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Concept: Tumor

455

Background The goal of screening mammography is to detect small malignant tumors before they grow large enough to cause symptoms. Effective screening should therefore lead to the detection of a greater number of small tumors, followed by fewer large tumors over time. Methods We used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, 1975 through 2012, to calculate the tumor-size distribution and size-specific incidence of breast cancer among women 40 years of age or older. We then calculated the size-specific cancer case fatality rate for two time periods: a baseline period before the implementation of widespread screening mammography (1975 through 1979) and a period encompassing the most recent years for which 10 years of follow-up data were available (2000 through 2002). Results After the advent of screening mammography, the proportion of detected breast tumors that were small (invasive tumors measuring <2 cm or in situ carcinomas) increased from 36% to 68%; the proportion of detected tumors that were large (invasive tumors measuring ≥2 cm) decreased from 64% to 32%. However, this trend was less the result of a substantial decrease in the incidence of large tumors (with 30 fewer cases of cancer observed per 100,000 women in the period after the advent of screening than in the period before screening) and more the result of a substantial increase in the detection of small tumors (with 162 more cases of cancer observed per 100,000 women). Assuming that the underlying disease burden was stable, only 30 of the 162 additional small tumors per 100,000 women that were diagnosed were expected to progress to become large, which implied that the remaining 132 cases of cancer per 100,000 women were overdiagnosed (i.e., cases of cancer were detected on screening that never would have led to clinical symptoms). The potential of screening to lower breast cancer mortality is reflected in the declining incidence of larger tumors. However, with respect to only these large tumors, the decline in the size-specific case fatality rate suggests that improved treatment was responsible for at least two thirds of the reduction in breast cancer mortality. Conclusions Although the rate of detection of large tumors fell after the introduction of screening mammography, the more favorable size distribution was primarily the result of the additional detection of small tumors. Women were more likely to have breast cancer that was overdiagnosed than to have earlier detection of a tumor that was destined to become large. The reduction in breast cancer mortality after the implementation of screening mammography was predominantly the result of improved systemic therapy.

Concepts: Tumor, Neoplasm, Metastasis, Epidemiology, Mammography, Oncology, Breast cancer, Cancer

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Payment for health care services, including oncology services, is shifting from volume-based fee-for-service to value-based accountable care. The objective of accountable care is to support providers with flexibility and resources to reform care delivery, accompanied by accountability for maintaining or improving outcomes while lowering costs. These changes depend on health care payers, systems, physicians, and patients having meaningful measures to assess care delivery and outcomes and to balance financial incentives for lowering costs while providing greater value. Gaps in accountable care measure sets may cause missed signals of problems in care and missed opportunities for improvement. Measures to balance financial incentives may be particularly important for oncology, where high cost and increasingly targeted diagnostics and therapeutics intersect with the highly complex and heterogeneous needs and preferences of cancer patients. Moreover, the concept of value in cancer care, defined as the measure of outcomes achieved per costs incurred, is rarely incorporated into performance measurement. This article analyzes gaps in oncology measures in accountable care, discusses challenging measurement issues, and offers strategies for improving oncology measurement. Discern Health analyzed gaps in accountable care measure sets for 10 cancer conditions that were selected based on incidence and prevalence; impact on cost and mortality; a diverse range of high-cost diagnostic procedures and treatment modalities (e.g., genomic tumor testing, molecularly targeted therapies, and stereotactic radiotherapy); and disparities or performance gaps in patient care. We identified gaps by comparing accountable care set measures with high-priority measurement opportunities derived from practice guidelines developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and other oncology specialty societies. We found significant gaps in accountable care measure sets across all 10 conditions. For each gap, we searched for available measures not already being used in programs. Where existing measures did not cover gaps, we recommended refinements to existing measures or proposed measures for development. We shared the results of the measure gap analysis with a roundtable of national experts in cancer care and oncology measurement. During a web meeting and an in-person meeting, the roundtable reviewed the gap analysis and identified priority opportunities for improving measurement. The group determined that overreliance on condition-specific process measures is problematic because of rapidly changing evidence and increasing personalization of cancer care. The group’s primary recommendation for enhancing measure sets was to prioritize and develop effective cross-cutting measures that assess clinical and patient-reported outcomes, including shared decision making, care planning, and symptom control. The group also prioritized certain safety and structural measures to complement condition-specific process measures. Further, the group explored strategies for using clinical pathways and devising layered measurement approaches to improve measurement for accountable care. This article presents the roundtable’s conclusions and recommendations for next steps.

Concepts: Chemotherapy, Cancer patient, Health insurance, Tumor, Health care, Cancer, Oncology, Medicine

263

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

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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

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BACKGROUND: Regardless of the availability of therapeutic options, the overall 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer remains less than 5%. Gum resins from Boswellia species, also known as frankincense, have been used as a major ingredient in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health-related conditions. Both frankincense chemical extracts and essential oil prepared from Boswellia species gum resins exhibit anti-neoplastic activity, and have been investigated as potential anti-cancer agents. The goals of this study are to identify optimal condition for preparing frankincense essential oil that possesses potent anti-tumor activity, and to evaluate the activity in both cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and a xenograft mouse cancer model. METHODS: Boswellia sacra gum resins were hydrodistilled at 78 [degree sign]C; and essential oil distillate fractions were collected at different durations (Fraction I at 0–2 h, Fraction II at 8–10 h, and Fraction III at 11–12 h). Hydrodistillation of the second half of gum resins was performed at 100 [degree sign]C; and distillate was collected at 11–12 h (Fraction IV). Chemical compositions were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS); and total boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Frankincense essential oil-modulated pancreatic tumor cell viability and cytotoxicity were determined by colorimetric assays. Levels of apoptotic markers, signaling molecules, and cell cycle regulators expression were characterized by Western blot analysis. A heterotopic (subcutaneous) human pancreatic cancer xenograft nude mouse model was used to evaluate anti-tumor capability of Fraction IV frankincense essential oil in vivo. Frankincense essential oil-induced tumor cytostatic and cytotoxic activities in animals were assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Longer duration and higher temperature hydrodistillation produced more abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, in frankincense essential oil fraactions. Human pancreatic cancer cells were sensitive to Fractions III and IV (containing higher molecular weight compounds) treatment with suppressed cell viability and increased cell death. Essential oil activated the caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway, induced a rapid and transient activation of Akt and Erk1/2, and suppressed levels of cyclin D1 cdk4 expression in cultured pancreatic cancer cells. In addition, Boswellia sacra essential oil Fraction IV exhibited anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities against pancreatic tumors in the heterotopic xenograft mouse model. CONCLUSION: All fractions of frankincense essential oil from Boswellia sacra are capable of suppressing viability and inducing apoptosis of a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Potency of essential oil-suppressed tumor cell viability may be associated with the greater abundance of high molecular weight compounds in Fractions III and IV. Although chemical component(s) responsible for tumor cell cytotoxicity remains undefined, crude essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins might be a useful alternative therapeutic agent for treating patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis.

Concepts: Tumor, Neoplasm, Chemotherapy, Cell cycle, Oncology, Apoptosis, Pancreatic cancer, Cancer

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Kinase inhibitors are effective cancer therapies, but tumors frequently develop resistance. Current strategies to circumvent resistance target the same or parallel pathways. We report here that targeting a completely different process, autophagy, can overcome multiple BRAF inhibitor resistance mechanisms in brain tumors. BRAF(V600E)mutations occur in many pediatric brain tumors. We previously reported that these tumors are autophagy-dependent and a patient was successfully treated with the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine after failure of the BRAF(V600E) inhibitor vemurafenib, suggesting autophagy inhibition overcame the kinase inhibitor resistance. We tested this hypothesis in vemurafenib-resistant brain tumors. Genetic and pharmacological autophagy inhibition overcame molecularly distinct resistance mechanisms, inhibited tumor cell growth, and increased cell death. Patients with resistance had favorable clinical responses when chloroquine was added to vemurafenib. This provides a fundamentally different strategy to circumvent multiple mechanisms of kinase inhibitor resistance that could be rapidly tested in clinical trials in patients with BRAF(V600E) brain tumors.

Concepts: Neoplasm, Inhibitor, Medicine, Enzyme inhibitor, Oncology, Brain tumor, Tumor, Cancer

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Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process that plays a housekeeping role in eliminating protein aggregates and organelles and is activated during nutrient deprivation to generate metabolites and energy. Autophagy plays a significant role in tumorigenesis, although opposing context-dependent functions of autophagy in cancer have complicated efforts to target autophagy for therapeutic purposes. We demonstrate that autophagy inhibition reduces tumor cell migration and invasion in vitro and attenuates metastasis in vivo. Numerous abnormally large focal adhesions (FAs) accumulate in autophagy-deficient tumor cells, reflecting a role for autophagy in FA disassembly through targeted degradation of paxillin. We demonstrate that paxillin interacts with processed LC3 through a conserved LIR motif in the amino-terminal end of paxillin and that this interaction is regulated by oncogenic SRC activity. Together, these data establish a function for autophagy in FA turnover, tumor cell motility, and metastasis.

Concepts: Breast cancer, Tumor, Protein, Organelle, Metastasis, Cell biology, Oncology, Cancer

181

A functionalized nanohydrogel siRNA delivery system and a mouse model of serous ovarian cancer were used to test predictions from previous cell line studies that knockdown of EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) may be of clinical significance in the treatment of epithelial tumors especially with respect to the enhancement of platinum based therapies. Our results support these predictions and suggest that targeted delivery of EGFR siRNA may be an effective strategy for the treatment of ovarian and other epithelial tumors associated with elevated levels of EGFR and especially those demonstrating resistance to platinum-based therapies.

Concepts: Tumor, Signal transduction, Growth factor receptor, Cancer, Growth factor, Immune system, Epidermal growth factor, Epidermal growth factor receptor

181

Cushing disease (CD) is a life-threatening disorder attributed to excess pituitary tumor-derived adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and adrenal steroid secretion caused by pituitary tumors. Whereas CD was first described in 1932, the underlying genetic basis driving tumor growth and ACTH secretion remains unsolved. Here, we show that testicular orphan nuclear receptor 4 (TR4, nuclear receptor subfamily 2, group C, member 2) is overexpressed in human corticotroph tumors as well as in human and mouse corticotroph tumor cell lines. Forced overexpression of TR4 in both human and murine tumor cells increased proopiomelanocortin transcription, ACTH secretion, cellular proliferation, and tumor invasion rates in vitro. Conversely, knockdown of TR4 expression reversed all phenotypes. Mechanistically, we show that TR4 transcriptionally activates proopiomelanocortin through binding of a direct repeat 1 response element in the promoter, and that this is enhanced by MAPK-mediated TR4 phosphorylation. In vivo, TR4 overexpression promotes murine corticotroph tumor growth as well as enhances ACTH and corticosterone production, whereas TR4 knockdown decreases circulating ACTH and corticosterone levels in mice harboring ACTH-secreting tumors. Our findings directly link TR4 to the etiology of corticotroph tumors, hormone secretion, and cell growth as well as identify it as a potential target in the treatment of CD.

Concepts: Tumor, Gene, Gene expression, Adrenocorticotropic hormone, Adrenal cortex, Hypothalamus, Cortisol, Cancer

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Acquired resistance is one of the major barriers to successful cancer therapy. The development of resistance is commonly attributed to genetic heterogeneity. However, heterogeneity of drug penetration of the tumor microenvironment both on the microscopic level within solid tumors as well as on the macroscopic level across metastases may also contribute to acquired drug resistance. Here we use mathematical models to investigate the effect of drug heterogeneity on the probability of escape from treatment and the time to resistance. Specifically we address scenarios with sufficiently potent therapies that suppress growth of all preexisting genetic variants in the compartment with the highest possible drug concentration. To study the joint effect of drug heterogeneity, growth rate, and evolution of resistance, we analyze a multi-type stochastic branching process describing growth of cancer cells in multiple compartments with different drug concentrations and limited migration between compartments. We show that resistance is likely to arise first in the sanctuary compartment with poor drug penetrations and from there populate non-sanctuary compartments with high drug concentrations. Moreover, we show that only below a threshold rate of cell migration does spatial heterogeneity accelerate resistance evolution, otherwise deterring drug resistance with excessively high migration rates. Our results provide new insights into understanding why cancers tend to quickly become resistant, and that cell migration and the presence of sanctuary sites with little drug exposure are essential to this end.

Concepts: Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Brain tumor, Benign tumor, Neoplasm, Tumor, Oncology, Cancer