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Concept: Prostate cancer

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Background The comparative effectiveness of treatments for prostate cancer that is detected by prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing remains uncertain. Methods We compared active monitoring, radical prostatectomy, and external-beam radiotherapy for the treatment of clinically localized prostate cancer. Between 1999 and 2009, a total of 82,429 men 50 to 69 years of age received a PSA test; 2664 received a diagnosis of localized prostate cancer, and 1643 agreed to undergo randomization to active monitoring (545 men), surgery (553), or radiotherapy (545). The primary outcome was prostate-cancer mortality at a median of 10 years of follow-up. Secondary outcomes included the rates of disease progression, metastases, and all-cause deaths. Results There were 17 prostate-cancer-specific deaths overall: 8 in the active-monitoring group (1.5 deaths per 1000 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7 to 3.0), 5 in the surgery group (0.9 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 0.4 to 2.2), and 4 in the radiotherapy group (0.7 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 0.3 to 2.0); the difference among the groups was not significant (P=0.48 for the overall comparison). In addition, no significant difference was seen among the groups in the number of deaths from any cause (169 deaths overall; P=0.87 for the comparison among the three groups). Metastases developed in more men in the active-monitoring group (33 men; 6.3 events per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 4.5 to 8.8) than in the surgery group (13 men; 2.4 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 1.4 to 4.2) or the radiotherapy group (16 men; 3.0 per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 1.9 to 4.9) (P=0.004 for the overall comparison). Higher rates of disease progression were seen in the active-monitoring group (112 men; 22.9 events per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 19.0 to 27.5) than in the surgery group (46 men; 8.9 events per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 6.7 to 11.9) or the radiotherapy group (46 men; 9.0 events per 1000 person-years; 95% CI, 6.7 to 12.0) (P<0.001 for the overall comparison). Conclusions At a median of 10 years, prostate-cancer-specific mortality was low irrespective of the treatment assigned, with no significant difference among treatments. Surgery and radiotherapy were associated with lower incidences of disease progression and metastases than was active monitoring. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN20141297 ; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02044172 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Prostate cancer, Urology, Radiation therapy, Screening, Benign prostatic hyperplasia, Prostate-specific antigen

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Research on a possible causal association between alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer is inconclusive. Recent studies on associations between alcohol consumption and other health outcomes suggest these are influenced by drinker misclassification errors and other study quality characteristics. The influence of these factors on estimates of the relationship between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer has not been previously investigated.

Concepts: Alcohol, Epidemiology, Cancer, Metastasis, Prostate cancer, Alcoholism, Beer, Vodka

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Male pattern baldness can have substantial psychosocial effects, and it has been phenotypically linked to adverse health outcomes such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. We explored the genetic architecture of the trait using data from over 52,000 male participants of UK Biobank, aged 40-69 years. We identified over 250 independent genetic loci associated with severe hair loss (P<5x10-8). By splitting the cohort into a discovery sample of 40,000 and target sample of 12,000, we developed a prediction algorithm based entirely on common genetic variants that discriminated (AUC = 0.78, sensitivity = 0.74, specificity = 0.69, PPV = 59%, NPV = 82%) those with no hair loss from those with severe hair loss. The results of this study might help identify those at greatest risk of hair loss, and also potential genetic targets for intervention.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Prostate cancer, Alopecia, Baldness, Androgenic alopecia, Baldness treatments, Minoxidil

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

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Genomic instability is a hallmark of cancer often associated with poor patient outcome and resistance to targeted therapy. Assessment of genomic instability in bulk tumor or biopsy can be complicated due to sample availability, surrounding tissue contamination, or tumor heterogeneity. The Epic Sciences circulating tumor cell (CTC) platform utilizes a non-enrichment based approach for the detection and characterization of rare tumor cells in clinical blood samples. Genomic profiling of individual CTCs could provide a portrait of cancer heterogeneity, identify clonal and sub-clonal drivers, and monitor disease progression. To that end, we developed a single cell Copy Number Variation (CNV) Assay to evaluate genomic instability and CNVs in patient CTCs. For proof of concept, prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP, PC3 and VCaP, were spiked into healthy donor blood to create mock patient-like samples for downstream single cell genomic analysis. In addition, samples from seven metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients were included to evaluate clinical feasibility. CTCs were enumerated and characterized using the Epic Sciences CTC Platform. Identified single CTCs were recovered, whole genome amplified, and sequenced using an Illumina NextSeq 500. CTCs were then analyzed for genome-wide copy number variations, followed by genomic instability analyses. Large-scale state transitions (LSTs) were measured as surrogates of genomic instability. Genomic instability scores were determined reproducibly for LNCaP, PC3, and VCaP, and were higher than white blood cell (WBC) controls from healthy donors. A wide range of LST scores were observed within and among the seven mCRPC patient samples. On the gene level, loss of the PTEN tumor suppressor was observed in PC3 and 5/7 (71%) patients. Amplification of the androgen receptor (AR) gene was observed in VCaP cells and 5/7 (71%) mCRPC patients. Using an in silico down-sampling approach, we determined that DNA copy number and genomic instability can be detected with as few as 350K sequencing reads. The data shown here demonstrate the feasibility of detecting genomic instabilities at the single cell level using the Epic Sciences CTC Platform. Understanding CTC heterogeneity has great potential for patient stratification prior to treatment with targeted therapies and for monitoring disease evolution during treatment.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Copy number variation, Human genome, Prostate cancer, Tumor

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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; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00887198 .).

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

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

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

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Discordant trends in the incidence of metastatic breast and prostate cancer since the widespread implementation of early-detection efforts may reflect distinct disease dynamics or may result from the different screening strategies used.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, BRCA2, Screening

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Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) induces apoptosis in a variety of cancer cell lines with little or no effect on normal cells. However, its effect is limited as some cancers including pancreatic cancer show de novo resistance to TRAIL induced apoptosis. In this study we report that GSK-3 inhibition using the pharmacologic agent AR-18, enhanced TRAIL sensitivity in a range of pancreatic and prostate cancer cell lines. This sensitization was found to be caspase-dependent, and both pharmacological and genetic knock-down of GSK-3 isoforms resulted in apoptotic features as shown by cleavage of PARP and caspase-3. Elevated levels of reactive oxygen intermediates and disturbance of mitochondrial membrane potential point to a mitochondrial amplification loop for TRAIL-induced apoptosis after GSK-3 inhibition. Consistent with this, overexpression of anti-apoptotic mitochondrial targets such as Bcl-XL, Mcl-1, and Bcl-2 rescued PANC-1 and PPC-1 cells from TRAIL sensitization. However, overexpression of the caspase-8 inhibitor CrmA also inhibited the sensitizing effects of GSK-3 inhibitor, suggesting an additional role for GSK-3 that inhibits death receptor signaling. Acute treatment of mice bearing PANC-1 xenografts with a combination of AR-18 and TRAIL also resulted in a significant increase in apoptosis, as measured by caspase-3 cleavage. Sensitization to TRAIL occurred despite an increase in β-catenin due to GSK-3 inhibition, suggesting that the approach might be effective even in cancers with dysregulated β-catenin. These results suggest that GSK-3 inhibitors might be effectively combined with TRAIL for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Apoptosis, Obesity, Prostate cancer, Enzyme inhibitor

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To evaluate the incidence of leukoencephalopathy after whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) in patients with brain metastases.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Cervical cancer, Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer, Melanoma