Publications by authors named "Benjamin R Tan"

36 Publications

FOLFIRINOX for the Treatment of Advanced Gastroesophageal Cancers: A Phase 2 Nonrandomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2020 08;6(8):1231-1240

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Importance: Standard first-line regimens for patients with metastatic gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas have an approximate 40% objective response rate (ORR). The combination of leucovorin, fluorouracil, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin (FOLFIRINOX) has been efficacious as first-line therapy for other gastrointestinal cancers, such as pancreatic and colon cancers.

Objective: To evaluate the clinical activity and safety of FOLFIRINOX as first-line treatment for patients with advanced gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This is an open-label, single-arm phase 2 study of first-line FOLFIRINOX in patients with advanced gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma. Estimated sample size included 41 patients with ERBB2-negative disease with 90% power to detect an ORR of 60% or greater with α of .10. No enrollment goal was planned for ERBB2-positive patients, but they were allowed to receive trastuzumab in combination with FOLFIRINOX.

Interventions: Starting doses were fluorouracil, 400 mg/m2 bolus, followed by 2400 mg/m2 over 46 hours; leucovorin, 400 mg/m2; irinotecan, 180 mg/m2; and oxaliplatin, 85 mg/m2. Trastuzumab was administered as a 6 mg/kg loading dose, followed by 4 mg/kg every 14 days in patients with ERBB2-positive disease.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary end point was ORR by the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, version 1.1. Secondary end points included safety profile, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and duration of response.

Results: From November 2013 to May 2018, 67 patients were enrolled (median [range] age, 59.0 [34-78] years; including 56 [84%] men), and 26 of 67 (39%) had ERBB2-positive disease. Median follow-up was 17.4 months. The ORR was 61%(95% CI, 44.5%-75.8%) (25 of 41) in the ERBB2-negative group and 85% (95% CI, 65.1%-95.6%) (22 of 26) in the ERBB2-positive group, including 1 patient with complete response. For ERBB2-negative patients, median PFS was 8.4 months and median OS was 15.5 months; for ERBB2-positive patients, median PFS was 13.8 months and median OS was 19.6 months. Fifty-six patients (84%) had dose modifications or treatment delays. The most common toxic effects were neutropenia (91%, n = 61), diarrhea (63%, n = 42), peripheral sensory neuropathy (61%, n = 41), and nausea (48%, n = 32), with no unexpected toxic effects.

Conclusions And Relevance: The FOLFIRINOX regimen with or without trastuzumab was associated with improved ORR and PFS in patients with advanced gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma in the first-line setting. This regimen may be a reasonable therapeutic option for patients with preserved performance status.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01928290.
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August 2020

Effect of metastatic site on survival in patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs). An analysis of SEER data from 2010 to 2014.

BMC Endocr Disord 2020 Apr 3;20(1):44. Epub 2020 Apr 3.

Department of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, USA.

Background: Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) display variable behaviors based on origin and grade. We assumed that both tumor origin and the location of metastasis may play a role in survival.

Methods: We queried the SEER database (2010-2014) for patients with an established diagnosis of NENs and documented site of metastasis and identified 2005 patients. Overall survival (OS) at the time points were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method Cox proportional-hazards models were used to evaluate the relationship of the interested variables and OS.

Results: Lung, liver, bone and brain metastases were observed in 9, 77, 7 and 6% of metastatic patients respectively. In the multivariate model, metastasis locations were significantly associated with worse survival (liver HR: 1.677 (1.226-2.294); (bone metastasis HR: 1.412 (0.965-2.065); brain HR: 1.666 (1.177-2.357)). We produced a scoring system based on site of origin, metastasis location, age, gender, histology and tumor size that can stratify metastatic NEN patients in low, intermediate and high-risk categories to help physicians with decision making.

Conclusion: Site of metastasis plays an important role in survival of metastatic NEN patients independent of commonly described prognostic factors and should be considered in survival estimates.
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April 2020

Assessment of Hepatic Arterial Infusion of Floxuridine in Combination With Systemic Gemcitabine and Oxaliplatin in Patients With Unresectable Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma: A Phase 2 Clinical Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2019 Oct 31. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

Importance: Unresectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHC) carries a poor prognosis, with a median overall survival (OS) of 11 months. Hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) of high-dose chemotherapy may have potential benefit in these patients.

Objective: To evaluate clinical outcomes when HAI chemotherapy is combined with systemic chemotherapy in patients with unresectable IHC.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A single-institution, phase 2 clinical trial including 38 patients was conducted with HAI floxuridine plus systemic gemcitabine and oxaliplatin in patients with unresectable IHC at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center between May 20, 2013, and June 27, 2019. A confirmatory phase 1/2 study using the same therapy was conducted during the same time period at Washington University in St Louis. Patients with histologically confirmed, unresectable IHC were eligible. Resectable metastatic disease to regional lymph nodes and prior systemic therapy were permitted. Patients with distant metastatic disease were excluded.

Interventions: Hepatic arterial infusion of floxuridine and systemic administration of gemcitabine and oxaliplatin.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary outcome was progression-free survival (PFS) of 80% at 6 months.

Results: For the phase 2 clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 42 patients with unresectable IHC were included and, of these, 38 patients were treated (13 [34%] men; median [range] age at diagnosis, 64 [39-81] years). The median follow-up was 30.5 months. Twenty-two patients (58%) achieved a partial radiographic response, and 32 patients (84%) achieved disease control at 6 months. Four patients had sufficient response to undergo resection, and 1 patient had a complete pathologic response. The median PFS was 11.8 months (1-sided 90% CI, 11.1) with a 6-month PFS rate of 84.1% (90% CI, 74.8%-infinity), thereby meeting the primary end point (6-month PFS rate, 80%). The median OS was 25.0 months (95% CI, 20.6-not reached), and the 1-year OS rate was 89.5% (95% CI, 80.2%-99.8%). Patients with resectable regional lymph nodes (18 [47%]) showed no difference in OS compared with patients with node-negative disease (24-month OS: lymph node negative: 60%; 95% CI, 40%-91% vs lymph node positive: 50%; 95% CI, 30%-83%; P = .66). Four patients (11%) had grade 4 toxic effects requiring removal from the study (1 portal hypertension, 2 gastroduodenal artery aneurysms, 1 infection in the pump pocket). Subgroup analysis showed significant improvement in survival in patients with IDH1/2 mutated tumors (2-year OS, 90%; 95% CI, 73%-99%) vs wild-type (2-year OS, 33%; 95% CI, 18%-63%) (P = .01). In the Washington University in St Louis confirmatory cohort, 9 patients (90%) achieved disease control at 6 months; the most common grade 3 toxic effect was elevated results of liver function tests, and median PFS was 12.8 months (1-sided 90% CI, 6.4).

Conclusions And Relevance: Hepatic arterial infusion plus systemic chemotherapy appears to be highly active and tolerable in patients with unresectable IHC; further evaluation is warranted.
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October 2019

Assessment of Treatment With Sorafenib Plus Doxorubicin vs Sorafenib Alone in Patients With Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Phase 3 CALGB 80802 Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2019 Sep 5. Epub 2019 Sep 5.

Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco.

Importance: Previous communication has reported significant improvement in overall survival (OS) when using doxorubicin plus sorafenib in the treatment of advanced hepatocellular cancer (HCC).

Objective: To determine if doxorubicin added to sorafenib therapy improves OS, with stratification for locally advanced and metastatic disease.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This unblinded randomized phase 3 clinical trial was led by Alliance in collaboration with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group-American College of Radiology Imaging Network, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and Southwest Oncology Group. It was launched in February 2010 and completed in May 2015; data were also analyzed during this time frame. Patients with histologically proven advanced HCC, no prior systemic therapy, Child-Pugh grade A score, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 to 2 (later amended to 0-1), and adequate hematologic, hepatic, renal, and cardiac function were eligible. The OS primary end point had a final analysis planned with 364 events observed among 480 total patients with 90% power to detect a 37% increase in median OS.

Interventions Or Exposures: Patients received either 60 mg/m2 of doxorubicin every 21 days plus 400 mg of sorafenib orally twice daily or the sorafenib alone, adjusted to half doses for patients with bilirubin levels of 1.3 to 3.0 mg/dL.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary end point was OS, and progression-free survival (PFS) was a secondary end point.

Results: Of 356 patients included in the study, the mean (SD) age was 62 (10.1) years, and 306 (86.0%) were men. Although it was planned to include 480 patients, the study was halted after accrual of 356 patients (180 patients treated with doxorubicin plus sorafenib and 176 with sorafenib alone) with a futility boundary crossed at a planned interim analysis. Median OS was 9.3 months (95% CI, 7.3-10.8 months) in the doxorubicin plus sorafenib arm and 9.4 months (95% CI, 7.3-12.9 months) in the sorafenib alone arm (hazard ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.83-1.31). The median PFS was 4.0 months (95% CI, 3.4-4.9 months) in the doxorubicin plus sorafenib arm and 3.7 months (95% CI, 2.9-4.5 months) in the sorafenib alone arm (hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.75-1.16). Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia adverse events occurred in 61 (36.8%) and 29 (17.5%) patients, respectively, being treated with doxorubicin plus sorafenib vs 1 (0.6%) and 4 (2.4%) patients treated with sorafenib.

Conclusions And Relevance: This multigroup study of the addition of doxorubicin to sorafenib therapy did not show improvement of OS or PFS in patients with HCC.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT01015833.
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September 2019

Phase II Randomized Trial of Sequential or Concurrent FOLFOXIRI-Bevacizumab Versus FOLFOX-Bevacizumab for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (STEAM).

Oncologist 2019 07 14;24(7):921-932. Epub 2018 Dec 14.

Sarah Cannon Research Institute/Tennessee Oncology, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Background: First-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) typically entails a biologic such as bevacizumab (BEV) with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin/oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) or 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin/irinotecan (FOLFIRI). STEAM (NCT01765582) assessed the efficacy of BEV plus FOLFOX/FOLFIRI (FOLFOXIRI), administered concurrently (cFOLFOXIRI-BEV) or sequentially (sFOLFOXIRI-BEV, FOLFOX-BEV alternating with FOLFIRI-BEV), versus FOLFOX-BEV for mCRC.

Patients And Methods: Patients with previously untreated mCRC ( = 280) were randomized 1:1:1 to cFOLFOXIRI-BEV, sFOLFOXIRI-BEV, or FOLFOX-BEV and treated with 4-6-month induction followed by maintenance. Coprimary objectives were overall response rate (ORR; first-line cFOLFOXIRI-BEV vs. FOLFOX-BEV) and progression-free survival (PFS; pooled first-line cFOLFOXIRI-BEV and sFOLFOXIRI-BEV vs. FOLFOX-BEV). Secondary/exploratory objectives included overall survival (OS), liver resection rates, biomarker analyses, and safety.

Results: ORR was 72.0%, 72.8%, and 62.1% and median PFS was 11.9, 11.4, and 9.5 months with cFOLFOXIRI-BEV, sFOLFOXIRI-BEV, and FOLFOX-BEV, respectively. OS was similar between arms. ORR between cFOLFOXIRI-BEV and FOLFOX-BEV did not significantly differ ( = .132); thus, the primary ORR endpoint was not met. cFOLFOXIRI-BEV and sFOLFOXIRI-BEV numerically improved ORR and PFS, regardless of status. Median PFS was higher with pooled concurrent and sequential FOLFOXIRI-BEV versus FOLFOX-BEV (11.7 vs. 9.5 months; hazard ratio, 0.7; 90% confidence interval, 0.5-0.9; < .01). Liver resection rates were 17.2% (cFOLFOXIRI-BEV), 9.8% (sFOLFOXIRI-BEV), and 8.4% (FOLFOX-BEV). Grade ≥ 3 treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) were observed in 91.2% (cFOLFOXIRI-BEV), 86.7% (sFOLFOXIRI-BEV), and 85.6% (FOLFOX-BEV) of patients, with no increase in serious chemotherapy-associated TEAEs.

Conclusion: cFOLFOXIRI-BEV and sFOLFOXIRI-BEV were well tolerated with numerically improved ORR, PFS, and liver resection rates versus FOLFOX-BEV, supporting triplet chemotherapy plus BEV as a first-line treatment option for mCRC IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The combination of first-line FOLFIRI with FOLFOX and bevacizumab (concurrent FOLFOXIRI-BEV) improves clinical outcomes in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) relative to FOLFIRI-BEV or FOLFOX-BEV, but it is thought to be associated with increased toxicity. Alternating treatment of FOLFOX and FOLFIRI (sequential FOLFOXIRI-BEV) could improve tolerability. In the phase II STEAM trial, which is the largest study of FOLFOXIRI-BEV in patients in the U.S., it was found that both concurrent and sequential FOLFOXIRI-BEV are active and well tolerated in patients with previously untreated mCRC, supporting the use of these regimens as potential first-line treatment options for this population.
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July 2019

Systemic Therapy for Combined Hepatocellular-Cholangiocarcinoma: A Single-Institution Experience.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2018 10;16(10):1193-1199

Combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma tumors (cHCC-CCA) are a heterogeneous group of rare malignancies that have no established optimal treatment. We identified patients with cHCC-CCA treated at a tertiary center and retrospectively examined their histology, interventions, and outcomes. We calculated disease control rate (DCR), disease progression, overall survival, and progression-free survival (PFS) between treatment subgroups. A total of 123 patients were evaluable. Interventions included resection, locoregional therapy, transplant, chemotherapy, and targeted agents. Ultimately, 68 patients received systemic treatment-57 with gemcitabine plus either 5-fluoropyrimidine (5-FU) or a platinum combination. Disease progression was more common in the gemcitabine/5-FU group versus gemcitabine/platinum (=.028), whereas DCR favored gemcitabine/platinum (78.4% vs 38.5%; =.0143). Median PFS from time of initial diagnosis favored the gemcitabine/platinum group, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Targeted agents had minimal to no effect on survival metrics. Gemcitabine/platinum seems to be a superior regimen for patients with cHCC-CCA who require systemic treatment. Further studies are needed to clarify the regimen's efficacy and applicability in patient subgroups.
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October 2018

Optimal extent of surgical and pathologic lymph node evaluation for resected intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

HPB (Oxford) 2018 05 20;20(5):470-476. Epub 2018 Jan 20.

Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, St Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Lymph node (LN) status is an important predictor of overall survival for resected IHCC, yet guidelines for the extent of LN dissection are not evidence-based. We evaluated whether the number of LNs resected at the time of surgery is associated with overall survival for IHCC.

Methods: Patients undergoing curative-intent (R0 or R1) resection for IHCC between 2004 and 2012 were identified within the US National Cancer Database. LN thresholds were evaluated using maximal chi-square testing and five-year overall survival was modeled using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regressions.

Results: 57% (n = 1,132) of 2,000 patients had one or more LNs resected and pathologically examined. In the 631 patients undergoing R0 resection with pN0 disease, maximal chi-square testing identified ≥3 LNs as the threshold most closely associated with overall survival. Only 39% of resections reached this threshold. On multivariable survival analysis, no threshold of LNs was associated with overall survival, including ≥3 LNs (p = 0.186) and the current American Joint Committee on Cancer recommendation of ≥6 LNs (p = 0.318).

Conclusion: In determining the extent of lymphadenectomy at the time of curative-intent resection for IHCC, surgeons should carefully consider the prognostic yield in the absence of overall survival benefit.
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May 2018

Pacritinib to inhibit JAK/STAT signaling in refractory metastatic colon and rectal cancer.

J Gastrointest Oncol 2017 Dec;8(6):985-989

Division of Oncology, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.

Background: Treatment options for patients with refractory colorectal cancer are limited and typically provide a chance of only modest benefit. The goal of this study was to evaluate the benefit of inhibiting the JAK/STAT inflammatory pathway with single agent pacritinib in patients with metastatic refractory colorectal adenocarcinoma.

Methods: A single arm institutional trial was initiated and enrolled patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to at least two standard lines of treatment. Pacritinib 400 mg daily was administered orally continuously in 28 day cycles.

Results: The trial was discontinued prior to reaching the planned accrual due to an FDA hold on pacritinib and a lack of treatment benefit. Eleven patients were enrolled and seven were evaluated for response. Median baseline C-reactive protein level was 12.1 (2.1-147) mg/L. One patient had stable disease at eight weeks by RECIST criteria and six progressed. There were no grade 4 or 5 adverse events while patients were on study. The grade 2 and lower AE events experienced were consistent with prior pacritinib trials.

Conclusions: In seven evaluable patients there were no objective responses. The trial was discontinued prior to completing planned accrual based on a low likelihood that the progression free survival goal of 4 months would be met.
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December 2017

Interferon-based chemoradiation followed by gemcitabine for resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma: long-term follow-up.

HPB (Oxford) 2017 05 3;19(5):449-457. Epub 2017 Feb 3.

Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA; Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address:

To report long-term follow up of a phase II, single-arm trial of resectable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) treated with adjuvant interferon-based chemoradiation followed by gemcitabine to determine survival, recurrence, and complications.

Methods: From 2002 to 2005, 53 patients with PDAC underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy and received adjuvant interferon-based chemoradiation consisting of external-beam irradiation and simultaneous 3-drug chemotherapy of continuous daily 5-fluorouracil infusion, weekly intravenous bolus cisplatin, and subcutaneous interferon-α, followed by two months of weekly intravenous gemcitabine.

Results: Actual overall survival for the 5- and 10-year periods were 26% and 10%, respectively, with a median overall survival of 25 months (95% CI: 16.4-38.5). Adverse prognostic factors on multivariate analysis were positive tumor margin (p < 0.035), lymphovascular invasion (p < 0.015), and perineural invasion (p < 0.026). Median time to recurrence was 11 months. Positive tumor margin was associated with lymph node involvement (p < 0.005), portal vein resection (p < 0.038), and metastases (p < 0.018). Late complications were frequent and predominated by gastrointestinal and infectious complications.

Conclusions: Adjuvant interferon-based chemoradiation for PDAC improves long-term survival compared to standard therapy. However, recurrence rates and long-term complications remain high, thus further studies are indicated to assess patient characteristics that indicate a favorable treatment profile.
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May 2017

A phase 1 dose-escalation and expansion study of binimetinib (MEK162), a potent and selective oral MEK1/2 inhibitor.

Br J Cancer 2017 Feb 2;116(5):575-583. Epub 2017 Feb 2.

Clinical Research, South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START), 4383 Medical Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

Background: Binimetinib (MEK162; ARRY-438162) is a potent and selective oral MEK 1/2 inhibitor. This phase 1 study determined the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles, and preliminary anti-tumour activity of binimetinib in patients with advanced solid tumours, with expansion cohorts of patients with biliary cancer or KRAS- or BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer.

Methods: Binimetinib was administered twice daily. Expansion cohorts were enroled after MTD determination following a 3+3 dose-escalation design. Pharmacokinetic properties were determined from plasma samples. Tumour samples were assessed for mutations in RAS, RAF, and other relevant genes. Pharmacodynamic properties were evaluated in serum and skin punch biopsy samples.

Results: Ninety-three patients received binimetinib (dose-escalation phase, 19; expansion, 74). The MTD was 60 mg twice daily, with dose-limiting adverse events (AEs) of dermatitis acneiform and chorioretinopathy. The dose for expansion patients was subsequently decreased to 45 mg twice daily because of the frequency of treatment-related ocular toxicity at the MTD. Common AEs across all dose levels included rash (81%), nausea (56%), vomiting (52%), diarrhoea (51%), peripheral oedema (46%), and fatigue (43%); most were grade 1/2. Dose-proportional increases in binimetinib exposure were observed and target inhibition was demonstrated in serum and skin punch biopsy samples. Three patients with biliary cancer had objective responses (one complete and two partial).

Conclusions: Binimetinib demonstrated a manageable safety profile, target inhibition, and dose-proportional exposure. The 45 mg twice daily dose was identified as the recommended phase 2 dose. The three objective responses in biliary cancer patients are encouraging and support further evaluation in this population.
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February 2017

Utility of a multidisciplinary tumor board in the management of pancreatic and upper gastrointestinal diseases: an observational study.

HPB (Oxford) 2017 02 1;19(2):133-139. Epub 2016 Dec 1.

Department of Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address:

Background & Objectives: Multidisciplinary tumor boards (MDTBs) are frequently employed in cancer centers but their value has been debated. We reviewed the decision-making process and resource utilization of our MDTB to assess its utility in the management of pancreatic and upper gastrointestinal tract conditions.

Methods: A prospectively-collected database was reviewed over a 12-month period. The primary outcome was change in management plan as a result of case discussion. Secondary outcomes included resources required to hold MDTB, survival, and adherence to treatment guidelines.

Results: Four hundred seventy cases were reviewed. MDTB resulted in a change in the proposed plan of management in 101 of 402 evaluable cases (25.1%). New plans favored obtaining additional diagnostic workup. No recorded variables were associated with a change in plan. For newly-diagnosed cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (n = 33), survival time was not impacted by MDTB (p = .154) and adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines was 100%. The estimated cost of physician time per case reviewed was $190.

Conclusions: Our MDTB influences treatment decisions in a sizeable number of cases with excellent adherence to national guidelines. However, this requires significant time expenditure and may not impact outcomes. Regular assessments of the effectiveness of MDTBs should be undertaken.
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February 2017

Targeting tumour-associated macrophages with CCR2 inhibition in combination with FOLFIRINOX in patients with borderline resectable and locally advanced pancreatic cancer: a single-centre, open-label, dose-finding, non-randomised, phase 1b trial.

Lancet Oncol 2016 05 4;17(5):651-62. Epub 2016 Apr 4.

Department of Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA; Center for Tumor Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA; Wilmot Cancer Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA. Electronic address:

Background: In pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the CCL2-CCR2 chemokine axis is used to recruit tumour-associated macrophages for construction of an immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment. This pathway has prognostic implications in pancreatic cancer, and blockade of CCR2 restores anti-tumour immunity in preclinical models. We aimed to establish the safety, tolerability, and recommended phase 2 oral dose of the CCR2 inhibitor PF-04136309 in combination with FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy (oxaliplatin and irinotecan plus leucovorin and fluorouracil).

Methods: We did this open-label, dose-finding, non-randomised, phase 1b study at one centre in the USA. We enrolled treatment-naive patients aged 18 years or older with borderline resectable or locally advanced biopsy-proven pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 1 or less, measurable disease as defined by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors version 1.1, and normal end-organ function. Patients were allocated to receive either FOLFIRINOX alone (oxaliplatin 85 mg/m(2), irinotecan 180 mg/m(2), leucovorin 400 mg/m(2), and bolus fluorouracil 400 mg/m(2), followed by 2400 mg/m(2) 46-h continuous infusion), administered every 2 weeks for a total of six treatment cycles, or in combination with oral PF-04136309, administered at a starting dose of 500 mg twice daily in a standard 3 + 3 dose de-escalation design. Both FOLFIRINOX and PF-04136309 were simultaneously initiated with a total treatment duration of 12 weeks. The primary endpoints were the safety, tolerability, and recommended phase 2 dose of PF-04136309 plus FOLFIRINOX, with an expansion phase planned at the recommended dose. We analysed the primary outcome by intention to treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT01413022.

Results: Between April 19, 2012, and Nov 12, 2014, we treated 47 patients with FOLFIRINOX alone (n=8) or with FOLFIRINOX plus PF-04136309 (n=39). One patient had a dose-limiting toxic effect in the dose de-escalation group receiving FOLFIRINOX plus PF-04136309 at 500 mg twice daily (n=6); this dose was established as the recommended phase 2 dose. We pooled patients in the expansion-phase group (n=33) with those in the dose de-escalation group that received PF-04136309 at the recommended phase 2 dose for assessment of treatment-related toxicity. Six (75%) of the eight patients receiving FOLFIRINOX alone were assessed for treatment toxicity, after exclusion of two (25%) patients due to insurance coverage issues. The median duration of follow-up for treatment toxicity was 72·0 days (IQR 49·5-89·0) in the FOLFIRINOX alone group and 77·0 days (70·0-90·5) in the FOLFIRINOX plus PF-04136309 group. No treatment-related deaths occurred. Two (5%) patients in the FOLFIRINOX plus PF-04136309 group stopped treatment earlier than planned due to treatment-related toxic effects. Grade 3 or higher adverse events reported in at least 10% of the patients receiving PF-04136309 included neutropenia (n=27), febrile neutropenia (n=7), lymphopenia (n=4), diarrhoea (n=6), and hypokalaemia (n=7). Grade 3 or higher adverse events reported in at least 10% of patients receiving FOLFIRINOX alone were neutropenia (n=6), febrile neutropenia (n=1), anaemia (n=2), lymphopenia (n=1), diarrhoea (n=2), hypoalbuminaemia (n=1), and hypokalaemia (n=3). Therapy was terminated because of treatment-related toxicity in one (17%) of the six patients receiving FOLFIRINOX alone. 16 (49%) of 33 patients receiving FOLFIRINOX plus PF-04136309 who had undergone repeat imaging achieved an objective tumour response, with local tumour control achieved in 32 (97%) patients. In the FOLFIRINOX alone group, none of the five patients with repeat imaging achieved an objective response, although four (80%) of those patients achieved stable disease.

Interpretation: CCR2-targeted therapy with PF-04136309 in combination with FOLFIRINOX is safe and tolerable.

Funding: Washington University-Pfizer Biomedical Collaborative.
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May 2016

Efficacy and toxicity of rectal cancer reirradiation using IMRT for patients who have received prior pelvic radiation therapy.

Adv Radiat Oncol 2016 Apr-Jun;1(2):94-100. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.

Purpose: Locally recurrent rectal cancer may cause significant morbidity. Prior reports of rectal cancer reirradiation following local recurrence suggest treatment efficacy, with variable rates of late toxicity. Modern techniques including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) may improve the therapeutic index. We report outcomes for pelvic reirradiation as treatment for rectal cancer using IMRT.

Methods And Materials: The records of 31 patients undergoing reirradiation for rectal cancer between 2004 and 2013 were reviewed. All patients underwent IMRT using an accelerated hyperfractionation (39 Gy in 1.5-Gy fractions delivered twice daily, n=15) or once-daily fractionation technique (median dose, 30.4 Gy; range, 27-40 Gy in 15-22 fractions; n = 16). The median cumulative dose was 77 Gy (range, 59-113), and the median interval from prior pelvic radiation therapy was 39.8 months (range, 10.1-307.6). Treatment intent was palliative in 20 patients and neoadjuvant or adjuvant in 11 patients. Surgery was generally reserved for patients with an isolated local recurrence. Concurrent chemotherapy was administered for 25/31 patients, most frequently capecitabine (n=11) or continuous infusion 5-fluorouracil (n=10).

Results: Median follow-up was 11.3 months. The prescribed treatment was completed in 29/31 patients (93.5%). Among 18 patients with symptoms attributable to recurrent disease, successful palliation was achieved in 10/18 (55.6%). The rate of grade 2 and grade 3 acute toxicities was 32.3% and 3.2%, respectively. Local control rates at 1 and 2 years were 61.3% and 47.3%, respectively. Median overall survival was 21.9 months, and 1-year survival was 66.7% for patients who had surgical resection versus 58.7% for those who did not ( = .0802).

Conclusions: Rectal cancer reirradiation using IMRT is well-tolerated in the setting of prior pelvic radiation therapy. Given significant risk of local progression, further dose escalation may be warranted for patients with life expectancy exceeding 1 year.
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February 2016

Imaging Features of Biphenotypic Primary Liver Carcinoma (Hepatocholangiocarcinoma) and the Potential to Mimic Hepatocellular Carcinoma: LI-RADS Analysis of CT and MRI Features in 61 Cases.

AJR Am J Roentgenol 2016 Jul 11;207(1):25-31. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

1 Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University, 510 S Kingshighway Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63110.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency with which biphenotypic primary liver carcinoma (also called hepatocholangiocarcinoma) may be misclassified as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) when only Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) major features are used and after consideration of ancillary features.

Materials And Methods: A review of all pathologically proven biphenotypic primary liver carcinomas diagnosed at one institution from 2006 to 2014 was performed. Two subspecialized abdominal imagers independently reviewed cases using LI-RADS version 2014 and assigned major features, ancillary features, and additional findings. The number of lesions meeting imaging criteria for HCC was determined after assessment of major features alone and after the addition of ancillary features.

Results: Sixty-one patients (30 men, 31 women; mean age, 62 years; range, 22-89 years) with biphenotypic primary liver carcinomas who underwent pretreatment multiphasic contrast-enhanced MRI (48 patients) or CT (13 patients) were included. According to LI-RADS major features alone, 33 (54.1%) lesions met criteria for HCC and therefore might have been misclassified. Thirteen had arterial phase hyperenhancement, washout, and a capsule. Twenty had arterial phase hyperenhancement with either washout (15 lesions) or a capsule (five lesions). After evaluation of ancillary features, 29 of these potential mimics exhibited at least one ancillary feature favoring non-HCC malignancy, possibly leading to appropriate reclassification. Of the four carcinomas that met criteria for HCC by major features and did not have ancillary features favoring non-HCC malignancy, two (3.3% of all tumors) fell within the Milan criteria.

Conclusion: Most biphenotypic primary liver carcinomas have features of non-HCC malignancy and can be correctly categorized as such. Addition of ancillary features to major features may improve diagnostic accuracy over systems in which only major features are used.
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July 2016

A phase II study of adjuvant gemcitabine plus docetaxel followed by concurrent chemoradation in resected pancreaticobiliary carcinoma.

HPB (Oxford) 2015 Jul 20;17(7):587-93. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Objectives: Adjuvant gemcitabine with or without chemoradiation is a standard therapeutic option for patients with resected pancreatic cancer. The feasibility and toxicity of gemcitabine with docetaxel before and after 5-fluorouracil (5FU)-based chemoradiation in the adjuvant pancreatic and biliary cancer setting were investigated.

Methods: After a curative-intent resection, eligible patients with pancreaticobiliary cancers were treated with two cycles of gemcitabine and docetaxel followed by 5FU-based chemoradiation. Four weeks after completing chemoradiation, two cycles of gemcitabine and docetaxel were administered. The primary endpoint was the incidence of severe toxicities. Secondary endpoints included disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: Fifty patients with pancreaticobiliary cancers were enrolled. Twenty-nine patients had pancreatic cancer whereas 21 patients had biliary tract or ampullary cancers. There was one death as a result of pneumonia, and 15% of patients experienced grade 3 or greater non-haematological toxicities. The median DFS and OS for patients with pancreatic cancer were 9.6 and 17 months, respectively, and for those with resected biliary tract cancer were 12 and 23 months, respectively.

Conclusions: This combination of gemcitabine and docetaxel with chemoradiation is feasible and tolerable in the adjuvant setting. Future studies utilizing a different gemcitabine/taxane combination and schedule may be appropriate in the adjuvant treatment of both pancreatic cancer and biliary tumours.
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July 2015

Thymidylate synthase genotype-directed chemotherapy for patients with gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers.

PLoS One 2014 18;9(9):e107424. Epub 2014 Sep 18.

Department of Medicine, Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.

Background: Retrospective studies indicate associations between TSER (thymidylate synthase enhancer region) genotypes and clinical outcomes in patients receiving 5-FU based chemotherapy, but well-controlled prospective validation has been lacking.

Methods: In this phase II study (NCT00515216 registered through,, patients with "good risk" TSER genotypes (at least one TSER*2 allele) were treated with FOLFOX chemotherapy to determine whether prospective patient selection can improve overall response rates (ORR) in patients with gastric and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancers, compared with historical outcomes in unselected patients (estimated 43%).

Results: The ORR in genotype-selected patients was 39.1% (9 partial responses out of 23 evaluable patients, 95% CI, 22.2 to 59.2), not achieving the primary objective of improving ORR. An encouraging disease control rate (DCR, consisting of partial responses and stable diseases) of 95.7% was noted and patients with homozygous TSER*2 genotype showed better tumor response.

Conclusions: In this first prospective, multi-institutional study in patients with gastric or GEJ cancers, selecting patients with at least one TSER*2 allele did not improve the ORR but led to an encouraging DCR. Further studies are needed to investigate the utility of selecting patients homozygous for the TSER*2 allele and additional genomic markers in improving clinical outcomes for patients with gastric and GEJ cancers.

Trial Registration: NCT00515216.
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June 2015

Histological features and severity of oxaliplatin-induced liver injury and clinical associations.

J Dig Dis 2014 Oct;15(10):553-60

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

Objective: Oxaliplatin, a component of chemotherapy for colorectal carcinoma liver metastases, can result in hepatic sinusoidal injury; rarely, the injury is fatal. The manifestations of injury are variable. There are no known predictors of susceptibility and outcome. A semi-quantitative system for assessing histological features in non-tumor liver was designed to compare with clinical short-term and long-term outcomes.

Methods: A review of 47 patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma who received liver resection utilizing a system for an aggregate liver injury score (0-4) included hepatocellular and sinusoidal features. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for aberrant capillarization was included. The proliferation of hepatocytes and sinusoidal lining cells was evaluated with Ki-67 stain.

Results: In total, 32 (68.1%) cases showed light microscopic lesions of oxaliplatin-induced liver injury, in which 26 were moderate to severe. Elevated preoperative aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase levels were noted with higher injury scores (P = 0.01). Patients with higher injury scores had no significant increase in short-term postoperative complications, with one notable exception, who died of liver failure 10 months postoperatively. Increased CD34 expression was associated with higher injury scores (P = 0.00004), and abnormal AST levels (P = 0.04). Preoperative use of bevacizumab was not associated with lower injury scores. Steatosis was correlated with body mass index (P = 0.052) but not with exposure to oxaliplatin, bevacizumab or irinotecan.

Conclusions: The proposed liver injury scoring system encompasses the spectrum of sinusoidal and hepatocellular lesions in oxaliplatin-induced liver injury and is correlated with serum liver enzyme levels in this group. Most patients recovered without complications during the 93-month follow-up, indicating that these lesions are reversible.
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October 2014

Complete response and prolonged disease-free survival in a patient with recurrent duodenal adenocarcinoma treated with bevacizumab plus FOLFOX6.

J Gastrointest Oncol 2014 Feb;5(1):E1-6

Division of Medical Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue St. Louis Missouri 63110, USA.

Small bowel adenocarcinoma is an uncommon gastrointestinal malignancy with limited data on effective chemotherapy in the adjuvant setting, as well as for advanced disease. We present a case report of a patient with recurrent duodenal adenocarcinoma after resection and adjuvant chemotherapy who experienced a complete response to bevacizumab with oxaliplatin and 5FU (FOLFOX) followed by bevacizumab/capecitabine maintenance therapy for 2 years. The patient continues to be disease-free 8 years after his recurrence. This case highlights the potential of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors to enhance chemotherapeutic regimens for advanced small bowel adenocarcinoma.
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February 2014

A multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

J Clin Gastroenterol 2013 Aug;47(7):578-85

Division of Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Management of patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) typically involves a combination of surgical, pathologic, and pharmacologic interventions. Gastroenterologists are often the first specialists to encounter patients presenting with GIST and are therefore responsible for facilitating early intervention strategies. Although patients with gastric or small-bowel GISTs typically present with symptoms, a diagnosis of GIST should be considered whenever a submucosal lesion is seen endoscopically. Visualization by standard endoscopy often can determine tumor location and size, although endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is the most accurate imaging technique for submucosal lesions. Biopsy techniques that yield sufficient tumor samples for diagnostic studies, such as EUS-guided fine needle aspiration, are essential, although other approaches such as EUS-guided core needle biopsy may increase diagnostic yield for subepithelial lesions. Pathology assessment should include immunohistochemical staining for KIT and possibly DOG1 expression, and mutational analysis can have prognostic and predictive value for certain patients. R0 resection is the goal for patients with localized or potentially resectable tumors, which often can be accomplished by laparoscopic resection, even for larger tumors. Medical oncologists play a key role in assessing risk of recurrence after resection and optimizing tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy in the adjuvant or metastatic setting. Cytoreductive surgery may have value for patients with recurrent or metastatic GIST who exhibit stable disease or respond to tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. A coordinated multidisciplinary approach over the course of the disease will serve to enhance communication among GIST team members, reduce risk of progression, and optimize outcomes.
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August 2013

Multi-institutional experience with FOLFIRINOX in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

JOP 2012 Sep 10;13(5):497-501. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Context: Combination chemotherapy with FOLFIRINOX (oxaliplatin, irinotecan, fluorouracil, and leucovorin) was shown to be effective in a large phase III trial.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the tolerance and effectiveness of FOLFIRINOX as practiced outside of the confines of a clinical trial and to document any dose modifications used by practicing oncologists.

Methods: Data on patients with all stages of pancreatic adenocarcinoma treated with FOLFIRINOX at three institutions was analyzed for efficacy, tolerance, and use of any dose modifications.

Results: Total of 61 patients was included in this review. Median age was 58 years (range: 37 to 72 years), 33 were male (54.1%) and majority had ECOG performance of 0 or 1 (86.9%, 53 patients). Thirty-eight (62.3%) had metastatic disease, while 23 (37.7%) were treated for locally advanced or borderline resectable disease. Patients were treated with a median number of four cycles of FOLFIRINOX, with dose modifications in 58.3% (176/302) of all cycles. Ten patients had stable disease (16.4%), four had a partial response (6.6%) while eight had progressive disease (13.1%) on best imaging following therapy. Median progression-free survival and overall survival were 7.5 months and 13.5 months, respectively. The most common grade 3-4 adverse event was neutropenia at 19.7% (12 cases), with 4.9% (3 cases) rate of febrile neutropenia. Twenty-one patients (34.4%) were hospitalized as a result of therapy but there were no therapy-related deaths. Twenty-three (37.7%) had therapy eventually discontinued as a result of adverse events.

Conclusion: Despite substantial rates of adverse events and use of dose modifications, FOLFIRINOX was found to be clinically effective in both metastatic and non-metastatic patients. Regimen toxicity did not detract from overall response and survival.
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September 2012

A phase 2 trial of gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil, and radiation therapy in locally advanced nonmetastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma : cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 80003.

Cancer 2011 Jun 23;117(12):2620-8. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Background: The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and gemcitabine administered concurrently with radiation in patients with locally advanced, nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer.

Methods: Eligible patients had histologically confirmed pancreatic adenocarcinoma deemed locally unresectable without evidence of metastatic disease. In addition, all patients underwent laparoscopy or laparotomy before study entry to rule out peritoneal carcinomatosis. Patients received radiation therapy (50.4 Gy) with concurrent infusional 5FU (200 mg/m(2) 5 days/week) and weekly gemcitabine (200 mg/m(2) ). After a 3-week break, patients received weekly gemcitabine at 1000 mg/m(2) for 3 of 4 weeks, for 4 cycles. The primary endpoint of the trial was the proportion of patients surviving 9 months from study entry. Secondary endpoints included objective tumor response, CA19-9 response, overall survival (OS) time to progression (TTP), and toxicity.

Results: Between November 2001 and October 2004, 81 patients were enrolled, 78 of whom were eligible for analysis. With a median follow-up of 55.2 months, the median OS was 12.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.9-14.9) and the median TTP was 10 months (95% CI, 6.4-12.0). An objective tumor response was seen in 19 patients (25%), and among 56 patients with an elevated CA19-9 at baseline, 29 (52%) had a sustained CA19-9 response. Overall, 41% of patients had grade 3 or greater treatment-related gastrointestinal adverse events.

Conclusions: The combination of 5FU, gemcitabine, and radiation is well tolerated. Survival is comparable with the best results of other recent studies of 5FU and radiation or gemcitabine and radiation.
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June 2011

Thymidylate synthase genotype-directed neoadjuvant chemoradiation for patients with rectal adenocarcinoma.

J Clin Oncol 2011 Mar 4;29(7):875-83. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.

Purpose: Downstaging (DS) of rectal cancers is achieved in approximately 45% of patients with neoadjuvant fluorouracil (FU) -based chemoradiotherapy (CRT). Polymorphisms in the thymidylate synthase gene (TYMS) had previously defined two risk groups associated with disparate tumor DS rates (60% v 22%). We conducted a prospective single-institution phase II study using TYMS genotyping to direct neoadjuvant CRT for patients with rectal cancer.

Patients And Methods: Patients with T3/T4, N0-2, M0-1 rectal adenocarcinoma were evaluated for germline TYMS genotyping. Patients with TYMS *2/*2, *2/*3, or *2/*4 (good risk) were treated with standard chemoradiotherapy using infusional FU at 225 mg/m²/d. Patients with TYMS *3/*3 or *3/*4 (poor risk) were treated with FU/RT plus weekly intravenous irinotecan at 50 mg/m². The primary end point was pathologic DS. Secondary end points included complete tumor response (ypT0), toxicity, recurrence rates, and overall survival.

Results: Overall, 135 patients were enrolled, of whom 27.4% (37 of 135) were considered poor risk. The prespecified statistical goals were achieved, with DS and ypT0 rates reaching 64.4% and 20% for good-risk and 64.5% and 42% for poor-risk patients, respectively.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study to prospectively use TYMS genotyping to direct neoadjuvant CRT in patients with rectal cancer. High rates of DS and ypT0 were achieved among both risk groups when personalized treatment was based on TYMS genotype. These results are encouraging, and further evaluation of this genotype-based strategy using a randomized study design for locally advanced rectal cancer is warranted.
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March 2011

Detection of the G>C SNP and rare mutations in the 28-bp repeat of TYMS using gel-based capillary electrophoresis.

Pharmacogenomics 2010 Dec;11(12):1751-6

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Aims: Polymorphisms in the 5' regulatory region of the thymidylate synthase gene (TYMS) have been shown to modulate thymidylate synthase expression and are associated with resistance to fluoropyrimidine-based therapies. These polymorphisms include a two repeat (2R) or three repeat (3R) of a 28-bp sequence and a G>C SNP in the second repeat of the 3R allele (TSER*3 G>C). Genotyping methods for the TYMS 5'-UTR polymorphisms have typically involved visualizing PCR and RFLP products on agarose gels. This article describes the use of a robust capillary electrophoresis assay for TYMS 5'-UTR genotyping.

Materials & Methods: As part of pharmacogenetic studies, we performed TYMS genotyping for the 5'-UTR polymorphisms in 314 colorectal cancer patients. A gel-based capillary electrophoresis method, employing a high-resolution gel cartridge on a QIAxcel(®) system, was developed to detect PCR products and RFLP fragment sizes.

Results: The high resolution of the capillary electrophoresis technique allowed identification of a 6-bp insertion in the second repeat of the 3R allele in three patients. The frequency of the insertion allele was 0.4% in Caucasians and 1.3% in African-Americans. We also found 3.3% of Caucasian patients were heterozygous for a G>C SNP in the first repeat of the 2R allele, but this allele was not observed in the African-American patients.

Conclusion: We describe a robust RFLP genotyping technique that employs size discrimination by capillary electrophoresis to genotype the TYMS TSER*3 G>C SNP. The technique also allows identification of a 6-bp insertion in the 3R allele, and we report the allelic frequencies for two uncommon TSER alleles.
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December 2010

A Phase 1 study of UCN-01 in combination with irinotecan in patients with resistant solid tumor malignancies.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2011 Jun 8;67(6):1225-37. Epub 2010 Aug 8.

Department of Internal Medicine, Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.

Purpose: UCN-01 (7-hydroxystaurosporine) is a multi-targeted protein kinase inhibitor that exhibits synergistic activity with DNA-damaging agents in preclinical studies. We conducted a Phase I study to determine the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD), dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), pharmacokinetic, and pharmacodynamic effects of UCN-01 and irinotecan in patients with resistant solid tumors.

Experimental Design: Patients received irinotecan (75-125 mg/m(2) IV on days 1, 8, 15, 22) and UCN-01 (50-90 mg/m(2) IV on day 2 and 25-45 mg/m(2) on day 23 and subsequent doses) every 42 days. Blood for pharmacokinetics of UCN-01 and irinotecan, and blood, normal rectal mucosa, and tumor biopsies for pharmacodynamic studies were obtained.

Results: Twenty-five patients enrolled to 5 dose levels. The MTD was irinotecan 125 mg/m(2) on days 1, 8, 15, 22 and UCN-01 70 mg/m(2) on day 2 and 35 mg/m(2) on day 23. DLTs included grade 3 diarrhea/dehydration and dyspnea. UCN-01 had a prolonged half-life and a low clearance rate. There was a significant reduction in SN-38 C(max) and aminopentanocarboxylic acid (APC) and SN-38 glucuronide half-lives. Phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 was reduced in blood, normal rectal mucosa, and tumor biopsies at 24 h post-UCN-01. Two partial responses were observed in women with ER, PgR, and HER2-negative breast cancers (TBNC). Both tumors were defective for p53. Twelve patients had stable disease (mean duration 18 weeks, range 7-30 weeks).

Conclusion: UCN-01 and irinotecan demonstrated acceptable toxicity and target inhibition. Anti-tumor activity was observed and a study of this combination in women with TNBC is underway.
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June 2011

Gemcitabine with carboplatin for advanced biliary tract cancers: a phase II single institution study.

HPB (Oxford) 2010 Aug;12(6):418-26

Division of Medical Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MI 63110, USA.

Background: Only recently has a standard chemotherapy regimen, gemcitabine plus cisplatin, been established for advanced biliary tract cancers (BTCs) based on a phase III randomized study. The aim of this phase II single-institution trial was to assess the efficacy and safety of gemcitabine combined with carboplatin in the first-line treatment of patients with advanced BTCs.

Methods: Patients with histologically proven BTCs, including cholangiocarcinoma or gallbladder and ampullary carcinomas, were treated with a maximum of nine cycles of intravenous (i.v.) gemcitabine at 1000 mg/m(2) over 30 min on days 1 and 8 with i.v. carboplatin dosed at an area-under-the-curve (AUC) of 5 over 60 min on day 1 of a 21-day cycle.

Results: A total of 48 patients with advanced BTCs (35 cholangiocarcinoma, 12 gallbladder and 1 ampullary cancer) were enrolled. A median of four cycles were administered (range: 1-9). The overall response rate for evaluable patients was 31.1%. Median progression-free survival, overall survival and 6-month survival rates are 7.8 months, 10.6 months and 85.4%, respectively. The most common grade 3-4 toxicities include neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Grade 3 or 4 non-haematological toxicities were rare.

Conclusions: Gemcitabine combined with carboplatin has activity against advanced BTCs. Our results are comparable to other gemcitabine-platinum or gemcitabine-fluoropyrimidine combinations in advanced BTCs.
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August 2010

Circulating mesothelin protein and cellular antimesothelin immunity in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Clin Cancer Res 2009 Nov 20;15(21):6511-8. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.

Purpose: Mesothelin is a glycoprotein expressed on normal mesothelial cells and is overexpressed in several histologic types of tumors including pancreatic adenocarcinomas. A soluble form of mesothelin has been detected in patients with ovarian cancer and malignant mesothelioma, and has prognostic value. Mesothelin has also been considered as a target for immune-based therapies. We conducted a study on the potential clinical utility of mesothelin as a biomarker for pancreatic disease and therapeutic target pancreatic cancer.

Experimental Design: Tumor cell-bound and soluble mesothelin in patients was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and ELISA, respectively. The in vitro cellular immune response to mesothelin was evaluated by INF gamma ELISA and intracellular cytokine staining for IFN gamma in CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. The level of circulating antibodies to mesothelin was measured by ELISA.

Results: All tumor tissue from patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma expressed mesothelin (n = 10). Circulating mesothelin protein was detected in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma (73 of 74 patients) and benign pancreatic disease (5 of 5) but not in healthy individuals. Mesothelin-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were generated from peripheral blood lymphocytes of patients with pancreatic cancer in 50% of patients compared with only 20% of healthy individuals. Antibodies reactive to mesothelin were detected in <3% of either patients or healthy individuals.

Conclusions: Circulating mesothelin is a useful biomarker for pancreatic disease. Furthermore, mesothelin-specific T cells can be induced in patients with pancreatic cancer. This suggests that mesothelin is a potential target for immune-based intervention strategies in pancreatic cancer.
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November 2009

Adjuvant imatinib mesylate after resection of localised, primary gastrointestinal stromal tumour: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Lancet 2009 Mar 18;373(9669):1097-104. Epub 2009 Mar 18.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.

Background: Gastrointestinal stromal tumour is the most common sarcoma of the intestinal tract. Imatinib mesylate is a small molecule that inhibits activation of the KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha proteins, and is effective in first-line treatment of metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumour. We postulated that adjuvant treatment with imatinib would improve recurrence-free survival compared with placebo after resection of localised, primary gastrointestinal stromal tumour.

Methods: We undertook a randomised phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial. Eligible patients had complete gross resection of a primary gastrointestinal stromal tumour at least 3 cm in size and positive for the KIT protein by immunohistochemistry. Patients were randomly assigned, by a stratified biased coin design, to imatinib 400 mg (n=359) or to placebo (n=354) daily for 1 year after surgical resection. Patients and investigators were blinded to the treatment group. Patients assigned to placebo were eligible to crossover to imatinib treatment in the event of tumour recurrence. The primary endpoint was recurrence-free survival, and analysis was by intention to treat. Accrual was stopped early because the trial results crossed the interim analysis efficacy boundary for recurrence-free survival. This study is registered with, number NCT00041197.

Findings: All randomised patients were included in the analysis. At median follow-up of 19.7 months (minimum-maximum 0-56.4), 30 (8%) patients in the imatinib group and 70 (20%) in the placebo group had had tumour recurrence or had died. Imatinib significantly improved recurrence-free survival compared with placebo (98% [95% CI 96-100] vs 83% [78-88] at 1 year; hazard ratio [HR] 0.35 [0.22-0.53]; one-sided p<0.0001). Adjuvant imatinib was well tolerated, with the most common serious events being dermatitis (11 [3%] vs 0), abdominal pain (12 [3%] vs six [1%]), and diarrhoea (ten [2%] vs five [1%]) in the imatinib group and hyperglycaemia (two [<1%] vs seven [2%]) in the placebo group.

Interpretation: Adjuvant imatinib therapy is safe and seems to improve recurrence-free survival compared with placebo after the resection of primary gastrointestinal stromal tumour.

Funding: US National Institutes of Health and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
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March 2009

Radiotherapy for epidermoid carcinoma of the anus: thirty years' experience.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2009 Oct 27;75(2):428-35. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Purpose: To evaluate the factors associated with disease control and morbidity after radiotherapy for anal carcinoma.

Methods And Materials: Between 1975 and 2005, 194 patients with localized epidermoid anal carcinoma underwent radiotherapy. Treatment evolved from radiotherapy with or without surgery, to preoperative chemoradiotherapy, to definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT). The radiotherapy techniques also evolved.

Results: With a median follow-up of 61 months, 57 patients had persistence or recurrence, 9 of whom were successfully salvaged, resulting in 146 (75%) ultimately free of disease (UNED). Univariate analysis for UNED survival showed a strong association with the T and N stage (5-year UNED rate, 88.5% +/- 3.4% for those with Stage T1-T2N0; 70.1% +/- 4.2% for Stage T3N0; and 52.7% +/- 6.6% for Stage III; p > .001) and mobility on palpation (5-year UNED rate, 89.2% +/- 4.6% for those with mobile tumors vs. 59.3% +/- 6.1% for those with tethered/fixed tumor; p > .001). No association was found with gender, age, preoperative vs. definitive CRT, or human immunodeficiency virus status. The 20 human immunodeficiency virus+ patients all received CRT. The radiotherapy factors associated with Grade 3 or greater late morbidity included anorectal morbidity with tumor dose (29% with a dose > or =55 Gy vs. 9% otherwise), small bowel injury with technique (9% with anteroposterior-posteroanterior supine vs. 0.7% with multiple fields prone), and bone injury with femoral head dose (9% with a dose of > or =44 Gy vs. 0.7% otherwise). Of the 194 patients, 56 had 68 additional malignancies, mainly either antedating the anal cancer or outside the radiation fields.

Conclusion: Our results have confirmed that CRT is an effective approach. Patients with human immunodeficiency virus can be treated with CRT. Tumor mobility significantly predicts the outcome; the implications for management are discussed. We also discuss the treatment planning implications of the late morbidity findings. The substantial incidence of additional malignancies underscores the importance of full oncologic screening during follow-up.
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October 2009

Adjuvant interferon-based chemoradiation followed by gemcitabine for resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a single-institution phase II study.

Ann Surg 2008 Aug;248(2):145-51

Department of Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University Medical Center and Siteman Cancer Center, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.

Purpose: This is a phase II, single-center, single-arm study of patients with resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas who were treated with adjuvant interferon-based chemoradiation followed by gemcitabine. The primary end point was 2-year overall survival, with secondary endpoints being 2-year disease-free survival, and the frequency of grade 3 or 4 toxicity.

Patients And Methods: From April 2002 to September 2005, 53 patients with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas underwent curative resection at a single institution, and subsequently received interferon- and gemcitabine-based adjuvant therapy consisting of external-beam irradiation at a dose of 5040 cGy (25 fractions per 5 weeks) and simultaneous 3-drug chemotherapy consisting of (1) continuous infusion 5-fluorouracil (175 mg/m2); (2) weekly intravenous bolus cisplatin (25 mg/m2); and (3) interferon-alpha (3 million units subcutaneously 3 times per week) during the 6 weeks of radiation. This was followed by two 4-week courses of weekly intravenous infusion of gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2, 3 of 4 weeks).

Results: Median follow-up is 38 months. Seventy-seven percent of patients had node-positive disease. Sixteen patients (30%) failed to complete adjuvant therapy, due to disease progression (7 patients), toxicity (7 patients), and consent withdrawal (2 patients). No patients completed planned therapy without dose modification. Median overall survival was 25 months (confidence interval [CI] = 21.5-48.5 months). Actuarial overall survival for the 1-, 2- and 3-year periods were 75% (CI = 61-85%), 56% (CI = 41-69%), and 41% (26-55%), respectively.

Conclusions: This phase II trial demonstrated increased patient survival compared with historical controls, and equivalent survival compared with the regimen combining interferon-alpha with 5-fluorouracil-based chemoradiation. Despite these encouraging results, significant concerns regarding dose- and treatment-limiting toxicities remain.
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August 2008

Phase 1 and pharmacokinetic study of weekly docosahexaenoic acid-paclitaxel, Taxoprexin, in resistant solid tumor malignancies.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2009 Feb 15;63(3):451-8. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.

Purpose: To determine the maximum tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), and pharmacokinetics of weekly docosahexaenoic acid-paclitaxel (DHA-paclitaxel), a taxane fatty acid conjugate.

Experimental Design: Docosahexaenoic acid-paclitaxel was administered by 2-hour i.v. infusion weekly for three out of four weeks. DHA-paclitaxel 200 mg/m(2) was dose escalated by 100 mg/m(2) per cohort to 600 mg/m(2). Blood samples for pharmacokinetics of DHA-paclitaxel and paclitaxel derived from DHA-paclitaxel were collected.

Results: Twenty-one patients received 42 cycles of treatment over five dose levels. Grade 3/4 neutropenia occurred in five patients but was not dose limiting. Grade 3 hyperbilirubinemia, a DLT, and grade 1 sensory neuropathy occurred at the highest dose level. PK analyses demonstrated dose proportional C (max) and AUC(0-24). Limited accumulation of DHA-paclitaxel or paclitaxel occurred with weekly treatment. Increased DHA-paclitaxel and paclitaxel AUC(0-24) were associated with increased neutropenia. Of the 19 patients evaluable for response, three patients with esophageal, melanoma and colon carcinoma had stable disease for 11, 16, and 17 weeks, respectively.

Conclusion: Docosahexaenoic acid-paclitaxel administered weekly to a maximum dose of 600 mg/m(2) was well-tolerated. The slow release of paclitaxel from DHA-paclitaxel and the weekly schedule approximates continuous infusion paclitaxel which may be more active than every 3 week or weekly taxanes.
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February 2009