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William J. Gradishar, Benjamin O. Anderson, Jame Abraham, Rebecca Aft, Doreen Agnese, Kimberly H. Allison, Sarah L. Blair, Harold J. Burstein, Chau Dang, Anthony D. Elias, Sharon H. Giordano, Matthew P. Goetz, Lori J. Goldstein, Steven J. Isakoff, Jairam Krishnamurthy, Janice Lyons, P. Kelly Marcom, Jennifer Matro, Ingrid A. Mayer, Meena S. Moran, Joanne Mortimer, Ruth M. O'Regan, Sameer A. Patel, Lori J. Pierce, Hope S. Rugo, Amy Sitapati, Karen Lisa Smith, Mary Lou Smith, Hatem Soliman, Erica M. Stringer-Reasor, Melinda L. Telli, John H. Ward, Jessica S. Young, Jennifer L. Burns and Rashmi Kumar

Several new systemic therapy options have become available for patients with metastatic breast cancer, which have led to improvements in survival. In addition to patient and clinical factors, the treatment selection primarily depends on the tumor biology (hormone-receptor status and HER2-status). The NCCN Guidelines specific to the workup and treatment of patients with recurrent/stage IV breast cancer are discussed in this article.

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Alyssa A. Schatz, Thomas K. Oliver, Robert A. Swarm, Judith A. Paice, Deepika S. Darbari, Deborah Dowell, Salimah H. Meghani, Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Eduardo Bruera, Robert M. Plovnick, Lisa Richardson, Neha Vapiwala, Dana Wollins, Clifford A. Hudis and Robert W. Carlson

Opioids are a critical component of pain relief strategies for the management of patients with cancer and sickle cell disease. The escalation of opioid addiction and overdose in the United States has led to increased scrutiny of opioid prescribing practices. Multiple reports have revealed that regulatory and coverage policies, intended to curb inappropriate opioid use, have created significant barriers for many patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and American Society of Clinical Oncology each publish clinical practice guidelines for the management of chronic pain. A recent JAMA Oncology article highlighted perceived variability in recommendations among these guidelines. In response, leadership from guideline organizations, government representatives, and authors of the original article met to discuss challenges and solutions. The meeting featured remarks by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, presentations on each clinical practice guideline, an overview of the pain management needs of patients with sickle cell disease, an overview of perceived differences among guidelines, and a discussion of differences and commonalities among the guidelines. The meeting revealed that although each guideline varies in the intended patient population, target audience, and methodology, there is no disagreement among recommendations when applied to the appropriate patient and clinical situation. It was determined that clarification and education are needed regarding the intent, patient population, and scope of each clinical practice guideline, rather than harmonization of guideline recommendations. Clinical practice guidelines can serve as a resource for policymakers and payers to inform policy and coverage determinations.

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Helmneh M. Sineshaw, K. Robin Yabroff, V. Liana Tsikitis, Ahmedin Jemal and Timur Mitin

Background: Elderly patients with rectal cancer have been excluded from randomized studies, thus little is known about their early postoperative mortality, which is critical for informed consent and treatment decisions. This study examined early mortality after surgery in elderly patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Methods: Using the National Cancer Database, we identified patients aged ≥75 years, diagnosed with clinical stage II/III rectal cancer who underwent surgery in 2004 through 2015. Descriptive analyses determined proportions and trends and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to determine factors associated with early mortality after rectal cancer surgery. Results: Among 11,794 patients with rectal cancer aged ≥75 years, approximately 6% underwent local excision and 94% received radical resection. Overall 30-day, 90-day, and 6-month postoperative mortality rates were 4.2%, 7.8%, and 11.5%, respectively. Six-month mortality varied by age (8.4% in age 75–79 years to 18.3% in age ≥85 years), and comorbidity score (10.1% for comorbidity score 0 to 17.7% for comorbidity score ≥2). Six-month mortality declined from 12.3% in 2004 through 2007 to 10.2% in 2012 through 2015 (P trend=.0035). Older age, higher comorbidity score, and lower facility case volume were associated with higher 6-month mortality. Patients treated at NCI-designated centers had 30% lower odds of 6-month mortality compared with those treated at teaching/research centers. Conclusions: Six-month mortality rates after surgery among patients aged ≥75 years with LARC have declined steadily over the past decade in the United States. Older age, higher comorbidity score, and care at a low-case-volume facility were associated with higher 6-month mortality after surgery. This information is necessary for informed consent and decisions regarding optimal management of elderly patients with LARC.

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Ami M. Vyas, Hilary Aroke and Stephen Kogut

Background: It is crucial to identify whether women with HER2-positive (HER2+) metastatic breast cancer (MBC) are treated according to treatment guidelines and whether treatment disparities exist. This study examined guideline-concordant treatment among women with HER2+ MBC and determined the magnitude of differences in treatment between those with positive and negative hormone receptor (HR) status using a nonlinear decomposition technique. Methods: A retrospective observational cohort study was conducted using the SEER-Medicare linked database. The study cohort consisted of women aged ≥66 years diagnosed with HER2+ MBC in 2010 through 2013 (n=241). Guideline-concordant initial treatment after cancer diagnosis was defined based on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Breast Cancer. A multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify significant predictors of guideline-concordant treatment. A postregression decomposition was conducted to identify the magnitude of disparities in treatment by HR status. Results: Of 241 women included in the study, a total of 76.8% received guideline-concordant treatment. These women were significantly more likely to have positive HR status (P=.0298), have good performance status (P=.0009), and more oncology visits (P<.0001). With 1-year increments in age at cancer diagnosis, the likelihood of receiving guideline-concordant treatment reduced by 5% (P=.0356). The decomposition analysis revealed that 19.0% of the disparity in guideline-concordant treatment between women with positive and negative HR status was explained by differences in their characteristics. Enabling characteristics (marital status, income, and education) explained the highest (22.8%) proportion of the disparity. Conclusions: Nearly one-quarter of the study cohort did not receive guideline-concordant treatment. Our findings suggest opportunities to improve cancer care for elderly women with negative HR status who are unpartnered or have lower socioeconomic status. The high unexplained portion of the disparity by HR status can be due to patient treatment preferences, propensity to seek care, and organizational and physician-level characteristics that were not included in the study.

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Margaret Tempero

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Angela K. Green, Deborah Korenstein, Carol Aghajanian, Brooke Barrow, Michael Curry and Roisin E. O’Cearbhaill

Background: This study sought to describe how high- versus low-frequency surveillance imaging practices among providers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) impact overall survival (OS) and time to recurrence of patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer in first remission. Methods: The study cohort included patients with stage II–IV high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosed in January 2001 through January 2017 who experienced recurrence after initial platinum-based chemotherapy. To determine usual imaging practices for providers at MSKCC, median frequency of CT or MRI of the abdomen/pelvis was calculated among patients with a long-term remission (defined as at least 1 year) treated by each provider. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine differences in OS and time to recurrence among patients treated by providers with high versus low imaging frequency practices, with additional subgroup analysis among patients with elevated CA-125 levels >35 U/mL at diagnosis. Chi-square tests were used to examine differences in the proportion of patients who enrolled in clinical trials or underwent secondary cytoreductive surgery (SCS) by imaging frequency. Results: A total of 543 patients were treated by providers with high imaging frequency (>1 scan every 12 months) and 141 were treated by providers with low imaging frequency (≤1 scan every 12 months). Time to recurrence was shorter among patients treated by providers with high versus low imaging frequency (18.0 vs 19.2 months; hazard ratio, 1.33; P=.003). Results were similar when restricted to patients with elevated CA-125 levels at diagnosis. There was no significant difference in OS, clinical trial enrollment, or SCS by imaging practice. Conclusions: Within the limitations of this retrospective analysis, patients with advanced ovarian cancer treated by high-frequency-imaging providers had earlier detection of recurrence. Future analyses in a larger population are warranted to elucidate the risks versus benefits of surveillance imaging.

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Masumi Ueda, Renato Martins, Paul C. Hendrie, Terry McDonnell, Jennie R. Crews, Tracy L. Wong, Brittany McCreery, Barbara Jagels, Aaron Crane, David R. Byrd, Steven A. Pergam, Nancy E. Davidson, Catherine Liu and F. Marc Stewart

The first confirmed case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States was reported on January 20, 2020, in Snohomish County, Washington. At the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and University of Washington are at the forefront of delivering care to patients with cancer during this public health crisis. This Special Feature highlights the unique circumstances and challenges of cancer treatment amidst this global pandemic, and the importance of organizational structure, preparation, agility, and a shared vision for continuing to provide cancer treatment to patients in the face of uncertainty and rapid change.