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  1. Hassan AS, Naicker M, Yusof KH, Wan Ishak WZ
    Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev., 2015;16(6):2237-43.
    PMID: 25824744
    BACKGROUND: Adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in Dukes C colon cancers post-curative resection. However, the evidence for a role with Dukes B lesions remains unproven despite frequent use for disease characterized by poor prognostic features. In view of limited Asia-specific data, this study aimed to determine survival outcomes and identify prognostic factors in a tertiary teaching hospital in Malaysia.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 116 subjects who underwent curative surgery with and without adjuvant chemotherapy for Duke B and C primary colon adenocarcinomas diagnosed from 2004-2009 were recruited and data were collected retrospectively. Five-year overall survival (OS) and disease free survival (DFS) were analysed using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and log-rank (Mantel-Cox) test. Prognostic factors were determined using Cox proportional hazards regression with both univariate and multivariate analyses.

    RESULTS: The survival analysis demonstrated a 5-year OS of 74.0% for all patients, with 74.9% for Dukes C subjects receiving chemotherapy compared to 28.6% in those not receiving chemotherapy (p=0.001). For Dukes B disease, the 5-year survival rate was 82.6% compared to 75.0% for subjects receiving and not receiving chemotherapy, respectively (p=0.17). Independent prognostic factors identified included a CEA level more than 3.5 ng/ml (hazard ratio (HR)=4.78; p=0.008), serosal involvement (HR=3.75; p=0.028) and completion of chemotherapy (HR= 0.20; p=0.007).

    CONCLUSIONS: In a regional context, this study supports current evidence from the West that adjuvant chemotherapy improves survival in Dukes C colon cancers post curative surgery. However, although a clear benefit has yet to be proven for Dukes B disease, our results suggest survival improvement in selected cases.
  2. Phua VC, Wong WQ, Tan PL, Bustam AZ, Saad M, Alip A, et al.
    Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev., 2015;16(4):1449-53.
    PMID: 25743814
    BACKGROUND: Oral capecitabine is increasingly replacing intravenous 5-fluorouracil in many chemotherapy regimens. However, data on the risk of febrile neutropaenia (FN) and treatment related death (TRD) with the drug remain sparse outside of clinical trial settings despite its widespread usage. This study aimed to determine these rates in a large cohort of patients treated in the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: We reviewed the clinical notes of all patients prescribed with oral capecitabine chemotherapy for any tumour sites in University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) from 1st January 2009 till 31st June 2010. Information collected included patient demographics, histopathological features, treatment received including the different chemotherapy regimens and intent of treatment whether the chemotherapy was given for neoadjuvant, concurrent with radiation, adjuvant or palliative intent. The aim of this study is to establish the pattern of usage, FN and TRD rates with capecitabine in clinical practice outside of clinical trial setting. FN is defined as an oral temperature >38.5°or two consecutive readings of >38.0° for 2 hours and an absolute neutrophil count <0.5 x 109/L, or expected to fall below 0.5 x 109/L (de Naurois et al., 2010). Treatment related death was defined as death occurring during or within 30 days of last chemotherapy treatment.

    RESULTS: Between 1st January 2009 and 30th June 2010, 274 patients were treated with capecitabine chemotherapy in UMMC. The mean age was 58 years (range 22 to 82 years). Capecitabine was used in 14 different tumour sites with the colorectal site predominating with a total of 128 cases (46.7%), followed by breast cancer (35.8%). Capecitabine was most commonly used in the palliative setting accounting for 63.9% of the cases, followed by the adjuvant setting (19.7%). The most common regimen was single agent capecitabine with 129 cases (47.1%). The other common regimens were XELOX (21.5%) and ECX (10.2%). The main result of this study showed an overall FN rate of 2.2% (6/274). The overall TRD rate was 5.1% (14/274). The FN rate for the single agent capecitabine regimen was 1.6% (2/129) and the TRD rate was 5.4% (7/129). All the TRDs were with single agent capecitabine regimen were used for palliative intent.

    CONCLUSIONS: Oral capecitabine is used widely in clinical practice in a myriad of tumour sites and bears a low risk of febrile neutropaenia. However, capecitabine like any other intravenous chemotherapeutic agent carries a significant risk of treatment related death.

  3. Wong YF, Yusof MM, Wan Ishak WZ, Alip A, Phua VC
    Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev., 2015;16(7):2903-8.
    PMID: 25854381
    BACKGROUND: Head and neck cancer (HNC) is the eighth most common cancer as estimated from worldwide data. The incidence of HNC in Peninsular Malaysia was reported as 8.5 per 100,000 population. This study was aimed to determine the treatment outcomes for HNC patients treated in the Oncology Unit of University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: All newly diagnosed patients with squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck (HNSCC) referred for treatment to the Oncology Unit at UMMC from 2003-2010 were retrospectively analyzed. Treatment outcomes were 5-year overall survival (OS), cause specific survival (CSS), loco-regional control (LRC) and radiotherapy (RT) related side effects. Kaplan-Meier and log rank analyses were used to determine survival outcomes, stratified according to American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage.

    RESULTS: A total of 130 cases were analysed. Most cases (81.5%) were at late stage (AJCC III-IVB) at presentation. The 5-year OS for the whole study population was 34.4% with a median follow up of 24 months. The 5-year OS according to AJCC stage was 100%, 48.2%, 41.4% and 22.0% for stage I, II, III and IVA-B, respectively. The 5-year overall CSS and LCR were 45.4% and 55.4%, respectively. Late effects of RT were documented in 41.4% of patients. The most common late effect was xerostomia.

    CONCLUSIONS: The treatment outcome of HNSCC at our centre is lagging behind those of developed nations. Efforts to increase the number of patients presenting in earlier stages, increase in the use of combined modality treatment, especially concurrent chemoradiotherapy and implementation of intensity modulated radiotherapy, may lead to better outcomes for our HNC patients.

  4. Chee Ee Phua V, Loo WH, Yusof MM, Wan Ishak WZ, Tho LM, Ung NM
    Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev., 2013;14(8):4567-70.
    PMID: 24083703
    BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is the commonest radiocurable cancer in Malaysia. This study aimed to determine the treatment outcomes and late effects of radiotherapy for NPC patients treated in University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: All newly diagnosed patients with NPC referred for treatment to the Oncology unit at UMMC from 2004-2008 were retrospectively analyzed. Treatment outcomes were 5 years overall survival (OS), disease free survival (DFS), cause-specific survival (CSS), loco- regional control (LRC) and radiotherapy-related late effects. The Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analysis and differences in survival according to AJCC stage was compared using the log-rank test.

    RESULTS: A total of 176 patients with newly diagnosed NPC were treated in UMMC during this period. Late presentation was common, with 33.5% presenting with T3-4 disease, 84.7% with N1-3 disease and 75.6% with AJCC stage 3-4 disease. Radical RT was given to 162 patients with 22.7% having RT alone and 69.3% having CCRT. The stipulated OTT was 7 weeks and 72.2% managed to complete their RT within this time period. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy was given to 14.8% while adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 16.5%. The 5 years OS was 51.6% with a median follow up of 58 months. The 5 years OS according to stage were 81.8% for stage I, 77.9% for stage II, 47.4% for stage III and 25.9% for stage IV. The 5 years overall CSS, DFS and LRC were 54.4%, 48.4% and 70.6%, respectively. RT related late effects were documented in 80.2%. The commonest was xerostomia (66.7%). Other documented late effects were hearing deficit (17.3%), visual deficit (3.1%), neck stiffness (3.1%) , dysphagia (3.4%), cranial nerve palsy (2.5%), pneumonitis (0.6%) and hypothyroidism (1.2%).

    CONCLUSIONS: The 5 years OS and LRC in this study are low compared to the latest studies especially those utilizing IMRT. Implementation of IMRT for NPC treatment should be strongly encouraged.

  5. Golkhalkhali B, Rajandram R, Paliany AS, Ho GF, Wan Ishak WZ, Johari CS, et al.
    Asia Pac J Clin Oncol, 2018 Jun;14(3):179-191.
    PMID: 28857425 DOI: 10.1111/ajco.12758
    AIM: Colorectal cancer patients on chemotherapy usually have elevated levels of inflammatory markers and experience numerous side effects from chemotherapy thereby leading to poor quality of life. Omega-3 fatty acid and microbial cell preparation (MCP) have been known to provide significant benefits in patients on chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of supplementation of omega-3 fatty acid and MCP in quality of life, chemotherapy side effects and inflammatory markers in colorectal cancer patients on chemotherapy.

    METHODS: A double-blind randomized study was carried out with 140 colorectal cancer patients on chemotherapy. Subjects were separated into two groups to receive either placebo or MCP [30 billion colony-forming unit (CFUs) per sachet] at a dose of two sachets daily for 4 weeks, and omega-3 fatty acid at a dose of 2 g daily for 8 weeks. Outcomes measured were quality of life, side effects of chemotherapy and levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and C-reactive protein.

    RESULTS: The supplementation with MCP and omega-3 fatty acid improved the overall quality of life and alleviated certain side effects of chemotherapy. The supplementation with MCP and omega-3 fatty acid also managed to reduce the level of IL-6 (P = 0.002). There was a significant rise in the placebo group's serum TNF-α (P = 0.048) and IL-6 (P = 0.004).

    CONCLUSION: The combined supplementation with MCP and omega-3 fatty acid may improve quality of life, reduce certain inflammatory biomarkers and relieve certain side effects of chemotherapy in colorectal patients on chemotherapy.

  6. Phua CE, Tan BS, Tan AL, Eng KY, Ng BS, Malik RA, et al.
    Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev., 2012;13(7):3287-92.
    PMID: 22994749
    PURPOSE: To study the overall treatment time (OTT) and acute toxicity of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).

    METHODS: This retrospective study covered all NPC patients who underwent radical IMRT treatment at the Penang General Hospital from June 2011 to February 2012. Patients of any age and stage of disease with histologically proven diagnosis were included. Information was collected on patient demographics, clinical stage, treatment received, including any neoadjuvant and/or concurrent chemotherapy, acute toxity and completion of IMRT within the OTT.

    RESULTS: A total of 26 NPC patients were treated with IMRT during the study period; 88.5% had stage III/IV disease. 45.2% received neo-adjuvant chemotherapy while 50.0% were given concurrent chemo-irradiation. All patients completed the treatment and 92.3% within the 7 weeks OTT. Xerostomia was present in all patients with 92.3% having grade 2. Severe grade III/IV acute toxicity occurred in 73.1% of patients, the commonest of which was oral mucositis (57.6%). This was followed by dysphagia which occurred in 53.8%, skin reactions in 42.3% and weight loss in 19.2%. However, haematological toxicity was mild with only one patient having leucopaenia.

    CONCLUSION: IMRT treatment for NPC is feasible in our center. More importantly, it can be delivered within the 7 weeks OTT in the majority of patients. Severe grade 3/4 toxicity is very common (73.1%) and thus maximal nutritional and analgesic support is required throughout the treatment.

  7. Idayu Mat Nawi R, Lei Chui P, Wan Ishak WZ, Hsien Chan CM
    Clin J Oncol Nurs, 2018 10 01;22(5):555-560.
    PMID: 30239519 DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.555-560
    BACKGROUND: Evidence remains mixed on the benefits of oral cryotherapy in the prevention of oral mucositis and pain associated with fluorouracil-based chemotherapy.

    OBJECTIVES: The intent of this article is to evaluate the effect of oral cryotherapy on the prevention of oral mucositis and pain among patients with colorectal cancer undergoing fluorouracil-based chemotherapy.

    METHODS: Using an experimental study design, the authors randomly assigned 80 patients to either the intervention (n = 40) or usual care group (n = 40). Intervention group participants received oral cryotherapy in the form of ice chips held in their mouths during chemotherapy infusion. Both groups used sodium bicarbonate mouthwash postchemotherapy until the next cycle.

    FINDINGS: In the usual care group, most participants reported grade 2 (moderate to life-threatening) or greater mucositis. Pain associated with mucositis was lower using oral cryotherapy, with the majority of participants in the intervention group reporting no pain.

  8. Rejab M, Wong JHD, Jamalludin Z, Jong WL, Malik RA, Wan Ishak WZ, et al.
    Australas Phys Eng Sci Med, 2018 Jun;41(2):475-485.
    PMID: 29756166 DOI: 10.1007/s13246-018-0647-6
    This study investigates the characteristics and application of the optically-stimulated luminescence dosimeter (OSLD) in cobalt-60 high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, and compares the results with the dosage produced by the treatment planning system (TPS). The OSLD characteristics comprised linearity, reproducibility, angular dependence, depth dependence, signal depletion, bleaching rate and cumulative dose measurement. A phantom verification exercise was also conducted using the Farmer ionisation chamber and in vivo diodes. The OSLD signal indicated a supralinear response (R2 = 0.9998). It exhibited a depth-independent trend after a steep dose gradient region. The signal depletion per readout was negligible (0.02%), with expected deviation for angular dependence due to off-axis sensitive volume, ranging from 1 to 16%. The residual signal of the OSLDs after 1 day bleached was within 1.5%. The accumulated and bleached OSLD signals had a standard deviation of ± 0.78 and ± 0.18 Gy, respectively. The TPS was found to underestimate the measured doses with deviations of 5% in OSLD, 17% in the Farmer ionisation chamber, and 7 and 8% for bladder and rectal diode probes. Discrepancies can be due to the positional uncertainty in the high-dose gradient. This demonstrates a slight displacement of the organ at risk near the steep dose gradient region will result in a large dose uncertainty. This justifies the importance of in vivo measurements in cobalt-60 HDR brachytherapy.
  9. Jong WL, Ung NM, Wong JH, Ng KH, Wan Ishak WZ, Abdul Malik R, et al.
    Phys Med, 2016 Nov;32(11):1466-1474.
    PMID: 27842982 DOI: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2016.10.022
    The purpose of this study is to measure patient skin dose in tangential breast radiotherapy. Treatment planning dose calculation algorithm such as Pencil Beam Convolution (PBC) and in vivo dosimetry techniques such as radiochromic film can be used to accurately monitor radiation doses at tissue depths, but they are inaccurate for skin dose measurement. A MOSFET-based (MOSkin) detector was used to measure skin dose in this study. Tangential breast radiotherapies ("bolus" and "no bolus") were simulated on an anthropomorphic phantom and the skin doses were measured. Skin doses were also measured in 13 patients undergoing each of the techniques. In the patient study, the EBT2 measurements and PBC calculation tended to over-estimate the skin dose compared with the MOSkin detector (p<0.05) in the "no bolus radiotherapy". No significant differences were observed in the "bolus radiotherapy" (p>0.05). The results from patients were similar to that of the phantom study. This shows that the EBT2 measurement and PBC calculation, while able to predict accurate doses at tissue depths, are inaccurate in predicting doses at build-up regions. The clinical application of the MOSkin detectors showed that the average total skin doses received by patients were 1662±129cGy (medial) and 1893±199cGy (lateral) during "no bolus radiotherapy". The average total skin doses were 4030±72cGy (medial) and 4004±91cGy (lateral) for "bolus radiotherapy". In some cases, patient skin doses were shown to exceed the dose toxicity level for skin erythema. Hence, a suitable device for in vivo dosimetry is necessary to accurately determine skin dose.
  10. Burtness B, Harrington KJ, Greil R, Soulières D, Tahara M, de Castro G, et al.
    Lancet, 2019 11 23;394(10212):1915-1928.
    PMID: 31679945 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32591-7
    BACKGROUND: Pembrolizumab is active in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), with programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression associated with improved response.

    METHODS: KEYNOTE-048 was a randomised, phase 3 study of participants with untreated locally incurable recurrent or metastatic HNSCC done at 200 sites in 37 countries. Participants were stratified by PD-L1 expression, p16 status, and performance status and randomly allocated (1:1:1) to pembrolizumab alone, pembrolizumab plus a platinum and 5-fluorouracil (pembrolizumab with chemotherapy), or cetuximab plus a platinum and 5-fluorouracil (cetuximab with chemotherapy). Investigators and participants were aware of treatment assignment. Investigators, participants, and representatives of the sponsor were masked to the PD-L1 combined positive score (CPS) results; PD-L1 positivity was not required for study entry. The primary endpoints were overall survival (time from randomisation to death from any cause) and progression-free survival (time from randomisation to radiographically confirmed disease progression or death from any cause, whichever came first) in the intention-to-treat population (all participants randomly allocated to a treatment group). There were 14 primary hypotheses: superiority of pembrolizumab alone and of pembrolizumab with chemotherapy versus cetuximab with chemotherapy for overall survival and progression-free survival in the PD-L1 CPS of 20 or more, CPS of 1 or more, and total populations and non-inferiority (non-inferiority margin: 1·2) of pembrolizumab alone and pembrolizumab with chemotherapy versus cetuximab with chemotherapy for overall survival in the total population. The definitive findings for each hypothesis were obtained when statistical testing was completed for that hypothesis; this occurred at the second interim analysis for 11 hypotheses and at final analysis for three hypotheses. Safety was assessed in the as-treated population (all participants who received at least one dose of allocated treatment). This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02358031.

    FINDINGS: Between April 20, 2015, and Jan 17, 2017, 882 participants were allocated to receive pembrolizumab alone (n=301), pembrolizumab with chemotherapy (n=281), or cetuximab with chemotherapy (n=300); of these, 754 (85%) had CPS of 1 or more and 381 (43%) had CPS of 20 or more. At the second interim analysis, pembrolizumab alone improved overall survival versus cetuximab with chemotherapy in the CPS of 20 or more population (median 14·9 months vs 10·7 months, hazard ratio [HR] 0·61 [95% CI 0·45-0·83], p=0·0007) and CPS of 1 or more population (12·3 vs 10·3, 0·78 [0·64-0·96], p=0·0086) and was non-inferior in the total population (11·6 vs 10·7, 0·85 [0·71-1·03]). Pembrolizumab with chemotherapy improved overall survival versus cetuximab with chemotherapy in the total population (13·0 months vs 10·7 months, HR 0·77 [95% CI 0·63-0·93], p=0·0034) at the second interim analysis and in the CPS of 20 or more population (14·7 vs 11·0, 0·60 [0·45-0·82], p=0·0004) and CPS of 1 or more population (13·6 vs 10·4, 0·65 [0·53-0·80], p<0·0001) at final analysis. Neither pembrolizumab alone nor pembrolizumab with chemotherapy improved progression-free survival at the second interim analysis. At final analysis, grade 3 or worse all-cause adverse events occurred in 164 (55%) of 300 treated participants in the pembrolizumab alone group, 235 (85%) of 276 in the pembrolizumab with chemotherapy group, and 239 (83%) of 287 in the cetuximab with chemotherapy group. Adverse events led to death in 25 (8%) participants in the pembrolizumab alone group, 32 (12%) in the pembrolizumab with chemotherapy group, and 28 (10%) in the cetuximab with chemotherapy group.

    INTERPRETATION: Based on the observed efficacy and safety, pembrolizumab plus platinum and 5-fluorouracil is an appropriate first-line treatment for recurrent or metastatic HNSCC and pembrolizumab monotherapy is an appropriate first-line treatment for PD-L1-positive recurrent or metastatic HNSCC.

    FUNDING: Merck Sharp & Dohme.

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