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Efrat Dotan and Louise C. Walter

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Alyssa A. Schatz, Katy Winckworth Prejsnar, James McCanney, Meghan Gutierrez, Stefanie Joho, Joseph Alvarnas and Robert W. Carlson

In recent years, oncology has seen a rapid increase in the introduction of high-cost innovative therapies while scrutiny around drug pricing has simultaneously amplified. Significant policy shifts impacting health coverage and benefit design are also being implemented, including narrow network health plans, uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, and threats to preexisting condition protections. Shifting health coverage policy combined with high drug prices and outdated reimbursement systems may create barriers to patient access to innovation and high-quality cancer care. To understand how trends in health policy are impacting the oncology ecosystem, NCCN convened the NCCN Policy Summit: Policy Strategies for the “New Normal” in Healthcare to Ensure Access to High-Quality Cancer Care on June 25, 2018. The summit included discussion of how innovation is changing cancer treatment, care delivery, and ways health systems are responding; the impact of narrow networks on access to academic cancer centers; and how the evolving health policy landscape is affecting access to high-quality cancer care for patients.

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Yvonne H. Sada, Brandon G. Smaglo, Joy C. Tan, Hop S. Tran Cao, Benjamin L. Musher and Nader N. Massarweh

Background: Pathologically positive lymph nodes (ypN+) after preoperative chemotherapy are associated with poor survival in patients with gastric cancer. Little is known about the association between response to preoperative therapy and the benefit of postoperative therapy. Methods: This retrospective cohort study of the National Cancer Database included patients with clinically node-positive (cN+) gastric cancer treated with preoperative therapy followed by surgery (2006–2014). Preoperative treatment modality was categorized as the inclusion of radiation therapy (RT) or chemotherapy alone. Pretreatment clinical and pathologic stages were used to determine pathologic treatment response rates. The association between overall risk of death and preoperative treatment, disease response, and adjuvant therapy use was evaluated using multivariable Cox regression. Results: Preoperative RT was used in 53.6% of 1,976 patients with cN+ gastric cancer, (74.3% cardia and 10.1% noncardia). The nodal response rate was 38.9% and was higher with RT than with chemotherapy alone (cardia, 46.0% vs 29.1%; P<.001; noncardia, 43.8% vs 31.9%; P=.06). Preoperative RT was associated with an approximate 2-fold increase in the odds of pathologic response compared with chemotherapy. Overall, use of adjuvant therapy was not associated with a decreased risk of death. A primary tumor response with residual nodal disease was not associated with survival (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03; 95% CI, 0.66–1.60). However, a nodal response with residual primary disease was significantly associated with survival (HR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.44–0.65). Conclusions: More than one-third of node-positive gastric cancers showed pathologic nodal response with preoperative treatment. RT is associated with a higher response than chemotherapy. Patients with ypN+ disease have worse survival, regardless of whether they receive postoperative therapy. Future gastric cancer trials should evaluate the role of preoperative RT and individualize postoperative therapy use.

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Douglas B. Johnson, Riyue Bao, Kristin K. Ancell, Anthony B. Daniels, Deborah Wallace, Jeffrey A. Sosman and Jason J. Luke

Background: Uveal melanoma (UM) is an uncommon melanoma subtype with poor prognosis. Agents that have transformed the management of cutaneous melanoma have made minimal inroads in UM. Methods: We conducted a single-arm phase II study of pembrolizumab in patients with metastatic UM and performed bioinformatics analyses of publicly available datasets to characterize the activity of anti–PD-1 in this setting and to understand the mutational and immunologic profile of this disease. Results: A total of 5 patients received pembrolizumab in this study. Median overall survival was not reached, and median progression-free survival was 11.0 months. One patient experienced a complete response after one dose and 2 others experienced prolonged stable disease (20% response rate, 60% clinical benefit rate); 2 additional patients had rapidly progressing disease. Notably, the patients who benefited had either no liver metastases or small-volume disease, whereas patients with rapidly progressing disease had bulky liver involvement. We performed a bioinformatics analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas for UM and confirmed a low mutation burden and low rates of T-cell inflammation. Note that the lack of T-cell inflammation strongly correlated with MYC pathway overexpression. Conclusions: Anti–PD-1–based therapy may cause clinical benefit in metastatic UM, seemingly more often in patients without bulky liver metastases. Lack of mutation burden and T-cell infiltration and MYC overexpression may be factors limiting therapeutic responses.

ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02359851

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Jing Xi, Aabha Oza, Shana Thomas, Foluso Ademuyiwa, Katherine Weilbaecher, Rama Suresh, Ron Bose, Mathew Cherian, Leonel Hernandez-Aya, Ashley Frith, Lindsay Peterson, Jingqin Luo, Jairam Krishnamurthy and Cynthia X. Ma

Background: Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 inhibitors are now the standard of care for hormone receptor–positive (HR+), HER2-negative (HER–) metastatic breast cancer (MBC). However, guidelines are lacking regarding their optimal sequencing with other available agents. This study examines physician practice patterns and treatment outcomes of palbociclib and subsequent therapies in a real-world setting. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted for consecutive patients with MBC who received palbociclib between February 2015 and August 2017 at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. Kaplan-Meier method was used to generate time-to-event curves and estimate median progression-free survival (mPFS). Log-rank test was used to compare differences. Results: A total of 200 patients, with a median age of 59.4 years and a follow-up of 19.5 months, were included. Palbociclib was most frequently combined with letrozole (73.5%), followed by fulvestrant (25%), anastrozole (1%), and tamoxifen (0.5%). Most patients received palbociclib in the endocrine-resistant setting (n=42, n=50, and n=108 in the first-, second-, and subsequent-line settings, respectively), and the fraction of patients receiving palbociclib as first- or second-line therapy increased in recent months (P=.0428). mPFS was 20.7, 12.8, and 4.0 months with palbociclib administered in the first-, second-, and subsequent-line settings, respectively (P<.0001). Incidences of grade 3/4 neutropenia (41.5%) and dose reductions (29%) were comparable to reports in the literature. Among patients whose disease progressed on palbociclib (n=104), the most frequent next-line treatment was capecitabine (n=21), followed by eribulin (n=16), nab-paclitaxel (n=15), and exemestane + everolimus (n=12). mPFS with hormone therapy alone or in combination with targeted agents (n=32) after first-, second-, and subsequent-line palbociclib was 17.0, 9.3, and 4.2 months, respectively (P=.04). mPFS with chemotherapy (n=70) was not reached, 4.7, and 4.1 months after first-, second-, and subsequent-line palbociclib, respectively (P=.56). Conclusions: Palbociclib is effective for HR+/HER2– MBC in real-world practice. Hormone therapy alone or in combination with targeted agents remains an effective option after palbociclib progression.