Publications by authors named "Andreas Hartkopf"

127 Publications

Measuring the Time to Deterioration for Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer Using a Web-Based Monitoring Application: Longitudinal Cohort Study.

JMIR Cancer 2021 Oct 12;7(4):e25776. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is used to evaluate the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. In a long-term therapy setting, HRQoL can be used as an important benchmark for treatment success. With the help of digital apps, HRQoL monitoring can be extended to more remote areas and be administered on a more frequent basis.

Objective: This study aims to evaluate 3 common HRQoL questionnaires in metastasized breast cancer in terms of TTD in a digital, web-based setting. We further aim to examine the development of the HRQoL in different systemic treatment groups in each of these evaluation instruments.

Methods: A total of 192 patients with metastatic breast cancer were analyzed in this bicentric prospective online cohort study at two German university hospitals. Patients completed questionnaires on HRQoL (EuroQol Visual Analog Scale [EQ-VAS], EuroQol 5 Dimension 5 Level [EQ-5D-5L], European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 item [EORTC QLQ-C30]) via an online platform over a 6-month period. Treatment schedules and medical history were retrieved from medical records. Unadjusted Cox regression analysis on treatment-related factors was performed. We conducted subgroup analyses in regard to TTD events between different treatments.

Results: The EQ-VAS showed a higher rate of deterioration after 8 weeks (84/179, 46.9%) than the EQ-5D-5L (47/163, 28.8%) and EORTC QLQ-C30 (65/176, 36.9%). Unadjusted Cox regression revealed significant connections between known metastases in the liver (P=.03, HR 1.64, 95% CI 1.06-2.52) and pleura (P=.04, HR 0.42, 95% CI 0.18-0.96) in the EQ-VAS. Significant relations between EQ-VAS events and single EQ-5D-5L items and the EQ-5D-5L summary score were demonstrated. All treatment groups significantly differed from the CDK4/6 inhibition subgroup in the EQ-VAS.

Conclusions: Compared to the EQ-5D-5L and QLQ-C30, the EQ-VAS showed a higher rate of deterioration after 8 weeks. Significant connections to certain metastatic locations were only detected in the EQ-VAS. The EQ-VAS is capable of reflecting the distinctive HRQoL profiles of different systemic treatments as well as the different aspects of HRQoL presented in the EQ-5D-5L. TTD with the EQ-VAS is an adequate mean of examining longitudinal development of HRQoL among breast cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/25776DOI Listing
October 2021

An Activity Tracker-Guided Physical Activity Program for Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy: Protocol for a Prospective Phase III Trial (OnkoFit I and II Trials).

JMIR Res Protoc 2021 Sep 22;10(9):e28524. Epub 2021 Sep 22.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Tübingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Background: The positive impact that physical activity has on patients with cancer has been shown in several studies over recent years. However, supervised physical activity programs have several limitations, including costs and availability. Therefore, our study proposes a novel approach for the implementation of a patient-executed, activity tracker-guided exercise program to bridge this gap.

Objective: Our trial aims to investigate the impact that an activity tracker-guided, patient-executed exercise program for patients undergoing radiotherapy has on cancer-related fatigue, health-related quality of life, and preoperative health status.

Methods: Patients receiving postoperative radiotherapy for breast cancer (OnkoFit I trial) or neoadjuvant, definitive, or postoperative treatment for other types of solid tumors (OnkoFit II trial) will be randomized (1:1:1) into 3-arm studies. Target accrual is 201 patients in each trial (50 patients per year). After providing informed consent, patients will be randomized into a standard care arm (arm A) or 1 of 2 interventional arms (arms B and C). Patients in arms B and C will wear an activity tracker and record their daily step count in a diary. Patients in arm C will receive personalized weekly targets for their physical activity. No further instructions will be given to patients in arm B. The target daily step goals for patients in arm C will be adjusted weekly and will be increased by 10% of the average daily step count of the past week until they reach a maximum of 6000 steps per day. Patients in arm A will not be provided with an activity tracker. The primary end point of the OnkoFit I trial is cancer-related fatigue at 3 months after the completion of radiotherapy. This will be measured by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue questionnaire. For the OnkoFit II trial, the primary end point is the overall quality of life, which will be assessed with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General sum score at 6 months after treatment to allow for recovery after possible surgery. In parallel, blood samples from before, during, and after treatment will be collected in order to assess inflammatory markers.

Results: Recruitment for both trials started on August 1, 2020, and to date, 49 and 12 patients have been included in the OnkoFit I and OnkoFit II trials, respectively. Both trials were approved by the institutional review board prior to their initiation.

Conclusions: The OnkoFit trials test an innovative, personalized approach for the implementation of an activity tracker-guided training program for patients with cancer during radiotherapy. The program requires only a limited amount of resources.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04506476; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04506476. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04517019; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04517019.

International Registered Report Identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/28524.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/28524DOI Listing
September 2021

Prognostic effect of low-level HER2 expression in patients with clinically negative HER2 status.

Eur J Cancer 2021 Sep 23;155:1-12. Epub 2021 Jul 23.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Marienhospital Bottrop, Bottrop, Germany.

Purpose: Assessment of HER2 overexpression using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and/or in situ hybridisation (ISH) for the detection of HER2 amplifications is standard to identify patients for established HER2-directed treatments. Patients with lower HER2 expression levels have recently also become candidates for novel therapies targeting HER2. This study aimed to assess tumour and patient characteristics and prognosis in patients with advanced breast cancer (aBC), relative to low HER2 expression levels.

Methods: PRAEGNANT is a prospective aBC registry (NCT02338167), focusing on molecular biomarkers. Patients in all therapy lines receiving any kind of treatment are eligible. This analysis includes patients with conventionally HER2-negative aBC. Clinical outcome was compared in the groups with no (IHC score 0) or with low HER2 expression (IHC 1+, or IHC 2+/ISH negative).

Results: Low HER2 expression levels in triple-negative aBC patients did not influence progression-free survival. Overall survival appeared poorer in patients with IHC 2+ compared with patients with no HER2 expression in the unadjusted analysis (hazard ratio 2.24, 95% confidence interval 0.1.12-4.47). However, this effect was not maintained in the adjusted analysis. In HER2-negative, hormone receptor-positive patients, low HER2 expression appeared to have no effect on prognosis, neither progression-free survival nor overall survival.

Conclusions: We could not demonstrate that HER2 expression at a low level and assessed in clinical routine can differentiate patients into prognostic groups. However, the prevalence of patients with a low expression makes this population interesting for clinical trials with potentially active treatments using HER2 as a target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.06.033DOI Listing
September 2021

Disseminated tumour cells from the bone marrow of early breast cancer patients: Results from an international pooled analysis.

Eur J Cancer 2021 Sep 12;154:128-137. Epub 2021 Jul 12.

Department of Women's Health, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Purpose: Presence of disseminated tumour cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow (BM) has been described as a surrogate of residual disease in patients with early breast cancer (EBC). PADDY (Pooled Analysis of DTC Detection in Early Breast Cancer) is a large international analysis of pooled data that aimed to assess the prognostic impact of DTCs in patients with EBC.

Experimental Design: Individual patient data were collected from 11 centres. Patients with EBC and available follow-up data in whom BM sampling was performed at the time of primary diagnosis before receiving any anticancer treatment were eligible. DTCs were identified by antibody staining against epithelial cytokeratins. Multivariate Cox regression was used to compare the survival of DTC-positive versus DTC-negative patients.

Results: In total, 10,307 patients were included. Of these, 2814 (27.3%) were DTC-positive. DTC detection was associated with higher tumour grade, larger tumour size, nodal positivity, oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor negativity, and HER2 positivity (all p < 0.001). Multivariate analyses showed that DTC detection was an independent prognostic marker for overall survival, disease-free survival and distant disease-free survival with hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of 1.23 (95% CI: 1.06-1.43, p = 0.006), 1.30 (95% CI: 1.12-1.52, p < 0.001) and 1.30 (95% CI: 1.08-1.56, p = 0.006), respectively. There was no association between locoregional relapse-free survival and DTC detection (HR 1.21; 95% CI 0.68-2.16; p = 0.512).

Conclusions: DTCs in the BM represent an independent prognostic marker in patients with EBC. The heterogeneous metastasis-initiating potential of DTCs is consistent with the concept of cancer dormancy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.06.028DOI Listing
September 2021

Regulation of Platelet-Derived ADAM17: A Biomarker Approach for Breast Cancer?

Diagnostics (Basel) 2021 Jun 30;11(7). Epub 2021 Jun 30.

Cluster of Excellence iFIT (EXC 2180) "Image-Guided and Functionally Instructed Tumor Therapies", University of Tuebingen, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.

Tumor progression and metastasis are critically dependent on the tumor microenvironment. A disintegrin and metalloproteinase 17 (ADAM17) is associated with shedding of several substrates involved in tumor progression and known to be expressed by platelets of healthy donors and patients with solid tumors. Here, we report that platelet-derived ADAM17 (pADAM17) is regulated upon platelet activation of breast cancer patients, but not of healthy individuals. The observed downregulation of pADAM17 on platelets of cancer patients correlated with clinical parameters related to tumor progression including tumor stage and the occurrence of metastasis. Our data identify an association between platelet activation, modulation of platelet-derived ADAM17, and metastasis. In conclusion, we demonstrate that further development of pADAM17 as a liquid biomarker is warranted for monitoring disease progression in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics11071188DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8305148PMC
June 2021

Update Breast Cancer 2021 Part 3 - Current Developments in the Treatment of Early Breast Cancer: Review and Assessment of Specialised Treatment Scenarios by an International Expert Panel.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2021 Jun 21;81(6):654-665. Epub 2021 Jun 21.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

The continuous availability of findings from new studies repeatedly results in updated treatment recommendations and guidelines. In the case of breast carcinoma in particular, several studies have been published in the last few years that have transformed how early and advanced breast carcinoma is being treated. However, this by no means means implies that there is agreement among all experts on specific issues. It is precisely the diversity of interpretation of guidelines and study findings that reflects the constantly changing available data and its complexity, as well as the availability of new drugs. In recent years, new substances such as pertuzumab, T-DM1, neratinib and capecitabine have become available to treat patients with early stages of breast carcinoma. Furthermore, the first results on the use of CDK4/6 inhibitors for adjuvant treatment have now been published. Last but not least, the use of multigene tests to avoid the necessity of chemotherapy in certain patients is still under discussion. This review summarises the state of the data and publishes the results of the survey completed by experts at the 2021 St. Gallen Breast Cancer Conference on early-stage breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1487-7642DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8216783PMC
June 2021

Evaluation of sonographic detectability of different markers within an in vitro simulation model of the axilla.

Arch Gynecol Obstet 2021 09 17;304(3):839-848. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

Department for Women's Health, University of Tübingen, Calwerstraße 7, 72076, Tübingen, Germany.

Purpose: Clip-marking of axillary lymph nodes with initial biopsy-confirmed metastasis is required for targeted axillary dissection (TAD), which includes sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) and selective localization and removal of the clipped targeted lymph node. There have been several studies which examined the feasibility of TAD in routine clinical use. In this context, the optimal clip visualisation was noted as one of the crucial limiting factors. We, therefore, evaluated the sonographic detectability of 10 different commercially available markers within an in vitro model simulating the anatomical composition of the axilla.

Methods: In this standardised model consisting of porcine fat with 30 mm thickness, the visibility of a total of ten markers was analysed in all 3 planes (parallel, diagonal, orthograde) with wire guidance and then classified into either "visibility good", "visibility moderate" or "visibility poor" with regard to the alignment of the transducer. Additionally, "real-life conditions" were simulated, in which the markers were searched without any wires guidance.

Results: It was observed that, while not all markers are detectable in fatty tissue, markers with spherical shape (non-embedded Inconel or Nitinol) or rectangular-shaped Titanium markers with embedded material have a clear advantage. 3D-shaped markers can always be detected in all three axes, which is of particular importance in the axilla with its pyramid shape and fatty tissue.

Conclusion: The shape and the embedding of the material play a crucial role for visibility and efficacy of the marker, as reliable marking of suspicious and pathological axillary lymph nodes is essential for TAD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00404-021-06085-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8325667PMC
September 2021

The SOX2 Status of Disseminated Tumor Cells in Breast Cancer Patients Treated With Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy.

Anticancer Res 2021 Jun;41(6):2849-2858

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany.

Background/aim: Detection of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) after systemic treatment predicts poor prognosis in breast cancer patients. The aim of our study was to assess the expression of stem-cell marker SOX2 on DTCs and in the primary tumor of patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAT).

Materials And Methods: In 170 DTC-positive patients after NAT an additional slide of bone marrow aspirate was stained by double immunofluorescence to detect SOX2-positive DTCs. The SOX2 status of the primary tumor was assessed using the same antibody.

Results: The SOX2-status of DTCs was determined in 62 patients and 20 of those (32%) had SOX2 positive DTCs. The SOX2 status of DTCs was not associated with any of the clinicopathological factors. A total of 36% of the patients with a SOX2-negative tumor showed SOX2-positive persistent DTCs.

Conclusion: SOX2-positive DTCs can be detected in breast cancer patients after NAT, even in patients with SOX2-negative primary tumors. This suggests that these populations may have evolved independently of each other.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21873/anticanres.15066DOI Listing
June 2021

Update Breast Cancer 2021 Part 2 - Advanced Stages, Long-Term Consequences and Biomarkers.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2021 May 3;81(5):539-548. Epub 2021 May 3.

Klinik und Poliklinik für Gynäkologie, Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

This review summarises and discusses significant aspects of recently published studies on patient treatment in advanced breast cancer and on biomarkers in breast cancer. In recent years, a large number of drugs for all molecular subtypes have been developed up to phase III trials. With regard to immune checkpoint inhibitors in metastasised breast cancer, the recent discussion has centred on the best candidate for combined chemotherapy. The oral taxanes could become a new type of oral chemotherapies. There is a growing body of data on biomarkers for the use of CDK4/6 inhibitors, which could also signify further development for other molecular subtypes. New substances have been developed for metastatic HER2+ breast cancer that still result in good remission even after massive prior treatment and/or cerebral metastasis. Similarly, knowledge is growing about targeted therapies with antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) against Trop-2, which could bolster our therapeutic armoury in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In addition, the clinical focus is on understanding how to maintain fertility after breast cancer treatment. Here, pooled analyses provide new insights.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1464-1221DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8137275PMC
May 2021

Update Breast Cancer 2021 Part 1 - Prevention and Early Stages.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2021 May 3;81(5):526-538. Epub 2021 May 3.

Agaplesion Markus Krankenhaus, Department of Gynecology and Gynecological Oncology, Frankfurt, Germany.

This review summarises not only the latest evidence on prevention, but also the current research on the treatment of early-stage breast cancer patients. Recent years have seen a growing body of evidence on the risk of high- and moderate-penetrance breast cancer susceptibility genes. A large international consortium has now been able to further refine the answer to the question of the significance of the so-called panel genes. Moreover, the data on treatment selection regarding endocrine efficacy and the decision for or against chemotherapy have also been advanced markedly. There is also new data on adjuvant CDK4/6 (cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6) inhibitors, which are standard in first-line treatment in patients with metastatic HER2-negative, hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer. For other therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, which have successfully improved the rate of pathologic complete response (pCR) in neoadjuvant treatment settings for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), there is a growing understanding of the quality of life and side effects. This is especially important in situations where patients could possibly be cured without such a regimen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1464-0953DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8137274PMC
May 2021

Challenges and Opportunities for Real-World Evidence in Metastatic Luminal Breast Cancer.

Breast Care (Basel) 2021 Apr 16;16(2):108-114. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Erlangen University Hospital, Comprehensive Cancer Center Erlangen-EMN, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Background: The therapeutic armamentarium for patients with metastatic breast cancer is becoming more and more specific. Recommendations from clinical trials are not available for all treatment situations and patient subgroups, and it is therefore important to collect real-world data.

Summary: To develop recommendations for up-to-date treatments and participation in clinical trials for patients with metastatic breast cancer, the Prospective Academic Translational Research PRAEGNANT Network was established to optimize the quality of oncological care in the advanced therapeutic setting. The main aim of PRAEGNANT is to systematically record medical care for patients with metastatic breast cancer in the real-life setting, including the outcome and side effects of different treatment strategies, to monitor quality-of-life changes during therapy, to identify patients eligible for participation in clinical studies, and to allow targeted therapies based on the molecular structures of breast carcinomas.

Key Messages: This article describes the PRAEGNANT network and sheds light on the question of whether the various end points from clinical trials can be transferred to the real-world treatment situation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000515701DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8114055PMC
April 2021

Neratinib as extended adjuvant therapy in patients with copositive early breast cancer: German health technology assessment-driven analyses from the ExteNET study.

Eur J Cancer 2021 06 7;150:268-277. Epub 2021 May 7.

LMU University Hospital, Breast Center, Dept. OB&GYN, Marchioninistr. 15, Munich, 81377, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Neratinib is approved in the European Union for extended adjuvant treatment of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive/hormone receptor-positive (copositive) early breast cancer ≤1 year of completion of prior trastuzumab-based therapy. Here, we report analyses of the hormone receptor-positive subgroup (N = 1631) from the ExteNET trial performed for the German health technology assessment (HTA).

Results: With 2 years of median follow-up, HTA analyses revealed a significant advantage in disease-free survival (DFS) for neratinib vs. placebo (absolute/relative risk reduction: 4.1/48.2%; hazard ratio [HR] [95% confidence interval {CI}]: 0.45 [0.29; 0.69]; p = 0.0002), consistent with distant DFS (absolute/relative risk reduction: 3.1/46.3%; HR [95% CI]: 0.52 [0.32; 0.84]; p = 0.0082). The 5-year follow-up confirmed this outcome.Quality of life analyses did not show clinically relevant differences over all time points. Only at month 1, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General total score revealed a statistically relevant difference to the disadvantage of neratinib classified as clinically relevant. The tolerability profile of neratinib was dominated by gastrointestinal events, mainly diarrhoea (all grades: 94.4%; grade III: 39.4%; no systematic antidiarrhoeal prophylaxis), nausea (all grades/grade III: 43.9/1.6%), vomiting (26.6/3.2%), abdominal pain (23.8/1.9%), fatigue (28.1/1.9%) and rash (14.3/0.4%). No cumulative or irreversible toxicities were observed. As shown in the CONTROL study and instituted via a risk management plan, diarrhoea management can reduce frequency, cumulative duration and severity of diarrhoea.

Conclusion: Extended adjuvant neratinib provides a clinically relevant benefit with further incremental reduction of relapse risk in the curative setting. Accordingly, the German HTA authority has granted an added benefit for this new treatment option.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.03.045DOI Listing
June 2021

Trastuzumab treatment of patients with early, HER2-positive breast cancer in 17 certified German breast cancer centers.

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 2021 Apr 29. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Department of Gynaecology, Caritas-Krankenhaus St. Josef, Landshuter Straße 65, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.

Purpose: Since 2008, guidelines recommend that patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer (BC) should receive adjuvant chemotherapy in combination with trastuzumab in Germany. However, recent studies highlight that a substantial share of patients do not receive trastuzumab. We investigate which patient characteristics are associated with a tumor board recommendation for trastuzumab in Breast Cancer Centers (BCC) certified by the German Cancer Society (DKG) and the German Society for Senology, and if the recommendation differs between BCCs.

Materials And Methods: Multi-level modeling was performed using quality assurance data based on 3052 HER2-positive, operated patients with a first diagnosis of early BC treated between 2006 and 2019 in 17 BCCs in Germany to investigate whether trastuzumab recommendation varies with patient sex, age, and disease characteristics, as well as over time and across BCCs.

Results: Tumor board recommendations for trastuzumab differ substantially between BCCs (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] null model: 0.11). Our final model (ICC 0.17, Akaike Information Criterion [AIC], 1328.0, R 0.69) shows that physicians in BCCs more often recommend trastuzumab to patients who are younger than 60 years and those with a recommendation for any additional therapy (chemotherapy, radiation or endocrine therapy) (all p < 0.05). Furthermore, there is a significant time-dependent increase of trastuzumab recommendations (odds ratio [OR] = 1.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.31-1.46, p < 0.05).

Conclusion: In certified BCCs in Germany, guideline concordant trastuzumab recommendation is increasing since 2006 (positive cohort effect). Recommendation of trastuzumab for HER2-positive BC patients in BCCs is significantly associated with patients' age and the recommendations for other additional therapy strategies, apart from surgery. The quality assurance data analyzed do not include potentially relevant confounders, such as socioeconomic status or comorbidities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00432-021-03651-1DOI Listing
April 2021

Update Breast Cancer 2020 Part 5 - Moving Therapies From Advanced to Early Breast Cancer Patients.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2021 Apr 14;81(4):469-480. Epub 2021 Apr 14.

Frauenklinik, Universitätsklinikum Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany.

In recent years, significant progress has been made in new therapeutic approaches to breast cancer, particularly in patients with HER2-positive and HER2-negative/hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer. In the case of HER2-positive tumours, these approaches have included, in particular, treatment with pertuzumab, T-DM1, neratinib and, soon, also tucatinib and trastuzumab deruxtecan (neither of which has yet been authorised in Europe). In patients with HER2-/HR+ breast cancer, CDK4/6 inhibitors and the PIK3CA inhibitor alpelisib are of particular importance. Further novel therapies, such as Akt kinase inhibitors and oral SERDs (selective estrogen receptor down regulators), are already being investigated in ongoing clinical trials. These therapeutic agents are not only being introduced into curative, (neo-)adjuvant therapeutic settings for HER2-positive tumours; a first favourable study on abemaciclib as an adjuvant therapy has now also been published. In patients with triple-negative breast cancer, after many years of negative study results with the Trop-2 antibody drug conjugate (ADC) sacituzumab govitecan, a randomised study has been published that may represent a significant therapeutic advance. This review describes the latest developments in breast cancer subsequent to the ESMO Congress 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1397-7170DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046519PMC
April 2021

Platelet-Expressed TNFRSF13B (TACI) Predicts Breast Cancer Progression.

Front Oncol 2021 17;11:642170. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Cluster of Excellence iFIT (EXC 2180) "Image-Guided and Functionally Instructed Tumor Therapies", University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Although treatment options in breast cancer have been improved significantly, predictive biomarkers for disease progression and metastasis are still lacking. Recent studies indicate that several TNF Receptor Superfamily members are involved in breast cancer cell proliferation and survival. Interestingly, () mRNA level were of prognostic relevance in breast cancer patients. In this study we provide evidence for TACI expression on platelets of breast cancer patients. The level of platelet-expressed TACI (pTACI) was significantly increased on platelets derived from breast cancer patients compared to healthy controls. Upon platelet activation, pTACI was downregulated on the platelet surface of healthy donors and breast cancer patients. Of note, inhibition of matrix metalloprotease (MMP) prevented downregulation of pTACI , indicating that proteolytic cleavage of pTACI is responsible for reduction of pTACI level. Stimulation of pTACI BAFF, BAFF 60-mer or APRIL did not influence platelet activation and function. Remarkably, pTACI was particularly regulated during tumor progression in our breast cancer cohort. TACI expression levels on platelets were correlated with clinical parameters including tumor stage, occurrence of metastasis and tumor cell proliferation (Ki67). In conclusion, our data emphasize the potential use of platelets as a liquid biomarker in breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2021.642170DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010255PMC
March 2021

Mutations in and Other Panel Genes in Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer -Association With Patient and Disease Characteristics and Effect on Prognosis.

J Clin Oncol 2021 05 29;39(15):1619-1630. Epub 2021 Mar 29.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Carl Gustav Carus Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Purpose: Among patients with metastatic breast cancer (mBC), the frequency of germline mutations in cancer susceptibility genes and the clinical relevance of these mutations are unclear. In this study, a prospective cohort of patients with mBC was used to determine mutation rates for breast cancer (BC) predisposition genes, to evaluate the clinical characteristics of patients with mutations, and to assess the influence of mutations on patient outcome.

Patients And Methods: Germline DNA from 2,595 patients with mBC enrolled in the prospective PRAEGNANT registry was evaluated for mutations in cancer predisposition genes. The frequencies of mutations in known BC predisposition genes were compared with results from a prospective registry of patients with nonmetastatic BC sequenced using the same QIAseq method and with public reference controls. Associations between mutation status and tumor characteristics, progression-free survival, and overall survival were assessed.

Results: Germline mutations in 12 established BC predisposition genes (including and ) were detected in 271 (10.4%) patients. A mutation in or was seen in 129 patients (5.0%). mutation carriers had a higher proportion of brain metastasis (27.1%) compared with nonmutation carriers (12.8%). Mutations were significantly enriched in PRAEGNANT patients with mBC compared with patients with nonmetastatic BC (10.4% 6.6%, < .01). Mutations did not significantly modify progression-free survival or overall survival for patients with mBC.

Conclusion: Multigene panel testing may be considered in all patients with mBC because of the high frequency of germline mutations in and other BC predisposition genes. Although the prognosis of mutation carriers and nonmutation carriers with mBC was similar, differences observed in tumor characteristics have implications for treatment and for future studies of targeted therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.01200DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8274805PMC
May 2021

Fertility preserving management of early endometrial cancer in a patient cohort at the department of women's health at the university of Tuebingen.

Arch Gynecol Obstet 2021 07 19;304(1):215-221. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Department of Women'S Health, Tuebingen University Hospital, Calwerstr. 7, 72076, Tuebingen, Germany.

Purpose: To investigate the oncologic and reproductive outcome of a conservative treatment with progestin agents in early-stage grade 1 endometrial cancer (G1EC), grade 2 endometrial cancer (G2EC) or complex atypical hyperplasia (CAH) in young premenopausal women.

Methods: Women treated for early-stage endometrial cancer or atypical hyperplasia of the endometrium with a conservative therapy between 2006 and 2018 were enrolled in this retrospective analysis. Progestin agents were orally administered on a daily basis for 3 months for at least one cycle. Endometrial tissue was obtained by hysteroscopy and Dilatation & Curettage (D&C) being performed before and after end of treatment. Therapeutic response was assessed by pathological examination.

Results: A total of 14 patients were included. After treatment with progestin agents, 11 of these patients initially showed a complete or partial response. Three patients with early-stage endometrial cancer did not respond. Of the three patients with initially diagnosed atypical hyperplasia, none showed any remaining disease later. Of the eight patients with initially diagnosed endometrial cancer, who had responded to first treatment, three patients were re-diagnosed with endometrial cancer later. One patient with initial endometrial cancer became pregnant but aborted in the 10th week.

Conclusion: Due to its good efficacy, progestin agents offer a feasible therapeutic option in the fertility-preserving treatment of early-stage endometrial cancer in young premenopausal women. However, recurrence rate remains high. Therefore, a close follow-up is mandatory, also in responders. Patients should be informed of limitations and risks of conservative treatment. Yet after completion of family planning, hysterectomy should be performed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00404-020-05905-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8164611PMC
July 2021

Platelet-expressed immune checkpoint regulator GITRL in breast cancer.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2021 Sep 4;70(9):2483-2496. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Cluster of Excellence iFIT (EXC 2180) "Image-Guided and Functionally Instructed Tumor Therapies", University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Owing to their key role in several diseases including cancer, activating and inhibitory immune checkpoint molecules are increasingly exploited as targets for immunotherapy. Recently, we demonstrated that platelets, which largely influence tumor progression and immune evasion, functionally express the ligand of the checkpoint molecule GITR. This immunoreceptor modulates effector functions of T cells and NK cells with its function varying dependent on cellular context and activation state. Here, we provide a comparative analysis of platelet-derived GITRL (pGITRL) in breast cancer patients and healthy volunteers. The levels of pGITRL were found to be higher on platelets derived from cancer patients and appeared to be specifically regulated during tumor progression as exemplified by several clinical parameters including tumor stage/grade, the occurrence of metastases and tumor proliferation (Ki67) index. In addition, we report that pGITRL is upregulated during platelet maturation and particularly induced upon exposure to tumor-derived soluble factors. Our data indicate that platelets modulate the GITR/GITRL immune checkpoint in the context of malignant disease and provide a rationale to further study the GITR/GITRL axis for exploitation for immunotherapeutic intervention in cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-02866-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8360840PMC
September 2021

Heregulin (HRG) assessment for clinical trial eligibility testing in a molecular registry (PRAEGNANT) in Germany.

BMC Cancer 2020 Nov 11;20(1):1091. Epub 2020 Nov 11.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Background: Eligibility criteria are a critical part of clinical trials, as they define the patient population under investigation. Besides certain patient characteristics, clinical trials often include biomarker testing for eligibility. However, patient-identification mostly relies on the trial site itself and is often a time-consuming procedure, which could result in missing out on potentially eligible patients. Pre-selection of those patients using a registry could facilitate the process of eligibility testing and increase the number of identified patients. One aim with the PRAEGNANT registry (NCT02338167) is to identify patients for therapies based on clinical and molecular data. Here, we report eligibility testing for the SHERBOC trial using the German PRAEGNANT registry.

Methods: Heregulin (HRG) has been reported to identify patients with better responses to therapy with the anti-HER3 monoclonal antibody seribantumab (MM-121). The SHERBOC trial investigated adding seribantumab (MM-121) to standard therapy in patients with advanced HER2-negative, hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) breast cancer and HRG overexpression. The PRAEGNANT registry was used for identification and tumor testing, helping to link potential HRG positive patients to the trial. Patients enrolled in PRAEGNANT have invasive and metastatic or locally advanced, inoperable breast cancer. Patients eligible for SHERBOC were identified by using the registry. Study aims were to describe the HRG positivity rate, screening procedures, and patient characteristics associated with inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Results: Among 2769 unselected advanced breast cancer patients, 650 were HER2-negative, HR-positive and currently receiving first- or second-line treatment, thus potentially eligible for SHERBOC at the end of current treatment; 125 patients also met further clinical eligibility criteria (e.g. menopausal status, ECOG). In the first/second treatment lines, patients selected for SHERBOC based on further eligibility criteria had a more favorable prognosis than those not selected. HRG status was tested in 38 patients, 14 of whom (36.8%) proved to be HRG-positive.

Conclusion: Using a real-world breast cancer registry allowed identification of potentially eligible patients for SHERBOC focusing on patients with HER3 overexpressing, HR-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. This approach may provide insights into differences between patients eligible or non-eligible for clinical trials.

Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials, NCT02338167 , Registered 14 January 2015 - retrospectively registered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-07546-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656772PMC
November 2020

Treatment Landscape and Prognosis After Treatment with Trastuzumab Emtansine.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2020 Nov 6;80(11):1134-1142. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Pertuzumab and T-DM1 are two efficient anti-HER2 treatments for patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer. While pertuzumab is usually given in first-line treatment and T-DM1 in second-line treatment, standard therapy options seem to be exhausted up to now after the treatment of patients with these two therapy options. Therefore, it is important to have data that describes the therapy situation and prognosis after T-DM1 treatment. The PRAEGNANT metastatic breast cancer registry (NCT02338167) is a prospective registry for breast cancer patients with a focus on molecular biomarkers. Patients of all therapy lines with any kind of treatment are eligible. Collected data comprises therapies, adverse events, quality of life and other patient reported outcomes. Here we report on the patient characteristics and descriptive prognostic data for HER2-positive patients who have completed a treatment with T-DM1. Therapy patterns after T-DM1 and progression-free survival are reported as well as overall survival. A total of 85 patients were identified for the study who were prospectively observed during therapy after the termination of T-DM1. The main reason for T-DM1 termination was progress. Following T-DM1, lapatinib, trastuzumab and chemotherapy were the main therapy choices. Median progression-free survival was 4.8 months (95% CI: 3.2 - 6.3) and median overall survival was 18.4 months (95% CI: 15.5 - 21.3). Therapy options after T-DM1 in a real-world setting seem to exhibit a relevant clinical efficacy, supporting the concept of continuous anti-HER2 treatments in the advanced therapy setting for breast cancer patients. Novel therapies are needed to improve the rather short median progression-free survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1286-2917DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647719PMC
November 2020

Update Breast Cancer 2020 Part 4 - Advanced Breast Cancer.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2020 Nov 6;80(11):1115-1122. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Ulm University Hospital, Ulm, Germany.

Substances with good effectiveness that intervene in specific signalling pathways have been used increasingly in recent years in the treatment of patients with advanced breast cancer, and new therapies and approaches have now been added, which actually relate to quite specific changes, such as the treatment of patients with HR+/HER2 tumours with a mutation. The treatment of patients with a or mutation has also been improved by the introduction of PARP inhibitors. Attempts are now being made increasingly to extend treatment indications based on molecular patterns, to identify other patients who could benefit from a treatment and to integrate the newly established treatment methods in existing therapy sequences. This review articles summarises the latest information in this connection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1270-7481DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647717PMC
November 2020

Update Breast Cancer 2020 Part 3 - Early Breast Cancer.

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2020 Nov 6;80(11):1105-1114. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.

The treatment of patients with early breast cancer has always been characterised by escalation by new therapies and de-escalation through identification of better treatment regimens or introduction of better tools to estimate prognosis. Efforts in some of these areas in the last few years have led to solid data. The results of the large studies of de-escalation through use of multi-gene tests are available, as are the results of some studies that investigated the new anti-HER2 substances T-DM1 and pertuzumab in the early treatment situation. Several large-scale studies examining the role of CDK4/6 inhibitors will soon be concluded so innovations can be anticipated in this area also. This review article will summarise and classify the results of the latest publications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1270-7208DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7647721PMC
November 2020

Progression-Free Survival and Overall Survival in Patients with Advanced HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Treated with Trastuzumab Emtansine (T-DM1) after Previous Treatment with Pertuzumab.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Oct 17;12(10). Epub 2020 Oct 17.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Düsseldorf University Hospital, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

The approval of trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) was conducted without pertuzumab as previous therapy. Efficacy data on T-DM1 following pertuzumab treatment are therefore limited. This study explores this issue in a real-world setting. Within the prospective PRAEGNANT (Prospective Academic Translational Research Network for the Optimization of the Oncological Health Care Quality in the Advanced Setting) metastatic breast cancer registry (NCT02338167), patients in all therapy lines receiving any kind of treatment were eligible for inclusion. This report describes patient characteristics and progression-free survival (PFS) in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive patients receiving T-DM1 after pertuzumab treatment. Seventy-six patients were identified, 39 of whom received T-DM1 as second-line therapy, 25 as third-line, and 12 as fourth-line therapy or higher. Pertuzumab was mostly administered as a first-line treatment ( = 61; 80.3%). The median PFS in all patients was 3.5 months (95% CI: 2.8-7.8); in second-line treatment, 7.7 months (95% CI: 2.8-11.0); in third-line, 3.4 months (95% CI: 2.3-not reached (NR)); and in fourth-line therapy or higher, 2.7 months (95% CI: 1.2-NR). T-DM1 was mainly administered second-line after pertuzumab, but also in more heavily pretreated patients. The PFS in higher therapy lines appears to be shorter than in second-line.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12103021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7603111PMC
October 2020

Endocrine-Resistant Breast Cancer: Mechanisms and Treatment.

Breast Care (Basel) 2020 Aug 29;15(4):347-354. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Department of Women's Health, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: Endocrine treatment is one of the most effective therapies for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. However, most tumors will develop resistance to endocrine therapy as the cancer progresses. This review focuses on the mechanisms and markers of endocrine-resistant breast cancer. In addition, current and future strategies to overcome endocrine resistance are discussed.

Summary: Several molecular mechanisms of endocrine resistance have been identified, including alterations in the ESR1 gene or in the PIK3CA/mTOR pathway. Meanwhile, CDK4/6, mTOR, and PI3K inhibition have shown to improve the efficacy of endocrine treatment and new promising approaches are being developed.

Key Message: Overcoming primary or acquired resistance to endocrine treatment remains a major challenge. Since the molecular mechanisms of endocrine resistance are manifold, optimal combination and sequencing strategies will have to be developed in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000508675DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7490658PMC
August 2020

Initial experience with CDK4/6 inhibitor-based therapies compared to antihormone monotherapies in routine clinical use in patients with hormone receptor positive, HER2 negative breast cancer - Data from the PRAEGNANT research network for the first 2 years of drug availability in Germany.

Breast 2020 Dec 29;54:88-95. Epub 2020 Aug 29.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Breast Center, and CCC Munich, Munich University Hospital, Germany.

Purpose: Treatment with CDK4/6 inhibitors and endocrine therapy (CDK4/6i + ET) is a standard for patients with advanced hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative (HR + HER2-) breast cancer (BC). However, real-world data on the implementation of therapy usage, efficacy, and toxicity have not yet been reported.

Methods: The PRAEGNANT registry was used to identify advanced HR + HER2- BC patients (n = 1136). The use of chemotherapy, ET, everolimus + ET, and CDK4/6i + ET was analyzed for first-line, second-line, and third-line therapy. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were also compared between patients treated with CDK4/6i + ET and ET monotherapy. Also toxicity was assessed.

Results: CDK4/6i + ET use increased from 38.5% to 62.7% in the first 2 years after CDK4/6i treatment became available (November 2016). Chemotherapy and ET monotherapy use decreased from 2015 to 2018 from 42.2% to 27.2% and from 53% to 9.5%, respectively. In this early analysis no statistically significant differences were found comparing CDK4/6i + ET and ET monotherapy patients with regard to PFS and OS. Leukopenia was was seen in 11.3% of patients under CDK4/6i + ET and 0.5% under ET monotherapy.

Conclusions: In clinical practice, CDK4/6i + ET has been rapidly implemented. A group of patients with a more unfavorable prognosis was possibly treated in the real-world setting than in the reported randomized clinical trials. The available data suggest that longer follow-up times and a larger sample size are required in order to identify differences in survival outcomes. Studies should be supported that investigate whether chemotherapy can be avoided or delayed in this patient population by using CDK4/6i + ET.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2020.08.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7509062PMC
December 2020

Sequencing for an interdisciplinary molecular tumor board in patients with advanced breast cancer: experiences from a case series.

Oncotarget 2020 Sep 1;11(35):3279-3285. Epub 2020 Sep 1.

Praxis fuer Humangenetik and CeGaT GmbH, Tuebingen, Germany.

Purpose: High throughput panel sequencing to tailor therapy in precision oncology promises to improve outcome in patients with metastatic breast cancer. However, data that clearly show any benefit from such an approach is still pending.

Materials And Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of advanced breast cancer patients that underwent panel sequencing for suggestion of target related drugs. We aimed to (i) determine the frequency of actionable mutations per patient and to (ii) assess the clinical impact of results on treatment options.

Results: A total of 52 patients underwent panel sequencing of archived tumor tissue. Every sample showed at least one affected gene, accounting for actionable mutations in 45 of 52 patients (87%). New treatment options that would not have been used as indicated by standard predictive markers (such as hormonal receptor status or HER2-status) were found in 22 of 52 patients (42%). We detected therapeutic relevant pathogenic germline variants in 9,6% (5/52) of the patients.

Conclusions: Using a high throughput-panel sequencing approach to identify actionable mutations in patients with metastatic breast cancer, we identified potential target-related treatment options in a large proportion of our patients, some of which would not have been considered without this data. Prospective clinical trials with compounds targeting the identified actionable mutations are needed to determine which treatments can indeed improve survival or quality of life by limiting exposure to ineffective drugs in advanced breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27704DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7476733PMC
September 2020

Endometrial Cancer Molecular Risk Stratification is Equally Prognostic for Endometrioid Ovarian Carcinoma.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 10 31;26(20):5400-5410. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Purpose: Endometrioid ovarian carcinoma (ENOC) is generally associated with a more favorable prognosis compared with other ovarian carcinomas. Nonetheless, current patient treatment continues to follow a "one-size-fits-all" approach. Even though tumor staging offers stratification, personalized treatments remain elusive. As ENOC shares many clinical and molecular features with its endometrial counterpart, we sought to investigate The Cancer Genome Atlas-inspired endometrial carcinoma (EC) molecular subtyping in a cohort of ENOC.

Experimental Design: IHC and mutation biomarkers were used to segregate 511 ENOC tumors into four EC-inspired molecular subtypes: low-risk mutant (POLEmut), moderate-risk mismatch repair deficient (MMRd), high-risk p53 abnormal (p53abn), and moderate-risk with no specific molecular profile (NSMP). Survival analysis with established clinicopathologic and subtype-specific features was performed.

Results: A total of 3.5% of cases were POLEmut, 13.7% MMRd, 9.6% p53abn, and 73.2% NSMP, each showing distinct outcomes ( < 0.001) and survival similar to observations in EC. Median OS was 18.1 years in NSMP, 12.3 years in MMRd, 4.7 years in p53abn, and not reached for POLEmut cases. Subtypes were independent of stage, grade, and residual disease in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: EC-inspired molecular classification provides independent prognostic information in ENOC. Our findings support investigating molecular subtype-specific management recommendations for patients with ENOC; for example, subtypes may provide guidance when fertility-sparing treatment is desired. Similarities between ENOC and EC suggest that patients with ENOC may benefit from management strategies applied to EC and the opportunity to study those in umbrella trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-1268DOI Listing
October 2020

Estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 discordance between primary and metastatic breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2020 Aug 1;183(1):137-144. Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 440, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: The estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) statuses are frequently discordant between the primary tumor and metastatic lesions in metastatic breast cancer. This can have important therapeutic implications.

Patients And Methods: In all, 541 patients with available receptor statuses from both primary tumor and metastatic lesion treated at Heidelberg and Tuebingen University Hospitals between 1982 and 2018 were included.

Results: Statistically significant discordance rates of 14% and 32% were found for ER and PR. HER2 status was statistically insignificantly discordant in 15% of patients. Gain in HER2 positivity was associated with an improved overall survival, whereas loss of HR positivity was associated with worse overall survival. Antiendocrine treatment differed in 20% of cases before and after biopsy and HER2-directed treatment in 14% of cases.

Conclusions: Receptor statuses are discordant between primary tumor and metastasis in a considerable fraction of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Next to a highly presumed predictive value with respect to efficacy of endocrine and HER2-targeted therapy, discordance seems to provide prognostically relevant information. Where feasible, metastatic lesions should be biopsied in accordance with current guidelines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-020-05746-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375990PMC
August 2020
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