Even though 35.2% of all the MD-AGCT patients in our study experienced a relapse, AGCT is usually an indolent disease. The historical, premolecular data underpinning our clinical understanding of AGCT was likely skewed by inclusion of misdiagnosed cases, and future management strategies should reflect the potential for surgical cure and long survival even after relapse.

Effect Modification by Time Since Blood Draw on the Association Between Circulating Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk


A recent meta-analysis suggested that circulating fatty acids do not play an important role in prostate carcinogenesis. We hypothesized that the relation between circulating fatty acids and prostate cancer (PCa) risk is modified by time between blood draw and diagnosis. We tested this hypothesis in a prospective case-control study of 476 PCa cases and matched control subjects nested in the Physicians’ Health Study. The previously reported associations between fatty acids and PCa in this cohort were dramatically stronger among men diagnosed 10 or more years after blood collection. Statistically significant effect modification by time since blood collection was identified for mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids and was more pronounced for aggressive tumors. Among men diagnosed fewer than 10 years since blood collection, the relative risks per interquartile range were 1.03 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.86 to 1.25) for total mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and 0.95 (95% CI = 0.78 to 1.15) for total poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) whereas among men diagnosed 10 or more years after blood draw the relative risks per interquartile range were 1.69 (95% CI = 1.21 to 2.34) for MUFA (Pheterogeneity = .01) and 0.59 (95% CI = 0.42 to 0.83) for PUFA (Pheterogeneity = .02). These data suggest that the results of the meta-analysis may be partly explained by insufficient follow-up time. Furthermore, they suggest that some environmental and metabolic factors may play a role in prostate carcinogenesis decades before clinical identification of this disease.

Genomic Analysis of Immune Cell Infiltrates Across 11 Tumor Types


Background: Immune infiltration of the tumor microenvironment has been associated with improved survival for some patients with solid tumors. The precise makeup and prognostic relevance of immune infiltrates across a broad spectrum of tumors remain unclear.

Methods: Using mRNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) from 11 tumor types representing 3485 tumors, we evaluated lymphocyte and macrophage gene expression by tissue type and by genomic subtypes defined within and across tumor tissue of origin (Cox proportional hazards, Pearson correlation). We investigated clonal diversity of B-cell infiltrates through calculating B-cell receptor (BCR) repertoire sequence diversity. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: High expression of T-cell and B-cell signatures predicted improved overall survival across many tumor types including breast, lung, and melanoma (breast CD8_T_Cells hazard ratio [HR] = 0.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.16 to 0.81, P = .01; lung adenocarcinoma B_Cell_60gene HR = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.58 to 0.87, P = 7.80E-04; melanoma LCK HR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.79 to 0.94, P = 6.75E-04). Macrophage signatures predicted worse survival in GBM, as did B-cell signatures in renal tumors (Glioblastoma Multiforme [GBM]: macrophages HR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.17 to 2.26, P = .004; renal: B_Cell_60gene HR = 1.17, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.32, P = .009). BCR diversity was associated with survival beyond gene segment expression in melanoma (HR = 2.67, 95% CI = 1.32 to 5.40, P = .02) and renal cell carcinoma (HR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.15 to 0.87, P = .006).

Conclusions: These data support existing studies suggesting that in diverse tissue types, heterogeneous immune infiltrates are present and typically portend an improved prognosis. In some tumor types, BCR diversity was also associated with survival. Quantitative genomic signatures of immune cells warrant further testing as prognostic markers and potential biomarkers of response to cancer immunotherapy.

Role of Myeloma-Derived MIF in Myeloma Cell Adhesion to Bone Marrow and Chemotherapy Response


Background: Multiple myeloma (MM) remains an incurable cancer characterized by accumulation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow (BM). The mechanism underlying MM homing to BM is poorly elucidated.

Methods: The clinical significance of migration inhibitory factor (MIF) expression was examined by analyzing six independent gene expression profile databases of primary MM cells using the Student’s t test and Kaplan-Meier test. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to examine MIF expression. In vivo bioluminescent imaging was used to determine MM cell localization and treatment efficacy in human MM xenograft mouse models, with three to four mice per group. MM cell attachment to BM stromal cells (BMSCs) was monitored by cell adhesion assay. MIF regulation of the expression of adhesion molecules was determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay. Statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: High levels of MIF were detected in MM BM (MIF level in BM plasma: healthy = 10.72 ± 5.788 ng/mL, n = 5; MM = 1811 ± 248.7 ng/mL, n = 10; P < .001) and associated with poor survival of patients (Kaplan-Meier test for MM OS: 87 MIFhigh patients, 86 MIFlow patients, P = .02). Knocking down MIF impaired MM cell adhesion to BMSCs in vitro and led to formation of extramedullary tumors in SCID mice. MIF acted through surface receptor CXCR4 and adaptor COPS5 to regulate the expression of adhesion molecules ALCAM, ITGAV, and ITGB5 on MM cells. More importantly, MIF-deficient MM cells were sensitive to chemotherapy in vitro when cocultured with BMSCs and in vivo. MIF inhibitor 4-IPP sensitized MM cells to chemotherapy.

Conclusions: MIF is an important player and a novel therapeutic target in MM. Inhibiting MIF activity will sensitize MM cells to chemotherapy.

Longitudinal Body Composition Changes in Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma Survivors: A Retrospective Cohort Study of United States Veterans


Background: Body composition parameters are associated with long-term health outcomes. We assessed longitudinal body composition changes in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) survivors and identified clinical variables associated with the long-term development of sarcopenia and visceral obesity.

Methods: A retrospective cohort of United States veterans with DLBCL treated with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone, with or without rituximab, was assembled. Muscle, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat areas were measured with computed tomography analysis. Data were analyzed with repeated-measures analysis of variance and logistic regression. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Three hundred forty-two patients were included. Muscle area initially decreased during treatment, then returned to baseline by 24 months after treatment. Subcutaneous fat area increased from baseline by 6.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.6% to 10.5%) during treatment and by 21.4% (95% CI = 15.7% to 27.2%) by 24 months after treatment. Visceral fat area increased from baseline by 4.5% (95% CI = -0.9% to 9.9%) during treatment and by 21.6% (95% CI = 14.8% to 28.4%) by 24 months after treatment. Variables associated with long-term development of sarcopenia included: baseline sarcopenia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 17.21, 95% CI = 8.48 to 34.94), older than age 60 years (aOR = 2.93, 95% CI = 1.46 to 5.88), and weight loss greater than 5% during treatment (aOR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.12 to 5.14). Variables associated with long-term visceral fat gain included: weight gain greater than 5% during treatment (aOR = 4.60, 95% CI = 2.42 to 8.74).

Conclusions: DLBCL survivors undergo unfavorable long-term body composition changes. Patients at risk for the long-term development of sarcopenia or visceral obesity can be identified based on clinical risk factors and targeted for lifestyle interventions.

The Doppelgänger Effect: Hidden Duplicates in Databases of Transcriptome Profiles


Whole-genome analysis of cancer specimens is commonplace, and investigators frequently share or re-use specimens in later studies. Duplicate expression profiles in public databases will impact re-analysis if left undetected, a so-called "doppelgänger" effect. We propose a method that should be routine practice to accurately match duplicate cancer transcriptomes when nucleotide-level sequence data are unavailable, even for samples profiled by different microarray technologies or by both microarray and RNA sequencing. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the method in databases containing dozens of datasets and thousands of ovarian, breast, bladder, and colorectal cancer microarray profiles and of matching microarray and RNA sequencing expression profiles from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We identified probable duplicates among more than 50% of studies, originating in different continents, using different technologies, published years apart, and even within the TCGA itself. Finally, we provide the doppelgangR Bioconductor package for screening transcriptome databases for duplicates. Given the potential for unrecognized duplication to falsely inflate prediction accuracy and confidence in differential expression, doppelgänger-checking should be a part of standard procedure for combining multiple genomic datasets.

Mechanisms of Therapy Resistance in Patient-Derived Xenograft Models of BRCA1-Deficient Breast Cancer


Background: Although BRCA1-deficient tumors are extremely sensitive to DNA-damaging drugs and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, recurrences do occur and, consequently, resistance to therapy remains a serious clinical problem. To study the underlying mechanisms, we induced therapy resistance in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of BRCA1-mutated and BRCA1-methylated triple-negative breast cancer.

Methods: A cohort of 75 mice carrying BRCA1-deficient breast PDX tumors was treated with cisplatin, melphalan, nimustine, or olaparib, and treatment sensitivity was determined. In tumors that acquired therapy resistance, BRCA1 expression was investigated using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting. Next-generation sequencing, methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) and Target Locus Amplification (TLA)–based sequencing were used to determine mechanisms of BRCA1 re-expression in therapy-resistant tumors.

Results: BRCA1 protein was not detected in therapy-sensitive tumors but was found in 31 out of 42 resistant cases. Apart from previously described mechanisms involving BRCA1-intragenic deletions and loss of BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation, a novel resistance mechanism was identified in four out of seven BRCA1-methylated PDX tumors that re-expressed BRCA1 but retained BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation. In these tumors, we found de novo gene fusions that placed BRCA1 under the transcriptional control of a heterologous promoter, resulting in re-expression of BRCA1 and acquisition of therapy resistance.

Conclusions: In addition to previously described clinically relevant resistance mechanisms in BRCA1-deficient tumors, we describe a novel resistance mechanism in BRCA1-methylated PDX tumors involving de novo rearrangements at the BRCA1 locus, demonstrating that BRCA1-methylated breast cancers may acquire therapy resistance via both epigenetic and genetic mechanisms.

Selenium and Prostate Cancer: Analysis of Individual Participant Data From Fifteen Prospective Studies


Background: Some observational studies suggest that a higher selenium status is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer but have been generally too small to provide precise estimates of associations, particularly by disease stage and grade.

Methods: Collaborating investigators from 15 prospective studies provided individual-participant records (from predominantly men of white European ancestry) on blood or toenail selenium concentrations and prostate cancer risk. Odds ratios of prostate cancer by selenium concentration were estimated using multivariable-adjusted conditional logistic regression. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Blood selenium was not associated with the risk of total prostate cancer (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio [OR] per 80 percentile increase = 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.83 to 1.23, based on 4527 case patients and 6021 control subjects). However, there was heterogeneity by disease aggressiveness (ie, advanced stage and/or prostate cancer death, Pheterogeneity = .01), with high blood selenium associated with a lower risk of aggressive disease (OR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.21 to 0.87) but not with nonaggressive disease. Nail selenium was inversely associated with total prostate cancer (OR = 0.29, 95% CI = 0.22 to 0.40, Ptrend < .001, based on 1970 case patients and 2086 control subjects), including both nonaggressive (OR = 0.33, 95% CI = 0.22 to 0.50) and aggressive disease (OR = 0.18, 95% CI = 0.11 to 0.31, Pheterogeneity = .08).

Conclusions: Nail, but not blood, selenium concentration is inversely associated with risk of total prostate cancer, possibly because nails are a more reliable marker of long-term selenium exposure. Both blood and nail selenium concentrations are associated with a reduced risk of aggressive disease, which warrants further investigation.

Comparison of EndoPredict and EPclin With Oncotype DX Recurrence Score for Prediction of Risk of Distant Recurrence After Endocrine Therapy


Background: Estimating distant recurrence (DR) risk among women with estrogen receptor–positive (ER+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)–negative early breast cancer helps decisions on using adjuvant chemotherapy. The 21-gene Oncotype DX recurrence score (RS) is widely used for this. EndoPredict (EPclin) is an alternative test combining prognostic information from an eight-gene signature (EP score) with tumor size and nodal status. We compared the prognostic information provided by RS and EPclin for 10-year DR risk.

Methods: We used likelihood ratio ² and Kaplan-Meier survival analyses to compare prognostic information provided by EP, EPclin, RS, and the clinical treatment score (CTS) of clinicopathologic parameters in 928 patients with ER+ disease treated with five years’ anastrozole or tamoxifen. Comparisons were made for early (0-5 years) and late (5-10 years) DR according to nodal status. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: In the overall population, EP and EPclin provided substantially more prognostic information than RS (LR2: EP = 49.3; LR2: EPclin = 139.3; LR2: RS = 29.1), with greater differences in late DR and in node-positive patients. EP and EPclin remained statistically significantly prognostic when adjusted for RS (LR2: EP+RS vs RS = 20.2; LR2: EPclin+RS vs RS = 113.8). Using predefined cut-offs, EPclin and RS identified 58.8% and 61.7% patients as low risk, with hazard ratios for non-low vs low risk of 5.99 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.94 to 9.11) and 2.73 (95% CI = 1.91 to 3.89), respectively.

Conclusions: EP and EPclin were highly prognostic for DR in endocrine-treated patients with ER+, HER2-negative disease. EPclin provided more prognostic information than RS. This was partly but not entirely because of EPclin integrating molecular data with nodal status and tumor size.

Racial Differences in Quantitative Measures of Area and Volumetric Breast Density


Background: Increased breast density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and also decreases the sensitivity of mammographic screening. The purpose of our study was to compare breast density for black and white women using quantitative measures.

Methods: Breast density was assessed among 5282 black and 4216 white women screened using digital mammography. Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) density was obtained from radiologists’ reports. Quantitative measures for dense area, area percent density (PD), dense volume, and volume percent density were estimated using validated, automated software. Breast density was categorized as dense or nondense based on BI-RADS categories or based on values above and below the median for quantitative measures. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of having dense breasts by race, adjusted for age, body mass index (BMI), age at menarche, menopause status, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, parity and age at first birth, and current hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: There was a statistically significant interaction of race and BMI on breast density. After accounting for age, BMI, and breast cancer risk factors, black women had statistically significantly greater odds of high breast density across all quantitative measures (eg, PD nonobese odds ratio [OR] = 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.02 to 1.37, P = .03, PD obese OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.53, P = .02). There was no statistically significant difference in BI-RADS density by race.

Conclusions: After accounting for age, BMI, and other risk factors, black women had higher breast density than white women across all quantitative measures previously associated with breast cancer risk. These results may have implications for risk assessment and screening.

Breast Density: More Than Meets the Eye


Multiple Myeloma Mortality in Relation to Obesity Among African Americans


Multiple myeloma (MM) incidence and mortality are higher among African Americans (AAs) than among other population groups. The prevalence of obesity is also elevated among AAs, but few studies have examined risk of this cancer in relation to body size among AAs. We combined data from seven prospective cohorts tracking mortality among 239 597 AA adults and used Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for death because of MM according to body mass index (BMI) at cohort entry, adjusted for age (as time-scale) and sex. Relative to those with normal BMIs (18.5-25 kg/m2), mortality increased monotonically as BMI increased, with hazard ratios reaching 1.43 (95% CI = 1.03 to 1.97) for BMIs of 35 kg/m2 or greater. The findings suggest that obesity is a risk factor for MM and a contributor to the elevated rates and rising incidence trends of MM among AAs in the United States.

Burden of Cancer in a Large Consortium of Prospective Cohorts in Europe


Background: Disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) are an indicator of mortality, morbidity, and disability. We calculated DALYs for cancer in middle-aged and older adults participating in the Consortium on Health and Ageing Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES) consortium.

Methods: A total of 90 199 participants from five European cohorts with 10 455 incident cancers and 4399 deaths were included in this study. DALYs were calculated as the sum of the years of life lost because of premature mortality (YLLs) and the years lost because of disability (YLDs). Population-attributable fractions (PAFs) were also estimated for five cancer risk factors, ie, smoking, adiposity, physical inactivity, alcohol intake, and type II diabetes.

Results: After a median follow-up of 12 years, the total number of DALYs lost from cancer was 34 474 (382 per 1000 individuals) with a similar distribution by sex. Lung cancer was responsible for the largest number of lost DALYs (22.9%), followed by colorectal (15.3%), prostate (10.2%), and breast cancer (8.7%). Mortality (81.6% of DALYs) predominated over disability. Ever cigarette smoking was the risk factor responsible for the greatest total cancer burden (24.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 22.2% to 26.0%), followed by physical inactivity (4.9%, 95% CI = 0.8% to 8.1%) and adiposity (1.8%, 95% CI = 0.2% to 2.8%).

Conclusions: DALYs lost from cancer were substantial in this large European sample of middle-aged and older adults. Even if the burden of disease because of cancer is predominantly caused by mortality, some cancers have sizeable consequences for disability. Smoking remained the predominant risk factor for total cancer burden.

Endogenous Estrogens, Estrogen Metabolites, and Breast Cancer Risk in Postmenopausal Chinese Women


Background: The role of estrogen metabolism in determining breast cancer risk and differences in breast cancer rates between high-incidence and low-incidence nations is poorly understood.

Methods: We measured urinary concentrations of estradiol and estrone (parent estrogens) and 13 estrogen metabolites formed by irreversible hydroxylation at the C-2, C-4, or C-16 positions of the steroid ring in a nested case-control study of 399 postmenopausal invasive breast cancer case participants and 399 matched control participants from the population-based Shanghai Women’s Health Study cohort. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of breast cancer by quartiles of metabolic pathway groups, pathway ratios, and individual estrogens/estrogen metabolites were estimated by multivariable conditional logistic regression. Urinary estrogen/estrogen metabolite measures were compared with those of postmenopausal non-hormone-using Asian Americans, a population with three-fold higher breast cancer incidence rates. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Urinary concentrations of parent estrogens were strongly associated with breast cancer risk (ORQ4vsQ1 = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.21 to 3.12, Ptrend = .01). Of the pathway ratios, the 2-pathway:total estrogens/estrogen metabolites and 2-pathway:parent estrogens were inversely associated with risk (ORQ4vsQ1 = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.91, Ptrend = .03, and ORQ4vsQ1 = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.37 to 0.99, Ptrend = .04, respectively). After adjusting for parent estrogens, these associations remained clearly inverse but lost statistical significance (ORQ4vsQ1 = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.39 to 1.06, Ptrend = .12 and ORQ4vsQ1 = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.44 to 1.32, Ptrend = .28). The urinary concentration of all estrogens/estrogen metabolites combined in Asian American women was triple that in Shanghai women.

Conclusions: Lower urinary parent estrogen concentrations and more extensive 2-hydroxylation were each associated with reduced postmenopausal breast cancer risk in a low-risk nation. Markedly higher total estrogen/estrogen metabolite concentrations in postmenopausal United States women (Asian Americans) than in Shanghai women may partly explain higher breast cancer rates in the United States.

De Novo vs Nevus-Associated Melanomas: Differences in Associations With Prognostic Indicators and Survival


Background: Although 20% to 30% of melanomas are histopathologically ‘nevus associated,’ the majority of melanomas arise de novo, ie, in clinically normal skin with no associated nevus. We examined whether these forms of melanoma differed in their associations with clinical and histopathologic features and patient survival.

Methods: We analyzed two prospective cohorts from our institution with protocol-driven follow-up information (NYU1, n = 1024; NYU2, n = 1125). We used univariate and multivariable analyses to examine associations between de novo vs nevus-associated melanoma classification and age, anatomic site, tumor thickness, tumor ulceration, mitotic index, histological subtype, clinical stage, and survival. We tested the associations identified in NYU1 using NYU2 as a replication cohort. All tests of statistical significance were two-sided.

Results: In NYU1, de novo melanomas were associated with tumor thickness greater than 1.0 mm (odds ratio [OR] = 1.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.43 to 2.70, P < .001), ulceration (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 1.10 to 2.54, P = .02), nodular subtype (OR = 3.26, 95% CI = 1.70 to 7.11, P = .001), greater than stage I (OR = 2.35, 95% CI = 1.65 to 3.40, P < .001), older age (OR = 1.64, 95% CI = 1.18 to 2.30, P = .004), and shorter overall survival (HR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.22 to 2.18, P < .001). In NYU2, de novo melanoma was again statistically significantly associated with thickness greater than 1.0 mm (OR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.72 to 2.93, P < .001), ulceration (OR = 2.88, 95% CI = 1.95 to 4.37, P < .001), nodular subtype (OR = 2.41, 95% CI = 1.75 to 3.37, P < .001), greater than stage I (OR = 2.42, 95% CI = 1.80 to 3.29, P < .001), older age (OR = 1.68, 95% CI = 1.31 to 2.17, P < .001), and shorter overall survival (HR = 2.52, 95% CI = 1.78 to 3.56, P < .001). In multivariable analysis, de novo classification was an independent, poor prognostic indicator in NYU2 (HR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.19 to 2.44, P = .004). Male patients had a statistically significantly worse survival than female patients if their melanoma was de novo (NYU1, P < .001; NYU2, P < .001); unexpectedly, there was no sex difference in survival among patients with nevus-associated tumors.

Conclusions: These data suggest that de novo melanomas are more aggressive than nevus-associated melanomas. This classification scheme may also provide a useful framework for investigations into sex differences in melanoma outcomes.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Screen of Oncology Drugs, Investigational Agents, and Gene and microRNA Expression


Background: Small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) is an aggressive, recalcitrant cancer, often metastatic at diagnosis and unresponsive to chemotherapy upon recurrence, thus it is challenging to treat.

Methods: Sixty-three human SCLC lines and three NSCLC lines were screened for response to 103 US Food and Drug Administration–approved oncology agents and 423 investigational agents. The investigational agents library was a diverse set of small molecules that included multiple compounds targeting the same molecular entity. The compounds were screened in triplicate at nine concentrations with a 96-hour exposure time using an ATP Lite endpoint. Gene expression was assessed by exon array, and microRNA expression was derived by direct digital detection. Activity across the SCLC lines was associated with molecular characteristics using pair-wise Pearson correlations.

Results: Results are presented for inhibitors of targets: BCL2, PARP1, mTOR, IGF1R, KSP/Eg5, PLK-1, AURK, and FGFR1. A relational map identified compounds with similar patterns of response. Unsupervised microRNA clustering resulted in three distinct SCLC subgroups. Associating drug response with micro-RNA expression indicated that lines most sensitive to etoposide and topotecan expressed high miR-200c-3p and low miR-140-5p and miR-9-5p. The BCL-2/BCL-XL inhibitors produced similar response patterns. Sensitivity to ABT-737 correlated with higher ASCL1 and BCL2. Several classes of compounds targeting nuclear proteins regulating mitosis produced a response pattern distinct from the etoposide response pattern.

Conclusions: Agents targeting nuclear kinases appear to be effective in SCLC lines. Confirmation of SCLC line findings in xenografts is needed. The drug and compound response, gene expression, and microRNA expression data are publicly available at

Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Risk of Biliary Tract and Gallbladder Cancer in a Prospective Study


Background: Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption raises blood glucose concentration and has been positively associated with weight gain and type 2 diabetes, all of which have been implicated in the development of biliary tract cancer (BTC). This study examined the hypothesis that sweetened beverage consumption is positively associated with risk of BTC in a prospective study.

Methods: The study population comprised 70 832 Swedish adults (55.9% men, age 45-83 years) from the Swedish Mammography Cohort and Cohort of Swedish Men who were free of cancer and diabetes and completed a food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Incident BTC case patients were ascertained through linkage with the Swedish Cancer Register. Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to analyze the data. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: During a mean follow-up of 13.4 years, 127 extrahepatic BTC case patients (including 71 gallbladder cancers) and 21 intrahepatic BTC case patients were ascertained. After adjustment for other risk factors, women and men in the highest category of combined sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverage consumption had a statistically significantly increased risk of extrahepatic BTC and gallbladder cancer. The multivariable hazard ratios for two or more servings per day (200 mL/serving) of sweetened beverages compared with no consumption were 1.79 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.02 to 3.13) for extrahepatic BTC and 2.24 (95% CI = 1.02 to 4.89) for gallbladder cancer. The corresponding hazard ratio for intrahepatic BTC was 1.69 (95% CI = 0.41 to 7.03).

Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that high consumption of sweetened beverages may increase the risk of BTC, particularly gallbladder cancer.

Statins and Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer: Evidence for Confounding


A negative association of statin use with liver cancer risk has been reported frequently. We added laboratory measurements, to our knowledge not included in previous investigations, to a case-control analysis of 2877 case patients and 142 850 matched control subjects enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Addressing confounding by indication by restricting subjects to those with elevated cholesterol greatly attenuated the negative association; eg, the multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) rose from 0.41 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.35 to 0.49) to 0.87 (95% CI = 0.55 to 1.39) for receipt of 18 or more prescriptions. Confounding by contraindication was addressed by controlling for degree of abnormality of liver function tests, alanine or aspartate transaminase, measured within one year of the elevated cholesterol and strongly related to risk. The negative association of statins disappeared for all numbers of prescriptions received, with an odds ratio of 1.21 (95% CI = 0.53 to 2.75) for 18 or more prescriptions. Findings cast doubt on the causality of the frequently observed preventive association.

Family History and Probability of Prostate Cancer, Differentiated by Risk Category: A Nationwide Population-Based Study


Background: Familial prostate cancer risk estimates are inflated by clinically insignificant low-risk cancer, diagnosed after prostate-specific antigen testing. We provide age-specific probabilities of non-low- and high-risk prostate cancer.

Methods: Fifty-one thousand, eight hundred ninety-seven brothers of 32 807 men with prostate cancer were identified in Prostate Cancer data Base Sweden (PCBaSe). Nelson-Aalen estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for cumulative, family history–stratified probabilities of any, non-low- (any of Gleason score ≥ 7, prostate-specific antigen [PSA] ≥ 10 ng/mL, T3-4, N1, and/or M1) and high-risk prostate cancer (Gleason score ≥ 8 and/or T3-4 and/or PSA ≥ 20 ng/mL and/or N1 and/or M1).

Results: The population probability of any prostate cancer was 4.8% (95% CI = 4.8% to 4.9%) at age 65 years and 12.9% (95% CI = 12.8% to 12.9%) at age 75 years, of non-low-risk prostate cancer 2.8% (95% CI = 2.7% to 2.8%) at age 65 years and 8.9% (95% CI = 8.8% to 8.9%) at age 75 years, and of high-risk prostate cancer 1.4% (95% CI = 1.3% to 1.4%) at age 65 years and 5.2% (95% CI = 5.1% to 5.2%) at age 75 years. For men with one affected brother, probabilities of any prostate cancer were 14.9% (95% CI = 14.1% to 15.8%) at age 65 years and 30.3% (95% CI = 29.3% to 31.3%) at age 75 years, of non-low-risk prostate cancer 7.3% (95% CI = 6.7% to 7.9%) at age 65 years and 18.8% (95% CI = 17.9% to 19.6%) at age 75 years, and of high-risk prostate cancer 3.0% (95% CI = 2.6% to 3.4%) at age 65 years and 8.9% (95% CI = 8.2% to 9.5%) at age 75 years. Probabilities were higher for men with a stronger family history. For example, men with two affected brothers had a 13.6% (95% CI = 9.9% to 17.6 %) probability of high-risk cancer at age 75 years.

Conclusions: The age-specific probabilities of non-low- and high-risk cancer presented here are more informative than relative risks of any prostate cancer and more suitable to use for counseling men with a family history of prostate cancer.

The Efficacy and Safety of First-line Chemotherapy in Advanced Esophagogastric Cancer: A Network Meta-analysis


Background: A globally accepted standard first-line chemotherapy regimen in advanced esophagogastric cancer (AEGC) is not clearly established. We conducted a systematic review to investigate the efficacy and safety of first-line chemotherapy using Network meta-analysis (NMA).

Methods: Medline, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and conferences were searched until June 2015 for randomized controlled trials that compared regimens containing: fluoropyrimidine (F), platinum (cisplatin [C] and oxaliplatin [Ox]), taxane (T), anthracycline (A), irinotecan (I), or methotrexate (M). Direct and indirect evidence for overall survival (OS) and progression-free-survival (PFS) were combined using random-effects NMA on the hazard ratio (HR) scale and calculated as combined hazard ratios and 95% credible intervals (CrIs).

Results: The NMA incorporated 17 chemotherapy regimens with 37 direct comparisons between regimens for OS (50 studies, n = 10 249) and 29 direct comparisons for PFS (34 studies, n = 7795). Combining direct and indirect effects showed increased efficacy for fluoropyrimidine noncisplatin doublets (F-doublets) over cisplatin doublets (C-doublets): FI vs CF (combined HR = 0.85, 95% CrI = 0.71 to 0.99), FOx vs CF (combined HR = 0.83, 95% CrI = 0.71 to 0.98) in OS and FOx vs CF (combined HR = 0.82, 95% CrI = 0.66 to 0.99) in PFS. Anthracycline-containing triplets (A-triplets: ACF, AFOx, AFM) and TCF triplet showed no benefit over F-doublets in OS and PFS. The triplet FOxT showed increased PFS vs F-doublets FT (combined HR = 0.61, 95% CrI = 0.38 to 0.99), FI (combined HR = 0.62, 95% CrI = 0.38 to 0.99), and FOx (combined HR = 0.67, 95% CrI = 0.44 to 0.99). Increased grade 3 to 4 toxicity was found for CF vs F-doublets, for ACF vs FI for TCF vs CF, and for FOxT vs FOx.

Conclusions: Based on efficacy and toxicity, F-doublets FOx, FI, and FT are preferred as first-line treatment for AEGC compared with C-doublets, A-triplets, and TCF. FOxT is the most promising triplet.

Institutional Enrollment and Survival Among NSCLC Patients Receiving Chemoradiation: NRG Oncology Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0617


Background: The purpose of this analysis is to evaluate the effect of institutional accrual volume on clinical outcomes among patients receiving chemoradiation for locally advanced non–small cell lung cancer (LA-NSCLC) on a phase III trial.

Methods: Patients with LA-NSCLC were randomly assigned to 60 Gy or 74 Gy radiotherapy (RT) with concurrent carboplatin/paclitaxel +/- cetuximab on NRG Oncology RTOG 0617. Participating institutions were categorized as low-volume centers (LVCs) or high-volume centers (HVCs) according to the number of patients accrued (≤3 vs > 3). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Range of accrual for LVCs (n = 195) vs HVCs (n = 300) was 1 to 3 vs 4 to 18 patients. Baseline characteristics were similar between the two cohorts. Treatment at a HVC was associated with statistically significantly longer overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) compared with treatment at a LVC (median OS = 26.2 vs 19.8 months; HR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.56 to 0.88, P = .002; median PFS: 11.4 vs 9.7 months, HR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.65-0.99, P = .04). Patients treated at HVCs were more often treated with intensity-modulated RT (54.0% vs 39.5%, P = .002), had a lower esophageal dose (mean = 26.1 vs 28.0 Gy, P = .03), and had a lower heart dose (median = V5 Gy 38.2% vs 54.1%, P = .006; V50 Gy 3.6% vs 7.3%, P < .001). Grade 5 adverse events (AEs) (5.3% vs 9.2%, P = .09) and RT termination because of AEs (1.3% vs 4.1%, P = .07) were less common among patients treated at HVCs. HVC remained independently associated with longer OS (P = .03) when accounting for other factors.

Conclusion: Treatment at institutions with higher clinical trial accrual volume is associated with longer OS among patients with LA-NSCLC participating in a phase III trial.

Efficiency of Prostate Cancer Diagnosis by MR/Ultrasound Fusion-Guided Biopsy vs Standard Extended-Sextant Biopsy for MR-Visible Lesions


Background: Use of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to improve prostate biopsy efficiency is rapidly gaining in popularity. The aim of this study was to assess the biopsy efficiency of MR/ultrasound (MR/US) fusion-guided ("targeted") biopsies vs extended-sextant 12-core ("standard") biopsies for overall and high-grade prostate cancer detection.

Methods: From August 2007 to February 2014, 1003 men were enrolled in a prospective trial comparing the diagnostic yield of targeted and standard prostate biopsies performed during the same session. A total of 17 619 biopsy cores were reviewed. Biopsy efficiency was determined by dividing the total number of cores by the number of positive cores obtained. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: A mean of 12.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 12.2 to 12.3) standard and 5.3 (95% CI = 5.1 to 5.5) targeted biopsy cores were obtained from each patient. Targeted biopsy detected 461 cases of prostate cancer, of which 173 (37.5%) were high grade (Gleason score ≥ 4 + 3), while standard biopsy detected 469 cases of prostate cancer, of which 122 (26.5%) were high grade. The percentage of biopsy cores positive for prostate cancer, irrespective of grade, was statistically significantly higher for targeted than for standard biopsies (27.9% vs 13.5%, respectively, P < .001), with 11.5 targeted cores vs 26.2 standard cores utilized per diagnosis of prostate cancer. For detection of high-grade cancer, 30.7 targeted vs 100.8 standard cores were utilized per diagnosis.

Conclusion: In men with MR-visible prostate lesions, targeted biopsy is more efficient than standard biopsy, diagnosing a similar number of cancer cases and more high-grade cases while sampling 56.1% fewer biopsy cores.

Adjuvant Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy in Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Survival Analyses of 6908 Cases From the National Cancer Data Base


Background: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) has a high risk of recurrence after initial surgical therapy. Adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) and chemotherapy may be used to reduce the risk of locoregional and systemic recurrence, respectively, but there are conflicting data regarding their impact on survival. We performed a retrospective analysis of MCC cases from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) to assess whether adjuvant therapy was associated with differences in survival.

Methods: Six thousand nine hundred and eight MCC patients with staging, treatment, and survival data were included. Multivariable analyses were conducted for overall survival (OS) with various treatment modalities while adjusting for prognostic variables including age, sex, comorbidities (Charlson/Deyo score), margin status, primary tumor site and size, and lymph node status. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: For localized MCC (stage I: n = 3369, stage II: n = 1474 ), surgery plus adjuvant RT was associated with statistically significantly better OS than with surgery alone in multivariable analyses (stage I: hazard ratio [HR] = 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64 to 0.80, P < .001; stage II: HR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.66 to 0.89, P < .001). In patients with regional nodal metastases (stage III: n = 2065 ), neither adjuvant RT nor chemotherapy was associated with statistically significantly improved or worsened OS.

Conclusions: In this study of the largest MCC cohort reported to date, adjuvant RT was associated with improved OS in stages I-II MCC. Neither adjuvant RT nor chemotherapy was associated with improved OS in stage III MCC. These results, with the limitations of retrospective analyses, are consistent with earlier studies suggesting benefit with adjuvant RT but do not support the routine use of adjuvant chemotherapy in MCC.

Chronic Conditions and Utility-Based Health-Related Quality of Life in Adult Childhood Cancer Survivors


Health utility, a summary measure of quality of life, has not been previously used to compare outcomes among childhood cancer survivors and individuals without a cancer history. We estimated health utility (0, death; 1, perfect health) using the Short Form-6D (SF-6D) in survivors (n = 7105) and siblings of survivors (n = 372) (using the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study cohort) and the general population (n = 12 803) (using the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey). Survivors had statistically significantly lower SF-6D scores than the general population (mean = 0.769, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.766 to 0.771, vs mean = 0.809, 95% CI = 0.806 to 0.813, respectively, P < .001, two-sided). Young adult survivors (age 18-29 years) reported scores comparable with general population estimates for people age 40 to 49 years. Among survivors, SF-6D scores were largely determined by number and severity of chronic conditions. No clinically meaningful differences were identified between siblings and the general population (mean = 0.793, 95% CI = 0.782 to 0.805, vs mean = 0.809, 95% CI = 0.806 to 0.813, respectively). This analysis illustrates the importance of chronic conditions on long-term survivor quality of life and provides encouraging results on sibling well-being. Preference-based utilities are informative tools for outcomes research in cancer survivors.

Comparing Breast Cancer Multiparameter Tests in the OPTIMA Prelim Trial: No Test Is More Equal Than the Others


Background: Previous reports identifying discordance between multiparameter tests at the individual patient level have been largely attributed to methodological shortcomings of multiple in silico studies. Comparisons between tests, when performed using actual diagnostic assays, have been predicted to demonstrate high degrees of concordance. OPTIMA prelim compared predicted risk stratification and subtype classification of different multiparameter tests performed directly on the same population.

Methods: Three hundred thirteen women with early breast cancer were randomized to standard (chemotherapy and endocrine therapy) or test-directed (chemotherapy if Oncotype DX recurrence score >25) treatment. Risk stratification was also determined with Prosigna (PAM50), MammaPrint, MammaTyper, NexCourse Breast (IHC4-AQUA), and conventional IHC4 (IHC4). Subtype classification was provided by Blueprint, MammaTyper, and Prosigna.

Results: Oncotype DX predicted a higher proportion of tumors as low risk (82.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 77.8% to 86.4%) than were predicted low/intermediate risk using Prosigna (65.5%, 95% CI = 60.1% to 70.9%), IHC4 (72.0%, 95% CI = 66.5% to 77.5%), MammaPrint (61.4%, 95% CI = 55.9% to 66.9%), or NexCourse Breast (61.6%, 95% CI = 55.8% to 67.4%). Strikingly, the five tests showed only modest agreement when dichotomizing results between high vs low/intermediate risk. Only 119 (39.4%) tumors were classified uniformly as either low/intermediate risk or high risk, and 183 (60.6%) were assigned to different risk categories by different tests, although 94 (31.1%) showed agreement between four of five tests. All three subtype tests assigned 59.5% to 62.4% of tumors to luminal A subtype, but only 121 (40.1%) were classified as luminal A by all three tests and only 58 (19.2%) were uniformly assigned as nonluminal A. Discordant subtyping was observed in 123 (40.7%) tumors.

Conclusions: Existing evidence on the comparative prognostic information provided by different tests suggests that current multiparameter tests provide broadly equivalent risk information for the population of women with estrogen receptor (ER)–positive breast cancers. However, for the individual patient, tests may provide differing risk categorization and subtype information.

The Affordable Care Act and Cancer Stage at Diagnosis Among Young Adults


The Affordable Care Act–dependent coverage expansion provision implemented in 2010 allows young adults to be covered under their parents’ health insurance until age 26 years, and millions of young adults have gained insurance as a result. The impact of this policy on cancer patients has yet to be determined. Using 2007 to 2012 data from 18 registries of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, comparing cancer patients age 19 to 25 years to a control group of patients age 26 to 34 years who were not affected by the provision, we observed a 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.7 to 3.4) percentage point decrease in uninsured rate and a 2.7 (95% CI = 0.6 to 4.8) percentage point increase in diagnosis at stage I disease for patients age 19-25 years. Further analyses by specific cancer site revealed that the statistically significant shifts were confined to carcinoma of cervix (21.2, 95% CI = 9.6 to 32.7 percentage points) and osseous and chondromatous neoplasms (14.4, 95% CI = 0.3 to 28.5 percentage points), which are detectable by either screening or clinical manifestation. These early observations suggest the policy has had positive benefits in cancer outcomes.



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Table of Contents


Elevated Bladder Cancer in Northern New England: The Role of Drinking Water and Arsenic


Background: Bladder cancer mortality rates have been elevated in northern New England for at least five decades. Incidence rates in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are about 20% higher than the United States overall. We explored reasons for this excess, focusing on arsenic in drinking water from private wells, which are particularly prevalent in the region.

Methods: In a population-based case-control study in these three states, 1213 bladder cancer case patients and 1418 control subjects provided information on suspected risk factors. Log transformed arsenic concentrations were estimated by linear regression based on measurements in water samples from current and past homes. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Bladder cancer risk increased with increasing water intake (Ptrend = .003). This trend was statistically significant among participants with a history of private well use (Ptrend = .01). Among private well users, this trend was apparent if well water was derived exclusively from shallow dug wells (which are vulnerable to contamination from manmade sources, Ptrend = .002) but not if well water was supplied only by deeper drilled wells (Ptrend = .48). If dug wells were used pre-1960, when arsenical pesticides were widely used in the region, heavier water consumers (>2.2 L/day) had double the risk of light users (<1.1 L/day, Ptrend = .01). Among all participants, cumulative arsenic exposure from all water sources, lagged 40 years, yielded a positive risk gradient (Ptrend = .004); among the highest-exposed participants (97.5th percentile), risk was twice that of the lowest-exposure quartile (odds ratio = 2.24, 95% confidence interval = 1.29 to 3.89).

Conclusions: Our findings support an association between low-to-moderate levels of arsenic in drinking water and bladder cancer risk in New England. In addition, historical consumption of water from private wells, particularly dug wells in an era when arsenical pesticides were widely used, was associated with increased bladder cancer risk and may have contributed to the New England excess.

HPV16 Sublineage Associations With Histology-Specific Cancer Risk Using HPV Whole-Genome Sequences in 3200 Women


Background: HPV16 is a common sexually transmitted infection although few infections lead to cervical precancer/cancer; we cannot distinguish nor mechanistically explain why only certain infections progress. HPV16 can be classified into four main evolutionary-derived variant lineages (A, B, C, D) that have been previously suggested to have varying disease risks.

Methods: We used a high-throughput HPV16 whole-genome sequencing assay to investigate variant lineage risk among 3215 HPV16-infected women. Using sublineages A1/A2 as the reference, we assessed all variant lineage associations with infection outcome over three or more years of follow-up: 1107 control subjects (

Results: A4 sublineage was associated with an increased risk of cancer, specifically adenocarcinoma (OR = 9.81, 95% CI = 2.02 to 47.69, P = 4.7x10–03). Lineage B had a lower risk of CIN3 (OR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0. 28 to 0.91, P = .02) while lineage C showed increased risk (OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.09 to 3.89, P = .03). D2/D3 sublineages were strongly associated with an increased risk of CIN3 and cancer, particularly D2 (OR for cancer = 28.48, 95% CI = 9.27 to 87.55, P = 5.0x10–09). D2 had the strongest increased risk of glandular lesions, AIS (OR = 29.22, 95% CI = 8.94 to 95.51, P = 2.3x10–08), and adenocarcinomas (OR = 137.34, 95% CI = 37.21 to 506.88, P = 1.5x10–13). Moreover, the risk of precancer and cancer for specific variant lineages varied by a women’s race/ethnicity; those women whose race/ethnicity matched that of the infecting HPV16 variant had an increased risk of CIN3 + (P < .001).

Conclusions: Specific HPV16 variant sublineages strongly influence risk of histologic types of precancer and cancer, and viral genetic variation may help explain its unique carcinogenic properties.

Evaluating Markers for Guiding Treatment


Background: The subpopulation treatment effect pattern plot (STEPP) is an appealing method for assessing the clinical impact of a predictive marker on patient outcomes and identifying a promising subgroup for further study. However, its original formulation lacked a decision analytic justification and applied only to a single marker.

Methods: We derive a decision-analytic result that motivates STEPP. We discuss the incorporation of multiple predictive markers into STEPP using risk difference, cadit, and responders-only benefit functions.

Results: Applying STEPP to data from a breast cancer treatment trial with multiple markers, we found that none of the three benefit functions identified a promising subgroup for further study. Applying STEPP to hypothetical data from a trial with 100 markers, we found that all three benefit functions identified promising subgroups as evidenced by the large statistically significant treatment effect in these subgroups.

Conclusions: Because the method has desirable decision-analytic properties and yields an informative plot, it is worth applying to randomized trials on the chance there is a large treatment effect in a subgroup determined by the predictive markers.

Eradication of Helicobacter pylori and Gastric Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cohort Studies


Background: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is associated with an increased risk of gastric adenocarcinoma and gastric mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma and a decreased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma. We aimed to assess how eradication therapy for H. pylori influences the risk of developing these cancers.

Methods: This was a systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library and selected articles that examined the risk of gastric cancer, MALT lymphoma, or esophageal cancer following eradication therapy, compared with a noneradicated control group.

Results: Among 3629 articles that were considered, nine met the inclusion criteria. Of these, eight cohort studies assessed gastric cancer while one randomized trial assessed esophageal cancer. Out of 12 899 successfully eradicated patients, 119 (0.9%) developed gastric cancer, compared with 208 (1.1%) out of 18 654 noneradicated patients. The pooled relative risk of gastric cancer in all eight studies was 0.46 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.32 to 0.66, I2 = 32.3%) favoring eradication therapy. The four studies adjusting for time of follow-up and confounders showed a relative risk of 0.46 (95% CI = 0.29 to 0.72, I2 = 44.4%).

Conclusions: This systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that eradication therapy for H. pylori prevents gastric cancer. There was insufficient literature for meta-analysis of MALT lymphoma or esophageal cancer.

Radiotherapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: New Indications and Directions for Future Study


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide; its incidence is increasing in the United States. Depending on disease extent and underlying liver status, patients may be treated with local, locoregional, and/or systemic therapy. Recent data indicates that radiotherapy (RT) can play a meaningful role in the management of HCC. Here, we review published experiences using RT for HCC, including the use of radiosensitizers and stereotactic RT. We discuss methods for performing preclinical studies of RT for HCC and biomarkers of response. As a part of the HCC Working Group, an informal committee of the National Cancer Institute’s Radiation Research Program, we suggest how RT should be implemented in the management of HCC and identify future directions for the study of RT in HCC.





Relationship Between Increased Fucosylation and Metastatic Potential in Colorectal Cancer


Background: Fucose is utilized for the modification of different molecules involved in blood group determination, immunological reactions, and signal transduction pathways. We have recently reported that enhanced activity of the fucosyltransferase 3 and/or 6 promoted TGF-ß-mediated epithelial mesenchymal transition and was associated with increased metastatic potential of colorectal cancer (CRC), suggesting that fucose is required by CRC cells. With this in mind, we examined requirement of L-fucose in CRC cells and developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for delivery of anticancer drugs specific to CRC. Methods: In this study, we first examined the expression of fucosylated proteins in 50 cases of CRC by immunochistochemical staining with biotinylated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL). Then we carried out an L-fucose uptake assay using three CRC cell lines. Finally, we developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for the delivery of an anticancer drug, SN38, and examined tumor growth inhibition in mouse xenograft model (n = 6 mice per group). All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: We found a statistically significant relationship between vascular invasion, clinical stage, and intensity score of AAL staining (P ≤ .02). L-fucose uptake assay revealed that L-fucose incorporation, as well as fucosylated protein release, was high in cells rich in fucosylated proteins. L-fucose-bound liposomes effectively delivered Cy5.5 into CRC cells. The excess of L-fucose decreased the efficiency of Cy5.5 uptake through L-fucose-bound liposomes, suggesting an L-fucose receptor dependency. Intravenously injected, L-fucose-bound liposomes carrying SN38 were successfully delivered to CRC cells, mediating efficient tumor growth inhibition (relative tumor growth ratio: no treatment group [NT], 8.29 ± 3.09; SN38-treated group [SN38], 3.53 ± 1.47; liposome-carrying, SN38-treated group [F0], 3.1 ± 1.39; L-fucose-bound, liposome-carrying, SN38-treated group [F50], 0.94 ± 0.89; F50 vs NT, P = .003; F50 vs SN38, P = .02, F50 vs F0, P = .04), as well as prolonging survival of mouse xenograft models (log-rank test, P < .001). Conclusions: Thus, fucose-bound liposomes carrying anticancer drugs provide [...]





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Uninsured Rate by State, (1963-2014)


Targeting Tumors Energy Needs




miR-141-Mediated Regulation of Brain Metastasis From Breast Cancer


Background: Brain metastasis poses a major treatment challenge and remains an unmet clinical need. Finding novel therapies to prevent and treat brain metastases requires an understanding of the biology and molecular basis of the process, which currently is constrained by a dearth of experimental models and specific therapeutic targets.

Methods: Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP)-labeled breast cancer cells were injected via tail vein into SCID/Beige mice (n = 10-15 per group), and metastatic colonization to the brain and lung was evaluated eight weeks later. Knockdown and overexpression of miR-141 were achieved with lentiviral vectors. Serum levels of miR-141 were measured from breast cancer patients (n = 105), and the association with clinical outcome was determined by Kaplan-Meier method. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Novel brain metastasis mouse models were developed via tail vein injection of parental triple-negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)–overexpressing inflammatory breast cancer lines. Knockdown of miR-141 inhibited metastatic colonization to brain (miR-141 knockdown vs control: SUM149, 0/8 mice vs 6/9 mice, P = .009; MDA-IBC3, 2/14 mice vs 10/15 mice, P = .007). Ectopic expression of miR-141 in nonexpressing MDA-MB-231 enhanced brain metastatic colonization (5/9 mice vs 0/10 mice, P = .02). Furthermore, high miR-141 serum levels were associated with shorter brain metastasis–free survival (P = .04) and were an independent predictor of progression-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 4.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.61 to 8.71, P < .001) and overall survival (HR = 7.22, 95% CI = 3.46 to 15.06, P < .001).

Conclusions: Our study suggests miR-141 is a regulator of brain metastasis from breast cancer and should be examined as a biomarker and potential target to prevent and treat brain metastases.

Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes, Crohns-Like Lymphoid Reaction, and Survival From Colorectal Cancer


Background: While clinical outcomes from colorectal cancer (CRC) are influenced by stage at diagnosis and treatment, mounting evidence suggests that an enhanced lymphocytic reaction to a tumor may also be an informative prognostic indicator.

Methods: The roles of intratumoral T lymphocyte infiltration (TIL), peritumoral Crohn’s-like lymphoid reaction (CLR), microsatellite instability (MSI), and clinicopathological characteristics in survival from CRC were examined using 2369 incident CRCs from a population-based case-control study in northern Israel. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for CRC-specific and all-cause mortality in multivariable models adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, grade, stage, and MSI. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Tumors with TIL/high-powered field (HPF) of 2 or greater were associated with a statistically significant increase in CRC-specific (P < .001) and overall survival (P < .001) compared with tumors with TIL/HPF of less than 2. Similarly, tumors with a prominent CLR experienced better CRC-specific (P < .001) and overall survival (P < .001) as compared with those with no response. High TILs (HR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.64 to 0.89, P < .001) and a prominent CLR (HR = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.62 to 0.80, P < .001), but not MSI, were associated with a statistically significant reduction in all-cause mortality after adjustment for established prognostic factors.

Conclusions: TILs and CLR are both prognostic indicators for CRC after adjusting for traditional prognostic indicators.

Targeting a Cancer-Specific Epitope of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer


Background: Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are typically more aggressive and result in poorer outcomes than other breast cancers because treatment options are limited due to lack of hormone receptors or amplified human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Many TNBCs overexpress the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or manifest amplification of the EGFR gene, supporting EGFR as a therapeutic target. While EGFR-directed small molecule inhibitors have shown limited effectiveness in clinical settings, use of EGFR as a mechanism of delivering enzymatic cytotoxins to TNBC has not been demonstrated. Methods: Using the single-chain variable fragment (scFv) of the 806 antibody that binds only cells with overexpressed, misfolded, or mutant variants of the EGFR, a recombinant immunotoxin was engineered through gene fusion with Pseudomonas aeruginosa Exotoxin A (806-PE38). The potency of 806-PE38 on reducing TNBC cell growth in vitro and in xenograft models (n ≥ 6) was examined for six TNBC cell lines. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: 806-PE38 statistically significantly reduced the viability of all tested TNBC lines, with IC50 values below 10 ng/mL for three of six cell lines, while not affecting cells with wild-type EGFR (IC50 >300 ng/mL). Systemic treatments with 806-PE38 vs vehicle resulted in statistically significantly reduced tumor burdens (806-PE38 mean = 128 mm3 [SD = 46 mm3] vs vehicle mean = 749 mm3 [SD = 395 mm3], P = .001) and increased median survival (806-PE38 median = 82 days vs vehicle median = 50 days, P = .01) in a MDA-MB-468 TNBC mouse xenograft. Deletion of the catalytic residue eliminated both cytotoxic activity in vitro and the reduction in tumor burden and survival (P = .52). Conclusions: These data support the further development of the 806-PE38 immunotoxin as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of patients with EGFR-positive TNBC. Follow-up experime[...]

The Intestinal Microbiome and Estrogen Receptor-Positive Female Breast Cancer


The huge communities of residential microbes, including bacteria, viruses, Archaea, and Eukaryotes, that colonize humans are increasingly recognized as playing important roles in health and disease. A complex populous ecosystem, the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract harbors up to 1011 bacterial cells per gram of luminal content, whose collective genome, the gut metagenome, contains a vastly greater number of individual genes than the human genome. In health, the function of the microbiome might be considered to be in dynamic equilibrium with the host, exerting both local and distant effects. However, ‘disequilibrium’ may contribute to the emergence of disease, including malignancy. In this review, we discuss how the intestinal bacterial microbiome and in particular how an ‘estrobolome,’ the aggregate of enteric bacterial genes capable of metabolizing estrogens, might affect women’s risk of developing postmenopausal estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer. Estrobolome composition is impacted by factors that modulate its functional activity. Exploring variations in the composition and activities of the estrobolome in healthy individuals and in women with estrogen-driven breast cancer may lead to development of microbiome-based biomarkers and future targeted interventions to attenuate cancer risk.

Co-option of Liver Vessels and Not Sprouting Angiogenesis Drives Acquired Sorafenib Resistance in Hepatocellular Carcinoma


Background: The anti-angiogenic Sorafenib is the only approved systemic therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, acquired resistance limits its efficacy. An emerging theory to explain intrinsic resistance to other anti-angiogenic drugs is ‘vessel co-option,’ ie, the ability of tumors to hijack the existing vasculature in organs such as the lungs or liver, thus limiting the need for sprouting angiogenesis. Vessel co-option has not been evaluated as a potential mechanism for acquired resistance to anti-angiogenic agents. Methods: To study sorafenib resistance mechanisms, we used an orthotopic human HCC model (n = 4-11 per group), where tumor cells are tagged with a secreted protein biomarker to monitor disease burden and response to therapy. Histopathology, vessel perfusion assessed by contrast-enhanced ultrasound, and miRNA sequencing and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction were used to monitor changes in tumor biology. Results: While sorafenib initially inhibited angiogenesis and stabilized tumor growth, no angiogenic ‘rebound’ effect was observed during development of resistance unless therapy was stopped. Instead, resistant tumors became more locally infiltrative, which facilitated extensive incorporation of liver parenchyma and the co-option of liver-associated vessels. Up to 75% (±10.9%) of total vessels were provided by vessel co-option in resistant tumors relative to 23.3% (±10.3%) in untreated controls. miRNA sequencing implicated pro-invasive signaling and epithelial-to-mesenchymal-like transition during resistance development while functional imaging further supported a shift from angiogenesis to vessel co-option. Conclusions: This is the first documentation of vessel co-option as a mechanism of acquired resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy and could have important impl[...]

Current and Evolving Methods to Visualize Biological Data in Cancer Research


Although the measurements of clinical outcomes for cancer treatments have become diverse and complex, there remains a need for clear, easily interpreted representations of patients’ experiences. With oncology trials increasingly reporting non-time-to-event outcomes, data visualization has evolved to incorporate parameters such as responses to therapy, duration and degree of response, and novel representations of underlying tumor biology. We review both commonly used and newly developed methods to display outcomes in oncology, with a focus on those that have evolved to represent complex datasets.

Association Between Hepatitis C Virus and Head and Neck Cancers


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2009, MD Anderson established the first US clinic for treating HCV-infected cancer patients, where we observed an unexpectedly large number of patients with head and neck cancers (HNCs). We sought to determine whether HCV is associated with HNCs. Methods: In this case-control study, medical records of cancer patients tested for HCV antibodies at our center from 2004 through 2014 were identified. Case subjects had new-onset primary oropharyngeal or nonoropharyngeal (oral cavity, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx) HNCs. Control subjects had smoking-associated (lung, esophagus, or urinary bladder) cancers. Biopsy reports of oropharyngeal cancers tested for human papillomavirus (HPV) were reviewed. Patients with lymphoma were excluded. Multivariable logistic regression models were constructed. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Of 34 545 cancer patients tested for HCV antibodies, 409 case subjects (164 oropharyngeal and 245 nonoropharyngeal) and 694 control subjects (378 lung, 168 esophagus, and 148 urinary bladder) were studied. The prevalence of HCV seropositivity was higher in oropharyngeal cancer patients (14.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 8.7% to 19.4%, vs 6.5%, 95% CI = 4.6% to 8.3%), particularly HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer patients (16.9%, 95% CI = 8.7% to 24.9%, vs 6.5%, 95% CI = 4.6% to 8.3%), and nonoropharyngeal HNC patients (20.0%, 95% CI = 14.9% to 25.0%, vs 6.5%, 95% CI = 4.6% to 8.3%) than in control subjects. Adjusted models showed a statistically significant association of HCV seropositivity with nonoropharyngeal (except nasopharyngeal) HNCs (odds ratio [OR] = 2.85, 95% CI = 1.38 t[...]

The Conundrum of Genetic "Drivers" in Benign Conditions


Advances in deep genomic sequencing have identified a spectrum of cancer-specific passenger and driver aberrations. Clones with driver anomalies are believed to be positively selected during carcinogenesis. Accumulating evidence, however, shows that genomic alterations, such as those in BRAF, RAS, EGFR, HER2, FGFR3, PIK3CA, TP53, CDKN2A, and NF1/2, all of which are considered hallmark drivers of specific cancers, can also be identified in benign and premalignant conditions, occasionally at frequencies higher than in their malignant counterparts. Targeting these genomic drivers can produce dramatic responses in advanced cancer, but the effects on their benign counterparts are less clear. This benign-malignant phenomenon is well illustrated in studies of BRAF V600E mutations, which are paradoxically more frequent in benign nevi (~80%) than in dysplastic nevi (~60%) or melanoma (~40%-45%). Similarly, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is more commonly overexpressed in ductal carcinoma in situ (~27%-56%) when compared with invasive breast cancer (~11%-20%). FGFR3 mutations in bladder cancer also decrease with tumor grade (low-grade tumors, ~61%; high-grade, ~11%). "Driver" mutations also occur in nonmalignant settings: TP53 mutations in synovial tissue from rheumatoid arthritis and FGFR3 mutations in seborrheic keratosis. The latter observations suggest that the oncogenicity of these alterations may be tissue context–dependent. The conversion of benign conditions to premalignant disease may involve other genetic events and/or epigenetic reprogramming. Putative driver mutations can also be germline and associated with increased cancer risk (eg, germline RAS or TP53 alterations), but germline FGFR3 or NF2 abnor[...]

Lapatinib-Related Rash and Breast Cancer Outcome in the ALTTO Phase III Randomized Trial


Background: Previously we have shown that early development of rash is associated with a higher chance of achieving pathological complete response to neoadjuvant lapatinib. In the current analysis, we investigate its impact on survival in the ALTTO phase III adjuvant trial. Methods: In ALTTO, patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)–positive early breast cancer were randomly assigned to adjuvant trastuzumab, lapatinib, their sequence, or their combination for a total duration of one year. We evaluated whether the development of early lapatinib-related rash (ie, within 6 weeks) is associated with disease-free (DFS) and overall survival (OS). Landmark analysis at eight weeks and time-dependent analysis were tested in a multivariable model stratifying on trial’s stratification factors. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Out of 6098 lapatinib-treated patients, 3973(65.2%) were included in the landmark analysis, of whom 1389 (35.0%) had developed early rash. After median follow-up of 4.5 years, the development of early rash was associated with a trend of improved DFS (multivariable: hazard ratio [HR] = 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.73 to 1.03, P = .10) and statistically significantly improved OS (multivariable: HR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.48 to 0.82, P < .001) compared with subjects without early rash. Compared with patients randomly assigned to trastuzumab (n = 2051), patients who were randomly assigned to trastuzumab/lapatinib combination and developed early rash (n = 692) had superior DFS (multivariable: HR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.55 to 0.92, P = .01) and OS (multivariable: HR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.39 to 0.90, P = .01). Time-dependent analysis sugges[...]

Relationship Between Increased Fucosylation and Metastatic Potential in Colorectal Cancer


Background: Fucose is utilized for the modification of different molecules involved in blood group determination, immunological reactions, and signal transduction pathways. We have recently reported that enhanced activity of the fucosyltransferase 3 and/or 6 promoted TGF-ß-mediated epithelial mesenchymal transition and was associated with increased metastatic potential of colorectal cancer (CRC), suggesting that fucose is required by CRC cells. With this in mind, we examined requirement of L-fucose in CRC cells and developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for delivery of anticancer drugs specific to CRC. Methods: In this study, we first examined the expression of fucosylated proteins in 50 cases of CRC by immunochistochemical staining with biotinylated Aleuria aurantia lectin (AAL). Then we carried out an L-fucose uptake assay using three CRC cell lines. Finally, we developed fucose-bound nanoparticles as vehicles for the delivery of an anticancer drug, SN38, and examined tumor growth inhibition in mouse xenograft model (n = 6 mice per group). All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: We found a statistically significant relationship between vascular invasion, clinical stage, and intensity score of AAL staining (P ≤ .02). L-fucose uptake assay revealed that L-fucose incorporation, as well as fucosylated protein release, was high in cells rich in fucosylated proteins. L-fucose-bound liposomes effectively delivered Cy5.5 into CRC cells. The excess of L-fucose decreased the efficiency of Cy5.5 uptake through L-fucose-bound liposomes, suggesting an L-fucose receptor dependency. Intravenously injected, L-fucose-bound liposomes carrying SN38 were s[...]





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