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Concept: Metastasis


Background Apalutamide, a competitive inhibitor of the androgen receptor, is under development for the treatment of prostate cancer. We evaluated the efficacy of apalutamide in men with nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who were at high risk for the development of metastasis. Methods We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial involving men with nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and a prostate-specific antigen doubling time of 10 months or less. Patients were randomly assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, to receive apalutamide (240 mg per day) or placebo. All the patients continued to receive androgen-deprivation therapy. The primary end point was metastasis-free survival, which was defined as the time from randomization to the first detection of distant metastasis on imaging or death. Results A total of 1207 men underwent randomization (806 to the apalutamide group and 401 to the placebo group). In the planned primary analysis, which was performed after 378 events had occurred, median metastasis-free survival was 40.5 months in the apalutamide group as compared with 16.2 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio for metastasis or death, 0.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23 to 0.35; P<0.001). Time to symptomatic progression was significantly longer with apalutamide than with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.63; P<0.001). The rate of adverse events leading to discontinuation of the trial regimen was 10.6% in the apalutamide group and 7.0% in the placebo group. The following adverse events occurred at a higher rate with apalutamide than with placebo: rash (23.8% vs. 5.5%), hypothyroidism (8.1% vs. 2.0%), and fracture (11.7% vs. 6.5%). Conclusions Among men with nonmetastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, metastasis-free survival and time to symptomatic progression were significantly longer with apalutamide than with placebo. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; SPARTAN number, NCT01946204 .).

Concepts: Prostate-specific antigen, Placebo, Testosterone, Clinical trial, Metastasis, Cancer, Androgen, Prostate cancer


Metastasis through the bloodstream contributes to poor prognosis in many types of cancer. Mounting evidence implicates selectin-based adhesive interactions between cancer cells and the blood vessel wall as facilitating this process, in a manner similar to leukocyte trafficking during inflammation. Here, we describe a unique approach to target and kill colon and prostate cancer cells in the blood that causes circulating leukocytes to present the cancer-specific TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) on their surface along with E-selectin adhesion receptor. This approach, demonstrated in vitro with human blood and also in mice, mimics the cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells and increases the surface area available for delivery of the receptor-mediated signal. The resulting “unnatural killer cells” hold promise as an effective means to neutralize circulating tumor cells that enter blood with the potential to form new metastases.

Concepts: Metastasis, Oncology, Lymphocyte, Blood vessel, Prostate cancer, Blood, Cancer, Immune system


Background Somatic mutations have the potential to encode “non-self” immunogenic antigens. We hypothesized that tumors with a large number of somatic mutations due to mismatch-repair defects may be susceptible to immune checkpoint blockade. Methods We conducted a phase 2 study to evaluate the clinical activity of pembrolizumab, an anti-programmed death 1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, in 41 patients with progressive metastatic carcinoma with or without mismatch-repair deficiency. Pembrolizumab was administered intravenously at a dose of 10 mg per kilogram of body weight every 14 days in patients with mismatch repair-deficient colorectal cancers, patients with mismatch repair-proficient colorectal cancers, and patients with mismatch repair-deficient cancers that were not colorectal. The coprimary end points were the immune-related objective response rate and the 20-week immune-related progression-free survival rate. Results The immune-related objective response rate and immune-related progression-free survival rate were 40% (4 of 10 patients) and 78% (7 of 9 patients), respectively, for mismatch repair-deficient colorectal cancers and 0% (0 of 18 patients) and 11% (2 of 18 patients) for mismatch repair-proficient colorectal cancers. The median progression-free survival and overall survival were not reached in the cohort with mismatch repair-deficient colorectal cancer but were 2.2 and 5.0 months, respectively, in the cohort with mismatch repair-proficient colorectal cancer (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.10 [P<0.001], and hazard ratio for death, 0.22 [P=0.05]). Patients with mismatch repair-deficient noncolorectal cancer had responses similar to those of patients with mismatch repair-deficient colorectal cancer (immune-related objective response rate, 71% [5 of 7 patients]; immune-related progression-free survival rate, 67% [4 of 6 patients]). Whole-exome sequencing revealed a mean of 1782 somatic mutations per tumor in mismatch repair-deficient tumors, as compared with 73 in mismatch repair-proficient tumors (P=0.007), and high somatic mutation loads were associated with prolonged progression-free survival (P=0.02). Conclusions This study showed that mismatch-repair status predicted clinical benefit of immune checkpoint blockade with pembrolizumab. (Funded by Johns Hopkins University and others; number, NCT01876511 .).

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Metastasis, Neoplasm, Oncology, Colorectal cancer, Immune system, Mutation, 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


Background Abiraterone acetate, an androgen biosynthesis inhibitor, improves overall survival in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer after chemotherapy. We evaluated this agent in patients who had not received previous chemotherapy. Methods In this double-blind study, we randomly assigned 1088 patients to receive abiraterone acetate (1000 mg) plus prednisone (5 mg twice daily) or placebo plus prednisone. The coprimary end points were radiographic progression-free survival and overall survival. Results The study was unblinded after a planned interim analysis that was performed after 43% of the expected deaths had occurred. The median radiographic progression-free survival was 16.5 months with abiraterone-prednisone and 8.3 months with prednisone alone (hazard ratio for abiraterone-prednisone vs. prednisone alone, 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.62; P<0.001). Over a median follow-up period of 22.2 months, overall survival was improved with abiraterone-prednisone (median not reached, vs. 27.2 months for prednisone alone; hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.93; P=0.01) but did not cross the efficacy boundary. Abiraterone-prednisone showed superiority over prednisone alone with respect to time to initiation of cytotoxic chemotherapy, opiate use for cancer-related pain, prostate-specific antigen progression, and decline in performance status. Grade 3 or 4 mineralocorticoid-related adverse events and abnormalities on liver-function testing were more common with abiraterone-prednisone. Conclusions Abiraterone improved radiographic progression-free survival, showed a trend toward improved overall survival, and significantly delayed clinical decline and initiation of chemotherapy in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development, formerly Cougar Biotechnology; number, NCT00887198 .).

Concepts: Androgen, Prostate-specific antigen, Radiation therapy, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Metastasis, Cancer, Prostate cancer


To develop and validate a genetic tool to predict age of onset of aggressive prostate cancer (PCa) and to guide decisions of who to screen and at what age.

Concepts: Obesity, Overdiagnosis, Radiation therapy, Metastasis, Transcription factor, Screening, Cancer, Prostate cancer


Background Abiraterone acetate, a drug that blocks endogenous androgen synthesis, plus prednisone is indicated for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. We evaluated the clinical benefit of abiraterone acetate plus prednisone with androgen-deprivation therapy in patients with newly diagnosed, metastatic, castration-sensitive prostate cancer. Methods In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 1199 patients to receive either androgen-deprivation therapy plus abiraterone acetate (1000 mg daily, given once daily as four 250-mg tablets) plus prednisone (5 mg daily) (the abiraterone group) or androgen-deprivation therapy plus dual placebos (the placebo group). The two primary end points were overall survival and radiographic progression-free survival. Results After a median follow-up of 30.4 months at a planned interim analysis (after 406 patients had died), the median overall survival was significantly longer in the abiraterone group than in the placebo group (not reached vs. 34.7 months) (hazard ratio for death, 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51 to 0.76; P<0.001). The median length of radiographic progression-free survival was 33.0 months in the abiraterone group and 14.8 months in the placebo group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.55; P<0.001). Significantly better outcomes in all secondary end points were observed in the abiraterone group, including the time until pain progression, next subsequent therapy for prostate cancer, initiation of chemotherapy, and prostate-specific antigen progression (P<0.001 for all comparisons), along with next symptomatic skeletal events (P=0.009). These findings led to the unanimous recommendation by the independent data and safety monitoring committee that the trial be unblinded and crossover be allowed for patients in the placebo group to receive abiraterone. Rates of grade 3 hypertension and hypokalemia were higher in the abiraterone group. Conclusions The addition of abiraterone acetate and prednisone to androgen-deprivation therapy significantly increased overall survival and radiographic progression-free survival in men with newly diagnosed, metastatic, castration-sensitive prostate cancer. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; LATITUDE number, NCT01715285 .).

Concepts: Androgen, Prostate-specific antigen, Clinical trial, Chemotherapy, Metastasis, Placebo, Cancer, Prostate cancer



 To determine the association between vasectomy and prostate cancer, adjusting for measures of health seeking behaviour.

Concepts: Obesity, Clinical trial, Screening, Radiation therapy, Metastasis, Cancer, Epidemiology, Prostate cancer


There is limited available information on patterns of utilization and efficacy of alternative medicine (AM) for patients with cancer. We identified 281 patients with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer who chose AM, administered as sole anticancer treatment among patients who did not receive conventional cancer treatment (CCT), defined as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy. Independent covariates on multivariable logistic regression associated with increased likelihood of AM use included breast or lung cancer, higher socioeconomic status, Intermountain West or Pacific location, stage II or III disease, and low comorbidity score. Following 2:1 matching (CCT = 560 patients and AM = 280 patients) on Cox proportional hazards regression, AM use was independently associated with greater risk of death compared with CCT overall (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.88 to 3.27) and in subgroups with breast (HR = 5.68, 95% CI = 3.22 to 10.04), lung (HR = 2.17, 95% CI = 1.42 to 3.32), and colorectal cancer (HR = 4.57, 95% CI = 1.66 to 12.61). Although rare, AM utilization for curable cancer without any CCT is associated with greater risk of death.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Radiation therapy, Chemotherapy, Oncology, Cancer staging, Metastasis, Cancer