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

    3 April 2018

    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 March 2018

    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.

    29 December 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.

    9 February 2018

    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.

  • The preferences and experiences of different bisphosphonate treatments in women with breast cancer.

    12 December 2017

    OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine women's experiences with oral and intravenous (i.v.) bisphosphonate therapy, the impact that treatment had on bone pain and Quality of Life (QoL), and their preferences if choice were available between oral and i.v. administration. METHODS: This was a prospective study of women with metastatic breast cancer receiving either oral or i.v. bisphosphonate therapy. Semi-structured interview techniques and QoL questionnaires were employed. Participants in the study were interviewed three times, once in person and twice by telephone. RESULTS: A total of 79 patients from eight UK hospitals participated in the study; 35 were receiving oral bisphosphonate medication and 44 i.v. treatments. Self-reported adherence to oral therapy was good although 21% had chosen not to take their drugs at some time. Most had adapted their lifestyle to accommodate oral therapy with 29/37(74%) completely satisfied. However 9/37(24%) expressed dissatisfaction with constraints especially the time required to stand upright after taking their tablets. By 6 months 23/25 (91%) of patients receiving (i.v.) therapies were generally satisfied with the frequency and 22/25 (88%) with the convenience especially if given concurrently with chemotherapy. Overall 25/54 (46%) patients reported improved bone pain scores on the validated FACT-BP scale from baseline to 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: Both oral and i.v. therapies have disadvantages but were acceptable to most patients some of whom had reduced bone pain over time. More data regarding acceptability, adherence, and patients' preference for bisphosphonate therapies are required. Until randomised trials demonstrate superior efficacy for one mode of bisphosphonate therapy over another, we suggest offering patients a choice of bisphosphonate therapy.

  • How has early testicular cancer affected your life? A study of sexual function in men attending active surveillance for stage one testicular cancer.

    14 March 2018

    PURPOSE: Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men, it is frequently diagnosed at key times in relationship formation. In early stage disease the vast majority of tumours will be cured by surgery alone with patients being offered active surveillance rather than adjuvant therapies. To date, research has not evaluated how surveillance alone impacts on sexual function. METHODS: The aim of this quantitative longitudinal study was to ascertain the sexual function of men with stage one disease at 3 and 12 months post diagnosis and to compare with normative data. Additional data was collected on the information men sought regarding sexual function and media they used to access this. RESULTS: This study shows that men's sexual function is altered at diagnosis and improves by 3 months. At 12 months, whilst not statistically significant, sexual function improves but not to the same level as normative data comparison. Men appear to find verbal information useful at 3 months, however men appear to be seeking written and online information at 12 months. CONCLUSION: The intricacies of sexual function together with the low number of participants may have been best met with a qualitative approach. However, the information data indicates the importance of further research into the effects of early stage testicular cancer on sexual function. Therefore, further qualitative research is recommended to explore the effects of early stage testicular cancer in relation to sexual function.

  • Extended survival in women with brain metastases from HER2 overexpressing breast cancer.

    19 March 2018

    OBJECTIVES: Brain metastases (BM) are a significant complication of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The high incidence of BM in HER2 overexpressing MBC is now well recognized, however, the optimal management of such patients is not yet clearly defined. We aimed to analyze factors affecting survival after diagnosis of BM in patients treated in our center. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Retrospective analysis of survival in all patients treated with antineoplastic therapy for BM from MBC in our institution between May 1st 2002 and April 30th 2005, according to HER2 expression and use of trastuzumab after diagnosis of BM. RESULTS: The median survival of the 26 patients with HER2 overexpressing disease after diagnosis of BM was significantly longer than that of the 60 patients with HER2 nonoverexpressing disease (6.2 vs. 3.8 months, P = 0.027). Further analysis revealed that this seems to be due to the favorable outcome of the 70% (n = 18) of HER2 overexpressing patients who received trastuzumab after BM were diagnosed. Median survival of this group was 11.9 months, compared with 3.8 months (HER2 nonoverexpressing disease, P = 0.002) and 3.0 months (HER2 overexpressing disease not treated with trastuzumab after development of BM, P = 0.05). CONCLUSION: Patients with HER2 overexpressing MBC who received trastuzumab after diagnosis of BM survived longer than expected. This finding justifies an active therapeutic approach: disease progression within central nervous system does not preclude benefit from trastuzumab treatment.

  • Coherent ultrasonic Doppler tomography.

    12 March 2018

    Ultrasonic imaging based on the pulse-echo principle is widely used throughout the world, particularly in medical applications. However, its spatial resolution is poor (around 2 times the wavelength, or 200 μm at 15 MHz), limiting its ability to detect small but clinically important lesions (such as microcalcifications in breast cancer). The work presented here is different from the traditional approach. Continuous-wave ultrasound is transmitted to insonate a rotating object, then the amplitude and phase of the returned signals are coherently processed to reconstruct a Doppler tomographic image of the object's backscatter field. It is demonstrated numerically that the spatial resolution is up to 0.19 wavelengths and the sampling requirement and image formation method are given. To show the performance of the method, we present the results obtained by applying the new technique in simulation and experiment. A string phantom consisting of very thin copper wires and two cylindrical phantoms constructed by tissue-mimicking-material were scanned. It is demonstrated that the copper wires were located very accurately with very high spatial resolution, and good shape approximation for the cylindrical phantoms was achieved.