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Rafael Bejar

Often unrecognized and underdiagnosed, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a rare group of cancers in which the bone marrow fails to produce sufficient healthy blood cells. Although patients with lower-risk MDS can live for >5 years, those with high-risk disease that evolves into acute myeloid leukemia is associated with significantly lower overall survival. At the NCCN 2019 Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Dr. Rafael Bejar summarized current standard treatment options for patients with MDS and discussed the importance of genetic testing to identify mutations that may impact treatment. Finally, Dr. Bejar described emerging personalized treatment strategies for the management of this disease.

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Sri Harsha Tella, Anuhya Kommalapati, Apar Kishor Ganti and Alissa S. Marr

Background: The advent of targeted therapies and immunomodulatory agents has revolutionized the management of advanced cutaneous malignant melanoma (MMel) by prolonging overall survival. This study evaluated the therapeutic and survival disparities among patients with advanced MMel based on hospital volume using the National Cancer Database (NCDB). Methods: A retrospective analysis using regression models and Kaplan-Meier estimates was performed from the data obtained from the NCDB on patients with MMel diagnosed in 2004 through 2015. Results: A total of 40,676 patients with MMel were treated at 1,260 facilities. Multivariable analysis showed that facility volume was an independent predictor of overall survival (P<.0001). Compared with patients treated at high-volume facilities (tertile 3 [T3]), those with stage III disease (n=27,528) treated at intermediate- and low-volume facilities (T2 and T1, respectively) had a significantly higher risk of death (T2 hazard ratio [HR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.09–1.20; T1 HR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.17–1.29). Compared with patients treated at T3 facilities, those with stage IV disease (n=13,148) treated at lower-tertile facilities had a significantly higher risk of death (T2 HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.10–1.21; T1 HR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.23–1.36). Further, patients with stage IV disease treated at T3 facilities (vs T1 facilities) were more likely to receive chemotherapy (38% vs 28%) and immunotherapy (23% vs 10%) (P<.0001). Conclusions: Patients with advanced-stage MMel treated at high-volume facilities had significantly improved survival and were more likely to receive chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

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Nicholas G. Zaorsky, Ying Zhang, Vonn Walter, Leila T. Tchelebi, Vernon M. Chinchilli and Niraj J. Gusani

Background: This retrospective cohort study sought to characterize the accrual of patients with cancer into clinical trials at the time of diagnosis and analyze the impact of accrual on survival. Methods: The National Cancer Database (NCDB) was queried for patients enrolled in clinical trials at their initial course of treatment for 46 cancers from 2004 through 2015. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the accrual of patients with cancer in clinical trials at diagnosis, and Kaplan-Meier graphical displays, log-rank tests, odds ratios, and stratified Cox proportional hazards models were used to analyze the impact of accrual on overall survival (OS). Strata were defined using 10 variables. Model-based adjusted survival curves of 2 groups were reverse-generated based on a Weibull distribution. Results: Of 12,097,681 patients in the NCDB, 11,576 (0.1%) were enrolled in trials. Patients in clinical trials typically had metastatic disease (30.9% vs 16.4%; P<.0001), were white (88.0% vs 84.8%; P<.0001), had private/managed care insurance (56.4% vs 41.8%; P<.0001), had fewer comorbidities (Charlson-Deyo score 0: 81.9% vs 75.7%; P<.0001, and Charlson-Deyo scores 1–3: 18.1% vs 24.3%; P<.0001) compared with those not in trials. At a median follow-up of 64 months, enrollment in a clinical trial was associated with improved OS in univariate and stratified analyses, with a median survival of 60.0 versus 52.5 months (hazard ratio, 0.876; 95% CI, 0.845–0.907; P<.0001). Stratified analysis with matched baseline characteristics between patients enrolled and not enrolled in a clinical trial showed superior OS at 5 years (95.0% vs 90.2%; P<.0001). Conclusions: Enrollment in clinical trials at first line of therapy in the United States is exceedingly low and favors young, healthy, white patients with metastatic disease and private insurance who are treated at academic medical centers. Patients with cancer treated in clinical trials live longer than those not treated in trials.

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Carolina Villanueva, Jenny Chang, Scott M. Bartell, Argyrios Ziogas, Robert Bristow and Verónica M. Vieira

Background: More than 14,000 women in the United States die of ovarian cancer (OC) every year. Disparities in survival have been observed by race and socioeconomic status (SES), and vary spatially even after adjusting for treatment received. This study aimed to determine the impact of geographic location on receiving treatment adherent to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for OC, independent of other predictors. Patients and Methods: Women diagnosed with all stages of epithelial OC (1996–2014) were identified through the California Cancer Registry. Generalized additive models, smoothing for residential location, were used to calculate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs for receiving nonadherent care throughout California. We assessed the impact of distance traveled for care, distance to closest high-quality hospital, race/ethnicity, and SES on receipt of quality care, adjusting for demographic and cancer characteristics and stratifying by disease stage. Results: Of 29,844 patients with OC, 11,419 (38.3%) received guideline-adherent care. ORs for nonadherent care were lower in northern California and higher in Kern and Los Angeles counties. Magnitudes of associations with location varied by stage (OR range, 0.45–2.19). Living farther from a high-quality hospital increased the odds of receiving nonadherent care (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.07–1.29), but travel >32 km to receive care was associated with decreased odds (OR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.70–0.84). American Indian/other women were more likely to travel greater distances to receive care. Women in the highest SES quintile, those with Medicare insurance, and women of non-Hispanic black race were less likely to travel far. Patients who were Asian/Pacific Islander lived the closest to a high-quality hospital. Conclusions: Among California women diagnosed with OC, living closer to a high-quality center was associated with receiving adherent care. Non-Hispanic black women were less likely to receive adherent care, and women with lower SES lived farthest from high-quality hospitals. Geographic location in California is an independent predictor of adherence to NCCN Guidelines for OC.

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Suzanne M. Mahon

Families with hereditary risk for developing malignancy benefit from organized, coordinated care by a genetics professional. This report presents a case illustrating the potential errors that can occur when genetic care is fragmented and not coordinated, including ordering too much or not enough genetic testing, failing to communicate with the family who is at potential genetic risk, failing to communicate what the results of testing mean, and failing to recommend appropriate care, which may lead to psychosocial distress and late-detected cancers. This case highlights the complexities of genetic care and why management by a genetics professional results in more fiscally responsible care, appropriate genetic testing, and comprehensive care for all family members at risk.

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Jeremy S. Abramson

Castleman disease is a heterogeneous nonmalignant lymphoproliferative disorder. Major distinctions include unicentric versus multicentric presentation; hyaline vascular, plasmacytic, or mixed pathology; and HHV8-associated (typically HIV-positive) versus idiopathic disease. At the NCCN 2019 Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Dr. Jeremy S. Abramson stated that rituximab is preferred as initial therapy for HHV8-positive disease, and chemotherapy can be added for patients with fulminant disease (antiretrovirals should always be used as well for those who are HIV-positive). Siltuximab is the preferred frontline therapy for idiopathic disease.

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Andrew D. Zelenetz

Although complex, biologic agents are key components of modern therapy in multiple disciplines, particularly oncology. However, despite the fact that biosimilars (eg, filgrastim‐sndz, bevacizumab‐awwb, trastuzumab‐dkst, rituximab-abbs) have been approved in the United States, many clinicians are poorly informed about their unique pathway for approval. At the NCCN 2019 Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Dr. Andrew D. Zelenetz, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, outlined important issues regarding the use of biosimilars, including extrapolation, interchangeability, and naming.

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Jorge J. Castillo

With so many recent advances in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, keeping abreast with current treatment recommendations can be challenging. Novel immunomodulators, proteasome inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and nuclear export inhibitors have all been added to the armamentarium, and the choice of which of these drugs or drug combinations to use depends on individual disease-related and patient-related factors, previous therapies, and treatment toxicities. At the NCCN 2019 Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Dr. Jorge J. Castillo provided an overview of the myriad treatments available for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, as well as therapies on the horizon.

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Jennifer R. Brown and William G. Wierda

With the enormous progress made in treatment and management, many oncologists have called this the golden age of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The past few years alone have seen the approval of multiple agents, including small molecule inhibitors that have led to longer, more durable periods of disease control. However, the introduction of these new drugs into the armamentarium has raised an important question regarding standard of care: is there still a role for chemoimmunotherapy in the first-line setting? At the NCCN 2019 Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies, Drs. William G. Wierda and Jennifer R. Brown presented opposing sides of the debate.