In the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer (CRC), the addition of so-called “targeted” agents to irinotecan- and oxaliplatin-based regimens has resulted in statistically significant—but often clinically modest—improvements in progression-free and overall survival. This is true for the most recent additions to the treatment armamentarium, regorafenib and ziv-aflibercept. In his recent presentation at the NCCN 18th Annual Conference, Leonard Saltz, MD, reviewed the landmark trials establishing targeted agents as effective in metastatic CRC. However, he also noted that statistical significance does not necessarily equal clinical significance, and indicated that clinicians should consider the differential toxicity profiles of the regimens when individualizing treatment.
Systemic Therapy for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Targeted Strategies in the Treatment of Metastatic Colon Cancer
Diane Reidy and Leonard Saltz
Advances in the understanding of tumor biology have led to the identification of important cellular processes involved in the pathogenesis of colon cancer. Drugs that interfere with these critical pathways are known as targeted agents. The goal of these therapies is to selectively interrupt the signal transduction pathways responsible for tumor growth and survival. Some of these targeted agents have made important, albeit modest, contributions to the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. However, the activity levels with the currently available targeted therapies are far lower than experts had hoped, and toxicities are often nontrivial. This article reviews the available therapies, the data that justify their use, and the challenges of optimizing targeted therapies through combinations with cytotoxic chemotherapies and other targeted agents. Finally, some newer drugs and strategies currently being tested in clinical trials are discussed.
BRAF Mutations in Colorectal Cancer: Clinical Relevance and Role in Targeted Therapy
Rona Yaeger and Leonard Saltz
Study Using the NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care to Screen Patients for Palliative Care Needs and Referral to Palliative Care Specialists
Paul Glare, Kathy Plakovic, Anna Schloms, Barbara Egan, Andrew S. Epstein, David Kelsen, and Leonard Saltz
The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Palliative Care recommend screening all patients for palliative care (PC) needs and to call a PC consult when referral criteria are met. The goal of this pilot project was to evaluate the feasibility of implementing the screening and referral components of the NCCN Guidelines for Palliative Care in patients admitted to the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service (GIOS) at a comprehensive cancer center (CCC). Floor nurses performed the initial screening of all patients admitted to the 2 teams—Team A and Team B—of the GIOS on one floor of Memorial Hospital for 3 months. In addition, only the patients admitted to Team A were evaluated according to the referral criteria, triggering a PC consult if results were positive. Nurses were surveyed regarding satisfaction with and the acceptability of screening. During the study period, 229 (90%) total admissions were screened, with 169 (73%) having positive results. Of the Team A admissions, 72 (64%) met the referral criteria. More consults occurred for patients in Team A (47 vs 15; P=.001). In 30% of the referral criteria-triggered consults, the PC needs were manageable by the primary team. Nurses reported screening to be easy and quick (<5 minutes per patient) but only somewhat helpful. Being unfamiliar with many patients and families, floor nurses often felt unable to screen them accurately for some issues. In conclusion, screening was feasible, increasing access to PC, but accuracy and usefulness are concerns. With a consult indicated in 64% patients, yet with 30% being manageable by the primary team, the current criteria may be too sensitive for the inpatient environment of a CCC. More evaluation is needed before widespread implementation can be recommended.
NCCN Task Force Report: Management of Dermatologic and Other Toxicities Associated With EGFR Inhibition in Patients With Cancer
Barbara Burtness, Milan Anadkat, Surendra Basti, Miranda Hughes, Mario E. Lacouture, Joan S. McClure, Patricia L. Myskowski, Jennifer Paul, Clifford S. Perlis, Leonard Saltz, and Sharon Spencer
This NCCN Task Force Report describes the management of dermatologic and ocular toxicities that occur in patients treated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Task force members are from NCCN member institutions and include oncologists, dermatologists, an ophthalmologist, and a mid-level oncology provider. This report describes commonly used therapies that the task force agreed are appropriate standards of care for dermatologic and ophthalmologic toxicities associated with EGFR inhibitors, which generally are supported only by anecdotal evidence. Few recommendations are evidence based; however, some commonly used therapies have data supporting their use. Conclusions from completed clinical trials are generally limited by the small numbers of patients enrolled. The information in this report is based on available published data on treating toxicities associated with EGFR inhibitors, data from treatment of clinically similar toxicities from different etiologies, and expert opinion among the NCCN Task Force members.
False-Positive Elevations of Carcinoembryonic Antigen in Patients With a History of Resected Colorectal Cancer
Anya Litvak, Andrea Cercek, Neil Segal, Diane Reidy-Lagunes, Zsofia K. Stadler, Rona D. Yaeger, Nancy E. Kemeny, Martin R. Weiser, Melissa S. Pessin, and Leonard Saltz
Routine monitoring of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels is standard in patients with resected colorectal cancer (CRC). The incidence of false-positives and the upper limits of false-positive elevations have not been previously well characterized. A search of medical records at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center identified 728 patients who underwent an R0 resection of locoregional CRC between January 2003 and December 2012 and who had an increase in CEA level above the normal range after a normal perioperative CEA level. Of these, 358 had a false-positive elevation of CEA level, 335 had a true-positive elevation indicative of recurrent CRC, and 35 had a true-positive elevation indicative of the development of a new, non-CRC malignancy. Of those with false elevations, 111 had a single isolated CEA level elevation (median highest CEA level of 5.5 ng/mL) with no further abnormal measurements, whereas 247 had elevations on 2 or more readings, with a median highest level of 6.7 ng/mL. Of these 247 patients with confirmed false-positive CEA level elevations, only 5 (2%) had measurements greater than 15 ng/mL, and no confirmed elevation greater than 35 ng/mL was a false-positive. False-positive CEA test results in the range of 5 to 15 ng/mL are common. Confirmation of CEA elevation in this range before initiating imaging studies may be appropriate. False-positive results greater than 15 ng/mL are rare, and all confirmed CEA levels greater than 35 ng/mL were associated with cancer recurrence.
Frequency, Morbidity, and Mortality of Bone Metastases in Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma
James J. Harding, Ghaith Abu-Zeinah, Joanne F. Chou, Dwight Hall Owen, Michele Ly, Maeve Aine Lowery, Marinela Capanu, Richard Do, Nancy E. Kemeny, Eileen M. O'Reilly, Leonard B. Saltz, and Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa
Background: Bone metastases are common in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but their incidence, morbidity, and mortality are not well defined. Methods: The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center database was queried for all patients with HCC and metastases seen from 2002 to 2014. The prevalence of bone metastasis was determined and cumulative incidence function was used to estimate the probability of developing a bone metastasis. Regression models were created to identify risk factors for osseous metastasis. The frequency of skeletal-related events (SREs), defined as pathologic fracture, spinal cord compression, need for radiation therapy to bone, and/or surgical resection of bone, was determined and cumulative incidence function was used to estimate the probability of SRE development. Regression models were created to identify SRE risk factors. Correlation of clinicopathologic parameters, including bone metastases and SREs, with overall survival was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier methodology. Results: A total of 459 patients with HCC and extrahepatic metastases were identified; 151 patients (32.9%) had or developed bone metastases: 128 (27.9%) as a primary site and 23 (4.6%) as a secondary site of extrahepatic disease. Among the 331 patients without bone metastasis at presentation, the yearly incidence of bone metastasis was 6.4% (95% CI, 3.6%–9.2%). Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection increased the chance of developing a bone metastasis (P=.02). The cumulative incidence of SREs was 50% at 6 months. Univariate analysis showed that patients with HBV-related HCC had a significantly higher incidence of SREs (P=.02). Sorafenib and bisphosphonates each protected against SREs. The presence of SREs was independently associated with a worse overall survival (hazard ratio, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.52–2.97; P<.01) in the multivariable model. Conclusions: Patients with AJCC stage IV HCC and bone metastases that are clinically evident on routine radiography or on clinical examination at presentation are apt to develop frequent, morbid, and mortal SREs, whereas those without evident bone metastasis at presentation are unlikely to develop these complications.
Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy First, Followed by Chemoradiation and Then Surgery, in the Management of Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer
Andrea Cercek, Karyn A. Goodman, Carla Hajj, Emily Weisberger, Neil H. Segal, Diane L. Reidy-Lagunes, Zsofia K. Stadler, Abraham J. Wu, Martin R. Weiser, Philip B. Paty, Jose G. Guillem, Garrett M. Nash, Larissa K. Temple, Julio Garcia-Aguilar, and Leonard B. Saltz
Standard therapy for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) is preoperative chemoradiotherapy and postoperative chemotherapy. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) the authors began offering FOLFOX (5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) as initial treatment for patients with high-risk LARC to target micrometastases while treating the primary tumor. The purpose of this study is to report the safety and efficacy of initial FOLFOX given before chemoradiotherapy on tumor downsizing and pathologic complete response (pathCR) in LARC. The records of patients with stage II/III rectal cancer treated at MSKCC between 2007 and 2012 were reviewed. Of approximately 300 patients with LARC treated at MSKCC, 61 received FOLFOX as initial therapy. Of these 61 patients, 57 received induction FOLFOX (median 7 cycles) followed by chemoradiation, and 4 experienced an excellent response, declined chemoradiation, and underwent total mesorectal excision (TME). Twelve of the 61 patients did not undergo TME: 9 had a complete clinical response (CCR), 1 declined despite persistent tumor, 1 declined because of comorbidities, and 1 developed metastatic disease. Among the 61 patients receiving initial FOLFOX, 22 (36%) had either a pathCR (n=13) or a CCR (n=9). Of the 49 patients who underwent TME, all had R0 resections and 23 (47%) had tumor response greater than 90%, including 13 (27%) who experienced a pathCR. Of the 28 patients who received all 8 cycles of FOLFOX, 8 experienced a pathCR (29%) and 3 a CCR (11%). No serious adverse events occurred that required a delay in treatment during FOLFOX or chemoradiation. FOLFOX and chemoradiation before planned TME results in tumor regression, a high rate of delivery of planned therapy, and a substantial rate of pathCRs, and offers a good platform for nonoperative management in select patients.
David S. Ettinger, Mark Agulnik, Justin M. M. Cates, Mihaela Cristea, Crystal S. Denlinger, Keith D. Eaton, Panagiotis M. Fidias, David Gierada, Jon P. Gockerman, Charles R. Handorf, Renuka Iyer, Renato Lenzi, John Phay, Asif Rashid, Leonard Saltz, Lawrence N. Shulman, Jeffrey B. Smerage, Gauri R. Varadhachary, Jonathan S. Zager, and Weining (Ken) Zhen
NCCN Task Force Report: Oral Chemotherapy
Saul N. Weingart, Elizabeth Brown, Peter B. Bach, Kirby Eng, Shirley A. Johnson, Timothy M. Kuzel, Terry S. Langbaum, R. Donald Leedy, Raymond J. Muller, Lee N. Newcomer, Susan O’Brien, Denise Reinke, Mark Rubino, Leonard Saltz, and Ronald S. Walters
Oral chemotherapy is emerging as a new option for well-selected patients who can manage potentially complex oral regimens and self-monitor for potential complications. If a choice between oral and parenteral therapy is available, patients may opt for oral chemotherapy because it is more convenient to administer, allows them to avoid multiple office visits, and gives them a sense of control over their own cancer care. Whether these potential advantages are maintained in regimens that combine oral and parenteral drugs is less clear. The use of oral chemotherapeutic agents profoundly affects all aspects of oncology, including creating significant safety and adherence issues, shifting some traditional roles and responsibilities of oncologists, nurses, and pharmacists to patients and caregivers. The financing of chemotherapy is also affected. To address these issues, the NCCN convened a multidisciplinary task force consisting of oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and payor representatives to discuss the impact of the increasing use of oral chemotherapy. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 3]:S1–S14)