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Posts Tagged ‘cancer patient management’


Almudena’s Story:  A Life of Hope, Rejuvenation and Strength

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

Patient had ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) and underwent a complete hysterectomy at age 52. Interview was conducted 15 months’ post-surgery. Earlier in life, patient had thyroid cancer and removal of her thyroid gland and all the lymph nodes in her neck.

 

Almudena Seeder-Alonso, originally from Madrid, Spain, and now living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her Dutch husband, René, is the eternal optimist, embracing life, reinventing herself, and looking for opportunity in every moment. She is an influential blogger of international relations issues, a career professional in human resources management in both corporate and consulting businesses in Legal, Accounting and Technology, and a lawyer and political scientist with an advanced degree in international relations who is also pursuing a Ph.D. in international relations and diplomacy. And she speaks four languages fluently – Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and English.

Her story is one of hope, rejuvenation and strength that defines her effervescent personality. One year ago, a routine gynecology exam changed her outlook and perspective on life. She would have never thought that her diagnosis would be ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell, the most aggressive form of cancer.

 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Almudena Seeder-Alonso. Top Left: Almudena’s parents, María and Angel, and sister, Cristina, and her husband. Top Right: Almudena during chemotherapy last summer (2015). Middle: Almudena attending a wedding in Asturias (northwest Spain – May 2016), Almudena and René in Comporta, Portugal (Summer 2014) and in New York (April 2014). Below left: Almudena in New York (April 2014). Below Right: Almudena’s sisters, María and Cristina with nephew, Jaime (May 2016). 

A Small Cyst Turns Into Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

In early 2015, Almudena visited her gynecologist in Amsterdam for a regular, yearly appointment.

“I was feeling fine. I had no physical complaints, except for my monthly periods which were heavy. I didn’t think much about it. During my examination, my doctor told me that she found a small cyst on my right ovary and we would just observe it to make sure it was not growing.”

Almudena went back to her gynecologist at the OLVG (Onze Lieve Vrouw Gasthuis https://www.olvg.nl/) in Amsterdam twice over the next month to monitor the cyst, only to find that the cyst was growing slightly. Her gynecologist recommended blood tests, an ultrasound, and a specimen of the cyst to be removed through a laparoscopy, a procedure requiring small incisions made below the navel using specialized tools.

“The pathology report said that the cyst was an aggressive cancer, called ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office once she told me the results of the test, and I got very quiet. I could not believe that this was happening to me. While I was meeting with the doctor, I called my husband to let the doctor inform him about the situation. I was listening to this conversation but from far away. He immediately left his meeting with his client (he is one of two founding partners of SeederdeBoer, a Dutch Consulting & Technology firm), to come home. I left the doctor’s office, went home and cried in my husband’s arms.”

Almudena then called her parents, María and Angel, and her two sisters, María and Cristina who live in Madrid, to tell them the news.

“My Mother was very emotional when she heard about my diagnosis. My Father, who is a quiet man by nature, asked me, ‘How could this be happening to you again?’ I did not have an answer for him.”

Almudena’s father was referring to his daughter’s diagnosis of thyroid cancer in her late 20s.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer As A Young Woman

When Almudena was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, a slow-growing, highly treatable type of cancer that forms in follicular cells in the thyroid gland. After a 12-hour surgery to remove the gland through a procedure called a full thyroidectomy, she also needed radiation therapy. Many years later, she is feeling fine and continues to be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life.

“I was not aware at that young age of the scope of the diagnosis, but my life really changed. I was kind of a party animal at the end of the 1980s, and I did not have any amount of energy for that anymore. I needed several months to get back into shape as the scar from the surgery was a large one on the right side of my neck. I could not use my right arm and hand properly for months, even writing was complicated. The worst news came later when I could not get pregnant given the situation that many of my eggs were gone because of radiation. At that moment, egg freezing technology was not as advanced as it is today; it was not normal to freeze eggs for a later time. That was really painful, as I could not become a mother, even after four in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles.”

According to the National Cancer Institute’s web site, thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter coin. It usually cannot be felt through the skin. The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones. Thyroid hormones control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism) as well as, it controls the amount of calcium in the blood.  http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis Continues

Almudena then spoke with her physicians in Madrid, as that is where she grew up, to get a second opinion about her ovarian carcinoma diagnosis. The physicians knew her history well and they told her that they did not believe that the follicular thyroid cancer was directly related to the ovarian cancer.

“My local gynecologist in Amsterdam then referred me to a specialist, Dr. J. van der Velden, a gynecologist/oncologist at the Amsterdam Medisch Centrum (AMC), http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn, one of the top university hospitals in The Netherlands for this surgery and treatment. My husband, René, and I met with Dr. van der Velden, and he told us that my cancer was a fast-spreading condition and I needed to have it removed immediately. He answered our questions, calmed my fears and said he would do everything to help me.

“I have an open attitude towards people so it was easy to create a good connection with the doctors and medical personnel, which I consider very fundamental in such a process. I talked to them about my concerns or doubts and shared my worries about the process that I was going through. I have to say that all of them were wonderful in every aspect!”

Dr. van der Velden explained to Almudena that as clear cell is an aggressive form of ovarian cancer, it would need to be treated that way. One month later, Almudena underwent a procedure called open surgery, rather than laparoscopic surgery, requiring an incision large enough for the doctor to see the cyst and surrounding tissue.

“My incision from the surgery is a constant reminder of the struggle I went through. The cyst, which was 3cm, was a solid mass on my right ovary. It had adhered itself to the ovary and had to be broken to be removed, so some cells spilled out into my reproductive organs, namely, in my uterus and fallopian tubes. During this surgery, which was a complete hysterectomy, the doctor took additional tissue samples of my reproductive organs to be analyzed by pathology. Weeks later, he found no other metastases or extra cancer cells.”

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

The Process of Healing Begins

One month later, Almudena’s body was still recovering from the operation. Now, she had to start chemotherapy back at the OLVG.

“The doctor, Dr. W. Terpstra, hematologist/oncologist instructed me that I would be going through six full cycles of chemotherapy, which means full doses of carboplatin & paclitaxel every 21 days. At first, I felt reasonably good, then as each week progressed, I became more and more tired, nauseous, and just feeling terrible. I was not sleeping well and even lost the sensation of my fingers and toes as chemo attacks the nerves, too. Then, I started losing my eyelashes and hair so I shaved my long, flowing hair and wore a scarf wrapped around my head.”

Almudena would report to the hospital for her weekly chemotherapy session, starting at 9am and leaving at 6pm. The medical team would put her in a room with a full-size bed so she can relax during the infusion. Her husband, two sisters and some close friends would take turns accompanying her during this time, as she had a nurturing and caring support network.

“I could not have gone through this condition without my family and friends. It tests your relationships and shows you who your friends really are.”

The chemotherapy affected Almudena’s red blood cell count halfway through the process and she felt weak and tired.

“Anemia is normal during this time, but always being tired made me concentrate and focus on things less. I would watch a movie or read a book through the chemo session, and then I would fall asleep quickly.”

After Almudena finished the complete cycle of chemotherapy infusions, she had a follow-up appointment with her doctor, which included blood work, CT scan, and other diagnostic tests.

“My doctor said the tests results were very good. Now, I see him every three months for a routine visit. That was such a wonderful report to hear.

“During this process I learned to love myself, and pampered myself and my body. I learned to improve in terms of beauty, even in the worst circumstances. I wanted to feel beautiful and attractive for myself and for my close family. After three chemo cycles, I started even to think about how my new hair style would be in the moment that I finished chemo.”

Ovarian Carcinoma Pathophysiology Facts

According to published studies, ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) account for less than 5 percent of all ovarian malignancies, and 3.7–12.1 percent of all epithelial ovarian carcinomas. By contrast, early‐stage clear cell ovarian cancer carries a relatively good prognosis. When compared with their serous counterparts, a greater proportion of OCCA tumors present as early‐stage (I–II) tumors, are often associated with a large pelvic mass, which may account for their earlier diagnosis, and rarely occur bilaterally. Very little is known about the pathobiology of OCCA. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of ovarian cancers are associated with endometriotic lesions in which there is a predominance of clear and endometrioid cell subtypes, suggesting that both tumor types may arise in endometriosis. http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

The National Cancer Institute’s web site offers these statistics. In most families affected with the breast and ovarian cancer syndrome or site-specific ovarian cancer, genetic linkage has been found to the BRCA1 locus on chromosome 17q21. BRCA2, also responsible for some instances of inherited ovarian and breast cancer, has been mapped by genetic linkage to chromosome 13q12. The lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer in patients harboring germline mutations in BRCA1 is substantially increased over that of the general population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Words Of Wisdom

“Throughout this journey, I found myself again in some way and found my strength as well. When it seemed I could not stand it anymore, either physically and mentally, I realized that I could.

“At the beginning of my diagnosis, I asked myself, ‘Why me?’, and I then changed it to, ‘Why not me?’ I discovered that I have the same opportunities as anyone who becomes ill. The important perspective to have is not whining and dwelling on my bad luck. The important thing is to heal, survive, and recover my life, which is very good!

“I learned the real value and importance of things: to differentiate and give real meaning and value to the care and support of my husband, René, who was always there for me, and my parents and sisters, who came to Amsterdam very often during the process. I also made sure that René was well-supported and accompanied by my family.  René was feeling terrible for me, but he never showed it — and I learned this fact after I was starting to be back on track.”

Almudena’s Life Today

“At a significant moment in my life during my cancer diagnosis and after a long professional life in many corporate and consulting business in several countries, I decided to re-invent myself and start a new career, this time, in the battle of the opinions. I always liked foreign affairs and diplomacy, so why not share my thoughts and write about current international issues.”

That’s when Almudena started a blog to discuss relevant international political issues with her background specialization in International Relations, International Politics, International Law and Governance.

“I consider myself politically liberal and have been influenced by J.S. Mill and A. Tocqueville’s tradition of thought, as well as their ethical conception of the defense of freedom. This is what I try to capture in my political approach and in this blog. http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

“Regarding my profession, I have already reinvented myself, leaving the corporate life with all that is included regarding life’s standards, and do what really makes me happy, which I´m doing right now. It seems after all, looking back with perspective, I did the right thing.

“I am grateful for my life and never take anything for granted. I am the happiest when I am doing things that please me or give me the utmost satisfaction. I now have balance in my personal and professional life, something that I’ve never had before. My husband, René, likes it too and I have his full support.”

She recently ‘liked’ this saying on LinkedIn, the professional network site, ‘I never lose. I either win or learn,’ which was attributed to Nelson Mandela, the deceased South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist.

Almudena’s life continues on a path of balance, richness and thankfulness for the person she is and the many blessings she continues to have along the way.

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Gabriela Contreras, a global communications consultant and patient advocate, for the tremendous help and support she provided in locating and scheduling time to talk with Almudena Seeder-Alonso.

Almudena Seeder-Alonso provided her permission to publish this interview on August 10, 2016.

REFERENCES/SOURCES

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/health/harnessing-the-immune-system-to-fight-cancer.html?_r=0

http://www.sharecancersupport.org/share-new/support/stories/linda_clear_cell_ovarian_cancer/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Other related articles on the link between Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer:

https://www.whatnext.com/questions/is-there-a-link-between-ovarian-and-thyroid-cancer

Other related articles/information:

https://www.olvg.nl/

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

 

Other related articles on Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

Ovarian Cancer (N = 285)

2015

A Curated History of the Science Behind the Ovarian Cancer β-Blocker Trial

Model mimicking clinical profile of patients with ovarian cancer @ Yale School of Medicine

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/09/26/model-mimicking-clinical-profile-of-patients-with-ovarian-cancer-yale-school-of-medicine/

2014

Preclinical study identifies ‘master’ proto-oncogene that regulates stress-induced ovarian cancer metastasis | MD Anderson Cancer Center

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/08/15/preclinical-study-identifies-master-proto-oncogene-that-regulates-stress-induced-ovarian-cancer-metastasis-md-anderson-cancer-center/

Good and Bad News Reported for Ovarian Cancer Therapy

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/07/01/good-and-bad-news-reported-for-ovarian-cancer-therapy-2/

Efficacy of Ovariectomy in Presence of BRCA1 vs BRCA2 and the Risk for Ovarian Cancer

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/02/25/efficacy-of-ovariectomy-in-presence-of-brca1-vs-brca2-and-the-risk-for-ovarian-cancer/

 

And 
 
Thyroid Cancer (N = 124)
2015
Experience with Thyroid Cancer

 

2012

Thyroid Cancer: The Evolution of Treatment Options

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/19/thyroid-cancer-the-evolution-of-treatment-options/

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April 28, 2016
 

Dr. Foti Recognized With Honorary Member Award from Oncology Nursing Society

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), was honored this morning during the opening ceremony of the 41st Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in San Antonio, TX, with the Honorary Member Award for her unwavering dedication to improving cancer care and her commitment to the prevention and cure of all cancers.
The Honorary Member Award is awarded by the ONS to thank and honor an individual who is not otherwise eligible for ONS membership for his or her contributions to oncology nursing, support of the ONS, and conduct consistent with the ONS mission and core values.

 

LEARN MORE
ABOUT THE AACR

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Multiple factors related to initial trial design may predict low patient accrual for cancer clinical trials

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

A recently published paper in JCNI highlights results determining factors which may affect cancer trial patient accrual and the development of a predictive model of accrual issues based on those factors.

To hear a JCNI podcast on the paper click here

but below is a good posting from scienmag.com which describes their findings:

Factors predicting low patient accrual in cancer clinical trials

source: http://scienmag.com/factors-predicting-low-patient-accrual-in-cancer-clinical-trials/

Nearly one in four publicly sponsored cancer clinical trials fail to enroll enough participants to draw valid conclusions about treatments or techniques. Such trials represent a waste of scarce human and economic resources and contribute little to medical knowledge. Although many studies have investigated the perceived barriers to accrual from the patient or provider perspective, very few have taken a trial-level view and asked why certain trials are able to accrue patients faster than expected while others fail to attract even a fraction of the intended number of participants. According to a study published December 29 in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a number of measurable trial characteristics are predictive of low patient accrual.

Caroline S. Bennette, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center analyzed information on 787 phase II/III clinical trials sponsored by the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN; formerly the Cooperative Group Program) launched between 2000 and 2011. After excluding trials that closed because of toxicity or interim results, Bennette et al. found that 145 (18%) of NCTN trials closed with low accrual or were accruing at less than 50% of target accrual 3 years or more after opening.

The authors identified potential risk factors from the literature and interviews with clinical trial experts and found multiple trial-level factors that were associated with poor accrual to NCTN trials, such as increased competition for patients from currently ongoing trials, planning to enroll a higher proportion of the available patient population, and not evaluating a new investigational agent or targeted therapy. Bennette et al. then developed a multivariable prediction model of low accrual using 12 trial-level risk factors, which they reported had good agreement between predicted and observed risks of low accrual in a preliminary validation using 46 trials opened between 2012 and 2013.

The researchers conclude that “Systematically considering the overall influence of these factors could aid in the design and prioritization of future clinical trials…” and that this research provides a response to the recent directive from the Institute of Medicine to “improve selection, support, and completion of publicly funded cancer clinical trials.”

In an accompanying editorial, Derek Raghavan, M.D., Levine Cancer Institute, writes that the focus needs to be on getting more patients involved in trials, saying, “we should strive to improve trial enrollment, giving the associated potential for improved results. Whether the basis is incidental, because of case selection bias, or reflects the support available to trial patients has not been determined, but the fact remains that outcomes are better.”

###

Contact info:

Article: Caroline S. Bennette, M.P.H., Ph.D., cb11@u.washington.edu

Editorial: Derek Raghavan, M.D., derek.raghavan@carolinashealthcare.org

Other investigators also feel that initial trial design is of UTMOST importance for other reasons, especially in the era of “precision” or “personalized” medicine and why the “basket trial” or one size fits all trial strategy is not always feasible.

In Why the Cancer Research Paradigm Must Transition to “N-of-1” Approach

Dr. Maurie Markman, MD gives insight into why the inital setup of a trial and the multi-center basket type of  accrual can be a problematic factor in obtaining meaningful cohorts of patients with the correct mutational spectrum.

The anticancer clinical research paradigm has rapidly evolved so that subject selection is increasingly based on the presence or absence of a particular molecular biomarker in the individual patient’s malignancy. Even where eligibility does not mandate the presence of specific biological features, tumor samples are commonly collected and an attempt is subsequently made to relate a particular outcome (eg, complete or partial objective response rate; progression-free or overall survival) to the individual cancer’s molecular characteristics.

One important result of this effort has been the recognition that there are an increasing number of patient subsets within what was previously—and incorrectly—considered a much larger homogenous patient population; for example, non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) versus EGFR-mutation–positive NSCLC. And, while it may still be possible to conduct phase III randomized trials involving a relatively limited percentage of patients within a large malignant entity, extensive and quite expensive effort may be required to complete this task. For example, the industry-sponsored phase III trial comparing first-line crizotinib with chemotherapy (pemetrexed plus either carboplatin or cisplatin) in ALK-rearrangement–positive NSCLC, which constitutes 3% to 5% of NSCLCs, required an international multicenter effort lasting 2.5 years to accrue the required number of research subjects.1

But what if an investigator, research team, or biotech company desired to examine the clinical utility of an antineoplastic in a patient population representing an even smaller proportion of patients with NSCLC such as in the 1% of the patient population with ROS1 abnormalities,2 or in a larger percentage of patients representing 4%-6% of patients with a less common tumor type such as ovarian cancer? How realistic is it that such a randomized trial could ever be conducted?

Further, considering the resources required to initiate and successfully conduct a multicenter international phase III registration study, it is more than likely that in the near future only the largest pharmaceutical companies will be in a position to definitively test the clinical utility of an antineoplastic in a given clinical situation.

One proposal to begin to explore the benefits of targeted antineoplastics in the setting of specific molecular abnormalities has been to develop a socalled “basket trial” where patients with different types of cancers with varying treatment histories may be permitted entry, assuming a well-defined molecular target is present within their cancer. Of interest, several pharmaceutical companies have initiated such clinical research efforts.

Yet although basket trials represent an important research advance, they may not provide the answer to the molecular complexities of cancer that many investigators believe they will. The research establishment will have to take another step toward innovation to “N-of-1” designs that truly explore the unique nature of each individual’s cancer.

Trial Illustrates Weaknesses

A recent report of the results of one multicenter basket trial focused on thoracic cancers demonstrates both the strengths but also a major fundamental weakness of the basket trial approach.3

However, the investigators were forced to conclude that despite accrual of more than 600 patients onto a study conducted at two centers over a period of approximately 2 years, “this basket trial design was not feasible for many of the arms with rare mutations.”3

They concluded that they needed a larger number of participating institutions and the ability to adapt the design for different drugs and mutations. So the question to be asked is as follows: Is the basket-type approach the only alternative to evaluate the clinical relevance of a targeted antineoplastic in the presence of a specific molecular abnormality?

Of course, the correct answer to this question is surely: No!

– See more at: http://www.onclive.com/publications/Oncology-live/2015/July-2015/Why-the-Cancer-Research-Paradigm-Must-Transition-to-N-of-1-Approach#sthash.kLGwNzi3.dpuf

The following is a video on the website ClinicalTrials.gov which is a one-stop service called EveryClinicalTrial to easily register new clinical trials and streamline the process:

Other article on this Open Access Journal on Cancer Clinical Trial Design include:

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Bisphosphonates and Bone Metastasis [6.3.1]

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

bisophosphonates chemical

General Structure of Bisphosphonates

One of the hallmarks of advanced cancer is the ability to metastasize (tumor cells migrating from primary tumor and colonize in a different anatomical site in the body) and many histologic types of primary tumors have the propensity to metastasize to the bone. One of the frequent complications occurring from bone metastasis is bone fractures and severe pain associated with these cancer-associated bone fractures. An additional problem is cancer-associated hypercalcemia, which may or may not be dependent on bone-metastasis. The main humoral factor associated with cancer-related hypercalcemia is parathyroid hormone–related protein, which is produced by many solid tumors (Paget’s disease). Parathyroid hormone–related protein increases calcium by activating parathyroid hormone receptors in tissue, which results in osteoclastic bone resorption; it also increases renal tubular resorption of calcium {see (1) Bower reference for more information). This curation involves three areas:

  1. The Changing Views How Bone Remodeling Occurs
  2. Early Development of Agents that Alter Bone Remodeling and Early Use in Cancer Patients
  3. Recent Developments Regarding Use of Bisphosphonates in Cancer Patients

As there are numerous articles (1360; more than to manually curate) on “bone”, “metastasis” and “bisphosphonates” the following link is to a Pubmed search on the terms

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=bone+metastasis+bisphosphonates

In addition there are subset searches to show use of bisphosphonates in common cancers and files given below with numbers of articles:

Search terms with Pubmed link # citations
bone metastasis bisphosphonates 1360
+ breast 559
+ prostate 349
+ colon 9
+ lung 222
  1. The Changing Views How Bone Remodeling Occurs

Bone remodeling (or bone metabolism) is a lifelong process where mature bone tissue is removed from the skeleton (a process called bone resorption) and new bone tissue is formed (a process called ossification or new bone formation). These processes also control the reshaping or replacement of bone following injuries like fractures but also micro-damage, which occurs during normal activity. Remodeling responds also to functional demands of the mechanical loading.

In the first year of life, almost 100% of the skeleton is replaced. In adults, remodeling proceeds at about 10% per year.[1]

An imbalance in the regulation of bone remodeling’s two sub-processes, bone resorption and bone formation, results in many metabolic bone diseases, such as osteoporosis. Two main types of cells are responsible for bone metabolism: osteoblasts (which secrete new bone), and osteoclasts (which break bone down). The structure of bones as well as adequate supply of calcium requires close cooperation between these two cell types and other cell populations present at the bone remodeling sites (ex. immune cells).[4] Bone metabolism relies on complex signaling pathways and control mechanisms to achieve proper rates of growth and differentiation. These controls include the action of several hormones, including parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, growth hormone, steroids, and calcitonin, as well as several bone marrow-derived membrane and soluble cytokines and growth factors (ex. M-CSF, RANKL, VEGF, IL-6 family…). It is in this way that the body is able to maintain proper levels of calcium required for physiological processes.

Subsequent to appropriate signaling, osteoclasts move to resorb the surface of the bone, followed by deposition of bone by osteoblasts. Together, the cells that are responsible for bone remodeling are known as the basic multicellular unit (BMU), and the temporal duration (i.e. lifespan) of the BMU is referred to as the bone remodeling period.

For a good review on bone remodeling please see Bone remodelling in a nutshell

boneremodelPTHumich

bone remodeling 3

  1. Early Development of Agents that Alter Bone Remodeling and Early Use in Cancer Patients

Bisphosphonates had been first synthesized in the late 1800’s yet their development and approval for the indication of osteoporosis occurred over 100 years later, in the 1990’s. For a good review on the history of bisphosphonates please see the following review:

Historical perspectives on the clinical development of bisphosphonates in the treatment of bone diseases. Francis MD1, Valent DJ. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2007 Jan-Mar;7(1):2-8.

For a good reference on bisphosphonates as a class, as well as indication, contraindication and side effects see University of Washington web page at http://courses.washington.edu/bonephys/opbis.html

 

Please view slideshow in the following link: The Evolving Role of Bisphosphonates for Cancer Treatment-Induced Bone Loss presentation by Richard L. Theriault, DO, MBA at MD Anderson Cancer Center

bisphosphonatecancerslide1

  1. Recent Developments Regarding Use of Bisphosphonates in Cancer Patients

Bone Metastasis Treatment with Bisphosphonates; A review form OncoLink

Source: From University of Pennsylvania OncoLink® at http://www.oncolink.org/types/article.cfm?c=708&id=9629

Julia Draznin Maltzman, MD and Modified by Lara Bonner Millar, MD
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: December 18, 2014

Introduction

Bone metastases are a common complication of advanced cancer. They are especially prevalent (up to 70%) in breast and prostate cancer. Bone metastases can cause severe pain, bone fractures, life-threatening electrolyte imbalances, and nerve compression syndromes. The pain and neurologic dysfunction may be difficult to treat and significantly compromises the patients’ quality of life. Bone metastases usually signify advanced, often incurable disease.

Osteolytic vs. osteoblastic

Bony metastases are characterized as being either osteolytic or osteoblastic. Osteolytic means that the tumor caused bone break down or dissolution. This usually results in loss of calcium from bone. On X-rays these are seen as holes called “lucencies” within the bone. Diffuse osteolytic lesions are most characteristic of a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma, however they may be present in patients with many other types of cancer.

Osteoblastic bony lesions, by contrast, are characterized by increased bone production. The tumor somehow signals to the bone to overproduce bone cells and result in rigid, inflexible bone formation. The cancer that typically causes osteoblastic bony lesions is prostate cancer. Most cancers result in either osteolytic or osteoblastic bony changes, but some malignancies can lead to both. Breast cancer patients usually develop osteolytic lesions, although at least 15-20 percent can have osteoblastic pathology.

Why the bone?

The bone is a common site of metastasis for many solid tissue cancers including prostate, breast, lung, kidney, stomach, bladder, uterus, thyroid, colon and rectum. Researchers speculate that this may be due to the high blood flow to the bone and bone marrow. Once cancer cells gain access to the blood vessels, they can travel all over the body and usually go where there is the highest flow of blood. Furthermore, tumor cells themselves secrete adhesive molecules that can bind to the bone marrow and bone matrix. This molecular interaction can cause the tumor to signal for increased bone destruction and enhance tumor growth within the bone. A recent scientific discovery showed that the bone is actually a rich source of growth factors. These growth factors signal cells to divide, grow, and mature. As the cancer attacks the bone, these growth factors are released and serve to further stimulate the tumor cells to grow. This results in a self-generating growth loop.

What are the symptoms of bone metastasis?

It must be recognized that the symptoms of bone metastasis can mimic many other disease conditions. Most people with bony pain do not have bone metastasis. That being noted, the most common symptom of a metastasis to the bone is pain. Another common presentation is a bone fracture without any history of trauma. Fracture is more common in lytic metastases than blastic metastases.

Some people with more advanced disease may come to medical attention because of numbness and tingling sensation in their feet and legs. They may have bowel and bladder dysfunction – either losing continence to urine and/or stool, or severe constipation and urinary retention. Others may complain of leg weakness and difficulty moving their legs against gravity. This would imply that there is tumor impinging on the spinal cord and compromising the nerves. This is considered an emergency called spinal cord compression, and requires immediate medical attention. Another less common presentation of metastatic disease to the bone is high levels of calcium in the body. High calcium can make patients constipated, result in abdominal pain, and at very high levels, can lead to confusion and mental status changes.

Diagnosis of bone metastasis

Once a patient experiences any of the symptoms of bone metastasis, various tests can be done to find the true cause. In some cases bone metastasis can be detected before the symptoms arise. X-rays, bone scans, and MRIs are used to diagnose this complication of cancer. X-rays are especially helpful in finding osteolytic lesions. These often appear as “holes” or dark spots in the bone on the x-ray film. Unfortunately, bone metastases often do not show up on plain x-rays until they are quite advanced. By contrast, a bone scan can detect very early bone metastases. This test is done by injecting the patient with a small amount of radio-tracing material in the vein. Special x-rays are taken sometime after the injection. The radiotracer will preferentially go to the site of disease and will appear as a darker, denser, area on the film. Because this technique is so sensitive, sometimes infections, arthritis, and old fractures can appear as dark spots on the bone scan and may be difficult to differentiate from a true cancer. Bone scans are also used to follow patients with known bone metastasis. Sometimes CT scan images can show if a cancer has spread to the bone. An MRI is most useful when examining nerve roots suspected of being compressed by tumor or bone fragments due to tumor destruction. It is used most often in the setting of spinal cord compromise.

There are no real blood tests that are currently used to diagnose a bone metastasis. There are, however, a number of blood tests that a provider can obtain that may suggest the presence of bone lesions, but the diagnosis rests with the combination of radiographic evidence, clinical picture, and natural history of the malignancy. For example, elevated levels of calcium or an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase can be related to bone metastasis, but these lab tests alone are insufficient to prove their presence.

Treatment

The best treatment for bony metastasis is the treatment of the primary cancer. Therapies may include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or treatment with monoclonal antibodies. Pain is often treated with narcotics and other pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Physical therapy may be helpful and surgery may have an important role if the cancer resulted in a fracture of the bone.

Bisphosphonates

Bisphosphonates are s category of medications that decrease pain from bone metastasis and may improve overall bone health. Bisphosphonates man-made versions of a naturally occurring compound called pyrophosphate that prevents bone breakdown. They are a class of medications widely used in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and certain other bone diseases (such as Paget’s Disease), as well as in the treatment of elevated blood calcium. These drugs suppress bone breakdown by cells called osteoclasts, and, can indirectly stimulate the bone forming cells called osteoblasts. It is for this reason, and for the fact that bisphosphonates are very effective in relieving bone pain associated with metastatic disease, that they have transitioned to the oncology arena. However, treatment of bone metastases is not curative. There is increasing evidence that bisphosphonates can prevent bony complications in some metastatic cancers and may even improve survival in some cancers. Most researchers agree that these drugs are more helpful in osteolytic lesions and less so in osteoblastic metastasis in terms of bone restoration and health, but the bisphosphonates are able to alleviate pain associated with both types of lesions. The appropriate time to start treatment is once a bone metastasis has been identified on imaging.

Bisphosphonates can be given either orally or intravenously. The latter is the preferred route of administration for many oncologists as it is given monthly as a short infusion and does not have the gastrointestinal side effects that the oral bisphosphonates have. There are currently two approved and commonly used IV bisphosphonates –Pamidronate disodium (Aredia, Novartis) and zolendronic acid (Zometa, Novartis). Their side effect profile is fairly mild and includes a flu-like reaction during the first 48 hours after the infusion, kidney impairment and osteonecrosis of the jaw with long term use. Patients with renal impairment may not be candidates for this therapy.

Bisphophonates may have some level of anti-tumor activity in breast cancer. A recent Phase III clinical trial revealed that the addition of Zometa to endocrine therapy, improves disease-free survival, but not overall survival, in pre-menopausal patients with estrogen-receptor postive early breast cancer. Another trial called AZURE found no effect from the bisphosphonate zolendronic acid (Zometa, Novartis) on the recurrence of breast cancer or on overall survival. However, several other studies on bisphosphonates and breast cancer are ongoing, and for now, their use is not recommended in patients without metastases.

In addition to bisphosphonates, osteoclast inhibition can also be achieved through other means. Another medication, Denosumab (XGEVA, Amgen), targets a receptor called receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL), is able to block osteoclast formation. A few studies comparing Denosumab to bisphosphonates have found Denosumab results in a longer time to skeletal events, on the order of a few months, compared to bisphosphonates, however many experts believe that the evidence is not strong enough to support one class of drug over another. The most common side effects of Denosumab are fatigue or asthenia, hypophosphatemia, hypocalcemia and nausea. Patients receiving bisphosphonates or denosumab should also be taking calcium and vitamin D supplementation.

The future

Skeletal metastases remain one of the more debilitating problems for cancer patients. Research is ongoing to identify the molecular mechanisms that result in both osteolytic and osteoblastic bone lesions. Perhaps the use of proteomics and gene array data may permit us to identify some factors specific to the tumor or to the bony lesion itself that could be used as therapeutic targets to teat or even prevent this complication.

In summary

  •  there is well established evidence in preclinical models that bisphosphonates:reduce the total tumor burden in bone
  • it is unclear as to the mechanisms of this preclinical finding as bisphosphonates have been shown to directly have antitumor activity
  • as the review by Holen I1, Coleman RE.show “Bisphosphonates as treatment of bone metastases” (abstract given below) there is conflicting clinical evidence of this effect found in preclinical models

Accelerated bone loss is a common clinical feature of advanced breast cancer, and anti-resorptive bisphosphonates are the current standard therapy used to reduce the number and frequency of skeletal-related complications experienced by patients. Bisphosphonates are potent inhibitors of bone resorption, acting by inducing osteoclast apoptosis and thereby preventing the development of cancer-induced bone lesions. In clinical use bisphosphonates are mainly considered to be bone-specific agents, but anti-tumour effects have been reported in a number of in vitro and in vivo studies. By combining bisphosphonates with chemotherapy agents, growth and progression of breast cancer bone metastases can be virtually eliminated in model systems. Recent clinical trials have indicated that there may be additional benefits from bisphosphonate treatment, including positive effects on recurrence and survival when added to standard endocrine therapy. Whereas the ability of bisphosphonates to reduce cancer-induced bone disease is well established, their potential direct anti-tumour effect remain controversial. Ongoing clinical trials will establish whether bisphosphonates can inhibit the development of bone metastases in high-risk breast cancer patients. This review summarizes the main studies that have investigated the effects of bisphosphonates, alone and in combination with other anti-cancer agents, using in vivo model systems of breast cancer bone metastases. We also give an overview of the use of bisphosphonates in the treatment of breast cancer, including examples of key clinical trials. The potential side effects and future clinical applications of bisphosphonates will be outlined.

References

  1. Bower M, Cox S. Endocrine and metabolic complications of advanced cancer. In: Doyle D, Hanks G, Cherny NI, Calman K, editors. Oxford textbook of palliative medicine. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2004. p. 688-90.

Henry DH, Costa L, Goldwasser F, et al. Randomized, double-blind study of denosumab versus zoledronic acid in the treatment of bone metastases in patients with advanced cancer (excluding breast and prostate cancer) or multiple myeloma. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(9):1125-32.

Van Poznak CH, Temin S, Yee GC, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology executive summary of the clinical practice guideline update on the role of bone-modifying agents in metastatic breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(9):1221-7.

West, H. Denosumab for prevention of skeletal-related events in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors: incremental benefit, debatable value. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(9):1095-8.

Gnant M, Mlineritsch B, Schippinger W et al.: Endocrine therapy plus zoledronic acid in premenopausal breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 360(7),679–691 (2009).

Treatment Guidelines by Cancer Organizations

ASCO Issues Updated Guideline on the Role of Bone-Modifying Agents in the Prevention and Treatment of Bone Metastases in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2011

Contact:

Steven Benowitz
571-483-1370
steven.benowitz@asco.org

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued an update to its clinical practice guideline on the use of bone-modifying agents, in particular, osteoclast inhibitors, to prevent and treat skeletal complications from bone metastases in patients with metastatic breast cancer. The new guideline includes recommendations on the use of a new drug option, denosumab (Xgeva), and addresses osteonecrosis of the jaw, an uncommon condition that may occur in association with bone-modifying agents. The updated guideline also provides new recommendations on monitoring of patients who undergo treatment with bone-modifying agents and highlights priorities for future research on these drugs.

ASCO’s Bisphosphonates in Breast Cancer Panel conducted a systematic review of the medical literature to develop the new recommendations. The updated guideline, American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Update on the Role of Bone-Modifying Agents in Metastatic Breast Cancer, was published online today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The guideline recommends that patients with breast cancer who have evidence of bone metastases be given one of three agents – denosumab, pamidronate or zoledronic acid – approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It does not support use of any one drug over the others. These drugs are all considered osteoclast inhibitors, but they belong to different drug families: pamidronate and zoledronic acid are part of a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, while denosumab is a monoclonal antibody that targets receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa beta ligand (RANKL).

The guideline also recommends against initiating bone-modifying agents in the absence of bone metastases outside of a clinical trial. It notes that an abnormal bone scan result alone, without confirmation by a radiograph, CT or MRI scan, is not sufficient evidence to support treatment with these drugs.

“The updated recommendations take into account recent progress in controlling potential bone damage in metastatic breast cancer,” said Catherine Van Poznak, MD, co-chair of the Bisphosphonates in Breast Cancer Panel and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. “We’ve established that a growing number of osteoclast inhibitors can have a positive effect and decrease of the risk of skeletal-related events in women with bone metastases. Because many factors – including medical and economic – must be considered when selecting a therapy for an individual, it’s good to have several effective choices.”

Bone is one of the most common sites to which breast cancer spreads. Bone metastases occur in approximately 70 percent of patients with metastatic disease. These metastases can cause bone cells (osteoclasts) to become overactive, which can result in excessive bone loss, disrupting the bone architecture and causing skeletal-related events (SREs), such as fracture, the need for surgery or radiation therapy to bone, spinal cord compression and hypercalcemia of malignancy.

This document updates guideline recommendations that were first issued in 2000 and revised in 2003, and focused on the use of bisphosphonates. The current guideline uses the more inclusive term, bone-modifying agents, to reflect a wider category of therapeutic agents such as monoclonal antibodies that use different mechanisms of action to prevent and treat damage from bone metastases. The guideline notes that research remains to be conducted to address several areas where questions remain.

“The guideline considers new data in a variety of areas, including studies showing that denosumab has equivalent effectiveness compared with other currently available drug therapies,” explained bisphosphonates panel co-chair Jamie Von Roenn, MD, professor of medicine at Northwestern University. “The guideline also provides guidance on preventing a rare, but significant complication of therapy with bone-modifying agents, osteonecrosis of the jaw.”

Denosumab is a human monoclonal antibody that targets a receptor, RANKL, involved in the regulation of bone remodeling. The guideline cites evidence from a randomized Phase III trial showing that denosumab appears to be comparable to zoledronic acid in reducing the risk of SREs in women with bone metastases from breast cancer. Denosumab is given subcutaneously, and can have side effects such as hypocalcemia.

The guideline also addresses the recently discovered osteonecrosis of the jaw. The first reports of this degenerative condition were published in the medical and dental literature in 2003. The committee recommended that all patients with breast cancer get dental evaluations and receive preventive dentistry care before beginning treatment with bone-modifying osteoclast inhibitors.

The panel updated its recommendations regarding the effects of bisphosphonates on kidney function, particularly for those taking either pamidronate or zoledronic acid, which have been associated with deteriorating kidney function. It said that clinicians should monitor serum creatinine clearance prior to each dose of pamidronate or zoledronic acid according to FDA-approved labeling.

The panel did not recommend using biochemical markers to monitor bone-modifying agent effectiveness and use outside of a clinical trial.

While many of the 2003 recommendations remain the same, the guideline notes several research directions to be addressed, including:

  • Duration of therapy with bone modifying agents, and the timing or intervals between delivery.
  • The development of a risk index for SREs, and better ways to stratify patient risk of SRE or risk of toxicity from a bone-modifying agent. Individual risk may guide selection of timing for use of a bone-modifying agent therapy.
  • Trials specifically examining whether stage IV breast cancer patients who do not have evidence of bone metastases would benefit from bone-modifying agents.
  • The role of biomarkers in treatment selection and monitoring drug effectiveness.
  • Understanding the optimal dosing of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in patients treated with bone-modifying agents.

The meta-analysis from the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG) was published in Lancet and suggested that “Adjuvant bisphosphonates reduce the rate of breast cancer recurrence in the bone and improve breast cancer survival, but there is definite benefit only in women who were postmenopausal when treatment began”.

Results

  • Of 18, 206 women in trials of 2-5 years of bisphosphonate3453 first recurrences, and 2106 subsequent deaths.
  • Overall, the reductions in recurrence (RR 0·94, 95% CI 0·87-1·01; 2p=0·08), distant recurrence (0·92, 0·85-0·99; 2p=0·03), and breast cancer mortality (0·91, 0·83-0·99; 2p=0·04) were of only borderline significance
  • Among premenopausal women, treatment had no apparent effect on any outcome, but among 11 767 postmenopausal women it produced highly significant reductions in recurrence (RR 0·86, 95% CI 0·78-0·94; 2p=0·002), distant recurrence (0·82, 0·74-0·92; 2p=0·0003), bone recurrence (0·72, 0·60-0·86; 2p=0·0002), and breast cancer mortality (0·82, 0·73-0·93; 2p=0·002). “This was iregardless of age or bisphosphonate type.

Lancet. 2015 Jul 23. pii: S0140-6736(15)60908-4. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60908-4. Adjuvant bisphosphonate treatment in early breast cancer: meta-analyses of individual patient data from randomised trials.

Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG).

This Study was reported at the 36th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS): Abstract S4-07. Presented December 12, 2013 and Medscape Medical News journalist Kate Johnson covered the finding with author interviews in the following article:

Bisphosphonates: ‘New Addition’ to Breast Cancer Treatment?

Kate Johnson

December 13, 2013

Editors’ Recommendations

SAN ANTONIO — Adjuvant bisphosphonate treatment significantly improves breast cancer survival and reduces bone recurrence in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer, according to a meta-analysis reported here at the 36th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“We have finally defined a new addition to standard treatment,” announced lead investigator Robert Coleman, MD, professor of oncology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. He emphasized that, as hypothesized, the benefits of this therapy were confined to postmenopausal women.

“There is absolutely no effect on mortality in premenopausal women, with a hazard ratio [HR] of 1.0,” he reported. “But for postmenopausal women, we see a 17% reduction in the risk of death [HR, 0.83], which is highly statistically significant.”

In terms of the absolute benefit, bisphosphonates decreased the breast cancer mortality rate from 18.3% to 15.2% in postmenopausal women (P = .004).

The separation of benefit by menopausal status was also seen in the bone recurrence data.

In premenopausal women, there is no significant effect on bone recurrence (HR, 0.93), whereas in postmenopausal women, there was a 34% reduction. The difference was “highly significant,” said Dr. Coleman.

“I personally believe adjuvant bisphosphonates should be standard treatment in postmenopausal women with breast cancer,” said Michael Gnant, MD, professor of surgery at the Medical University of Vienna, who was one of the study investigators. He spoke during a plenary session before the results were formally announced. (Please click this LINK to See VIDEO Interview with Dr. Gnant)

“This is an important analysis,” said Rowan Chlebowski, MD, PhD, medical oncologist from the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“There will be a substantial increase in the use of bisphosphonates,” he told Medscape Medical News after the presentation.

“The only question is whether people will accept this analysis as the final word.” Dr. Chlebowski explained that some people might criticize the study as being a post hoc analysis of previous findings.

“You might find some mixed feelings about whether this should be accepted, but I think this will get people thinking,” he said. Dr. Chlebowski previously reported a large observational study that demonstrated that postmenopausal women taking oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis had a significantly lower risk for breast cancer.

Bisphosphonates were originally indicated for the treatment of osteoporosis, and include agents such as alendronate (Fosamax, Merck), ibandronate (Boniva, Genentech), risedronate (Actonel, sanofi-aventis), and zoledronic acid (Reclast, Novartis). But they are also indicated for bone-related use in breast cancer patients, Dr. Chlebowski pointed out.

Because bisphosphonates “also have an indication for preventing bone loss associated with aromatase inhibitor use, they are already approved in this setting, and would prevent recurrences. It will be interesting to see if guideline panels” like these findings, he noted.

Why Postmenopausal Women Benefit

In the plenary session, Dr. Gnant acknowledged that the data on bisphosphonates to date have been mixed.

There are “many trials showing controversial results” for bisphosphonates in the context of breast cancer, he said. “When we put them all together in an unselected population, some show beneficial effects and some do not.”

Dr. Gnant explained why bisphosphonates appear to be effective in older but not younger women. “When you confine your analysis to the low-estrogen environment, postmenopausal women, or women rendered menopausal by ovarian function suppression, we see that all these trials show a consistent benefit for these patients,” he said.

“Essentially, this low-estrogen hypothesis as a prerequisite for adjuvant bisphosphonate activity means that we believe these treatments can silence the bone marrow microenvironment. However, this only translates to relevant clinical benefits in low-estrogen environments,” he added.

More Study Details

The meta-analysis involved 36 trials of adjuvant bisphosphonates in breast cancer with 17,791 pre- and postmenopausal women.

The primary outcomes of the study were time to distant recurrence, local recurrence, and new second primary breast cancer (ipsilateral or contralateral), time to first distant recurrence (ignoring any previous locoregional or contralateral recurrences), and breast cancer mortality.

Planned subgroup analyses based on hypotheses generated from previous findings included site of recurrence, site of first distant metastasis, menopausal status, and type and schedule of bisphosphonate therapy, said Dr. Coleman.

With bisphosphonate therapy, there was a nonsignificant 1% reduction in breast cancer recurrence at 10 years in postmenopausal women, compared with premenopausal women (25.4% vs 26.5%), and “a small borderline advantage” for distant recurrence (20.9% vs 22.3%), he reported.

However, there was a significant benefit of bisphosphonates in bone recurrence in postmenopausal women (6.9% vs 8.4%; P = .0009), with no effect on nonbone recurrence.

There was no impact of bisphosphonates on local recurrence or cancer in the contralateral breast.

For distant recurrence, there was a 3.5% absolute benefit in postmenopausal women (18.4% vs 21.9%; P = .0003); for distant recurrence, there is was a significant improvement of 2.9% in bone recurrence (5.9% vs 8.8%; P < .00001).

There was no significant reduction in first distant recurrence outside bone, and risk reductions were similar, irrespective of estrogen-receptor status, node status, or use or not of chemotherapy.

“Adjuvant bisphosphonates reduce bone metastases and improve survival in postmenopausal women,” concluded Dr. Coleman. “We have statistical security in this result, with a 34% reduction in the risk of bone recurrence (P = .00001), and a 17% — or 1 in 6 — reduction in the risk of breast cancer death (P =.004).”

The analysis struck a clear line between pre- and postmenopausal women — something that was revealed in a subgroup analysis the AZURE trial, which Dr. Coleman was involved in (N Engl J Med. 2011;365:1396-1405).

Because of this, he was asked about the validity of basing the current analysis on the AZURE hypothesis-generating population.

“We repeated the analysis without the AZURE patients, because they are the hypothesis-generating population, and the P values and risk reductions did not change,” he explained.

Source: Medscape Medical News at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/817787#vp_1

Updated on 10/20/2015: Other articles for reference on Bisphosphonates and Metastasis

Clin Exp Metastasis. 2015 Oct;32(7):689-702. doi: 10.1007/s10585-015-9737-y. Epub 2015 Aug 1.

Human breast cancer bone metastasis in vitro and in vivo: a novel 3D model system for studies of tumour cell-bone cell interactions.

Author information

  • 1Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology, Department of Oncology, Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK.
  • 2Department of Human Metabolism, Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK.
  • 3Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology, Department of Oncology, Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK. p.d.ottewell@sheffield.ac.uk.

Abstract

Bone is established as the preferred site of breast cancer metastasis. However, the precise mechanisms responsible for this preference remain unidentified. In order to improve outcome for patients with advanced breast cancer and skeletal involvement, we need to better understand how this process is initiated and regulated. As bone metastasis cannot be easily studied in patients, researchers have to date mainly relied on in vivo xenograft models. A major limitation of these is that they do not contain a human bone microenvironment, increasingly considered to be an important component of metastases. In order to address this shortcoming, we have developed a novel humanised bone model, where 1 × 10(5) luciferase-expressing MDA-MB-231 or T47D human breast tumour cells are seeded on viable human subchaodral bone discs in vitro. These discs contain functional osteoclasts 2-weeks after in vitro culture and positive staining for calcine 1-week after culture demonstrating active bone resorption/formation. In vitro inoculation of MDA-MB-231 or T47D cells colonised human bone cores and remained viable for <4 weeks, however, use of matrigel to enhance adhesion or a moving platform to increase diffusion of nutrients provided no additional advantage. Following colonisation by the tumour cells, bone discs pre-seeded with MDA-MB-231 cells were implanted subcutaneously into NOD SCID mice, and tumour growth monitored using in vivo imaging for up to 6 weeks. Tumour growth progressed in human bone discs in 80 % of the animals mimicking the later stages of human bone metastasis. Immunohistochemical and PCR analysis revealed that growing MDA-MB-231 cells in human bone resulted in these cells acquiring a molecular phenotype previously associated with breast cancer bone metastases. MDA-MB-231 cells grown in human bone discs showed increased expression of IL-1B, HRAS and MMP9 and decreased expression of S100A4, whereas, DKK2 and FN1 were unaltered compared with the same cells grown in mammary fat pads of mice not implanted with human bone discs.

Cancer. 2000 Jun 15;88(12 Suppl):2979-88.

Actions of bisphosphonate on bone metastasis in animal models of breast carcinoma.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Bone, which abundantly stores a variety of growth factors, provides a fertile soil for cancer cells to develop metastases by supplying these growth factors as a consequence of osteoclastic bone resorption. Accordingly, suppression of osteoclast activity is a primary approach to inhibit bone metastasis, and bisphosphonate (BP), a specific inhibitor of osteoclasts, has been widely used for the treatment of bone metastases in cancer patients. To obtain further insights into the therapeutic usefulness of BP, the authors studied the effects of BP on bone and visceral metastases in animal models of metastasis.

METHODS:

The authors used two animal models of breast carcinoma metastasis that they had developed in their laboratory over the last several years. One model uses female young nude mice in which inoculation of the MDA-MB-231 or MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells into the left cardiac ventricle selectively develops osteolytic or osteosclerotic bone metastases, respectively. Another model uses syngeneic female mice (Balb/c) in which orthotopic inoculation of the 4T1 murine mammary carcinoma cells develops metastases in bone and visceral organs including lung, liver, and kidney.

RESULTS:

BP inhibited the development and progression of osteolytic bone metastases of MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma through increased apoptosis in osteoclasts and breast carcinoma cells colonized in bone. In a preventative administration, however, BP alone increased the metastases to visceral organs with profound inhibition of bone metastases. However, combination of BP with anticancer agents such as uracil and tegafur or doxorubicin suppressed the metastases not only in bone but also visceral organs and prolonged the survival in 4T1 mammary tumor-bearing animals. Of interest, inhibition of early osteolysis by BP inhibited the subsequent development of osteosclerotic bone metastases of MCF-7 breast carcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that BP has beneficial effects on bone metastasis of breast carcinoma and is more effective when combined with anticancer agents. They also suggest that the animal models of bone metastasis described here allow us to design optimized regimen of BP administration for the treatment of breast carcinoma patients with bone and visceral metastases.

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Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis (Vol. I) Now Available for Amazon Kindle


Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis (Vol. I) Now Available for Amazon Kindle

Reporter: Stephen J Williams, PhD

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence would like to announce the First volume of their BioMedical E-Book Series C: e-Books on Cancer & Oncology

Volume One: Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis

CancerandOncologyseriesCcoverwhich is now available on Amazon Kindle at                          http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013RVYR2K.

This e-Book is a comprehensive review of recent Original Research on Cancer & Genomics including related opportunities for Targeted Therapy written by Experts, Authors, Writers. This ebook highlights some of the recent trends and discoveries in cancer research and cancer treatment, with particular attention how new technological and informatics advancements have ushered in paradigm shifts in how we think about, diagnose, and treat cancer. The results of Original Research are gaining value added for the e-Reader by the Methodology of Curation. The e-Book’s articles have been published on the Open Access Online Scientific Journal, since April 2012.  All new articles on this subject, will continue to be incorporated, as published with periodical updates.

We invite e-Readers to write an Article Reviews on Amazon for this e-Book on Amazon. All forthcoming BioMed e-Book Titles can be viewed at:

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/biomed-e-books/

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence, launched in April 2012 an Open Access Online Scientific Journal is a scientific, medical and business multi expert authoring environment in several domains of  life sciences, pharmaceutical, healthcare & medicine industries. The venture operates as an online scientific intellectual exchange at their website http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com and for curation and reporting on frontiers in biomedical, biological sciences, healthcare economics, pharmacology, pharmaceuticals & medicine. In addition the venture publishes a Medical E-book Series available on Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Analyzing and sharing the vast and rapidly expanding volume of scientific knowledge has never been so crucial to innovation in the medical field. WE are addressing need of overcoming this scientific information overload by:

  • delivering curation and summary interpretations of latest findings and innovations
  • on an open-access, Web 2.0 platform with future goals of providing primarily concept-driven search in the near future
  • providing a social platform for scientists and clinicians to enter into discussion using social media
  • compiling recent discoveries and issues in yearly-updated Medical E-book Series on Amazon’s mobile Kindle platform

This curation offers better organization and visibility to the critical information useful for the next innovations in academic, clinical, and industrial research by providing these hybrid networks.

Table of Contents for Cancer Biology and Genomics for Disease Diagnosis

Preface

Introduction  The evolution of cancer therapy and cancer research: How we got here?

Part I. Historical Perspective of Cancer Demographics, Etiology, and Progress in Research

Chapter 1:  The Occurrence of Cancer in World Populations

Chapter 2.  Rapid Scientific Advances Changes Our View on How Cancer Forms

Chapter 3:  A Genetic Basis and Genetic Complexity of Cancer Emerge

Chapter 4: How Epigenetic and Metabolic Factors Affect Tumor Growth

Chapter 5: Advances in Breast and Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Supports Hope for Cure

Part II. Advent of Translational Medicine, “omics”, and Personalized Medicine Ushers in New Paradigms in Cancer Treatment and Advances in Drug Development

Chapter 6:  Treatment Strategies

Chapter 7:  Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapy

Part III.Translational Medicine, Genomics, and New Technologies Converge to Improve Early Detection

Chapter 8:  Diagnosis                                     

Chapter 9:  Detection

Chapter 10:  Biomarkers

Chapter 11:  Imaging In Cancer

Chapter 12: Nanotechnology Imparts New Advances in Cancer Treatment, Detection, &  Imaging                                 

Epilogue by Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FACP: Envisioning New Insights in Cancer Translational Biology

 

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Twitter is Becoming a Powerful Tool in Science and Medicine

 Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Updated 4/2016

Life-cycle of Science 2

A recent Science article (Who are the science stars of Twitter?; Sept. 19, 2014) reported the top 50 scientists followed on Twitter. However, the article tended to focus on the use of Twitter as a means to develop popularity, a sort of “Science Kardashian” as they coined it. So the writers at Science developed a “Kardashian Index (K-Index) to determine scientists following and popularity on Twitter.

Now as much buzz Kim Kardashian or a Perez Hilton get on social media, their purpose is solely for entertainment and publicity purposes, the Science sort of fell flat in that it focused mainly on the use of Twitter as a metric for either promotional or public outreach purposes. A notable scientist was mentioned in the article, using Twitter feed to gauge the receptiveness of his presentation. In addition, relying on Twitter for effective public discourse of science is problematic as:

  • Twitter feeds are rapidly updated and older feeds quickly get buried within the “Twittersphere” = LIMITED EXPOSURE TIMEFRAME
  • Short feeds may not provide the access to appropriate and understandable scientific information (The Science Communication Trap) which is explained in The Art of Communicating Science: traps, tips and tasks for the modern-day scientist. “The challenge of clearly communicating the intended scientific message to the public is not insurmountable but requires an understanding of what works and what does not work.” – from Heidi Roop, G.-Martinez-Mendez and K. Mills

However, as highlighted below, Twitter, and other social media platforms are being used in creative ways to enhance the research, medical, and bio investment collaborative, beyond a simple news-feed.  And the power of Twitter can be attributed to two simple features

  1. Ability to organize – through use of the hashtag (#) and handle (@), Twitter assists in the very important task of organizing, indexing, and ANNOTATING content and conversations. A very great article on Why the Hashtag in Probably the Most Powerful Tool on Twitter by Vanessa Doctor explains how hashtags and # search may be as popular as standard web-based browser search. Thorough annotation is crucial for any curation process, which are usually in the form of database tags or keywords. The use of # and @ allows curators to quickly find, index and relate disparate databases to link annotated information together. The discipline of scientific curation requires annotation to assist in the digital preservation, organization, indexing, and access of data and scientific & medical literature. For a description of scientific curation methodologies please see the following links:

Please read the following articles on CURATION

The Methodology of Curation for Scientific Research Findings

Power of Analogy: Curation in Music, Music Critique as a Curation and Curation of Medical Research Findings – A Comparison

Science and Curation: The New Practice of Web 2.0

  1. Information Analytics

Multiple analytic software packages have been made available to analyze information surrounding Twitter feeds, including Twitter feeds from #chat channels one can set up to cover a meeting, product launch etc.. Some of these tools include:

Twitter Analytics – measures metrics surrounding Tweets including retweets, impressions, engagement, follow rate, …

Twitter Analytics – Hashtags.org – determine most impactful # for your Tweets For example, meeting coverage of bioinvestment conferences or startup presentations using #startup generates automatic retweeting by Startup tweetbot @StartupTweetSF.

 

  1. Tweet Sentiment Analytics

Examples of Twitter Use

A. Scientific Meeting Coverage

In a paper entitled Twitter Use at a Family Medicine Conference: Analyzing #STFM13 authors Ranit Mishori, MD, Frendan Levy, MD, and Benjamin Donvan analyzed the public tweets from the 2013 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) conference bearing the meeting-specific hashtag #STFM13. Thirteen percent of conference attendees (181 users) used the #STFM13 to share their thoughts on the meeting (1,818 total tweets) showing a desire for social media interaction at conferences but suggesting growth potential in this area. As we have also seen, the heaviest volume of conference-tweets originated from a small number of Twitter users however most tweets were related to session content.

However, as the authors note, although it is easy to measure common metrics such as number of tweets and retweets, determining quality of engagement from tweets would be important for gauging the value of Twitter-based social-media coverage of medical conferences.

Thea authors compared their results with similar analytics generated by the HealthCare Hashtag Project, a project and database of medically-related hashtag use, coordinated and maintained by the company Symplur.  Symplur’s database includes medical and scientific conference Twitter coverage but also Twitter usuage related to patient care. In this case the database was used to compare meeting tweets and hashtag use with the 2012 STFM conference.

These are some of the published journal articles that have employed Symplur (www.symplur.com) data in their research of Twitter usage in medical conferences.

B. Twitter Usage for Patient Care and Engagement

Although the desire of patients to use and interact with their physicians over social media is increasing, along with increasing health-related social media platforms and applications, there are certain obstacles to patient-health provider social media interaction, including lack of regulatory framework as well as database and security issues. Some of the successes and issues of social media and healthcare are discussed in the post Can Mobile Health Apps Improve Oral-Chemotherapy Adherence? The Benefit of Gamification.

However there is also a concern if social media truly engages the patient and improves patient education. In a study of Twitter communications by breast cancer patients Tweeting about breast cancer, authors noticed Tweeting was a singular event. The majority of tweets did not promote any specific preventive behavior. The authors concluded “Twitter is being used mostly as a one-way communication tool.” (Using Twitter for breast cancer prevention: an analysis of breast cancer awareness month. Thackeray R1, Burton SH, Giraud-Carrier C, Rollins S, Draper CR. BMC Cancer. 2013;13:508).

In addition a new poll by Harris Interactive and HealthDay shows one third of patients want some mobile interaction with their physicians.

Some papers cited in Symplur’s HealthCare Hashtag Project database on patient use of Twitter include:

C. Twitter Use in Pharmacovigilance to Monitor Adverse Events

Pharmacovigilance is the systematic detection, reporting, collecting, and monitoring of adverse events pre- and post-market of a therapeutic intervention (drug, device, modality e.g.). In a Cutting Edge Information Study, 56% of pharma companies databases are an adverse event channel and more companies are turning to social media to track adverse events (in Pharmacovigilance Teams Turn to Technology for Adverse Event Reporting Needs). In addition there have been many reports (see Digital Drug Safety Surveillance: Monitoring Pharmaceutical Products in Twitter) that show patients are frequently tweeting about their adverse events.

There have been concerns with using Twitter and social media to monitor for adverse events. For example FDA funded a study where a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and other academic centers examined more than 60,000 tweets, of which 4,401 were manually categorized as resembling adverse events and compared with the FDA pharmacovigilance databases. Problems associated with such social media strategy were inability to obtain extra, needed information from patients and difficulty in separating the relevant Tweets from irrelevant chatter.  The UK has launched a similar program called WEB-RADR to determine if monitoring #drug_reaction could be useful for monitoring adverse events. Many researchers have found the adverse-event related tweets “noisy” due to varied language but had noticed many people do understand some principles of causation including when adverse event subsides after discontinuing the drug.

However Dr. Clark Freifeld, Ph.D., from Boston University and founder of the startup Epidemico, feels his company has the algorithms that can separate out the true adverse events from the junk. According to their web site, their algorithm has high accuracy when compared to the FDA database. Dr. Freifeld admits that Twitter use for pharmacovigilance purposes is probably a starting point for further follow-up, as each patient needs to fill out the four-page forms required for data entry into the FDA database.

D. Use of Twitter in Big Data Analytics

Published on Aug 28, 2012

http://blogs.ischool.berkeley.edu/i29…

Course: Information 290. Analyzing Big Data with Twitter
School of Information
UC Berkeley

Lecture 1: August 23, 2012

Course description:
How to store, process, analyze and make sense of Big Data is of increasing interest and importance to technology companies, a wide range of industries, and academic institutions. In this course, UC Berkeley professors and Twitter engineers will lecture on the most cutting-edge algorithms and software tools for data analytics as applied to Twitter microblog data. Topics will include applied natural language processing algorithms such as sentiment analysis, large scale anomaly detection, real-time search, information diffusion and outbreak detection, trend detection in social streams, recommendation algorithms, and advanced frameworks for distributed computing. Social science perspectives on analyzing social media will also be covered.

This is a hands-on project course in which students are expected to form teams to complete intensive programming and analytics projects using the real-world example of Twitter data and code bases. Engineers from Twitter will help advise student projects, and students will have the option of presenting their final project presentations to an audience of engineers at the headquarters of Twitter in San Francisco (in addition to on campus). Project topics include building on existing infrastructure tools, building Twitter apps, and analyzing Twitter data. Access to data will be provided.

Other posts on this site on USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND TWITTER IN HEALTHCARE and Conference Coverage include:

Methodology for Conference Coverage using Social Media: 2014 MassBio Annual Meeting 4/3 – 4/4 2014, Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge, MA

Strategy for Event Joint Promotion: 14th ANNUAL BIOTECH IN EUROPE FORUM For Global Partnering & Investment 9/30 – 10/1/2014 • Congress Center Basel – SACHS Associates, London

REAL TIME Cancer Conference Coverage: A Novel Methodology for Authentic Reporting on Presentations and Discussions launched via Twitter.com @ The 2nd ANNUAL Sachs Cancer Bio Partnering & Investment Forum in Drug Development, 19th March 2014 • New York Academy of Sciences • USA

PCCI’s 7th Annual Roundtable “Crowdfunding for Life Sciences: A Bridge Over Troubled Waters?” May 12 2014 Embassy Suites Hotel, Chesterbrook PA 6:00-9:30 PM

CRISPR-Cas9 Discovery and Development of Programmable Genome Engineering – Gabbay Award Lectures in Biotechnology and Medicine – Hosted by Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, 10/27/14 3:30PM Brandeis University, Gerstenzang 121

Tweeting on 14th ANNUAL BIOTECH IN EUROPE FORUM For Global Partnering & Investment 9/30 – 10/1/2014 • Congress Center Basel – SACHS Associates, London

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/press-coverage/

Statistical Analysis of Tweet Feeds from the 14th ANNUAL BIOTECH IN EUROPE FORUM For Global Partnering & Investment 9/30 – 10/1/2014 • Congress Center Basel – SACHS Associates, London

1st Pitch Life Science- Philadelphia- What VCs Really Think of your Pitch

What VCs Think about Your Pitch? Panel Summary of 1st Pitch Life Science Philly

How Social Media, Mobile Are Playing a Bigger Part in Healthcare

Can Mobile Health Apps Improve Oral-Chemotherapy Adherence? The Benefit of Gamification.

Medical Applications and FDA regulation of Sensor-enabled Mobile Devices: Apple and the Digital Health Devices Market

E-Medical Records Get A Mobile, Open-Sourced Overhaul By White House Health Design Challenge Winners

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Can Mobile Health Apps Improve Oral-Chemotherapy Adherence? The Benefit of Gamification.

 

A report on how gamification mobile applications, like CyberDoctor’s PatientPartner, may improve patient adherence to oral chemotherapy.

(includes interviews with CyberDoctor’s CEO Akhila Satish and various oncologists)

 

Writer/Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Studies have pointed to a growing need to monitor and improve medical adherence, especially with outpatient prescription drugs across many diseases, including cancer.

The trend to develop oral chemotherapies, so patients can take their medications in the convenience of their home, has introduced produced a unique problem concerning cancer patient-medication adherence. Traditionally, chemotherapies were administered by a parental (for example intravenous) route by clinic staff, however, as noted by Jennifer M Gangloff in her article Troubling Trend: Medication Adherence:

 

with the trend of cancer patients taking their oral medication at home, the burden of adherence has shifted from clinicians to the patients and their families.

 

A few highlights from Jennifer Gangloff’s article highlight the degree and scope of the problem:

 

  1. There is a wide range of adherence for oral chemo– as low as 16% up to 100% adherence rates have been seen in multiple studies
  2. High cost in lives and money: estimates in US of 125,000 deaths and $300 billion in healthcare costs due to nonadherence to oral anticancer medications
  3. Factors not related to the patient can contribute to nonadherence including lack of information provided by the healthcare system and socioeconomic factors
  4. Numerous methods to improve adherence issues (hospital informative seminars, talking pill bottles, reminder phone calls etc.) have met with mixed results.

 

A review by Steve D`Amato of published literature also highlights the extent of problems with highly variable adherence rates including

  • 17-27% for hematologic malignancies
  • 53-98% for breast cancer
  • 97% for ovarian cancer

More strikingly, patient adherence rates can drastically decline over treatment, with one study showing an adherence rate drop from 87% to 50% over 4 years of adjuvant tamoxifen therapy.

 

Tackling The Oral Chemotherapy-Patient Adherence Problem

 

Documented factors leading to non-adherence to oral oncology medications include

  1. Patient feels better so stop taking the drug
  2. Patient feels worse so stops taking the drug
  3. Confusing and complicated dosing regimen
  4. Inability to afford medications
  5. Poor provider-patient relationships
  6. Adverse effects of medication
  7. Cognitive impairment (“chemo fog”; mental impairment due to chemotherapy
  8. Inadequate education/instruction of discharge

There are many examples of each reason why a patient stopped taking medication. One patient was prescribed capecitabine for her metastatic breast cancer and, upon feeling nausea, started to use antacids, which precipitated toxicities as a result of increased plasma levels of capecitabine.

In a white paper entitled Oral Oncology Treatment Regimens and the Role of Medication Therapy Management on Patient Adherence and Compliance, David Reese, Vice President Oncology at Tx Care Advantage discus how Medication Therapy Management (MTM) programs could intervene to improve medical adherence in both the oncology and non-oncology setting.

This review also documented the difficulties in accurately measuring patient adherence including:

  • Inaccuracy of self-reporting
  • Lack of applicability of external measurements such as pill counts
  • Hawthorne effect: i.e. patient pill documentation reminds them to take next dose

The group suggests that using MTM programs, especially telephony systems involving oncology nurses and pharmacists and utilizing:

  • Therapy support (dosing reminders)
  • Education
  • Side effect management

 

may be a cost-efficient methodology to improve medical adherence.

 

Although nurses are important intermediary educating patients about their oral chemotherapies, it does not appear that solely relying on nurses to monitor patient adherence will be sufficient, as indicated in a survey-based Japanese study.

As reported in May 12, 2014 | Oncology Nursing By Leah Lawrence

 

Systematic Nurse Involvement Key as Oral Chemotherapy Use Grows– at: http://www.cancernetwork.com/oncology-nursing/systematic-nurse-involvement-key-oral-chemotherapy-use-grows

 

Survey results indicated that 90% of nurses reported asking patients on oral chemotherapy about emergency contacts, side effects, and family/friend support. Nurses also provided patients with education materials on their assigned medication.

However, less than one-third of nurses asked if their patients felt confident about managing their oral chemotherapy.

“Nurses were less likely to ask adherence-related questions of patients with refilled prescriptions than of new patients,” the researchers wrote. “Regarding unused doses of anticancer agents, 35.5% of nurses reported that they did not confirm the number of unused doses when patients had refilled prescriptions.”

From the Roswell Park Cancer Institute blog post Making Mobile Health Work

https://www.roswellpark.org/partners-practice/white-papers/making-mobile-health-work

US physicians are recognizing the need for the adoption of mobile in their practice but choice of apps and mobile strategies must be carefully examined before implementation. In addition, most physicians are using mobile communications as a free-complementary service and these physicians are not being reimbursed for their time.

 

Some companies are providing their own oncology-related mobile app services:

CollabRx Announces Oncology-Specific Mobile App with Leading Site for Healthcare Professionals, MedPage Today

(http://www.collabrx.com/collabrx-announces-oncology-specific-mobile-app-with-leading-site-for-healthcare-professionals-medpage-today/)

San Francisco, August 13, 2013CollabRx, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLRX), a healthcare information technology company focused on informing clinical decision making in molecular medicine, today announced a multi-year agreement with Everyday Health’s MedPage Today. The forthcoming app, which will target oncologists and pathologists, will focus on the molecular aspects of laboratory testing and therapy development. Over time, the expectation is that this app will serve as a comprehensive point of care resource for physicians and patients to obtain highly credible, expert-vetted and dynamically updated information to guide cancer treatment planning.

The McKesson Foundation’s Mobilizing for Health initiative

has awarded a grant to Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health to develop a mobile health program that uses a smartphone application to help patients with cancer adhere to oral chemotherapy treatments and monitor their symptoms, FierceMobileHealthcare reports.

 

CancerNet announces mobile application (from cancer.net)

http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/managing-your-care/mobile-applications

 

However, there is little evidence that the plethora of cancer-based apps is providing any benefit with regard to patient outcome or adherence, as reported in to an article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, reported at FierceMobileHealthcare (Read more: Cancer smartphone apps for consumers lack effectiveness – FierceMobileHealthcare http://www.fiercemobilehealthcare.com/story/cancer-smartphone-apps-consumers-lack-effectiveness/2013-12-26#ixzz34ucdxVcU )

The report suggests that there are too many apps either offering information, suggesting behavior/lifestyle changes, or measuring compliance data but little evidence to suggest any of these are working the way they intended. The article suggests the plethora of apps may just be adding to the confusion.

Johnson&Johnson’s Wellness & Prevention unit has launched a health-tracking app Track Your Health. Although the company considers it a “gamification“ app, Track Your Health© operates to either feed data from other health tracking apps or allow the user to manually input data.
Read more: J&J launches ‘quantified self’ app to game patients into better behavior – FiercePharmaMarketing http://www.fiercepharmamarketing.com/story/jj-launches-quantified-self-app-game-patients-better-behavior/2014-05-28#ixzz34uhFDJr2

Even ASCO has a list of some oncology-related apps (http://connection.asco.org/commentary/article/id/3123/favorite-hematology-oncology-apps.aspx) and

NIH is offering grants for oncology-related app development (https://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=72923&type=member&item=5870221695683424259&qid=dbf53031-dd21-443c-9152-fad87f85d200&trk=groups_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=.gmp_72923)
As reports and clinicians have stated, we need health outcome data and clinical trials to determine the effective of these apps.

MyCyberDoctor™, a True Gamification App, Shows Great Results in Improving Diabetics Medical Adherence and Health Outcome

 

Most of the mobile health apps discussed above, would be classified as tracking apps, because the applications simply record a patient’s actions, whether filling a prescription, interacting with a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or going to a website to gain information. However, as discussed before, there is no hard evidence this is really impacting health outcomes.

 

Another type of application, termed gamification apps, rely on role-playing by the patient to affect patient learning and ultimately behavior.

An interested twist on this method was designed by Akhila Satish, CEO and developer of CyberDoctor and a complementary application PatientPartner.

Akhila Satish Picture

 

 

Ms. Akhila Satish, CEO CyberDoctor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please watch video of interview with Akhila Satish, CEO of CyberDoctor at the Health 2.0 conference http://vimeo.com/51695558

 

And a video of the results of the PatientPartner clinical trial here: http://vimeo.com/79537738

 

As reported here, the PatientPartner application was used in the first IRB-approved mhealth clinical-trial to see if the gamification app could improve medical adherence and outcomes in diabetic patients. PatientPartner is a story-driven game in changing health behavior and biomarkers (blood glucose levels in this trial). In the clinical trial, 100 non-adherent patients with diabetes played the PatientPartner game for 15 minutes. Results were amazing, as the trial demonstrated an increase in patient adherence, with only 15 minutes of game playing.

Results from the study

Patients with diabetes who used PatientPartner showed significant improvement in three key areas – medication, diet, and exercise:

  • Medication adherence increased by 37%, from 58% to 95% – equivalent to three additional days of medication adherence per week.
  • Diet adherence increased by 24% – equivalent to two days of additional adherence a week.
  • Exercise adherence increased by 14% – equivalent to one additional day of adherence per week.
  • HbA1c (a blood sugar measure) decreased from 10.7% to 9.7%.

As mentioned in the article:

The unique, universal, non-disease specific approach allows PatientPartner to be effective in improving adherence in all patient populations.

PatientPartner is available in the iTunes store and works on the iPhone and iPod Touch. For information on PatientPartner, visit www.mypatientpartner.com.

Ms. Satish, who was named one of the top female CEO’s at the Health Conference, gratuitously offered to answer a few questions for Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) on the feasibility of using such a game (role-playing) application to improve medical adherence in the oncology field.

LPBI: The results you had obtained with patient-compliance in the area of diabetes are compelling and the clinical trial well-designed.  In the oncology field, due to the increase in use of oral chemotherapeutics, patient-compliance has become a huge issue. Other than diabetes, are there plans for MyCyberDoctor and PatientPartner to be used in other therapeutic areas to assist with patient-compliance and patient-physician relations?

Ms. Satish: Absolutely! We tested the application in diabetes because we wanted to measure adherence from an objective blood marker (hbA1c). However, the method behind PatientPartner- teaching patients how to make healthy choices- is universal and applicable across therapeutic areas. 

LPBI: Recently, there have been a plethora of apps developed which claim to impact patient-compliance and provide information. Some of these apps have been niche (for example only providing prescription information but tied to pharmacy records and company databases). Your app seems to be the only one with robust clinical data behind it and approaches from a different angle, namely adjusting behavior using a gamefying experience and teaching the patient the importance of compliance. How do you feel this approach geared more toward patient education sets PatientPartner apart from other compliance-based apps?

Ms. Satish: PatientPartner really focuses on the how of patient decision making, rather than the specifics of each decision that is made. It’s a unique approach, and part of the reason PatientPartner works so effectively with such a short initial intervention! We are able to achieve more with less “app” time as a result of this method.  

LPBI: There have been multiple studies attempting to correlate patient adherence, decision-making, and health outcome to socioeconomic status. In some circumstances there is a socioeconomic correlation while other cases such as patient-decision to undergo genetic testing or compliance to breast cancer treatment in rural areas, level of patient education may play a bigger role. Do you have data from your diabetes trial which would suggest any differences in patient adherence, outcome to any socioeconomic status? Do you feel use of PatientPartner would break any socioeconomic barriers to full patient adherence?

Ms. Satish: Within our trial, we had several different clinical sites. This helped us test the product out in a broad, socioeconomically diverse population. It is our hope that with a tool as easy to scale and use as PatientPartner we have the opportunity to see the product used widely, even in populations that are traditionally harder to reach.  

LPBI: There has been a big push for the development of individual, personalized physician networks which use the internet as the primary point of contact between a primary physician and the patient. Individuals may sign up to these networks bypassing the traditional insurance-based networks. How would your application assist in these types of personalized networks?

Ms. Satish: PatientPartner can easily be plugged into any existing framework of communication between patient and provider. We facilitate patient awareness, engagement and accountability- all of which are important regardless of the network structure.

LBPI: Thank you Akhila!

A debate has begun about regulating mobile health applications, and although will be another post, I would just like to summarize a nice article in May, 2014 Oncology Times by Sarah Digiulo “Mobile Health Apps: Should They be Regulated?

In general, in the US there are HIPAA regulations about the dissemination of health related information between a patient and physician. Most of the concerns are related to personal health information made public in an open-access platform such as Twitter or Facebook.

In addition, according to Dr. Don Dizon M.D., Director of the Oncology Sexual Health Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, it may be more difficult to design applications directed against a vast, complex disease like cancer with its multiple subtypes than for diabetes.

 

Mobile Health Applications on Rise in Developing World: Worldwide Opportunity

 

According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) statistics, world-wide mobile phone use has expanded tremendously in the past 5 years, reaching almost 6 billion subscriptions. By the end of this year it is estimated that over 95% of the world’s population will have access to mobile phones/devices, including smartphones.

This presents a tremendous and cost-effective opportunity in developing countries, and especially rural areas, for physicians to reach patients using mHealth platforms.

Drs. Clara Aranda-Jan Neo Mohutsiwa and Svetla Loukanova had conducted a systematic review of the literature on mHealth projects conducted in Africa[1] to assess the reliability of mobile phone and applications to assist in patient-physician relationships and health outcomes. The authors reviewed forty four studies on mHealth projects in Africa, determining their:

  • strengths
  • weaknesses
  • opportunities
  • threats

to patient outcomes using these mHealth projects. In general, the authors found that mHealth projects were beneficial for health-related outcomes and their success related to

  • accessibility
  • acceptance and low-cost
  • adaptation to local culture
  • government involvement

while threats to such projects could include

  • lack of funding
  • unreliable infrastructure
  • unclear healthcare system responsibilities

Dr.Sreedhar Tirunagari, an oncologist in India, agrees that mHealth, especially gamification applications could greatly foster better patient education and adherencealthough he notes that mHealth applications are not really used in India and may not be of much use for those oncology patients living in rural areas, as  cell phone use is not as prevalent as in the bigger inner cities such as Delhi and Calcutta.

 

Dr. Louis Bretes, an oncologist from Portugal, when asked

1) do you see a use for such apps which either track drug compliance or use gamification systems to teach patients the importance of continuing their full schedule of drug therapy

2) do you feel patient- drug compliance issues in the oncology practice is due to lack of information available to the patient or issues related to drug side effects?

“I think that Apps could help in this setting, we are in
Informatics era but..
The main question is that chronic patients are special ones.
Cancer patients have to deal with prognosis, even in therapies
with curative intent such as aromatase inhibitors are potent
Drugs that can cure; only in the future the patients know.
But meanwhile he or she has to deal with side-effects every day. A PC can help but suffer this symptoms…it. Is a real problem believe me!”

“The main app is his/her doctor”

I would like to invite all oncologists to answer the poll question ABOVE about the use of such gamification apps, like PatientPartner, for improving medical adherence to oral chemotherapy.

 

In addition other articles on this site related to Mobile Health applications and Health Outcomes include

Medical Applications and FDA regulation of Sensor-enabled Mobile Devices: Apple and the Digital Health Devices Market

How Social Media, Mobile Are Playing a Bigger Part in Healthcare

E-Medical Records Get A Mobile, Open-Sourced Overhaul By White House Health Design Challenge Winners

Qualcomm Ventures Qprize Regional Competition: MediSafe, an Israeli start-up in the personal health field, is the 2014 Winner of a $100,000 Prize

Friday, April 4 8:30 am- 9:30 am Science Track: Mobile Technology and 3D Printing: Technologies Gaining Traction in Biotech and Pharma – MassBio Annual Meeting 2014, Royal Sonesta Hotel, Cambridge, MA

Information Security and Privacy in Healthcare is part of the 2nd Annual Medical Informatics World, April 28-29, 2014, World Trade Center, Boston, MA

Post Acute Care – Driver of Variation in Healthcare Costs

Kaiser data network aims to improve cancer, heart disease outcomes

 

Additional references

  1. Aranda-Jan CB, Mohutsiwa-Dibe N, Loukanova S: Systematic review on what works, what does not work and why of implementation of mobile health (mHealth) projects in Africa. BMC public health 2014, 14:188.

 

 

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