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Journal: Expert review of anticancer therapy


Therapeutic options for clinical Stage I nonseminomatous germ cell tumor include active surveillance, adjuvant chemotherapy and retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND). Lymphovascular invasion (LVI) determines risk of recurrence, as those without LVI have 15% risk of relapse on surveillance while those with LVI have a 50% risk. This stratifies patients into high risk(LVI+) and low risk(LVI-) groups which direct treatment recommendations. Surveillance is preferred for those with low risk disease, and is an option for those with high risk disease, as at least half are over-treated with other options. Adjuvant chemotherapy is an option for all patients as it can eradicate micrometastatic disease and reduce recurrence by at least 90%. RPLND benefits patients with low volume retroperitoneal disease with a cure rate of RPLND alone at approximately 70%. All three treatment modalities have similar survival rates approaching 100% but differing potential morbidities, which, along with patient preferences and compliance, should guide treatment decisions.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Cure, Germ cell tumor, Germ cell, Mediastinal germ cell tumor


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive malignancy of the pleura and other serosal membranes originating from mesothelial cells that, despite decades of research, continues to have limited therapeutic options and is associated with a poor prognosis. Areas covered: MMs induce a strong inflammatory response that is also associated with neoangiogenesis and activation of proangiogenic factors. Given this, several anti-angiogenic agents have been trialled in a variety of malignancies including mesothelioma. Herein we summarise the role of angiogenesis in MM and the current available data targeting these pathways. Expert commentary: The addition of bevacizumab to cisplatin/pemetrexed chemotherapy is currently a therapeutic option with a proven 2.7 month overall survival benefit in fit patients less than 75. Other antiangiogenics such as nintedinib show early promise, although the Phase III trial results are eagerly awaited before this therapy enters treatment paradigms. Beyond this, it is likely that combinations of antiangiogenics with immunotherapies will be investigated in future studies.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Malignancy, Mesothelioma, Angiogenesis inhibitor, Mesothelium


While the disease specific mortality of differentiated thyroid cancer has remained low with current treatments, its incidence has been steadily rising over the past several decades, and cancer related recurrence and morbidity have remained a significant problem. Quality indicators currently employed are relevant to the surgical intervention, but do not necessarily reflect oncological outcomes. Therefore, thyroid cancer specific surgical quality indicators, that offer insight into risk of cancer related morbidity and mortality are needed.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Cancer, Oncology, Mortality rate, Surgery, Chemotherapy, Amputation


Prostate cancer (PCa) is currently the second most common cancer affecting men worldwide. Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) is the incurable form of PCa, carrying the poorest prognosis, and can develop from non-metastatic CRPC (M0 CRPC). CRPC is defined as progression of the disease with castrate level testosterone levels, achieved with primary androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). M0 CRPC is a highly heterogeneous disease process lacking clear standard of care therapies. Areas covered: In this review, a broad literature search was undertaken to explore data available for therapeutic options and guidelines in the management of M0 CRPC. Expert commentary: While there are compelling data for various therapeutics for the treatment of M0 CRPC, no clear standard of care is apparent at this time. Furthermore, technological advances in imaging may have a significant impact on this future of this disease state.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Metastasis, Cure, Prostate cancer, Therapy, Testosterone, Androgen


CD40 is a promising therapeutic target for cancer immunotherapy. In patients with advanced solid malignancies, CD40 agonists have demonstrated some anti-tumor activity and a manageable toxicity profile. A 2(nd) generation of CD40 agonists has now been designed with optimized Fc receptor (FcR) binding based on preclinical evidence suggesting a critical role for FcR engagement in defining the potency of CD40 agonists in vivo. Areas covered: We provide a comprehensive review using PubMed and Google Patent databases on the current clinical status of CD40 agonists, strategies for applying CD40 agonists in cancer therapy, and the preclinical data that supports and is guiding the future development of CD40 agonists. Expert commentary: There is a wealth of preclinical data that provide rationale on several distinct approaches for using CD40 agonists in cancer immunotherapy. This data illustrates the need to strategically combine CD40 agonists with other clinically active treatment regimens in order to realize the full potential of activating CD40 in vivo. Thus, critical to the success of this class of immune-oncology drugs, which have the potential to restore both innate and adaptive immunosurveillance, will be the identification of biomarkers for monitoring and predicting responses as well as informing mechanisms of treatment resistance.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Innate immune system, Future


Initial data of immune based therapy showed promise for improving malignant mesothelioma (MM) treatment. However, the results of such treatments have neither been predictable nor consistent and recent clinical studies of immune checkpoint inhibitors in MM have dampened initial enthusiasm.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Cancer, Mesothelioma


Hypomethylating agents (HMAs) are the standard of care for patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), but patients who relapse or are refractory have a poor prognosis with an estimated survival of 4-6 months. Rigosertib, a RAS mimetic that inhibits the phophoinositide 3-kinase and polo-like kinase pathways, has been tested in patients with higher-risk MDS following treatment with HMAs, where there are no approved second-line therapies.

Concepts: Syndromes, Acute myeloid leukemia, Myelodysplastic syndrome


Trastuzumab, a humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody targeting the extracellular domain of this oncoprotein, represents the archetype of HER2 blocking agents. Its unprecedented efficacy for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (BC) led to its clinical development in the adjuvant setting. The HERceptin Adjuvant (HERA) is one of the pivotal adjuvant trastuzumab trials which proved that this compound can change the natural course of early stage HER2-positive BC. The HERA study led to the registration of trastuzumab for the adjuvant treatment of early HER2-positive BC. This trial randomized more than 5000 patients between 1 and 2 years of trastuzumab and observation after the completion of locoregional therapy and (neo)-adjuvant chemotherapy. Additionally, an abundance of subsequent substudies were conducted, addressing important clinical issues for this patient population. The present review article presents a comprehensive overview of the HERA study and its major contributions to the adjuvant treatment of HER2-positive BC patients. Emphasis is given on the lessons learned from this international collaborative experience and how this can be used as a stepping stone for further improvements in the field.

Concepts: Present, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies, Trastuzumab, HER2/neu


Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is a patient-reported outcome that addresses patients' perceptions of symptoms across physical, emotional, cognitive and social domains. As HRQoL is currently rarely measured outside clinical trials in oncology, it must be inferred from patients' everyday performance during treatment. To gain insight into the HRQoL of advanced STS patients receiving palliative treatment in clinical practice, three case studies of patients treated with trabectedin are examined. Areas covered: The patient in Case 1 has maintained complete remission for more than 8 years after receiving 9 cycles of second-line trabectedin followed by secondary surgery for recurrent myxoid liposarcoma, and was able to resume normal activities during trabectedin treatment. Case 2 describes 10 years' follow-up of a patient with myxoid liposarcoma who remains well after many lines of chemotherapy including extended use of trabectedin in the second line. The third case illustrates the feasibility of extending survival time in an elderly patient with metastatic leiomyosarcoma who was able to maintain a busy and active lifestyle while receiving second-line trabectedin. Expert commentary: Owing to its relatively benign safety profile, trabectedin frequently permits prolonged therapy and is generally well tolerated, often allowing patients to carry on with normal daily activities.


Since 2007 Sorafenib has represented the only approved drug for first-line treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Lenvatinib, an orally active inhibitor of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases (VEGFR 1-3, FGFR 1-4, PDGFRa, RET and KIT), showed preclinical and clinical activity in the treatment of solid tumours, including HCC. Areas covered: In this review we summarize the current therapeutic paradigm for the systemic treatment of advanced HCC, focusing on Lenvatinib pre-clinical and clinical development. Keywords “Lenvatinib”, “ Target therapy”, “REFLECT trial”, “Hepatocellular carcinoma”, “HCC”, “Sorafenib” were used for literature search on PubMed. Expert commentary: In the phase III multicentric REFLECT trial Lenvatinib demonstrated a non-inferior overall survival (OS) compared to Sorafenib in the first-line treatment of advanced HCC, with a manageable toxicity profile, becoming a valid alternative option in the therapeutic repertoire of this disease. Nevertheless, the potential role of Lenvatinib in real-life clinical practice has still to be defined, especially in the light of the positive results that have been achieved with other new therapeutic agents (e.g. immunotherapy).