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Responses to the #COVID-19 outbreak from Oncologists, Cancer Societies and the NCI: Important information for cancer patients

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

UPDATED 3/20/2020

Among the people who are identified at risk of coronovirus 2019 infection and complications of the virus include cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, who in general, can be immunosuppressed, especially while patients are undergoing their treatment.  This has created anxiety among many cancer patients as well as their care givers and prompted many oncologist professional groups, cancer societies, and cancer centers to formulate some sort of guidelines for both the cancer patients and the oncology professional with respect to limiting the risk of infection to coronavirus (COVID19). 

 

This information will be periodically updated and we are working to get a Live Twitter Feed to bring oncologist and cancer patient advocacy groups together so up to date information can be communicated rapidly.  Please see this page regularly for updates as new information is curated.

IN ADDITION, I will curate a listing of drugs with adverse events of immunosuppression for people who might wonder if the medications they are taking are raising their risk of infections.

Please also see @pharma_BI for updates as well.

Please also see our Coronavirus Portal at https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/coronavirus-portal/

For ease of reading information for patients are BOLDED and in RED

ASCO’s Response to COVID-19

From the Cancer Letter: The following is a guest editorial by American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO. This story is part of The Cancer Letter’s ongoing coverage of COVID-19’s impact on oncology. A full list of our coverage, as well as the latest meeting cancellations, is available here.

 

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents unprecedented challenges to the cancer care delivery system.

Our patients are already dealing with a life-threatening illness and are particularly vulnerable to this viral infection, which can be even more deadly for them. Further, as restrictions in daily movement and social distancing take hold, vulnerable patients may be disconnected from friends, family or other support they need as they manage their cancer.

As providers, we rely on evidence and experience when treating patients but now we face uncertainty. There are limited data to guide us in the specific management of cancer patients confronting COVID-19 and, at present, we have no population-level guidance regarding acceptable or appropriate adjustments of treatment and practice operations that both ensure the best outcome for our patients and protect the safety of our colleagues and staff.

As normal life is dramatically changed, we are all feeling anxious about the extreme economic challenges we face, but these issues are perhaps even more difficult for our patients, many of whom are now facing interruption

As we confront this extraordinary situation, the health and safety of members, staff, and individuals with cancer—in fact, the entire cancer community—is ASCO’s highest priority.

ASCO has been actively monitoring and responding to the pandemic to ensure that accurate information is readily available to clinicians and their patients. Recognizing that this is a rapidly evolving situation and that limited oncology-specific, evidence-based information is available, we are committed to sharing what is known and acknowledging what is unknown so that the most informed decisions can be made.

To help guide oncology professionals as they deal with the impact of coronavirus on both their patients and staff, ASCO has collated questions from its members, posted responses at asco.org and assembled a compendium of additional resources we hope will be helpful as the virus spreads and the disease unfolds. We continue to receive additional questions regarding clinical care and we are updating our FAQs on a regular basis.

We hope this information is helpful even when it merely confirms that there are no certain answers to many questions. Our answers are based on the best available information we identify in the literature, guidance from public health authorities, and input received from oncology and infectious disease experts.

For patients, we have posted a blog by Dr. Merry Jennifer Markham, chair of ASCO’s Cancer Communications Committee. This can be found on Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website, and it provides practical guidance to help patients reduce their risk of exposure, better understand COVID-19 symptoms, and locate additional information.

This blog is available both in English and Spanish. Additional blog posts addressing patient questions will be posted as new questions are received and new information becomes available.

Find below a Tweet from Dr.Markham which includes links to her article on COVID-19 for cancer patients

https://twitter.com/DrMarkham/status/1237797251038220289?s=20

NCCN’s Response to COVID-19 and COVID-19 Resources

JNCCN: How to Manage Cancer Care during COVID-19 Pandemic

Experts from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA)—a Member Institution of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®)—are sharing insights and advice on how to continue providing optimal cancer care during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. SCCA includes the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, which are located in the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The peer-reviewed article sharing best practices is available for free online-ahead-of-print via open access at JNCCN.org.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Resources for the Cancer Care Community

NCCN recognizes the rapidly changing medical information relating to COVID-19 in the oncology ecosystem, but understands that a forum for sharing best practices and specific institutional responses may be helpful to others.  Therefore, we are expeditiously providing documents and recommendations developed by NCCN Member Institutions or Guideline Panels as resources for oncology care providers. These resources have not been developed or reviewed by the standard NCCN processes, and are provided for information purposes only. We will post more resources as they become available so check back for additional updates.

Documents

Links

National Cancer Institute Response to COVID-19

More information at https://www.cancer.gov/contact/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus

What people with cancer should know: https://www.cancer.gov/coronavirus

Get the latest public health information from CDC: https://www.coronavirus.gov

Get the latest research information from NIH: https://www.nih.gov/coronavirus

 

Coronavirus: What People with Cancer Should Know

ON THIS PAGE

Both the resources at cancer.gov (NCI) as well as the resources from ASCO are updated as new information is evaluated and more guidelines are formulated by members of the oncologist and cancer care community and are excellent resources for those living with cancer, and also those who either care for cancer patients or their family and relatives.

Related Resources for Patients (please click on links)

 

 

 

Some resources and information for cancer patients from Twitter

Twitter feeds which may be useful sources of discussion and for cancer patients include:

 

@OncLive OncLive.com includes healthcare information for patients and includes videos and newsletters

 

 

@DrMarkham Dr. Markham is Chief of Heme-Onc & gyn med onc @UF | AD Med Affairs @UFHealthCancer and has collected very good information for patients concerning #Covid19 

 

 

@DrMaurieMarkman Dr. Maurie Markman is President of Medicine and Science (Cancer Centers of America, Philadelphia) @CancerCenter #TreatThePerson #Oncology #Genomics #PrecisionMedicine and hosts a great online live Tweet feed discussing current topics in cancer treatment and care for patients called #TreatThePerson Chat

UPDATED 3/20/2020 INFORMATION FROM NCI DESIGNATED CANCER CENTERS FOR PATIENTS/PROVIDERS

The following is a listing with links of NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and some select designated Cancer Centers* which have information on infectious risk guidance for cancer patients as well as their physicians and caregivers.   There are 51 NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers and as more cancer centers formulate guidance this list will be updated. 

 

Cancer Center State Link to COVID19 guidance
City of Hope CA Advice for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers
Jonsson Cancer Center at UCLA CA Cancer and COVID19
UCSF Hellen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer CA COVID-19 Links for Patients and Providers
Lee Moffit FL Protecting against Coronavirus 19
University of Kansas Cancer Center* KS COVID19 Info for patients
Barbara & Karmanos Cancer Institute (Wayne State) MI COVID19 Resources
Rogel Cancer Center (Univ of Michigan) MI COVID19 Patient Specific Guidelines
Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center (MO) Coronavirus
Fred & Pamela Buffet CC* NE Resources for Patients and Providers
Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ NJ What patients should know about COVID19
Memorial Sloan Kettering NY What COVID19 means for cancer patients
Herbert Irving CC (Columbia University) NY Coronavirus Resource Center
MD Anderson Cancer  TX Planning for Patients, Providers
Hunstman Cancer Center UT COVID19 What you need to know
Fred Hutchinson WA COVID19 What patients need to know

 

 

Please also see related information on Coronavirus 2019 and Cancer and Immunotherapy at the following links on the Open Access Online Journal:

Volume Two: Cancer Therapies: Metabolic, Genomics, Interventional, Immunotherapy and Nanotechnology in Therapy Delivery 

at

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/biomed-e-books/series-c-e-books-on-cancer-oncology/volume-two-immunotherapy-in-cancer-radiation-oncology/

AND

Coronavirus Portal

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


Personalized Medicine in NSCLC

Reviewer: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Introduction

Early in the 21st century, gefitinib, an epi­dermal growth factor receptor (EGFRtyrosine kinase inhibitor became available  for the treatment of non-small cell lung can­cer (NSCLC). Over 80% of selected patients

  • EGFR mutation-positive patients, respond to gefitinib treatment;
  • most patients develop acquired resistance to gefitinib within a few years.
Recently, many studies have been performed to determine precisely how to select patients who will respond to gefitinib, the best timing for its administration, and how to avoid the development of acquired resistance as well as adverse drug effects.
Lung cancers are classified according to their his­tological type. Because each variant has different bio­logical and clinical properties, including response to treatment, a precise classification is essential to pro­vide appropriate therapy for individual patients. Lung cancer consists of two broad categories—non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

NSCLC  – 20%–40% RR to chemotherapy

  • ade­nocarcinoma (AC),  40%–50% ( most common form)
    • higher sensitivity to chemotherapy than SCC or LC
  • squamous cell carcinoma (SCC),  ∼30%
  •  large cell carcinoma (LCC). 10%
The majority of patients with SCLC are diagnosed with
  • advanced cancer with distant metastasis
  • high sensitivity to chemotherapy.
  • response rate (RR) for SCLC is reportedly 60%–80%
  • complete remission is observed in only 15%–20% of patients
The Potential of Personalized Medicine in Advanced NSCLC
Personalized medicine—
  • matching a patient’s unique molecular profile with an appropriate targeted therapy—
  • is transforming the diagnosis and treatment of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Through molecular diagnostics, tumor cells may be differentiated based on the presence or absence of

  • receptor proteins,
  • driver mutations, or
  • oncogenic fusion/rearrangements.

The convergence of advancing research in drug development and genetic sequencing has permitted the development of therapies specifically targeted to certain biomarkers, which may offer a differential clinical benefit.

Putting personalized medicine in NSCLC into practice
With the data on the prognostic and predictive biomarkers EGFR and ALK, biomarker testing is increasingly important in therapy decisions in NSCLC.1,2
Biomarker Testing in Advanced NSCLC: Evolution in Pathology Clinical Practice
http://www.medscape.com/infosite/letstest/article-3
Multidisciplinary Approaches in the Changing Landscape of Advanced NSCLC
http://www.medscape.com/infosite/letstest/article-4
Oncology Perspectives on Biomarker Testing
http://www.medscape.com/infosite/letstest/article-1

References
1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Version 2.2012.
http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nscl.pdf.                   August 6, 2012.
2. Gazdar AF. Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition in lung cancer: the evolving role of individualized therapy. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010;29(1):37-48.

Over the last decade, a growing number of biomarkers have been identified in NSCLC.3,4 To date, 2 of these molecular markers have been shown to have both prognostic and predictive value in patients with advanced NSCLC: epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements.5-8 Testing for these biomarkers may provide physicians with more information on which to base treatment decisions, and reflex testing may permit consideration of appropriate therapy from the outset of treatment.2,9,10

References:
Lovly CM, Carbone DP. Lung cancer in 2010: one size does not fit all. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2011;8(2):68-70.
Dacic S. Molecular diagnostics of lung carcinomas. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011;135(5):622-629.
Herbst RS, Heymach JV, Lippman SM. Lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2008;359(13):1367-1380.
Quest Diagnostics. Lung Cancer Mutation Panel (EGFR, KRAS, ALK).                       Sept 17, 2012
http://questdiagnostics.com/hcp/intguide/jsp/showintguidepage.jsp?fn=Lung/TS_LungCancerMutation_Panel.htm.

Rosell R, Gervais R, Vergnenegre A, et al. Erlotinib versus chemotherapy (CT) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (p) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations: interim results of the European Erlotinib Versus Chemotherapy (EURTAC) phase III randomized trial. Presented at: 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(suppl). Abstract 7503.                        Aug 6, 2012.                    http://www.asco.org/ASCOv2/Meetings/Abstracts?&vmview=abst_detail_view&confID=102&abstractID=78285.
Mok TS, Wu YL, Thongprasert S, et al. Gefitinib or carboplatin-paclitaxel in pulmonary adenocarcinoma. N Engl J Med. 2009;361(10):947-957.
Kwak EL, Bang YJ, Camidge DR, et al. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibition in non–small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010;363(18):1693-1703.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Version 2.2012.
http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nscl.pdf.                        Aug 6, 2012
College of American Pathologists (CAP)/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC)/Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) expert panel. Lung cancer biomarkers guideline draft recommendations. http://capstaging.cap.org/apps/docs/membership/transformation/new/lung_public_comment_supporting_materials.pdf.      Aug 6, 2012.
Gazdar AF. Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition in lung cancer: the evolving role of individualized therapy. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010;29(1):37-48.

 Background Studies
In 2002, gefitinib (ZD1839; AstraZeneca) , the first epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor, became available as an innovative molecular-targeted drug for the treatment of unresectable NSCLC. Initially, many NSCLC patients were expected to respond to gefitinib because many solid tumors, including NSCLC, are known to overexpress EGFR, which has a role in tumor pro­liferation and is used as a biomarker to predict poor prognosis. Gefitinib was shown to have a dra­matic effect on a limited number of patients; but  it was ineffective in 70%–80% of patients with NSCLC. There have been reports of death caused by interstitial pneumonia (IP), one of the critical adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with gefitinib use. Therefore, there is a need for  predicting the effects of gefitinib, and criteria for select­ing patients who could be treated with gefitinib.
 In 2004, Lynch et al. and Paez et al. each pub­lished, on the same day, sensational reports in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science, identifying somatic mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of the EGFR gene in patients with gefitinib-sensitive lung cancer, as compared with none of the patients who had no response. Therefore, screening for EGFR mutations in lung cancer showed potential for identifying patients who would respond to gefi­tinib therapy. It then was found that patients with EGFR mutations in the area of the gene cod­ing for the ATP-binding pocket of the tyrosine kinase domain responded to gefitinib. Consequently, the EGFR genotyping has been used to select patients who will respond to gefitinib. Other genetic mutations have also been reported as indicators of the response or resistance to gefitinib; for example, mutations of the KRAS gene are associated with primary resistance to gefitinib. Thus, screening of EGFR and KRAS is used to
  • predict the effects of gefi­tinib and
  • to select patients who will respond to gefitinib in the clinical setting.
Until now, the effects of gefitinib have been predicted only by genotyping factors, such as EGFR and KRAS mutations. However, Nakamura et al showed a relationship between the blood concentration of gefitinib and its clinical effects. In their study of 23 NSCLC patients with EGFR mutations, the ratio of the gefitinib concentration on day 8 to that on day 3 after the first administration of gefitinib (C8/C3) correlated with the progression-free survival (PFS) period. Patients with a higher C8/C3 ratio had a significantly lon­ger PFS (P = 0.0158, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.237–0.862), which  suggests the importance of the PK of gefitinib on its clinical outcome.   Chmielecki et al. concurrently reported that maintain­ing a high concentration of erlotinib, another EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKIs) with the same mechanism of action as gefitinib, could
  1. delay the establishment of drug-resistant tumor cells and
  2. decrease the proliferation rate of drug-resistant cells compared to
    • treatment using a lower concentration of erlotinib.
Pharmacogenetic profile
Initially, gefitinib was expected to induce a response in patients with tumors that overexpressed EGFR because it exerts its antineoplastic effects by com­petitively inhibiting the binding of ATP to the ATP-binding site of EGFR.  A number of studies contradict this hypothesis:
(1) while approxi­mately 40%–80% of NSCLC overexpress EGFR, only 10%–20% of NSCLC patients respond to gefi­tinib;5,6 and
(2) while EGFR overexpression is known to be more common in SCC than AC, gefitinib shows a higher antineoplastic effect on AC than on SCC, while other reports indicated no correlation between the expression levels of EGFR and clinical outcomes.
In 2004, somatic mutations were identified in the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain of patients with gefitinib-responsive lung cancer, as compared with no mutations in patients exhibiting no response, and the presence of an EGFR mutation was highly correlated with a good response to gefitinib.The conformational change of the EGFR ATP-binding site caused by genetic mutations constitutively acti­vates the EGFR downstream signaling pathway and increases the malignancy of cancer. Conversely, the conformational change of the ATP-binding site can also increase its affinity for gefitinib; therefore, gefi­tinib can inhibit the downstream signaling pathway more easily, strongly induces apoptosis, and reduces the proliferation of cancer cells.
Mutations in exons 18–21 of EGFR are predictive factors for the clinical efficacy of gefitinib;
  • deletions in exon 19 and missense mutations in exon 21 account for ∼90% of these mutations.

The detection of EGFR muta­tions in exons 19 and 21 is considered to be essential to predict the clinical efficacy of gefitinib.
Acquired resistance
All responders eventually develop resistance to gefitinib but in 2005, an EGFR mutation in exon 20, which substitutes methionine for threonine at amino acid position 790 (T790M), was reported to be one of the main causes of acquired resistance to gefitinib. The EGFR T790M vari­ant

  1. changes the structural conformation of the ATP-binding site, thereby
  2. increasing the affinity of ATP to EGFR, while
  3. the affinity of gefitinib to ATP is unchanged.

Screening methods for EGFR and KRAS mutations
The detection of EGFR and KRAS mutations has been usually achieved by sequencing DNA amplified from tumor tissues; however, sequencing techniques are too complex, time-consuming, and expensive.  The selection of an appropri­ate method to detect EGFR and KRAS mutations is essential to make an exact prediction of the efficacy of gefitinib in individual patients. Advances in diagnostics and treatments for NSCLC have led to better outcomes and higher standards of what outcomes are expected. These new understandings and treatments have raised multiple new questions and issues with regard to the decisions on the appropriate treatment of NSCLC patients.

  • Biomarkers are increasingly recognized and applied for guidance in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment decisions and evaluation.
  • Biologics and newer cancer treatments are enabling the possibility for new combined treatment modalities in earlier stage disease
  • Maintenance therapy has been shown to be useful, but optimal therapy choices before and after maintenance therapy need clarification
  • The importance of performance status on treatment decisions
  • Comparative effectiveness is becoming an expectation across all treatments and diseases, and will prove difficult to accomplish within the complexity of cancer diseases
NCCN Molecular Testing White Paper: Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Reimbursement
PF Engstrom, MG Bloom,GD Demetri, PG Febbo, et al.
Personalized medicine in oncology is maturing and evolving rapidly, and the use of molecular biomarkers in clinical decisionmaking is growing. This raises important issues regarding the safe, effective, and efficient deployment of molecular tests to guide appropriate care, specifically regarding laboratory-developed tests and companion diagnostics. In May 2011, NCCN assembled a work group composed of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other organizations to identify challenges and provide guidance regarding molecular testing in oncology and its corresponding utility. The NCCN Molecular Testing Work Group identified
challenges surrounding molecular testing, including health care provider knowledge, determining clinical utility, coding and billing for molecular tests, maintaining clinical and analytic validity of molecular tests, efficient use of specimens, and building clinical evidence. (JNCCN 2011;9[Suppl 6]:S1–S16)
Executive Summary
The FDA recently announced plans for oversight of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) and released draft guidance regarding the development of companion diagnostics concurrently with therapeutics, both areas over which the FDA has regulatory authority. As recognized by the FDA, these types of diagnostic tests are used increasingly to directly inform treatment decisions, and this especially impacts patients with cancer and their oncologists. However, because of the increasing complexity of some LDTs and increasing commercial interest in oncology-related LDTs in general, the FDA is considering whether its policy of exercising “enforcement discretion”

for LDTs is still appropriate. To provide guidance regarding challenges of molecular testing to health care providers and other stakeholders, NCCN assembled a work group composed of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other organizations external to NCCN.  The NCCN Molecular Testing Work Group agreed to define molecular testing in oncology as

  • procedures designed to detect somatic or germline mutations in DNA and
  • changes in gene or protein expression that could impact the
    • diagnosis,
    • prognosis,
    • prediction, and
    • evaluation of therapy of patients with cancer.
Therefore, the discussion focused on molecular tests that predict outcomes for therapy.
Realizing the importance of personalized medicine in advanced NSCLC
E Topol, B Buehler, GS Ginsburg.       Medscape Molec Medicine
With the data on the prognostic and predictive biomarkers EGFR and ALK, biomarker testing is increasingly important in therapy decisions in NSCLC
http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nscl.pdf/
Lung Cancer in the Never Smoker Population: An Expert Interview With Dr. Nasser Hanna

Lung cancer in the never smoker population is a distinct disease entity with specific molecular changes, offering the potential for targeted therapy.
Experts And Viewpoint, Medscape Hematology-Oncology, December 2007

An Update on New and Emerging Therapies for NSCLC
Simon L. Ekman, MD, PhD; Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD
On completion of these readings participants will be thoroughly familiar with these issues:
  1. The influence of histologic types and genetic and molecular markers on choosing and personalizing therapy in patients with advanced NSCLC
  2. The role of the pathologist in properly classifying subtypes of NSCLC and reporting the presence of molecular markers in tumor samples
  3. Familiarize themselves with effective methods of obtaining adequate tissue samples from patients and recognize the importance of accurate pathologic assessment of NSCLC
The rapid developments in molecular biology have opened up new possibilities for individualized treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and, in recent years, has mainly focused on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). A greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind
  • tumorigenesis and
  • the identification of new therapeutic targets
    • have sparked the development of novel agents
    • intended to improve the standard chemotherapy regimens for NSCLC.
Along with the advent of targeted therapy, identifying biomarkers to predict the subset of patients more likely to benefit from a specific targeted intervention has become increasingly important.
EGFR TYROSINE KINASE INHIBITORS 
tumor-associated mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR have been associated with response to EGFR TKIs
The most common EGFR-sensitizing mutations encompass deletions in exon 19 and a point mutation at L858R in exon 21; together,
  • they account for approximately 85% of EGFR mutations in NSCLC.
  • Other EGFR mutations have been detected, particularly in exon 20.
    •  mutations identified in exon 20 have been linked to resistance to EGFR TKIsNon-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Biologic and Therapeutic Considerations for Personalized Management
      Taofeek K. Owonikoko, MD, PhD
What is the role and application of molecular profiling in the management of NSCLC?
It is essential to:
  1. Identify advances in the understanding of molecular biology and histologic profiling in the treatment of NSCLC
  2. Summarize clinical data supporting the use of tumor biomarkers as predictors of therapeutic efficacy of targeted agents in NSCLC
  3. Devise an individualized treatment plan for patients with advanced NSCLC based on a tumor’s molecular profile
  4. Identify methods for overcoming barriers to effective incorporation of molecular profiling for the management of NSCLC into clinical practice
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),the most common type of lung cancer, usually grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
The three common forms of NSCLC are:
  1. Adenocarcinomas are often found in an outer area of the lung.
  2. Squamous cell carcinomas are usually found in the center of the lung next to an air tube (bronchus).
  3. Large cell carcinomas occur in any part of the lung and tend to grow and spread faster than the other two types
Smoking causes most cases of lung cancer. The risk depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke every day and for how long you have smoked. Some people who do not smoke and have never smoked develop lung cancer.
Working with or near the following cancer-causing chemicals or materials can also increase your risk:
  • Asbestos
  • Chemicals such as uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline, and diesel exhaust
  • Certain alloys, paints, pigments, and preservatives
  • Products using chloride and formaldehyde
Non-small cell lung c

ancer
(NSCLC) accounts for
  • approximately 85% of all lung cancers.
Lung cancer  may produce no symptoms until the disease is well advanced, so early recognition of symptoms may be beneficial to outcome.
At initial diagnosis,
  • 20% of patients have localized disease,
  • 25% of patients have regional metastasis, and
  • 55% of patients have distant spread of disease.
Revisiting Doublet Maintenance Chemo in Advanced NSCLC 
H. Jack West, MD
  • Pemetrexed Versus Pemetrexed and Carboplatin as Second-Line Chemotherapy In Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Ardizzoni A, Tiseo M, Boni L, et al
J Clin Oncol. 2102;30:4501-4507
Historically, our second-line therapy has evolved into a strategy of pursuing single-agent therapies for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have received prior chemotherapy. This approach was developed on the basis of benefits conferred by such established treatments as docetaxel, pemetrexed, and erlotinib — each well-tested as single agents — and evidence indicating a survival benefit in previously treated patients.
A study out of Italy by Ardizzoni and colleagues published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology directly compares carboplatin/pemetrexed with pemetrexed alone, and
  • it provides more evidence that our current approach of sequential singlet therapy remains appropriate.
This randomized phase 2 trial enrolled 239 patients with advanced NSCLC, initially of any histology, then later amended (September 2008) to enroll
  • only patients with non-squamous NSCLC because of mounting evidence that pemetrexed is not active in patients with the squamous subtype of advanced NSCLC.
Patients must have received prior chemotherapy (without restriction on regimen except that it could not include pemetrexed). Participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive pemetrexed at the standard dose of 500 mg/m2 IV every 21 days or the same chemotherapy with carboplatin at an area under the curve of 5, also IV every 21 days.
The primary endpoint for the trial was progression-free survival (PFS), and the trial was intended to have results pooled with a nearly identically designed trial that was done in The Netherlands. The Dutch trial compared pemetrexed with carboplatin/pemetrexed at the same dose and schedule. The vast majority of patients (97.5%) had a performance status of 0 or 1, and the median age was 64 years.
The Italian study found no evidence to support a benefit in efficacy from the more aggressive doublet regimen. Specifically,
  • median PFS was 3.6 months with pemetrexed alone vs 3.5 months with carboplatin/pemetrexed.
  • Response rate (RR) and median overall survival (OS) were also no better with the doublet regimen
      • RR 12.6% vs 12.5%, median OS 9.2 vs 8.8 months, for pemetrexed and carboplatin/pemetrexed.

Moreover, pooling the data from the Italian trial with the Dutch trial demonstrated no significant differences between the 2 strategies. Subgroup analysis showed that

  • the patients with squamous NSCLC had a superior median PFS of 3.2 months with the carboplatin doublet vs 2.0 months with pemetrexed alone.

Unfortunately, this only confirms that adding a second agent is beneficial for patients receiving an agent previously shown to be ineffective in that population.

Viewpoint
Putting it in the context of previous data, these results only provide further confirmation that more is not better.
  • combinations are associated with more toxicity than single-agent therapy, and
  • this is likely to be especially relevant in previously treated patients whose ability to tolerate ongoing therapy over time may be reduced.

It is critical to balance efficacy with tolerability to enable us to deliver the treatment over a prolonged period. We need to recognize the importance of pacing ourselves if our goal is to administer treatments in a palliative setting for an increasingly longer duration.

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signal...

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EGFR structure

EGFR structure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATP synthase

ATP synthase (Photo credit: Ethan Hein)

Non-small cell carcinoma - FNA

Non-small cell carcinoma – FNA (Photo credit: Pulmonary Pathology)

Articles on NSCLC in Pharmaceutical Intelligence:
Key Sources:
  1. Realizing the importance of personalized medicine in advanced NSCLC
    E Topol, B Buehler, GS Ginsburg. 

    Medscape Molec Medicine The Potential of Personalized Medicine in Advanced NSCLC

    With the data on the prognostic and predictive biomarkers EGFR and ALK, biomarker testing is increasingly important in therapy decisions in NSCLC
  2. Revisiting Doublet Maintenance Chemo in Advanced NSCLC
    H. Jack West, MD     http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777367
    Pemetrexed Versus Pemetrexed and Carboplatin as Second-Line Chemotherapy In Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
    Ardizzoni A, Tiseo M, Boni L, et al
    J Clin Oncol. 2102;30:4501-4507
  3. Lung Cancer in the Never Smoker Population: An Expert Interview With Dr. Nasser Hanna
    Experts And Viewpoint, Medscape Hematology-Oncology, December 2007
  4. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Biologic and Therapeutic Considerations for Personalized Management
    Taofeek K. Owonikoko, MD, PhD   August 24, 2011.   Medscape
  5. An Update on New and Emerging Therapies for NSCLC
    Simon L. Ekman, MD, PhD; Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD     Medscape
  6. Lovly CM, Carbone DP. Lung cancer in 2010: one size does not fit all. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2011;8(2):68-70.
  7. Dacic S. Molecular diagnostics of lung carcinomas. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011;135(5):622-629.

  8. Herbst RS, Heymach JV, Lippman SM. Lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2008;359(13):1367-1380.
  9. Gazdar AF. Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition in lung cancer: the evolving role of individualized therapy.

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