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Posts Tagged ‘cancer patient management’


Reporter: Gail S. Thornton

This article appeared on the web site of Harley Street Concierge, one of the U.K.’s leading independent providers of clinical, practical and emotion support for cancer patients. 

Cancer at Work: An Interview With Barbara Wilson

Whether you’re supporting an employee through cancer at work. Or you’re a cancer patient struggling to get the support you need. Either way, this Q and A with Barbara Wilson will help you out. Read on for a glimpse into Barbara’s personal experience with breast cancer. Find out where companies are falling short of supporting employees. Discover what you need to do if you’re feeling unsupported at work. And learn what’s unacceptable for Barbara in a modern and civilised society.

In a 2013 interview about cancer at work, you expressed amazement at “the lack of understanding there is about cancer. And what the impact is on individuals”. How would you say this has improved in the last 4 years? And what do you feel still needs to change?

There’s greater awareness and understanding about cancer at work. More organisations are aware of the difficulties people face. But many organisations don’t appreciate that recovery isn’t straightforward or quick. They also tend to rely on generic return to work policies. And these are inappropriate when it comes to supporting people recovering from cancer. A lot still depends on how far the local line manager is prepared to support an employee. And whether they’ll bend rules if need be about leave or sick pay.

You were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and given the all clear in 2010. What did you learn about yourself through treatment and recovery?

 

I learned that I wasn’t immortal or superhuman! And also that life is precious and so it’s important to make the best of it. That doesn’t actually mean counting off things on your bucket list. Or living each day as if it’s your last. It’s about appreciating what you have, family, friends and the sheer joy of being alive.

“Life is precious. It’s about appreciating what you have, family, friends and the sheer joy of being alive.”

It’s a common misperception that people in remission want more family time or to travel the world. What reasons do your clients share with you for wanting to get back to work?

Yes. Before I had cancer, I remember asking a terminally ill employee why she still wanted to work. And she worked until a fortnight before her death. The simple answer is that it’s about feeling normal. Using your brain. Being with friends and colleagues rather than on your own. And losing yourself in your work. There are also financial reasons. But typically – and I can say this based on my own experience – it’s about being ‘you’ again rather than a cancer patient.

“I remember asking a terminally ill employee why she still wanted to work. And she worked until a fortnight before her death. Typically – and I can say this based on my own experience – it’s about being ‘you’ again rather than a cancer patient.”

You share tips for employers and HR professionals in this article for Macmillan. And you set out how to support a colleague during and after cancer treatment. What would you say to an employee who isn’t feeling supported by their employer or colleagues in this way?

In my experience there are two main reasons why people often aren’t supported.

1. Bosses and colleagues don’t understand the full impact of cancer treatment. They won’t understand what fatigue is or chemo brain or peripheral neuropathy. So they often expect people to get ‘back to normal’ work after 6 to 8 weeks. But recovery can take many months. This isn’t helped by the person often looking fit and well.

2. People don’t like talking about cancer at work. They feel awkward. And as a result often decide to say nothing. We advise people to be open from the outset. To understand their right to reasonable adjustments. And their responsibility to update their employer about their recovery and support needs. Employees recovering from cancer often have to take the lead. They have to guide their colleagues about the specific help they need. You can’t expect others to do it for you. It sounds wrong but that’s how it is.

“Bosses and colleagues often expect people to get ‘back to normal’ work after 6 to 8 weeks. But recovery can take many months. “

More than 100,000 people had to wait more than 2 weeks to see a cancer specialist in the UK last year. 25,153 had to wait more than 62 days to start treatment. What’s your reaction to these statistics?

It’s shocking. The worry for patients and their families during this period is totally debilitating. And on top of this it means that the cancer is growing unchecked. Where the cancer is aggressive, the delay may threaten lives. And it will certainly add to the overall costs of care. We really have to address this. It’s just not acceptable in a modern and civilised society.

“The worry for patients and their families during this period is totally debilitating. We really have to address this.”

Finally, can you tell us more about Working With Cancer?

Working With Cancer is a social enterprise and was established in June 2014. We support people affected by cancer to lead fulfilling and rewarding working lives. That means helping people to successfully return to work or remain in work. Or sometimes it’s about helping people to find work – depending on their personal needs. We work with corporate, charities and other third sector organisations to support people throughout the UK.

We coach people diagnosed with cancer to re-establish their working lives. And we train employers to understand how to manage work and cancer. We’ll advise teams about how to support a colleague affected by cancer. And we help carers juggle work whilst supporting their loved ones. Working With Cancer also helps organisations to update or improve their policies.

Barbara Wilson - Cancer at Work

About Barbara Wilson

Barbara Wilson is a senior HR professional with almost 40 years’ experience.  Roles include Group Head of Strategic HR at Catlin Group Ltd. Deputy Head of HR at Schroders Investment Management. And Chief of Staff to the Group HR Director at Barclays. After a breast cancer diagnosis, Barbara launched Working With Cancer. It’s a Social Enterprise providing coaching, training and consultancy to employers, employees, carers and health professionals.

 

For more information about Working With Cancer, click here to visit the websiteFollow this link to connect with Barbara on Twitter. Email admin@workingwithcancer.co.uk. Or call 07508 232257 or 07919 147784.

 

SOURCE

https://harleystreetconcierge.com/cancer-at-work/

Other posts on the JP Morgan 2019 Healthcare Conference on this Open Access Journal include:

2018

Top 10 Cancer Research Priorities

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2018/12/24/top-10-cancer-research-priorities/

Innovation + Technology = Good Patient Experience

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2018/12/24/innovation-technology-good-patient-experience/

2017

Inspiring Book for ALL Cancer Survivors, ALL Cancer Patients and ALL Cardiac Patients – The VOICES of Patients, Hospitals CEOs, Health Care Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/10/24/inspiring-book-for-all-cancer-survivors-all-cancer-patients-and-all-cardiac-patients-the-voices-of-patients-hospitals-ceos-health-care-providers-caregivers-and-families-personal-experience-with/

2016

Funding Opportunities for Cancer Research

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/12/08/funding-opportunities-for-cancer-research/

2012

The Incentive for “Imaging based cancer patient’ management”

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/27/the-incentive-for-imaging-based-cancer-patient-management/

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Role of Informatics in Precision Medicine: Notes from Boston Healthcare Webinar: Can It Drive the Next Cost Efficiencies in Oncology Care?

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Boston Healthcare sponsored a Webinar recently entitled ” Role of Informatics in Precision Medicine: Implications for Innovators”.  The webinar focused on the different informatic needs along the Oncology Care value chain from drug discovery through clinicians, C-suite executives and payers. The presentation, by Joseph Ferrara and Mark Girardi, discussed the specific informatics needs and deficiencies experienced by all players in oncology care and how innovators in this space could create value. The final part of the webinar discussed artificial intelligence and the role in cancer informatics.

 

Below is the mp4 video and audio for this webinar.  Notes on each of the slides with a few representative slides are also given below:

Please click below for the mp4 of the webinar:

 

 


  • worldwide oncology related care to increase by 40% in 2020
  • big movement to participatory care: moving decision making to the patient. Need for information
  • cost components focused on clinical action
  • use informatics before clinical stage might add value to cost chain

 

 

 

 

Key unmet needs from perspectives of different players in oncology care where informatics may help in decision making

 

 

 

  1.   Needs of Clinicians

– informatic needs for clinical enrollment

– informatic needs for obtaining drug access/newer therapies

2.  Needs of C-suite/health system executives

– informatic needs to help focus of quality of care

– informatic needs to determine health outcomes/metrics

3.  Needs of Payers

– informatic needs to determine quality metrics and managing costs

– informatics needs to form guidelines

– informatics needs to determine if biomarkers are used consistently and properly

– population level data analytics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the kind of value innovations that tech entrepreneurs need to create in this space? Two areas/problems need to be solved.

  • innovations in data depth and breadth
  • need to aggregate information to inform intervention

Different players in value chains have different data needs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data Depth: Cumulative Understanding of disease

Data Depth: Cumulative number of oncology transactions

  • technology innovators rely on LEGACY businesses (those that already have technology) and these LEGACY businesses either have data breath or data depth BUT NOT BOTH; (IS THIS WHERE THE GREATEST VALUE CAN BE INNOVATED?)
  • NEED to provide ACTIONABLE as well as PHENOTYPIC/GENOTYPIC DATA
  • data depth more important in clinical setting as it drives solutions and cost effective interventions.  For example Foundation Medicine, who supplies genotypic/phenotypic data for patient samples supplies high data depth
  • technologies are moving to data support
  • evidence will need to be tied to umbrella value propositions
  • Informatic solutions will have to prove outcome benefit

 

 

 

 

 

How will Machine Learning be involved in the healthcare value chain?

  • increased emphasis on real time datasets – CONSTANT UPDATES NEED TO OCCUR. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING BUT VALUED BY MANY PLAYERS IN THIS SPACE
  • Interoperability of DATABASES Important!  Many Players in this space don’t understand the complexities integrating these datasets

Other Articles on this topic of healthcare informatics, value based oncology, and healthcare IT on this OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL include:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the federal healthcare program will cover the costs of cancer gene tests that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration

Broad Institute launches Merkin Institute for Transformative Technologies in Healthcare

HealthCare focused AI Startups from the 100 Companies Leading the Way in A.I. Globally

Paradoxical Findings in HealthCare Delivery and Outcomes: Economics in MEDICINE – Original Research by Anupam “Bapu” Jena, the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at HMS

Google & Digital Healthcare Technology

Can Blockchain Technology and Artificial Intelligence Cure What Ails Biomedical Research and Healthcare

The Future of Precision Cancer Medicine, Inaugural Symposium, MIT Center for Precision Cancer Medicine, December 13, 2018, 8AM-6PM, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Live Conference Coverage @Medcity Converge 2018 Philadelphia: Oncology Value Based Care and Patient Management

2016 BioIT World: Track 5 – April 5 – 7, 2016 Bioinformatics Computational Resources and Tools to Turn Big Data into Smart Data

The Need for an Informatics Solution in Translational Medicine

 

 

 

 

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Live Conference Coverage @Medcity Converge 2018 Philadelphia: Oncology Value Based Care and Patient Management

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

3:15 – 4:00 PM Breakout: What’s A Good Model for Value-Based Care in Oncology?

How do you implement a value-based care model in oncology? Medicare has created a bundled payment model in oncology and there are lessons to be learned from that and other programs. Listen to two presentations from experts in the field.

Moderator: Mahek Shah, M.D., Senior Researcher, Harvard Business School @Mahek_MD
Speakers:
Charles Saunders M.D., CEO, Integra Connect
Mari Vandenburgh, Director of Value-Based Reimbursement Operations, Highmark @Highmark

 

Mari: Building strategic partnerships with partners focused on population based health and evidence based outcomes. they provide data analytics and consultative services.  Incorporate risk based systems.  also looking at ancillary segments because they see cost savings.  True Performance is their flagship performance program and 11% lower ED (saving $18 million) rates and 16% lower readmissions ($200 million cost savings).  Also launched the Highmark Cancer care Program with Johns Hopkins.  They monitor the adherence pathways and if clinician shows good adherence they give reimbursements.

Charles:  Integra is a cloud based care platform focused on oncology and urology and allow clinicians to practice value based care. Providers must now focus on total cost including ER visits, end of life and therapies (which is half of total cost in US).  The actionable ways to reduce costs is by reducing ER visits.  What is working? Data on reimbursements models is very accurate so practices can dig into data and find effieciencies.  However most practices do not have the analytics to do this.

  • care navigation
  • care path based treatment choices
  • enhanced patient access and experience

What is not working

  • data not structured so someone has to do manual curation of records
  • flawed logic based on plurality of visits but physician doesn’t know who else they saw
  • target pricing not taking into account high prices of new therapies
  • lack of timely reporting either by patient or physician
  • insufficient reimbursements
  • technology limitations

 

4:10- 4:55 Breakout: What Patients Want and Need On Their Journey

Cancer patients are living with an existential threat every day. A panel of patients and experts in oncology care management will discuss what’s needed to make the journey for oncology patients a bit more bearable.

sponsored by CEO Council for Growth

Moderator: Amanda Woodworth, M.D., Director of Breast Health, Drexel University College of Medicine
Speakers:
Kezia Fitzgerald, Chief Innovation Officer & Co-Founder, CareAline® Products, LLC
Sara Hayes, Senior Director of Community Development, Health Union @SaraHayes_HU
Katrece Nolen, Cancer Survivor and Founder, Find Cancer Help @KatreceNolen
John Simpkins, Administrative DirectorService Line Director of the Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia @ChildrensPhila

 

Kezia: was a cancer patient as well as her child getting treated at two different places and tough part was coordinating everything including treatments and schedules, working schedules

Katrece: had problem scheduling with oncologists because misdiagnosis and her imaging records were on CD and surgeon could not use the CD

John:  the above are a common frustration among patients at a time when they don’t need the confusion. He feels cancer centers need to coordinate these services better

Sara:  trying to assist people with this type of coordination is very tough even with all the resources

Kazia:  she needed to do all the research on her own because big dichotomy being an adult and a pediatric patient where pediatrics get more information and patient centered care. She felt she felt burdening the physicians if she asked the same questions.  How can we get more interaction with primary care physicians and feel comfortable with their interaction?

John: there is this dichotomy especially on wait times for adults is usually longer.  We can also improve patient experience with counseling patients

Katrece: Just working with a patient navigator is not enough.  The patient needs to take charge of their disease.

Sara: Patient communities can help as sometimes patients learn from other patients.

Amanda:  in breast cancer , navigators are common but must take care they are not only people patients see after a while

John:  at CHOP they also have a financial navigator.  On the adult side there are on call financial navigators.  Recent change of the high deductible plans are a major problem.  Although new families are starting to become comfortable with the financial navigator

Katrece:  guiding your children through your experience is important.  It was also important for her to advocate for herself as she had three different sites of cancer care to coordinate and multiple teams to coordinate with each other

Amanda:  A common theme seems to be hard trying to find the resources you need.  Why is that?

Kazia:  Sometimes it is hard to talk about your disease because it can be emotionally draining comforting other people who you told about the disease and they are being empathetic.  Sometimes they want to keep their ‘journey’ to themselves

John:  A relative kept her disease secret because she didn’t want to burden others…. a common cancer patient concern

Sara: Moderation of a social group is necessary to keep it a safe space and prevent trollers (like in Facebook support groups).

Kazia:  most group members will get together and force those trollers out of the group

Katrece: alot of anxiety after treatment ends, patient feels like being dropped on the floor like they don’t get support after treatment.  If there were survivorship navigators might be helpful

Amanda: for breast cancer they do a Survivor Care Package but just a paper packet, patients do appreciate it but a human coordinator would be a great idea

 

 

 

 

Please follow on Twitter using the following #hashtags and @pharma_BI

#MCConverge

#cancertreatment

#healthIT

#innovation

#precisionmedicine

#healthcaremodels

#personalizedmedicine

#healthcaredata

And at the following handles:

@pharma_BI

@medcitynews

 

Please see related articles on Live Coverage of Previous Meetings on this Open Access Journal

LIVE – Real Time – 16th Annual Cancer Research Symposium, Koch Institute, Friday, June 16, 9AM – 5PM, Kresge Auditorium, MIT

Real Time Coverage and eProceedings of Presentations on 11/16 – 11/17, 2016, The 12th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, Joseph B. Martin Conference Center, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston

Tweets Impression Analytics, Re-Tweets, Tweets and Likes by @AVIVA1950 and @pharma_BI for 2018 BioIT, Boston, 5/15 – 5/17, 2018

BIO 2018! June 4-7, 2018 at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

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

 

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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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