• Breast cancer overview: diagnosis and staging.

      Foy, Sharon; Blowers, Elaine; The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Wilmslow Road, Manchester, M20 4BX. UK (2009)
    • Clinical and immunological responses in metastatic melanoma patients vaccinated with a high-dose poly-epitope vaccine.

      Dangoor, A; Lorigan, Paul C; Keilholz, U; Schadendorf, D; Harris, A; Ottensmeier, C; Smyth, J; Hoffmann, K; Anderson, R; Cripps, M; et al. (2010-06)
      BACKGROUND: Safety and cellular immunogenicity of rising doses and varying regimens of a poly-epitope vaccine were evaluated in advanced metastatic melanoma. The vaccine comprised plasmid DNA and recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) both expressing a string (Mel3) of seven HLA.A2/A1 epitopes from five melanoma antigens. METHODS: Forty-one HLA-A2 positive patients with stage III/IV melanoma were enrolled. Patient groups received one or two doses of DNA.Mel3 followed by escalating doses of MVA.Mel3. Immunisations then continued eight weekly in the absence of disease progression. Epitope-specific CD8+ T cell responses were evaluated using ex-vivo tetramer and IFN-gamma ELISPOT assays. Safety and clinical responses were monitored. RESULTS: Prime-boost DNA/MVA induced Melan-A-specific CD8+ T cell responses in 22/31 (71%) patients detected by tetramer assay. ELISPOT detected a response to at least one epitope in 10/31 (32%) patients. T cell responder rates were <50% with low-dose DNA/MVA, or MVA alone, rising to 91% with high-dose DNA/MVA. Among eight patients showing evidence of clinical benefit-one PR (24 months+), five SD (5 months+) and two mixed responses-seven had associated immune responses. Melan-A-tetramer+ immunity was associated with a median 8-week increase in time-to-progression (P = 0.037) and 71 week increase in survival (P = 0.0002) compared to non-immunity. High-dose vaccine was well tolerated. The only significant toxicities were flu-like symptoms and injection-site reactions. CONCLUSIONS: DNA.Mel3 and MVA.Mel3 in a prime-boost protocol generated high rates of immune response to melanoma antigen epitopes. The treatment was well tolerated and the correlation of immune responses with patient outcomes encourages further investigation.
    • Phase II study of weekly plitidepsin as second-line therapy for small cell lung cancer.

      Eisen, Tim; Thatcher, Nick; Leyvraz, Serge; Miller, Wilson H; Couture, Felix; Lorigan, Paul C; Lüthi, François; Small, David; Tanovic, Adnan; O'Brien, M; et al. (2009-04)
      OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the antitumor activity and safety profile of plitidepsin administered as a 1h weekly intravenous (i.v.) infusion of 3.2mg/m(2) to patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) who relapsed or progressed after one line of chemotherapy. PATIENTS AND METHODS: This was a multicenter, open-label, single-arm, exploratory, phase II clinical trial. Treatment lasted until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, patient refusal or treatment delay for >2 weeks. Objective response rate (primary efficacy endpoint) was evaluated according to response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST). The rate of stable disease (SD) lasting for at least 6 months and time-to-event variables were secondary endpoints of efficacy. Toxicity was assessed using National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria (NCI-CTC) version 2.0. RESULTS: Twenty pretreated SCLC patients (median age, 60 years) with extensive (n = 13) or limited-stage disease (n = 7) received a total of 24 treatment cycles (median, one cycle per patient; range, 1-2). Objective tumor responses were not observed and only one of the 17 evaluable patients had SD. With a median follow-up of 11.8 months, the progression-free survival and the median overall survival were 1.3 months and 4.8 months, respectively. The most troubling or common toxicities were fatigue, muscle weakness, lymphopenia, anemia (no patients showed neutropenia), and asymptomatic, non-cumulative increase of transaminases levels and alkaline phosphatase. CONCLUSION: This clinical trial shows that a cycle of 1h weekly i.v. infusion of plitidepsin (3.2mg/m(2)) was generally well tolerated other than fatigue and muscle weakness in patients with pretreated SCLC. One patient died due to multi-organ failure. The absence of antitumor activity found here precludes further studies of this plitidepsin schedule as second-line single-agent treatment of SCLC.
    • Phase III randomized comparison of gemcitabine versus gemcitabine plus capecitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

      Cunningham, D; Chau, I; Stocken, D; Valle, Juan W; Smith, David; Steward, William P; Harper, P; Dunn, J; Tudur-Smith, C; West, J; et al. (2009-11-20)
      PURPOSE: Both gemcitabine (GEM) and fluoropyrimidines are valuable treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer. This open-label study was designed to compare the overall survival (OS) of patients randomly assigned to GEM alone or GEM plus capecitabine (GEM-CAP). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with previously untreated histologically or cytologically proven locally advanced or metastatic carcinoma of the pancreas with a performance status
    • Systemic treatment for advanced (stage IIIb/IV) non-small cell lung cancer: more treatment options; more things to consider. Conclusion.

      Bunn, Paul A; Thatcher, Nick; University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, Colorado, USA. (2008)
      Chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can prolong survival and improve quality of life, but the majority of advanced stage patients succumb to disease within 2 years, meaning that there is room for improvement. The standard chemotherapy for NSCLC involves one of a number of chemotherapy doublets that have been shown to improve survival when compared with single agents or best supportive care. These doublets are generally comparable in terms of efficacy, differing primarily in their toxicity profiles. However, encouraging new options may be approaching, including therapies targeted to specific patient subpopulations, and the use of combinations of current and new drugs to produce synergistic effects. Targeted therapies include the anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) erlotinib and gefitinib, EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors such as sorafenib, a small molecule TKI, and bevacizumab, a recombinant monoclonal VEGF antibody. Most attempts to combine EGFR-targeted therapies with standard chemotherapy in NSCLC have produced poor results, possibly as a result of antagonism between EGFR TKIs and chemotherapy. Positive results with bevacizumab suggest that VEGF-rather than EGFR-targeted therapies may produce better results when combined with chemotherapy. Other new drugs being tested include enzastaurin, an oral serine threonine kinase inhibitor; vinflunine, a vinca alkaloid; dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors; and thymidylate synthase inhibitors. Combinations of therapies, especially those acting via different mechanisms, hold promise for improvements in survival, but careful testing is required to determine optimum combinations of available drugs and where new drugs fit into the armamentarium.
    • Systemic treatment for advanced (stage IIIb/IV) non-small cell lung cancer: more treatment options; more things to consider. Introduction.

      Bunn, Paul A; Thatcher, Nick; University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, Colorado, USA. (2008)
      Lung cancer is the most common cancer and a highly lethal disease, with improvements in survival rates being dependent on advances in early detection and improved systemic therapies applied to surgery and/or irradiation in early-stage disease. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents around 80% of all lung cancers, and unfortunately at diagnosis most patients have advanced unresectable disease with a very poor prognosis. Indeed, 30%-40% of patients treated with first-line therapy will subsequently be candidates for second-line treatment. Current U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved second-line treatments are docetaxel (a taxane), pemetrexed (a folate antimetabolite), and erlotinib (an epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR] tyrosine kinase inhibitor [TKI]). Gefitinib, another EGFR TKI, currently has only limited use in North America and is not available in Europe. These and other new molecular-target-specific agents may have the potential to maximize therapeutic benefit while minimizing toxicity to normal cells. Overexpression of EGFR is reported to occur in 40%-80% of NSCLC cases, and EGFR mutations are associated with a significantly higher response rate and longer duration of response following treatment with EGFR TKIs. Another option is antiangiogenesis: the growth and persistence of solid tumors and their metastases are angiogenesis dependent, and so antiangiogenic therapies have been developed, such as the use of TKIs that block the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor. In fact, many commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs have antiangiogenic activity. Ongoing studies are focusing on patient selection and targeted therapies, and there are many new agents undergoing clinical trials.