Monday, 3 May 2021

Personalization of follow-up care needed to address varying health burdens in breast cancer patients

With breast cancer considered a largely curable disease (more than 70% of survivors live at least 10 years after diagnosis), quality of life care is seen as a key aspect in the patients cancer journey.  At the recent ESMO Breast Cancer 2021 Virtual Congress, a study from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam showed that "breast cancer survivors differ widely in the burden of symptoms they experience after the end of treatment and thereby revealed an unmet need for tailored approaches to follow-up care."  According to breast cancer expert Nadia Harbeck, patients "need to be well-informed and must be made to feel comfortable about contacting their physician outside of their planned consultations if necessary." 

To read more about this study, click here

Sources mentioned: 

F. Cardoso, S. Kyriakides, S. Ohno, F. Penault-Llorca, P. Poortmans, I. T. Rubio, S. Zackrisson and E. Senkus. Early Breast Cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines. 

Abstract 134P_PR ‘Towards tailored follow-up care for breast cancer survivors: cluster analyses based on symptom burden’ will be available as e-Poster from Wednesday 5 May at 09:00 CEST. Annals of Oncology, Volume 32, Supplement 2, May 2021 

Abstract 140P ‘How breast cancer recurrences are found? - a real-world, prospective cohort study’ will be available as e-Poster from Wednesday 5 May at 09:00 CEST. Annals of Oncology, Volume 32, Supplement 2, May 2021 

Monday, 26 April 2021

Acupuncture for cancer survivors with chronic pain

 A recently completed clinical trial purports that two types of acupuncture may help reduce chronic pain in cancer survivors.  While acupuncture has long been used to relief pain in non-cancer patients, "the trial is one of the first large randomized clinical studies designed to test whether the therapy might offer relief for cancer-related pain in survivors of a host of different cancers."  According to results from the trial, led by Dr. Jun Mao, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, "participants who received electroacupuncture reported modestly better pain control than those treated with auricular acupuncture."  However, regardless of which type of acupuncture was administered, decrease in pain lasted up to 4 months.  

To read more about this trial, click here

Monday, 19 April 2021

New trial alert: FACE-Q in facial reconstructive surgery

 A recently posted clinical trial, sponsored by McMaster University, aims to "establish a prospective database of clinical information, FACE-Q scores, and patient enhance the understanding and practice of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery."  FACE-Q is a validated patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) that investigates patient experience following facial surgery due to skin cancer.  

To learn more about this trial, click here. 

Monday, 12 April 2021

Low-dose aspirin could be an alternative to colectomy for preventing colorectal cancer in familial adenomatous polyposis

 Researchers in Japan recently reported that "low-dose aspirin safely suppressed the recurrence of colorectal polyps larger than 5mm in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)."  Prior to the study's release, colectomy was the only recognized treatment for preventing colorectal cancer in FAP patients, despite reducing quality of life.  

To read more about this study, click here

Sources mentioned: 

  • Ishikawa H, Mutoh M, Sato Y, et al. Chemoprevention with low-dose aspirin, mesalazine, or both in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis without previous colectomy (J-FAPP Study IV): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, two-by-two factorial design trialThe Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology; Published online 1 April 2021. DOI:
  • Lynch PM. Low-dose aspirin and mesalazine for patients with familial adenomatous polyposisThe Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology; Published online 1 April 2021. DOI:

  • Wednesday, 7 April 2021

    Adjuvant nivolumab prolongs disease-free survival in patients with resected oesophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer

    Results from the CheckMate 577 study, recently published in the April 2021 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine determined that "among patients with resected oesophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy, adjuvant therapy with nivolumab was associated with a significantly longer disease-free survival than placebo."  CheckMate 577 is a worldwide randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial evaluating treatment with nivolumab following chemotherapy and surgery for oesophageal or gastroesophageal cancer.  Patients who received nivolumab had an average disease-free survival period of 22.4 months, compared to 11months for the 262 patients receiving placebo.  

    To read more about this study, click here

    Studies mentioned: 

  • Kelly RJ, Ajani JA, Kuzdzal J, et al. Adjuvant Nivolumab in Resected Esophageal or Gastroesophageal Junction CancerN Engl J Med 2021;384:1191-203. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2032125
  • Ilson DH. Adjuvant Nivolumab in Esophageal Cancer — A New Standard of CareN Engl J Med 2021; 384:1269-1271. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe2101983

  • Monday, 29 March 2021

    Happy Easter! Blog posts will resume week of April 6th

    To all Grey Horizon readers, 

    Blog posts will resume the week of April 6th. 

    Happy Easter - please stay safe and well.  

    Monday, 22 March 2021

    Factors associated with COVID-19 severity among cancer patients

    A recently study published in the Annals of Oncology summarized findings of 4,966 cancer patients who contracted COVID-19 between March 17 - November 18, 2020.  Associated factors included hospitalization (58%), death within 30 days (13%), age (median=66), gender (51% female), and race (50% white).  The authors of the study concluded that "older age, male sex, Black race, Hispanic ethnicity, and haematology malignancy", among some other laboratory factors, "were associated with poor outcomes among cancer patients with COVID-19. 

    To read more about this study, click here

    Study mentioned: Grivas P, Khaki AR, Wise-Draper TM, et al. Association of Clinical Factors and Recent Anti-Cancer Therapy with COVID-19 Severity among Patients with Cancer: A Report from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium. Annals of Oncology; Published online 18 March 2021. doi: https://

    Monday, 15 March 2021

    New trial alert: Non-ablative Oligofractionated Radiation Therapy Before Surgical Transplantation As Radiovaccination (NORTh STAR)

    A prospective phase I study at the University Health Network's Toronto General Hospital is currently recruiting participants. The goal of the study is to "determine the safety and feasibility of non-ablative oligofractionated radiation therapy (NORT) before lung transplantation for patients with underlying pulmonary malignancy.". It is believed that this therapy could create a vaccine-life effect and thus refue risk of cancer recurrence after transplantaion. To learn more about this trial, click here.

    Monday, 8 March 2021

    EMA recommends Abiraterone for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer

    The European Medicines Agency (EMA)'s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recently recommended granting market authorization for Abiraterone Accord for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.  Abiraterone is "a hormone antagonist that inhibits the production of androgens in the testes, adrenal glands and prostatic tumour tissues." 

    To read more about this recommendation, click here. 

    Tuesday, 2 March 2021

    Tumour signatures defined by next generation sequencing linked to clinical response in breast cancer

     Research recently conducted at the Institute of Pathology in Marburg, Germany, "investigated the hypothesis that genomic patterns of mutational signatures are associated with the clinical behaviour of breast cancer...including chemotherapy response and survival."  According to lead author professor Carsten Denkert, 2 mutational signatures, S3 (HRD) and S13 (APOBEC) were identified as increasing pCR rates "with neoadjuvant chemotherapy in the HR-positive subcohort." 

    To read more about this study, click here. 

    Source mentioned: Denkert C, Untch M, Benz S, et al. Reconstructing tumor history in breast cancer: signatures of mutational processes and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Annals of Oncology; Published online 5 January 2021. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2020.12.016.

    Monday, 22 February 2021

    Cell-free DNA in urine potential method for cancer detection

    Researchers at Baylor University and Phoenix Children's Hospital have discovered a method whereby DNA fragments in urine can differentiate between healthy individuals and those with cancer.  According to study senior author Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, "certain regions of the genome are protected from fragmentation in urine from healthy individuals...but the same regions are more fragmented in patients with cancer." 

    To learn more about this study click here. 

    Study mentioned:  Havell Markus, Jun Zhao, Tania Contente-Cuomo, Michelle D. Stephens, Elizabeth Raupach, Ahuva Odenheimer-Bergman, Sydney Connor, Bradon R. McDonald, Bethine Moore, Elizabeth Hutchins, Marissa McGilvrey, Michelina C. de la Maza, Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, Patrick Pirrotte, Ajay Goel, Carlos Becerra, Daniel D. Von Hoff, Scott A. Celinski, Pooja Hingorani, Muhammed Murtaza. Analysis of recurrently protected genomic regions in cell-free DNA found in urineScience Translational Medicine, 2021; 13 (581): eaaz3088 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaz3088

    Tuesday, 16 February 2021

    STINGing tumours with nanoparticles

     Researchers at UT Southwestern have determined that "a new nanoparticle-based drug can boost the body's innate immune system and make it more effective at fighting off tumors."  The study is the first to target and identify STING, an immune molecule with nanoparticles 1/1 000 000 the size of a soccer ball which has the ability to switch immune activity on or off according to the physiological environment. 

    To read more about this study, click here. 

    Study mentioned: Suxin Li, Min Luo, Zhaohui Wang, Qiang Feng, Jonathan Wilhelm, Xu Wang, Wei Li, Jian Wang, Agnieszka Cholka, Yang-xin Fu, Baran D. Sumer, Hongtao Yu, Jinming Gao. Prolonged activation of innate immune pathways by a polyvalent STING agonist. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41551-020-00675-9

    Monday, 8 February 2021

    Breast cancer now most common form of cancer worldwide, according to the World Health Organization

    According to recently statistics by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), breast cancer is now the mostly commonly-diagnosed cancer worldwide, ahead of lung cancer. 

    A new global breast cancer initiative between the World Health Organization (WHO), the IARC,  and the International Atomic Energy Agency will be established later in 2021 to "reduce deaths from breast cancer by promoting breast health, improving timely cancer detection, and ensuring access to quality care." 

    To read more about these latest trends, click here. 

    Tuesday, 2 February 2021

    Majority of patients with cancer are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19

     A recently conducted survey among ambulatory patients at four French cancer centres found that most patients undergoing treatment for their cancer wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Study authors further confirmed that "patients with cancer have a variable but confirmed higher risk of severe COVID-19.  They advocate that patients with cancer should be a target population for vaccination, despite [being] excluded from the first trials."  Patients responding to the survey also believed that oncologists are qualified to provide guidance and advise regarding COVID-19 vaccination. 

    To read more about this survey, click here. 

    Study mentioned: 

    Barrière J, Gal J, Hoch B, et al. Acceptance of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination among French patients with cancer: a cross-sectional surveyAnnals of Oncology; Published online 29 January 2021. DOI:

    Monday, 25 January 2021

    Wee1 inhibitor to treat ovarian cancer

     A new study conducted at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto reports on a randomized phase II trial indicating that the addition of the Wee1 inhibitor adavosertib to gemcitabone "reduced the risk of disease progression and death in women with recurrent, platinum-resistant or -refractory ovarian cancer."  The trial, conducted on 99 women between 2014-2018 showed a median overall survival increase of 4.2 months (11.4 vs. 7.2 months) in patients that were administered Wee1. 

    To read more about this trial, click here

    Monday, 18 January 2021

    COVID vaccines open door for cancer treatments

    Two current covid-19 vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech  utilized an active ingredient, mana "to train the body's immune system to respond to infection."  According to Drew Weissman, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, it is possible to customize mRNA vaccines to an individual patient's cancer, which could be the "tip of the iceberg for RNA therapies." 

    To read more about this study, click here

    Monday, 11 January 2021

    Canadian program to deploy cancer testing during XOVID-19 reaches key milestones

     Canexia Health, a Canadian cancer genomic program, has announced a new partnership with Project ACTT (Access to Cancer Testing & Treatment in Response to COVID-19), thus increasing the speed of cancer testing for targeted treatment "during the pandemic through a minimally invasive circulating tumor DNA an alternative to some surgical tissue biopsies for patients with advanced lung, breast, or colorectal cancer."  

    Since launching in July 2020, more than 800 Canadian cancer patients have been tested via Project ACTT, with the program expanding to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.  Further, 11% of samples received are from rural and remote areas where patients did not have access to urban academic research hospitals. 

    To read more about this program, click here

    Monday, 4 January 2021

    Surgery could boost survival for women With advanced breast cancers

     A new study conducted at the Penn State Cancer Institute in Hershey, Pennsylvania, purports that "women with advanced breast cancer who undergo surgery to remove the tumor after chemotherapy or another type of systemic treatment may live longer than those who don't have surgery." Study author Dr. Daleela Dodge further explains that the surgery for metastatic breast cancer patients should be considered as a plausible alternative to systematic treatment, which is currently the standard of care offered to these patients. 

    To read more about this study, click here

    SOURCES: Daleela Dodge, MD, associate professor, surgery, Penn State Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pa.; Stephanie Bernik, MD, chief, breast service, Mount Sinai West Medical Center, New York City, and associate professor, surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Annals of Surgical Oncology, Oct. 30, 2020

    Wednesday, 16 December 2020

    Happy Holidays! Blog posting will resume in January 2021

     Dear Grey Horizon readers, 

    While 2020 has undoubtedly been a difficult year, we nonetheless would like to wish you a happy and restful holiday season.  Blog posts will resume in January 2021. 

    Happy Holidays! Stay safe and well 🎄

    How do non-smokers develop lung cancer? Mouth bacteria may play a role

     New research has unveiled a correlation between a specific type of mouth bacteria and the development of lung cancer in those who have never smoked.  While 25% of all lung cancer patients are non-smokers, researchers now believe that exposure to second-hand smoke and family history are not the only risk factors.  Of the 135,000 individuals observed in this study, "having a wider number of different species of bacteria, specifically Bacteroidetes and Spirochaetes, was associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer, [while] higher volumes of Firmicutes species of bacteria in the mouth was associated with a heightened risk for lung cancer." 

    To read more about this study, click here. 

    Source mentioned: Hosgood HD, Cai Q, Hua X, Long J, Shi J, Wan Y, Yang Y, Abnet C, Bassig BA, Hu W, Ji BT, Klugman M, Xiang Y, Gao YT, Wong JY, Zheng W, Rothman N, Shu XO, Lan Q. Variation in oral microbiome is associated with future risk of lung cancer among never-smokers. Thorax. 2020 Dec 14:thoraxjnl-2020-215542. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-215542. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33318237.

    Wednesday, 9 December 2020

    COVID-19 vaccine and cancer

     A recent news release on the Cancer Research UK blog states that more than 300 potential vaccines have been in development since the COVID-19 outbreak in March.  Many of these vaccines are in the final stages of testing, with Pfizer commencing vaccine rollout across the United Kingdom yesterday (December 8, 2020).  

    According to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JVCI), the recommended order of vaccination priority is: 

    1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers
    2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
    3. All those 75 years of age and over
    4. All those 70 years of age and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age
    5. All those 65 years of age and over
    6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group
    7. All those aged 60 and over
    8. All those 55 and over
    9. All those aged 50 and over

    To read more about this press release, click here

    Tuesday, 1 December 2020

    First global estimates of cervical cancer attributable to HIV

     A recently completed study by the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that women with HIV have a considerably higher risk (up to 6 times more likely) of developing vertical cancer.  In fact, nearly "5% of all cervical cancer cases worldwide are attributable to HIV infection."  The WHO study, published as a systematic review and meta-analysis in the November 2016 issue of The Lancet Global Health, determined that 63.8% of women in Southern Africa diagnosed with cervical cancer were living with his, the highest rate of all 4 continents (Africa, Asia,, Europe, and North America) included in the study. 

    To read more about this study, click here. 

    Monday, 23 November 2020

    Biomarkers of pro-inflammatory response may identify cancer patients at risk of adverse outcomes from SARS-COV-2 infection

     First reported at the ESMO Asia Virtual Congress, held this past weekend (November 20-22, 2020), researchers in the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital in London, "investigators testing and validating several key biomarkers of inflammation to identify cancer patients at increased risk of mortality from COVID-19 found a significant association between these biomarkers and decreases overall survival."  Known as OnCovid, the study retrospectively analyzed 1,318 cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19 from February 27 - June 23, 2020 at 23 academic centres in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.  The findings determined that inflammation is a key factor in mortality from SARS-COV-2 for cancer patients and thus can be used "as beside tests to stratify patients at risk of poorer outcome from COVID-19." 

    To read more about this study, click here. 

    Study mentioned: 319O – Dettorre G, Diamantis N, Loizidou A, et al. The systemic pro-inflammatory response identifies cancer patients with adverse outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 infection. ESMO Asia Virtual Congress 2020 (20-22 November).

    Monday, 16 November 2020

    WHO Europe factsheet: policy action needed to reduce cancers attributable to alcohol use

     A new factsheet released by the World Health Organization (WHO) focused on the need for greater awareness regarding alcohol use and cancers, specifically breast and colorectal.  The fact sheet states that alcohol consumption was responsible for 180 000 cancer cases and 92 000 deaths in Europe in 2018.  Several coat-effective policies, "such as increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages and restricting marketing and availability of alcohol" are suggested  as policies that can be implemented to curb this disturbing trend. 

    To learn more about this factsheet, click here

    Monday, 9 November 2020

    Colorectal cancer rising among young adults

     Following a think tank held this past September, comprised of 400 scientists from academia, industry, and government, together with patent advocates, colorectal cancer rates are on the rise amongst young adults.  When the age range is extended from the traditional young adult grouping beyond the 18-24 or even 18-35 age group, "colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among people under 50 in the United States."  Further, only 10%-20% of colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger adults are due to inherent genetic factors; most are caused by lifestyle factors, including poor diet and sedentary behaviour.  

    To read more about the think tank findings, click here. 

    Monday, 2 November 2020

    New trial alert: Identification of actionable molecular alternations in NCI-match

     A recently completed trial at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre in Boston indicates that next-generation sequencing (NLS) conducted on biopsy specimens of 5,954 patients "with relapsed, refractory advanced cancers permits training of newly one-with (18%) of patients to evidence-based investigational therapy."  Known as NCI-MATCH (National Cancer Institute Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice), this was the first national trial of its kind in the United States, incorporating "centralized diagnostic testing and geographically distributed clinical investigation of dozens of parallel treatment options."  

    To read more about this trial, click here

    Source mentioned: Flaherty KT, Gray RJ, Chen AP, et al. Molecular Landscape and Actionable Alterations in a Genomically Guided Cancer Clinical Trial: National Cancer Institute Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (NCI-MATCH)JCO; Published online 13 October 2020. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.19.03010.

    Monday, 26 October 2020

    Radiopharmaceuticals for radiation therapy

     Research arising from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) indicates that radiopharmaceuticals, "which deliver radiation therapy directly and specifically to cancer cells" can reduce both the short and long-term effects of radiation therapy treatment.  According to Dr. Charles Kenos of NCI CTEP, radiopharmaceuticals will "transform radiation oncology in the next 10 to 15 years." 

    To read more about this study, click here

    Monday, 19 October 2020

    Targeted therapy based on molecular profiling of malignant mesothelioma tumours is feasible

     Treatment recommendations from the recently held MAP 2020 Virtual Congress indicated that "molecular profiling demonstrated gender specific differences in gene expression" in patients with metastatic malignant mesothelioma.  The study, conducted at the Universitatsklinik fur Innere Medizin in Vienna, Austria determined that this form of targeted therapy varied according to gender, with more significant recommendations made for men vs. women "due to gender-specific differences in PDGRFA expression." 

    To read more about this study, click here

    Source mentioned: 

    Taghizadeh H, Zöchbauer-Müller S, Mader RM, Müllauer L, Klikovits T, Bachleitner-Hofmann T, Hoda MA, Prager GW. Gender differences in molecular-guided therapy recommendations for metastatic malignant mesothelioma. Thorac Cancer. 2020 Jul;11(7):1979-1988. doi: 10.1111/1759-7714.13491. Epub 2020 May 21. PMID: 32438515; PMCID: PMC7327667.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2020

    Radiation-induced genomic scars associated with poor patient outcome

    New research from the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, USA studied the genomic affects of radiation therapy on gliomas.  Following an analysis from 190 paired primary and recurrent gliomas from the Glioma Longitudinal Analysis (GLASS) databases, it was determined that "an increased burden of radiation-induced deletions was significantly associated with poor patient outcome."  

    To read more about this study, which was recently presented at the MAP 2020 Virtual Congress, click here

    Study mentioned: 2MO – Kocakavuk E, Anderson KJ, Johnson KC, et al. Radiotherapy in cancer is associated with a deletion signature that contributes to poor patient outcomes. MAP 2020 Virtual Congress (9-10 October 2020).

    Tuesday, 6 October 2020

    Treatment for cancer with microsatellite instability

     A new study led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shows that targeting an enzyme known as WRN may be a new method used to treat specific cancers.  Over the previous year, "scientists discovered that cancers cells with a genetic feature called micro satellite instability-high (MSI-high) need WRN to survive." Approximately 1 in 3 endometrial, 1 in 7 colorectal, stomach, and ovarian cancers, are considered MSI-high. 

    To read more about this study, click here