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Moving Forward With Expanding to an “All-RAS Mutational Analysis” in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: Beyond KRAS Mutations

Tanios Bekaii-Saab

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An Update on Biochemotherapy of Advanced Gastric and Gastroesophageal Adenocarcinoma

Peyman Haghighat and Tanios Bekaii-Saab

Gastric and gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GGA) are significant worldwide health problems. With most patients presenting with advanced disease, palliative chemotherapy plays a significant role in treatment. Results from recent phase III studies of cytotoxic agents in combination therapy, such as docetaxel, oxaliplatin, irinotecan, capecitabine, and S-1, have been encouraging and provide patients with additional therapeutic options. Although these forthcoming regimens have allowed for more flexible patient-tailored therapy, survival continues to be suboptimal. Although still in its infancy, targeted biotherapy, including inhibitors of the vascular endothelial and epidermal growth factor receptors, seems to be promising and its incorporation into the next generation of clinical trials will hopefully improve outcomes and help advance future treatments. This article reviews current active chemotherapeutic regimens and explores the role of novel targeted therapies in advanced GGA.

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Optimizing Neoadjuvant Therapy for Rectal Cancer With Oxaliplatin

Ludmila Katherine Martin and Tanios Bekaii-Saab

Neoadjuvant chemoradiation (CRT) is standard treatment for stage II-III rectal cancer. Fluoropyrimidine-based CRT prolongs disease-free survival over adjuvant CRT and improves local control over both adjuvant CRT and neoadjuvant radiotherapy alone, but does not prolong overall survival. New approaches to neoadjuvant therapy may improve outcome in this disease. Oxaliplatin, a standard component of chemotherapy for the treatment of both resected and metastatic colon cancer, is a potent radiosensitizer with synergistic radiosensitizing activity in combination with 5-FU in preclinical studies. Early clinical trials showed promising activity with the addition oxaliplatin to 5-FU-based CRT in stage II-III rectal cancer; however, early data from phase III trials seem to be disappointing. This article reviews the existing literature and explores the potential role of oxaliplatin as part of neoadjuvant CRT for rectal cancer.

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Emerging Treatments in Recurrent and Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Kristen Keon Ciombor and Tanios Bekaii-Saab

Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is a prevalent disease for which many new therapies have been developed over the past decade. Currently, standard of care chemotherapeutic regimens for mCRC include doublet cytotoxic chemotherapy with or without the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) monoclonal antibody bevacizumab, anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) monoclonal antibodies such as cetuximab and panitumumab with or without chemotherapy, and single-agent cytotoxic chemotherapy or targeted therapy for patients intolerant of combination regimens. Recent studies have investigated the efficacy of triplet cytotoxic chemotherapeutic regimens, bevacizumab in combination with chemotherapy beyond first-line therapy disease progression, dual anti-VEGF and anti-EGFR antibody therapy, and the more novel agents ziv-aflibercept and regorafenib for treatment of mCRC. Furthermore, molecular profiling of CRC has identified several genetic alterations for which targeted therapies are currently being developed. Optimal drug combinations and treatment sequences have yet to be defined, but an expanding armamentarium of therapies with which to treat CRC offers a promising future.

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Rechallenge With Switching Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Following Autoimmune Myocarditis in a Patient With Lynch Syndrome

Cody Eslinger, Daniel Walden, Timothy Barry, Shimoli Shah, Niloy Jewel Samadder, and Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) induce profound benefits in cancer patients with mismatch repair gene mutations or high levels of microsatellite instability. Herein, we present a case of a patient with history of Muir-Torre/Lynch syndrome and metastatic gastric adenocarcinoma in the presence of an MSH2 gene mutation. The patient was initially treated with a PD-1 inhibitor, pembrolizumab, but developed grade 4 myocarditis requiring treatment with infliximab and a prolonged steroid taper. Following discontinuation of pembrolizumab, surveillance testing showed no radiographic or endoscopic evidence of progression for 7 months, until biopsy results from a repeat upper endoscopy indicated local disease recurrence. The patient was subsequently rechallenged with another PD-1 inhibitor, nivolumab, at a 50% dose reduction without recurrent adverse events and eventually achieved a complete response after 13 cycles. This case highlights the relative importance of considering careful rechallenge with ICI therapy in patients with microsatellite instability–high malignancies and a high risk of severe adverse events.

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Systemic Therapy for Advanced Appendiceal Adenocarcinoma: An Analysis From the NCCN Oncology Outcomes Database for Colorectal Cancer

Mohamedtaki A. Tejani, Anna ter Veer, Dana Milne, Rebecca Ottesen, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Al B. Benson III, Deborah Schrag, Stephen Shibata, John Skibber, Martin Weiser, Neal Wilkinson, and Steven J. Cohen

Appendiceal malignancies are rare and represent 1% of intestinal tumors in the United States. The role and efficacy of modern systemic therapy in advanced appendiceal adenocarcinoma has not been established. This study analyzed patients with recurrent or metastatic appendiceal adenocarcinoma in the database for Colorectal Cancer (CRC; 2005-2012). This database tracks longitudinal care for patients treated at 8 specialty centers across the Unites States. Study objectives were to describe and evaluate the efficacy of systemic therapy and investigate relationships with clinicopathologic features. Cox regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Of 248 patients with advanced appendiceal carcinoma, 112 (45%) received systemic therapy for measurable disease and are the focus of this report. The most common chemotherapy regimens included FOLFOX with or without bevacizumab (n=39 and n=37, respectively), FOLFIRI (n=15), and single-agent fluoro-pyrimidine (n=10). Among 99 patients evaluable for best response, 39 experienced a response (response rate [RR], 39%) and 36 (36%) had stable disease. The median PFS was 1.2 years (95% CI, 1.0-1.8) and median OS was 2.1 years (95% CI, 1.6-2.3). Patients with non-mucinous histology or high-grade tumors and those who underwent nondebulking surgery had worse PFS and OS. Treatment of advanced appendiceal adenocarcinoma at NCCN Member Institutions commonly incorporates agents used for CRC. RR, PFS, and OS are comparable to those achieved in the treatment of metastatic CRC. Poor prognostic factors include nonmucinous histology or high-grade tumors and history of nondebulking surgery.

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Neoadjuvant Therapy for Rectal Cancer Affects Lymph Node Yield and Status Without Clear Implications on Outcome: The Case for Eliminating a Metric and Using Preoperative Staging to Guide Therapy

Sherif R. Z. Abdel-Misih, Lai Wei, Al B. Benson III, Steven Cohen, Lily Lai, John Skibber, Neal Wilkinson, Martin Weiser, Deborah Schrag, and Tanios Bekaii-Saab

Background: Nodal status has long been considered pivotal to oncologic care, staging, and management. This has resulted in the establishment of rudimentary metrics regarding adequate lymph node yield in colon and rectal cancers for accurate cancer staging. In the era of neoadjuvant treatment, the implications of lymph node yield and status on patient outcomes remains unclear. Patient and Methods: This study included 1,680 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer from the NCCN prospective oncology database stratified into 3 groups based on preoperative therapy received: no neoadjuvant therapy, neoadjuvant chemoradiation, and neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Clinicopathologic characteristics and survival were compared between the groups, with univariate and multivariate analyses undertaken. Results: The clinicopathologic characteristics demonstrated statistically significant differences and heterogeneity among the 3 groups. The neoadjuvant chemoradiation group demonstrated the statistically lowest median lymph node yield (n=15) compared with 17 and 18 for no-neoadjuvant and neoadjuvant chemotherapy, respectively (P<.0001). Neoadjuvant treatment did impact survival, with chemoradiation demonstrating increased median overall survival of 42.7 compared with 37.3 and 26.6 months for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and no-neoadjuvant therapy, respectively (P<.0001). Patients with a yield of fewer than 12 lymph nodes had improved median overall survival of 43.3 months compared with 36.6 months in patients with 12 or more lymph nodes (P=.009). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that neither node yield nor status were predictors for overall survival. Discussion: This analysis reiterates that nodal yield in rectal cancer is multifactorial, with neoadjuvant therapy being a significant factor. Node yield and status were not significant predictors of overall survival. A nodal metric may not be clinically relevant in the era of neoadjuvant therapy, and guidelines for perioperative therapy may need reconsideration.

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Neoadjuvant Radiotherapy Use in Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer at NCCN Member Institutions

Marsha Reyngold, Joyce Niland, Anna ter Veer, Dana Milne, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Steven J. Cohen, Lily Lai, Deborah Schrag, John M. Skibber, William Small Jr, Martin Weiser, Neal Wilkinson, and Karyn A. Goodman

Based on randomized data, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy has been incorporated into the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for stage II-III rectal cancer. Factors associated with nonadherence to evidence-based guidelines for neoadjuvant radiotherapy (RT) were examined at dedicated cancer centers. The prospective NCCN Oncology Outcomes Database for Colorectal Cancers was queried for patients with stage II-III rectal cancer who underwent a transabdominal surgical resection between September 2005 and June 2012. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with omission of RT. Among 1199 identified patients, 1119 (93%) received neoadjuvant RT, 51 (4%) did not receive RT, and 29 (2%) received adjuvant RT. Among 51 patients not receiving RT, only 19 (37%) were referred and evaluated by a radiation oncologist. On multivariable analysis, clinical factors associated with not receiving RT included a history of prior pelvic RT (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 23.9; P=.0003), ECOG performance status of 2 or greater (aOR, 11.1; P=.01), tumor distance from the anal verge greater than 10 cm (aOR, 5.4; P=.009), age at diagnosis of 75 years or older (aOR, 4.43; P=.002), body mass index of 25 to 30 kg/m2 and less than 25 kg/m2 (aOR, 5.22 and 4.23, respectively; P=.03), and clinical stage II (aOR, 2.27; P=.02). No significant change was seen in RT use according to diagnosis year, nor was any correlation seen with distance to the nearest RT facility. Concordance with NCCN Guidelines for neoadjuvant RT is high among NCCN Member Institutions. After adjusting for clinical characteristics that increase the risk for RT toxicity, including history of pelvic RT and high comorbidity burden/low functional status, the authors found that non-obese patients of advanced age or those with more favorable clinical features were more likely to not receive RT.

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Real-World Treatment Patterns in Patients With HER2-Amplified Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: A Clinical-Genomic Database Study

John H. Strickler, Ling-I Hsu, Phoebe Wright, Michael Stecher, Muriel F. Siadak, Maria Corinna Palanca-Wessels, Junhua Yu, Nicole Zhang, Carin R. Espenschied, Kathryn Lang, and Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab

Background: HER2 amplification (HER2+) occurs in approximately 3% of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Despite the recent addition of HER2-directed therapies to treatment recommendations in the NCCN Guidelines, until more recently there were no FDA-approved treatments. This study examined real-world treatment patterns in patients with HER2+ mCRC in the United States before and after the emerging awareness of HER2-directed therapies in 2018. Methods: This was a retrospective observational study of patients with HER2+ mCRC from the GuardantINFORM database, which contains claims data for patients with Guardant360 genomic testing results. Patients were aged ≥18 years, were diagnosed with mCRC between January 2014 and September 2020, and had confirmed ERBB2 amplification via the blood-based Guardant360 test. Treatment patterns and real-world time to next treatment (rwTTNT) were evaluated. Results: This study included 142 patients with a median age of 59 years; 31 (21.8%) patients with ERBB2 amplifications also had ERBB2 mutations. Treatment patterns were heterogeneous and evolved over time; before 2018, the most common regimen prescribed after detection of ERBB2 amplification was anti-VEGF therapy with or without chemotherapy (31.6%; n=25), and after 2018, HER2-directed therapies were the most commonly prescribed (36.5%; n=23). Median rwTTNT among the overall cohort was 8.4 months (95% CI, 6.5–10.0); rwTTNT was numerically longer in patients who received HER2-directed therapy compared with those who received non–HER2-directed therapies (11.0 months [95% CI, 6.3–12.3] vs 7.2 months [95% CI, 5.8–9.6]). Conclusions: This real-world study of the largest clinically annotated dataset of patients with HER2+ mCRC showed that many patients do not receive HER2-directed therapy despite its inclusion in NCCN Guidelines, with heterogeneous treatment patterns suggesting that standard of care remains undefined and targeted therapy remains underutilized. Greater awareness of the unmet need in this patient population, together with new effective therapies, will facilitate strategies for improved, targeted treatment approaches.

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Changes in Prescribing Patterns in Stage III Colon Cancer

Fang-Shu Ou, Daniel J. Walden, Joseph J. Larson, Sandra Kang, Cassia R. Griswold, Benjamin E. Ueberroth, Bhamini Patel, Amber Draper, Puneet Raman, Olatunji B. Alese, Mohamad B. Sonbol, Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, Christina S. Wu, and Daniel H. Ahn

Background: For patients with resected stage III colon cancer, 6 months of adjuvant fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy has been the standard of care. The IDEA collaboration aimed to evaluate whether 3 months of adjuvant chemotherapy was noninferior to 6 months. Despite failing to meet its primary endpoint, the subgroup analyses demonstrated noninferiority based on regimen and treatment duration when a risk-stratified approach was used. Patients and Methods: To evaluate the impact of the results of the IDEA collaboration, we evaluated adjuvant chemotherapy prescribing practice patterns, including planned adjuvant treatment regimen and duration from January 1, 2016, to January 31, 2021. The time period was selected to evaluate chemotherapy prescribing patterns prior to the abstract presentation of the IDEA collaboration in June 2017 and after full manuscript publication in March 2018. Results: A total of 399 patients with stage III colon cancer who received adjuvant chemotherapy were included in the analysis. A significant increasing trend for use of 3 months of adjuvant chemotherapy was observed after presentation of the IDEA abstract (P<.001). A significant change in CAPOX (capecitabine/oxaliplatin) prescribing was also observed, increasing from 14% of patients prior to presentation of the IDEA abstract to 48% after presentation (P<.001). Comparing 3 months of CAPOX with 6 months of FOLFOX (fluorouracil/leucovorin/oxaliplatin), 3 months of CAPOX use also steadily increased over time (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.28; 95% CI, 1.20–1.37; P<.001). Among subgroups of interest, no differences in adoption of CAPOX were observed. The adoption of 3 months of CAPOX was similar in patients with low-risk cancer (aOR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.17–1.37) and those with high-risk cancer (aOR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.16–1.47). Conclusions: Despite the IDEA collaboration failing to demonstrate noninferiority of 3 months’ duration of adjuvant therapy compared with 6 months, the findings have influenced practice prescribing patterns, favoring CAPOX and a shorter duration of planned adjuvant treatment.