Publications by authors named "Gianluigi Lunardi"

52 Publications

Role of Ulcerative Colitis Endoscopic Index of Severity (UCEIS) versus Mayo Endoscopic Subscore (MES) in Predicting Patients' Response to Biological Therapy and the Need for Colectomy.

Digestion 2020 Jul 31:1-12. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

IBD Unit, IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, Negrar di Valpolicella, Italy.

Background: The main goal in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC) is to achieve mucosal healing. Despite being unvalidated, the most widely used scoring system is the Mayo endoscopic subscore (MES). However, the recently established and validated Ulcerative Colitis Endoscopic Index of Severity (UCEIS) represents an interesting alternative method in assessing endoscopic disease activity.

Objective: Due to a lack of reliable prognostic factors, the aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic accuracy of the UCEIS and the MES, in predicting response to biological therapy and the need for colectomy.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, uncontrolled, single-center study on UC patients with endoscopically active disease even with concomitant conventional and/or biological therapy, who had already started or had been changed a biological treatment.

Results: Sixty-one UC patients were enrolled. At baseline, 71% were naive to biological therapies and 41% had an extensive colitis. At control time (median time of 11.5 months), MES and UCEIS scores significantly decreased from those at baseline (from 2.6 to 1.8 and 5 to 3.2, respectively, p < 0.001). UCEIS, but not MES, was found to be significantly associated with unresponsiveness to therapy (p = 0.040). Moreover, when UCEIS was ≥7, all patients underwent colectomy after a median time of 5 months (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: UCEIS may be superior to MES because of its accuracy and predictive role. Therefore, UCEIS should be considered for use in daily clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000509512DOI Listing
July 2020

Relation between plasma ceramides and cardiovascular death in chronic heart failure: A subset analysis of the GISSI-HF trial.

ESC Heart Fail 2020 Jul 6. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Milan, Italy.

Aims: Ceramides exert several biological activities that may contribute to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease and heart failure (HF). The association between plasma levels of distinct ceramides (that have been previously associated with increased cardiovascular risk) and cardiovascular mortality in patients with chronic HF has received little attention.

Methods And Results: In a post hoc ancillary analysis of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nella Insufficienza Cardiaca-Heart Failure (GISSI-HF; NCT00336336) trial, we randomly selected a sample of 200 ambulatory patients with chronic HF who died due to cardiovascular causes and 200 patients who were alive at the end of the trial (after a median follow-up period of 3.9 years). We measured baseline plasma concentrations of six previously identified high-risk ceramide species [Cer(d18:1/16:0), Cer(d18:1/18:0), Cer(d18:1/20:0), Cer(d18:1/22:0), Cer(d18:1/24:0), and Cer(d18:1/24:1) and their individual plasma ratios with Cer(d18:1/24:0)]. Patients who died due to cardiovascular causes had significantly (P < 0.05 or less) higher levels of plasma Cer(d18:1/16:0) and Cer(d18:1/24:1), but lower levels of plasma Cer(d18:1/22:0) and Cer(d18:1/24:0) than had those who did not. All plasma ratios of each ceramide with Cer(d18:1/24:0) were significantly higher in patients who died due to cardiovascular causes. In Cox regression analyses, all five plasma ratios of each ceramide with Cer(d18:1/24:0) were significantly associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular mortality (with unadjusted hazard ratios ranging from 1.23 to 1.59; P < 0.001 or less). These significant associations were attenuated after adjustment for multiple established risk factors, New York Heart Association functional class, left ventricular ejection fraction, use of medications, plasma pentraxin-3 levels, and, especially, plasma N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels. When we applied a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons (using a P-threshold 0.05/5 ceramide ratios = 0.01), none of the five plasma ratios of each ceramide with Cer(d18:1/24:0) remained statistically associated with the risk of cardiovascular mortality (with adjusted hazard ratios ranging from 1.10 to 1.23).

Conclusions: Higher levels of specific plasma ceramides [especially when used in ratios with Cer(d18:1/24:0)] are associated with increased cardiovascular mortality in ambulatory patients with chronic HF. However, these associations are weakened after adjustment for established cardiovascular risk factors, medication use, and plasma NT-proBNP concentrations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ehf2.12885DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7754905PMC
July 2020

Repeated stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) using a non-coplanar mono-isocenter (HyperArc™) technique versus upfront whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT): a matched-pair analysis.

Clin Exp Metastasis 2020 02 6;37(1):77-83. Epub 2019 Nov 6.

Advanced Radiation Oncology Department, IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Cancer Care Center, via Don Sempreboni 5, 37034, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is an effective treatment option for multiple brain metastases (BMs). Modern mono-isocentric techniques allow the delivery of multiple stereotactic courses, in the event of intracranial failure. Nevertheless, limited data on effectiveness and toxicity have been reported in comparison to WBRT. Aim of this retrospective matched-pair analysis was to compare patients affected by limited BMs treated with multiple SRS courses using a mono-isocentric, non-coplanar technique (HyperArc™, Varian Medical System) to upfront WBRT. One hundred and two patients accounting for 677 BMs were treated with HyperArc™. In case of further intracranial progression, 44 treatment courses of 201 metastases in 19 patients, were treated by subsequent HyperArc™ courses. This population was matched with 38 patients treated with WBRT. The median BMs number was 4 (range 2-10) for HyperArc™ and 5 (range 2-10) for WBRT. Overall survival (OS) and toxicity were evaluated. The median follow-up was 9 months (range 3-40 months). The median OS was not reached (range 5-22 months) for HyperArc™ patients and 8 months (range 3-40 months) for WBRT patients, while the 1-year OS was 77% and 34.6% for HyperArc™ and WBRT, respectively (p = 0.001; HR 4.77, 95% CI 1.62-14.00). There was one case of radionecrosis. HyperArc™ is an effective and safe technique for the treatment of multiple BMs. In selected cases of intracranial oligorecurrence, further subsequent courses can be safely delivered with the same technical approach. Moreover, in patients with a limited number of BMs, SRS showed an improved survival outcome when compared to WBRT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10585-019-10004-3DOI Listing
February 2020

Ivermectin concentration in breastmilk of a woman with Strongyloides stercoralis and human T-lymphotropic virus-I co-infection.

Acta Trop 2020 Feb 31;202:105249. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Infectious - Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Via Don A. Sempreboni 5, 37024, Negrar, Verona, Italy. Electronic address:

Ivermectin is a widely used drug for the treatment of various neglected tropical diseases, such as lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and strongyloidiasis among others. Despite its excellent safety profile, there are few published studies of the use of ivermectin in children, pregnant and nursing women. In the present study, we report clinical data on ivermectin concentrations in breastmilk of a woman with Strongyloides stercoralis and HTLV-I coinfection. Ivermectin levels in breastmilk ranged from 1.4 to 20.8 ng/ml, with a mean of 9.26 ng/ml after a single dose of 200 µg/kg. We estimated the possible ivermectin exposure of the infant to be 1.1 µg/kg, 0.55% of the weight-adjusted percentage of the maternal dose. This value is largely under the threshold established by the World Health Organization for safe breastfeeding. Our results bolster previous findings on the secretion of ivermectin into breastmilk in healthy volunteers. The findings from this case study do not support exclusion of lactating women or interrupting lactation to accommodate it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actatropica.2019.105249DOI Listing
February 2020

Prospective randomized controlled trial for patch augmentation in rotator cuff repair: 24-month outcomes.

J Shoulder Elbow Surg 2019 Oct;28(10):1918-1927

Department of Orthopaedics, Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

Background: To evaluate the anatomic integrity of rotator cuff repair performed by medialized single row and augmented by a porcine dermal patch, in comparison with a nonaugmented group.

Methods: We conducted a single-center, prospective, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial. The sample size was predefined, and patients were divided into a study group and a control group, assessed preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. The EuroQol-visual analog scale; Constant-Murley questionnaire; Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Score; and Simple Shoulder Test were administered. The humeral-acromial distance was calculated on radiographs. Tendon thickness, tear extension, and tendon signal intensity were all measured on magnetic resonance images (MRIs) along with an evaluation of footprint extension and a classification into one of 4 healing grades-healed, thinned, partially healed, not healed.

Results: The study population consisted of 92 patients who were equally randomized into 2 homogenous groups. Sixty-nine patients completed the 24-month follow-up. The study group showed a healing rate of 97.6% compared with 59.5% for the standard repair group. The study group showed better results in terms of repaired tendon thickness and footprint coverage, with a P value < .05, although the tendon density was comparable. The study group showed better strength recovery and functionality with the outcome scores submitted. During the entire study, only 2 patients reported complications, calling for a biopsy during revision surgery.

Conclusions: Rotator cuff repairs augmented with a porcine dermal patch resulted in excellent clinical outcomes with a higher healing rate and close-to-normal MRI findings. The technique is safe and effective; in addition, it is reproducible and allows for better outcomes compared with those of standard medialized single-row repairs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2019.05.043DOI Listing
October 2019

Oral anticancer therapy project: Clinical utility of a specific home care nursing programme on behalf of Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM).

J Clin Nurs 2020 Jan 21;29(1-2):119-129. Epub 2019 Oct 21.

IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Italy.

Aims And Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of a specific home care nursing programme in addition to standard care in patients (pts) receiving oral anticancer treatments.

Background: Oral anticancer therapy present challenges for pts since treatment is a home-based therapy. This study evaluates the potentiality of a home care nursing programme in decreasing hospital accesses for not severe toxicity.

Methods: This is an open-label, multicentre, randomised trial including pts who were receiving an anticancer oral drug. The study complies with the CONSORT checklist published in 2010. Concomitant use of radiation therapy, intravenous or metronomic therapies, or the intake of previous oral drugs was not allowed. Pts were randomly assigned to home care nursing programme (A) or standard care (B). In arm A, dedicated nurses provided information to pts, a daily record on which pts would take note of drugs and dosages and a telephone monitoring during the first two cycles of therapy. The primary outcome was the reduction in improper hospital accesses for grade 1-2 toxicity according to CTCAE v4.0.

Results: Out of 432 randomised pts, 378 were analysed (184 pts in arm A and 194 in arm B). Hospital accesses were observed in 41 pts in arm A and in 42 pts in arm B (22.3% vs. 21.6%, respectively). No difference was detected in proportion of improper accesses between arm A and arm B (29.3% vs. 23.8%, respectively).

Conclusions: Our experience failed to support the role of a specific home care nursing programme for pts taking oral chemotherapy. An improved attention to specific educational practice and information offered to pts can explain these results.

Relevance To Clinical Practice: Our results underline the role of nurse educational practice and information offered to patients. A careful nurse information of patients about drugs is essential to reduce toxicities avoiding the opportunity of a specific home monitoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15064DOI Listing
January 2020

The HERBA Study: A Retrospective Multi-Institutional Italian Study on Patients With Brain Metastases From HER2-Positive Breast Cancer.

Clin Breast Cancer 2019 08 18;19(4):e501-e510. Epub 2019 May 18.

Unità di Oncologia Medica, IRCCS Ospedale Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, Negrar, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: There is no sufficient evidence to establish a standard of care for patients with brain metastases (BM) from HER2 breast cancer (BC). The aim of this study was to assess the impact of local and systemic treatments on the outcome of patients diagnosed with BM from HER2 BC over a period of 10 years, from 2005 to 2014.

Patients And Methods: Data of 154 patients were retrospectively collected at 14 Italian institutions through a specifically designed database.

Results: Median overall survival (OS) was 24.5 months. Patients receiving surgery/stereotactic radiosurgery experienced longer OS compared to those receiving whole-brain radiotherapy or no treatment (33.5 vs. 11.4 months; hazard ratio = 0.34; 95% confidence interval, 0.22-0.52; P < .001). Interestingly, whole-brain radiotherapy did not improve OS compared to no treatment (11.4 vs. 9.8 months; hazard ratio = 0.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.62-1.62; P = .99). HER2-targeted therapy was associated with better OS compared to systemic therapy without HER2-targeted therapy or no systemic therapy (27.5 vs. 5.4 months; hazard ratio = 0.26; 95% confidence interval, 0.17-0.41; P < .001). At multivariate analysis stratified by local treatments, systemic therapy, Karnofsky performance status, and neurologic symptoms significantly affected OS. Age, number of BM, steroid therapy, number of previous lines of systemic therapy, status of extracranial disease, and period of diagnosis had no significant impact on OS.

Conclusion: Patients with BM from HER2 BC treated with surgery/stereotactic radiosurgery as local treatment and HER2-targeted therapy as systemic treatment experienced the best outcomes. Patients with low Karnofsky performance status and neurologic symptoms had poor survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clbc.2019.05.006DOI Listing
August 2019

PD-L1 expression in non-small cell lung cancer: evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of a laboratory-developed test using clone E1L3N in comparison with 22C3 and SP263 assays.

Hum Pathol 2019 08 21;90:54-59. Epub 2019 May 21.

Department of Pathology, IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, 37024 Negrar (VR), Italy.

Different studies have evaluated the comparability of various immunohistochemical assays for PD-L1 expression evaluation, with contrasting results. Besides the important issues related to analytic performance and comparability of validated assays, not all platforms are available in all laboratories; moreover, standardized assays are very expensive, and funding for PD-L1 testing is hard to obtain, especially in the research setting. One of the most widely used and inexpensive PD-L1 clones is E1L3N (Cell Signaling Technology, Danvers, MA), which is labeled for research use only. In this work, we wanted to further study and validate in a larger cohort the analytical performance of E1L3N clone on Ventana platform (Ventana Medical Systems, Tucson, AZ) and its comparability with assays SP263 and 22C3 run onto their dedicated platforms. Serial sections of tissue microarrays built from 165 cases of resected lung cancer were stained for E1L3N onto Ventana platform following a previously reported protocol and for 22C3 and SP263 assays onto their respective platforms following manufacturer's instructions. Overall, we found very high concordance when comparing E1L3N with SP263 at both 1% and 50% cutoffs. Lower concordance was found between E1L3N and 22C3 at both cutoffs; however, 100% sensitivity was found for E1L3N compared with both SP263 and 22C3 at 50% cutoff. Given the 100% sensitivity at 50% cutoff demonstrated by E1L3N in comparison with both SP263 and 22C3 and therefore the lack of false-negative cases, we propose an algorithm for PD-L1 testing in NSCLC when considering pembrolizumab as first-line therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humpath.2019.05.003DOI Listing
August 2019

Association of Plasma Ceramides With Myocardial Perfusion in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease Undergoing Stress Myocardial Perfusion Scintigraphy.

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2018 12;38(12):2854-2861

From the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University and Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata of Verona, Italy (A.M., G.T.).

Objective- It is known that specific plasma ceramides are associated with stress-induced reversible myocardial perfusion defects in patients with established or suspected coronary artery disease undergoing myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS). However, it is currently uncertain whether plasma ceramides are also associated with reduced poststress myocardial perfusion in these patients. Approach and Results- We measured 6 previously identified high-risk plasma ceramide species (ceramide [d18:1/16:0], ceramide [d18:1/18:0], ceramide [d18:1/20:0], ceramide [d18:1/22:0], ceramide [d18:1/24:0], and ceramide [d18:1/24:1]) in 167 consecutive patients with established or suspected coronary artery disease undergoing stress MPS for clinical indications. Plasma ceramides were measured by a targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay both at baseline and after MPS. Multivariable linear regression analysis was undertaken to examine the associations (standardized B coefficients) between plasma ceramides and the percentage of poststress myocardial perfusion after adjustment for multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Seventy-eight patients had stress-induced myocardial ischemia on MPS (mainly located in the anteroapical wall). Of the 6 measured plasma ceramides, higher levels of basal ceramide (d18:1/18:0; B=-0.182; P=0.019), ceramide (d18:1/20:0; B=-0.224; P=0.004), ceramide (d18:1/22:0; B=-0.163; P=0.035), and ceramide (d18:1/24:1; B=-0.20; P=0.010) were associated with lower poststress anteroapical wall perfusion. Notably, these significant associations persisted even after adjustment for conventional cardiovascular risk factors, previous coronary artery disease, electrocardiographic left bundle branch block, left ventricular ejection fraction and type of stress testing. Similar results were observed for poststress plasma ceramides. Conclusions- Higher circulating levels of specific ceramides, both at baseline and after stress, were independently associated with lower poststress anteroapical wall perfusion in patients with suspected or established coronary artery disease referred for clinically indicated MPS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.118.311927DOI Listing
December 2018

Expression of programmed cell death ligand 1 in non-small cell lung cancer: Comparison between cytologic smears, core biopsies, and whole sections using the SP263 assay.

Cancer Cytopathol 2019 02 30;127(1):52-61. Epub 2018 Nov 30.

Department of Pathology, Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Italy.

Background: Evaluation of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression can be made on both resection specimens and diagnostic biopsies; however, more than 30% of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) do not have adequate histologic material to perform PD-L1 assays and require additional biopsies. In addition, in our practice, more than 16% of cases have cytological smears as the only available material. Our aim was to validate the PD-L1 immunocytochemistry assay on cytological smears and compare its accuracy with the results obtained from tissue cores and whole tumor sections using the clinically relevant cutoff of 50%.

Method: We compared the PD-L1 staining results of cytological smears to those from tissue cores or whole sections in 50 and 53 NSCLC cases, respectively, using the SP263 assay after scanning hematoxylin and eosin slides.

Results: We found an overall agreement of 90.6% between cytological smears and whole sections; specifically, we found absolute concordance between smears with PD-L1 expressed in <10% and ≥50% of cells and whole sections with PD-L1 expressed in <50% and ≥50% of cells, respectively. In addition, slightly lower diagnostic accuracy was found for the cytological smears in comparison with the tissue cores, but the difference was not statistically significant. We found excellent intraobserver and good interobserver agreement in the evaluation of PD-L1 on smears.

Conclusion: Immunocytochemistry on cytological smears is a reliable method for determination of PD-L1 at the 50% cutoff when positive cells are <10% or ≥50%; for cases showing PD-L1 expression in 10% to 49% of cells, additional tissue sampling may be necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncy.22083DOI Listing
February 2019

First experience and clinical results using a new non-coplanar mono-isocenter technique (HyperArc™) for Linac-based VMAT radiosurgery in brain metastases.

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 2019 Jan 31;145(1):193-200. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Department of Radiation Oncology, IRCCS, Ospedale Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, Via don A. Sempreboni 5, 37024, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

Introduction: Radiosurgery (SRS) or stereotactic fractionated radiotherapy (SFRT) is increasing in the treatment of brain metastases (BMs). Aim of the present study was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of SRS/SFRT for BMs, using a new mono-isocenter non-coplanar solution (HyperArc™ Varian Medical System).

Methods: BMs patients with a diameter inferior to 3 cm, a life expectancy of more than 3 months and a good performance status, were eligible for Linac-based volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) SFRT/SRS with HyperArc™. A retrospective analysis of patients and BMs was performed.

Results: From August 2017 to May 2018, 381 BMs in 64 patients were treated and 246 BMs (43 patients, median number of BMs: 5) of them were suitable for analysis. With a median FU time of 6 months, 244 out 246 (99%) BMs were controlled (18% complete response; 41% partial response, 40% stable disease), 2 BMs showed a progression, at the first control. No acute or late toxicities were reported. Median overall survival (OS) has not yet been achieved, while median time to progression was 5 months. In univariate analysis, statistically negative prognostic factors for OS were histology of primary tumor (p = 0.009): lung/breast cancer had better survival rates as compared to others. Cumulative intracranial volume disease ≥ 15 cc and systemic progression disease were independent prognostic factors for OS at univariate (p = 0.04; p = 0.005) and multivariate (p = 0.04; p = 0.009) analysis, respectively.

Conclusion: The present first clinical data show that SFRT/SRS with HyperArc™ is safe and effective for BMs patients. The utilization of SFRT/SRS for BMs is promising and should be further explored in randomized trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00432-018-2781-7DOI Listing
January 2019

PD-L1 expression comparison between primary and relapsed non-small cell lung carcinoma using whole sections and clone SP263.

Oncotarget 2018 Jul 13;9(54):30465-30471. Epub 2018 Jul 13.

Department of Pathology, Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, 37024 Negrar VR, Italy.

We assessed the concordance, in terms of PD-L1 expression, between primary and metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) of different histotypes using validated SP263 clone. A few samples of local recurrences have also been analyzed. Whole sections of consecutive cases of primary NSCLC and paired relapses undergone surgical resection have been stained with PD-L1 clone SP263; for scoring purposes, a three-tiered system was applied using the following thresholds: <1%, 1-49% and ≥50%. Eighty-four cases of paired primary and relapsed tumors from 83 patients were analyzed, including 75 metastases and 9 local recurrences. Regarding metastases, when considering a cutoff of 1%, discrepancy in PD-L1 expression occurred in 9/75 (12%) paired samples (kappa value = 0.75); at 50% cutoff, discrepancy in PD-L1 expression was detected in 7/75 (9.3%) of paired samples (kappa value = 0.61). Regarding recurrences, at 1% cutoff, the discrepancy in PD-L1 expression was seen in 3/9 (33%) paired samples and in all cases there was a gained PD-L1 expression; at 50% cutoff, 1/9 (11%) paired samples showed gained PD-L1 expression. Our data provide important information regarding the concordance between primary and relapsed NSCLC and the degree of reliability of metastatic sites in terms of PD-L1 expression evaluation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25770DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6084385PMC
July 2018

PD-L1 Assays 22C3 and SP263 are Not Interchangeable in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer When Considering Clinically Relevant Cutoffs: An Interclone Evaluation by Differently Trained Pathologists.

Am J Surg Pathol 2018 10;42(10):1384-1389

Departments of Pathology.

Pembrolizumab is the only programmed cell death 1/programmed death-ligand 1 inhibitor for treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer, with a companion diagnostic assay, the 22C3 PharmDx. Although in many studies 22C3 and Ventana's SP263 appear to yield overlapping results, they show discrepancies at clinically relevant cutoffs (1% and 50%). We provide a solid comparison between 22C3 and SP263 assays in a large cohort of non-small cell lung cancer cases taking into account interobserver variability between trained pathologists who are used to either clone in their clinical practice. Serial sections of tissue microarrays, built from 198 cases of resected lung cancer, were stained for 22C3 on the Dako Link-48 platform and for SP263 on the Ventana Benchmark Ultra, following manufacturer's instructions. A protocol was also developed to run the 22C3 antibody on the Ventana platform. The pathologist used to 22C3 scored consistently higher than the pathologist used to SP263 at both 1% and 50% cutoff for all assays. For 22C3 and SP263 on respective platforms, we found statistically significant differences in terms of proportion of positive cases at both cutoffs; at 50% cutoff, around half of the cases positive with SP263 would have been defined negative with 22C3 by both pathologists. Important differences were also observed, when comparing clone 22C3 and SP263, both run on the Ventana platform. The lowest differences were seen with 22C3 run on both platforms. Assays 22C3 and SP263 show important discrepancies in identifying programmed death-ligand 1-positive cases at clinically relevant cutoffs, with possible underestimation of patients suitable for pembrolizumab therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PAS.0000000000001105DOI Listing
October 2018

Association between plasma ceramides and inducible myocardial ischemia in patients with established or suspected coronary artery disease undergoing myocardial perfusion scintigraphy.

Metabolism 2018 08 16;85:305-312. Epub 2018 May 16.

Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University and Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata of Verona, Verona, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: Recent studies have suggested that specific plasma ceramides are independently associated with major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), but it is currently unknown whether plasma ceramide levels are associated with stress-induced reversible myocardial ischemia.

Methods: We measured six previously identified high-risk plasma ceramide molecules [Cer(d18:1/16:0), Cer(d18:1/18:0), Cer(d18:1/20:0), Cer(d18:1/22:0), Cer(d18:1/24:0), and Cer(d18:1/24:1)] in 167 consecutive patients with established or suspected CAD who underwent either exercise or dypiridamole myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS) for various clinical indications. Plasma ceramide levels were measured by a targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay both at baseline and after MPS.

Results: Seventy-eight patients had inducible myocardial ischemia on stress MPS. Women had significantly higher circulating levels of basal and post-stress Cer(d18:1/16:0) and Cer(d18:1/18:0) compared to men, whereas all other plasma ceramides did not differ between the sexes. Of the six measured plasma ceramides, basal Cer(d18:1/24:1) showed the strongest association with the presence of stress-induced myocardial perfusion defects in univariate analysis (unadjusted-odds ratio 1.48 per 1-SD increment, 95% confidence interval 1.08-2.04). Notably, after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, prior history of CAD, left ventricular ejection fraction, and type of stress testing (exercise vs. dypiridamole), all measured ceramides, except for plasma Cer(d18:1/24:0), were independently associated with the presence of inducible myocardial ischemia.

Conclusions: Distinct plasma ceramides are positive and independent predictors of stress-induced myocardial perfusion defects in patients with established or suspected CAD referred for clinically indicated MPS. Further research is needed to examine whether distinct plasma ceramides could be a useful therapeutic target for treatment and management of CAD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2018.05.006DOI Listing
August 2018

PD-L1 Expression Heterogeneity in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Defining Criteria for Harmonization between Biopsy Specimens and Whole Sections.

J Thorac Oncol 2018 08 25;13(8):1113-1120. Epub 2018 Apr 25.

Department of Pathology, Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

Introduction: Determination of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression defines eligibility for treatment with pembrolizumab in patients with advanced NSCLC. This study was designed to better define which value across core biopsy specimens from the same case more closely reflects the PD-L1 expression status on whole sections and how many core biopsy specimens are needed for confident classification of tumors in terms of PD-L1 expression.

Methods: We built tissue microarrays as surrogates of biopsies collecting five cores per case from 268 cases and compared PD-L1 staining results obtained by using the validated clone SP263 with the results obtained by using whole tumor sections.

Results: We found an overall positivity in 39% of cases at a cutoff of 1% and in 10% of cases at a cutoff of 50%. The maximum value across cores was associated with high concordance between cores and whole sections and the lowest number of false-negative cases overall. To reach high concordance with whole sections, four and three cores are necessary at cutoffs of 1% and 50%, respectively. Importantly, with 20% as the cutoff for core biopsy specimens, fewer than three cores showed high sensitivity and specificity in identifying cases with 50% or more of tumor cells positive for PD-L1 on whole sections. Specifically, for PD-L1 expression values of 20% to 49% on cores, the probabilities of a tumor specimen expressing PD-L1 in at least 50% of cells on a whole section were 46% and 24% with one and two biopsy specimens, respectively.

Conclusions: An accurate definition of the criteria to determine the PD-L1 status of a given tumor may greatly help in selecting those patients who could benefit from anti-programmed cell death 1/PD-L1 treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2018.04.017DOI Listing
August 2018

PD-L1 expression heterogeneity in non-small cell lung cancer: evaluation of small biopsies reliability.

Oncotarget 2017 Oct 4;8(52):90123-90131. Epub 2017 Oct 4.

Department of Pathology, Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Italy.

Immunotherapy with checkpoint inhibitors, allowing recovery of effector cells function, has demonstrated to be highly effective in many tumor types and represents a true revolution in oncology. Recently, the anti-PD1 agent pembrolizumab was granted FDA approval for the first line treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors show PD-L1 expression in ≥ 50% of neoplastic cells and as a second line treatment for patients with NSCLC expressing PD-L1 in ≥1% of neoplastic cells, evaluated with a validated assay. For the large majority of patients such evaluation is made on small biopsies. However, small tissue samples such as core biopsies might not be representative of tumors and may show divergent results given the possible heterogeneous immunoexpression of the biomarker. We therefore sought to evaluate PD-L1 expression concordance in a cohort of 239 patients using tissue microarrays (TMA) as surrogates of biopsies stained with a validated PD-L1 immunohistochemical assay (SP263) and report the degree of discordance among tissue cores in order to understand how such heterogeneity could affect decisions regarding therapy. We observed a discordance rate of 20% and 7.9% and a Cohen's κ value of 0.53 (moderate) and 0,48 (moderate) for ≥ 1% and ≥ 50% cutoffs, respectively. Our results suggest that caution must be taken when evaluating single biopsies from patients with advanced NSCLC eligible for immunotherapy; moreover, at least 4 biopsies are necessary in order to minimize the risk of tumor misclassification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5685736PMC
October 2017

Pharmacogenetics and aromatase inhibitor induced side effects in breast cancer patients.

Pharmacogenomics 2017 Jun 8;18(8):821-830. Epub 2017 Jun 8.

Clinical & Molecular Medicine Department, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

This paper reviews genetic variations mainly related to the onset of adverse events during aromatase inhibitors in early breast cancer. Genetic variability could occur at different steps. The analysis included studies that involved breast cancer patients, treated with an aromatase inhibitor, genotyped for CYP19A1 and/or CYP17A1 and/or CYP27B1 and/or TCLA1, and/or RANK/RANKL/OPG and/or ESR1/ESR2, and assessed for toxicity profile. Twenty-two articles were included for the analysis. Three studies evaluated outcomes and adverse events; 19 studies assessed only side effects. Functional variations may be useful in predicting the onset of toxicities. The identification of polymorphisms at increased risk of toxicity may enable patient management. However, more data are needed to be applied in the individualization of treatment in daily practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/pgs-2017-0006DOI Listing
June 2017

Failure of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in a traveller coming from Ethiopia.

Malar J 2016 Nov 3;15(1):525. Epub 2016 Nov 3.

Centre for Tropical Diseases, Hospital Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria, Via Sempreboni 5, Negrar, 37024, Verona, Italy.

Background: Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is used worldwide as the first-line treatment against uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Despite the success of ACT in reducing the global burden of malaria, the emerging of resistance to artemisinin threatens its use.

Case Report: This report describes the first case of failure of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) for the treatment of P. falciparum malaria diagnosed in Europe. It occurred in an Italian tourist returned from Ethiopia. She completely recovered after the DHA-PPQ treatment but 32 days after the end of therapy she had a recrudescence. The retrospective analysis indicated a correct DHA-PPQ absorption and genotyping demonstrated that the same P. falciparum strain was responsible for the both episodes.

Conclusion: In consideration of the growing number of cases of resistance to ACT, it is important to consider a possible recrudescence, that can manifest also several weeks after treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12936-016-1572-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5094029PMC
November 2016

Alectinib's activity against CNS metastases from ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer: a single institution case series.

J Neurooncol 2016 09 20;129(2):355-61. Epub 2016 Jun 20.

Medical Oncology, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Azienda Ospedaliera di Perugia, via Dottori, 1, 06156, Perugia, Italy.

In the present study we assessed the activity of the next-generation anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (-TKI) alectinib, in patients with ALK-postive, advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and central nervous system (CNS) metastases. NSCLCs with ALK-positive disease, as assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization, and CNS metastases were treated with alectinib 600 mg BID. Included patients were followed prospectively in order to evaluate the efficacy of the drug, with particular emphasis on activity in the CNS. Eleven consecutive patients were enrolled. The majority of them were pretreated with crizotinib (n = 10, 90.9 %), and cranial radiotherapy (n = 8, 72.7 %). Six of the seven patients with measurable CNS disease experienced a CNS response, including three patients who were naïve for cranial radiation. Median duration of response was 8 months. For the whole population, median CNS-progression-free survival (-PFS), systemic-PFS, overall-PFS, overall survival, and 1-year survival were 8, 11, 8, 13 months, and 31.1 %, respectively. Two patients experiencing a CNS response were assessed for alectinib's concentrations in serum and cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), and showed a CSF-to-serum ratio ranging from 0.001 to 0.003 ng/mL. Alectinib is highly active against CNS metastases from ALK-positive NSCLCs, irrespective of prior treatment(s) with ALK-TKI(s) and/or cranial radiotherapy. The low CSF-to-serum ratio of alectinib suggests that measuring the concentrations of the drug in the CSF may not be a reliable surrogate of its distribution into the CNS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11060-016-2184-zDOI Listing
September 2016

Predictive Factors of Lapatinib and Capecitabine Activity in Patients with HER2-Positive, Trastuzumab-Resistant Metastatic Breast Cancer: Results from the Italian Retrospective Multicenter HERLAPAC Study.

PLoS One 2016 25;11(5):e0156221. Epub 2016 May 25.

Investigative Clinical Oncology (INCO), Fondazione del Piemonte per L'Oncologia, Candiolo Cancer Institute (IRCCS), Candiolo, Italy.

Background: There are no validated predictive markers for lapatinib and capecitabine in patients with trastuzumab-resistant HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer.

Methods: Data of 148 consecutive patients treated with lapatinib and capecitabine from March 2007 to December 2013 were collected from 13 Italian institutions. Estimates of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were obtained with the Kaplan-Meier method and compared with logrank test. The association of clinicopathological variables and the outcome was studied by binary logistic regression analysis and Cox proportional hazard analysis.

Results: At a median follow-up of 41 months, median PFS and OS were 7 and 21 months, respectively. Patents with a PFS longer than 7 months had a significantly longer OS, compared with patients with a PFS equal to or shorter than 7 months (36 vs 15 months; p<0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed the benefit of lapatinib-based therapy in terms of PFS and OS was significantly associated with time-to-progression (TTP) on prior first-line trastuzumab-based therapy. In particular, each additional month on first-line trastuzumab based therapy was associated with a reduction in hazard of progression and death after the initiation of lapatinib-based therapy of 2% and 4%, respectively.

Conclusions: A longer TTP to first line trastuzumab seems to predict a prolonged PFS and OS with subsequent lapatinib and capecitabine.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0156221PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880338PMC
July 2017

18F-NaF PET/CT Imaging of Brain Metastases.

Clin Nucl Med 2016 Jul;41(7):564-5

From the Departments of *Nuclear Medicine, †Medical Oncology, ‡Medical Physics, and §Radiopharmacy, Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

F-NaF is a radiopharmaceutical widely used in PET imaging to detect bone metastases. Several cases of F-NaF uptake from brain metastases have been described, but a specific protocol for the evaluation of brain metastases with F-NaF has not been developed yet. Here we report images of F-NaF PET/CT, standard CT, and MRI of a brain metastasis in a patient with non-small lung cancer. Through a dynamic acquisition procedure, we have identified the first minutes after injection as the preferable time point of imaging acquisition for the study of brain metastases with F-NaF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/RLU.0000000000001186DOI Listing
July 2016

Analysis of in vitro ADCC and clinical response to trastuzumab: possible relevance of FcγRIIIA/FcγRIIA gene polymorphisms and HER-2 expression levels on breast cancer cell lines.

J Transl Med 2015 Oct 8;13:324. Epub 2015 Oct 8.

Unit of Tumor Epigenetics, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy.

Background: Trastuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody (mAb) currently used for the treatment of breast cancer (BC) patients with HER-2 overexpressing tumor subtype. Previous data reported the involvement of FcγRIIIA/IIA gene polymorphisms and/or antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) in the therapeutic efficacy of trastuzumab, although results on these issues are still controversial. This study was aimed to evaluate in vitro the functional relationships among FcγRIIIA/IIA polymorphisms, ADCC intensity and HER-2 expression on tumor target cells and to correlate them with response to trastuzumab.

Patients And Methods: Twenty-five patients with HER-2 overexpressing BC, receiving trastuzumab in a neoadjuvant (NEO) or metastatic (MTS) setting, were genotyped for the FcγRIIIA 158V>F and FcγRIIA 131H>R polymorphisms by a newly developed pyrosequencing assay and by multiplex Tetra-primer-ARMS PCR, respectively. Trastuzumab-mediated ADCC of patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was evaluated prior to therapy and measured by (51)Chromium release using as targets three human BC cell lines showing different levels of reactivity with trastuzumab.

Results: We found that the FcγRIIIA 158F and/or the FcγRIIA 131R variants, commonly reported as unfavorable in BC, may actually behave as ADCC favorable genotypes, in both the NEO (P ranging from 0.009 to 0.039 and from 0.007 to 0.047, respectively) and MTS (P ranging from 0.009 to 0.032 and P = 0.034, respectively) patients. The ADCC intensity was affected by different levels of trastuzumab reactivity with BC target cells. In this context, the MCF-7 cell line, showing the lowest reactivity with trastuzumab, resulted the most suitable cell line for evaluating ADCC and response to trastuzumab. Indeed, we found a statistically significant correlation between an increased frequency of patients showing ADCC of MCF-7 and complete response to trastuzumab in the NEO setting (P = 0.006).

Conclusions: Although this study was performed in a limited number of patients, it would indicate a correlation of FcγR gene polymorphisms to the ADCC extent in combination with the HER-2 expression levels on tumor target cells in BC patients. However, to confirm our findings further experimental evidences obtained from a larger cohort of BC patients are mandatory.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-015-0680-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4598965PMC
October 2015

The Promher Study: An Observational Italian Study on Adjuvant Therapy for HER2-Positive, pT1a-b pN0 Breast Cancer.

PLoS One 2015 4;10(9):e0136731. Epub 2015 Sep 4.

Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Careggi, Firenze, Italy.

Background: The management of pT1a-b pN0 HER2-positive breast cancer is controversial and no data about the efficacy of trastuzumab in this setting are available from randomized clinical trials. The aims of this retrospective study were to assess how patients are managed in clinical practice in Italy, which clinical or biological characteristics influenced the choice of adjuvant systemic therapy and the outcome of patients.

Methods: Data of consecutive patients who underwent surgery from January 2007 to December 2012 for HER2-positive, pT1a-b pN0 M0 breast cancer were retrospectively collected from 28 Italian centres. Analysis of contingency tables and multivariate generalized logit models were used to investigate the association between the baseline clinical and biological features and the treatment strategy adopted.

Results: Among 303 enrolled patients, 204 received adjuvant systemic therapy with trastuzumab, 65 adjuvant systemic therapy without trastuzumab and 34 did not receive adjuvant systemic therapy. At the multivariate analysis age, tumor size, proliferation index and hormone receptor status were significantly associated with the treatment choice. Five-year disease-free survival (DFS) probability was 95%, 94.3% and 69.6% for patients treated with adjuvant systemic therapy and trastuzumab, with adjuvant systemic therapy without trastuzumab and for patients who did not receive adjuvant systemic therapy, respectively (p<0.001).

Conclusions: The majority of patients (66%) with pT1a-b pN0 HER2-positive breast cancer enrolled in this retrospective study received adjuvant systemic therapy with trastuzumab, whereas only 11% patients did not receive any adjuvant systemic therapy. It should be emphasized, however, that in the adjuvant systemic therapy without trastuzumab group 94% of tumors were hormone receptor positive and 89% of patients were treated with endocrine therapy only [corrected]. The 5-year DFS probability was significantly higher for patients receiving adjuvant systemic therapy with trastuzumab compared with patients not receiving adjuvant systemic therapy or receiving adjuvant systemic therapy without trastuzumab.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136731PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4560419PMC
May 2016

18F-Sodium Fluoride PET-CT for the Assessment of Brain Metastasis from Lung Adenocarcinoma.

J Thorac Oncol 2015 Aug;10(8):e67-8

*Department of Oncology, †Department of Nuclear Medicine, ‡Department of Radiotherapy, and §Department of Radiology, Ospedale Sacro Cuore Don Calabria, Negrar, Verona, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JTO.0000000000000523DOI Listing
August 2015

Oral chemotherapy and patient perspective in solid tumors: a national survey by the Italian association of medical oncology.

Tumori 2016 Jan-Feb;102(1):108-13. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

Division of Medical Oncology, Hospital of Legnano, Legnano, Milan - Italy.

Aim: To assess patient perception toward oral chemotherapy for solid tumors, the Italian Association of Medical Oncology performed a large multi-institutional national survey.

Methods: A 17-item anonymous questionnaire including 7 general and 10 investigational questions with free-text, single-choice, or multiple-choice answers was administered. Analysis of response distribution according to predefined factors was described by summary measures and conducted by χ2 test and other nonparametric tests.

Results: From January to June 2010, 581 patients completed the questionnaire; data of 404 patients constituted the final study sample. Three groups could be distinguished according to treatment: IV chemotherapy (IV group, n = 313), oral chemotherapy (oral group, n = 48), or combined therapy (combined group, n = 43). Thirty-one (72%) patients in the combined group and 187 (60%) in the IV group expressed preference for oral therapy (p = 0.028). Limitations in family and work commitment were more frequently perceived by patients on IV than oral chemotherapy (147 (47%) vs 14 (29%) patients, p<0.05, and 134 (43%) vs 11 (23%) patients, p<0.05). A total of 134 (43%) patients on IV chemotherapy versus 15 (31%) patients in the oral group did not point out any limitation for number of tablets per day (p = 0.004).

Conclusions: We observed a propensity from the patient perspective in favor of oral chemotherapy that was considered to have a lower impact on family and work commitments than IV chemotherapy. The treatment that patients were taking when the questionnaire was administered likely influenced their perception and related results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5301/tj.5000383DOI Listing
July 2016

Neuroendocrine differentiation in breast carcinoma: clinicopathological features and outcome.

Histopathology 2016 Feb 17;68(3):422-32. Epub 2015 Aug 17.

Department of Pathology, Sacro Cuore Hospital of Negrar, Verona, Italy.

Aims: Primary neuroendocrine (NE) breast carcinoma (BC) is an entity with a wide range of prevalence and poorly defined clinical behaviour. We evaluated the prevalence, clinicopathological features and clinical outcome of NEBC.

Methods And Results: Immunohistochemical staining for synaptophysin and chromogranin A was performed on whole sections from 1232 consecutive cases of invasive BC. We divided NEBC into focal (10-49% positive cells) and diffuse (≥50% positive cells) and compared the outcome of patients with NEBC with strictly matched non-NEBC. A total of 128 BC showed NE differentiation (10.4%): 84 diffuse (6.8%) and 44 focal (3.6%). NE differentiation showed a significant association with T4 stage (P = 0.001), solid-papillary and mucinous histotype (P < 0.0001), G2 grading (P = 0.002), positive oestrogen receptor (ER) (P = 0.003) and progesterone receptor (PR) (P = 0.002). Almost 90% of NEBC were ER(+) /HER2(-) and more than half ER(+) /HER2(-) /Ki67≥14%. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that patients with NEBC showed worse disease-free survival (DFS) (P = 0.04) compared to matched non-NEBC. We did not find significant differences regarding clinicopathological features, DFS and CSS between diffuse and focal neuroendocrine BC.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that NEBC represents 7-10% of invasive BC and that NE differentiation does not affect the prognosis of BC in terms of CSS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/his.12766DOI Listing
February 2016

Progesterone receptor status and clinical outcome in breast cancer patients with estrogen receptor-positive locoregional recurrence.

Tumori 2015 Jul-Aug;101(4):398-403. Epub 2015 May 22.

Sacro Cuore-Don Calabria Hospital of Negrar, Verona - Italy.

Aims And Background: The aim of this retrospective multicenter study was to evaluate the impact of progesterone receptor (PgR) loss on locoregional recurrence in patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive primary breast cancer and ER-positive locoregional recurrence.

Patients And Methods: Eight Italian oncology centers collected data from consecutive patients with ER-positive breast cancer and a subsequent ER-positive locoregional recurrence.

Results: Data were available for 265 patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 2009. Median metastasis-free survival was 111 months in patients with PgR-positive primary tumors and locoregional recurrence (PgRpos), 38 months in patients with PgR-negative primary tumors and locoregional recurrence (PgRneg), and 63 months in patients with PgR-positive primary tumors and PgR-negative locoregional recurrence (PgRloss). In multivariate analysis, PgR status was independently associated with metastasis-free survival, with a hazard ratio of 2.84 (95% CI 1.34-6.00) for PgRneg compared with PgRpos, and 2.93 (95% CI: 1.51-5.70) for PgRloss compared with PgRpos.

Conclusions: PgR absence was found to be a negative prognostic factor in breast cancer patients with ER-positive locoregional recurrence. Thus, PgR status could be a biological marker in ER-positive recurrent breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5301/tj.5000323DOI Listing
October 2015