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Reimagining Cancer Staging in the Era of Evolutionary Oncology

Kedar S. Kirtane, Mohammad U. Zahid, Heiko Enderling, and Louis B. Harrison

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Status of Cancer Care at Network Sites of the Nation’s Academic Cancer Centers

Stanton L. Gerson, Kate Shaw, Louis B. Harrison, Randall F. Holcombe, Laura Hutchins, Carrie B. Lee, Patrick J. Loehrer Sr, Daniel Mulkerin, W. Thomas Purcell, Lois Teston, Louis M. Weiner, and George J. Weiner

Background: Cancer care coordination across major academic medical centers and their networks is evolving rapidly, but the spectrum of organizational efforts has not been described. We conducted a mixed-methods survey of leading cancer centers and their networks to document care coordination and identify opportunities to improve geographically dispersed care. Methods: A mixed-methods survey was sent to 91 cancer centers in the United States and Canada. We analyzed the number and locations of network sites; access to electronic medical records (EMRs); clinical research support and participation at networks; use of patient navigators, care paths, and quality measures; and physician workforce. Responses were collected via Qualtrics software between September 2017 and December 2018. Results: Of the 69 responding cancer centers, 74% were NCI-designated. Eighty-seven percent of respondents were part of a matrix health system, and 13% were freestanding. Fifty-six reported having network sites. Forty-three respondents use navigators for disease-specific populations, and 24 use them for all patients. Thirty-five respondents use ≥1 types of care path. Fifty-seven percent of networks had complete, integrated access to their main center’s EMRs. Thirty-nine respondents said the main center provides funding for clinical research at networks, with 22 reporting the main center provides all funding. Thirty-five said the main center provided pharmacy support at the networks, with 15 indicating the main center provides 100% pharmacy support. Certification program participation varied extensively across networks. Conclusions: The data show academic cancer centers have extensive involvement in network cancer care, often extending into rural communities. Coordinating care through improved clinical trial access and greater use of patient navigation, care paths, coordinated EMRs, and quality measures is likely to improve patient outcomes. Although it is premature to draw firm conclusions, the survey results are appropriate for mapping next steps and data queries.

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Regional Radiation Therapy Impacts Outcome for Node-Positive Cutaneous Melanoma

Tobin Strom, Javier F. Torres-Roca, Akash Parekh, Arash O. Naghavi, Jimmy J. Caudell, Daniel E. Oliver, Jane L. Messina, Nikhil I. Khushalani, Jonathan S. Zager, Amod Sarnaik, James J. Mulé, Andy M. Trotti, Steven A. Eschrich, Vernon K. Sondak, and Louis B. Harrison

Background: Regional radiation therapy (RT) has been shown to reduce the risk of regional recurrence with node-positive cutaneous melanoma. However, risk factors for regional recurrence, especially in the era of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), are less clear. Our goals were to identify risk factors associated with regional recurrence and to determine whether a radiosensitivity index (RSI) gene expression signature (GES) could identify patients who experience a survival benefit with regional RT. Methods: A single-institution, Institutional Review Board–approved study was performed including 410 patients treated with either SLNB with or without completion lymph node dissection (LND; n=270) or therapeutic LND (n=91). Postoperative regional RT was delivered to the involved nodal basin in 83 cases (20.2%), to a median dose of 54 Gy (range, 30–60 Gy) in 27 fractions (range, 5–30). Primary outcomes were regional control and overall survival by RSI GES status. Results: Median follow-up was 69 months (range, 13–180). Postoperative regional RT was associated with a reduced risk of regional recurrence among all patients on univariate (5-year estimate: 95.0% vs 83.3%; P=.036) and multivariate analysis (hazard ratio[HR], 0.15; 95% CI, 0.05–0.43; P<.001). Among higher-risk subgroups, regional RT was associated with a lower risk of regional recurrence among patients with clinically detected lymph nodes (n=175; 5-year regional control: 94.1% vs 69.5%; P=.003) and extracapsular extension (ECE) present (n=138; 5-year regional control: 96.7% vs 62.2%; P<.001). Among a subset of radiated patients with gene expression data available, a low RSI GES (radiosensitive) tumor status was associated with improved survival compared with a high RSI GES (5-year: 75% vs 0%; HR, 10.68; 95% CI, 1.24–92.14). Conclusions: Regional RT was associated with a reduced risk of regional recurrence among patients with ECE and clinically detected nodal disease. Gene expression data show promise for better predicting radiocurable patients in the future. In the era of increasingly effective systemic therapies, the value of improved regional control potentially takes on greater significance.