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Use of Palliative Chemotherapy for Advanced Bladder Cancer: Patterns of Care in Routine Clinical Practice

Andrew G. Robinson, Xuejiao Wei, William J. Mackillop, Yingwei Peng, and Christopher M. Booth

Background: Palliative chemotherapy for advanced bladder cancer is recommended in clinical practice guidelines. Patterns of care in routine clinical practice have not been well described. This article describes use rates of chemotherapy and referral rates to medical oncology in the last year of life among patients who have died of bladder cancer. Methods: A population-based cohort of patients with bladder cancer was identified from the Ontario Cancer Registry; the study population included patients who died of bladder cancer between 1995 and 2009. Electronic records of treatment and physician billing records were used to identify treatment patterns and referral to medical oncology. Log-binomial and modified Poisson regression were used to examine factors associated with chemotherapy use and medical oncology consultation. Results: A total of 8,005 patients died of bladder cancer, 25% (n=1,964) of whom received chemotherapy in the last year of life. Use was independently associated with patient age, comorbidities, socioeconomic status, sex, time period, and treatment region. A total of 68% (n=5,426) of patients were seen by a medical oncologist. Referral to medical oncology was associated with age, comorbidities, year of death. Geographic variation was seen with chemotherapy use—from 18% to 30%—that persisted on adjusted analysis. Conclusions: The efficacy of palliative chemotherapy demonstrated in clinical trials and recommended in guidelines has not translated into widespread use in practice. Understanding the extent to which patient preferences and health system factors influence use is needed. Access to acceptable palliative systemic treatments remains an unmet need for most patients dying of bladder cancer.

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Melanoma Metastases to the Adrenal Gland Are Highly Resistant to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Jessica S.W. Borgers, Richard P. Tobin, Robert J. Torphy, Victoria M. Vorwald, Robert J. Van Gulick, Carol M. Amato, Dasha T. Cogswell, Tugs-Saikhan Chimed, Kasey L. Couts, Adrie Van Bokhoven, Christopher D. Raeburn, Karl D. Lewis, Joshua Wisell, Martin D. McCarter, Rao R. Mushtaq, and William A. Robinson

Background: Adrenal gland metastases (AGMs) are common in advanced-stage melanoma, occurring in up to 50% of patients. The introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has markedly altered the outcome of patients with melanoma. However, despite significant successes, anecdotal evidence has suggested that treatment responses in AGMs are significantly lower than in other metastatic sites. We sought to investigate whether having an AGM is associated with altered outcomes and whether ICI responses are dampened in the adrenal glands. Patients and Methods: We retrospectively compared ICI responses and overall survival (OS) in 68 patients with melanoma who were diagnosed with an AGM and a control group of 100 patients without AGMs at a single institution. Response was determined using RECIST 1.1. OS was calculated from time of ICI initiation, anti–PD-1 initiation, initial melanoma diagnosis, and stage IV disease diagnosis. Tumor-infiltrating immune cells were characterized in 9 resected AGMs using immunohistochemical analysis. Results: Response rates of AGMs were significantly lower compared with other metastatic sites in patients with AGMs (16% vs 22%) and compared with those without AGMs (55%). Patients with AGMs also had significantly lower median OS compared with those without AGMs (3.1 years vs not reached, respectively). We further observed that despite this, AGMs exhibited high levels of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Conclusions: In this cohort of patients with melanoma, those diagnosed with an AGM had lower ICI response rates and OS. These results suggest that tissue-specific microenvironments of AGMs present unique challenges that may require novel, adrenal gland–directed therapies or surgical resection.