Publications by authors named "Rita Chiari"

126 Publications

Clinical profile and mortality of Sars-Cov-2 infection in cancer patients across two pandemic time periods (Feb 2020-Sep 2020; Sep 2020-May 2021) in the Veneto Oncology Network: The ROVID study.

Eur J Cancer 2022 May 18;167:81-91. Epub 2022 Mar 18.

Oncology 2, Veneto Institute of Oncology IOV-IRCCS, Padova, Italy; Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology, University of Padova, Italy.

Introduction: We analyzed a cohort of patients with cancer and Sars-Cov-2 infection from the Veneto Oncology Network registry across two pandemic time periods.

Materials And Methods: 761 patients with cancer and SARS-CoV-2 infection were included.

Results: 198 patients were diagnosed during the first pandemic time period (TP1; February 2020 September 2020), 494 during TP2 before the vaccination campaign (TP2/pre-vaccination; September 2020-21 February 2021) and 69 in TP2/post-vaccination (22 February 2021-15 May 2021). TP2 vs TP1 patients were younger (p = 0.004), showed more frequently a good performance status (p < 0.001) and <2 comorbidities (p = 0.002), were more likely to be on active anticancer therapy (p = 0.006). Significantly fewer patients in TP2 (3-4%) vs TP1 (22%) had an in-hospital potential source of infection (p < 0.001). TP2 patients were more frequently asymptomatic (p = 0.003). Significantly fewer patients from TP2 were hospitalized (p < 0.001) or admitted to intensive care unit (p = 0.006). All-cause mortality decreased from 30.3% in TP1, to 8.9% and 8.7% in the two TP2 periods (p < 0.001), reflected by a significant reduction in Sars-Cov-2-related mortality (15.2%, 7.5% and 5.8% in the three consecutive time periods, p = 0.004).

Conclusions: Differences in clinical characteristics and features of Sars-Cov-2 infection between TP1 and TP2 reflect the effects of protective measures and increased testing capacity. The lower mortality in TP2 is in line with a less frail population. However, the vast majority of death events in TP2 were related to COVID-19, reinforcing the priority to protect cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2022.03.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8930432PMC
May 2022

Challenges in the management of advanced NSCLC among Italian oncologists: a 2019 national survey unfolds regional disparities.

Tumori 2022 Feb 4:3008916211069412. Epub 2022 Feb 4.

Medical Oncology, Ospedali Riuniti Padova Sud, AULSS6 Euganea,Padova, Italy.

Background: Molecular testing is crucial for the implementation of personalized therapy in patients with lung cancer. Whether routine biomarker testing and access to personalized therapies are limited in some Italian regions is unclear.

Patients And Methods: We conducted a national cross-sectional survey between April and June 2019 among Italian oncologists to determine differences in biomarker testing and access to personalized therapies for lung cancer.

Results: Based on GIMBE report n. 3/2018, 32 respondents (37.6%) were defined as belonging to budget deficit regions (BDRs) while 53 (62.4%) were from balanced/positive budget regions (BPRs). Diagnostic assays for EGFR/ALK/ROS1 and PD-L1 were reported to be available in 47/53 (88.7%) and 22/32 (68.85%) centers from BPRs and BDRs, respectively (p=0.04).Liquid biopsy accessibility was wider in BPRs than in BDRs (75.5% (40/53) vs. 50% (16/32), respectively; p=0.03). 84/85 (98.8%) oncologists reported that ⩾75% of eligible patients received first-line targeted therapies. Reason for not administering first-line targeted therapies was defined as clinically-unrelated (molecular testing not available or incomplete, pharmacoeconomic issues) by 25/42 (59.5%) of respondents from BPRs and 21/26 (80.6%) from BDRs (p=0.12). Reason for not administering first-line pembrolizumab was defined as clinically-unrelated by 8/43 (18.6%) of respondents from BPRs and 10/22 (45.4%) from BDRs (p=0.039).

Conclusion: Disparities in access to diagnostic assay and first line immunotherapy exist between BPRs and BDRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/03008916211069412DOI Listing
February 2022

ASCEND-7: Efficacy and Safety of Ceritinib Treatment in Patients With -Positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Metastatic to the Brain and/or Leptomeninges.

Clin Cancer Res 2022 Jan 28. Epub 2022 Jan 28.

Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital.

Purpose: Central nervous system (CNS) metastases are a prominent cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with -positive (+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The phase 2 ASCEND-7 (NCT02336451) study was specifically designed to assess the efficacy and safety of ALK inhibitor (ALKi) ceritinib in patients with + NSCLC metastatic to the brain and/or leptomeninges.

Experimental Design: Patients with active brain metastases were allocated to study arms 1-4 based on prior exposure to an ALKi and/or prior brain radiation (arm 1: prior radiotherapy/ALKi-pretreated; arm 2: no radiotherapy/ALKi-pretreated; arm 3: prior radiotherapy/ALKi-naive; arm 4: no radiotherapy/ALKi-naive). Arm 5 included patients with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. Patients received ceritinib 750 mg once daily (fasted condition). Primary endpoint was investigator-assessed whole-body overall response rate (ORR) per RECIST v1.1. Secondary endpoints included disease control rate (DCR) and intracranial/extracranial responses.

Results: Per investigator assessment, in arms 1 (n=42), 2 (n=40), 3 (n=12), and 4 (n=44), respectively: whole-body ORRs (95% CI) were 35.7% (21.6-52.0), 30.0% (16.6-46.5), 50.0% (21.1-78.9), and 59.1% (43.2-73.7); whole-body DCR (95% CI): 66.7% (50.5-80.4), 82.5% (67.2-92.7), 66.7% (34.9-90.1), and 70.5% (54.8-83.2); intracranial ORRs (95% CI): 39.3% (21.5-59.4), 27.6% (12.7-47.2), 28.6% (3.7-71.0), and 51.5% (33.5-69.2). In arm 5 (n=18), whole-body ORR was 16.7% (95% CI, 3.6-41.4) and DCR was 66.7% (95% CI, 41.0-86.7). Paired cerebrospinal fluid and plasma sampling revealed that ceritinib penetrated the human blood-brain barrier.

Conclusions: Ceritinib showed antitumor activity in patients with NSCLC with active brain metastases and/or leptomeningeal disease, and could be considered in the management of intracranial disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-1838DOI Listing
January 2022

High familial burden of cancer correlates with improved outcome from immunotherapy in patients with NSCLC independent of somatic DNA damage response gene status.

J Hematol Oncol 2022 01 21;15(1). Epub 2022 Jan 21.

Medical Oncology, ASST-Sette Laghi, Varese, Italy.

Family history of cancer (FHC) is a hallmark of cancer risk and an independent predictor of outcome, albeit with uncertain biologic foundations. We previously showed that FHC-high patients experienced prolonged overall (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) following PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors. To validate our findings in patients with NSCLC, we evaluated two multicenter cohorts of patients with metastatic NSCLC receiving either first-line pembrolizumab or chemotherapy. From each cohort, 607 patients were randomly case-control matched accounting for FHC, age, performance status, and disease burden. Compared to FHC-low/negative, FHC-high patients experienced longer OS (HR 0.67 [95% CI 0.46-0.95], p = 0.0281), PFS (HR 0.65 [95% CI 0.48-0.89]; p = 0.0074) and higher disease control rates (DCR, 86.4% vs 67.5%, p = 0.0096), within the pembrolizumab cohort. No significant associations were found between FHC and OS/PFS/DCR within the chemotherapy cohort. We explored the association between FHC and somatic DNA damage response (DDR) gene alterations as underlying mechanism to our findings in a parallel cohort of 118 NSCLC, 16.9% of whom were FHC-high. The prevalence of ≥ 1 somatic DDR gene mutation was 20% and 24.5% (p = 0.6684) in FHC-high vs. FHC-low/negative, with no differences in tumor mutational burden (6.0 vs. 7.6 Mut/Mb, p = 0.6018) and tumor cell PD-L1 expression. FHC-high status identifies NSCLC patients with improved outcomes from pembrolizumab but not chemotherapy, independent of somatic DDR gene status. Prospective studies evaluating FHC alongside germline genetic testing are warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13045-022-01226-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8780322PMC
January 2022

Host immune-inflammatory markers to unravel the heterogeneous outcome and assessment of patients with PD-L1 ≥50% metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and poor performance status receiving first-line immunotherapy.

Thorac Cancer 2022 02 22;13(3):483-488. Epub 2021 Dec 22.

Medical Oncology, St. Salvatore Hospital, L'Aquila, Italy.

Background: Patients with programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) ≥50% metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (mNSCLC) and ECOG performance status (PS) of 2 treated with first-line immunotherapy have heterogeneous clinical assessment and outcomes.

Methods: To explore the role of immune-inflammatory surrogates by the validated lung immuno-oncology prognostic score (LIPS) score, including the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and the pretreatment use of steroids, alongside other prognostic variables. A retrospective analysis of 128 patients with PS2 and PD-L1 ≥50% mNSCLC treated between April 2018 and September 2019 with first-line pembrolizumab in a real-world setting was performed.

Results: With a median follow-up of 15.3 months, the 1-year overall survival (OS) and median progression-free survival (PFS) were 32.3% (95% CI: 30.9-33.9) and 3.3 months (95% CI: 1.8-4.7), respectively. The NLR, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and pretreatment steroids results were the only significant prognostic factors on the univariate analysis and independent prognostic factors by the multivariate analysis on both OS and PFS. The LIPS score, including the NLR and pretreatment steroids, identified 29 (23%) favourable-risk patients, with 0 factors, 1-year OS of 67.6% and median PFS of 8.2 months; 57 (45%) intermediate-risk patients, with 1 factor, 1-year OS 32.1% and median PFS 2.7 months; 42 (33%) poor-risk patients, with both factors, 1-year OS of 10.7% and median PFS of 1.2 months.

Conclusions: The assessment of pre-existing imbalance of the host immune response by combined blood and clinical immune-inflammatory markers may represent a way to unravel the heterogeneous outcome and assessment of patients with mNSCLC and poor PS in the immune-oncology setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1759-7714.14256DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8807213PMC
February 2022

The challenge of the Molecular Tumor Board empowerment in clinical oncology practice: A Position Paper on behalf of the AIOM- SIAPEC/IAP-SIBioC-SIC-SIF-SIGU-SIRM Italian Scientific Societies.

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2022 Jan 8;169:103567. Epub 2021 Dec 8.

Department of Oncology, Humanitas Gavazzeni, Bergamo, Italy.

The development of innovative technologies and the advances in the genetics and genomics, have offered new opportunities for personalized treatment in oncology. Although the selection of the patient based on the molecular characteristics of the neoplasm has the potential to revolutionize the therapeutic scenario of oncology, this approach is extremely challenging. The access, homogeneity, and economic sustainability of the required genomic tests should be warranted in the clinical practice, as well as the specific scientific and clinical expertise for the choice of medical therapies. All these elements make essential the collaboration of different specialists within the Molecular Tumor Boards (MTBs). In this position paper, based on experts' opinion, the AIOM-SIAPEC/IAP-SIBioC-SIC-SIF-SIGU-SIRM Italian Scientific Societies critically discuss the available molecular profiling technologies, the proposed criteria for the selection of patients candidate for evaluation by the MTB, the criteria for the selection and analysis of biological samples, and the regulatory and pharmaco-economic issues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.critrevonc.2021.103567DOI Listing
January 2022

Efficacy and Safety of Rociletinib Versus Chemotherapy in Patients With -Mutated NSCLC: The Results of TIGER-3, a Phase 3 Randomized Study.

JTO Clin Res Rep 2021 Feb 26;2(2):100114. Epub 2020 Oct 26.

Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

Introduction: The TIGER-3 (NCT02322281) study was initiated to compare the efficacy and safety of rociletinib, a third-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that targets T790M and common -activating mutations, versus chemotherapy in patients with NSCLC who progressed on first- or second-generation EGFR TKIs.

Methods: Patients with advanced or metastatic -mutated NSCLC with disease progression on standard therapy (previous EGFR TKI and platinum-based chemotherapy) were randomized to oral rociletinib (500 or 625 mg twice daily) or single-agent chemotherapy (pemetrexed, gemcitabine, docetaxel, or paclitaxel).

Results: Enrollment was halted when rociletinib development was discontinued in 2016. Of 149 enrolled patients, 75 were randomized to rociletinib (n = 53: 500 mg twice daily; n = 22: 625 mg twice daily) and 74 to chemotherapy. The median investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS) was 4.1 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.6-5.4) in the rociletinib 500-mg group and 5.5 months (95% CI: 1.8-8.1) in the 625-mg group versus 2.5 months (95% CI: 1.4-2.9) in the chemotherapy group. An improved PFS was observed in patients with T790M-positive NSCLC treated with rociletinib (n = 25; 500 mg and 625 mg twice daily) versus chemotherapy (n = 20; 6.8 versus 2.7 mo; hazard ratio = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.28-1.07,  = 0.074). Grade 3 or higher hyperglycemia (24.0%), corrected QT prolongation (6.7%), diarrhea (2.7%), and vomiting (1.3%) were more frequent with rociletinib than chemotherapy (0%, 0%, 1.4%, and 0%, respectively).

Conclusions: Rociletinib had a more favorable median PFS versus chemotherapy but had higher rates of hyperglycemia and corrected QT prolongation in patients with advanced -mutated NSCLC who progressed on previous EGFR TKI. Incomplete enrollment prevented evaluation of the primary efficacy end point.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtocrr.2020.100114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8474221PMC
February 2021

Clinical outcomes of NSCLC patients experiencing early immune-related adverse events to PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors leading to treatment discontinuation.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2022 Apr 31;71(4):865-874. Epub 2021 Aug 31.

Medical Oncology, ASST-Sette Laghi, Varese, Italy.

Background: The prognostic relevance of early immune-related adverse events (irAEs) in patients affected by non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) upon immunotherapy is not fully understood.

Methods: The Leading to Treatment Discontinuation cohort included 24 patients experiencing severe irAEs after one of two administrations of single anti-PD-1/PD-L1 in any line setting for metastatic NSCLC between November 2015 and June 2019. The control cohort was composed of 526 patients treated with single anti-PD-1/PD-L1 in any line setting with no severe irAE reported. The primary end points were median progression-free survival, overall survival, objective response rate, risk of progression of disease and risk of death. The correlation of clinic pathological features with early severe irAEs represented the secondary end point.

Results: Median PFS was 9.3 and 8.4 months, median OS was 12.0 months and 14.2 months at a median follow-up of 18.1 and 22.6 months in the LTD cohort and in the control cohort, respectively. The ORR was 40% (95% CI 17.2-78.8) in the LTD cohort and 32.7% (95% CI 27.8-38.2) in the control cohort. The risk of disease progression was higher in the LTD cohort (HR 2.52 [95% 1.10-5.78], P = .0288).

Conclusions: We found no survival benefit in LTD cohort compared to the control cohort. However, early and severe irAEs might underly an immune anti-tumor activation. We identified a significant association with first-line immune checkpoints inhibitors treatment and good PS. Further studies on risk prediction and management of serious and early irAEs in NSCLC patients are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-021-03045-9DOI Listing
April 2022

First-Line Osimertinib in Patients with EGFR-Mutant Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Outcome and Safety in the Real World: FLOWER Study.

Oncologist 2021 Aug 23. Epub 2021 Aug 23.

Department of Surgery, Oncology, and Gastroenterology, University of Padova, Padova.

Lessons Learned: Osimertinib has confirmed effectiveness in this real-world population of patients with EGFR-mutant advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Thromboembolic events occur more frequently than previously reported, suggesting a thrombotic diathesis that requires further investigation. Patients with at least three metastatic sites, brain metastases, and symptoms at diagnosis seem to have a worse prognosis.

Background: Osimertinib became the standard treatment for patients with untreated EGFR-mutant advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) following results reported in the phase III randomized FLAURA trial. Because of strict exclusion criteria, patient populations included in pivotal trials are only partially representative of real-world patients.

Methods: We designed an observational, prospective, multicenter study enrolling patients with EGFR-mutant aNSCLC receiving first-line osimertinib to evaluate effectiveness, safety, and progression patterns in the real-world.

Results: At data cutoff, 126 White patients from nine oncology centers were included. At diagnosis, 16 patients (12.7%) had a performance status (PS) ≥2 and 38 (30.2%) had brain metastases. Overall response rate (ORR) was 73%, disease control rate (DCR) 96.0%. After a median follow-up of 12.3 months, median time to treatment discontinuation (mTTD) was 25.3 months, median progression-free-survival (mPFS) was 18.9 months and median overall survival (mOS) was not reached (NR). One hundred and ten patients (87%) experienced adverse events (AEs), 42 (33%) of grade 3-4, with venous thromboembolism (VTE) as the most common (n = 10, 7.9%). No difference in rates of VTE was reported according to age, PS, comorbidity, and tumor load. We observed longer mTTD in patients without symptoms (NR vs. 18.8 months) and with fewer than three metastatic sites at diagnosis (NR vs. 21.4 months). Patients without brain metastases experienced longer mPFS (NR vs. 13.3 months). No difference in survival outcome was observed according to age, comorbidity, and type of EGFR mutation. Isolated progression and progression in fewer than three sites were associated with longer time to treatment discontinuation (TTD).

Conclusion: Osimertinib confirmed effectiveness and safety in the real world, although thromboembolism was more frequent than previously reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13951DOI Listing
August 2021

The tumor-agnostic treatment for patients with solid tumors: a position paper on behalf of the AIOM- SIAPEC/IAP-SIBioC-SIF Italian Scientific Societies.

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2021 Sep 8;165:103436. Epub 2021 Aug 8.

Department of Oncology, Humanitas Gavazzeni, Bergamo, Italy.

The personalized medicine is in a rapidly evolving scenario. The identification of actionable mutations is revolutionizing the therapeutic landscape of tumors. The morphological and histological tumor features are enriched by the extensive genomic profiling, and the first tumor-agnostic drugs have been approved regardless of tumor histology, guided by predictive and druggable genetic alterations. This new paradigm of "mutational oncology", presents a great potential to change the oncologic therapeutic scenario, but also some critical aspects need to be underlined. A process governance is mandatory to ensure the genomic testing accuracy and homogeneity, the economic sustainability, and the regulatory issues, ultimately granting the possibility of translating this model in the "real world". In this position paper, based on experts' opinion, the AIOM-SIAPEC-IAP-SIBIOC-SIF Italian Scientific Societies revised the new agnostic biomarkers, the diagnostic technologies available, the current availability of agnostic drugs and their present indication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.critrevonc.2021.103436DOI Listing
September 2021

Higher TLR7 Gene Expression Predicts Poor Clinical Outcome in Advanced NSCLC Patients Treated with Immunotherapy.

Genes (Basel) 2021 06 29;12(7). Epub 2021 Jun 29.

Medical Oncology Division, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Piazzale Menghini 8/9, 06132 Perugia, PG, Italy.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized the treatment of lung cancer. However, their clinical benefit is limited to a minority of patients. To unravel immune-related factors that are predictive of sensitivity or resistance to immunotherapy, we performed a gene expression analysis by RNA-Seq using the Oncomine Immuno Response Assay (OIRRA) on a total of 33 advanced NSCLC patients treated with ICI evaluating the expression levels of 365 immune-related genes. We found four genes (CD1C, HLA-DPA1, MMP2, and TLR7) downregulated ( < 0.05) and two genes (IFNB1 and MKI67) upregulated ( < 0.05) in ICI-Responders compared to ICI-Non-Responders. The Bayesian enrichment computational analysis showed a more complex interaction network that involved 10 other genes (IFNA1, TLR4, CD40, TLR2, IL12A, IL12B, TLR9, CD1E, IFNG, and HLA-DPB1) correlated with different functional groups. Five main pathways were identified (FDR < 0.0001). High TLR7 expression levels were significantly associated with a lack of response to immunotherapy ( < 0.0001) and worse outcome in terms of both PFS ( < 0.001) and OS ( = 0.03). The multivariate analysis confirmed TLR7 RNA expression as an independent predictor for both poor PFS (HR = 2.97, 95% CI, 1.16-7.6, = 0.023) and OS (HR = 2.2, 95% CI, 1-5.08, = 0.049). In conclusion, a high TLR7 gene expression level was identified as an independent predictor for poor clinical benefits from ICI. These data could have important implications for the development of novel single/combinatorial strategies TLR-mediated for an efficient selection of "individualized" treatments for NSCLC in the era of immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes12070992DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8303258PMC
June 2021

PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors during late stages of life: an ad-hoc analysis from a large multicenter cohort.

J Transl Med 2021 06 24;19(1):270. Epub 2021 Jun 24.

Division of Medical Oncology, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy.

Background: The favourable safety profile and the increasing confidence with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) might have boosted their prescription in frail patients with short life expectancies, who usually are not treated with standard chemotherapy.

Methods: The present analysis aims to describe clinicians' attitudes towards ICIs administration during late stages of life within a multicenter cohort of advanced cancer patients treated with single agent PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in Italy.

Results: Overall, 1149 patients with advanced cancer who received single agent PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors were screened. The final study population consisted of 567 deceased patients. 166 patients (29.3%) had received ICIs within 30 days of death; among them there was a significantly higher proportion of patients with ECOG-PS ≥ 2 (28.3% vs 11.5%, p < 0.0001) and with a higher burden of disease (69.3% vs 59.4%, p = 0.0266). In total, 35 patients (6.2%) started ICIs within 30 days of death; among them there was a higher proportion of patients with ECOG-PS ≥ 2 (45.7% vs 14.5%, p < 0.0001) and with a higher burden of disease (82.9% vs 60.9%, p = 0.0266). Primary tumors were significantly different across subgroups (p = 0.0172), with a higher prevalence of NSCLC patients (80% vs 60.9%) among those who started ICIs within 30 days of death. Lastly, 123 patients (21.7%) started ICIs within 3 months of death. Similarly, within this subgroup there was a higher proportion of patients with ECOG-PS ≥ 2 (29.3% vs 12.8%, p < 0.0001), with a higher burden of disease (74.0% vs 59.0%, p = 0.0025) and with NSCLC (74.0% vs 58.8%, p = 0.0236).

Conclusion: Our results confirmed a trend toward an increasing ICIs prescription in frail patients, during the late stages of life. Caution should be exercised when evaluating an ICI treatment for patients with a poor PS and a high burden of disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-021-02937-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8223272PMC
June 2021

Dexamethasone-Sparing Regimens with Oral Netupitant and Palonosetron for the Prevention of Emesis Caused by High-Dose Cisplatin: A Randomized Noninferiority Study.

Oncologist 2021 10 18;26(10):e1854-e1861. Epub 2021 Jun 18.

Medical Oncology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.

Background: To reduce the overall exposure to dexamethasone (DEX) in patients receiving cisplatin-based chemotherapy, we evaluated the noninferiority of DEX on day 1, with or without low-dose DEX on days 2 and 3, combined with an oral fixed-dose combination of netupitant and palonosetron (NEPA), compared with the guideline-consistent use of 4-day DEX.

Patients And Methods: In this open-label, multicenter study, chemotherapy-naïve patients undergoing high-dose cisplatin (≥70 mg/m ), were given NEPA and DEX (12 mg) on day 1 and randomized (1:1:1 ratio) to receive either (a) no further DEX (DEX1), (b) oral DEX (4 mg daily) on days 2-3 (DEX3), or (c) DEX (4 mg twice daily) on days 2-4 (DEX4). The primary efficacy endpoint was complete response (CR: no emesis and no rescue medication) during the 5-day overall phase. The noninferiority margin was set at -15% difference (DEX1 or DEX3 minus DEX4). Secondary efficacy endpoints included complete protection (CP: CR and none or mild nausea).

Results: Two-hundred twenty-eight patients, 76 in each arm, were assessable. Noninferiority was met for both DEX-sparing regimens and the reference arm, with overall phase CR rates of 76.3% in each of the DEX1 and DEX3 arms and 75.0% in the DEX4 arm (95% confidence interval, -12.3% to 15% for each comparison). During the overall phase, CP rates were similar between groups.

Conclusion: A simplified regimen of NEPA plus single-dose DEX offers comparable chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting prevention throughout 5 days post-chemotherapy with the advantage of sparing patients additional doses of DEX in the high-emetic-risk setting of cisplatin-based chemotherapy.

Implications For Practice: Dexamethasone (DEX) has traditionally played an integral role in the management of chemotherapy-induced emesis. Although generally considered safe, even short-term DEX use is associated with various side effects, and some evidence suggests that concurrent steroids may reduce the efficacy of immunotherapies. This study demonstrates comparable antiemetic control during the 5 days post-chemotherapy with a simplified regimen of netupitant/palonosetron plus single-dose DEX versus the standard 4-day DEX reference treatment in high-dose cisplatin. This represents a clinically relevant achievement as it not only simplifies antiemetic prophylaxis but also offers an opportunity to appropriately use in patients where caution with corticosteroid use is advised.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13851DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8488764PMC
October 2021

Sequential chemo-hypofractionated RT versus concurrent standard CRT for locally advanced NSCLC: GRADE recommendation by the Italian Association of Radiotherapy and Clinical Oncology (AIRO).

Radiol Med 2021 Aug 5;126(8):1117-1128. Epub 2021 May 5.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Policlinico S. Gerardo and University of Milan "Bicocca", Milan, Italy.

Introduction: Almost 30% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients have locally advanced-stage disease. In this setting, definitive radiotherapy concurrent to chemotherapy plus adjuvant immunotherapy (cCRT + IO) is the standard of care, although only 40% of these patients are eligible for this approach.

Aims: A comparison between cCRT and hypofractionated radiotherapy regimens (hypo-fx RT) with the addition of sequential chemotherapy (sCHT) could be useful for future combinations with immunotherapy. We developed a recommendation about the clinical question of whether CHT and moderately hypo-fx RT are comparable to cCRT for locally advanced NSCLC MATERIALS AND METHODS: The panel used GRADE methodology and the Evidence to Decision (EtD) framework. After a systematic literature search, five studies were eligible. We identified the following outcomes: progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), freedom from locoregional recurrence (FFLR), deterioration of quality of life (QoL), treatment-related deaths, severe G3-G4 toxicity, late pulmonary toxicity G3-G4, and acute esophageal toxicity G3-G4.

Results: The probability of OS and G3-G4 late lung toxicity seems to be worse in patients submitted to sCHT and hypo-fx RT. The panel judged unfavorable the balance benefits/harms.

Conclusions: The final recommendation was that sCHT followed by moderately hypo-fx RT should not be considered as an alternative to cCRT in unresectable stage III NSCLC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11547-021-01362-8DOI Listing
August 2021

Predictive ability of a drug-based score in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer receiving first-line immunotherapy.

Eur J Cancer 2021 06 3;150:224-231. Epub 2021 May 3.

Medical Oncology, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy.

Background: We previously demonstrated the cumulative poor prognostic role of concomitant medications on the clinical outcome of patients with advanced cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors, creating and validating a drug-based prognostic score to be calculated before immunotherapy initiation in patients with advanced solid tumours. This 'drug score' was calculated assigning score 1 for each between proton-pump inhibitor and antibiotic administration until a month before cancer therapy initiation and score 2 in case of corticosteroid intake. The good risk group included patients with score 0, intermediate risk with score 1-2 and poor risk with score 3-4.

Methods: Aiming at validating the prognostic and putative predictive ability depending on the anticancer therapy, we performed the present comparative analysis in two cohorts of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), respectively, receiving first-line pembrolizumab or chemotherapy through a random case-control matching and through a pooled multivariable analysis including the interaction between the computed score and the therapeutic modality (pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy).

Results: Nine hundred fifty and 595 patients were included in the pembrolizumab and chemotherapy cohorts, respectively. After the case-control random matching, 589 patients from the pembrolizumab cohort and 589 from the chemotherapy cohort were paired, with no statistically significant differences between the characteristics of the matched subjects. Among the pembrolizumab-treated group, good, intermediate and poor risk evaluable patients achieved an objective response rate (ORR) of 50.0%, 37.7% and 23.4%, respectively, (p < 0.0001), whereas among the chemotherapy-treated group, patients achieved an ORR of 37.0%, 40.0% and 32.4%, respectively (p = 0.4346). The median progression-free survival (PFS) of good, intermediate and poor risk groups was 13.9 months, 6.3 months and 2.8 months, respectively, within the pembrolizumab cohort (p < 0.0001), and 6.2 months, 6.2 months and 4.3 months, respectively, within the chemotherapy cohort (p = 0.0280). Among the pembrolizumab-treated patients, the median overall survival (OS) for good, intermediate and poor risk patients was 31.4 months, 14.5 months and 5.8 months, respectively, (p < 0.0001), whereas among the chemotherapy-treated patients, it was 18.3 months, 16.8 months and 10.6 months, respectively (p = 0.0003). A similar trend was reported considering the two entire populations. At the pooled analysis, the interaction term between the score and the therapeutic modality was statistically significant with respect to ORR (p = 0.0052), PFS (p = 0.0003) and OS (p < 0.0001), confirming the significantly different effect of the score within the two cohorts.

Conclusion: Our 'drug score' showed a predictive ability with respect to ORR in the immunotherapy cohort only, suggesting it might be a useful tool for identifying patients unlikely to benefit from first-line single-agent pembrolizumab. In addition, the prognostic stratification in terms of PFS and OS was significantly more pronounced among the pembrolizumab-treated patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.03.041DOI Listing
June 2021

Kynurenine/Tryptophan Ratio as a Potential Blood-Based Biomarker in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Apr 22;22(9). Epub 2021 Apr 22.

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Perugia, 06129 Perugia, Italy.

The enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) degrade tryptophan (Trp) into kynurenine (Kyn) at the initial step of an enzymatic pathway affecting T cell proliferation. IDO1 is highly expressed in various cancer types and associated with poor prognosis. Nevertheless, the serum Kyn/Trp concentration ratio has been suggested as a marker of cancer-associated immune suppression. We measured Kyn and Trp in blood samples of a wide cohort of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, before they underwent surgery, and analyzed possible correlations of the Kyn/Trp ratio with either IDO1 expression or clinical-pathological parameters. Low Kyn/Trp significantly correlated with low IDO1 expression and never-smoker patients; while high Kyn/Trp was significantly associated with older (≥68 years) patients, advanced tumor stage, and squamous cell carcinoma (Sqcc), rather than the adenocarcinoma (Adc) histotype. Moreover, high Kyn/Trp was associated, among the Adc group, with higher tumor stages (II and III), and, among the Sqcc group, with a high density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. A trend correlating the high Kyn/Trp ratio with the probability of recurrences from NSCLC was also found. In conclusion, high serum Kyn/Trp ratio, associated with clinical and histopathological parameters, may serve as a serum biomarker to optimize risk stratification and therapy of NSCLC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094403DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8122814PMC
April 2021

Differential influence of antibiotic therapy and other medications on oncological outcomes of patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with first-line pembrolizumab versus cytotoxic chemotherapy.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 04;9(4)

Pneumo-Oncology Unit, Ospedali dei Colli Monaldi Cotugno CTO, Napoli, Italy.

Background: Some concomitant medications including antibiotics (ATB) have been reproducibly associated with worse survival following immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in unselected patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (according to programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression and treatment line). Whether such relationship is causative or associative is matter of debate.

Methods: We present the outcomes analysis according to concomitant baseline medications (prior to ICI initiation) with putative immune-modulatory effects in a large cohort of patients with metastatic NSCLC with a PD-L1 expression ≥50%, receiving first-line pembrolizumab monotherapy. We also evaluated a control cohort of patients with metastatic NSCLC treated with first-line chemotherapy. The interaction between key medications and therapeutic modality (pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy) was validated in pooled multivariable analyses.

Results: 950 and 595 patients were included in the pembrolizumab and chemotherapy cohorts, respectively. Corticosteroid and proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy but not ATB therapy was associated with poorer performance status at baseline in both the cohorts. No association with clinical outcomes was found according to baseline statin, aspirin, β-blocker and metformin within the pembrolizumab cohort. On the multivariable analysis, ATB emerged as a strong predictor of worse overall survival (OS) (HR=1.42 (95% CI 1.13 to 1.79); p=0.0024), and progression free survival (PFS) (HR=1.29 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.59); p=0.0192) in the pembrolizumab but not in the chemotherapy cohort. Corticosteroids were associated with shorter PFS (HR=1.69 (95% CI 1.42 to 2.03); p<0.0001), and OS (HR=1.93 (95% CI 1.59 to 2.35); p<0.0001) following pembrolizumab, and shorter PFS (HR=1.30 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.56), p=0.0046) and OS (HR=1.58 (95% CI 1.29 to 1.94), p<0.0001), following chemotherapy. PPIs were associated with worse OS (HR=1.49 (95% CI 1.26 to 1.77); p<0.0001) with pembrolizumab and shorter OS (HR=1.12 (95% CI 1.02 to 1.24), p=0.0139), with chemotherapy. At the pooled analysis, there was a statistically significant interaction with treatment (pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy) for corticosteroids (p=0.0020) and PPIs (p=0.0460) with respect to OS, for corticosteroids (p<0.0001), ATB (p=0.0290), and PPIs (p=0.0487) with respect to PFS, and only corticosteroids (p=0.0033) with respect to objective response rate.

Conclusion: In this study, we validate the significant negative impact of ATB on pembrolizumab monotherapy but not chemotherapy outcomes in NSCLC, producing further evidence about their underlying immune-modulatory effect. Even though the magnitude of the impact of corticosteroids and PPIs is significantly different across the cohorts, their effects might be driven by adverse disease features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002421DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8031700PMC
April 2021

Systemic effect of radiotherapy before or after nivolumab in lung cancer: an observational, retrospective, multicenter study.

Tumori 2021 Apr 4:3008916211004733. Epub 2021 Apr 4.

Department of Oncology, San Camillo de Lellis Hospital, Rieti, Italy.

Background: The combination of radiotherapy (RT) and programmed death 1 inhibitors seems to increase antitumor immune responses.

Objective: To assess the outcome and the role of the best combination sequence, i.e. immunotherapy given before, during, and/or after RT, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods: We conducted an observational, retrospective analysis of 95 consecutive patients with advanced NSCLC who received any radiotherapy treatment and nivolumab, as clinically indicated. Median overall survival (OS) and the 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated with the Kaplan-Meier method. Cox model was used to obtain hazard ratio (HR) and associated 95% CI with statistical inference by log-rank statistic.

Results: Median OS was 11.9 months (95% CI, 6.6-17.2). Patients who received radiotherapy during an immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment started more than 60 days before showed a better outcome than patients who started immunotherapy over 60 days after RT ending (HR, 2.90 [1.37-6.12], = 0.005; median OS, 22.4 months vs 8.6 months, = 0.005). Median progression-free survival was 6.3 months (95% CI, 4.6-8.0).

Conclusions: This study shows that combining irradiation with nivolumab for the treatment of advanced NSCLC leads to improved OS. The optimal time window for the combination of RT and immunotherapy seems to play a critical role for therapeutic antitumor response derived by abscopal effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/03008916211004733DOI Listing
April 2021

The Gustave Roussy Immune (GRIm)-Score Variation Is an Early-on-Treatment Biomarker of Outcome in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Patients Treated with First-Line Pembrolizumab.

J Clin Med 2021 Mar 2;10(5). Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Department of Medical Oncology, Università Politecnica delle Marche, AOU Ospedali Riuniti Ancona, 60126 Ancona, Italy.

Background: The Gustave Roussy Immune (GRIm)-Score takes into account neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR), serum albumin concentration and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and its prognostic value has been investigated in patients treated with immune check-point inhibitors (ICIs). To further assess the prognostic and predictive value of baseline GRIm-Score (GRImT0) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) patients, we separately investigated two cohorts of patients treated with first-line pembrolizumab or chemotherapy. We also investigated whether GRIm-Score at 45 days since treatment initiation (GRImT1) and GRIm-Score difference between the two timepoints may better predict clinical outcomes (GRImΔ = GRImT0 - GRImT1).

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated 222 aNSCLC patients: 135 treated with pembrolizumab and 87 treated with chemotherapy as the first-line regimen. NLR, serum albumin and LDH concentrations were assessed at T0 and at T1. According to the GRIm-Score, patients were assigned 1 point if they had NLR > 6, LDH > upper limit normal or albumin < 3.5 g/dL. Patients with a GRIm-Score < 2 were considered as having a low Score.

Results: In both cohorts, no difference in terms of overall survival (OS) between patients with low and high GRImT0 was found. Otherwise, median OS and progression free survival (PFS) of the low GRImT1 group were significantly longer than those of the high GRImT1 group in pembrolizumab-treated patients, but not in the CHT cohort (pembrolizumab cohort: low vs. high; median OS not reached vs. 9.2 months, = 0.004; median PFS 10.8 vs. 2.3 months, = 0.002). Patients receiving pembrolizumab with stable/positive GRImΔ had better OS (median OS not reached vs. 12.0 months, < 0.001), PFS (median PFS 20.6 vs. 2.6 months, < 0.001) and objective response rate (58.2% vs. 7.6%, = 0.003) compared to patients with negative GRImΔ.

Conclusion: Our data shown that GRImT1 and GRImΔ are more reliable peripheral blood biomarkers of outcome compared to GRImT0 in aNSCLC patients treated with pembrolizumab and might represent useful biomarkers to drive clinical decisions in this setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10051005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7958321PMC
March 2021

Post-progression outcomes of NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥ 50% receiving first-line single-agent pembrolizumab in a large multicentre real-world study.

Eur J Cancer 2021 05 12;148:24-35. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Medical Oncology, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy.

Background: Treatment sequencing with first-line immunotherapy, followed by second-line chemotherapy, is still a viable option for NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥50%.

Methods: We evaluated post-progression treatment pathways in a large real-world cohort of metastatic NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥ 50% treated with first-line pembrolizumab monotherapy.

Results: Overall, 974 patients were included. With a median follow-up of 22.7 months (95%CI: 21.6-38.2), the median overall survival (OS) of the entire population was 15.8 months (95%CI: 13.5-17.5; 548 events). At the data cutoff, among the 678 patients who experienced disease progression, 379 (55.9%) had not received any further treatment, and 359 patients (52.9%) had died. Patients who did not receive post-progression therapies were older (p = 0.0011), with a worse ECOG-PS (p < 0.0001) and were on corticosteroids prior to pembrolizumab (p = 0.0024). At disease progression, 198 patients (29.2%) received a switched approach and 101 (14.9%) received pembrolizumab ByPD either alone (64 [9.4%]) or in combination with local ablative treatments (37 [5.5%]) (LATs). After a random-case control matching according to ECOG-PS, CNS metastases, bone metastases, and (previous) best response to pembrolizumab, patients receiving pembrolizumab ByPD plus LATs were confirmed to have a significantly longer post-progression OS compared to patients receiving pembrolizumab ByPD alone 13.9 months versus 7.8 months (p = 0.0179) 241 patients (35.5%) among the 678 who had experienced PD, received a second-line systemic treatment (regardless of previous treatment beyond PD). As compared to first-line treatment commencement, patients' features at the moment of second-line initiation showed a significantly higher proportion of patients aged under 70 years (p = 0.0244), with a poorer ECOG-PS (p < 0.0001) and having CNS (p = 0.0001), bone (p = 0.0266) and liver metastases (p = 0.0148).

Conclusions: In the real-world scenario NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥50% treated with first-line single-agent pembrolizumab achieve worse outcomes as compared to the Keynote-024 trial. Poor post-progression outcomes are major determinants of the global results that should be considered when counselling patients for first-line treatment choices.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.02.005DOI Listing
May 2021

High PD-L1/IDO-2 and PD-L2/IDO-1 Co-Expression Levels Are Associated with Worse Overall Survival in Resected Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients.

Genes (Basel) 2021 02 15;12(2). Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Medical Oncology Division, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Piazzale Menghini 8/9, 06132 Perugia, Italy.

Programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression is a predictive biomarker of the success of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor therapy for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) but its role as a prognostic marker for early-stage resectable NSCLC remains unclear. We studied gene expression levels of immune-related genes PD-1, PD-L1, PD-L2, IDO-1, IDO-2 and INFγ in tumor tissue of surgically resected NSCLC and correlated the finding with clinicopathological features and patient outcomes. A total of 191 consecutive early-stage NSCLC patients who underwent curative pulmonary resection were studied. The mRNA expression levels of immune-related genes were evaluated by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) using RT Profiler PCR Arrays (Qiagen). PD-1, PD-L2 and IDO-2 gene expression levels were significantly higher in patients with squamous histology ( = 0.001, = 0.021 and < 0.001; respectively). PD-1, PD-L1 and IDO-2 gene expression levels were significantly higher in patients with higher stage ( = 0.005, = 0.048 and = 0.002, respectively). The univariate analysis for recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) showed that patients with higher levels of three-genes (PD-L1/PD-L2/INFγ) (hazard ratio (HR)) 1.90 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.13-3.21), = 0.015) were associated with a worse RFS, while patients with higher levels of both genes (PD-L1/IDO-2) or (PD-L2/IDO-1) were associated with a worse OS (HR 1.63 95% CI, 1.06-2.51, = 0.024; HR 1.54 95% CI, 1.02-2.33, = 0.04; respectively). The multivariate interaction model adjusted for histology and stage confirmed that higher levels of three genes (PD-L1/PD-L2/INFγ) were significantly associated with worse RFS (HR 1.98, = 0.031) and higher levels of both genes (PD-L1/IDO-2) and (PD-L2/IDO-1) with worse OS (HR 1.98, = 0.042, HR 1.92, = 0.022). PD-L1/IDO-2 and PD-L2/IDO-1 co-expression high levels are independent negative prognostic factors for survival in early NSCLC. These features may have important implications for future immune-checkpoint therapeutic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genes12020273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7918978PMC
February 2021

Epidemiology and clinical course of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in cancer patients in the Veneto Oncology Network: The Rete Oncologica Veneta covID19 study.

Eur J Cancer 2021 04 3;147:120-127. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Medical Oncology 2, Istituto Oncologico Veneto IRCCS, Padova, Italy; Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology, University of Padova, Italy. Electronic address:

Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic started in Italy with clusters identified in Northern Italy. The Veneto Oncology Network (Rete Oncologica Veneta) licenced dedicated guidelines to ensure proper care minimising the risk of infection in patients with cancer. Rete Oncologica Veneta covID19 (ROVID) is a regional registry aimed at describing epidemiology and clinical course of Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in patients with cancer.

Materials And Methods: Patients with cancer diagnosis and documented SARS-CoV-2 infection are eligible. Data on cancer diagnosis, comorbidities, anticancer treatments, as well as details on SARS-CoV-2 infection (hospitalisation, treatments, fate of the infection), have been recorded. Logistic regression analysis was applied to calculate the association between clinical/laboratory variables and death from any cause.

Results: One hundred seventy patients have been enrolled. The median age at time of the SARS-CoV infection was 70 years (25-92). The most common cancer type was breast cancer (n = 40). The majority of the patients had stage IV disease. Half of the patients had two or more comorbidities. The majority of the patients (78%) presented with COVID-19 symptoms. More than 77% of the patients were hospitalized and 6% were admitted to intensive care units. Overall, 104 patients have documented resolution of the infection. Fifty-seven patients (33%) have died. In 29 cases (17%), the cause of death was directly correlated to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Factors significantly correlated with the risk of death were the following: Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (PS), age, presence of two or more comorbidities, presence of dyspnoea, COVID-19 phenotype ≥ 3, hospitalisation, intensive care unit admission, neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio and thrombocytopenia.

Conclusions: The mortality rate reported in this confirms the frailty of this population. These data reinforce the need to protect patients with cancer from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2021.01.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7857033PMC
April 2021

Smoking status during first-line immunotherapy and chemotherapy in NSCLC patients: A case-control matched analysis from a large multicenter study.

Thorac Cancer 2021 03 1;12(6):880-889. Epub 2021 Feb 1.

Thoracic Oncology Unit, Clinical Cancer Center IRCCS Istituto Tumori "Giovanni Paolo II", Bari, Italy.

Background: Improved outcome in tobacco smoking patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) following immunotherapy has previously been reported. However, little is known regarding this association during first-line immunotherapy in patients with high PD-L1 expression. In this study we compared clinical outcomes according to the smoking status of two large multicenter cohorts.

Methods: We compared clinical outcomes according to the smoking status (never smokers vs. current/former smokers) of two retrospective multicenter cohorts of metastatic NSCLC patients, treated with first-line pembrolizumab and platinum-based chemotherapy.

Results: A total of 962 NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥50% who received first-line pembrolizumab and 462 NSCLC patients who received first-line platinum-based chemotherapy were included in the study. Never smokers were confirmed to have a significantly higher risk of disease progression (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.49 [95% CI: 1.15-1.92], p = 0.0022) and death (HR = 1.38 [95% CI: 1.02-1.87], p = 0.0348) within the pembrolizumab cohort. On the contrary, a nonsignificant trend towards a reduced risk of disease progression (HR = 0.74 [95% CI: 0.52-1.05], p = 0.1003) and death (HR = 0.67 [95% CI: 0.45-1.01], p = 0.0593) were reported for never smokers within the chemotherapy cohort. After a random case-control matching, 424 patients from both cohorts were paired. Within the matched pembrolizumab cohort, never smokers had a significantly shorter progression-free survival (PFS) (HR = 1.68 [95% CI: 1.17-2.40], p = 0.0045) and a nonsignificant trend towards a shortened overall survival (OS) (HR = 1.32 [95% CI: 0.84-2.07], p = 0.2205). On the contrary, never smokers had a significantly longer PFS (HR = 0.68 [95% CI: 0.49-0.95], p = 0.0255) and OS (HR = 0.66 [95% CI: 0.45-0.97], p = 0,0356) compared to current/former smoker patients within the matched chemotherapy cohort. On pooled multivariable analysis, the interaction term between smoking status and treatment modality was concordantly statistically significant with respect to ORR (p = 0.0074), PFS (p = 0.0001) and OS (p = 0.0020), confirming the significantly different impact of smoking status across the two cohorts.

Conclusions: Among metastatic NSCLC patients with PD-L1 expression ≥50% receiving first-line pembrolizumab, current/former smokers experienced improved PFS and OS. On the contrary, worse outcomes were reported among current/former smokers receiving first-line chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1759-7714.13852DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7952794PMC
March 2021

Five-Year Outcomes From the Randomized, Phase III Trials CheckMate 017 and 057: Nivolumab Versus Docetaxel in Previously Treated Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer.

J Clin Oncol 2021 03 15;39(7):723-733. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD.

Purpose: Immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In two phase III trials (CheckMate 017 and CheckMate 057), nivolumab showed an improvement in overall survival (OS) and favorable safety versus docetaxel in patients with previously treated, advanced squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC, respectively. We report 5-year pooled efficacy and safety from these trials.

Methods: Patients (N = 854; CheckMate 017/057 pooled) with advanced NSCLC, ECOG PS ≤ 1, and progression during or after first-line platinum-based chemotherapy were randomly assigned 1:1 to nivolumab (3 mg/kg once every 2 weeks) or docetaxel (75 mg/m once every 3 weeks) until progression or unacceptable toxicity. The primary end point for both trials was OS; secondary end points included progression-free survival (PFS) and safety. Exploratory landmark analyses were investigated.

Results: After the minimum follow-up of 64.2 and 64.5 months for CheckMate 017 and 057, respectively, 50 nivolumab-treated patients and nine docetaxel-treated patients were alive. Five-year pooled OS rates were 13.4% versus 2.6%, respectively; 5-year PFS rates were 8.0% versus 0%, respectively. Nivolumab-treated patients without disease progression at 2 and 3 years had an 82.0% and 93.0% chance of survival, respectively, and a 59.6% and 78.3% chance of remaining progression-free at 5 years, respectively. Treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) were reported in 8 of 31 (25.8%) nivolumab-treated patients between 3-5 years of follow-up, seven of whom experienced new events; one (3.2%) TRAE was grade 3, and there were no grade 4 TRAEs.

Conclusion: At 5 years, nivolumab continued to demonstrate a survival benefit versus docetaxel, exhibiting a five-fold increase in OS rate, with no new safety signals. These data represent the first report of 5-year outcomes from randomized phase III trials of a programmed death-1 inhibitor in previously treated, advanced NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.20.01605DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8078445PMC
March 2021

Effect of concomitant medications with immune-modulatory properties on the outcomes of patients with advanced cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors: development and validation of a novel prognostic index.

Eur J Cancer 2021 01 16;142:18-28. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Clinical Oncology Unit, S.S. Annunziata Hospital, Chieti, Italy.

Background: Concomitant medications are known to impact on clinical outcomes of patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). We aimed weighing the role of different concomitant baseline medications to create a drug-based prognostic score.

Methods: We evaluated concomitant baseline medications at immunotherapy initiation for their impact on objective response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in a single-institution cohort of patients with advanced cancer treated with ICIs (training cohort, N = 217), and a drug-based prognostic score with the drugs resulting significantly impacting the OS was computed. Secondly, we externally validated the score in a large multicenter external cohort (n = 1012).

Results: In the training cohort (n = 217), the median age was 69 years (range: 32-89), and the primary tumours were non-small-cell lung cancer (70%), melanoma (14.7%), renal cell carcinoma (9.2%) and others (6%). Among baseline medications, corticosteroids (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.60-3.30), systemic antibiotics (HR = 2.07; 95% CI: 1.31-3.25) and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) (HR = 1.57; 95% CI: 1.13-2.18) were significantly associated with OS. The prognostic score was calculated using these three drug classes, defining good, intermediate and poor prognosis patients. Within the training cohort, OS (p < 0.0001), PFS (p < 0.0001) and ORR (p = 0.0297) were significantly distinguished by the score stratification. The prognostic value of the score was also demonstrated in terms of OS (p < 0.0001), PFS (p < 0.0001) and ORR (p = 0.0006) within the external cohort.

Conclusion: Cumulative exposure to corticosteroids, antibiotics and PPIs (three likely microbiota-modulating drugs) leads to progressively worse outcomes after ICI therapy. We propose a simple score that can help stratifying patients in routine practice and clinical trials of ICIs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2020.09.033DOI Listing
January 2021

Integrated analysis of concomitant medications and oncological outcomes from PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors in clinical practice.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 11;8(2)

Medical Oncology, Azienda Ospedaliera S. Maria, Terni, Italy.

Background: Concomitant medications, such as steroids, proton pump inhibitors (PPI) and antibiotics, might affect clinical outcomes with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter observational retrospective study aimed at evaluating the impact of concomitant medications on clinical outcomes, by weighing their associations with baseline clinical characteristics (including performance status, burden of disease and body mass index) and the underlying causes for their prescription. This analysis included consecutive stage IV patients with cancer, who underwent treatment with single agent antiprogrammed death-1/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-1/PD-L1) with standard doses and schedules at the medical oncology departments of 20 Italian institutions. Each medication taken at the immunotherapy initiation was screened and collected into key categories as follows: corticosteroids, antibiotics, gastric acid suppressants (including proton pump inhibitors - PPIs), statins and other lipid-lowering agents, aspirin, anticoagulants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ACE inhibitors/Angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium antagonists, β-blockers, metformin and other oral antidiabetics, opioids.

Results: From June 2014 to March 2020, 1012 patients were included in the analysis. Primary tumors were: non-small cell lung cancer (52.2%), melanoma (26%), renal cell carcinoma (18.3%) and others (3.6%). Baseline statins (HR 1.60 (95% CI 1.14 to 2.25), p=0.0064), aspirin (HR 1.47 (95% CI 1.04 to 2.08, p=0.0267) and β-blockers (HR 1.76 (95% CI 1.16 to 2.69), p=0.0080) were confirmed to be independently related to an increased objective response rate. Patients receiving cancer-related steroids (HR 1.72 (95% CI 1.43 to 2.07), p<0.0001), prophylactic systemic antibiotics (HR 1.85 (95% CI 1.23 to 2.78), p=0.0030), prophylactic gastric acid suppressants (HR 1.29 (95% CI 1.09 to 1.53), p=0.0021), PPIs (HR 1.26 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.48), p=0.0050), anticoagulants (HR 1.43 (95% CI: 1.16 to 1.77), p=0.0007) and opioids (HR 1.71 (95% CI 1.28 to 2.28), p=0.0002) were confirmed to have a significantly higher risk of disease progression. Patients receiving cancer-related steroids (HR 2.16 (95% CI 1.76 to 2.65), p<0.0001), prophylactic systemic antibiotics (HR 1.93 (95% CI 1.25 to 2.98), p=0.0030), prophylactic gastric acid suppressants (HR 1.29 (95% CI 1.06 to 1.57), p=0.0091), PPI (HR 1.26 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.52), p=0.0172), anticoagulants (HR 1.45 (95% CI 1.14 to 1.84), p=0.0024) and opioids (HR 1.53 (95% CI 1.11 to 2.11), p=0.0098) were confirmed to have a significantly higher risk of death.

Conclusion: We confirmed the association between baseline steroids administered for cancer-related indication, systemic antibiotics, PPIs and worse clinical outcomes with PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors, which can be assumed to have immune-modulating detrimental effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001361DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7646355PMC
November 2020

Incidence and outcomes of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Eur J Cancer 2020 11 20;140:140-146. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Medical Oncology Department, ASST Cremona, Viale Concordia 1, 26100, Cremona, Italy.

Background: Patients with cancer are at increased risk of complicated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, but it is still unclear if the risk of mortality is influenced by cancer type or ongoing anti-cancer treatments. An interesting debate concerning the potential relationship between androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and SARS-CoV-2 infection has recently been opened in the case of prostate cancer (PC), and the aim of this multi-centre cohort study was to investigate the incidence and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostrate cancer (mCRPC).

Patients And Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the clinical records of patients with mCRPC who developed SARS-CoV-2 infection, and recorded their baseline clinical characteristics, their history of PC and SARS-CoV-2 infection, and their oncological status and treatment at the time of infection. The primary study end point was the death rate and the possible impact of the patients' PC-related history and treatments on mortality.

Results: Thirty-four of the 1433 patients with mCRPC attending the participating centres (2.3%) developed SARS-CoV-2 infection, 22 (64.7%) of whom were hospitalised. Most of the patients were symptomatic, the most frequent symptoms being fever (70.6%), dyspnoea (61.8%), cough (52.9%) and fatigue (38.2%). After a median follow-up of 21 days (interquartile range: 13-41), 13 patients had died (38.2%), 17 recovered (50.0%) and four (11.7%) were still infected. The number of treatments previously administered for mCRPC had a significant impact on mortality (p = 0.004).

Conclusions: Our findings contribute additional data to the current debate concerning the postulated protective role of ADT, which seems to be less in patients with metastatic PC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2020.09.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572507PMC
November 2020

Baseline BMI and BMI variation during first line pembrolizumab in NSCLC patients with a PD-L1 expression ≥ 50%: a multicenter study with external validation.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 10;8(2)

Medical Oncology Unit, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Roma, Lazio, Italy.

Background: The association between obesity and outcomes in patients receiving programmed death-1/programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) checkpoint inhibitors has already been confirmed in pre-treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, regardless of PD-L1 tumor expression.

Methods: We present the outcomes analysis according to baseline body mass index (BMI) and BMI variation in a large cohort of metastatic NSCLC patients with a PD-L1 expression ≥50%, receiving first line pembrolizumab. We also evaluated a control cohort of metastatic NSCLC patients treated with first line platinum-based chemotherapy. Normal weight was set as control group.

Results: 962 patients and 426 patients were included in the pembrolizumab and chemotherapy cohorts, respectively. Obese patients had a significantly higher objective response rate (ORR) (OR=1.61 (95% CI: 1.04-2.50)) in the pembrolizumab cohort, while overweight patients had a significantly lower ORR (OR=0.59 (95% CI: 0.37-0.92)) within the chemotherapy cohort. Obese patients had a significantly longer progression-free survival (PFS) (HR=0.61 (95% CI: 0.45-0.82)) in the pembrolizumab cohort. Conversely, they had a significantly shorter PFS in the chemotherapy cohort (HR=1.27 (95% CI: 1.01-1.60)). Obese patients had a significantly longer overall survival (OS) within the pembrolizumab cohort (HR=0.70 (95% CI: 0.49-0.99)), while no significant differences according to baseline BMI were found in the chemotherapy cohort. BMI variation significantly affected ORR, PFS and OS in both the pembrolizumab and the chemotherapy cohorts.

Conclusions: Baseline obesity is associated to significantly improved ORR, PFS and OS in metastatic NSCLC patients with a PD-L1 expression of ≥50%, receiving first line pembrolizumab, but not among patients treated with chemotherapy. BMI variation is also significantly related to clinical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001403DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7574933PMC
October 2020

Exploring metastatic breast cancer treatment changes during COVID-19 pandemic.

J Chemother 2021 Jul 13;33(4):263-268. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

UOC Oncologia, Ospedali Riuniti Padova Sud, AULSS6 Euganea, Padua, Italy.

The emergency caused by COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a sudden reorganization of the healthcare structures and has created consequences in cancer patients management. General clinical recommendations for cancer patients were released, even if limited clinical cancer-specific data were available. A number of critical issues have come out during COVID-19 pandemic in the management of patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). To explore the changes in the treatment of patients with MBC during COVID-19 pandemic, we promoted a survey to the oncologists operating in the Italian breast units. The results of this survey show that Italian oncologists have tried to ensure continuity of care for patients with MBC. De-escalation of cancer treatments, especially monotherapy administration, and greater use of oral anticancer drugs are the main changes that emerge from this survey. Some subgroups of patients, especially the elderly and endocrine-responsive patients, have been undertreated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1120009X.2020.1829328DOI Listing
July 2021

Immune-related Adverse Events of Pembrolizumab in a Large Real-world Cohort of Patients With NSCLC With a PD-L1 Expression ≥ 50% and Their Relationship With Clinical Outcomes.

Clin Lung Cancer 2020 11 21;21(6):498-508.e2. Epub 2020 Jun 21.

Department of Oncology, Macerata Hospital, Macerata, Italy.

Background: The role of immune-related adverse events (irAEs), as a surrogate predictor of the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors, has not yet been described in the setting of first-line, single-agent pembrolizumab for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung-cancer (NSCLC) with a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression of ≥ 50%.

Patients And Methods: We previously conducted a multicenter retrospective analysis in patients with treatment-naive metastatic NSCLC and a PD-L1 expression of ≥ 50% receiving first-line pembrolizumab. Here, we report the results of the irAE analysis and the potential correlation between irAEs and clinical outcomes.

Results: A total of 1010 patients were included in this analysis; after a 6-week landmark selection, 877 (86.8%) patients were included in the efficacy analysis. Any grade irAEs (P < .0001), grade 3/4 irAEs (P = .0025), leading to discontinuation irAEs (P = .0144), multiple-site and single-site irAEs (P < .0001), cutaneous irAEs (P = .0001), endocrine irAEs (P = .0227), pulmonary irAEs (P = .0479), and rheumatologic irAEs (P = .0018) were significantly related to a higher objective response rate. Any grade irAEs (P < .0001), single-site irAEs (P < .0001), multiple-site irAEs (P = .0005), cutaneous irAEs (P = .0042), endocrine irAEs (P < .0001), gastrointestinal irAEs (P = .0391), and rheumatologic irAEs (P = .0086) were significantly related to progression-free survival. Any grade irAEs (P < .0001), single-site irAEs (P < .0001), multiple-site irAEs (P = .0003), cutaneous irAEs (P = .0002), endocrine irAEs (P = .0001), and rheumatologic irAEs (P = .0214) were significantly related to overall survival.

Conclusions: This study confirms the feasibility and the safety of first-line, single-agent pembrolizumab, in a large, real-world cohort of patients with NSCLC with PD-L1 expression ≥ 50%. The occurrence of irAEs may be a surrogate of clinical activity and improved outcomes in this setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2020.06.010DOI Listing
November 2020
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