REVIEW ONCOLOGY

The value of population-based databases to evaluate long-term patient outcomes: A multicentric research project in older patients with cancer

BJMO - volume 15, issue 7, november 2021

C. Kenis PhD, F. Verdoodt PhD, H. De Schutter MD, PhD, H. Wildiers MD, PhD, K. Vanschoenbeek PhD, L. Decoster MD, PhD, V. Depoorter MSc

SUMMARY

The use of population-based data is a relatively accessible and cost-effective approach to study long-term outcomes in oncology. Also in older patients with cancer, longer-term outcome studies are limited and population-based data could help address this gap. Under the lead of UZ Leuven and the Belgian Cancer Registry (BCR), a national study was initiated to explore the association between the general health status of older patients with cancer as assessed by geriatric screening and assessment, and long-term outcomes as captured by population-based data. To this extent, data previously gathered within the context of a multicentre clinical study will be linked with three population-based databases: cancer registration data from BCR, healthcare reimbursement data from InterMutualistic Agency and hospital discharge data from Technical Cell. The major advantage of these population-based data is their longitudinal nature, which allows to follow a (sub)population across several years. The downside is their lack of clinical information. One way to partially overcome this limitation is to supplement population-based data with primary study data to investigate more clinically relevant outcomes. Although often scientifically interesting and appealing, coupling with population-based data demands intensive administrative efforts including an authorisation demand at the Information Security Committee. During the whole process, special attention should be given to privacyrelated aspects of the use and linkage of these data to ensure confidentiality.

BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(7):362-6)

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Future perspectives and opportunities to improve the treatment of brain metastases in solid tumours: Brainstorm program – an initiative from the Oncodistinct network

BJMO - volume 15, issue 7, november 2021

A. Awada MD, PhD, MA. Franzoi MD, N. Kotecki MD

SUMMARY

Patients with central nervous system (CNS) metastases have a poor prognosis, which is generally worse than in those with disease only outside the CNS. Treatment options for CNS metastases are still limited and suboptimal. New systemic therapies such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy have emerged for different cancers and differences in survival of patients with CNS metastases by tumour subtype have been observed. A better knowledge on the evolving epidemiology and biology of CNS metastases are key elements in the development of new treatment strategies whereby the identification of promising therapeutic targets for new compounds may play an important role in improving patient outcome. This article will provide a general overview of the recent improvement in systemic therapies for CNS metastases, highlighting perspectives to improve the management of CNS metastases and introduce the BrainStorm program- an innovative research program from the Oncodistinct network aiming to overcome the challenges of CNS metastases.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(7):357-61)

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Systemic therapies in neuroendocrine tumours

BJMO - volume 15, issue 7, november 2021

I. Borbath MD, PhD

SUMMARY

Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are a heterogeneous family of tumours of increasing incidence and concern. The appropriate systemic therapy to apply in advanced/metastatic setting needs to be validated after a multidisciplinary meeting, because of the many characteristics to consider, such as stage (TNM), histological grade (Grade 1 to 3), functional imaging (FDG-PET) and somatostatin-receptor imaging (SRI), primary organ of origin, hormone-induced clinical symptoms, tumour bulk and of course general condition of the patient. Here, systemic therapies, including somatostatin analogues (SSA), targeted therapies, chemotherapy and peptide receptor radioligand therapy (PRRT) and excluding loco-regional therapies such as selective internal radiation therapy, are discussed for the treatment of advanced/metastatic neuroendocrine carcinomas (NEC), neuroendocrine tumours (NET) from pancreatic origin (PanNET) or small intestinal origin (SI-NET).

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(7):351-6)

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Clinical applications of circulating tumour DNA

BJMO - volume 15, issue 7, november 2021

G. Rossi MD, M. Ignatiadis MD, PhD

SUMMARY

Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) analysis has the potential to advance precision medicine. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit alpha (PIK3CA) single gene assays in plasma cell free DNA are being used for selecting patients with metastatic lung and breast cancer for treatment with EGFR and PIK3CA inhibitors, respectively. More recently, multigene assays have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as companion diagnostics for the selection of patients that may benefit from specific targeted therapies. Moreover, ctDNA may allow a noninvasive monitoring of tumour genotype and treatment response. Potential future applications include systemic treatment of patients with ctDNA relapse and early cancer detection.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(7):345-50)

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Geriatric syndromes in oncology: what does the oncologist need to know?

BJMO - volume 15, issue 6, october 2021

C. Kenis PhD, H. Wildiers MD, PhD, J. Haesevoets MD, J. Tournoy MD, PhD, K. Fagard MD, K. Milisen PhD

SUMMARY

A ‘Geriatric Syndrome’ is characterised by its multifactorial origin. A combination of impairments leads to one specific condition that is typical for frail older patients. The rising incidence of cancer among older adults makes it interesting for the oncologist to understand common geriatric syndromes. The following geriatric syndromes are presented in this article:

Delirium: In patients with cancer, the prevalence of delirium is high. In end-stage malignant disease a prevalence near 90% has been reported. The pathophysiology is characterised by an equilibrium between predisposing and precipitating factors. The more predisposing factors, the less precipitating factors are required to develop delirium, and vice versa. Delirium is often underdiagnosed, although it leads to increased morbidity and mortality. Screening tools, such as the Confusion Assessment Method or the 4 ’A’s Test, could help the oncologist to discover delirium. Prevention and non-pharmacological therapy are the cornerstone of the approach. Pharmacological therapy is only appropriate when non-pharmacological therapy is not successful or if delirium could harm the patient.

Cognitive decline: In Belgium, the prevalence of dementia is estimated at 7.4% in adults aged 65 and over. Apart from dementia, cognitive decline in oncologic patients could also be provoked by cancer or its treatment. Cognitive decline is prognostic for overall survival in older patients with cancer. The Mini-Cog is an easy screening tool for cognitive decline, but more extensive testing, e.g. by means of a Mini Mental State Examination, can also be applied. Referral to a memory clinic should be considered, taking into account oncological diagnosis and prognosis.

Urinary incontinence: About 15 to 35% of patients older than 60 years have urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is associated with falls and fractures, pressure ulcers, and urinary infection. It has an emotional impact, affects quality of life and is associated with higher depression rates. In predisposed patients, precipitating factors could trigger incontinence. Prevention is of high importance and is primarily aimed at treating the precipitating factors. Pharmacological treatment blocking muscarinic receptors is associated with important side effects.

Functional decline: One third of patients receiving chemotherapy suffer from functional decline. Functional decline is prognostic for overall survival. Baseline functional assessment before initiation of treatment is important. The oncologist has to define predisposing and precipitating factors and to estimate the risk of functional decline. A multidisciplinary approach with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and social workers is warranted to achieve optimal rehabilitation.

Falls: Thirty percent of patients older than 65 years have fall incidents. Ten percent of falls lead to residual injuries. Cancer and its treatment increase the risk of falling. Bone metastases or cancer therapy can lead to more severe injuries. Falls are often preventable. Therefore, risk stratification and formulation of a multifactorial fall prevention plan by a multidisciplinary team is warranted.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(6):270-7)

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MET: another therapeutic target in non-small cell lung cancer

BJMO - volume 15, issue 6, october 2021

L. Decoster MD, PhD

SUMMARY

The identification of clinically relevant driver mutations has reshaped the therapeutic landscape of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the past year, the activation of the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) pathway has gained importance because of the recent development of selective and effective MET inhibitors. In NSCLC, MET dysregulation may be caused either by mutation or amplification and is associated with poor prognosis. In addition, the optimal first-line treatment is currently undetermined since data from different trials suggest limited activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors, indicating a high medical need. In phase II trials, MET inhibitors have shown promising response rates (41–65%) and duration of response in MET exon 14 mutated NSCLC. First-line trials are currently ongoing. In de novo MET amplified NSCLC, the activity of these inhibitors seems limited to tumours with a high level amplification. As in other oncogene driven NSCLC, resistance mechanisms do appear ultimately and future research should focus on this in order to optimise treatment options for MET dysregulated NSCLC.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(6):278-82)

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BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in prostate cancer: consequences and implications

BJMO - volume 15, issue 6, october 2021

D. Schrijvers MD, PhD, S. Van Wambeke MD, W. Teurfs MD

SUMMARY

BRCA mutations play an important role in prostate cancer. All patients with high-risk localised or metastatic prostate cancer should be tested for somatic mutations and, if present, for germline mutations. BRCA muta-tions translate in a more aggressive prostate cancer with a worse prognosis. If these mutations are present, PARP inhibitors may be part of the treatment strategy.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(6):283-5)

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