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About 125,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Australia each year. With population growth and aging this is set to rise to 150,000 new cases each year by 2020.1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia. (Source: Cancer Council Australia)

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Latest Research Publications

McGowan D
Safe handling and administration of MABS: the guidance.
Br J Nurs. 2015; 24(16 Suppl 1):S14-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
While monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are not as hazardous as cytotoxic drugs, there is concern among health professionals about the potential risks and the limited evidence about this. Guidance on the safe use of MABs is mainly to be found in national documents covering all systemic anti-cancer therapies, with the only consensus guidelines specifically on MABs coming from Australia. This article therefore summarises the existing guidance relating to MABs.

Doran CM, Ling R, Byrnes J, et al.
Benefit Cost Analysis of Three Skin Cancer Public Education Mass-Media Campaigns Implemented in New South Wales, Australia.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(1):e0147665 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Public education mass media campaigns are an important intervention for influencing behaviour modifications. However, evidence on the effectiveness of such campaigns to encourage the population to reduce sun exposure is limited. This study investigates the benefits and costs of three skin cancer campaigns implemented in New South Wales from 2006-2013. This analysis uses Australian dollars (AUD) and 2010-11 as the currency and base year, respectively. Historical data on skin cancer were used to project skin cancer rates for the period 2006-2020. The expected number of skin cancer cases is derived by combining skin cancer rates, sunburn rates and relative risk of skin cancers due to sun exposure. Counterfactual estimates are based on sunburn exposure in the absence of the campaigns. Monetary values are attached to direct (treatment) and indirect (productivity) costs saved due to fewer skin cancer cases. Monetary benefits are compared with the cost of implementing the campaigns and are presented in the form of a benefit-cost ratio. Relative to the counterfactual (i.e., no campaigns) there are an estimated 13,174 fewer skin cancers and 112 averted deaths over the period 2006-2013. The net present value of these benefits is $60.17 million and the campaign cost is $15.63 million. The benefit cost ratio is 3.85, suggesting that for every $1 invested a return of $3.85 is achieved. Skin cancer public education mass media campaigns are a good investment given the likely extent to which they reduce the morbidity, mortality and economic burden of skin cancer.

Evans SM, Earnest A, Bower W, et al.
Timeliness of lung cancer care in Victoria: a retrospective cohort study.
Med J Aust. 2016; 204(2):75.e1-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To assess factors associated with second-line delays in the management of patients diagnosed with lung cancer.
DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A retrospective cohort study, conducted in six public and two private Victorian hospitals, of 1417 patients aged 18 years or more who were diagnosed between July 2011 and October 2014 with an incident case of lung cancer identified by International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision codes (C34.0-C34.9, Z85.1, Z85.2) on the basis of either a clinical or pathological diagnosis.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Time intervals between referral, diagnosis and initial definitive management.
RESULTS: The median time from referral to diagnosis was 15 days (interquartile range [IQR], 5-36); from diagnosis to initial definitive management, 30 days (IQR, 6-84); and from referral to initial definitive management, 53 days (IQR, 25-106). Factors that were significantly associated with delay between referral and initial definitive management include declining or not being referred to palliative care (hazard ratio [HR], v patients referred for palliation, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.62-0.86; P < 0.001), and being treated in a public hospital (HR, v patients managed in a private hospital, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.48-0.64; P < 0.001). The median time from referral to initial definitive management in public and private hospitals was 61 days (IQR, 35-118) and 30 days (IQR, 13-76) respectively; 48% of patients in public hospitals waited longer than the British National Health Service target of a maximum 62 days between referral and first definitive treatment.
CONCLUSION: There are significant delays at various stages of the patient journey after referral for initial definitive management. Having a greater understanding of these delays will enable strategies to be developed that improve the timeliness of care for patients with lung cancer.

Soeberg MJ, Leigh J, Driscoll T, et al.
Incidence and survival trends for malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, Australia, 1982-2009.
Occup Environ Med. 2016; 73(3):187-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Australia is known to have had one of the highest per-capita asbestos consumption rates, yet there are few contemporary reports on malignant mesothelioma trends.
METHODS: Data on 10 930 people with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and 640 people with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia during 1982-2009 were analysed. Observed incidence rate trends were quantified. Incidence rates were projected up to 2030 using observed incident cases during 1982-2012. The relative per-decade change in excess mortality during 1999-2009 was estimated.
RESULTS: During 1982-2009, acceleration in MPM age-standardised incidence rates were highest for women and those aged 75 years and above, with average annual percentage changes of +4.9 (95% CI 3.6 to 6.2) and +7.2 (95% CI 5.4 to 9.0), respectively. Age-standardised incidence rates for men with MPM aged 0-64 years decelerated rapidly during 2003-2009, an average annual percentage change of -5.1% (95% CI -7.6% to -2.5%). Overall, male age-specific MPM incidence rates in the age group of 65-74 year during 2010-2030 are projected to decline with rates projected to increase for older men and women with MPM. There was a statistically significant 16% relative reduction in the excess mortality rate (EMR) up to 5 years postdiagnosis for people diagnosed with malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma combined in 2009 compared with those diagnosed in 1999, an EMR ratio of 0.84 (95% CI 0.77 to 0.92).
CONCLUSIONS: Australia's malignant mesothelioma incidence rates appear to have reached maximum levels but with differences over time by age, gender and tumour location. Improvements over time in survival provide a glimpse of hope for this almost invariably fatal disease.

Hodgson JM, Prince RL, Woodman RJ, et al.
Apple intake is inversely associated with all-cause and disease-specific mortality in elderly women.
Br J Nutr. 2016; 115(5):860-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Higher fruit intake is associated with lower risk of all-cause and disease-specific mortality. However, data on individual fruits are limited, and the generalisability of these findings to the elderly remains uncertain. The objective of this study was to examine the association of apple intake with all-cause and disease-specific mortality over 15 years in a cohort of women aged over 70 years. Secondary analyses explored relationships of other fruits with mortality outcomes. Usual fruit intake was assessed in 1456 women using a FFQ. Incidence of all-cause and disease-specific mortality over 15 years was determined through the Western Australian Hospital Morbidity Data system. Cox regression was used to determine the hazard ratios (HR) for mortality. During 15 years of follow-up, 607 (41·7%) women died from any cause. In the multivariable-adjusted analysis, the HR for all-cause mortality was 0·89 (95% CI 0·81, 0·97) per sd (53 g/d) increase in apple intake, HR 0·80 (95% CI 0·65, 0·98) for consumption of 5-100 g/d and HR 0·65 (95% CI 0·48, 0·89) for consumption of >100 g/d (an apple a day), compared with apple intake of <5 g/d (P for trend=0·03). Our analysis also found that higher apple intake was associated with lower risk for cancer mortality, and that higher total fruit and banana intakes were associated lower risk of CVD mortality (P<0·05). Our results support the view that regular apple consumption may contribute to lower risk of mortality.

McLachlan SA, Fisher RJ, Zalcberg J, et al.
The impact on health-related quality of life in the first 12 months: A randomised comparison of preoperative short-course radiation versus long-course chemoradiation for T3 rectal cancer (Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group Trial 01.04).
Eur J Cancer. 2016; 55:15-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients participating in a randomised trial of neoadjuvant short course radiation (SC) or long course chemoradiation (LC) for operable rectal cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eligible patients with T3N0-2M0 rectal cancer completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire (QLQ-C30) and the colorectal cancer specific module (QLQ C38) at randomisation and 1, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months later.
RESULTS: Of 326 patients randomised, 297 (SC 143, LC 154) were eligible for completion of HRQOL questionnaires. Baseline scores were comparable across the SC and LC groups. Patients reported low scores on sexual functioning and sexual enjoyment. Defaecation problems were the worst of the symptoms at baseline. Surgery had the most profoundly negative effect on HRQOL, seen in both the SC and LC treatment groups to the same extent. The most severely affected domains were physical function and role function and the most severely affected symptoms were fatigue, pain, appetite, weight loss and male sexual problems. Most domains and symptoms returned to baseline levels by 12 months apart from body image, sexual enjoyment and male sexual problems. Future perspective was better than prior to treatment.
CONCLUSION: There is no overall difference in HRQOL between SC and LC neoadjuvant treatment strategies, in the first 12 months, after surgery. In the immediate postoperative period HRQOL was adversely affected in both groups but for the most part was temporary. Some residual sexual functioning concerns persisted at 12 months.

Andrici J, Goeppert B, Sioson L, et al.
Loss of BAP1 Expression Occurs Frequently in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2016; 95(2):e2491 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BRCA1-associated protein 1 (BAP1) is a deubiquitinating enzyme that functions as a tumor suppressor gene. Double hit BAP1 inactivation has been reported in a range of tumor types, including intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), sometimes in association with germline mutation.We performed immunohistochemistry for BAP1 on a well-characterized cohort of 211 ICC patients undergoing surgical resection with curative intent at 3 institutions based in 3 different countries. The median age at diagnosis was 65 years (range, 36.5-86) and 108 (51%) were men. Negative staining for BAP1 (defined as completely absent nuclear staining in the presence of positive internal controls in nonneoplastic cells) occurred in 55 ICCs (26%). BAP1 loss predicted a strong trend toward improved median survival of 40.80 months (95% CI, 28.14-53.46) versus 24.87 months (95% CI, 18.73-31.01), P = 0.059). In a multivariate model including age, sex, BAP1 status, tumor stage, tumor grade, lymphovascular invasion, and tumor size, female sex was associated with improved survival (hazard ratio [HR] 0.54; 95% CI, 0.34-0.85), while advanced tumor stage and lymphovascular invasion (HR 1.89; 95% CI, 1.09-3.28) correlated with decreased survival. In a multivariate analysis, high grade tumors were associated with BAP1 loss (odds ratio [OR] 3.32; 95% CI, 1.29-8.55), while lymphatic invasion was inversely associated with BAP1 loss (OR 0.36; 95% CI, 0.13-0.99).In conclusion, we observed a trend toward improved prognosis in ICC associated with absent expression of BAP1 and an association of BAP1 loss with higher histological grade and absent lymphatic invasion. Female sex was associated with improved survival while advanced tumor stage and lymphatic invasion were associated with decreased survival.

Singh B, Newton RU, Cormie P, et al.
Lymphology. 2015; 48(2):80-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
The use of compression garments during exercise is recommended for women with breast cancer-related lymphedema, but the evidence behind this clinical recommendation is unclear. The aim of this randomized, cross-over trial was to compare the acute effects of wearing versus not wearing compression during a single bout of moderate-load resistance exercise on lymphedema status and its associated symptoms in women with breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). Twenty-five women with clinically diagnosed, stable unilateral breast cancer-related lymphedema completed two resistance exercise sessions, one with compression and one without, in a randomized order separated by a minimum 6 day wash-out period. The resistance exercise session consisted of six upper-body exercises, with each exercise performed for three sets at a moderate-load (10-12 repetition maximum). Primary outcome was lymphedema, assessed using bioimpedance spectroscopy (L-Dex score). Secondary outcomes were lymphedema as assessed by arm circumferences (percent inter-limb difference and sum-of-circumferences), and symptom severity for pain, heaviness and tightness, measured using visual analogue scales. Measurements were taken pre-, immediately post- and 24 hours post-exercise. There was no difference in lymphedema status (i.e., L-Dex scores) pre- and post-exercise sessions or between the compression and non-compression condition [Mean (SD) for compression pre-, immediately post- and 24 hours post-exercise: 17.7 (21.5), 12.7 (16.2) and 14.1 (16.7), respectively; no compression: 15.3 (18.3), 15.3 (17.8), and 13.4 (16.1), respectively]. Circumference values and symptom severity were stable across time and treatment condition. An acute bout of moderate-load, upper-body resistance exercise performed in the absence of compression does not exacerbate lymphedema in women with BCRL.

Solomon MJ, Brown KG, Koh CE, et al.
Lateral pelvic compartment excision during pelvic exenteration.
Br J Surg. 2015; 102(13):1710-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Involvement of the lateral compartment remains a relative or absolute contraindication to pelvic exenteration in most units. Initial experience with exenteration in the authors' unit produced a 21 per cent clear margin rate (R0), which improved to 53 per cent by adopting a novel technique for en bloc resection of the iliac vessels and other side-wall structures. The objective of this study was to report morbidity and oncological outcomes in consecutive exenterations involving the lateral compartment.
METHODS: Patients undergoing pelvic exenteration between 1994 and 2014 were eligible for review.
RESULTS: Two hundred consecutive patients who had en bloc resection of the lateral compartment were included. R0 resection was achieved in 66·5 per cent of 197 patients undergoing surgery for cancer and 68·9 per cent of planned curative resections. For patients with colorectal cancer, a clear resection margin was associated with a significant overall survival benefit (P = 0·030). Median overall and disease-free survival in this group was 41 and 27 months respectively. Overall 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates were 86, 46 and 35 per cent respectively. No predictors of survival were identified on univariable analysis other than margin status and operative intent. Excision of the common or external iliac vessels or sciatic nerve did not confer a survival disadvantage.
CONCLUSION: The continuing evolution of radical pelvic exenteration techniques has seen an improvement in R0 margin status from 21 to 66·5 per cent over a 20-year interval by routine adoption of a more lateral anatomical plane. Five-year overall survival rates are comparable with those for more centrally based tumours.

Nalavenkata SB, Sacks R, Adappa ND, et al.
Olfactory Neuroblastoma: Fate of the Neck--A Long-term Multicenter Retrospective Study.
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016; 154(2):383-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Olfactory neuroblastoma and the management of neck disease has posed considerable challenges to the treating physician. The aims of the study were to determine the incidence and factors influencing neck disease and to identify at-risk patients with cervical node-negative disease at presentation.
STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter case series with retrospective chart review.
SETTING AND SUBJECTS: In sum, 113 patients with a histopathologic diagnosis of olfactory neuroblastoma across 6 tertiary hospitals in Australia and the United States.
METHODS: Treatment modalities for the primary site and neck included surgery, radiotherapy, and combined therapy. Treatment outcomes were measured in relation to date of primary treatment, and long-term follow-up was recorded. Disease-free survival was calculated as time for patients to develop delayed neck disease following primary treatment.
RESULTS: A total of 113 patients (46 females, 49.7 ± 13.2 years) were identified with a median follow-up of 41.5 months (interquartile range, 58.2); 7.1% of patients presented with primary neck disease, while 8.8% of patients presented with delayed neck disease. Neck disease was present in patients with Hyams grade II (22.2%), III (55.6%), and IV (22.2%) lesions (χ(2) = 5.66, P = .13). Histologic grade was higher in patients with primary neck disease (χ(2) = 16.22, P = .001). Positive surgical margins were associated with a higher risk of delayed neck disease as compared with clear surgical margin (17.9% vs 5%, P = .034).
CONCLUSION: Neck metastasis is an important clinical consideration for olfactory neuroblastoma at presentation and in surveillance. Primary treatment of the neck could be considered in select patients. Long-term surveillance of the neck and primary site is essential.

Munro A, Powell RG, A Cohen P, et al.
Spontaneous regression of CIN2 in women aged 18-24 years: a retrospective study of a state-wide population in Western Australia.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2016; 95(3):291-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: CIN2 has a high rate of spontaneous regression in young women and may be managed conservatively in appropriately selected patients. This study aimed to investigate health outcomes in women aged 18-24 years with biopsy-confirmed CIN2.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of Western Australian women aged 18-24 years diagnosed with CIN2 on cervical biopsy from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2010. Women who had not received treatment at ≥4 months following CIN2 diagnosis were classified as managed 'conservatively'. Subsequent cervical cytology and/or biopsy test results were used to report lesion regression (absence of dysplasia or an epithelial lesion of lower grade than CIN2) and disease persistence (CIN2, CIN3 or ACIS).
RESULTS: Follow-up data were available for 2417 women of whom 924 (38.2%) were 'conservatively' managed. In all, 152 (16.4%) conservatively managed women had a lesion more severe than CIN2 detected within 24 months of initial diagnosis, of which 144 were CIN3 and eight were ACIS. There was no statistically significant association between rates of regression and patient age, Socio-economic Indexes for Areas or Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia indices. The 2-year regression rate for CIN2 was estimated to be 59.5% (95%CI 0.5-0.6) in this cohort of women.
CONCLUSION: In conservatively managed young women with CIN2 there was a high rate of spontaneous disease regression. Thus, excisional or ablative treatments may be avoided in selected patients who receive appropriate counseling and who are able to comply with more intensive and prolonged follow-up requirements.

Ardalan ZS, Vasudevan A, Hew S, et al.
The Value of Audio Devices in the Endoscopy Room (VADER) study: a randomised controlled trial.
Med J Aust. 2015; 203(11):472-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of Star Wars music (SWM) compared with endoscopist-selected popular music (PM) on quality outcomes in colonoscopy.
DESIGN AND SETTING: A single-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial conducted in an endoscopy suite within a quaternary-centre gastroenterology unit, Melbourne, Australia.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measures were procedure time, polyp detection rate (PDR) and adenoma detection rate (ADR). The secondary outcome measure was adenomas per colonoscopy (APC).
RESULTS: 103 colonoscopies were analysed: 58 in the SWM group and 45 in the PM group. Bowel preparation was assessed as good or excellent in 57% of the SWM group compared with 69% of the PM group (P < 0.01). The PDR was significantly higher in the SWM group than in the PM group (60% v 35%; P = 0.006). Similarly, the ADR was significantly higher in the SWM group than in the PM group (48% v 27%; P = 0.01). The APC in the SWM group was 84% compared with 35% in the PM group (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSION: SWM compared with PM improves key quality outcomes in colonoscopy, despite poorer bowel preparation.

Watrowski R, Castillo-Tong DC, Wolf A, et al.
HER2 Codon 655 (Ile/Val) Polymorphism and Breast Cancer in Austrian Women.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(12):6667-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in breast cancer (BC) is associated with impaired prognosis. Data concerning the HER2 codon 655 polymorphism (Ile/Val) and BC risk are conflicting.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied the HER2 codon 655 (rs1136201) polymorphism in 80 Austrian patients with BC and 100 healthy volunteers by pyrosequencing and polymerase chain reaction. Associations between codon 655 allelic variants and clinicopathological variables (e.g. age, stage of disease, tumor type, grading, and receptor status) were studied with 2×2 tables.
RESULTS: The genotypic distributions in patients with BC (AA: 63.75%, AG: 32.5%, GG: 3.75%) and controls (AA: 63%, AG: 34%, GG: 3.7%) were virtually identical (odds ratio=1.03, 95% confidence interval=0.56-1.90). A non-significant link between carrying at least one G allele and more aggressive tumor type (estrogen receptor-negative p=0.08, G3 tumor p=0.19) was observed.
CONCLUSION: Genotypic variation within the codon 655 of HER2 does not alter the BC risk in Caucasian Austrian women. The association between the G allele and more aggressive tumor types requires further investigation.

Vonhoff CR, Lochhead A, Koustais S, et al.
Differences in the Pathological Diagnosis and Repeat Craniotomy Rates in Cerebral Tumors Undergoing Biopsy or Resection in an Urban Versus Regional Center.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2015; 94(47):e2131 [PubMed] Related Publications
Primary intracranial tumors occur with an incidence of between 2.5 and 6 per 100,000 individuals. They require specialist expertise for investigation and management including input from radiology, pathology, neurosurgery, and oncology. Therefore, most patients with intracranial neoplasia are investigated and managed in larger hospitals. The geographically dispersed population of Australia has facilitated the development of neurosurgical units in regional areas. However, major metropolitan hospitals are over-represented compared with regional centers in most research cohorts. We therefore sought to investigate the spectrum of intracranial neoplasms undergoing biopsy and surgery at a major regional center in Australia and to compare the demographic and pathological features to similar cohorts treated in major metropolitan hospitals.We searched the pathological databases of both a major regional pathology provider and a major metropolitan pathology practice, which provides surgical pathology services for both a large private and a large public neurosurgical hospital, to identify all cerebral tumors undergoing biopsy or resection over a 14-year period (calendar years 2001 and 2014).In all, 3717 cerebral tumors were identified. Among them, 51% were from an urban private hospital, 33% from an urban public hospital, and 16% from a regional public hospital. Overall, one-third of them were neuroepithelial in origin, a quarter metastatic disease, a fifth meningeal, and one-tenth were pituitary adenomas. The regional center treated a higher proportion of metastatic tumors and less meningeal tumors compared with the urban center. Additionally, patients were less likely to undergo a second operation in the regional center (P < 0.001). The differences give an important insight into the burden of neurosurgical disease in regional Australia, and how it differs from that encountered in large metropolitan centers.

Hsieh JC, Cramb SM, McGree JM, et al.
Geographic variation in the intended choice of adjuvant treatments for women diagnosed with screen-detected breast cancer in Queensland.
BMC Public Health. 2015; 15:1204 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Although early diagnosis and improved treatment can reduce breast cancer mortality, there still appears to be a geographic differential in patient outcomes. This study aims to determine and quantify spatial inequalities in intended adjuvant (radio-, chemo- and hormonal) therapy usage among women with screen-detected breast cancer in Queensland, Australia.
METHODS: Linked population-based datasets from BreastScreen Queensland and the Queensland Cancer Registry during 1997-2008 for women aged 40-89 years were used. We adopted a Bayesian shared spatial component model to evaluate the relative intended use of each adjuvant therapy across 478 areas as well as common spatial patterns between treatments.
RESULTS: Women living closer to a cancer treatment facility were more likely to intend to use adjuvant therapy. This was particularly marked for radiotherapy when travel time to the closest radiation facility was 4 + h (OR =0.41, 95 % CrI: [0.23, 0.74]) compared to <1 h. The shared spatial effect increased towards the centres with concentrations of radiotherapy facilities, in north-east (Townsville) and south-east (Brisbane) regions of Queensland. Moreover, the presence of residual shared spatial effects indicates that there are other unmeasured geographical barriers influencing women's treatment choices.
CONCLUSIONS: This highlights the need to identify the additional barriers that impact on treatment intentions among women diagnosed with screen-detected breast cancer, particularly for those women living further away from cancer treatment centers.

Harding JL, Sooriyakumaran M, Anstey KJ, et al.
Hypertension, antihypertensive treatment and cancer incidence and mortality: a pooled collaborative analysis of 12 Australian and New Zealand cohorts.
J Hypertens. 2016; 34(1):149-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Observational studies examining associations between hypertension and cancer are inconsistent. We explored the association of hypertension, graded hypertension and antihypertensive treatment with cancer incidence and mortality.
METHOD: Eighty-six thousand five hundred and ninety-three participants from the Australian and New Zealand Diabetes and Cancer Collaboration were linked to the National Death Index and Australian Cancer Database. Cox proportional hazards models estimated hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the association of treated and untreated hypertension with cancer incidence and mortality.
RESULTS: Over a median follow-up of 15.1 years, 12 070 incident and 4350 fatal cancers were identified. Untreated and treated hypertension, compared with normotension, were associated with an increased risk for cancer incidence [hazard ratio 1.06, 95% CI (1.00-1.11) and 1.09 (1.02-1.16) respectively], and cancer mortality (1.07, 0.98-1.18) and (1.15, 1.03-1.28), respectively. When compared with untreated hypertension, treated hypertension did not have a significantly greater risk for cancer incidence (1.03, 0.97-1.10) or mortality (1.07, 0.97-1.19). A significant dose-response relationship was observed between graded hypertension and cancer incidence and mortality; Ptrend = 0.053 and Ptrend = 0.001, respectively. When stratified by treatment status, these relationships remained significant in untreated, but not in treated, hypertension.
CONCLUSION: Hypertension, both treated and untreated, is associated with a modest increased risk for cancer incidence and mortality. Similar risks in treated and untreated hypertension suggest that the increased cancer risk is not explained by the use of antihypertensive treatment.

Johnson DB, Menzies AM, Zimmer L, et al.
Acquired BRAF inhibitor resistance: A multicenter meta-analysis of the spectrum and frequencies, clinical behaviour, and phenotypic associations of resistance mechanisms.
Eur J Cancer. 2015; 51(18):2792-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) is a near-universal phenomenon caused by numerous genetic and non-genetic alterations. In this study, we evaluated the spectrum, onset, pattern of progression, and subsequent clinical outcomes associated with specific mechanisms of resistance.
METHODS: We compiled clinical and genetic data from 100 patients with 132 tissue samples obtained at progression on BRAFi therapy from 3 large, previously published studies of BRAFi resistance. These samples were subjected to whole-exome sequencing and/or polymerase chain reaction-based genetic testing.
RESULTS: Among 132 samples, putative resistance mechanisms were identified in 58%, including NRAS or KRAS mutations (20%), BRAF splice variants (16%), BRAF(V600E/K) amplifications (13%), MEK1/2 mutations (7%), and non-mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway alterations (11%). Marked heterogeneity was observed within tumors and patients; 18 of 19 patients (95%) with more than one progression biopsy had distinct/unknown drivers of resistance between samples. NRAS mutations were associated with vemurafenib use (p = 0.045) and intracranial metastases (p = 0.036), and MEK1/2 mutations correlated with hepatic progression (p = 0.011). Progression-free survival and overall survival were similar across resistance mechanisms. The median survival after disease progression was 6.9 months, and responses to subsequent BRAF and MEK inhibition were uncommon (2 of 15; 13%). Post-progression outcomes did not correlate with specific acquired BRAFi-resistance mechanisms.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to systematically characterise the clinical implications of particular acquired BRAFi-resistance mechanisms in patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma largest study to compile the landscape of resistance. Despite marked heterogeneity of resistance mechanisms within patients, NRAS mutations correlated with vemurafenib use and intracranial disease involvement.

Suleiman WI, McEntee MF, Lewis SJ, et al.
In the digital era, architectural distortion remains a challenging radiological task.
Clin Radiol. 2016; 71(1):e35-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: To compare readers' performance in detecting architectural distortion (AD) compared with other breast cancer types using digital mammography.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-one experienced breast screen readers (20 US and 21 Australian) were asked to read a single test set of 30 digitally acquired mammographic cases. Twenty cases had abnormal findings (10 with AD, 10 non-AD) and 10 cases were normal. Each reader was asked to locate and rate any abnormalities. Lesion and case-based performance was assessed. For each collection of readers (US; Australian; combined), jackknife free-response receiver operating characteristic (JAFROC), figure of merit (FOM), and inferred receiver operating characteristic (ROC), area under curve (Az) were calculated using JAFROC v.4.1 software. Readers' sensitivity, location sensitivity, JAFROC, FOM, ROC, Az scores were compared between cases groups using Wilcoxon's signed ranked test statistics.
RESULTS: For lesion-based analysis, significantly lower location sensitivity (p=0.001) was shown on AD cases compared with non-AD cases for all reader collections. The case-based analysis demonstrated significantly lower ROC Az values (p=0.02) for the first collection of readers, and lower sensitivity for the second collection of readers (p=0.04) and all-readers collection (p=0.008), for AD compared with non-AD cases.
CONCLUSIONS: The current work demonstrates that AD remains a challenging task for readers, even in the digital era.

Quinten C, Coens C, Ghislain I, et al.
The effects of age on health-related quality of life in cancer populations: A pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 involving 6024 cancer patients.
Eur J Cancer. 2015; 51(18):2808-19 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Cancer incidence increases exponentially with advancing age, cancer patients live longer than in the past, and many new treatments focus on stabilizing disease and HRQOL. The objective of this study is to examine how cancer affects patients' HRQOL and whether their HRQOL is age-dependent.
METHODS: Data from 25 EORTC randomized controlled trials was pooled. EORTC QLQ-C30 mean scores for the cancer cohort and five general population cohorts were compared to assess the impact of cancer on patients' HRQOL. Within the cancer cohort, multiple linear regressions (two-sided level P-value = 0.05 adjusted for multiple testing.) were used to investigate the association between age and HRQOL, adjusted for gender, WHO performance status (PS), distant metastasis and stratified by cancer site. A difference of 10 points on the 0-100 scale was considered clinically important.
RESULTS: Cancer patients generally have worse HRQOL compared to the general population, but the specific HRQOL domains impaired vary with age. When comparing the cancer versus the general population, young cancer patients had worse financial problems, social and role functioning, while the older cancer groups had more appetite loss. Within the cancer cohort, HRQOL was worse with increasing age for physical functioning and constipation, and better with increasing age for social functioning, insomnia and financial problems (all p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: HRQOL is impaired in cancer patients compared to the general population, but the impact on specific HRQOL domains varies by age. Within the cancer population, some HRQOL components improve with age while others deteriorate. Optimal care for older cancer patients should target HRQOL domains most relevant to this population.

Bolshinsky V, Lin MJ, Serpell J, et al.
Frequency of residual melanoma in wide local excision (WLE) specimens after complete excisional biopsy.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016; 74(1):102-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: We sought to better understand the role of wide local excision (WLE) in the treatment of cutaneous melanoma by analyzing residual or locally metastatic disease in WLE specimens of melanomas initially diagnosed with a complete excisional biopsy.
METHODS: This was a retrospective review of 807 consecutive WLEs of melanomas diagnosed after complete excisional biopsy. All specimens were reviewed by a single dermatopathologist. Risk of residual or locally metastatic disease was analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
RESULTS: In the 807 WLE specimens, further melanoma was found in 34 cases (4.2%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.9-5.8). Residual primary melanoma was found in 33 of these. On univariate analysis, features associated with residual or locally metastatic disease were histologic subtype (odds ratio 3.0; 95% CI 1.3-7.1, P = .01) and tumor location (odds ratio 7.3; 95% CI 2.0-26.6, P < .01). On multivariate analysis, lentigo maligna was independently associated with melanoma remaining in WLE specimens (odds ratio 2.7; 95% CI 1.0-7.3, P = .04).
CONCLUSION: Residual melanoma in WLE specimens after histologically assessed complete excisional biopsy is not uncommon. Patients with lentigo maligna subtype melanomas are most at risk. Our findings indicate that the procedure of WLE is most important therapeutically for its role in controlling the primary tumor, rather than in preventing local metastatic recurrence.

Salagame U, Banks E, Sitas F, Canfell K
Menopausal hormone therapy use and breast cancer risk in Australia: Findings from the New South Wales Cancer, Lifestyle and Evaluation of Risk study.
Int J Cancer. 2016; 138(8):1905-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Randomised controlled trials and large-scale observational studies have found that current use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer; this risk is higher for oestrogen-progestagen combination therapy than for oestrogen-only therapy. Our study was designed to estimate MHT-associated breast cancer risk in a population of Australian women. Data were analysed for postmenopausal women with self-reported incident invasive breast cancer (n = 1,236) and cancer-free controls (n = 862), recruited between 2006 and 2014 into a large case-control study for all cancer types, the NSW CLEAR study. Information on past and current MHT use was collected from all participants, along with other lifestyle and demographic factors, using a self-administered questionnaire. Unmatched multivariable logistic regression was performed, adjusting for socio-demographic, reproductive and health behaviour variables, body mass index and breast screening history. Compared to never users of MHT, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for breast cancer in current users of any type of MHT was 2.09 (95% CI: 1.57-2.78; p < 0.0001) and for past users of any type of MHT was 1.03 (0.82-1.28; p = 0.8243). For current users of oestrogen-only and oestrogen-progestagen therapy, aORs were 1.80 (1.21-2.68; p = 0.0039) and 2.62 (1.56-4.38; p = 0.0003), respectively. These findings are consistent with those from other international observational studies, that current, but not past, use of MHT is associated with a substantially increased risk of breast cancer.

Gay F, Oliva S, Petrucci MT, et al.
Chemotherapy plus lenalidomide versus autologous transplantation, followed by lenalidomide plus prednisone versus lenalidomide maintenance, in patients with multiple myeloma: a randomised, multicentre, phase 3 trial.
Lancet Oncol. 2015; 16(16):1617-29 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: High-dose melphalan plus autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT) is the standard approach in transplant-eligible patients with newly diagnosed myeloma. Our aims were to compare consolidation with high-dose melphalan plus ASCT versus chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide and dexamethasone) plus lenalidomide, and maintenance with lenalidomide plus prednisone versus lenalidomide alone.
METHODS: We did an open-label, randomised, multicentre, phase 3 study at 59 centres in Australia, Czech Republic, and Italy. We enrolled transplant-eligible patients with newly diagnosed myeloma aged 65 years or younger. Patients received a common induction with four 28-day cycles of lenalidomide (25 mg, days 1-21) and dexamethasone (40 mg, days 1, 8, 15, and 22) and subsequent chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide (3 g/m(2)) followed by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor for stem-cell mobilisation and collection. Using a 2 × 2 partial factorial design, we randomised patients to consolidation with either chemotherapy plus lenalidomide (six cycles of cyclophosphamide [300 mg/m(2), days 1, 8, and 15], dexamethasone [40 mg, days 1, 8, 15, and 22], and lenalidomide [25 mg, days 1-21]) or two courses of high-dose melphalan (200 mg/m(2)) and ASCT. We also randomised patients to maintenance with lenalidomide (10 mg, days 1-21) plus prednisone (50 mg, every other day) or lenalidomide alone. A simple randomisation sequence was used to assign patients at enrolment into one of the four groups (1:1:1:1 ratio), but the treatment allocation was disclosed only when the patient reached the end of the induction and confirmed their eligibility for consolidation. Both the patient and the treating clinician did not know the consolidation and maintenance arm until that time. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival assessed by intention-to-treat. The trial is ongoing and some patients are still receiving maintenance. This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01091831.
FINDINGS: 389 patients were enrolled between July 6, 2009, and May 6, 2011, with 256 eligible for consolidation (127 high-dose melphalan and ASCT and 129 chemotherapy plus lenalidomide) and 223 eligible for maintenance (117 lenalidomide plus prednisone and 106 lenalidomide alone). Median follow-up was 52·0 months (IQR 30·4-57·6). Progression-free survival during consolidation was significantly shorter with chemotherapy plus lenalidomide compared with high-dose melphalan and ASCT (median 28·6 months [95% CI 20·6-36·7] vs 43·3 months [33·2-52·2]; hazard ratio [HR] for the first 24 months 2·51, 95% CI 1·60-3·94; p<0·0001). Progression-free survival did not differ between maintenance treatments (median 37·5 months [95% CI 27·8-not evaluable] with lenalidomide plus prednisone vs 28·5 months [22·5-46·5] with lenalidomide alone; HR 0·84, 95% CI 0·59-1·20; p=0·34). Fewer grade 3 or 4 adverse events were recorded with chemotherapy plus lenalidomide than with high-dose melphalan and ASCT; the most frequent were haematological (34 [26%] of 129 patients vs 107 [84%] of 127 patients), gastrointestinal (six [5%] vs 25 [20%]), and infection (seven [5%] vs 24 [19%]). Haematological serious adverse events were reported in two (2%) patients assigned chemotherapy plus lenalidomide and no patients allocated high-dose melphalan and ASCT. Non-haematological serious adverse events were reported in 13 (10%) patients assigned chemotherapy plus lenalidomide and nine (7%) allocated high-dose melphalan and ASCT. During maintenance, adverse events did not differ between groups. The most frequent grade 3 or 4 adverse events were neutropenia (nine [8%] of 117 patients assigned lenalidomide plus prednisone vs 14 [13%] of 106 allocated lenalidomide alone), infection (eight [8%] vs five [5%]), and systemic toxicities (seven [6%] vs two [2%]). Non-haematological serious adverse events were reported in 13 (11%) patients assigned lenalidomide plus prednisone versus ten (9%) allocated lenalidomide alone. Four patients died because of adverse events, three from infections (two during induction and one during consolidation) and one because of cardiac toxic effects.
INTERPRETATION: Consolidation with high-dose melphalan and ASCT remains the preferred option in transplant-eligible patients with multiple myeloma, despite a better toxicity profile with chemotherapy plus lenalidomide.
FUNDING: Celgene.

Kastrinos F, Ojha RP, Leenen C, et al.
Comparison of Prediction Models for Lynch Syndrome Among Individuals With Colorectal Cancer.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016; 108(2) [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Recent guidelines recommend the Lynch Syndrome prediction models MMRPredict, MMRPro, and PREMM1,2,6 for the identification of MMR gene mutation carriers. We compared the predictive performance and clinical usefulness of these prediction models to identify mutation carriers.
METHODS: Pedigree data from CRC patients in 11 North American, European, and Australian cohorts (6 clinic- and 5 population-based sites) were used to calculate predicted probabilities of pathogenic MLH1, MSH2, or MSH6 gene mutations by each model and gene-specific predictions by MMRPro and PREMM1,2,6. We examined discrimination with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), calibration with observed to expected (O/E) ratio, and clinical usefulness using decision curve analysis to select patients for further evaluation. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: Mutations were detected in 539 of 2304 (23%) individuals from the clinic-based cohorts (237 MLH1, 251 MSH2, 51 MSH6) and 150 of 3451 (4.4%) individuals from the population-based cohorts (47 MLH1, 71 MSH2, 32 MSH6). Discrimination was similar for clinic- and population-based cohorts: AUCs of 0.76 vs 0.77 for MMRPredict, 0.82 vs 0.85 for MMRPro, and 0.85 vs 0.88 for PREMM1,2,6. For clinic- and population-based cohorts, O/E deviated from 1 for MMRPredict (0.38 and 0.31, respectively) and MMRPro (0.62 and 0.36) but were more satisfactory for PREMM1,2,6 (1.0 and 0.70). MMRPro or PREMM1,2,6 predictions were clinically useful at thresholds of 5% or greater and in particular at greater than 15%.
CONCLUSIONS: MMRPro and PREMM1,2,6 can well be used to select CRC patients from genetics clinics or population-based settings for tumor and/or germline testing at a 5% or higher risk. If no MMR deficiency is detected and risk exceeds 15%, we suggest considering additional genetic etiologies for the cause of cancer in the family.

Chan BA, Larkins SL, Evans R, et al.
Do teleoncology models of care enable safe delivery of chemotherapy in rural towns?
Med J Aust. 2015; 203(10):406-6.e6 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: To compare the dose intensity and toxicity profiles for patients undergoing chemotherapy at the Townsville Cancer Centre (TCC), a tertiary cancer centre in northern Queensland, with those for patients treated in Mount Isa, supervised by the same medical oncologists via teleoncology.
DESIGN: A quasi-experimental design comparing two patient groups.
SETTING: TCC and Mount Isa Hospital, which both operate under the auspices of the Townsville Teleoncology Network (TTN).
PARTICIPANTS: Eligible patients who received chemotherapy at TCC or Mt Isa Hospital between 1 May 2007 and 30 April 2012.
INTERVENTION: Teleoncology model for managing cancer patients in rural towns.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Dose intensity (doses, number of cycles and lines of treatment) and toxicity rates (rate of serious side effects, hospital admissions and mortality).
RESULTS: Over 5 years, 89 patients received a total of 626 cycles of various chemotherapy regimens in Mount Isa. During the same period, 117 patients who received a total of 799 cycles of chemotherapy at TCC were eligible for inclusion in the comparison group. There were no significant differences between the Mount Isa and TCC patients in most demographic characteristics, mean numbers of treatment cycles, dose intensities, proportions of side effects, and hospital admissions. There were no toxicity-related deaths in either group.
CONCLUSION: It appears safe to administer chemotherapy in rural towns under the supervision of medical oncologists from larger centres via teleoncology, provided that rural health care resources and governance arrangements are adequate.

Zucca AC, Sanson-Fisher RW, Waller A, et al.
Life expectancy discussions in a multisite sample of Australian medical oncology outpatients.
Med J Aust. 2015; 203(10):405-5.e7 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The study examined: 1) the proportion of patients who received their preferred level of information about life expectancy; and 2) sociodemographic, clinical and psychological factors associated with patients' perceptions of whether they received too little, too much, or the right amount of information about life expectancy.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: Eleven large Australian medical oncology treatment centres.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1431 medical oncology outpatients participated (81% consent rate). Eligible patients were approached between September 2012 and May 2014.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patients indicated whether the information about life expectancy they received aligned with their preferences.
RESULTS: Almost one in four patients (24%) received too little information, 4% received too much, and 50% received all the information they wanted; 22% of patients neither wanted nor received information about life expectancy. Patients were more likely to receive too little information if they were not in remission (odds ratio [OR], 1.77), did not know their cancer stage at diagnosis (OR, 3.64), or were anxious (OR, 1.48) or depressed (OR, 1.48). Patients had greater odds of receiving too much information if they were younger (OR, 1.45), had more advanced cancer (OR, 2.01) or did not know their cancer stage at diagnosis (OR, 4.42).
CONCLUSIONS: That fact that 28% of cancer patients did not receive their desired level of information about life expectancy highlights the difficulties associated with discussing this sensitive topic. To ensure that life expectancy discussions correspond with patient preferences, clinicians should routinely ask patients whether they want to know this information, in what format, and at which level of detail.

Geissler EK, Schnitzbauer AA, Zülke C, et al.
Sirolimus Use in Liver Transplant Recipients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Randomized, Multicenter, Open-Label Phase 3 Trial.
Transplantation. 2016; 100(1):116-25 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: We investigated whether sirolimus-based immunosuppression improves outcomes in liver transplantation (LTx) candidates with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: In a prospective-randomized open-label international trial, 525 LTx recipients with HCC initially receiving mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor-free immunosuppression were randomized 4 to 6 weeks after transplantation into a group on mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor-free immunosuppression (group A: 264 patients) or a group incorporating sirolimus (group B: 261). The primary endpoint was recurrence-free survival (RFS); intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis was conducted after 8 years. Overall survival (OS) was a secondary endpoint.
RESULTS: Recurrence-free survival was 64.5% in group A and 70.2% in group B at study end, this difference was not significant (P = 0.28; hazard ratio [HR], 0.84; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.62; 1.15). In a planned analysis of RFS rates at yearly intervals, group B showed better outcomes 3 years after transplantation (HR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.48-1.00). Similarly, OS (P = 0.21; HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.58-1.13) was not statistically better in group B at study end, but yearly analyses showed improvement out to 5 years (HR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.49-1.00). Interestingly, subgroup (Milan Criteria-based) analyses revealed that low-risk, rather than high-risk, patients benefited most from sirolimus; furthermore, younger recipients (age ≤60) also benefited, as well sirolimus monotherapy patients. Serious adverse event numbers were alike in groups A (860) and B (874).
CONCLUSIONS: Sirolimus in LTx recipients with HCC does not improve long-term RFS beyond 5 years. However, a RFS and OS benefit is evident in the first 3 to 5 years, especially in low-risk patients. This trial provides the first high-level evidence base for selecting immunosuppression in LTx recipients with HCC.

Chen JH, Wong G, Chapman JR, Lim WH
Cumulative Doses of T-Cell Depleting Antibody and Cancer Risk after Kidney Transplantation.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(11):e0139479 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2017 Related Publications
T-cell depleting antibody is associated with an increased risk of cancer after kidney transplantation, but a dose-dependent relationship has not been established. This study aimed to determine the association between cumulative doses of T-cell depleting antibody and the risk of cancer after kidney transplantation. Using data from the Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry between 1997-2012, we assessed the risk of incident cancer and cumulative doses of T-cell depleting antibody using adjusted Cox regression models. Of the 503 kidney transplant recipients with 2835 person-years of follow-up, 276 (55%), 209 (41%) and 18 (4%) patients received T-cell depleting antibody for induction, rejection or induction and rejection respectively. The overall cancer incidence rate was 1,118 cancers per 100,000 patient-years, with 975, 1093 and 1377 cancers per 100,000 patient-years among those who had received 1-5 doses, 6-10 doses and >10 doses, respectively. There was no association between cumulative doses of T cell depleting antibody and risk of incident cancer (1-5: referent, 6-10: adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.19, 95%CI 0.48-2.95, >10: HR 1.42, 95%CI 0.50-4.02, p = 0.801). This lack of association is contradictory to our hypothesis and is likely attributed to the low event rates resulting in insufficient power to detect significant differences.

Roberts JM, Cornall AM, Ekman D, et al.
Papillary Immature Metaplasia of the Anal Canal: A Low-grade Lesion That Can Mimic a High-grade Lesion.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2016; 40(3):348-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
In a natural history study of anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-related lesions among homosexual men in Sydney, Australia, we identified 15 examples of papillary immature metaplasia (PIM) in anal biopsy samples. PIM has previously been described in the cervix, but not in the anal canal. PIM is a form of exophytic low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (eLSIL) also known as condyloma. In contrast to the maturing keratinocytes and koilocytosis seen in conventional eLSIL, the slender papillary structures of PIM have a surface population of immature squamous cells. In our anal samples PIM was characterized by close proximity to conventional eLSIL, was negative for p16 (p16) expression, and revealed the presence of a single low-risk HPV genotype (either 6 or 11) in laser capture microdissected lesions. The clinical significance of recognizing PIM lies in preventing misdiagnosis as high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, (the presumed precursor to anal cancer), due to the morphologic immaturity of the cell population. In routine practice, awareness of anal canal PIM and p16 immunostaining will prevent this. Further study of the natural history of anal canal PIM is needed.

Cuesta-Briand B, Bessarab D, Shahid S, Thompson SC
Addressing unresolved tensions to build effective partnerships: lessons from an Aboriginal cancer support network.
Int J Equity Health. 2015; 14:122 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their survival once diagnosed with cancer is lower compared to that of other Australians. This highlights the need to improve cancer-related health services for Indigenous Australians although how to achieve this remains unclear. Cancer support groups provide emotional and practical support, foster a sense of community and belonging and can improve health outcomes. However, despite evidence on their positive effects on people affected by cancer, there is scarce information on the function and effectiveness of Indigenous-specific cancer peer-support programs in Australia. Using qualitative data from an evaluation study, this paper explores different understandings of how a cancer support group should operate and the impact of unresolved tensions following the establishment of an Indigenous women cancer peer-support network in a regional town in Western Australia.
METHODS: Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 24 participants purposively selected among Indigenous and mainstream healthcare service providers, and group members and clients. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were subjected to inductive thematic analysis. NVivo was used to manage the data and assist in the data analysis. Rigour was enhanced through team member checking, coding validation and peer debriefing.
RESULTS: Flexibility and a resistance to formal structuring were at the core of how the group operated. It was acknowledged that the network partly owned its success to its fluid approach; however, most mainstream healthcare service providers believed that a more structured approach was needed for the group to be sustainable. This was seen as acting in opposition to the flexible, organic approach considered necessary to adequately respond to Indigenous women's needs. At the core of these tensions were opposing perspectives on the constructs of 'structure' and 'flexibility' between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite the group's achievements, unresolved tensions between opposing perspectives on how a support group should operate negatively impacted on the working relationship between the group and mainstream service providers, and posed a threat to the Network's sustainability. Our results support the need to acknowledge and address different perspectives and world views in order to build strong, effective partnerships between service providers and Indigenous communities.

Orlow I, Reiner AS, Thomas NE, et al.
Vitamin D receptor polymorphisms and survival in patients with cutaneous melanoma: a population-based study.
Carcinogenesis. 2016; 37(1):30-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/01/2017 Related Publications
Factors known to affect melanoma survival include age at presentation, sex and tumor characteristics. Polymorphisms also appear to modulate survival following diagnosis. Result from other studies suggest that vitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphisms (SNPs) impact survival in patients with glioma, renal cell carcinoma, lung, breast, prostate and other cancers; however, a comprehensive study of VDR polymorphisms and melanoma-specific survival is lacking. We aimed to investigate whether VDR genetic variation influences survival in patients with cutaneous melanoma. The analysis involved 3566 incident single and multiple primary melanoma cases enrolled in the international population-based Genes, Environment, and Melanoma Study. Melanoma-specific survival outcomes were calculated for each of 38 VDR SNPs using a competing risk analysis after adjustment for covariates. There were 254 (7.1%) deaths due to melanoma during the median 7.6 years follow-up period. VDR SNPs rs7299460, rs3782905, rs2239182, rs12370156, rs2238140, rs7305032, rs1544410 (BsmI) and rs731236 (TaqI) each had a statistically significant (trend P values < 0.05) association with melanoma-specific survival in multivariate analysis. One functional SNP (rs2239182) remained significant after adjustment for multiple testing using the Monte Carlo method. None of the SNPs associated with survival were significantly associated with Breslow thickness, ulceration or mitosis. These results suggest that the VDR gene may influence survival from melanoma, although the mechanism by which VDR exerts its effect does not seem driven by tumor aggressiveness. Further investigations are needed to confirm our results and to understand the relationship between VDR and survival in the combined context of tumor and host characteristics.

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