Primary melanoma of the pineal gland is a rare disease entity with an overall poor prognosis. Limited data exist to appropriately guide treatment decisions. Historical case reports have showed some success using a combination of surgical resection, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, but long-term survival has been exceedingly rare. This report presents a female patient with a primary pineal melanoma who underwent subtotal resection followed by adjuvant focal radiation to the residual tumor. Immunohistochemistry identified a strong positivity for PD-L1 (70%). After radiation, systemic therapy with pembrolizumab was initiated with the plan to treat until progression. She has now completed 33 cycles of pembrolizumab without interruptions, complications, or disease progression. At the time of writing, the patient has had an excellent clinical outcome, with a durable near-complete response of >138 weeks. To our knowledge, this is the first patient with a pineal melanoma to be managed by targeting PD-L1. Furthermore, she has achieved the second longest overall survival and the longest progression-free survival reported in the literature.
Justin Famoso, Gerald Lemole, Srinath Sundararajan and Baldassarre Stea
Kristine A. Donovan, Teresa L. Deshields, Cheyenne Corbett and Michelle B. Riba
The first NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Distress Management were published in 1999. Since then, a number of other organizations have advocated for distress screening. Previous surveys of distress screening showed modest progress in implementation of the NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management by NCCN Member Institutions (MIs); this review examined whether further progress has been made. Representatives appointed to the NCCN Distress Management Panel or their designee were asked to complete an online survey in the summer of 2018. The survey was developed based on similar surveys performed in 2005 and 2012 and a survey of psychosocial staffing conducted in NCCN MIs in 2012. New items solicited details about triaging, rescreening, formal screening protocols, and tracking of distressed patients. The survey was completed by representatives from 23 of 27 NCCN MIs (85%). Among the responding institutions, 20 (87%) currently conduct routine screening for distress and 3 are piloting routine screening. All respondents reported use of a self-report measure to screen for distress, with the Distress Thermometer most often used. A total of 70% of respondents rescreen patients for distress and 83% reported having a formal distress screening protocol in place. Once triaged, 65% of institutions who routinely screen for distress track clinical contacts and referrals; 70% track rates of adherence to screening protocols. Findings suggest wide acceptance and implementation of the NCCN Guidelines. Most respondents reported the existence of a formal distress screening protocol, with routine tracking of clinical contacts and referrals and rates of protocol adherence. Clinical experience and the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation standard for cancer centers appear to have resulted in greater adoption and implementation of the guidelines, but considerable opportunities for improvement remain.
James McCanney, Terrell Johnson, Lindsey A.M. Bandini, Shonta Chambers, Lynette Bonar and Robert W. Carlson
Demographic factors such as race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, area of residence, native language, and cultural barriers have an effect on outcomes in cancer care. To identify unmet needs, challenges, and opportunities in achieving high-quality, patient-centered cancer care for all, NCCN conducted a yearlong environmental scan, which involved stakeholder meetings with patients and patient advocacy groups to discuss these topics. The findings from this scan informed the corresponding NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit: Advocating for Equity in Cancer Care, held in Washington, DC, on December 10, 2018. In addition to the many patient advocacy groups, the summit featured a number of other stakeholders that advocate for equity in cancer care. This article encapsulates the findings of the environmental scan and the discussion from the NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit.
Alexander P. Cole, Chang Lu, Marieke J. Krimphove, Julie Szymaniak, Maxine Sun, Sean A. Fletcher, Stuart R. Lipsitz, Brandon A. Mahal, Paul L. Nguyen, Toni K. Choueiri, Adam S. Kibel, Adil H. Haider and Quoc-Dien Trinh
Background: Insurance coverage is associated with better cancer outcomes; however, the relative importance of insurance coverage may differ between cancers. This study compared the association between insurance coverage at diagnosis and cancer-specific mortality (CSM; insurance sensitivity) in 6 cancers. Patients and Methods: Using the SEER cancer registry, data were abstracted for individuals diagnosed with ovarian, pancreatic, lung, colorectal, prostate, or breast cancer in 2007 through 2010. The association between insurance coverage at diagnosis and CSM was modeled using a Fine and Gray competing-risks regression adjusted for demographics. An interaction term combining insurance status and cancer type was used to test whether insurance sensitivity differed between cancers. Separate models were fit for each cancer. To control for lead-time bias and to assess whether insurance sensitivity may be mediated by earlier diagnosis and treatment, additional models were fit adjusting for disease stage and treatment. Results: Lack of insurance was associated with an increased hazard of CSM in all cancers (P<.01). The magnitude of the effect differed significantly between cancers (P interaction=.04), ranging from an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.13 (95% CI, 1.01–1.28) in ovarian and 1.19 (95% CI, 1.11–1.29) in pancreatic cancer to 2.19 (95% CI, 2.02–2.37) in breast and 2.98 (95% CI, 2.54–3.49) in prostate cancer. The benefit of insurance was attenuated after adjusting for stage and treatment (eg, screening/early treatment effect), with the largest reductions in prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers. Conclusions: Greater insurance sensitivity was seen in screening-detected malignancies with effective treatments for early-stage disease (eg, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers). Given that this differential is significantly reduced after adjusting for stage and treatment, our results suggest that a significant portion (but not all) of the benefit of insurance coverage is due to detection and treatment of certain curable early-stage cancers.
Viola Walter, Daniel Boakye, Janick Weberpals, Lina Jansen, Walter E. Haefeli, Uwe M. Martens, Phillip Knebel, Jenny Chang-Claude, Michael Hoffmeister and Hermann Brenner
Background: Chemotherapy underuse in elderly patients (aged ≥75 years) with colon cancer has been reported in previous studies. However, these studies were mostly registry-based and limited in their potential to consider underlying reasons of such undertreatment. This study aimed to evaluate patient and hospital determinants of chemotherapeutic treatment in patients with stage III colon cancer, with a particular focus on age and underlying reasons for nontreatment of elderly patients. Methods: A total of 629 patients with stage III colon cancer who were diagnosed in 2003 through 2012 and recruited into a population-based study in the Rhine-Neckar region of Germany were included. Information on sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, comorbidities, and treatment was collected from patient interviews and physicians. Patient (with an emphasis on age) and hospital factors were evaluated for their associations with administration of adjuvant chemotherapy overall and of oxaliplatin specifically using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Administration of chemotherapy decreased from 94% in patients aged 30 to 64 years to 51% in those aged ≥75 years. A very strong decline in chemotherapy use with age persisted even after comprehensive adjustment for multiple patient factors—including comorbidities—and hospital factors and was also seen among patients without any major comorbidities. Between 2005 and 2008, and 2009 and 2012, chemotherapy administration in patients aged ≥75 years decreased from 60% to 41%. Among chemotherapy recipients, old age was also strongly associated with higher odds of nonadministration of oxaliplatin. The 2 most commonly reported reasons for chemotherapy nonreceipt among the study population were patient refusal (30%) and old age (24%). Conclusions: Age was the strongest predictor of chemotherapy underuse, irrespective of comorbidities and even in patients without comorbidities. Such underuse due just to older age in otherwise healthy patients deserves increased attention in clinical practice to ensure that elderly patients also get the best possible care. Patients’ refusal as the most frequent reason for chemotherapy nonreceipt also warrants further investigation to exclude misinformation as underlying cause.
Young D. Chang, Jae-Woo Jung, Ritika Oberoi-Jassal, Jongphil Kim, Sahana Rajasekhara, Meghan Haas, Joshua Smith, Vijay Desai, Kristine A. Donovan and Diane Portman
Background: Information about the frequency of cannabinoid use and the clinical characteristics of its users in oncology supportive care is limited. This study explored associations between cannabinoid use and cancer-related clinical characteristics in a cancer population. Patients and Methods: This retrospective review included 332 patients who had a urine drug test (UDT) for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) together with completion of an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and cannabinoid history questionnaire on the same day that urine was obtained during 1 year in the supportive care clinic. Results: The frequency of positive results for THC in a UDT was 22.9% (n=76). Significant statistical differences were seen between THC-positive and THC-negative patients for age (median of 52 [lower quartile, 44; upper quartile, 56] vs 58 [48; 67] years; P<.001), male sex (53.9% vs 39.5%; P=.034), and past or current cannabinoid use (65.8% vs 26.2%; P<.001). Statistical significance was observed in ESAS items between the THC-positive and THC-negative groups for pain (7 [lower quartile, 5; upper quartile; 8] vs 5 [3; 7]; P=.001), nausea (1 [0; 3] vs 0 [0; 3]; P=.049), appetite (4 [2; 7] vs 3 [0; 5.75]; P=.015), overall well-being (5.5 [4; 7] vs 5 [3; 6]; P=.002), spiritual well-being (5 [2; 6] vs 3 [1; 3]; P=.015), insomnia (7 [5; 9] vs 4 [2; 7]; P<.001), and total ESAS (52 [34; 66] vs 44 [29; 54]; P=.001). Among patients who reported current or past cannabinoid use, THC-positive patients had higher total scores and scores for pain, appetite, overall well-being, spiritual well-being, and insomnia than THC-negative patients. Conclusions: Patients with cancer receiving outpatient supportive care who had positive UDT results for THC had higher symptom severity scores for pain, nausea, appetite, overall and spiritual well-being, and insomnia compared with their THC-negative counterparts. These results highlight potential opportunities to improve palliative care.
Allison Lipitz-Snyderman, Jessica Kennington, Brooke Hogan, Deborah Korenstein, Leonard Kalman, Suresh Nair, Peter Yu, Paul Sabbatini and David Pfister
Background: The proliferation of relationships between community health systems and academic medical centers has created a need to identify effective components of these models. This article reports on frontline physician experiences, with one such relationship established through the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) Cancer Alliance. MSK created the Alliance with the goals of rapidly bringing the newest standards of care into community settings and increasing patient access to clinical trials in their local communities. Methods: Alliance leadership administered a 10-question anonymous survey to physicians treating patients with cancer across the 3 Alliance member health systems: Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, and Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The purpose of the survey was to identify opportunities to improve physician engagement. Results: There were 103 clinician respondents across Alliance members, of which 87 reported participation in a disease management team and were included in the final analysis. Most respondents reported high value from Alliance activities, such as attending MSK tumor boards (94%) and lecture series (96%), among those who reported them applicable. Across all respondents, most reported satisfaction with engagement opportunities, such as MSK physician participation in their institution’s meetings (76%). When asked where they would like to see increased engagement, the most commonly reported response was for more lecture series (45%). Most respondents (88%) reported that the Alliance led to practice change, either for themselves or for other clinicians at their institution. Many attributed this practice change to MSK disease-specific process measures. Conclusions: The activities most valued by community physicians were heavily physician relationship–based. The encouraging experience of the MSK Cancer Alliance suggests that activities involving physician investment may be effective for promoting practice change in the context of cross-institution relationships. Future research is needed in this area.
Patricia Ellen Goldhoff, Poonam Vohra, Kanti Pallav Kolli and Britt-Marie Ljung
Background: This retrospective study evaluated and compared the diagnostic accuracy and suitability of tissue specimens for advanced molecular diagnostic testing obtained via 2 different techniques for percutaneous biopsy of primary and metastatic liver tumors. Patients and Methods: Samples from 137 patients with liver masses who underwent concurrent fine-needle aspiration biopsy with cell block (FNAB-CB) and core needle biopsy (CNB) at 2 hospitals were assessed for diagnostic accuracy, tumor fraction, and tumor cellularity. A subset of FNAB-CBs, that were deemed to have less or equal tumor cellularity compared with CNBs, had level sections performed and were reassessed for tumor cellularity. Results: Diagnostic accuracy was 96% for FNAB and 93% for CNB (P=.267). In FNAB-CBs, tumor fraction was significantly higher than in CNB samples (67% vs 36%; P<.0001), whereas nontumor components were significantly lower (stromal component, 7% vs 29%; P<.0001; background benign hepatocytes, 25% vs 36%; P=.003). Additionally, in 44% of cases, FNAB-CB tumor cellularity was equal to or greater than that of the concurrent CNB. Conclusions: In the current age of personalized medicine, a minimally invasive, safe approach to obtaining adequate tissue for myriad molecular testing is paramount. We have shown that FNAB sampling is diagnostically accurate and produces higher tumor fractions than CNB. Thus, FNAB should be strongly considered as an initial sampling modality, especially for patients in whom molecular tests will determine management.