Background: Editorials accompanying the publication of trials in major oncology journals can have a substantial influence on clinical practice. We describe the prevalence of financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs) of authors writing such editorials and the extent to which FCOIs may shape the interpretation of clinical trials. Methods: We examined editorials published in 2018 alongside trial reports in the top 5 journals that publish cancer drug trials (New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Lancet Oncology, JAMA Oncology, and Journal of Clinical Oncology). An editorial was considered to have an FCOI if at least one of the editorialists had any disclosed FCOI. An FCOI with the same company whose drug was being discussed in the editorial was classified as a direct FCOI. Editorials were reviewed for their content and classified as being unduly favorable (defined as the presence of a positive spin without discussion of limitations) or not. Association of an FCOI and a direct FCOI with writing an unduly favorable editorial was assessed. Results: Of the 90 editorials assessed, 74% (n=67) were classified as having an FCOI with the pharmaceutical industry, and 39% (n=35) had an FCOI with the same company whose product was being discussed in the editorial (direct FCOI). Editorials were classified as being unduly favorable toward the study drug in 12% (8 of 67) and 13% (3 of 23) (P=1.0) of those with and without FCOIs, respectively; corresponding rates with and without direct FCOI were 23% (8 of 35) and 5% (3 of 55), respectively (P=.009). Conclusions: Editorials in top oncology journals were frequently authored by experts with FCOIs, including direct FCOIs. Authoring an unduly favorable editorial for a new cancer drug was significantly associated with the author having a direct FCOI with the same company. These findings support the call for journals to ensure that authors of editorials have no direct FCOIs.
Shubham Sharma, Christopher M. Booth, Elizabeth A. Eisenhauer, and Bishal Gyawali
Natasha Satkunam, Xuejiao Wei, James J. Biagi, Sulaiman Nanji, and Christopher M. Booth
Background: Adjuvant oxaliplatin is now a standard treatment option for patients with early-stage colon cancer. However, treatment delivery and outcomes achieved in routine practice are not well described. Methods: All cases of colon cancer diagnosed in Ontario from 2002 to 2008 were identified using the Ontario Cancer Registry. Pathology reports were obtained for a 25% random sample to identify stage II and III cases; patients treated with adjuvant oxaliplatin were included in this analysis. Treatment records were reviewed to identify oxaliplatin dose reductions or omissions. Modified Poisson regression was used to evaluate factors associated with dose reduction/omission. Cox proportional hazards model was used to explore factors associated with cancer-specific survival (CSS) and overall survival (OS). Results: The study population included 532 patients; 88% (469/532) had stage III disease. The mean/median number of oxaliplatin cycles delivered was 10/12. A dose reduction/omission of oxaliplatin occurred in 54% of cases (288/532), and the dose was subsequently escalated in 34% of these (97/288). Women were more likely than men to have dose reduction/omission (relative risk, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.10–1.51). Dose reduction/omission was not associated with inferior CSS (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76; 95% CI, 0.51–1.14) or OS (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.59–1.13). Five-year CSS and OS of all cases were 77% (95% CI, 72–81) and 72% (95% CI, 68–76), respectively. On-treatment mortality rates were 1% and 3% within 30 and 90 days of oxaliplatin, respectively. Conclusions: Dose reductions of adjuvant oxaliplatin are common in routine practice but are not associated with inferior survival. Long-term survival achieved in the general population is comparable to the results of clinical trials.
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.
Christopher M. Booth, Sulaiman Nanji, Xuejiao Wei, Yingwei Peng, James J. Biagi, Timothy P. Hanna, Monika K. Krzyzanowska, and William J. Mackillop
Background: International guidelines recommend adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) for patients with stage III colon cancer. Whether efficacy observed in clinical trials translates to effectiveness in routine practice is less well understood. Here we describe use and outcomes of ACT in routine practice. Methods: All cases of colon cancer treated with surgery in Ontario 2002–2008 were identified using the population-based Ontario Cancer Registry. Linked electronic records of treatment identified surgery and ACT use. Pathology reports were obtained for a random 25% sample of all cases; patients with stage III disease were included in the study population. Modified Poisson regression was used to evaluate factors associated with ACT. Cox proportional hazards model and propensity score analysis were used to explore the association between ACT and cancer-specific survival (CSS) and overall survival (OS). Results: The study population included 2,801 patients with stage III colon cancer; 66% (n=1,861) received ACT. ACT use rates varied substantially across age groups; 90% among patients aged 20 to 49 years versus 68% among those aged 70 to 79 years (P<.001). ACT use was inversely associated with comorbidity (P<.001) and socioeconomic status (P=.049). In adjusted analyses advanced age is associated with inferior CSS and OS. Use of ACT was associated with decreased risk of death from cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 0.63; 95% CI, 0.54–0.73) and decreased risk of death from any cause (HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.55–0.71). This result was consistent in the propensity score analysis. Conclusions: One-third of patients with stage III colon cancer in the general population do not receive ACT. Use of ACT in routine practice is associated with a substantial improvement in CSS and OS.
Camilla Zimmermann, Ashley Pope, Breffni Hannon, Monika K. Krzyzanowska, Gary Rodin, Madeline Li, Doris Howell, Jennifer J. Knox, Natasha B. Leighl, Srikala Sridhar, Amit M. Oza, Rebecca Prince, Stephanie Lheureux, Aaron R. Hansen, Anne Rydall, Brittany Chow, Leonie Herx, Christopher M. Booth, Deborah Dudgeon, Neesha Dhani, Geoffrey Liu, Philippe L. Bedard, Jean Mathews, Nadia Swami, and Lisa W. Le
Background: Routine early palliative care (EPC) improves quality of life (QoL) for patients with advanced cancer, but it may not be necessary for all patients. We assessed the feasibility of Symptom screening with Targeted Early Palliative care (STEP) in a phase II trial. Methods: Patients with advanced cancer were recruited from medical oncology clinics. Symptoms were screened at each visit using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-revised (ESAS-r); moderate to severe scores (screen-positive) triggered an email to a palliative care nurse, who called the patient and offered EPC. Patient-reported outcomes of QoL, depression, symptom control, and satisfaction with care were measured at baseline and at 2, 4, and 6 months. The primary aim was to determine feasibility, according to predefined criteria. Secondary aims were to assess whether STEP identified patients with worse patient-reported outcomes and whether screen-positive patients who accepted and received EPC had better outcomes over time than those who did not receive EPC. Results: In total, 116 patients were enrolled, of which 89 (77%) completed screening for ≥70% of visits. Of the 70 screen-positive patients, 39 (56%) received EPC during the 6-month study and 4 (6%) received EPC after the study end. Measure completion was 76% at 2 months, 68% at 4 months, and 63% at 6 months. Among screen-negative patients, QoL, depression, and symptom control were substantially better than for screen-positive patients at baseline (all P<.0001) and remained stable over time. Among screen-positive patients, mood and symptom control improved over time for those who accepted and received EPC and worsened for those who did not receive EPC (P<.01 for trend over time), with no difference in QoL or satisfaction with care. Conclusions: STEP is feasible in ambulatory patients with advanced cancer and distinguishes between patients who remain stable without EPC and those who benefit from targeted EPC. Acceptance of the triggered EPC visit should be encouraged.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04044040.