Publications by authors named "Scott North"

113 Publications

Identifying the Optimal Number of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Cycles in Patients with Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer.

J Urol 2021 Aug 27:101097JU0000000000002190. Epub 2021 Aug 27.

Department of Urology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Purpose: We investigated the pathological response rates and survival associated with 3 vs 4 cycles of cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients with cT2-4N0M0 muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Materials And Methods: In this cohort study we analyzed clinical data of 828 patients treated with NAC and radical cystectomy between 2000 and 2020. A total of 384 and 444 patients were treated with 3 and 4 cycles of NAC, respectively. Pathological objective response (pOR; ypT0-Ta-Tis-T1 N0), pathological complete response (pCR; ypT0 N0), cancer-specific survival and overall survival were investigated.

Results: pOR and pCR were achieved in 378 (45%; 95% CI 42, 49) and 207 (25%; 95% CI 22, 28) patients, respectively. Patients treated with 4 cycles of NAC had higher pOR (49% vs 42%, p=0.03) and pCR (28% vs 21%, p=0.02) rates compared to those treated with 3 cycles. This effect was confirmed on multivariable logistic regression analysis (pOR OR 1.46 p=0.008, pCR OR 1.57, p=0.007). On multivariable Cox regression analysis, 4 cycles of NAC were significantly associated with overall survival (HR 0.68; 95% CI 0.49, 0.94; p=0.02) but not with cancer-specific survival (HR 0.72; 95% CI 0.50, 1.04; p=0.08).

Conclusions: Four cycles of NAC achieved better pathological response and survival compared to 3 cycles. These findings may aid clinicians in counseling patients and serve as a benchmark for prospective trials. Prospective validation of these findings and assessment of cumulative toxicity derived from an increased number of cycles are needed.
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August 2021

Stereotactic Radiotherapy for Oligoprogression in Metastatic Renal Cell Cancer Patients Receiving Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Therapy: A Phase 2 Prospective Multicenter Study.

Eur Urol 2021 Aug 13. Epub 2021 Aug 13.

Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Despite the paucity of prospective evidence, stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) is increasingly being considered in the setting of oligoprogression to delay the need to change systemic therapy.

Objective: To determine the local control (LC), progression-free survival (PFS), cumulative incidence of changing systemic therapy, and overall survival (OS) after SRT to oligoprogressive metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) lesions in patients who are on tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy.

Design, Setting, And Participants: A prospective multicenter study was performed to evaluate the use of SRT in oligoprogressive mRCC patients. Patients with mRCC who had previous stability or response after ≥3 mo of TKI therapy were eligible if they developed progression of five of fewer metastases. Thirty-seven patients with 57 oligoprogressive tumors were enrolled.

Intervention: Oligoprogressive tumors were treated with SRT, and the same TKI therapy was continued afterward.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Competing risk analyses and the Kaplan-Meir methodology were used to report the outcomes of interest.

Results And Limitations: The median duration of TKI therapy prior to study entry was 18.6 mo; 1-yr LC of the irradiated tumors was 93% (95% confidence interval [CI] 71-98%). The median PFS after SRT was 9.3 mo (95% CI 7.5-15.7 mo). The cumulative incidence of changing systemic therapy was 47% (95% CI 32-68%) at 1 yr, with a median time to change in systemic therapy of 12.6 mo (95% CI 9.6-17.4 mo). One-year OS was 92% (95% CI 82-100%). There were no grade 3-5 SRT-related toxicities.

Conclusions: LC of irradiated oligoprogressive mRCC tumors was high, and the need to change systemic therapy was delayed for a median of >1 yr.

Patient Summary: The use of stereotactic radiotherapy in metastatic kidney cancer patients, who develop growth of a few tumors while on oral targeted therapy, can significantly delay the need to change to the next line of drug therapy.
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August 2021

Association of age with response to preoperative chemotherapy in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

World J Urol 2021 Aug 9. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

Department of Urology, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Purpose: To assess the association of patient age with response to preoperative chemotherapy in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC).

Materials And Methods: We analyzed data from 1105 patients with MIBC. Patients age was evaluated as continuous variable and stratified in quartiles. Pathologic objective response (pOR; ypT0-Ta-Tis-T1N0) and pathologic complete response (pCR; ypT0N0), as well survival outcomes were assessed. We used data of 395 patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to investigate the prevalence of TCGA molecular subtypes and DNA damage repair (DDR) gene alterations according to patient age.

Results: pOR was achieved in 40% of patients. There was no difference in distribution of pOR or pCR between age quartiles. On univariable logistic regression analysis, patient age was not associated with pOR or pCR when evaluated as continuous variables or stratified in quartiles (all p > 0.3). Median follow-up was 18 months (IQR 6-37). On Cox regression and competing risk regression analyses, age was not associated with survival outcomes (all p > 0.05). In the TCGA cohort, patient with age ≤ 60 years has 7% less DDR gene mutations (p = 0.59). We found higher age distribution in patients with luminal (p < 0.001) and luminal infiltrated (p = 0.002) compared to those with luminal papillary subtype.

Conclusions: While younger patients may have less mutational tumor burden, our analysis failed to show an association of age with response to preoperative chemotherapy or survival outcomes. Therefore, the use of preoperative chemotherapy should be considered regardless of patient age.
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August 2021

Overall Survival of Men with Metachronous Metastatic Hormone-sensitive Prostate Cancer Treated with Enzalutamide and Androgen Deprivation Therapy.

Eur Urol 2021 Sep 22;80(3):275-279. Epub 2021 May 22.

NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Chris O'Brien Lifehouse RPA, Sydney, Australia; Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Men who initially present with localized prostate cancer and later develop metachronous metastases have a better prognosis than men with de novo metastatic disease and often have a low burden of disease on conventional imaging. Some have disease amenable to metastasis-directed therapy for lymph node or bone metastases, a strategy used by some because no documented overall survival (OS) benefit of combination systemic therapy in this setting. We report data for patients prospectively classified as "M0" at initial diagnosis from the interim analysis of the ENZAMET trial, with 34 mo of median follow-up for survivors. A total of 312 (28%) of the 1125 enrolled patients were classified as M0 at diagnosis, and 205 (66%) of the 312 patients had low-volume disease at study entry as per the CHAARTED criteria. The hazard ratio for OS, that is, HR(OS), was 0.56 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.29-1.06) with the addition of enzalutamide for all patients with metachronous metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, and for the low-volume subset the HR(OS) was 0.40 (95% CI: 0.16-0.97). The 3-yr OS was 83% without and 89% with enzalutamide for all patients with metachronous metastases, and 83% and 92%, respectively, for the low-volume subset. Intensification of hormonal therapy should strongly be considered for these men. PATIENT SUMMARY: Many men present with prostate cancer that has spread to distant sites beyond the prostate gland years after their initial diagnosis and treatment, while others have distant spread at the time the cancer is diagnosed. On average, men whose cancer comes back years after the initial diagnosis often survive much longer than men whose cancer has been found to spread to distant sites when it is first diagnosed. In this report, we demonstrate strong evidence for the first time that the survival of men whose cancer comes back years later is improved when drugs such as enzalutamide or apalutamide are added to testosterone suppression in this setting.
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September 2021

The Rapidly Evolving Landscape of First-Line Targeted Therapy in Metastatic Urothelial Cancer: A Systematic Review.

Oncologist 2021 Aug 11;26(8):e1381-e1394. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Medical Oncology, BC Cancer - Vancouver, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Background: Metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) historically is treated with first-line platinum-based combination chemotherapy, preferably cisplatin plus gemcitabine whenever possible. In recent years, multiple classes of targeted therapy have demonstrated benefit, with some receiving approval in mUC. This review will summarize phase III efficacy and safety data for targeted agents, principally immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), as either first-line or first-line switch-maintenance therapy for mUC and interpret these findings in the context of the current treatment landscape.

Materials And Methods: Published and presented phase III data on targeted therapy for the first-line or first-line switch-maintenance treatment of mUC were identified using the key search terms "targeted therapy" AND "urothelial carcinoma" AND "advanced" OR respective aliases according to the guidelines for Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA).

Results: Of the six eligible phase III targeted therapy trials, two assessing ICIs met their primary endpoints in platinum-eligible patients. First-line ICI plus chemotherapy combinations have not improved overall survival (OS), although final OS results of the IMVigor 130 trial are pending. Switch-maintenance using an ICI in patients achieving at least stable disease following platinum-based chemotherapy statistically significantly improved OS (21.4 vs. 14.3 months, hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.56-0.86; p = .001). Current sequencing options for mUC include first-line platinum-based chemotherapy with a switch to ICI either immediately or upon disease progression.

Conclusion: Recent targeted therapy trials have expanded ICI sequencing options for mUC. The treatment landscape is likely to evolve rapidly, with results from multiple phase III trials expected in the next 5 years.

Implications For Practice: Multiple classes of targeted agents are approved for use in metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC). Six phase III trials have recently provided insight on the benefit of these agents in the first-line setting. In platinum-eligible patients, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) combined with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy failed to demonstrate improved survival, although ICI monotherapy as switch-maintenance significantly improved overall survival in patients with mUC who had achieved at least stable disease following first-line platinum-based chemotherapy. In patients ineligible for any chemotherapy, pembrolizumab, atezolizumab, or pembrolizumab in combination with enfortumab vedotin may be options.
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August 2021

Patterns of cost-related medication underuse among Canadian adults with cancer: a cross-sectional study using survey data.

CMAJ Open 2021 Apr-Jun;9(2):E474-E481. Epub 2021 May 6.

Department of Oncology, University of Alberta and Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alta.

Background: Cost-related medication underuse (CRMU) has been reported within the general population in Canada. In this study, we assessed patterns of CRMU among Canadian adults with cancer.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study using survey data. We accessed data sets from the 2015/16 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and reviewed the records of adults (≥ 18 yr) with a history of cancer who were prescribed medication in the previous 12 months. We collected information about sociodemographic features, health behaviours and CRMU, and conducted a multivariable logistic regression analysis for factors associated with CRMU.

Results: A total of 8581 participants were eligible for the current study. In the weighted multivariable logistic regression analysis, the following factors were associated with CRMU: younger age (odds ratio [OR] 2.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.79-3.63), female sex (male sex v. female sex OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.44-0.88), Indigenous racial background (Indigenous v. White OR 2.37, 95% CI 1.49- 3.77), unmarried status (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.09-2.30), poor self-perceived health (excellent v. poor self-perceived health OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.17-0.77), lower annual income (< $20 000 v. income ≥ $80 000 OR 3.08, 95% CI 1.75-5.41) and lack of insurance for prescription medications (OR 2.49, 95% CI 1.77-3.50).

Interpretation: The toll of CRMU among adults seems to be unequally carried by women, racial minorities, and younger (< 65 yr) and uninsured patients with cancer. Discussion about a national pharmacare program for people without private insurance is needed.
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August 2021

Defining cisplatin eligibility in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

Nat Rev Urol 2021 02 11;18(2):104-114. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The current treatment paradigm for muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) consists of cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by local definitive therapy, or local definitive therapy alone for cisplatin-ineligible patients. Given that MIBC has a high propensity for distant relapse and is a chemotherapy-sensitive disease, under-utilization of chemotherapy is associated with suboptimal cure rates. Cisplatin eligibility criteria are defined for patients with metastatic bladder cancer by the Galsky criteria, which include creatinine clearance ≥60 ml/min. However, consensus is still lacking regarding cisplatin eligibility criteria in the neoadjuvant, curative MIBC setting, which continues to represent a substantial barrier to the standardization of patient care and clinical trial design. Jiang and colleagues accordingly suggest an algorithm for assessing cisplatin eligibility in patients with MIBC. Instead of relying on an absolute renal function threshold, their algorithm emphasizes a multidisciplinary and patient-centred approach. They also propose mitigation strategies to minimize the risk of cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in selected patients with impaired renal function. This new framework is aimed at reducing the inappropriate exclusion of some patients from cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy (which leads to under-treatment) and harmonizing clinical trial design, which could lead to improved overall outcomes in patients with MIBC.
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February 2021

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus radical cystectomy versus radical cystectomy alone in clinical T2 bladder cancer without hydronephrosis.

BJU Int 2021 Jul 21;128(1):79-87. Epub 2020 Nov 21.

Division of Urology, Department of Surgical Sciences, Torino School of Medicine, Torino, Italy.

Objectives: To assess the efficacy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) before radical cystectomy (RC) in a retrospective multicentre cohort of patients with cT2N0M0 bladder cancer (BCa) without preoperative hydronephrosis.

Patients And Methods: This was a propensity-based analysis of 619 patients. Of these, 316 were treated with NAC followed by RC and 303 with upfront RC. After multiple imputations, inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) was used to account for potential selection bias. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate the impact of NAC on pathological complete response and downstaging at RC, while IPTW-adjusted Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression models were built to evaluate the impact of NAC on overall survival (OS).

Results: After IPTW-adjusted analysis, standardised differences between groups were <15%. A complete response (pT0N0) at final pathology was achieved in 94 (30%) patients receiving NAC and nine (3%) undergoing upfront RC. Downstaging to non-muscle-invasive disease (
Conclusions: In patients with cT2N0 BCa and no preoperative hydronephrosis, NAC increased the rate of pathological complete response and downstaging.
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July 2021

Comparative effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in bladder and upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma.

BJU Int 2021 05 14;127(5):528-537. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Department of Urology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Objective: To assess the differential response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients with urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) compared to upper tract urothelial carcioma (UTUC) treated with radical surgery.

Patients And Methods: Data from 1299 patients with UCB and 276 with UTUC were obtained from multicentric collaborations. The association of disease location (UCB vs UTUC) with pathological complete response (pCR, defined as a post-treatment pathological stage ypT0N0) and pathological objective response (pOR, defined as ypT0-Ta-Tis-T1N0) after NAC was evaluated using logistic regression analyses. The association with overall (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS) was evaluated using Cox regression analyses.

Results: A pCR was found in 250 (19.2%) patients with UCB and in 23 (8.3%) with UTUC (P < 0.01). A pOR was found in 523 (40.3%) patients with UCB and in 133 (48.2%) with UTUC (P = 0.02). On multivariable logistic regression analysis, patients with UTUC were less likely to have a pCR (odds ratio [OR] 0.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27-0.70; P < 0.01) and more likely to have a pOR (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.89-2.08; P < 0.01). On univariable Cox regression analyses, UTUC was associated with better OS (hazard ratio [HR] 0.80, 95% CI 0.64-0.99, P = 0.04) and CSS (HR 0.63, 95% CI 0.49-0.83; P < 0.01). On multivariable Cox regression analyses, UTUC remained associated with CSS (HR 0.61, 95% CI 0.45-0.82; P < 0.01), but not with OS.

Conclusions: Our present findings suggest that the benefit of NAC in UTUC is similar to that found in UCB. These data can be used as a benchmark to contextualise survival outcomes and plan future trial design with NAC in urothelial cancer.
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May 2021

Efficacy and Safety of nab-Paclitaxel vs Paclitaxel on Survival in Patients With Platinum-Refractory Metastatic Urothelial Cancer: The Canadian Cancer Trials Group BL.12 Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Oncol 2020 Nov;6(11):1751-1758

Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Importance: Treatment options for platinum-refractory metastatic urothelial cancer (mUC) are limited, and outcomes remain poor. Nab-paclitaxel is an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel showing promising activity and tolerability in a prior single-arm trial.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of nab-paclitaxel vs paclitaxel in platinum-refractory mUC.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this investigator-initiated, open-label, phase 2 randomized clinical trial conducted across Canada and Australia from January 2014 to April 2017, eligible patients had histologically confirmed, radiologically evident mUC of the urinary tract. Mixed histologic findings, except small cell, were permitted provided UC was the predominant histologic finding. All patients had received platinum-based chemotherapy either in the metastatic setting or were within 12 months of perioperative chemotherapy. Patients with prior taxane chemotherapy were not included. Patients had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status (ECOG PS) 0 to 2 and adequate organ function.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to nab-paclitaxel, 260 mg/m2, or paclitaxel, 175 mg/m2, every 3 weeks.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS).

Results: Among 199 patients, median age was 67 (range, 24-88) years; 144 (72%) were men; 167 (84%) were ECOG PS 0-1; 59 (30%) had liver metastases; and 110 (55%) were within 6 months of prior platinum-based chemotherapy. At a median follow-up of 16.4 months, there was no significant difference between nab-paclitaxel vs paclitaxel for median PFS (3.4 months vs 3.0 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.92; 90% CI, 0.68-1.23; 1-sided P = .31). Median overall survival was 7.5 months for nab-paclitaxel vs 8.8 months for paclitaxel (HR, 0.95; 90% CI, 0.70-1.30; 1-sided P = .40); and objective response rate (ORR) was 22% for nab-paclitaxel vs 25% for paclitaxel (P = .97). Grade 3/4 adverse events were more frequent with nab-paclitaxel (64/97 [66%]) compared with paclitaxel (45/97 [46%]), P = .009; but peripheral sensory neuropathy was similar (all grades, 72/97 [74%] vs 64/97 [66%]; grade 3/4, 7/97 [7%] vs 3/97 [3%]; P = .27). There were no apparent differences in scores for health-related quality of life.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this open-label, phase 2 randomized clinical trial of patients with platinum-refractory mUC, nab-paclitaxel had similar efficacy to paclitaxel; but worse toxic effects. The ORR with either taxane, however, was higher than previously reported and similar to those reported for the immune checkpoint inhibitors, suggesting that the taxanes remain a reasonable option in this setting.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT02033993.
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November 2020

Activating AKT1 and PIK3CA Mutations in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer.

Eur Urol 2020 12 22;78(6):834-844. Epub 2020 May 22.

Vancouver Prostate Centre, Department of Urologic Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: Activating mutations in AKT1 and PIK3CA are undercharacterised in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), but are linked to activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling and sensitivity to pathway inhibitors in other cancers.

Objective: To determine the prevalence, genomic context, and clinical associations of AKT1/PIK3CA activating mutations in mCRPC.

Design, Setting, And Participants: We analysed targeted cell-free DNA (cfDNA) sequencing data from 599 metastatic prostate cancer patients with circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) content above 2%.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: In patients with AKT1/PIK3CA mutations, cfDNA was subjected to PTEN intron sequencing and matched diagnostic tumour tissue was analysed when possible.

Results And Limitations: Of the patients, 6.0% (36/599) harboured somatic clonal activating mutation(s) in AKT1 or PIK3CA. Mutant allele-specific imbalance was common. Clonal mutations in mCRPC ctDNA were typically detected in pretreatment primary tissue and were consistent across serial ctDNA collections. AKT1/PIK3CA-mutant mCRPC had fewer androgen receptor (AR) gene copies than AKT1/PIK3CA wild-type mCRPC (median 4.7 vs 10.3, p =  0.003). AKT1 mutations were mutually exclusive with PTEN alterations. Patients with and without AKT1/PIK3CA mutations showed similar clinical outcomes with standard of care treatments. A heavily pretreated mCRPC patient with an AKT1 mutation experienced a 50% decline in prostate-specific antigen with Akt inhibitor (ipatasertib) monotherapy. Ipatasertib also had a marked antitumour effect in a patient-derived xenograft harbouring an AKT1 mutation. Limitations include the inability to assess AKT1/PIK3CA correlatives in ctDNA-negative patients.

Conclusions: AKT1/PIK3CA activating mutations are relatively common and delineate a distinct mCRPC molecular subtype with low-level AR copy gain. Clonal prevalence and evidence of mutant allele selection propose PI3K pathway dependency in selected patients. The use of cfDNA screening enables prospective clinical trials to test PI3K pathway inhibitors in this population.

Patient Summary: Of advanced prostate cancer cases, 6% have activating mutations in the genes AKT1 or PIK3CA. These mutations can be identified using a blood test and may help select patients suitable for clinical trials of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors.
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December 2020

Eligibility Criteria and Endpoints in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Trials.

Am J Clin Oncol 2020 08;43(8):559-566

Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Objectives: Treatments for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) are often compared across trials, but trial eligibility criteria and endpoints differ. In an effort to better align trials, the Definition for the Assessment of Time to event Endpoints in CANcer trials (DATECAN) project published recommendations in 2015 to be used in mRCC clinical trial design. We analyzed mRCC trial criteria to determine if DATECAN's recommendations were followed.

Materials And Methods: We compared eligibility criteria across 29 phase 3 mRCC trials conducted between 2003 and 2019. We then evaluated endpoints used in 10 phase 3 trials activated between 2015 and 2019 to determine their compliance with DATECAN's recommendations.

Results: Among the 29 trials, performance status, renal function, and disease characteristics differed in terms of requirements and measures used. In terms of endpoints, the 10 trials did not entirely follow DATECAN's recommendations. In total, 7/10 trials' primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS) as recommended; 4/9 trials used PFS as an endpoint but did not publish their definition of PFS, and the 5 that did, included "death from any cause" instead of DATECAN's recommendation of "death from kidney cancer."

Conclusions: Key eligibility criteria were somewhat inconsistent across the phase 3 mRCC trials studied. Endpoints in the newer trials did not align with DATECAN's recommendations. Not only is greater standardization needed to facilitate meta-analyses and cross-trial comparisons, but as evident from lack of adherence to DATECAN's recommendations, greater promotion and adoption of recommendations are needed to better harmonize trial design.
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August 2020

Optimizing management of advanced urothelial carcinoma: A review of emerging therapies and biomarker-driven patient selection.

Can Urol Assoc J 2020 Aug;14(8):E373-E382

Division of Medical Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Introduction: Advanced urothelial carcinoma has been challenging to treat due to limited treatment options, poor response rates, and poor long-term survival. New treatment options hold the promise of improved outcomes for these patients.

Methods: A multidisciplinary working group drafted a management algorithm for advanced urothelial carcinoma using "consensus development conference" methodology. A targeted literature search identified new and emerging treatments for inclusion in the management algorithm. Published clinical data were considered during the algorithm development process, as well as the risks and benefits of the treatment options. Biomarkers to guide patient selection in clinical trials for new treatments were incorporated into the algorithm.

Results: The advanced urothelial carcinoma management algorithm includes newly approved first-line anti-programmed death receptor-1 (PD1)/ programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) therapies, a newly approved anti-fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR) therapy, and an emerging anti-Nectin 4 therapy, which have had encouraging results in phase 2 trials for second-line and third-line therapy, respectively. This algorithm also incorporates suggestions for biomarker testing of PD-L1 expression and FGFR gene alterations.

Conclusions: Newly approved and emerging therapies are starting to cover an unmet need for more treatment options, better response rates, and improved overall survival in advanced urothelial carcinoma. The management algorithm provides guidance on how to incorporate these new options, and their associated biomarkers, into clinical practice.
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August 2020

Impact of sex on response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with bladder cancer.

Urol Oncol 2020 07 11;38(7):639.e1-639.e9. Epub 2020 Feb 11.

Department of Urology, The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

Objective: To assess the effect of patient's sex on response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients with clinically nonmetastatic muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC).

Methods: Complete pathologic response, defined as ypT0N0 at radical cystectomy, and downstaging were evaluated using sex-adjusted univariable and multivariable logistic regression modeling. We used interaction terms to account for age of menopause and smoking status. The association of sex with overall survival and cancer-specific survival was evaluated using Cox regression analyses.

Results: A total of 1,031 patients were included in the analysis, 227 (22%) of whom were female. Female patients had a higher rate of extravesical disease extension (P = 0.01). After the administration of NAC, ypT stage was equally distributed between sexes (P = 0.39). On multivariable logistic regression analyses, there was no difference between the sexes or age of menopause with regards to ypT0N0 rates or downstaging (all P > 0.5). On Cox regression analyses, sex was associated with neither overall survival (hazard ratio 1.04, 95% confidence interval 0.75-1.45, P = 0.81) nor cancer-specific survival (hazard ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 0.71-1.58, P = 0.77).

Conclusion: Our study generates the hypothesis that NAC equalizes the preoperative disparity in pathologic stage between males and females suggesting a possible differential response between sexes. This might be the explanation underlying the comparable survival outcomes between sexes despite females presenting with more advanced tumor stage.
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July 2020

Cost-effectiveness analysis of metformin with enzalutamide in the metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer setting.

Can J Urol 2019 Dec;26(6):10045-10053

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Introduction: Enzalutamide (Enza) is an effective treatment for metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCPRC). However, Enza is not cost-effective (CE) at willingness to pay (WTP) thresholds from $0-$125 000/quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and is therefore a strain on valuable health care dollars. Metformin (Met) is inexpensive (~$8.00/month) and is thought to improve prostate cancer specific and overall survival compared to those not taking Met. We hypothesized that there must be an added effect Met could provide that would make Enza CE thereby alleviating this financial strain on government health care budgets.

Materials And Methods: We constructed a Markov model and performed a threshold analysis to narrow in on the added effect needed to make such a combination therapy cost-effective at various WTP thresholds.

Results: At a WTP threshold of $50 000/QALY Enza + Met is unlikely to be CE unless it increases Enza's efficacy by more than 30%. At a WTP threshold of $100 000, Enza + Met could be CE barring Met adds 18.73% to the efficacy of Enza.

Conclusions: Enza + Met is unlikely to be CE at WTP thresholds less than $100 000/QALY; these results make sense because a therapy that is not CE at these WTP thresholds by itself is unlikely to be CE with an adjuvant therapy that keep a patient on such a treatment for even longer. Finally, our model suggests that the mCRPC setting is not the optimal place to trial adding Met as the relative costs are high and utility values low.
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December 2019

The Lung Immune Prognostic Index Discriminates Survival Outcomes in Patients with Solid Tumors Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors.

Cancers (Basel) 2019 Nov 2;11(11). Epub 2019 Nov 2.

Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta T2N 4N2, Canada.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have revolutionized the treatment landscape of several solid tumor types. However, as patient outcomes are heterogeneous, clinical tools to aid in prognostication are needed. The Lung Immune Prognostic Index (LIPI) correlates with outcomes in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with ICI, but its applicability beyond NSCLC is poorly defined. We sought to determine whether LIPI is associated with overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rate (ORR) in a pooled, real-world, retrospective cohort of patients with solid tumors treated with ICI. Of the total pooled cohort (N = 578), 47.2%, 38.2% and 14.5% of patients were stratified into good, intermediate and poor LIPI group, respectively. Median OS were 22.8 (95% CI 17.4-29.5), 7.8 (95% CI 6.6-9.6), and 2.5 months (95% CI 1.4-3.4) (p < 0.0001). Median PFS were 9.9 (95% CI 7.2-11.5), 3.6 (95% CI 2.7-4.3), and 1.4 months (95% CI 1.2-2.2) (p < 0.0001). ORR was also associated with LIPI group (p < 0.001). Intermediate and poor LIPI were independently prognostic of OS compared to good LIPI, with hazard ratios (HR) of 1.8 (95% CI 1.4-2.3, p < 0.001) and 3.6 (95% CI 2.5-5.1, p < 0.001), respectively. These data are the first to suggest that in a real-world setting, the prognostic value of LIPI may be tumor agnostic.
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November 2019

The prognostic value of the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio in patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radical cystectomy.

Urol Oncol 2020 01 31;38(1):3.e17-3.e27. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, AB, Canada; Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, AB, Canada.

Introduction: The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is an attractive marker because it is derived from routine bloodwork. NLR has shown promise as a prognostic factor in muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) but its value in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) before radical cystectomy (RC) is not yet established. Since NLR is related to an oncogenic environment and poor antitumor host response, we hypothesized that a high NLR would be associated with a poor response to NAC and would remain a poor prognostic indicator in patients receiving NAC.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on patients with nonmetastatic MIBC (cT2-4aN0M0) who received NAC prior to RC between 2000 and 2013 at 1 of 19 centers across Europe and North America. The pre-NAC NLR was used to split patients into a low (NLR ≤ 3) and high (NLR > 3) group. Demographic and clinical parameters were compared between the groups using Student's t test, chi-squared, or Fisher's exact test. Putative risk factors for disease-specific and overall survival were analyzed using Cox regression, while predictors of response to NAC (defined as absence of MIBC in RC specimen) were investigated using logistic regression.

Results: Data were available for 340 patients (199 NLR ≤ 3, 141 NLR > 3). Other than age and rate of lymphovascular invasion, demographic and pretreatment characteristics did not differ significantly. More patients in the NLR > 3 group had residual MIBC after NAC than the NLR ≤ 3 group (70.8% vs. 58.3%, P = 0.049). NLR was the only significant predictor of response (odds ratio: 0.36, P = 0.003) in logistic regression. NLR was a significant risk factor for both disease-specific (hazard ratio (HR): 2.4, P = 0.006) and overall survival (HR:1.8, P = 0.02).

Conclusion: NLR > 3 was associated with a decreased response to NAC and shorter disease-specific and overall survival. This suggests that NLR is a simple tool that can aid in MIBC risk stratification in clinical practice.
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January 2020

Cytoreductive Nephrectomy in Metastatic Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma: Results from the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium.

Eur Urol Oncol 2019 Nov 5;2(6):643-648. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Tom Baker Cancer Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada. Electronic address:

Background: There is evidence that cytoreductive nephrectomy (CN) may be beneficial in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). This has been studied predominantly in clear-cell RCC, with more limited data on the role of CN in patients with papillary histology.

Objective: To determine the benefit of CN in synchronous metastatic papillary RCC.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Using the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) database, a retrospective analysis was performed for patients with papillary mRCC treated with or without CN.

Outcome Measurements And Statistical Analysis: Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were determined for both patient groups. Cox regression analysis was performed to control for imbalances in individual IMDC risk factors.

Results And Limitations: In total, 647 patients with papillary mRCC were identified, of whom 353 had synchronous metastatic disease. Of these, 109 patients were treated with CN and 244 were not. The median follow-up was 57.1mo (95% confidence interval [CI] 32.9-77.8) and the OS from the start of first-line targeted therapy for the entire cohort was 13.2mo (95% CI 12.0-16.1). Median OS for patients with CN was 16.3mo, compared to 8.6mo (p<0.0001) in the no-CN group. When adjusted for individual IMDC risk factors, the hazard ratio (HR) of death for CN was 0.62 (95% CI 0.45-0.85; p=0.0031). Limitations include the retrospective nature of the analysis.

Conclusions: The use of CN in patients with mRCC and papillary histology appears to be associated with better survival compared to no CN after adjustment for risk criteria. Selection of appropriate candidates for CN is crucial. A clinical trial in this rare population may not be possible.

Patient Summary: In a population of patients with advanced papillary kidney cancer, we found that surgical removal of the primary kidney tumor was associated with better overall survival.
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November 2019

Enzalutamide with Standard First-Line Therapy in Metastatic Prostate Cancer.

N Engl J Med 2019 07 2;381(2):121-131. Epub 2019 Jun 2.

From Monash University (I.D.D., M.F., D.W.P.), Eastern Health (I.D.D.), Australian Urology Associates (M.F.), Monash Health (D.W.P.), and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne (S.K.S., S.G.W.), Melbourne, VIC, the National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney (A.J.M., M.R.S., X.C., W.E.H., E.T., S.Y., A.Y.Z.), the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse (M.R.S., L.G.H., A.Y.Z.), the University of Sydney (L.G.H., G.M.), Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (L.G.H.), Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St. Vincent's Hospital, and Garvan Institute of Medical Research (A.M.J.), Macquarie University (A.Y.Z.), and Western Sydney University (R.R.Z.), Sydney, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, NSW (M.R.S.), Port Macquarie Base Hospital and Mid North Coast Cancer Institute Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie, NSW (S.B.), Sydney Adventist Hospital, Wahroonga, NSW (G.M.), the ANZUP Cancer Trials Group, Camperdown, NSW (M.M.), the Adelaide Cancer Centre and the University of Adelaide (F.P.) and the Royal Adelaide Hospital (T.H.T.), Adelaide, SA, and Orange Health Service, Central West Cancer Care Centre, Orange, NSW (R.R.Z.) - all in Australia; BC Cancer and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (K.N.C.), the Cross Cancer Institute and the University of Alberta, Edmonton (S.A.N.), Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Queen's University (W.P., F.V.-B.), and the Kingston Health Sciences Center (F.V.-B.), Kingston, ON, and the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa (M.N.R.) - all in Canada; Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Research UK and King's College London, and Sarah Cannon Research UK, London (S.C.), and the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro (A. Thomson) - all in the United Kingdom; Auckland City Hospital, Auckland (N.J.L.), and the Waikato District Health Board, Hamilton (A. Tan) - both in New Zealand; Cancer Trials Ireland (J.M., R.M.), Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (J.M.), and St. Vincent's University Hospital and University College Dublin (R.M.D.) - all in Dublin; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School (C.J.S.) - both in Boston.

Background: Enzalutamide, an androgen-receptor inhibitor, has been associated with improved overall survival in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer. It is not known whether adding enzalutamide to testosterone suppression, with or without early docetaxel, will improve survival in men with metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.

Methods: In this open-label, randomized, phase 3 trial, we assigned patients to receive testosterone suppression plus either open-label enzalutamide or a standard nonsteroidal antiandrogen therapy (standard-care group). The primary end point was overall survival. Secondary end points included progression-free survival as determined by the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, clinical progression-free survival, and adverse events.

Results: A total of 1125 men underwent randomization; the median follow-up was 34 months. There were 102 deaths in the enzalutamide group and 143 deaths in the standard-care group (hazard ratio, 0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.52 to 0.86; P = 0.002). Kaplan-Meier estimates of overall survival at 3 years were 80% (based on 94 events) in the enzalutamide group and 72% (based on 130 events) in the standard-care group. Better results with enzalutamide were also seen in PSA progression-free survival (174 and 333 events, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.39; P<0.001) and in clinical progression-free survival (167 and 320 events, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.40; P<0.001). Treatment discontinuation due to adverse events was more frequent in the enzalutamide group than in the standard-care group (33 events and 14 events, respectively). Fatigue was more common in the enzalutamide group; seizures occurred in 7 patients in the enzalutamide group (1%) and in no patients in the standard-care group.

Conclusions: Enzalutamide was associated with significantly longer progression-free and overall survival than standard care in men with metastatic, hormone-sensitive prostate cancer receiving testosterone suppression. The enzalutamide group had a higher incidence of seizures and other toxic effects, especially among those treated with early docetaxel. (Funded by Astellas Scientific and Medical Affairs and others; ENZAMET (ANZUP 1304) ANZCTR number, ACTRN12614000110684; number, NCT02446405; and EU Clinical Trials Register number, 2014-003190-42.).
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July 2019

A Phase II Study of PX-866 in Patients With Recurrent or Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer: Canadian Cancer Trials Group Study IND205.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2019 06 15;17(3):201-208.e1. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Kingston, ON, Canada.

Background: In PTEN-loss models, the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT and androgen receptor signaling pathways cross-regulate by reciprocal feedback whereby inhibition of one activates the other, creating a rationale for co-targeting. We studied the irreversible, pan-isoform inhibitor of Class I PI-3K PX-866 singly (part A) and with abiraterone acetate (AA) in patients on AA with rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) (part B).

Patients And Methods: The primary endpoint was lack of progression at 12 weeks. Exploratory endpoints included changes in circulating tumor cells (CTC), pharmacodynamic studies on platelets (part A), and archival tumor exploration of PTEN as predictor of response (part B).

Results: A total of 43 and 25 patients accrued to parts A and B, respectively. In part A, 14 (33%) patients were progression-free at 12 weeks, with 2 partial objective responses and 1 confirmed PSA response. Favorable CTC conversion (< 5 CTC/7.5 mL) occurred in 6 (24%) of 25 evaluable patients. In part B, 11 of 25 patients had measurable disease. Six (24%) patients were progression-free at 12 weeks. No objective or PSA responses were observed. For all 68 patients, the most common toxicities were diarrhea (53 patients), nausea (36), anorexia (24), fatigue (22), and vomiting (20). Among 17 patients for whom PTEN testing was possible, 3 had PTEN homozygous deletion and 14 had no change. No correlation between PTEN status and response was seen.

Conclusions: PX-866 had modest single agent activity. Adding AA to PX-866 showed no evidence of resistance reversal. Strategies to combine PI3K inhibition with androgen receptor-targeted therapies could consider initiation earlier, combination with other agents, and/or recruiting a selected population.
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June 2019

The efficacy and safety of sunitinib given on an individualised schedule as first-line therapy for metastatic renal cell carcinoma: A phase 2 clinical trial.

Eur J Cancer 2019 02 14;108:69-77. Epub 2019 Jan 14.

Cross Cancer Institute, 11560 University Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1Z2, Canada.

Background: Sunitinib is administered on a rigid schedule that may not be optimal for all patients. We hypothesised that toxicity-driven dose and schedule changes would optimise drug exposure and outcome for each patient.

Materials And Methods: In a phase 2 trial, 117 patients with metastatic clear cell renal cell cancer were started on sunitinib 50 mg/day with the aim to treat for 28 days. Treatment breaks were reduced to 7 days. Sunitinib dose and the number of days on therapy were individualised based on toxicity aiming for ≤ grade II toxicity with dose escalation in patients with minimal toxicity. The null hypothesis for the primary end-point was a progression-free survival (PFS) of 8.5 months based on a study with similar eligibility criteria.

Results: The null hypothesis was rejected (p < 0.001) with a median PFS of 12.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.6-16.5). The median overall survival was 38.5 months (95% CI: 28.3-not reached). The objective response rate (46.1%) and stable disease rate (38.5%) translated into a clinical benefit for 84.6% of patients with no decline in quality of life scores during therapy. Fewer patients were dose reduced (26.5% vs. 50%) or discontinued due to toxicity (7.7 vs. 18-20%) compared to standard sunitinib dosing, and 20 (18.4%) patients were dose escalated to 62.5 mg (12) and 75 mg (8) with a wide individual variation in the optimal dose and treatment duration.

Conclusions: Individualised sunitinib therapy is feasible, safe and an effective method to manage toxicity with one of the best efficacy seen for oral vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors in metastatic renal cell carcinoma. CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov Identifier: NCT01499121.
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February 2019

Real world evidence: Abiraterone use post-docetaxel in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

J Oncol Pharm Pract 2019 Sep 27;25(6):1293-1300. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

1 Tom Baker Cancer Center, Calgary, Canada.

Objectives: The COU-AA-301 trial demonstrated that in men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer using abiraterone post-docetaxel increased overall survival. This study aims to assess this conclusion in a real world context.

Design: Retrospective chart review of a provincial Pharmacy BDM Database (a pharmacy dispensing software) and a provincial Electronic Chart (ARIA). Dispensing data, information on the state of the disease before and after abiraterone use, and information regarding effects of abiraterone were gathered.

Setting: Cancer centers in Alberta, Canada.

Patients: Metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients on abiraterone outside of a clinical trial who have previously had docetaxel chemotherapy for CRPC between February 2012 and May 2014.

Primary Outcome: Overall survival from the time of abiraterone initiation.

Results: Overall survival increase of 17 months was consistent with the survival increase of 14.8 months observed in the pivotal trial.

Conclusion: Abiraterone is a valuable therapy post-docetaxel for metastatic CRPC, as in a real world context it demonstrated an increase in overall survival that was consistent with the findings of the clinical trial despite including a patient population of older age and lower performance status.
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September 2019