Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Lung cancer


Background Pembrolizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against programmed death 1 (PD-1) that has antitumor activity in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with increased activity in tumors that express programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Methods In this open-label, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 305 patients who had previously untreated advanced NSCLC with PD-L1 expression on at least 50% of tumor cells and no sensitizing mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor gene or translocation of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene to receive either pembrolizumab (at a fixed dose of 200 mg every 3 weeks) or the investigator’s choice of platinum-based chemotherapy. Crossover from the chemotherapy group to the pembrolizumab group was permitted in the event of disease progression. The primary end point, progression-free survival, was assessed by means of blinded, independent, central radiologic review. Secondary end points were overall survival, objective response rate, and safety. Results Median progression-free survival was 10.3 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.7 to not reached) in the pembrolizumab group versus 6.0 months (95% CI, 4.2 to 6.2) in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.37 to 0.68; P<0.001). The estimated rate of overall survival at 6 months was 80.2% in the pembrolizumab group versus 72.4% in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio for death, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.89; P=0.005). The response rate was higher in the pembrolizumab group than in the chemotherapy group (44.8% vs. 27.8%), the median duration of response was longer (not reached [range, 1.9+ to 14.5+ months] vs. 6.3 months [range, 2.1+ to 12.6+]), and treatment-related adverse events of any grade were less frequent (occurring in 73.4% vs. 90.0% of patients), as were grade 3, 4, or 5 treatment-related adverse events (26.6% vs. 53.3%). Conclusions In patients with advanced NSCLC and PD-L1 expression on at least 50% of tumor cells, pembrolizumab was associated with significantly longer progression-free and overall survival and with fewer adverse events than was platinum-based chemotherapy. (Funded by Merck; KEYNOTE-024 number, NCT02142738 .).

Concepts: Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Monoclonal antibodies, Epidermal growth factor, Immune system, Lung cancer, Oncology, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Cancer


Dust and surfaces are important sources of lead and pesticide exposure in young children. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate if third-hand smoke (THS) pollutants accumulate on the hands of children who live in environments where tobacco is used and if hand nicotine levels are associated with second-hand smoke (SHS), as measured by salivary cotinine.

Concepts: Soil contamination, Tobacco industry, Asthma, Lung cancer, Tobacco smoking, Smoking, Nicotine, Tobacco


Background Osimertinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI) that is selective for both EGFR-TKI sensitizing and T790M resistance mutations in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. The efficacy of osimertinib as compared with platinum-based therapy plus pemetrexed in such patients is unknown. Methods In this randomized, international, open-label, phase 3 trial, we assigned 419 patients with T790M-positive advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, who had disease progression after first-line EGFR-TKI therapy, in a 2:1 ratio to receive either oral osimertinib (at a dose of 80 mg once daily) or intravenous pemetrexed (500 mg per square meter of body-surface area) plus either carboplatin (target area under the curve, 5 [AUC5]) or cisplatin (75 mg per square meter) every 3 weeks for up to six cycles; maintenance pemetrexed was allowed. In all the patients, disease had progressed during receipt of first-line EGFR-TKI therapy. The primary end point was investigator-assessed progression-free survival. Results The median duration of progression-free survival was significantly longer with osimertinib than with platinum therapy plus pemetrexed (10.1 months vs. 4.4 months; hazard ratio; 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23 to 0.41; P<0.001). The objective response rate was significantly better with osimertinib (71%; 95% CI, 65 to 76) than with platinum therapy plus pemetrexed (31%; 95% CI, 24 to 40) (odds ratio for objective response, 5.39; 95% CI, 3.47 to 8.48; P<0.001). Among 144 patients with metastases to the central nervous system (CNS), the median duration of progression-free survival was longer among patients receiving osimertinib than among those receiving platinum therapy plus pemetrexed (8.5 months vs. 4.2 months; hazard ratio, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.49). The proportion of patients with adverse events of grade 3 or higher was lower with osimertinib (23%) than with platinum therapy plus pemetrexed (47%). Conclusions Osimertinib had significantly greater efficacy than platinum therapy plus pemetrexed in patients with T790M-positive advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (including those with CNS metastases) in whom disease had progressed during first-line EGFR-TKI therapy. (Funded by AstraZeneca; AURA3 number, NCT02151981 .).

Concepts: Epidermal growth factor, Cisplatin, Central nervous system, Epidemiology, Lung cancer, Signal transduction, Epidermal growth factor receptor, Cancer


Background Bronchoscopy is frequently nondiagnostic in patients with pulmonary lesions suspected to be lung cancer. This often results in additional invasive testing, although many lesions are benign. We sought to validate a bronchial-airway gene-expression classifier that could improve the diagnostic performance of bronchoscopy. Methods Current or former smokers undergoing bronchoscopy for suspected lung cancer were enrolled at 28 centers in two multicenter prospective studies (AEGIS-1 and AEGIS-2). A gene-expression classifier was measured in epithelial cells collected from the normal-appearing mainstem bronchus to assess the probability of lung cancer. Results A total of 639 patients in AEGIS-1 (298 patients) and AEGIS-2 (341 patients) met the criteria for inclusion. A total of 43% of bronchoscopic examinations were nondiagnostic for lung cancer, and invasive procedures were performed after bronchoscopy in 35% of patients with benign lesions. In AEGIS-1, the classifier had an area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.78 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.73 to 0.83), a sensitivity of 88% (95% CI, 83 to 92), and a specificity of 47% (95% CI, 37 to 58). In AEGIS-2, the classifier had an AUC of 0.74 (95% CI, 0.68 to 0.80), a sensitivity of 89% (95% CI, 84 to 92), and a specificity of 47% (95% CI, 36 to 59). The combination of the classifier plus bronchoscopy had a sensitivity of 96% (95% CI, 93 to 98) in AEGIS-1 and 98% (95% CI, 96 to 99) in AEGIS-2, independent of lesion size and location. In 101 patients with an intermediate pretest probability of cancer, the negative predictive value of the classifier was 91% (95% CI, 75 to 98) among patients with a nondiagnostic bronchoscopic examination. Conclusions The gene-expression classifier improved the diagnostic performance of bronchoscopy for the detection of lung cancer. In intermediate-risk patients with a nondiagnostic bronchoscopic examination, a negative classifier score provides support for a more conservative diagnostic approach. (Funded by Allegro Diagnostics and others; AEGIS-1 and AEGIS-2 numbers, NCT01309087 and NCT00746759 .).

Concepts: Carcinoma, Lesion, Pulmonology, Sensitivity and specificity, Lung, Positive predictive value, Negative predictive value, Lung cancer


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

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


Contemporary information on the fraction of cancers that potentially could be prevented is useful for priority setting in cancer prevention and control. Herein, the authors estimate the proportion and number of invasive cancer cases and deaths, overall (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) and for 26 cancer types, in adults aged 30 years and older in the United States in 2014, that were attributable to major, potentially modifiable exposures (cigarette smoking; secondhand smoke; excess body weight; alcohol intake; consumption of red and processed meat; low consumption of fruits/vegetables, dietary fiber, and dietary calcium; physical inactivity; ultraviolet radiation; and 6 cancer-associated infections). The numbers of cancer cases were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute; the numbers of deaths were obtained from the CDC; risk factor prevalence estimates were obtained from nationally representative surveys; and associated relative risks of cancer were obtained from published, large-scale pooled analyses or meta-analyses. In the United States in 2014, an estimated 42.0% of all incident cancers (659,640 of 1570,975 cancers, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) and 45.1% of cancer deaths (265,150 of 587,521 deaths) were attributable to evaluated risk factors. Cigarette smoking accounted for the highest proportion of cancer cases (19.0%; 298,970 cases) and deaths (28.8%; 169,180 deaths), followed by excess body weight (7.8% and 6.5%, respectively) and alcohol intake (5.6% and 4.0%, respectively). Lung cancer had the highest number of cancers (184,970 cases) and deaths (132,960 deaths) attributable to evaluated risk factors, followed by colorectal cancer (76,910 cases and 28,290 deaths). These results, however, may underestimate the overall proportion of cancers attributable to modifiable factors, because the impact of all established risk factors could not be quantified, and many likely modifiable risk factors are not yet firmly established as causal. Nevertheless, these findings underscore the vast potential for reducing cancer morbidity and mortality through broad and equitable implementation of known preventive measures. CA Cancer J Clin 2017. © 2017 American Cancer Society.

Concepts: Obesity, Tobacco, The Canon of Medicine, American Cancer Society, Tobacco smoking, Epidemiology, Lung cancer, Cancer


Immune evasion is a hallmark of cancer. Losing the ability to present neoantigens through human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loss may facilitate immune evasion. However, the polymorphic nature of the locus has precluded accurate HLA copy-number analysis. Here, we present loss of heterozygosity in human leukocyte antigen (LOHHLA), a computational tool to determine HLA allele-specific copy number from sequencing data. Using LOHHLA, we find that HLA LOH occurs in 40% of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and is associated with a high subclonal neoantigen burden, APOBEC-mediated mutagenesis, upregulation of cytolytic activity, and PD-L1 positivity. The focal nature of HLA LOH alterations, their subclonal frequencies, enrichment in metastatic sites, and occurrence as parallel events suggests that HLA LOH is an immune escape mechanism that is subject to strong microenvironmental selection pressures later in tumor evolution. Characterizing HLA LOH with LOHHLA refines neoantigen prediction and may have implications for our understanding of resistance mechanisms and immunotherapeutic approaches targeting neoantigens. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Concepts: Immunology, Mutation, Cancer staging, Metastasis, Human leukocyte antigen, Immune system, Lung cancer, Cancer


Objective To quantify the impact of cancer (all cancers combined and major sites) compared with cardiovascular disease (CVD) on longevity worldwide during 1981-2010.Design Retrospective demographic analysis using aggregated data.Setting National civil registration systems in member states of the World Health Organization.Participants 52 populations with moderate to high quality data on cause specific mortality.Main outcome measures Disease specific contributions to changes in life expectancy in ages 40-84 (LE40-84) over time in populations grouped by two levels of Human Development Index (HDI) values.Results Declining CVD mortality rates during 1981-2010 contributed to, on average, over half of the gains in LE40-84; the corresponding gains were 2.3 (men) and 1.7 (women) years, and 0.5 (men) and 0.8 (women) years in very high and medium and high HDI populations, respectively. Declines in cancer mortality rates contributed to, on average, 20% of the gains in LE40-84, or 0.8 (men) and 0.5 (women) years in very high HDI populations, and to over 10% or 0.2 years (both sexes) in medium and high HDI populations. Declining lung cancer mortality rates brought about the largest LE40-84 gain in men in very high HDI populations (up to 0.7 years in the Netherlands), whereas in medium and high HDI populations its contribution was smaller yet still positive. Among women, declines in breast cancer mortality rates were largely responsible for the improvement in longevity, particularly among very high HDI populations (up to 0.3 years in the United Kingdom). In contrast, losses in LE40-84 were observed in many medium and high HDI populations as a result of increasing breast cancer mortality rates.Conclusions The control of CVD has led to substantial gains in LE40-84 worldwide. The inequality in improvement in longevity attributed to declining cancer mortality rates reflects inequities in implementation of cancer control, particularly in less resourced populations and in women. Global actions are needed to revitalize efforts for cancer control, with a specific focus on less resourced countries.

Concepts: Breast cancer, Metastasis, Human Development Index, Cancer staging, Lung cancer, Demography, Cancer, Life expectancy


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies in Western countries. Over the last 20 years, and the last decade in particular, the clinical outcome for patients with metastatic CRC (mCRC) has improved greatly due not only to an increase in the number of patients being referred for and undergoing surgical resection of their localised metastatic disease but also to a more strategic approach to the delivery of systemic therapy and an expansion in the use of ablative techniques. This reflects the increase in the number of patients that are being managed within a multidisciplinary team environment and specialist cancer centres, and the emergence over the same time period not only of improved imaging techniques but also prognostic and predictive molecular markers. Treatment decisions for patients with mCRC must be evidence-based. Thus, these ESMO consensus guidelines have been developed based on the current available evidence to provide a series of evidence-based recommendations to assist in the treatment and management of patients with mCRC in this rapidly evolving treatment setting.

Concepts: Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer, Oncology, Metastasis, Breast cancer, Colorectal cancer, Lung cancer, Cancer


Background Nivolumab, a fully human IgG4 programmed death 1 (PD-1) immune-checkpoint-inhibitor antibody, disrupts PD-1-mediated signaling and may restore antitumor immunity. Methods In this randomized, open-label, international phase 3 study, we assigned patients with nonsquamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that had progressed during or after platinum-based doublet chemotherapy to receive nivolumab at a dose of 3 mg per kilogram of body weight every 2 weeks or docetaxel at a dose of 75 mg per square meter of body-surface area every 3 weeks. The primary end point was overall survival. Results Overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. The median overall survival was 12.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.7 to 15.0) among 292 patients in the nivolumab group and 9.4 months (95% CI, 8.1 to 10.7) among 290 patients in the docetaxel group (hazard ratio for death, 0.73; 96% CI, 0.59 to 0.89; P=0.002). At 1 year, the overall survival rate was 51% (95% CI, 45 to 56) with nivolumab versus 39% (95% CI, 33 to 45) with docetaxel. With additional follow-up, the overall survival rate at 18 months was 39% (95% CI, 34 to 45) with nivolumab versus 23% (95% CI, 19 to 28) with docetaxel. The response rate was 19% with nivolumab versus 12% with docetaxel (P=0.02). Although progression-free survival did not favor nivolumab over docetaxel (median, 2.3 months and 4.2 months, respectively), the rate of progression-free survival at 1 year was higher with nivolumab than with docetaxel (19% and 8%, respectively). Nivolumab was associated with even greater efficacy than docetaxel across all end points in subgroups defined according to prespecified levels of tumor-membrane expression (≥1%, ≥5%, and ≥10%) of the PD-1 ligand. Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 were reported in 10% of the patients in the nivolumab group, as compared with 54% of those in the docetaxel group. Conclusions Among patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC that had progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy, overall survival was longer with nivolumab than with docetaxel. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 057 number, NCT01673867 .).

Concepts: Adenocarcinoma, Immune system, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Lung cancer, Chemotherapy, Cancer, Paclitaxel