Publications by authors named "Livio Blasi"

30 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Virtual Clinical and Precision Medicine Tumor Boards-Cloud-Based Platform-Mediated Implementation of Multidisciplinary Reviews Among Oncology Centers in the COVID-19 Era: Protocol for an Observational Study.

JMIR Res Protoc 2021 Sep 10;10(9):e26220. Epub 2021 Sep 10.

La Maddalena Cancer Center, Palermo, Italy.

Background: Multidisciplinary tumor boards play a pivotal role in the patient-centered clinical management and in the decision-making process to provide best evidence-based, diagnostic, and therapeutic care to patients with cancer. Among the barriers to achieve an efficient multidisciplinary tumor board, lack of time and geographical distance play a major role. Therefore, the elaboration of an efficient virtual multidisciplinary tumor board (VMTB) is a key point to successfully obtain an oncology team and implement a network among health professionals and institutions. This need is stronger than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Objective: This paper presents a research protocol for an observational study focused on exploring the structuring process and the implementation of a multi-institutional VMTB in Sicily, Italy. Other endpoints include analysis of cooperation between participants, adherence to guidelines, patients' outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

Methods: This protocol encompasses a pragmatic, observational, multicenter, noninterventional, prospective trial. The study's programmed duration is 5 years, with a half-yearly analysis of the primary and secondary objectives' measurements. Oncology care health professionals from various oncology subspecialties at oncology departments in multiple hospitals (academic and general hospitals as well as tertiary centers and community hospitals) are involved in a nonhierarchic manner. VMTB employs an innovative, virtual, cloud-based platform to share anonymized medical data that are discussed via a videoconferencing system both satisfying security criteria and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Results: The protocol is part of a larger research project on communication and multidisciplinary collaboration in oncology units and departments spread in the Sicily region. The results of this study will particularly focus on the organization of VMTBs, involving oncology units present in different hospitals spread in the area, and creating a network to allow best patient care pathways and a hub-and-spoke relationship. The present results will also include data concerning organization skills and pitfalls, barriers, efficiency, number, and types with respect to clinical cases and customer satisfaction.

Conclusions: VMTB represents a unique opportunity to optimize patient management through a patient-centered approach. An efficient virtualization and data-banking system is potentially time-saving, a source for outcome data, and a detector of possible holes in the hull of clinical pathways. The observations and results from this VMTB study may hopefully be useful to design nonclinical and organizational interventions that enhance multidisciplinary decision-making in oncology.

International Registered Report Identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/26220.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/26220DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8437400PMC
September 2021

Virtual Multidisciplinary Tumor Boards: A Narrative Review Focused on Lung Cancer.

Pulm Ther 2021 Dec 4;7(2):295-308. Epub 2021 Jun 4.

Risk Management Unit, Policlinico, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

To date, the virtual multidisciplinary tumor boards (vMTBs) are increasingly used to achieve high-quality treatment recommendations across health-care regions, which expands and develops the local MTB team to a regional or national expert network. This review describes the process of lung cancer-specific MTBs and the transition process from face-to-face tumor boards to virtual ones. The review also focuses on the project organization's description, advantages, and disadvantages. Semi-structured interviews identified five major themes for MTBs: current practice, attitudes, enablers, barriers, and benefits for the MTB. MTB teams exhibited positive responses to modeled data feedback. Virtualization reduces time spent for travel, allowing easier and timely patient discussions. This process requires a secure web platform to assure the respect of patients' privacy and presents the same unanswered problems. The implementation of vMTB also permits the implementation of networks especially in areas with geographical barriers facilitating interaction between large referral cancer centers and tertiary or community hospitals as well as easier access to clinical trial opportunities. Studies aimed to improve preparations, structure, and conduct of MTBs, research methods to monitor their performance, teamwork, and outcomes are also outlined in this article. Analysis of literature shows that MTB participants discuss 5-8 cases per meeting and that the use of a vMTB for lung cancer and in particular stage III NSCLC and complex stage IV cases is widely accepted by most health professionals. Despite still-existing gaps, overall vMTB represents a unique opportunity to optimize patient management in a patient-centered approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s41030-021-00163-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8177259PMC
December 2021

Management of patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic: The Italian perspective on the second wave.

Eur J Cancer 2021 05 25;148:112-116. Epub 2021 Feb 25.

Medical Oncology Unit, ARNAS Civico, Palermo, Italy.

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been an overwhelming challenge for worldwide health systems. Since the beginning of year 2020, COVID-19 has represented a potential harm for cancer patients and has often hindered oncology care. The Collegio Italiano dei Primari Oncologi Medici (CIPOMO) is an Italian association of head physicians in oncology departments, which promotes working and research activities in oncology on a national basis. During the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the CIPOMO promoted a national survey aiming to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on oncologists' clinical activity and what changes have been made compared with the Italian situation during the first wave of the pandemic. Overall, 138 heads of medical oncology departments participated in this survey: 75 (54%) from the North, 24 (17%) from the Centre and 39 (28%) from the South of Italy and islands. This survey provides an overview of Italian oncologists facing the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The lesson learned during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic has led to a better organisation of clinical activities, and regular testing among healthcare practitioners, with better chances to grant patients' protection. However, the lack of standardised informatic platforms results in serious challenges in replacing frontal visits, often making a concrete reduction of patients' hospital accesses unfeasible. Oncologists need to keep preserving the continuum of care of patients. Standardisation of safety measures, together with the implementation of informatic platforms, can significantly improve oncology pathways during this second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.01.040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904514PMC
May 2021

Italian results of the PRECONNECT study: safety and efficacy of trifluridine/tipiracil in metastatic colorectal cancer.

Future Oncol 2021 Jun 5;17(18):2315-2324. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Dipartimento di Ricerca Traslazionale, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 43, 56126, Pisa, Italy.

The international PRECONNECT Phase IIIb study demonstrated safety and efficacy of trifluridine/tipiracil in the management of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. analyses in a national context are important because of the differences in disease management across countries. safety and efficacy analyses in the PRECONNECT Italian patient subset were conducted. Patients' quality of life was assessed from baseline to end of treatment. In Italy, 161 patients were enrolled. The median age was 64 years, with a performance status of 0-1. The most common hematological drug-related adverse events ≥grade 3 were neutropenia (41.0%) and anemia (13.7%). The median progression-free survival was reached at 3.0 months, with a disease control rate of 28.6%. The Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 score improved in 25.4% of the patients. Safety, efficacy and quality of life results confirmed trifluridine/tipiracil as a feasible and favorable treatment option for metastatic colorectal cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/fon-2020-1278DOI Listing
June 2021

Oxycodone/Acetaminophen: The Tailoring Combination Treatment for Specific Clinical Profile of Opioid Well-Responsive Cancer Pain.

Cancer Manag Res 2021 19;13:1747-1756. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Primary Care Unit, ASL RM1, Rome, 00165, Italy.

Background: International guidelines recommend moderate-to-severe cancer pain to be treated with strong opioids. However, pain management remains an unsolved matter, at least in the demanding oncology and palliative care setting. Although cancer pain consists of multiple components, which interact in complex ways where combination therapy can better intercept multiple pain characteristics, few studies have used a non-opioid/opioid association to exploit possible synergistic actions. Even the efforts of a recent approach emphasizing appropriate pain assessment and accurate classification to obtain personalized pain management have not produced a satisfactory analgesic strategy.

Objective: This analysis was intended to evaluate the effectiveness of the immediate release fixed combination of oxycodone/acetaminophen (OxyIR/Par) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe intensity background pain used alone or in combination with other strong opioids in cancer patients with breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP). This is a secondary analysis of a wider observational, prospective, multicenter study [Italian Oncologic Pain multiSetting Multicentric Survey (IOPS-MS)] performed on 179 patients treated with opioids for cancer pain who received the fixed combination of oxycodone/acetaminophen (OxyIR/Par) for the treatment of background pain (BGP).

Results: Cancer patients with breakthrough cancer pain and controlled BGP (Background Pain) were classified according to the presence of analgesic therapy with tablets of fixed combination OxyIR/Par alone (group A, n=120) or tablets of fixed combination OxyIR/Par combined with other strong opioids (group B, n=59). Clinical features of group A were different to group B: higher mean Karnofsky Performance Status Index 70.3% (95% CI=67.2-73.5; median=70, CI=60-80) vs 58.3 (95% CI=53.4-63.2; median=50, CI=45-70) (<0.001), and mainly group A patients were treated in an ambulatory setting (55.0% group A vs 33.9% group B) (p<0.001). Both groups had managed BGP with similar mean dosages (group A: 12.0, CI=10.5-13.4; group B: 13.1, CI=11.0-15.1) and frequencies of OxyIR/Par alone for group A and in association to other opioids for group B, but Breakthrough cancer Pain (BTcP) exhibited different characteristics in the two groups, showing a lower mean intensity numerical rating scale (NRS) of 7.5 (95% CI=7.2-7.7; median=7, CI=7-8 group A) vs 7.9 (95% CI=7.6, 8.2; median= 8, CI=7-9 group B) (=0.04) and a higher percentage of patients had a faster onset, defined as the maximum intensity reached in less than 10 minutes, 81.7% (N=98) in group A vs 59.3% (n=35) in group B (=0.002).

Conclusion: This is the first analysis about the efficacy of an immediate-release fixed combination of OxyIR/Par in the real world for moderate-to-severe background cancer pain and breakthrough cancer pain. The oral fixed combination OxyIR/Par provided an adequate level of analgesia for moderate-severe background cancer pain, in a different cohort of cancer patients with different performance status, both in ambulatory and palliative settings. The low dosage of fixed combination OxyIR/Par was effective alone or in association with other opioids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S290551DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7903954PMC
February 2021

Overall Survival in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients in the Third Millennium: Results of the COSMO Study.

Clin Breast Cancer 2021 10 9;21(5):e489-e496. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Oncology, ASST Bergamo Ovest Ospedale di Treviglio, Treviglio, Italy.

Introduction: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is a life-threatening disease, and although some data suggest a trend in survival improvement, it has not yet been unequivocally demonstrated. This study aimed to evaluate the overall survival (OS) of MBC patients, assessing its correlation with prognostic factors.

Patients And Methods: COSMO (Checking Overall Survival in a MBC Observational study) is an Italian longitudinal retrospective multicenter study that enrolled patients with MBC diagnosed between 2000 and 2008. The primary objective was to detect a temporal difference in OS; the secondary objective was to identify prognostic factors as causal factors of the temporal variation in OS.

Results: A total of 3721 of 3930 patients from 31 centers were distributed in 3 periods: 886 (23.8%), 1302 (35.0%), and 1533 (41.2%) in 2000-2002, 2003-2005, and 2006-2008, respectively. With a median follow-up of 9.3 years, median OS was 2.8 years (95% confidence interval, 2.6-2.9). No difference in OS was found in the 3 cohorts (P for trend = .563). The worst prognosis was observed for patients with triple-negative MBC (OS, 1.5 years) and for those with central nervous system metastases (1.7 years); the best prognosis was observed in those with bone metastases or nonvisceral disease (3.4 and 3.2 years, respectively) and in patients with a disease-free interval, defined as the time between resection of the primary malignancy and diagnosis of MBC, of > 2 years (3 years).

Conclusions: The COSMO study found improvement in OS between 2000 and 2008. Molecular subtype remained the strongest prognostic factor, and the role of other prognostic factors was confirmed, in particular disease-free interval, site of metastasis, and age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clbc.2020.11.001DOI Listing
October 2021

Breakthrough Cancer Pain Clinical Features and Differential Opioids Response: A Machine Learning Approach in Patients With Cancer From the IOPS-MS Study.

JCO Precis Oncol 2020 4;4. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Pain Therapy Unit, "A. Businco" Hospital, ASL 8, Cagliari, Italy.

Purpose: A large proportion of patients with cancer suffer from breakthrough cancer pain (BTcP). Several unmet clinical needs concerning BTcP treatment, such as optimal opioid dosages, are being investigated. In this analysis the hypothesis, we explore with an unsupervised learning algorithm whether distinct subtypes of BTcP exist and whether they can provide new insights into clinical practice.

Methods: Partitioning around a k-medoids algorithm on a large data set of patients with BTcP, previously collected by the Italian Oncologic Pain Survey group, was used to identify possible subgroups of BTcP. Resulting clusters were analyzed in terms of BTcP therapy satisfaction, clinical features, and use of basal pain and rapid-onset opioids. Opioid dosages were converted to a unique scale and the BTcP opioids-to-basal pain opioids ratio was calculated for each patient. We used polynomial logistic regression to catch nonlinear relationships between therapy satisfaction and opioid use.

Results: Our algorithm identified 12 distinct BTcP clusters. Optimal BTcP opioids-to-basal pain opioids ratios differed across the clusters, ranging from 15% to 50%. The majority of clusters were linked to a peculiar association of certain drugs with therapy satisfaction or dissatisfaction. A free online tool was created for new patients' cluster computation to validate these clusters in future studies and provide handy indications for personalized BTcP therapy.

Conclusion: This work proposes a classification for BTcP and identifies subgroups of patients with unique efficacy of different pain medications. This work supports the theory that the optimal dose of BTcP opioids depends on the dose of basal opioids and identifies novel values that are possibly useful for future trials. These results will allow us to target BTcP therapy on the basis of patient characteristics and to define a precision medicine strategy also for supportive care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/PO.20.00158DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7713587PMC
November 2020

Is burnout affecting life satisfaction in oncologists? The moderating role of family concerns in an Italian sample.

Psychooncology 2021 03 13;30(3):385-391. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Dipartimento Oncologico, USL Toscana Centro, Florence, Italy.

Objective: Burnout may represent a significant source of distress in health care professionals. Many studies have reported its negative effect on career satisfaction and personal life. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relation between burnout and life satisfaction in a large sample of Italian oncologists.

Methods: An online survey was conducted of 14.5% of the Italian oncologists' population (n = 533) using Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, Satisfaction with Life Scale and additional questions exploring professional and personal factors. Moderated regression analysis was carried out to explore how burnout may relate to life satisfaction.

Results: One out of 10 (10.5%) oncologists showed significant burnout symptoms, whereas 1 out of 3 (33.8%) reported being at least slightly dissatisfied with their own life. Family concerns significantly moderated the relationship between burnout and life satisfaction. Men and chiefs of cancer units or departments showed lower rates of burnout and life dissatisfaction than women and other oncologists, respectively.

Conclusions: Reported results are in line with existing data about a limited burnout prevalence in Italian oncologists. We discuss the potential role of gender inequality in explaining our findings. The present study suggests that family concerns may be considered a risk factor for both burnout and life dissatisfaction in oncologists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pon.5589DOI Listing
March 2021

Metronomic oral vinorelbine in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer progressing after nivolumab immunotherapy: a retrospective analysis.

Ecancermedicalscience 2020 29;14:1113. Epub 2020 Sep 29.

Medical Oncology Unit, La Maddalena Clinic for Cancer Medical Oncology, Palermo 90100, Italy.

Purpose: The availability of immune checkpoint inhibitors has deeply changed the therapeutic scenario of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Up until now, chemotherapy still represents the first-line treatment for patients with advanced NSCLC not harbouring genetic mutations or lacking high expression of programmed death ligand even if the addition of immunotherapy to first-line chemotherapy has recently been shown to improve clinical outcome. We carried out a multi-institutional retrospective analysis on third-line chemotherapy with metronomic oral vinorelbine (VNR) in a series of patients with metastatic NSCLC pre-treated with first-line chemotherapy and second-line immunotherapy.

Patients And Methods: Thirty patients with metastatic NSCLC with progressive disease after first-line chemotherapy and subsequent immunotherapy were treated with metronomic oral VNR continuously at the fixed dose of 30 mg three times per week.

Results: A partial response was achieved in 4 patients (13.3%), while 10 patients (33.3%) displayed disease stabilisation for an overall disease control rate of 46.7%. Median progression-free survival was 3.9 months (range 1-13 months) and median OS reached 8.1 months (range 4.0-24.0+ months) with a 12-month survival rate of 22%.

Conclusion: Oral metronomic VNR appears to be active and safe in patients with metastatic NSCLC in progression after first-line chemotherapy and second-line immunotherapy. The results reported, although from a limited sample, may suggest its use for long-term stabilisation of the disease with good patient compliance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2020.1113DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7581333PMC
September 2020

Reactions and countermeasures of medical oncologists towards the incoming COVID-19 pandemic: a WhatsApp messenger-based report from the Italian College of Chief Medical Oncologists.

Ecancermedicalscience 2020 15;14:1046. Epub 2020 May 15.

Medical Oncology Unit, Ospedale La Maddalena, University of Palermo, Palermo, 90100, Italy.

Background: This descriptive, unplanned investigation has been undertaken to report reactions, attitudes and countermeasures which have been put in place and implemented by medical oncology units facing the COVID-19 outbreak in Southern Italy.

Materials And Methods: Data have been retrospectively obtained from the time-related analysis of conversations via a WhatsApp messenger-based group chat between the medical directors belonging to the Italian College of Medical Oncology Directors. Overall number, intensity and time trend of conversations related to reactions during the 4 weeks of observation related to the crucial events which occurred between 24 February and 28 March, 2020 2020 are included. A sentiment analysis of conversations was also carried out.

Results: We report 956 conversations among 19 medical oncology units related to reactions to the crucial events, such as epidemic spread, Government ordinances and guidelines during the 4 weeks of observation. Data show significant awareness of problems linked to the COVID-19 spread among oncologists and rapid diffusion of countermeasures. Actions taken were correlated time wise to crucial events. A correlation between conversations and the volume of activity of oncology units was found. By analysing the sentiment analysis of raw data, positive emotions were reduced in percentage over the weeks. A significant increase in negative emotions was observed as the outbreak impacted on the healthcare system.

Conclusion: In our experience, the WhatsApp instant-messaging system seems to be a useful tool to share news and reactions between medical oncologists to rapidly implement necessary health measures and answers to most cancer patients' needs and queries in the COVID-19 pandemic scenario.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2020.1046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7289620PMC
May 2020

Liability of clinical oncologists and the COVID-19 emergency: Between hopes and concerns.

J Cancer Policy 2020 Sep 9;25:100234. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

Risk Management Unit, AOUP P. Giaccone, Palermo, Italy.

To contain COVID-19 spread, Italy is under a global lockdown since February 21, 2020, except for health services and food supply. In this scenario, growing apprehension concerning legal consequences is rising among health professionals due to several ethical and legal questions. Even if medical ethicists may approve patients' prioritization protocols, hospitals and health professionals remain highly exposed to liability. The so-called smart-working may be very useful, but it may harbor potential legal harms for health personnel and patients and safety. Moreover, personal umbrella policies also often exclude liability arising out of the transmission of a communicable disease, especially a pandemic state, is declared. Under the pressure of medical associations, Italian Government political forces have very recently presented an amendment to the recently released ordinances for the COVID-19 emergency aimed to reduce medical liability. Presumably, similar epidemics or other wide-scale similar events may happen again in an unpredictable future. Therefore, more articulated legal regulations are strongly needed starting from lessons learned from this epidemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcpo.2020.100234DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7282757PMC
September 2020

Reorganisation of medical oncology departments during the novel coronavirus disease-19 pandemic: a nationwide Italian survey.

Eur J Cancer 2020 06 6;132:17-23. Epub 2020 Apr 6.

Medical Oncology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.

The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 pandemic is a global health problem, which started to affect China by the end of 2019. In Europe, Italy has faced this novel disease entity (named novel coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) first and severely. COVID-19 represents a significant hurdle for public health services and a potential harm for patients with cancer. The Collegio Italiano dei Primari Oncologi Medici (CIPOMO) is an Italian association of head physicians in oncology departments, which promotes working and research activities in oncology on a national basis. In the midst of the epidemic in Italy, the CIPOMO promoted a national survey aiming to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on clinical activity of oncologists and the implementation of containment measures of COVID-19 diffusion. Overall, 122 head physicians participated in this survey, with a homogeneous distribution on the national territory. Results show that the following measures for oncologic patients have been promptly implemented through the whole country: use of protective devices, triage of patients accessing the hospital, delay of non-urgent visits and use of telemedicine. Results of this survey suggest that Italian oncology departments have promptly set a proactive approach to the actual emergency. Oncologists need to preserve the continuum of care of patients, as the benefit of ensuring a well-delivered anti-cancer treatment plan outweighs the risk of COVID-19 infection. International cooperation is an important starting point, as heavily affected nations can serve as an example to find out ways to safely preserve health activity during the pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2020.03.024DOI Listing
June 2020

Is There Still a Role for Endocrine Therapy Alone in HR+/HER2- Advanced Breast Cancer Patients? Results from the Analysis of Two Data Sets of Patients Treated with High-Dose Fulvestrant as First-Line Therapy in the Real-World Setting: The EVA and GIM-13 AMBRA Studies.

Breast Care (Basel) 2020 Feb 17;15(1):30-37. Epub 2019 Apr 17.

Oncology Unit, Ospedale Moriggia Pelascini, Gravedona, Italy.

Background: Different studies suggest that fulvestrant 500 mg every 28 days (HD-FUL) could be an active treatment in HR+ advanced breast cancer (ABC) patients even treated with aromatase inhibitors in the adjuvant setting. The aim of this analysis is to describe the outcome of ABC patients treated with HD-FUL as first-line treatment in terms of median duration of treatment and the overall response rate in a real-world setting.

Methods: For the purpose of the present analysis, we considered two data sets of HR+ ABC patients collected in Italy between 2012 and 2015 (EVA and GIM-13 AMBRA studies).

Results: Eighty-one and 91 patients have been identified from the two data sets. The median age was 63 years (range 35-82) for the EVA and 57.8 years (range 35.0-82.3) for the AMBRA patients. ORRs were 23.5 and 24.3% in the whole population, 26.9% in the patients with bone only, and 21.8 and 21.4% in those with visceral metastases. The median duration of HD-FUL was 11.6 months (range 1-48) and 12.4 months (range 2.9-70.0) in the two data sets, respectively.

Conclusion: These data suggest that HD-FUL should still continue to play a significant role as first-line therapy in HR+ ABC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000495469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7098305PMC
February 2020

Eribulin mesylate use as third-line therapy in patients with metastatic breast cancer (VESPRY): a prospective, multicentre, observational study.

Ther Adv Med Oncol 2019 19;11:1758835919895755. Epub 2019 Dec 19.

Humanitas Centro Catanese di Oncologia, Catania, Italy.

Background: In real-world practice, eribulin mesylate provides significant survival benefit, with a manageable safety profile in heavily pretreated patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

Methods: In this prospective, open-label, multicentre, observational study we evaluated the effectiveness and tolerability of eribulin as third-line treatment in a homogeneous population. The primary endpoints were the safety profile and response in metastatic sites; secondary endpoints included the response in different subtypes, overall response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: From 2013 to 2016, 118 women were treated in 21 Sicilian institutions; the median age was 58 years (range 29-79), with 69% of patients under 65. The median cycles of eribulin were 5.5 (range 1-26). The most common adverse event was neutropenia (9.3%, 3 cases of grade 3, 4 of grade 4); only 1 case of QT prolongation was reported. Eribulin was effective in controlling metastatic disease in all sites, and it achieved the highest ORR in brain (16%) and liver (14.9%). Median OS was 31.8 months (95% CI 27.9-34.4) and median PFS 5.5 months (95% CI 4.2-6.6). PFS was 5.2 months (95% CI 2.8-8.4) in patients with triple-negative subtype. Median PFS was longer in patients over 65 years (6.1 months, 95% CI 4.4-8.3). In patients who had visceral metastases PFS was 5.5 months (95% CI 95% 3.5-6.6) and OS 33.9 months (95% CI 29.8-40.8).

Conclusions: Eribulin as third-line treatment shows an acceptable safety profile and a substantial antitumour activity in the treatment of MBC, even in elderly patients and in those with visceral disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1758835919895755DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6923689PMC
December 2019

A Case Report of Adult Pineoblastoma Occurring in a Pregnant Woman.

Anticancer Res 2019 May;39(5):2627-2631

Radiation Oncology, ARNAS Civico Hospital, Palermo, Italy.

Background/aim: Pineoblastoma of the adult age is an uncommon tumor with only 200 cases reported. A standardized approach for an optimal adjuvant strategy is currently lacking. The case presented herein also deals with the issue of central nervous system tumors in pregnancy.

Case Report: A 21-year-old pregnant woman presented with massive hydrocephalus due to a mass in the pineal region detected with MRI. After positioning an urgent ventricular derivation, a cesarean section was performed. During a third ventriculocisternostomy, a biopsy revealed a pineoblastoma. After a maximal safe resection, postoperative craniospinal irradiation for a total dose of 36 Gy plus a sequential boost to the tumor bed to 54 Gy, and adjuvant chemotherapy with CDDP plus CCNU plus vincristine were performed. After one year, the patient is alive with no evidence of disease.

Conclusion: The use of adjuvant radio-chemotherapy provided excellent outcomes in our case. The advanced gestational age facilitated the choice of the therapeutic strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21873/anticanres.13386DOI Listing
May 2019

Everolimus (EVE) and exemestane (EXE) in patients with advanced breast cancer aged ≥ 65 years: new lessons for clinical practice from the EVA study.

Oncotarget 2018 08 7;9(61):31877-31887. Epub 2018 Aug 7.

Oncology Unit, Università Campus Bio-Medico, Roma, Italy.

Background: The present analysis focuses on real-world data of Everolimus-Exemestane in advanced HR+ve, HER2-ve elderly breast cancer patients (aged 65 years) included in the EVA study, with unique findings in those aged 70 years.

Methods: Data are collected from clinical records and analysed according to age cut-off (< 65 years; 65 - 69 years and {greater than or equal to} 70 years). Relationship of analyzed variables with response were tested by mean of a Mantel-Haenszel chi square test. Time to event analysis was described by Kaplan Meier approach and association with baseline characteristics was analysed by stratified log-rank test and proportional hazard model.

Results: From July 2013 to December 2015, the EVA study enrolled overall 404 pts. 154 patients out of 404 (38,1%) were aged {greater than or equal to} 65 years, of whom 87 were {greater than or equal to} 70 years. Median duration of EVE treatment was 28.5 weeks (95% CI 19.0 - 33.8) in patients aged 65-69 years and 24,4 weeks (95% CI 19,2 - 33,2) in those aged {greater than or equal to} 70 years. Fewer patients aged 65 years received the highest EVE Dose-Intensity (>7.5 mg/day) in comparison to younger patients (49,6% vs. 66,8%). Grade 3-4 toxicities occurred to 55 patients (35,7%), mainly stomatitis (10,9%), rash (5,8%) and non-infectious pneumonitis (NIP) (3,6%). Some toxicities, such as weight loss and anaemia were peculiarly observed in patients aged {greater than or equal to} 70 years. Five treatment-related deaths were collected (3,2%).

Conclusions: EVE-EXE combination remains one of the potential treatments in HR+ patients also for elderly ones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25874DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112755PMC
August 2018

Clinical efficacy of nab-paclitaxel in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Drug Des Devel Ther 2018 19;12:1769-1775. Epub 2018 Jun 19.

Department of Surgical, Oncological and Oral Sciences, Section of Medical Oncology, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Purpose: Pancreatic carcinoma is the neoplasia with the major mortality, and main standard treatments in this cancer increase survival but do not lead to complete recovery of the patient. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) in Italian patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer (MPC).

Patients And Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 80 patients. Overall survival (OS) was the primary end point for evaluating the efficacy of nab-paclitaxel in combination with gemcitabine treatment, while carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9) reduction, safety, progression-free survival (PFS), overall response rate and reduction in pain were secondary end points.

Results: The median OS was 8 months, and the median PFS was 5 months. A considerable difference in CA 19-9 before and after treatment was observed. Descriptive and correlation analyses were done to examine the relationship between CA 19-9 response and OS. Linear regression analysis between OS and CA 19-9 response revealed that CA 19-9 is an important predictor of OS, showing a positive correlation.

Conclusion: Nab-paclitaxel is a well-tolerated and effective treatment for patients affected by MPC. The drug showed an improved tolerability profile, significant pain relief and an increase in survival rate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S165851DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016012PMC
November 2018

Factors Influencing the Clinical Presentation of Breakthrough Pain in Cancer Patients.

Cancers (Basel) 2018 Jun 1;10(6). Epub 2018 Jun 1.

PainTherapy, S. Croce e Carle Hospital, 12100 Cuneo, Italy,

The aim of this study was to identify potential variables influencing the clinical presentation of breakthrough cancer pain (BTP). Cancer patients with a diagnosis of BTP were enrolled. Demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as background pain and BTP characteristics were collected. Multivariate analyses were conducted to assess the correlation between BTP characteristics and the variables examined. Data of 4016 patients were analysed. Average daily number of BTP episodes was 2.4, mean intensity was 7.5, and a mean duration was 43.3 min. A short onset BTP was observed in 68.9% of patients. In 30.5% of patients BTP was predictable. There were 86.0% of participants who reported a marked interference of BTP with their daily activities. Furthermore, 86.8% of patients were receiving opioids for the management of BTP. The average time to meaningful pain relief was 16.5 min and 70.9% of patients were satisfied with their BTP medications. Age, head and neck cancer, Karnofsky, background pain intensity, predictable and fast onset BTP were independently associated with the number of BTP episodes. BTP pain intensity was independently associated with background pain intensity, fast onset BTP, and Karnofsky. Neuropathic pain mechanism was independently associated with unpredictable BTP. Variables independently associated with a longer duration of BTP were age, place of visit, cancer diagnosis, disease-oriented therapy, background pain intensity and mechanism, and unpredictable BTP. Age, Karnofsky, background pain intensity, fast onset, and long duration of BTP were independently associated with interference with daily activity. BTP has a variable presentation depending on interdependent relationships among its different characteristics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers10060175DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025469PMC
June 2018

Italian Nivolumab Expanded Access Program in Nonsquamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients: Results in Never-Smokers and EGFR-Mutant Patients.

J Thorac Oncol 2018 08 3;13(8):1146-1155. Epub 2018 May 3.

Division of Thoracic Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.

Introduction: Nivolumab is the first checkpoint inhibitor approved for the treatment of nonsquamous NSCLC. We report results from the nivolumab Italian expanded access program focusing on never-smokers and patients with EGFR-mutant nonsqamous NSCLC.

Methods: Nivolumab (3 mg/kg intravenously every 2 weeks) was administered upon physicians' request to patients who had relapsed after one or more prior systemic treatments for stage IIIB/IV nonsquamous NSCLC. Efficacy and safety were evaluated in patients who received at least one dose of nivolumab.

Results: Of 1588 patients with nonsquamous NSCLC, 305 (19.2%) were never-smokers. EGFR status was available for 1395 patients. Of the 102 patients (6.4%) with EGFR mutation-positive tumors, 51 (50%) were never-smokers. The objective response rate was significantly higher in patients with wild-type EGFR than patients with EGFR-mutant tumors (19.6% versus 8.8% [p = 0.007]), in former and current smokers than in never-smokers (21.5% versus 9.2% [p = 0.0001]), and in never-smokers with wild-type EGFR than in never-smokers with mutant EGFR (11.0% versus 1.9% [p = 0.04]). There was no significant difference in objective response rate between smokers with wild-type EGFR and smokers with mutant EGFR (22.0% versus 20.6%). There was no statistically significant difference in median progression-free survival or in median overall survival. The median overall survival times were 11 months in patients with EGFR wild-type tumors versus 8.3 months in patients with EGFR-mutant tumors, 11.6 months in smokers versus 10.0 months in never-smokers, 11.0 months in never-smokers with EGFR wild-type tumors versus 5.6 months in never-smokers with EGFR-mutant tumors, and 14.1 months in smokers with EGFR-mutant tumors versus 11.3 months in smokers with EGFR wild-type tumors.

Conclusions: The data on the Italian expanded access program in populations with nonsquamous NSCLC suggest that subgroups of patients could benefit differently from nivolumab according to their EGFR mutational status and smoking habits. These results warrant further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2018.04.025DOI Listing
August 2018

Practical issues for the management of hyponatremia in oncology.

Endocrine 2018 07 7;61(1):158-164. Epub 2018 Feb 7.

Endocrine Unit, Department of Experimental and Biomedical Sciences "Mario Serio", Center for Research, Transfer and Higher Education on Chronic, Inflammatory, Degenerative and Neoplastic Disorders for the Development of Novel Therapies, University of Florence, Viale Pieraccini 6, Florence, 20139, Italy.

Hyponatremia is common in cancer patients and has a negative impact on outcomes and survival. Both the diagnosis and treatment of hyponatremia are challenging. Easy-to-use, practical guidelines are needed. The aim of this article is to discuss practical issues related to the diagnostic workup and management of hyponatremia, with particular attention to complex patients, such as those affected by neoplastic diseases. Admittedly, these patients may present several comorbidities, which may cause sodium alterations. In addition, multidrug therapy may precipitate serum sodium fall. An algorithm for the diagnosis and treatment of hyponatremia was also developed, based on the discussion of the results of a questionnaire completed by the authors and of the published recommendations/guidelines on hyponatremia. The goal was to produce an algorithm that was as simple as possible but still comprehensive, without compromising information completeness. Many explanatory notes were added with the aim of guiding clinicians throughout the management of complex patients with hyponatremia, such as those with cancer. The resulting algorithm and supporting literature are presented.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12020-018-1547-yDOI Listing
July 2018

Predictive factors for 6 12 cycles of Folfiri-Bevacizumab in metastatic colorectal cancer.

Oncotarget 2018 Jan 17;9(2):2876-2886. Epub 2017 Dec 17.

Department of Systems Medicine, Medical Oncology Unit, Tor Vergata University Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Early switching to de-intensified maintenance regimen is still a matter of debate in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). The MARTHA trial, a S.I.C.O.G. phase III randomized trial, compared FOLOFIRI+bevacizumab (B) for 12 cycles (6 months) followed by B for up to 12 months (FOLFIRI +B*12 arm) FOLFIRI+B for 6 cycles (3 months) followed by capecitabine+B for 4 cycles followed by B for up to 12 months (FOLFIRI+B*6 arm). Chemotherapy-naïve mCRC patients were randomized, primary endpoint was progression free survival (PFS), with overall survival (OS) as a secondary endpoint. A novel analysis, the Death Pace Analysis (DPA), was performed to identify patients who benefited from a specific treatment. No PFS difference was seen in 198 enrolled patients (101 in FOLFIRI+B*12, 97 in FOLFIRI+B*6). A non-significant superior OS was observed for FOLFIRI+B*6 (HR 0.74, p 0.098). The DPA demonstrated that 14% of patients were identifiable as FOLFIRI+B*6-benefiting patients. According to a logistic regression analysis including 23 clinicopathological variables, baseline Hb was the only independent predictor of DPA-defined FOLFIRI+B*6-benefit status. Among patients with Hb ≤ 11.1 gr/dL a statistically significant prolonged OS was observed for FOLFIRI+B*6 over FOLFIRI+B*12 (median OS: 20.7 12.6 months, respectively, HR 0.54, p 0.048). No survival difference was observed between arms in patients with Hb > 11.1. mCRC patients with low baseline Hb levels are better treated with FOLFIRI+B*6 first-line strategy. Possible biological explanations for this finding are being investigated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23355DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788688PMC
January 2018

Treatment with abiraterone in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer patients progressing after docetaxel: a retrospective study.

Anticancer Drugs 2017 10;28(9):1047-1052

aDepartment of Surgical, Oncological and Oral Sciences, Section of Medical Oncology bDepartment of Surgical, Oncological and Oral Sciences, Section of Urology cCentral Laboratory of Advances Diagnosis and Biomedical Research, University of Palermo dMedical Oncology Unit, ARNAS Hospidaly Civico, Di Cristina, Benfratelli, Palermo, Italy.

The aim of this study was to evaluate abiraterone's efficacy in Italian patients affected with metastatic prostate cancer progressing after treatment with docetaxel. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 60 patients. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reduction in serum was the primary endpoint for evaluating the efficacy of abiraterone in combination with prednisone treatment, whereas reduced pain, safety, progression-free survival, response rate, and overall survival (OS) were secondary endpoints. A significant correlation was noticed between PSA response and OS. Further, the Index Bravais-Pearson (r) correlation allowed us to observe a significant negative interdependence between PSA response and reduction in pain of 0.57 (95% confidence interval: -0.30 to 0.80) (P=0.005). Meanwhile, regression analysis revealed that PSA levels are predictive of OS. There was a positive correlation with OS, which showed a value of R to 0.50 with a slope of 1.44 (P=0.0021). Abiraterone is a well-tolerated and effective treatment modality for patients affected with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The drug has a better tolerability profile, gives significant pain relief, and increases the survival rate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CAD.0000000000000549DOI Listing
October 2017

Breakthrough Cancer Pain: Preliminary Data of The Italian Oncologic Pain Multisetting Multicentric Survey (IOPS-MS).

Adv Ther 2017 01 21;34(1):120-135. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Palliative Care and Oncologic Pain Service, S. Camillo-Forlanini Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Introduction: An ongoing national multicenter survey [Italian Oncologic Pain multiSetting Multicentric Survey (IOPS-MS)] is evaluating the characteristics of breakthrough cancer pain (BTP) in different clinical settings. Preliminary data from the first 1500 cancer patients with BTP enrolled in this study are presented here.

Methods: Thirty-two clinical centers are involved in the survey. A diagnosis of BTP was performed by a standard algorithm. Epidemiological data, Karnofsky index, stage of disease, presence and sites of metastases, ongoing oncologic treatment, and characteristics of background pain and BTP and their treatments were recorded. Background pain and BTP intensity were measured. Patients were also questioned about BTP predictability, BTP onset (≤10 or >10 min), BTP duration, background and BTP medications and their doses, time to meaningful pain relief after BTP medication, and satisfaction with BTP medication. The occurrence of adverse reactions was also assessed, as well as mucosal toxicity.

Results: Background pain was well controlled with opioid treatment (numerical rating scale 3.0 ± 1.1). Patients reported 2.5 ± 1.6 BTP episodes/day with a mean intensity of 7.5 ± 1.4 and duration of 43 ± 40 min; 977 patients (65.1%) reported non-predictable BTP, and 1076 patients (71.7%) reported a rapid onset of BTP (≤10 min). Higher patient satisfaction was reported by patients treated with fast onset opioids.

Conclusions: These preliminary data underline that the standard algorithm used is a valid tool for a proper diagnosis of BTP in cancer patients. Moreover, rapid relief of pain is crucial for patients' satisfaction. The final IOPS-MS data are necessary to understand relationships between BTP characteristics and other clinical variables in oncologic patients.

Funding: Molteni Farmaceutici, Italy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12325-016-0440-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216057PMC
January 2017

The comparison of outcomes from tyrosine kinase inhibitor monotherapy in second- or third-line for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients with wild-type or unknown EGFR status.

Oncotarget 2016 Jun;7(24):35803-35812

Department of Surgical, Oncological and Oral Sciences, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Background: Second-line treatment for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients includes monotherapy with a third-generation cytotoxic drug (CT) or a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). These options are the actual standard for EGFR wild-type (WT) status, as patients with EGFR mutations achieve greater benefit by the use of TKI in first-line treatment. Some clinical trials and meta-analyses investigated the comparison between CT and TKI in second-line, but data are conflicting.

Methods: We designed a retrospective trial to gather information about TKI sensitivity in comparison with CT. We selected from clinical records patients treated with at least 1 line of CT and at least 1 line of TKI. We collected data about age, sex, performance status, comorbidity, smoking status, histotype, metastatic sites, EGFR status, treatment schedule, better response and time-to-progression (TTP) for each line of treatment and overall survival (OS).

Results: 93 patients met selection criteria. Mean age 66,7 (range: 46-84). M/F ratio is 3:1. 39 EGFR-WT and 54 EGFR-UK. All patients received erlotinib or gefitinib as second-line treatment or erlotinib as third-line treatment. No TTP differences were observed for both second-line (HR:0,91; p = 0,6333) and third-line (HR:1.1; p = 0,6951) treatment (TKI vs CT). A trend of a benefit in OS in favor of 3rd-line TKI (HR:0,68; p = 0,11).

Conclusions: This study explores the role of TKIs in EGFR non-mutated NSCLC patients. OS analysis highlights a trend to a benefit in patients who received TKI in third-line, even if this result is statistically non-significant. Further analysis are needed to find an explanation for this observation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8130DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5094963PMC
June 2016

Organ sparing and clinical outcome with step-and-shoot IMRT for head and neck cancer: a mono-institutional experience.

Radiol Med 2015 Aug 7;120(8):753-8. Epub 2015 Feb 7.

Radiation Oncology School, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy,

Purpose: Intensity-modulated radiotherapy has been suggested as the technique of choice for locally advanced head and neck cancer patients. In the last decade, most radiotherapy departments have focused their efforts in programs to implement this technique. We report our experience for parotid gland and constrictor muscle sparing with intensity-modulated radiotherapy in head and neck cancer using a step-and-shoot technique.

Methods: Thirty-four consecutive patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the nasopharynx, oropharynx and larynx treated between June 2008 and June 2011 were retrospectively evaluated. A simultaneous integrated boost was adopted to treat different volumes in 30 fractions over 6 weeks. Priority as organs at risk was given to the parotid glands as well as the constrictor muscle of the pharynx in 53 % (n = 18). Dysphagia and xerostomia were evaluated according to RTOG/EORTC scale at 6, 12 and 24 months. Outcomes were analysed using Kaplan-Meier curves.

Results: The median follow-up was 43 months. The 5-year overall survival was 70 %, and local control was 94 %. Grade 2 dysphagia and xerostomia at 6, 12 and 24 months were as follows: 26 % (n = 9), 23 % (n = 8), 23 % (n = 8) and 21 % (n = 7), 12 % (n = 4), 12 % (n = 4), respectively. No grade 3 or 4 toxicity was found. Ordinal logistic regression analysis demonstrated that hyposalivation was the main predictive factor for late dysphagia.

Conclusion: Excellent loco-regional results were achieved with acceptable acute and late toxicities. The low rate of late dysphagia was related to parotid gland sparing; we did not observe a correlation between late dysphagia and dose to pharyngeal constrictors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11547-015-0512-6DOI Listing
August 2015

Biweekly combination of trastuzumab, docetaxel and gemcitabine for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer: results of a Phase II GOIM study.

Future Oncol 2014 Apr;10(5):725-33

Division of Medical Oncology, Ospedale Antonio Perrino, Brindisi, Italy.

Aims: Clinical activity of chemotherapy plus trastuzumab in HER2 overexpressing advanced breast cancer has been documented. We report the activity and safety results of biweekly combination of trastuzumab, docetaxel and gemcitabine as first-line therapy in HER2-positive advanced breast cancer.

Patients & Methods: Patients were biweekly treated with trastuzumab (4 mg/kg), gemcitabine (1000 mg/m(2)) and docetaxel (50 mg/m(2)). The primary end point was overall response rate, secondary time to progression, clinical benefit rate (partial response plus complete response plus stable disease for ≥ 24 weeks) and tolerability.

Results: A total of 65 patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer have been enrolled. In total, 47 patients responded (73%; 95% CI, 60-84), 11 achieved complete response (17%; 95% CI: 8.9-28.7), 36 achieved partial response (56%; 95% CI: 43-68.6). The clinical benefit rate was 87.5% (95% CI: 77-94). Three patients (4.7%) experienced progressive disease. The median time to progression was 14.2 months (95% CI: 10.6-17.8), the median overall survival was 39.3 months and the 36-month survival rate was 55.5% (95% CI: 58-73). The worst toxicities were grade 3 neutropenia (12%), thrombocytopenia (6%) and diarrhea (6%). No cardiac toxicity was reported.

Conclusion: As first-line therapy, this combination allowed the delivery of polychemotherapy in association to targeted therapy, with clinical activity and mild toxicity. The promising results should be further explored in Phase III randomized clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/fon.13.186DOI Listing
April 2014

Paclitaxel and epidoxorubicin or doxorubicin versus cyclophosphamide and epidoxorubicin as first-line chemotherapy for metastatic breast carcinoma: a randomised phase II study.

Anticancer Res 2003 Jan-Feb;23(1B):765-71

University of Palermo, Medical Oncology Unit, La Maddalena Clinic for Cancer, Palermo, Italy.

Fifty-eight patients with metastatic breast cancer were randomly treated with a combination of cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m2 on days 1 and 2 plus epidoxorubicin 90 mg/m2 on day 1 every 3 weeks (group A = 18 patients), or paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 cycle plus doxorubicin 50 mg/m2/cycle every 3 weeks (group B = 20 patients), or paclitaxel as above plus epidoxorubicin 90 mg/m2/cycle every 21 days (group C = 20 patients). The trial was designed as a randomized, multi-institutional phase II study where the cyclophosphamide/epidoxorubicin regimen represented the calibration arm. The overall response rate was 50% (95% CL 26-74%) for arm A, 65% (95% CL 41-85%) for arm B and 70% (95% CL 46-88%) for arm C. The complete response rate was 6% for arm A, 10% for arm B and 15% for arm C. Although this trial was non comparative, the median duration of response and median overall survival were almost superimposable in all arms. The taxane-based regimens were associated with significant neurotoxicity in nearly 20% of cases, while febrile neutropenia represented the most severe side-effect. Our data suggest that the anthracycline/taxane combinations are more effective than the epidoxorubicin/cyclophosphamide regimen, at least in terms of objective response rates. These regimens may represent the treatment of choice when oncologists are faced with aggressive visceral metastatic breast cancer in non elderly women.
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April 2003
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