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Concept: Prostate cancer


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 ; number, NCT02044172 .).

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


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


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


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


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


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


The relationship between body size and prostate cancer risk, and in particular risk by tumour characteristics, is not clear because most studies have not differentiated between high-grade or advanced stage tumours, but rather have assessed risk with a combined category of aggressive disease. We investigated the association of height and adiposity with incidence of and death from prostate cancer in 141,896 men in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Oncology, Nutrition, Obesity, Prostate cancer, Tumor, Neoplasm


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


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


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