• A randomised controlled trial of intravenous zoledronic acid in malignant pleural disease: a proof of principle pilot study.

    27 October 2017

    INTRODUCTION: Animal studies have shown Zoledronic Acid (ZA) may diminish pleural fluid accumulation and tumour bulk in malignant pleural disease (MPD). We performed a pilot study to evaluate its effects in humans. METHODS: We undertook a single centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in adults with MPD. Patients were randomised (1:1) to receive 2 doses of intravenous ZA or placebo, 3 weeks apart and were followed-up for 6 weeks. The co-primary outcomes were change in Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score measured breathlessness during trial follow-up and change in the initial area under the curve (iAUC) on thoracic Dynamic Contrast Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) from randomisation to week 5. Multiple secondary endpoints were also evaluated. RESULTS: Between January 2010 and May 2013, 30 patients were enrolled, 24 randomised and 4 withdrew after randomisation (1 withdrew consent; 3 had a clinical decline). At baseline, the ZA group were more breathless, had more advanced disease on radiology and worse quality of life than the placebo group. There was no significant difference between the groups with regards change in breathlessness (Adjusted mean difference (AMD) 4.16 (95%CI -4.7 to 13.0)) or change in DCE-MRI iAUC (AMD -15.4 (95%CI -58.1 to 27.3). Two of nine (22%) in the ZA arm had a >10% improvement by modified RECIST (vs 0/11 who received placebo). There was no significant difference in quality of life measured by the QLQ-C30 score (global QOL: AMD -4.1 (-13.0 to 4.9)), side effects or serious adverse event rates. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first human study to evaluate ZA in MPD. The study is limited by small numbers and imbalanced baseline characteristics. Although no convincing treatment effect was identified, potential benefits for specific subgroups of patients cannot be excluded. This study provides important information regarding the feasibility of future trials to evaluate the effects of ZA further. TRIAL REGISTRATION: UK Clinical Research Network ID 8877 ISRCTN17030426 www.isrctn.com.

  • A prospective randomised phase II trial of thalidomide with carboplatin compared with carboplatin alone as a first-line therapy in women with ovarian cancer, with evaluation of potential surrogate markers of angiogenesis.

    27 October 2017

    OBJECTIVES: To compare the safety and efficacy of thalidomide in combination with carboplatin to carboplatin alone as a first-line therapy in women with ovarian cancer and to evaluate the anti-angiogenic effects of thalidomide by measurement of surrogate markers of angiogenesis. METHODS: Forty patients with Stage IC-IV ovarian cancer were randomly assigned to receive either carboplatin (AUC 7) intravenously every four weeks for up to six doses (n = 20) or carboplatin at the same dose and schedule, plus thalidomide 100 mg orally daily for six months (n = 20). RESULTS: After median follow-up of 1.95 years, there was no difference in the overall response rate (90% in carboplatin arm, 75% in combination arm; p = 0.41). Increased incidence of symptoms of constipation, dizziness, tiredness and peripheral neuropathy was observed in the combination arm. There was a significant fall in CA-125 and E-selectin in both arms after treatment and VCAM-1 in the carboplatin arm. No significant difference between the two arms was observed in any of the markers analysed. CONCLUSIONS: In our trial the addition of thalidomide to carboplatin was well tolerated with no increased efficacy. The fall in some of the angiogenic markers in both groups may reflect tumour response rather than any specific anti-angiogenic effect of thalidomide.

  • Paraneoplastic tumefactive demyelination with underlying combined germ cell cancer.

    27 October 2017

    Paraneoplastic demyelination is a rare disorder of the central nervous system. We describe a 60-year-old man with tumefactive demyelination who had an underlying retroperitoneal germ cell cancer. He presented with visuospatial problems and memory loss and had a visual field defect. His MRI was interpreted as a glioma but stereotactic biopsy showed active demyelination. Investigation for multiple sclerosis was negative but CT imaging showed retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy, and nodal biopsy confirmed a combined germ cell cancer. He responded poorly to corticosteroid treatment, and his visual field defect progressed. However, 6 months after plasma exchange and successful chemotherapy, he has partially improved clinically and radiographically. Tumefactive demyelination is typically associated with multiple sclerosis but may be paraneoplastic. It is important to recognise paraneoplastic tumefactive demyelination early, as the neurological outcome relies on treating the associated malignancy.

  • Hormone replacement therapy after endometrial cancer.

    27 October 2017

    Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common female cancer in the UK and the most common gynaecological cancer. Quality of life and symptom control needs to be considered in women who enter a surgically induced menopause. Hormone replacement in this population has been controversial to date. The current evidence regarding the safety of estrogen only and combined hormone replacement therapy is discussed in this review. The use of topical vaginal therapies, alternate therapies and the current data regarding testosterone use for symptom control is also outlined.

  • Patients' experiences following breast cancer treatment: an exploratory survey of personal and work experiences of breast cancer patients from three European countries.

    27 October 2017

    Improved treatments for early breast cancer have led to a significant increase in overall survival. While evidence regarding potential long-term sequelae of adjuvant treatments exists, relatively little research reports patients' own perceptions of change before and after adjuvant chemotherapy (AC). This study aimed to identify key ongoing issues associated with AC in daily life. An online survey developed for this study was completed by 198 women (mean age 49.7 years) in the UK, France and Germany who had AC 1-5 years previously for oestrogen receptor positive, HER2 negative early breast cancer. Women without AC and endocrine therapy, those treated with Trastuzumab or who had recurrent disease were excluded. A third of women who responded were currently unable to perform their former family role. The majority had needed support, particularly with child care, during treatment. While 54% were in full-time employment before diagnosis this had reduced to 32% following AC. Of those women still working, over half reported difficulties with tiredness or concentration. Most (85.8%) were satisfied with healthcare professionals' treatment information, but only 29.7% received information about returning to work. This exploratory survey highlights areas of women's lives affected 1-5 years following AC for early breast cancer. The impact on returning to work and issues surrounding childcare particularly, require further study.

  • Fulvestrant plus anastrozole or placebo versus exemestane alone after progression on non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors in postmenopausal patients with hormone-receptor-positive locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer (SoFEA): a composite, multicentre, phase 3 randomised trial.

    27 October 2017

    BACKGROUND: The optimum endocrine treatment for postmenopausal women with advanced hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer that has progressed on non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors (NSAIs) is unclear. The aim of the SoFEA trial was to assess a maximum double endocrine targeting approach with the steroidal anti-oestrogen fulvestrant in combination with continued oestrogen deprivation. METHODS: In a composite, multicentre, phase 3 randomised controlled trial done in the UK and South Korea, postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer (oestrogen receptor [ER] positive, progesterone receptor [PR] positive, or both) were eligible if they had relapsed or progressed with locally advanced or metastatic disease on an NSAI (given as adjuvant for at least 12 months or as first-line treatment for at least 6 months). Additionally, patients had to have adequate organ function and a WHO performance status of 0-2. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive fulvestrant (500 mg intramuscular injection on day 1, followed by 250 mg doses on days 15 and 29, and then every 28 days) plus daily oral anastrozole (1 mg); fulvestrant plus anastrozole-matched placebo; or daily oral exemestane (25 mg). Randomisation was done with computer-generated permuted blocks, and stratification was by centre and previous use of an NSAI as adjuvant treatment or for locally advanced or metastatic disease. Participants and investigators were aware of assignment to fulvestrant or exemestane, but not of assignment to anastrozole or placebo. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT00253422 (UK) and NCT00944918 (South Korea). FINDINGS: Between March 26, 2004, and Aug 6, 2010, 723 patients underwent randomisation: 243 were assigned to receive fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 231 to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 249 to exemestane. Median PFS was 4·4 months (95% CI 3·4-5·4) in patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 4·8 months (3·6-5·5) in those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 3·4 months (3·0-4·6) in those assigned to exemestane. No difference was recorded between the patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole and fulvestrant plus placebo (hazard ratio 1·00, 95% CI 0·83-1·21; log-rank p=0·98), or between those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo and exemestane (0·95, 0·79-1·14; log-rank p=0·56). 87 serious adverse events were reported: 36 in patients assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole, 22 in those assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo, and 29 in those assigned to exemestane. Grade 3-4 adverse events were rare; the most frequent were arthralgia (three in the group assigned to fulvestrant plus anastrozole; seven in that assigned to fulvestrant plus placebo; eight in that assigned to exemestane), lethargy (three; 11; 11), and nausea or vomiting (five; two; eight). INTERPRETATION: After loss of response to NSAIs in postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive advanced breast cancer, maximum double endocrine treatment with 250 mg fulvestrant combined with oestrogen deprivation is no better than either fulvestrant alone or exemestane.

  • Management of uncommon chemotherapy-induced emergencies.

    27 October 2017

    Chemotherapy can induce various clinical emergencies. Prompt recognition and management of these adverse events are important for avoiding further morbidity and mortality. Some events such as hypersensitivity and extravasation are quite common, whereas emergencies such as neutropenic typhlitis, pancreatitis, and acute haemolysis are very rare. Little information exists on the management of rare chemotherapy-induced emergencies that affect fewer than 1% of patients. We review these uncommon chemotherapy-induced life-threatening emergencies, their pathogenesis and management, and recommendations for rechallenge with the offending chemotherapy.

  • Medical and oncological management of malignant mesothelioma.

    27 October 2017

    Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, for which no curative oncological treatment currently exists. This article outlines the options for managing malignant pleural effusions, describes the developments in chemotherapy over the past 10 years and summarizes the evidence for prophylactic and palliative radiotherapy.