Belgian clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer

BJMO - volume 16, issue 6, october 2022

G. Nader-Marta MD, F.P. Duhoux MD, PhD, D. Taylor MD, T. Van den Mooter MD, H. Denys MD, PhD, J-L. Canon MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, A. Awada MD, PhD, H. Wildiers MD, PhD, K. Punie MD, E. de Azambuja MD, PhD


HER2-targeted agents are the central component of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treatment. The combination of trastuzumab, pertuzumab and a taxane is the preferred first-line regimen in most settings. For patients with disease relapse after adjuvant therapy, treatment decisions in the first-line are influenced by the treatment-free interval and the regimens used in the (neo)adjuvant setting. T-DXd has been recently established as the preferred second-line therapy. T-DM1, or the combination of tucatinib, trastuzumab and capecitabine, are reasonable third-line options, although efficacy and safety data of these regimens after prior exposure to T-DXd are lacking. In fourth and later lines, trastuzumab duocarmazine, neratinib plus capecitabine, margetuximab plus chemotherapy, lapatinib-based combinations or the continuation of trastuzumab with different chemotherapy partners are valid alternatives.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2022;16(6): 287–92)

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Is there a place for thromboprophylaxis in cancer patients?

BJMO - volume 16, issue 2, march 2022

A. Awada MD, PhD, K. Jochmans MD, C. Vulsteke MD, PhD, T. Vanassche MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, V. Mathieux MD, J-F. Baurain MD, PhD, P. Hainaut MD, P. Verhamme MD


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is common in cancer patients. It is associated with poor outcomes and increased mortality. In fact, VTE is known as the second most common cause of mortality in cancer patients. Although the benefit of thromboprophylaxis is clear for acutely ill hospitalised cancer patients, routine prophylaxis is not recommended for all ambulatory cancer patients. The reason is the risk to treat a high proportion of patients who do not need treatment and an increased risk of major bleeding. Here we highlight the importance of adequate risk assessment models to select patients at an increased VTE risk and present pivotal trial results that form the basis for the latest international treatment guidelines related to thromboprophylaxis in cancer patients.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2022;16(2):53–9)

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A digital automated health monitoring system for oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: practical issues and lessons for the future

BJMO - volume 15, issue 6, october 2021

J. Robijns PhD, J. Lodewijckx MSc, K. Wijnen PhD, S. Snoekx MSc, R. Hilkens RN , S. Bortels RN , H. Lenders RN , W. Nassen RN , E. Dewaele MD, D. Luyten MD, E. Joosens MD, A. Requilé MD, Y. Verheezen MD, T. Wessels MD, P. Bulens MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD


During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with cancer are subject to multiple risks (e.g., frequent hospital visits, increased infection risk, more severe clinical course, discontinued cancer treatment). Patients undergoing cancer therapy can face quality of life (QoL) – impairing side effects. Both for COVID-19 positive and negative patients who will continue or discontinue cancer treatment throughout the pandemic, providing supportive care is more important than ever. Digitally monitoring patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) could offer a solution to improve the supportive care during cancer treatment, and certainly in times of COVID–19.

A prospective cohort trial was performed between August 2020 and February 2021 at the Jessa Hospital (Hasselt, Belgium), evaluating the feasibility and usability of a digital patient monitoring (DPM) system to collect PROMs of oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on available evidence from our trial, digitalised PROMs could significantly contribute to improved communication, patient satisfaction, supportive care, monitoring cancer treatment, and detecting problems. However, the DPM system needs fine-tuning to lead to a patient and healthcare worker-friendly system, fully incorporated in the electronic health records without losing the personal contact between patient and healthcare team.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(6):292-303)

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Practical guidelines in axillary management after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

BJMO - volume 15, issue 2, march 2021

K. Van Baelen MD, N. Van den Rul MD, S. Marquette MD, L. Vansteelant MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, C. Thywissen MD, A.-S. Vliegen MD, L. Noé MD, M. Drijkoningen MD, PhD, G. Orye MD


In clinical practice, the diversity in the surgical management of the axilla after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) for node positive patients is huge. Given the morbidity of axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), a trend to perform a less invasive technique is seen in both literature and clinical practice. There are three major techniques: 1) sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), 2) guided removal of lymph nodes that were positive prior to NACT, and 3) Targeted Axillary Dissection (TAD) which is a combination of the previous two techniques. Criteria for patients eligible for these techniques vary widely and oncological safety cannot always be guaranteed. With this report, we aim to introduce TAD in a safe way into the clinical practice.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(2):69-74)

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The role of direct oral anticoagulants in the management of cancer-associated thrombosis

BJMO - volume 13, issue 2, march 2019

A. Awada MD, PhD, J-F. Baurain MD, PhD, P. Clement MD, PhD, P. Hainaut MD, S. Holbrechts MD, PhD, K. Jochmans MD, V. Mathieux MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, M. Strijbos MD, PhD, C. Vulsteke MD, PhD, T. Vanassche MD, P. Verhamme MD


Cancer patients are at an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The current standard initial treatment of an acute episode of VTE in cancer patients consists of the administration of three to six months of subcutaneous low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) at a dose adjusted to the body weight. The efficacy and safety profile of LMWHs are well established, but a drawback of these agents is that they require daily subcutaneous administration. In addition, they are mainly cleared through the kidneys, and their use in patients with severe renal insufficiency may require dose reduction or monitoring of the anti-Xa activity. To address the issues with LMWH, several direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) have been developed for the treatment of VTE. In contrast to LMWHs and vitamin K antagonist, DOACs directly interfere with thrombin or activated factor X (FXa). DOACs have now become standard treatment options in the general management of VTE, but until recently, there were no results of clinical trials specifically assessing the role of DOACs in the treatment of cancer-associated thrombosis. Recently, the Hokusai VTE cancer study and preliminary data from the Select-D trial demonstrated that DOACs are non-inferior to LMWH in preventing recurrent VTE. However, both studies also show that this comes at the cost of an increased rate of both major and clinically-relevant non-major bleeding. Especially in the subgroup of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, the benefit in VTE recurrence with the DOAC seems to be outbalanced by a significantly increased bleeding risk. Based on the available results, DOACs might represent an interesting alternative for LMWH in certain subgroups of patients, but with an important list of exceptions. It seems reasonable not to use DOACs in patients with a high bleeding risk, and especially in patients with gastrointestinal cancer, DOACs should not be the first-line choice. In summary, while LMWHs are currently the standard of care in the acute management of cancer-associated thrombosis, the advent of DOACs is welcomed for patients at a low bleeding risk who are in need of long-term anticoagulation.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(2):46–53)

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Screening for occult cancer in patients with unprovoked venous thromboembolism: Belgian expert guidance

BJMO - volume 12, issue 7, november 2018

A. Awada MD, PhD, J-F. Baurain MD, PhD, P. Clement MD, PhD, P. Hainaut MD, S. Holbrechts MD, PhD, K. Jochmans MD, V. Mathieux MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, M. Strijbos MD, PhD, C. Vulsteke MD, PhD, T. Vanassche MD, P. Verhamme MD

Unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE) may be the earliest sign of malignancy, and as a result, screening for occult cancer in these patients has become routine practice. However, the elaborateness of this screening is subject to debate and varies between medical centres. This study’s expert panel, consisting of oncologists and thrombosis specialists, aimed to develop a practical Belgian guidance for adequate cancer screening in patients with unprovoked VTE. In summary, comprehensive non-invasive cancer screening consisting of a medical history assessment, physical examinations, basic blood tests and a chest X-ray is sufficient to pick up the vast majority of occult cancers. When specific abnormalities are picked up by the battery of tests in the comprehensive non-invasive cancer screening, more extensive screening using CT scans are recommended. Routine CT screening in all patients presenting with an unprovoked VTE does not provide a significant clinical benefit and should not be routinely performed. In the presence of specific risk factors (e.g., older age, smoking history, previous VTE), physicians are advised to be more vigilant. Finally, given the significant anxiety that cancer screening may cause to patients, accurate and clear patient communication is key. A complete list of guidance statements is provided at the end of the article.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2018;12(7):326–329)

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Prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: Belgian antiemetic treatment options anno 2018

BJMO - volume 12, issue 2, march 2018

W. Lybaert MD, P. Clement MD, PhD, K. Punie MD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, M. Renard MD, H. Wildiers MD, PhD


Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting remains an important adverse effect of treatment in daily clinical practice. Recently, new data on combinations of antiemetic agents became available for the prevention of acute and delayed nausea/vomiting in patients receiving highly and moderately emetogenic chemotherapy. As a result, the leading international cancer societies updated their antiemesis guidelines. This text aims at providing guidance regarding these new regimens in the prophylaxis of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, with a particular focus on highly emetogenic chemotherapy.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2018;12(2):51–60)

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