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Concept: Benign tumor


Despite documentation of various types of neoplastic pathologies encountered in the vertebrate fossil record, no ameloblastic tumours have been recognised so far. Ameloblastoma is a benign neoplasic tumour with a strong preponderance for the mandible. Here, we report for the first time the presence of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in the lower jaw of a specimen referred to the derived non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid dinosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Haeg Basin in Romania. The location, external appearance and internal structure of the pathological outgrowth provide clear evidence for the diagnosis of ameloblastoma in Telmatosaurus. This report extends the range of pathologies encountered in hadrosauroid dinosaurs. In addition, recognition of an ameloblastoma neoplasm in a taxon lying close to the origin of ‘duck-billed’ hadrosaurid dinosaurs confirms the predisposition of this clade towards neoplasia pathologies already in its basal members.

Concepts: Paleontology, Tumor, Neoplasm, Anatomical pathology, Benign tumor, Hadrosaurid, Cancer, Dinosaur


The results of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of HER2 inhibitors in patients with breast cancer indicate that the correlation between HER2 receptor levels and patient outcomes is as low as 50%. The relatively weak correlation between HER2 status and response to HER2-targeting drugs suggests that measurement of HER2 signaling activity, rather than absolute HER2 levels, may more accurately diagnose HER2-driven breast cancer. A new diagnostic test, the CELx HER2 Signaling Profile (CELx HSP) test, is demonstrated to measure real-time HER2 signaling function in live primary cells. In the present study, epithelial cells extracted fresh from breast cancer patient tumors classified as HER2 negative (HER2-, n = 34 of which 33 were estrogen receptor positive) and healthy subjects (n = 16) were evaluated along with reference breast cancer cell lines (n = 19). Live cell response to specific HER2 agonists (NRG1b and EGF) and antagonist (pertuzumab) was measured. Of the HER2- breast tumor cell samples tested, 7 of 34 patients (20.5%; 95% CI = 10%-37%) had HER2 signaling activity that was characterized as abnormally high. Amongst the tumor samples there was no correlation between HER2 protein status (by cell cytometry) and HER2 signaling activity (hyperactive or normal) (Regression analysis P = 0.144, R2 = 0.068). One conclusion is that measurement of HER2 signaling activity can identify a subset of breast cancers with normal HER2 receptor levels with abnormally high levels of HER2 signaling. This result constitutes a new subtype of breast cancer that should be considered for treatment with HER2 pathway inhibitors.

Concepts: Cancer staging, Metastasis, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Oncology, Cancer, Breast cancer


Patients with metastatic solid tumors who had progressed on at least one line of standard of care therapy were referred to the Indiana University Health Precision Genomics Program. Tumor samples were submitted for DNA & RNA next-generation sequencing, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry for actionable targets. A multi-disciplinary tumor board reviewed all results. For each patient, the ratio of progression-free survival (PFS) of the genomically guided line of therapy divided by the PFS of their prior line was calculated. Patients whose PFS ratio was ‚Č• 1.3 were deemed to have a meaningful improvement in PFS.

Concepts: Ratio, Benign tumor, Neoplasm, Tumor, Anatomical pathology, Molecular biology, Cancer, Oncology


Earlier detection of colorectal cancer greatly improves prognosis, largely through surgical excision of neoplastic polyps. These include benign adenomas which can transform over time to malignant adenocarcinomas. This progression may be associated with changes in full blood count indices. An existing risk algorithm derived in Israel stratifies individuals according to colorectal cancer risk using full blood count data, but has not been validated in the UK. We undertook a retrospective analysis using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Patients aged over 40 with full blood count data were risk-stratified and followed up for a diagnosis of colorectal cancer over a range of time intervals. The primary outcome was the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the 18-24-month interval. We also undertook a case-control analysis (matching for age, sex, and year of risk score), and a cohort study of patients undergoing full blood count testing during 2012, to estimate predictive values. We included 2,550,119 patients. The area under the curve for the 18-24-month interval was 0.776 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.771, 0.781]. Performance improves as the time interval reduces. The area under the curve for the age-matched case-control analysis was 0.583 [0.574, 0.591]. For the population risk-scored in 2012, the positive predictive value at 99.5% specificity was 8.8% with negative predictive value 99.6%. The algorithm offers an additional means of identifying risk of colorectal cancer, and could support other approaches to early detection, including screening and active case finding.

Concepts: Type I and type II errors, Receiver operating characteristic, Colorectal cancer, Biostatistics, Benign tumor, Negative predictive value, Positive predictive value, Cancer


Chronic stress induces signalling from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and drives cancer progression, although the pathways of tumour cell dissemination are unclear. Here we show that chronic stress restructures lymphatic networks within and around tumours to provide pathways for tumour cell escape. We show that VEGFC derived from tumour cells is required for stress to induce lymphatic remodelling and that this depends on COX2 inflammatory signalling from macrophages. Pharmacological inhibition of SNS signalling blocks the effect of chronic stress on lymphatic remodelling in vivo and reduces lymphatic metastasis in preclinical cancer models and in patients with breast cancer. These findings reveal unanticipated communication between stress-induced neural signalling and inflammation, which regulates tumour lymphatic architecture and lymphogenous tumour cell dissemination. These findings suggest that limiting the effects of SNS signalling to prevent tumour cell dissemination through lymphatic routes may provide a strategy to improve cancer outcomes.

Concepts: Metastasis, Lymph node, Breast cancer, Benign tumor, Neoplasm, Tumor, Oncology, Cancer


Conventional methods for histopathologic tissue diagnosis are labor- and time-intensive and can delay decision-making during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. We report the development of an automated and biocompatible handheld mass spectrometry device for rapid and nondestructive diagnosis of human cancer tissues. The device, named MasSpec Pen, enables controlled and automated delivery of a discrete water droplet to a tissue surface for efficient extraction of biomolecules. We used the MasSpec Pen for ex vivo molecular analysis of 20 human cancer thin tissue sections and 253 human patient tissue samples including normal and cancerous tissues from breast, lung, thyroid, and ovary. The mass spectra obtained presented rich molecular profiles characterized by a variety of potential cancer biomarkers identified as metabolites, lipids, and proteins. Statistical classifiers built from the histologically validated molecular database allowed cancer prediction with high sensitivity (96.4%), specificity (96.2%), and overall accuracy (96.3%), as well as prediction of benign and malignant thyroid tumors and different histologic subtypes of lung cancer. Notably, our classifier allowed accurate diagnosis of cancer in marginal tumor regions presenting mixed histologic composition. Last, we demonstrate that the MasSpec Pen is suited for in vivo cancer diagnosis during surgery performed in tumor-bearing mouse models, without causing any observable tissue harm or stress to the animal. Our results provide evidence that the MasSpec Pen could potentially be used as a clinical and intraoperative technology for ex vivo and in vivo cancer diagnosis.

Concepts: Tumor, Benign tumor, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Neoplasm, Oncology, Histology, Cancer


The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) has catalyzed systematic characterization of diverse genomic alterations underlying human cancers. At this historic junction marking the completion of genomic characterization of over 11,000 tumors from 33 cancer types, we present our current understanding of the molecular processes governing oncogenesis. We illustrate our insights into cancer through synthesis of the findings of the TCGA PanCancer Atlas project on three facets of oncogenesis: (1) somatic driver mutations, germline pathogenic variants, and their interactions in the tumor; (2) the influence of the tumor genome and epigenome on transcriptome and proteome; and (3) the relationship between tumor and the microenvironment, including implications for drugs targeting driver events and immunotherapies. These results will anchor future characterization of rare and common tumor types, primary and relapsed tumors, and cancers across ancestry groups and will guide the deployment of clinical genomic sequencing.

Concepts: The Cancer Genome Atlas, Brain tumor, Benign tumor, Genomics, Neoplasm, Oncology, Tumor, Cancer


Background Merkel-cell carcinoma is an aggressive skin cancer that is linked to exposure to ultraviolet light and the Merkel-cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Advanced Merkel-cell carcinoma often responds to chemotherapy, but responses are transient. Blocking the programmed death 1 (PD-1) immune inhibitory pathway is of interest, because these tumors often express PD-L1, and MCPyV-specific T cells express PD-1. Methods In this multicenter, phase 2, noncontrolled study, we assigned adults with advanced Merkel-cell carcinoma who had received no previous systemic therapy to receive pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1) at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight every 3 weeks. The primary end point was the objective response rate according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, version 1.1. Efficacy was correlated with tumor viral status, as assessed by serologic and immunohistochemical testing. Results A total of 26 patients received at least one dose of pembrolizumab. The objective response rate among the 25 patients with at least one evaluation during treatment was 56% (95% confidence interval [CI], 35 to 76); 4 patients had a complete response, and 10 had a partial response. With a median follow-up of 33 weeks (range, 7 to 53), relapses occurred in 2 of the 14 patients who had had a response (14%). The response duration ranged from at least 2.2 months to at least 9.7 months. The rate of progression-free survival at 6 months was 67% (95% CI, 49 to 86). A total of 17 of the 26 patients (65%) had virus-positive tumors. The response rate was 62% among patients with MCPyV-positive tumors (10 of 16 patients) and 44% among those with virus-negative tumors (4 of 9 patients). Drug-related grade 3 or 4 adverse events occurred in 15% of the patients. Conclusions In this study, first-line therapy with pembrolizumab in patients with advanced Merkel-cell carcinoma was associated with an objective response rate of 56%. Responses were observed in patients with virus-positive tumors and those with virus-negative tumors. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute and Merck; number, NCT02267603 .).

Concepts: National Institutes of Health, Benign tumor, Anatomical pathology, National Cancer Institute, Neoplasm, Tumor, Oncology, Cancer


The mechanisms by which melanoma and other cancer cells evade anti-tumor immunity remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that the growth of tumors formed by mutant Braf(V600E) mouse melanoma cells in an immunocompetent host requires their production of prostaglandin E2, which suppresses immunity and fuels tumor-promoting inflammation. Genetic ablation of cyclooxygenases (COX) or prostaglandin E synthases in Braf(V600E) mouse melanoma cells, as well as in Nras(G12D) melanoma or in breast or colorectal cancer cells, renders them susceptible to immune control and provokes a shift in the tumor inflammatory profile toward classic anti-cancer immune pathways. This mouse COX-dependent inflammatory signature is remarkably conserved in human cutaneous melanoma biopsies, arguing for COX activity as a driver of immune suppression across species. Pre-clinical data demonstrate that inhibition of COX synergizes with anti-PD-1 blockade in inducing eradication of tumors, implying that COX inhibitors could be useful adjuvants for immune-based therapies in cancer patients.

Concepts: Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Colorectal cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Immune system, Cancer


Background The management of metastatic breast cancer requires monitoring of the tumor burden to determine the response to treatment, and improved biomarkers are needed. Biomarkers such as cancer antigen 15-3 (CA 15-3) and circulating tumor cells have been widely studied. However, circulating cell-free DNA carrying tumor-specific alterations (circulating tumor DNA) has not been extensively investigated or compared with other circulating biomarkers in breast cancer. Methods We compared the radiographic imaging of tumors with the assay of circulating tumor DNA, CA 15-3, and circulating tumor cells in 30 women with metastatic breast cancer who were receiving systemic therapy. We used targeted or whole-genome sequencing to identify somatic genomic alterations and designed personalized assays to quantify circulating tumor DNA in serially collected plasma specimens. CA 15-3 levels and numbers of circulating tumor cells were measured at identical time points. Results Circulating tumor DNA was successfully detected in 29 of the 30 women (97%) in whom somatic genomic alterations were identified; CA 15-3 and circulating tumor cells were detected in 21 of 27 women (78%) and 26 of 30 women (87%), respectively. Circulating tumor DNA levels showed a greater dynamic range, and greater correlation with changes in tumor burden, than did CA 15-3 or circulating tumor cells. Among the measures tested, circulating tumor DNA provided the earliest measure of treatment response in 10 of 19 women (53%). Conclusions This proof-of-concept analysis showed that circulating tumor DNA is an informative, inherently specific, and highly sensitive biomarker of metastatic breast cancer. (Funded by Cancer Research UK and others.).

Concepts: Benign tumor, Chemotherapy, Neoplasm, Metastasis, Tumor, Breast cancer, Oncology, Cancer