Meta-Analysis Shows Increased Benefit of EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors vs Chemotherapy in Subgroups of Patients With EGFR-Mutant NSCLC

“In a meta-analysis reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lee et al found that increased progression-free survival benefit of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment vs chemotherapy was exhibited in patients with exon 19 deletion, never-smokers, and women.

“The meta-analysis included seven trials (N = 1,649) comparing EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors with chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed advanced EGFR-mutant disease. Overall, tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy was associated with significantly prolonged progression-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.37, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.32–0.42)…

“The investigators concluded: ‘Although EGFR [tyrosine kinase inhibitors] significantly prolonged [progression-free survival] overall and in all subgroups, compared with chemotherapy, greater benefits were observed in those with exon 19 deletions, never-smokers, and women. These findings should enhance drug development and economic analyses, as well as the design and interpretation of clinical trials.’ “

Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer Is Linked to Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women of Mexican Descent

“Breast cancer patients of Mexican descent who had a family history of breast or ovarian cancer were almost twice as likely to have triple-negative breast cancer than other subtypes of breast cancer, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held Nov. 9–12.

” ‘Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the worst breast cancer subtypes in terms of outcomes,’ said Maria Elena Martinez, PhD, the Sam M. Walton endowed chair for cancer research and a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla. ‘So, our finding that family history is related to breast cancer subtype for Hispanic women of Mexican descent has tremendous implications for breast cancer treatment, screening, and prevention among this population. It not only affects decisions around treatment plans for patients, but extends to screening and prevention plans for family members.

” ‘Before our study, we knew very little about the factors that affect Hispanic/Latina women’s risk for breast cancer,’ Martinez continued. ‘The Ella Binational Breast Cancer Study was initiated to try and address this issue for Hispanic women of Mexican descent.’ “

Frailty Predicts Noninitiation but Not Discontinuation of Adjuvant Hormonal Therapy in Older Women With Breast Cancer

Editor’s note: It can be useful to understand why cancer patients and their doctors make certain treatment decisions. In a new study, scientists investigated how frailty affects decisions about hormonal therapy for older women with breast cancer. The study involved women aged 65 years or older who had invasive non-metastatic breast cancer. The researchers found that frail patients were less likely to start adjuvant hormonal therapy (treatment to keep cancer from returning after it was surgically removed). But frailty did not seem to affect whether or not a woman chose to stop hormone therapy treatment early.


“In a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Sheppard et al found that frailty was a significant predictor of not starting adjuvant hormonal therapy in breast cancer patients aged ≥ 65 years, but was not predictive of discontinuation of treatment.

“Study details: The study was performed in a prospective cohort (Cancer and Leukemia Group B [CALGB] 369901) of 1,288 women aged ≥ 65 years diagnosed with invasive nonmetastatic breast cancer recruited from 78 sites between 2004 and 2011. Of these, 1,062 had estrogen receptor–positive tumors.

“Interviews were conducted at baseline, 6 months, and every year up to 7 years. Initiation of hormone therapy was identified from records and discontinuation was identified by self-report. Baseline frailty was measured using a validated 35-item scale, with patients being characterized as prefrail, frail, or robust.”

Association Launches Nationwide Lung Cancer Awareness Initiative

“The American Lung Association – in partnership with national presenting sponsor, CVS Caremark – recently unveiled LUNG FORCE, a national initiative to make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and expand research funding.

“ ‘Together we have to make lung cancer in women a public health priority and change our thinking about this disease. We hope that with increased awareness and education, women will join the fight against lung cancer and for lung health,’ Harold Wimmer, national president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association, said in a press release. ‘We are proud to introduce LUNG FORCE and honored to have CVS Caremark as a partner in this new movement that unites women to stand together against lung cancer.’ ”

Inherited Mutated Gene Raises Lung Cancer Risk for Women, Those Who Never Smoked

“People who have an inherited mutation of a certain gene have a high chance of getting lung cancer—higher, even, than heavy smokers with or without the inherited mutation, according to new findings by cancer researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Although both genders have an equal risk of inheriting the mutation, those who develop lung cancer are mostly women and have never smoked, the researchers found.

“People with the rare inherited T790M mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene who have never smoked have a one-in-three chance of developing lung cancer, researchers found. This risk is considerably greater than that of the average heavy smoker, who has about a one-in-eight chance of developing lung cancer – about 40- fold greater than people who have never smoked and do not have the mutation.”

Reducing the Risk of Melanoma in Young Men

Young men are 55% more likely to die of melanoma than young women, according to a recent study that followed more than 25,000 white adolescents and young adults with melanoma. About 95% of skin melanomas occur in non-Hispanic whites. The disparity between the sexes held across melanomas matched for thickness, suggesting a biological basis. But even so, young men can reduce their risk with sun protection and skin checks. Another large study suggested that using sunscreen regularly could cut the incidence of melanoma by half. In addition, men are less likely to get skin checks and young adults are less likely to go to doctors, period. Dermatologists recommend professional skin exams for people with changing moles or ‘ugly duckling’ moles, which don’t match the others. Ugly duckling moles tend to grow up, can be small and uniform in color, and may bleed.

Melanoma Hits Men Harder Than Women at Young Ages, Too

Older men are less likely to survive melanoma than women; new research shows that the same holds for younger men. Melanoma is the third most common cancer in adolescents and young adults. The researchers followed 26,000 white individuals aged 15 to 39 years who had skin melanomas. About 7 years after diagnosis, men were 55% more likely to die than women of same ages and melanoma thicknesses. Moreover, even though melanomas less than 1 mm thick are linked to lower risk, men with these thin melanomas were twice as likely to die as women of the same age. The researchers call for more outreach to alert young men to their heightened risk of melanoma and for more research to find out why.

Genetic Characteristics of Women With Lung Cancer Differ Depending on Smoking History

Few studies so far have focused specifically on lung cancer in women, despite increasing evidence of differences in lung cancer features between women and men. A striking example is the higher rate among women of nonsmokers who develop lung cancer. A recent study of women with lung adenocarcinoma, a type of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), found that those who had never smoked were much more likely to have mutations in the EGFR gene and/or abnormally high levels of estrogen receptors, while smokers were more likely to have mutations in the KRAS gene. Based on these findings, a new phase II clinical trial will explore the effectiveness of treating postmenopausal, nonsmoking women who have advanced non-squamous lung cancer with EGFR inhibitors and anti-estrogen drugs.

Lung cancer set to overtake breast cancer as the main cause of cancer deaths among European women

Lung cancer is likely to overtake breast cancer as the main cause of cancer death among European women by the middle of this decade, according to new research published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology on February 13. In the UK and Poland it has already overtaken breast cancer as the main cause of cancer deaths in women.