[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Subjects referred to genetic counselling for cancer may have heightened perceptions of illness and death, even though they are healthy and this may cause anxiety and reluctance to follow through with consultation. We investigated such perceptions before and after counselling and genetic testing for cancer in a cohort of Italian women. We sought to understand the situation of the women referred by designing questionnaires administered to women at high risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer (those who had had a pathogenic mutation identified in a family member via diagnostic testing). We also assessed women after the diagnosis of breast cancers, but free of disease, to help determine risks in their families.
The first questionnaires were administered before initial counselling, and the second were completed within 20 days after the counselling. When a genetic test was proposed, the individual was asked to fill in a third questionnaire; the final questionnaire was administered after the person had received the results of the genetic test.
We evaluated 204 subjects. Before counselling, 89 % of the subjects were worried about their risk of disease, 52 % felt "different" because of their personal and family history, and 39 % declared that their life choices were influenced by their fear of cancer. After counselling, 82 % of the subjects felt more relived about their pre-existing fears and stated that this process of being seen in a clinic with genetic expertise had clarified the meaning of disease risk for them, and for 50 %, this experience had positively influenced their life choices. Thirty percentage of the subjects had a positive test; all of them felt safer in being cared for by specifically trained staff. Fifty percentage had a less informative test (e.g. "wild-type" gene found); 84 % of them were not worried by the uncertainty, and overall, 96 % considered counselling to be very useful.
Candidates for genetic counselling frequently had heightened their perception of being ill, which influenced their ability to make life decisions. Genetic counselling often improves this perception, especially in subjects who have negative tests and this knowledge facilitates their life plans. After testing, most women felt satisfied and safer because of being properly followed by professionally trained and sympathetic staff. In conclusion, knowledge of the real individual risk, the presence of a professional team, and the possibility of entering a programme of controlled screening enable patients rather than living in fear and uncertainty to be less anxious about their state of health and to live with the knowledge that they are doing everything possible to care for themselves, aided by a specialized team, and that, if necessary, they would be able to take part in investigational studies.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose:
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) represent an independent prognostic factor in metastatic colorectal cancer, while their significance in early stages is still an open issue. The aim of the study is to investigate the role of CTCs in rectal cancer patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CT-RT).
In this prospective single institutional study, cT3-4 and/or N+ rectal cancer was treated with neoadjuvant CT-RT. The primary endpoints were as follows: evaluation of CTCs at baseline (t0), after CT-RT (t1), within 7 days after surgery (t2), and at 6 months from surgery (t3) and correlation with main patient/tumor characteristics, CEA, response to neoadjuvant therapy, and disease-free survival (DFS). CTCs were enumerated with the CellSearch System in 22.5 ml peripheral blood. A repeated measure analysis for binary outcome was used to evaluate over time changes in the percentage of CTCs detectable in blood samples.
Of the 90 patients enrolled in this study, 85 were eligible consisting of 52 males and 33 females. Median age was 63 years and median follow-up was 38 months. CTCs were available for all patients at t0, for 67 at t1, for 68 at t2, and for 62 at t3. CTCs >0 were reported on 16 (19%) at t0, on 5 (7.5%) at t1, on 6 (9%) at t2, and on 3 (5%) at t3 (P value for trend 0.039). Only for CT-RT responders, CTCs reduced from t0 to t1. No statistically significant association was found between CTCs and main patient/tumor characteristics and DFS.
Sixteen patients (19%) had CTCs ≥1 at t0 with reduction in CTC number in case of objective remissions. The proportion of patients with CTCs ≥1 decreased over the time as the therapeutic course proceeded. Much effort should be oriented toward increasing CTC detection rate by enhancing technical tests and achieving better patient characterization.
No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · International Journal of Colorectal Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Estramustine phosphate sodium (EMP) is an oral agent poorly developed-although active-in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). To resume interest in EMP in MBC, we analyzed a retrospective series of consecutive patients with estrogen receptor-positive disease.
EMP was given orally at a dose of 140 mg daily. Treatment discontinuation rates due to progressive disease/toxicity and response rates were assessed.
Twenty postmenopausal patients with mainly visceral disease were treated with EMP, in five cases in combination with other anticancer drugs. Median numbers of previous chemotherapies and hormonal treatments were six and four, respectively. From the entire cohort, one complete response and four partial responses were observed. The proportions of patients free of progression at 6 and 12 months were 39 and 8 %, respectively. Six patients discontinued EMP, three each for toxicity and adverse events.
Good disease control was obtained in heavily pretreated MBC patients receiving EMP. Toxicity was manageable and reversible although treatment discontinuation has to be considered. A prospective study should be encouraged to identify the optimal use of the drug.
No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · International Journal of Clinical Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer can be categorized as either (a) specific stimulation of the immune system by active immunization, with cancer vaccines, or (b) passive immunization, such as tumor-specific antibodies (including immune modulators) or adoptive cell therapy that inhibit the function of, or directly kill, tumor cells. We will present the current information and the future perspectives of immunotherapy in patients with breast cancer, including the prognostic role of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, immune signatures, targeted therapies modulating the immune system, and tumor antigen cancer vaccines. Active immunotherapy in breast cancer and its implementation into clinical trials have been largely a frustrating experience in the last decades. The concept that the immune system regulates cancer development is experiencing a new era of interest. It is clear that the cancer immunosurveillance process indeed exists and potentially acts as an extrinsic tumor suppressor. Also, the immune system can facilitate tumor progression by sculpting the immunogenic phenotype of tumors as they develop. Cancer immunoediting represents a refinement of the cancer immunosurveillance hypothesis and resumes the complex interaction between tumor and immune system into three phases: elimination, equilibrium, and escape. Major topics in the field of immunology deserve a response: what do we know about tumor immunogenicity, and how might we therapeutically improve tumor immunogenicity? How can we modulate response of the immune system? Is there any gene signature predictive of response to immune modulators? The success of future immunotherapy strategies will depend on the identification of additional immunogenic antigens that can serve as the best tumor-rejection targets. Therapeutic success will depend on developing the best antigen delivery systems and on the elucidation of the entire network of immune signaling pathways that regulate immune responses in the tumor microenvironment.
No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · Breast Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The discordance in oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status between primary and recurrent breast cancer is being intensively investigated and a large amount of data have been produced. However, results from different studies are heterogeneous and often conflicting. To highlight this issue, a meta-analysis of published data was performed.
A literature search was performed using Medline, and all the studies published from 1983 to 2011 comparing changes in ER, PgR and/or HER2 status in patients with matched breast primary and recurrent tumours were included. We used random-effects models to estimate pooled discordance proportions.
We selected 48 articles, mostly reporting retrospective studies. Thirty-three, 24 and 31 articles were focused on ER, PgR and HER2 changes, respectively. A total of 4200, 2739 and 2987 tumours were evaluated for ER, PgR and HER2 discordance, respectively. The heterogeneity between study-specific discordance proportions was high for ER (I(2)=91%, p<0.0001), PgR (I(2)=79%, p<0.0001) and HER2 (I(2)=77%, p<0.0001). Pooled discordance proportions were 20% (95% confidence interval (CI): 16-35%) for ER, 33% (95% CI: 29-38%) for PgR and 8% (95% CI: 6-10%) for HER2. Pooled proportions of tumours shifting from positive to negative and from negative to positive were 24% and 14% for ER (p=0.0183), respectively. The same figures were 46% and 15% for PgR (p<0.0001), and 13% and 5% for HER2 (p=0.0004).
Our findings strengthen the concept that changes in receptor expression may occur during the natural history of breast cancer, suggesting clinical implications and a possible impact on treatment choice.
No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · European journal of cancer (Oxford, England: 1990)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Five to 10% of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer have synchronous metastases (de novo stage IV). A further 20% will develop metastases during follow-up (recurring stage IV). We compared the clinical outcomes of women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC) receiving first-line trastuzumab-based therapy according to type of metastatic presentation.
Retrospective analysis of 331 MBC patients receiving first-line trastuzumab-based treatment. Response rates (RR) were compared by the chi-square test. Time-to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS) curves were compared by the log-rank test. Cox-proportional hazards models were used to study predictors of PFS and OS, including the type of metastatic presentation.
Seventy-seven patients (23%) had de novo stage IV disease. Forty-six of these patients underwent surgery of the primary ("de novo/surgery"). Response rates to first-line trastuzumab-based therapy and median progression-free survival did not differ in patients with "recurring", "de novo/surgery" and "de novo" without surgery ("de novo/no surgery) stage IV breast cancer. However, women with "de novo/surgery" stage IV breast cancer had the longest median OS (60 months), and those with "de novo/no surgery" stage IV breast cancer the shortest (26 months). For women with recurring metastatic breast cancer median OS was 40 months (overall log-rank test, p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis confirmed these findings.
Our analysis shows that response rates and PFS to first-line trastuzumab-based therapy do not differ significantly between de novo and recurring stage IV, HER2 positive breast cancer. The observed difference in OS favoring women with de novo stage IV disease submitted to surgery of the primary tumor could be the result of a selection bias.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Beta-blockers (BB) drugs have been used for decades worldwide, mainly to treat hypertension. However, in recent epidemiological studies, BBs were suggested to improve cancer prognosis. In the wake of this evidence, we evaluated the possible therapeutic effect of BBs in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. We identified 800 postmenopausal women operated between 1997 and 2008 for early primary TNBC. The effect of BB intake on the risk of breast cancer (BC) recurrence and death was evaluated through competing risk and Cox regression survival models. At cancer diagnosis, 74 (9.3 %) women out of 800 were BBs users. Median age was 62 years in BB users and 59 years in non-users (P = 0.02). BB users and non-users were similarly distributed by all tumor characteristics. The 5-year cumulative incidence of BC-related events was 13.6 % in BB users and 27.9 % in non-users (P = 0.02). The beneficial impact of BBs remained statistically significant at multivariable analysis (HR, 0.52; 95 % CI 0.28-0.97), after the adjustment for age, tumor stage, and treatment, peritumoral vascular invasion and use of other antihypertensive drugs, antithrombotics, and statins. Adjusted HRs for metastases and for BC deaths were 0.32 (95 % CI 0.12-0.90) and 0.42 (95 % CI 0.18-0.97), respectively, in favor of BBs. Hypertension, other antihypertensive drugs, antithrombotics, and statins did not impact prognosis. In this series of postmenopausal TNBC patients, BB intake was associated with a significantly decreased risk of BC-related recurrence, metastasis, and BC death. Innovative therapeutic strategies including BBs should be urgently explored in cancer patients.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite improvements in brain surgery and radiotherapy, patients with brain metastases (BM) from breast cancer still have a poor prognosis. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the outcome of a multimodal therapeutic strategy in an unselected cohort of patients.
We retrospectively reviewed 24 breast cancer patients who developed BM and were treated with brain surgery, radiotherapy, and/or systemic therapy in the same institutions.
Primary treatment for BM was surgery in the whole cohort, radiotherapy in 11 patients, radiotherapy combined with systemic therapy in nine patients, and systemic therapy as single treatment in six patients (chemo/targeted therapy n= 4; hormonal therapy n=2). The median time from breast cancer diagnosis to brain surgery was 57.6 months (range 1.8-130.7 months). The overall survival from surgery for BM was 22 months and the overall survival from BM surgery by presence of other metastatic sites at surgery was 25 months for patients with BM only and 11 months for patients with other metastatic sites (p=0.046).
Although this study is retrospective and limited by the small number of patients, the overall survival of 22 months from the time of brain surgery represents an excellent outcome. The multidisciplinary approach that combines the efforts of specialists from different disciplines leads to satisfactory results for patients in terms of survival in the current clinical practice and prospective subtype-oriented trials are urgently required in this category of patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The impact of breast surgery on survival of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients is controversial. We addressed the question in a mono-institutional series of MBC patients with synchronous bone metastases. We identified 187 consecutive women diagnosed between 2000 and 2008 with locally operable (T1-T3) MBC, synchronous bone metastases, with no other distant sites being involved. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were compared between operated and non-operated patients. Median age was 51 years; 92 % of the women had a hormone-positive tumor. At the time of diagnosis, 131 patients out of 187 (70 %) underwent surgery. Operated and non-operated patients differed in terms of number of bone metastatic sites: a single metastasis was detected in 35 (28 %) operated, and 6 (11 %) non-operated cases (P = 0.01). No other significant differences were observed. The multi-adjusted hazard ratio was 0.63 (95 % CI 0.43-0.92) for PFS and 0.64 (95 % CI 0.41-0.99) for OS in favor of surgery. The 5-year cumulative incidence of ipsilateral breast skin progressions among non-operated patients was 18 %. In this large and homogeneous series of MBC patients with synchronous bone metastases, the role of breast surgery had a favorable impact on both disease progression and mortality.
No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Circulating tumor cell (CTC) enumeration might be useful to identify different risk categories within each molecular subtype.
We retrospectively analyzed 203 consecutive patients with metastatic breast cancer with baseline CTC enumeration performed with CellSearch (Veridex Corp, Warren, NJ) between March 2005 and July 2011. Patients were categorized into 3 prognostic groups based on the number of CTCs (0, 1-4, and ≥ 5) and into 5 categories based on tumor biological characteristics: luminal-A (estrogen receptor [ER] and progesterone receptor [PR] > 1%, grade 1/2, human epidermal growth factor 2 [HER2]-negative [HER2(-)], Ki67 value < 14%); luminal-B (ER and/or PR > 1%, grade 3, HER2(-), Ki67 value > 14%); luminal-B HER2-positive [HER2(+)] (ER and/or PR > 1%, any grade, HER2(+), Ki-67 value any); HER2(+) (HER2 overexpressed/fluorescence in situ hybridization [FISH] amplified, ER and PR absent); triple negative (TN) (ER and PR 0%, HER2 not overexpressed/FISH not amplified).
Median age was 57 years (range 31-78 years). Twenty-seven patients (13.3%) had luminal-A category, 105 (51.7%) patients had luminal-B, 29 (14.3%) patients had luminal-B HER2(+), 24 patients (11.8%) had HER2(+), and 18 patients (8.9%) had TN. CTCs were mostly found in patients with luminal-A/luminal-B HER2(-) subtype. At multivariable analysis, CTC count was a significant predictive factor for overall survival (OS) in all molecular subtypes (log-rank P < .01). Patients with 0 CTCs/7.5 mL blood and all subtypes, except HER2(+), seem to perform better compared with other categories.
These findings confirm CTCs as an important prognostic factor for metastatic breast cancer in all molecular subtypes. Larger studies could help identify metastatic breast cancer subgroups in which CTC analysis would be particularly useful.
No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Clinical Breast Cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fulvestrant is effective in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive advanced breast cancer (ABC). So far, no published data exist on fulvestrant combined with chemotherapy. We retrospectively assessed the role of combining oral metronomic cyclophosphamide and methotrexate (CM) to fulvestrant in two cohorts (A and B) of heavily pre-treated estrogen receptor-positive advanced ABC patients. From October 2006 to September 2009, 33 postmenopausal patients received fulvestrant 250 mg via i.m. injection q28 days. In A, 20 patients added metronomic cyclophosphamide (50 mg p.o. daily) and methotrexate (2.5 mg p.o. twice daily on day 1 and day 4 weekly) after disease progression, continuing fulvestrant at the same dose. In B, 13 patients started fulvestrant plus metronomic CM upfront. Thirty-two patients were evaluable for response. Clinical benefit (partial response + stable disease >24 months) for A + B was 56% (95% CI 38-74%). The addition of metronomic CM did not determine relevant toxicities. Treatment with fulvestrant plus metronomic CM was effective in advanced ABC and was minimally toxic providing long-term disease control in a high proportion of patients. The prolonged clinical benefit, often desirable in such patients, supports this regimen as an additional and useful therapeutic tool.
No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · The Breast Journal
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efficacy of trastuzumab beyond metastatic disease progression (PD) is controversial. We retrospectively analyzed 213 patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer treated with trastuzumab-based therapies between November 1998 and December 2010. Out of 213 patients, 134 (58%) had received trastuzumab consecutively for at least 1 year and 154 of 213 patients (67%) had received two or more lines of consecutive trastuzumab-based therapy beyond PD. For these subgroups of patients, we examined the correlation between patients' survival and time to first tumor progression (TTP). Among 134 patients who received trastuzumab for at least 1 year, 66 (49%) never had PD within the first year of treatment, whereas 68 (51%) had PD at least once within the first year. The estimated 2-year overall survival (OS) after 1 year was 82% for those who had no PD during the first year (median OS 5.1 years) and 70% for those who had PD (median OS 2.6 years) (P<0.0001). Among 154 patients who received two or more lines of consecutive trastuzumab-based therapy beyond PD, we calculated a median first TTP of 8.7 months. In terms of survival after first progression, patients with a longer first TTP (≥8.7 months) had better survival compared with those who had a shorter first TTP (39 months, 95% CI 31-63; vs. 28 months, 95% CI 22-32; P=0.0004). T-based therapy was well tolerated and only five patients experienced a cardiac event. Our retrospective data suggest that treatment with trastuzumab beyond progression is a viable option for patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, whose disease has progressed on previous trastuzumab-based regimens.
No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Anti-cancer drugs