A Periodical for the Sarcoma Community

Research Corner: November 2014

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Universal Marker and Detection Tool for Sarcoma Circulating Tumor Cells

To date, no specific marker exists for the detection of circulating tumor cell from different types of sarcomas, though tools are available for detection of circulating tumor cell (CTC) in peripheral blood of cancer patients for epithelial cancers. Here the investigators report cell-surface vimentin (CSV) as an exclusive marker on sarcoma CTC regardless of the tissue origin of the sarcoma as detected by a novel monoclonal antibody. Utilizing CSV as a probe they isolated and enumerated sarcoma CTC with high sensitivity and specificity from the blood of patients bearing different types of sarcoma, validating their phenotype by single cell genomic amplification, mutation detection and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Their results establish the first universal and specific CTC marker described for enumerating CTC from different types of sarcoma, thereby providing a key prognosis tool to monitor cancer metastasis and relapse.

Bone sarcomas: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines

This paper presents the European Society for Medical Oncology's practice guidelines for the treatment of bone sarcomas. One of the main recommendations of this guideline is that all patients with a suspected primary malignant bone tumor should be referred to a bone sarcoma reference center or an institution belonging to a specialized bone sarcoma network before biopsy.

Follow-up of the STS Patient

Despite optimal treatment, patients with soft tissue sarcoma are at risk for recurrence and therefore appropriate surveillance is critical. At minimum, regularly scheduled clinical assessments and chest X-rays are necessary. Consensus guidelines are available; however, surveillance strategies must be personalized based on the risk for recurrence and inherent disease biology. In this review article the authors discuss surveillance of the STS patient who has undergone optimal treatment to render no gross evidence of disease. This is the patient who has received treatment with curative as opposed to palliative intent. They focus on tumors of the extremity, where the majority (70–80%) of cases are seen, with some mention of retroperitoneal tumors, which can present unique challenges in clinical management. As they will highlight, a number of unresolved and even controversial issues exist and there is certainly the need for further research to define the appropriate surveillance strategy for the STS patient.

Targeting the DNA Repair Pathway in Ewing Sarcoma

Ewing sarcoma (EWS) is a tumor of the bone and soft tissue that primarily affects adolescents and young adults. With current therapies, 70% of patients with localized disease survive, but patients with metastatic or recurrent disease have a poor outcome. We found that EWS cell lines are defective in DNA break repair and are sensitive to PARP inhibitors (PARPis). PARPi-induced cytotoxicity in EWS cells was 10- to 1,000-fold higher after administration of the DNA-damaging agents irinotecan or temozolomide. We developed an orthotopic EWS mouse model and performed pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies using three different PARPis that are in clinical development for pediatric cancer. Irinotecan administered on a low-dose, protracted schedule previously optimized for pediatric patients was an effective DNA-damaging agent when combined with PARPis; it was also better tolerated than combinations with temozolomide. Combining PARPis with irinotecan and temozolomide gave complete and durable responses in more than 80% of the mice.

Internal Hemipelvectomy and/or Radiation Therapy in Pelvic Ewing Sarcoma

Pelvic Ewing sarcoma (ES) is commonly associated with a worse prognosis. Large size and location limit local control options to radiation therapy, and local recurrences are common. The investigators evaluated the impact of hemipelvectomy and radiation on outcomes, including function. Thirty-nine patients (median age 13.5 years) with ES of the pelvis and sacral bones were treated during the period 2000–2012. Fifteen were treated with definitive radiotherapy (RT), 9 patients underwent hemipelvectomy alone, and 15 were treated with combined hemipelvectomy and RT. Results were as follows: Twenty patients (51.2%) are alive with a median follow-up 3.2 years from diagnosis. Median time from diagnosis to relapse was 1.3 years. Three-year estimates of EFS and OS were 47% and 61%, respectively. Patients treated with surgery or surgery with RT had better outcome than patients treated with RT only (3-year OS 78% or 81% vs. 36%, respectively, p = 0.00083). The outcome of patients with pelvic ES treated with hemipelvectomy was not significantly different from the outcome of all patients with Ewing sarcoma treated on the national Polish protocol. Conclusions: Internal hemipelvectomy offers good chances of cure for patients with pelvic ES, with a reasonable rate of complications and good function.

Hypoalbuminaemia, Predictor of Poor Outcome in Metastatic Ewing's Sarcoma

Data on metastatic Ewing's sarcoma family of tumours (ESFT) with uniform chemotherapy protocol are minimal. This was a single institutional patient review of patients treated between June 2003 and November 2011 and evaluated on an intent-to-treat analysis. All patients received uniform chemotherapy: neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT), surgery and/or radiotherapy as local treatment followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. Local treatment was offered if the patient achieved a complete response and/or a partial response at both the primary and the metastatic site. Results were as follows: In total, 150/374 (40%) ESFT patients were metastatic, with a median age of 15 years (range: 2–50); a tumor diameter of 10 cm (range: 1.8–26). Most common metastatic sites were lung only (53; 35%), bone only (35; 23%) and combined bone/lung (25; 17%). Twenty patients underwent surgery; 55 patients received radical radiotherapy after NACT. After a median follow-up of 26.1 months (range: 1.6–101.6), 5 year event-free survival (EFS), overall survival and local control rate (LCR) were 9.1 ± 3.3%, 16.9 ± 5.2% and 31.8 ± 7.9%, respectively. Univariate analysis showed serum albumin ≤3.4 g/dl (P < 0.001) to predict inferior EFS. Tumor size >8 cm (P = 0.05), haemoglobin ≤10 g/dl (P = 0.04), hypoalbuminaemia (P = 0.003) and radical radiotherapy as local treatment (P = 0.03) predicted inferior overall survival. No factor significantly predicted LCR, although age ≤15 years (P = 0.08) and radical radiotherapy as local treatment (P = 0.09) had a trend towards inferior LCR. Hypoalbuminaemia was the only prognostic factor to predict EFS on multivariate analysis. Conclusion: This was the largest study of metastatic ESFT from Asia and identified a unique prognostic factor. In view of dismal prognosis with conventional chemotherapy in metastatic ESFT with hypoalbuminaemia, palliative intent therapy may be a potential therapeutic alternative for this subgroup of patients, especially in resource-challenged situations.

Resection of Primary LMS of the Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) with Reconstruction

Leiomyosarcoma of the inferior vena cava (IVC) is a rare tumor which presents a unique surgical challenge. The authors present a series of six cases of leiomyosarcoma resection performed with IVC reconstruction. Retrospective chart review was performed for patients undergoing initial operative resection of primary leiomyosarcoma with IVC reconstruction, at a tertiary care center. Results were as follows: Between 2005–2013, six patients underwent resection with reconstruction. Half were female, and the mean age at presentation was 57±15.4 years. Three patients required en bloc resection with adjacent organs. Three patients were resected on venovenous bypass, and one on cardiopulmonary bypass. Three underwent IVC patch repair (bovine pericardium, n=2; saphenous vein, n=1), and three had IVC reconstruction with graft (Dacron, n=1; PTFE, n=1; aortic homograft, n=1). All achieved grossly negative margins. Median disease-free survival was 34 months (IQR 7–52 months), and median disease-specific survival was 51 months (IQR 20–108). Five year disease-free and disease-specific survival rates were 30% and 66.7%, respectively. Conclusions: Leiomyosarcomas of the IVC present a technical challenge to the surgeon. Careful preoperative workup and a collaborative team consisting of experienced cardiac and vascular surgeons and surgical oncologists can allow for a safe and successful operation despite extensive tumor involvement.

Translational Biology of Osteosarcoma

For the past 30 years, improvements in the survival of patients with osteosarcoma have been mostly incremental. Despite evidence of genomic instability and a high frequency of chromothripsis and kataegis, osteosarcomas carry few recurrent targetable mutations, and trials of targeted agents have been generally disappointing. Bone has a highly specialized immune environment and many immune signaling pathways are important in bone homeostasis. The success of the innate immune stimulant mifamurtide in the adjuvant treatment of non-metastatic osteosarcoma suggests that newer immune-based treatments, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, may substantially improve disease outcome. And while this review article states that surgery and chemotherapy will probably remain the backbone of conventional treatments for non-metastatic disease, in the future, interventions will ideally shift to adjuvant therapy, as it is thought that immunotherapies will have their greatest effect in the setting of micrometastatic disease.

Orbital Rhabdomyosarcoma in Children

Orbital rhabdomyosarcoma (ORMS) treatment is based on combination chemotherapy associated with best local therapy, sometimes surgery but more often radiation therapy. A retrospective single-center analysis was conducted to more clearly define the long-term outcome of patients with ORMS, to identify patients in whom aggressive first-line local therapy can be avoided. A total of 95 patients with localized parameningeal (PM) or nonparameningeal (NPM) ORMS, treated at the Institut Curie between 1975 and 2010, were analyzed. Results were as follows: Median age at diagnosis was 6 years (range, 8 mo. to 19.5 y), and median follow-up was 8.5 years (range, 7 mo. to 24 y). A total of 25 patients presented PM extension. Radiation therapy was part of primary therapy for 78 patients. Five-year event-free survival and overall survival rates were 65.4%±5.2% and 85.6%±3.9%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, initial tumor size was identified as a significant prognostic factor. Event-free survival was similar for PM and NPM tumors (60.3%±10.4% vs. 62.7%±5.9%, P=0.57), whereas there was a trend for overall survival to be better for NPM tumors (90%±3.9% vs. 72.7%±9.6%, P=0.07). Conclusions: Localized ORMS has a favorable outcome despite the current trend toward less aggressive and more limited indications of local therapy. Patients with a favorable pattern of strictly ORMS can be treated without first-line radiation therapy.

VEGF Inhibitors Block Angiogenesis & Spheroid Growth in Synovial Sarcoma

Synovial sarcoma (SS) is a malignant soft-tissue tumor characterized by the recurrent chromosomal translocation SS18–SSX. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeting anti-angiogenic therapy has been approved for soft-tissue sarcoma, including SS; however, the mechanism underlying the VEGF signal for sarcomagenesis in SS is unclear. Here, the investigators show that SS18–SSX directs the VEGF signal outcome to cellular growth from differentiation. Synovial sarcoma cells secrete large amounts of VEGF under spheroid culture conditions in autocrine fashion. SS18–SSX knockdown altered the VEGF signaling outcome, from proliferation to tubular differentiation, without affecting VEGF secretion, suggesting that VEGF signaling promoted cell growth in the presence of SS18–SSX. Thus, VEGF inhibitors blocked both host angiogenesis and spheroid growth. Simultaneous treatment with VEGF and chemokine (C-X-C motif) (CXC) ligand 12 and CXC receptor 4 inhibitors and/or ifosfamide effectively suppressed tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. SS18–SSX directs the VEGF signal outcome from endothelial differentiation to spheroid growth, and VEGF and CXC receptor 4 are critical therapeutic targets for SS.

Programmed Cell Death-1 (PD-1) and its Ligands in Pediatric Cancer

Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2 maintain self-tolerance and modulate physiological immune responses. Recently, targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway with blocking antibodies has emerged as a potentially promising approach to treat advanced cancers in adult patients. Since tumor PD-L1 expression is currently considered the most important predictive biomarker for successful checkpoint blockade, the authors summarize expression data for the most common tumors of childhood. Additionally, they give an introduction into PD-1 function in the immune system to then focus on PD-1 mediated tumor immune escape.

SIRT1 and SIRT2 Inhibition Impairs Pediatric STS Growth

Sirtuins are NAD+ dependent deacetylases and/or ADP-ribosyl transferases active on histone and non-histone substrates. The first sirtuin was discovered as a transcriptional repressor of the mating-type-loci (Silent Information Regulator sir2) in the budding yeast, where it was shown to extend yeast lifespan. Seven mammalian sirtuins (SIRT1-7) have been now identified with distinct subcellular localization, enzymatic activities and substrates. These enzymes regulate cellular processes such as metabolism, cell survival, differentiation, DNA repair and they are implicated in the pathogenesis of solid tumors and leukemias. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of sirtuin expression, activity and inhibition in the survival of pediatric sarcoma cell lines. The investigators have analyzed the expression of SIRT1 and SIRT2 in a series of pediatric sarcoma tumor cell lines and normal cells, and they have evaluated the activity of the sirtuin inhibitor and p53 activator tenovin-6 (Tv6) in synovial sarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. They show that SIRT1 is overexpressed in synovial sarcoma biopsies and cell lines in comparison with normal mesenchymal cells. Tv6 induced apoptosis as well as impaired autophagy flux. Using siRNA to knock down SIRT1 and SIRT2, they show that the expression of both proteins is crucial for the survival of rhabdomyosarcoma cells and that the loss of SIRT1 expression results in a decreased LC3II expression. The investigators' results show that SIRT1 and SIRT2 expressions are crucial for the survival of synovial sarcomas and rhabdomyosarcomas, and demonstrate that the pharmacological inhibition of sirtuins impairs the autophagy process and induces tumor cell death.

Changes in Nutritional Status in Childhood Cancer Patients

Under and over nutrition are linked to adverse outcomes during and after childhood cancer treatment. Therefore, understanding the timing of weight loss and weight gain and their contributory factors is essential for improving outcomes. The investigators aimed to determine in which period of treatment changes in nutritional status occurred and which factors contributed to these changes. A prospective cohort study of 133 newly diagnosed cancer patients with hematological, solid, and brain malignancies was performed. Anthropometric data and related factors were assessed at 0, 3, 6 and 12 months after diagnosis. Results were as follows: Despite initial weight loss at the beginning of treatment in patients with hematological and solid malignancies, body mass index (BMI) and fat mass (FM) increased within 3 months with 0.13 SDS (P < 0.001) and 0.05 SDS (P = 0.021) respectively. Increase continued during the following months and resulted in a doubling of the number of over nourished patients. Fat free mass (FFM), which was already low at diagnosis, remained low. During the entire study period about 17% of the patients were undernourished on the basis of low FFM. Tube feeding and diminished activity level were related to increases in BMI and %FM respectively. No relationship was found between energy intake or corticosteroids and increase in BMI or %FM. Conclusions: BMI and FM increased during and after the period of intensive treatment, while FFM remained low. Improvement of nutritional status might be accomplished by increasing physical activity from the early phase of treatment.

Insomnia in Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Insomnia is a common problem affecting cancer survivors even years after completion of therapy. Childhood cancer survivors may be at particular risk due to vulnerability to the effects of treatment and medical late effects which impact normal sleep development. Using an indicator of clinically significant insomnia (sleep efficiency), the investigators examined a group of adult survivors of childhood cancer to (1) describe clinical insomnia rates, (2) identify physical and psychological correlates of insomnia, and (3) investigate the frequency with which sleep issues were evaluated during a cancer survivorship medical visit. A total of 122 adult survivors of childhood cancer completed standard measures of sleep, psychological distress, and health-related quality of life. Medical records of the 75 survivors with a survivorship medical visit on the day of self-report measure completion were reviewed for documentation of sleep-related issues. Results were as follows: Twenty-eight percent of participants endorsed sleep efficiency below 85 %, indicating clinically significant insomnia. Insomnia was associated with poor physical health and anxiety but not with demographic or cancer treatment variables. Medical providers failed to document sleep in visit notes for 67 % of patients with self-reported insomnia. Conclusions: A significant proportion of adult survivors of childhood cancer report insomnia, which is associated with physical and psychological health. Few survivors with insomnia discuss this issue with oncology providers during survivorship care. There is a clear need to screen for insomnia in this population. Patients and providers should take greater responsibility for discussing sleep issues and seeking out proper treatment referrals when it is identified.


Research Corner Archives


Prognostic Significance of WT1 Expression in STS

Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are rare. The investigators evaluated the WT1 protein expression level in various types of STS and elucidated the value of WT1 as a prognostic factor and a possible therapeutic target. Immunohistochemical staining for WT1 was performed in 87 cases of STS using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded blocks. The correlation between WT1 expression and clinicopathological factors was analyzed. Survival analysis was conducted in 67 patients. They assessed the validity of WT1 immunohistochemistry as an index of WT1 protein expression using Western blot analysis. Results were as follows: WT1 expression was noted in 47 cases (54.0%). Most rhabdomyosarcomas and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors showed WT1 expression (91.7% and 71.4%, respectively; P=0.005). WT1 expression was related to higher FNCLCC histologic grade and AJCC tumor stage. In the group with high grade STS, strong WT1 expression was correlated with better survival (P=0.025). The immunohistochemical results were correlated quantitatively with the staining score and the concentration of the Western blot band. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that various types of STS show positive immunostaining for WT1 and that WT1 expression has a prognostic significance. So STS should be considered candidates for WT1 peptide--based immunotherapy.

Post-Operative Radiation Boost for STS with Positive Margins

The role of a radiation therapy (RT) boost for positive margins following pre-operative RT and surgery in extremity soft tissue sarcomas (STS) is unclear. The authors assessed the contribution of a boost to local control (LC), disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS). They identified 67 patients treated from 1987 to 2011 with pre-operative RT and surgery with positive margin(s). Select patients received a boost delivered as peri-operative Iridium-192 brachytherapy (BRT), intra-operative electrons (IORT), or post-operative external beam RT (EBRT). Results were as follows: Ten patients received no RT boost, 10 received a BRT or IORT boost, and 47 received an EBRT boost. Five-year LC rates for no boost, BRT/IORT boost, and EBRT boost were 100%, 78%, and 71% (P=0.5). On multivariate analysis, there were no significant predictors for LC. Variables associated with improved DFS rates were single positive margin (P=0.007) and low tumor grade (P=0.03). Tumor size <5cm (P=0.003), low grade (P=0.001), and boost (P=0.02) were associated with longer survival. Conclusions: The authors did not identify a LC advantage for an RT boost. Given the unidentified selection factors for delivery of boost and its potential toxicities, its role in this setting remains unproven.

National Lymph Node Evaluation Practices for Adult Extremity STS

Lymph node evaluation recommendations for extremity soft tissue sarcoma (ESTS) are absent from national guidelines. The objectives of the investigators were (1) to assess rates and predictors of nodal evaluation, and (2) to assess rates and predictors of nodal metastases. ESTS patients from the National Cancer Data Base (2000–2009) were assessed, and regression models were used to identify factors associated with nodal evaluation and metastases. Results were as follows: Of 27,536 ESTS patients, 1,924 (7%) underwent nodal evaluation, and of these, 290 (15%) had nodal metastases. Nodal evaluation was most frequently performed for rhabdomyosarcoma (15.6%), angiosarcoma (10.0%), clear cell sarcoma (39.3%), epithelioid sarcoma (28.1%), and synovial sarcoma (9.3%). On multivariable analysis, factors associated with nodal evaluation included histologic subtype, tumor size, and grade. Nodal metastasis rates were highest among patients with rhabdomyosarcoma (32.1%), angiosarcoma (24.1%), clear cell sarcoma (27.7%), and epithelioid sarcoma (31.8%). On multivariable analysis, factors associated with nodal metastases included histologic subtype, tumor size, and grade. Conclusions: Nodal evaluation rates are highest among certain expected subtypes but are generally low. However, nodal metastasis rates for many histologic subtypes in patients selected for lymph node evaluation may be higher than previously reported. Multi-institutional studies should address nodal evaluation for ESTS.

Reproductive Concerns of Children and Adolescents with Cancer

The diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening cancer is one of the most traumatic events that can befall a young person and his or her family. However, fortunately, most young people will survive their cancer and its treatment and go on to lead a long and healthy life, with an appropriate expectation of being able to have their own genetic family. However, cancer treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, can have temporary and permanent effects on fertility, including damage to the uterus and pituitary gland, and reduction, or obliteration, of gonadal function, with consequential loss of oocytes or spermatozoa, which may result in ovarian or testicular failure. As the gamete pool is nonrenewable, permanent gonadal failure precludes subsequent fertility with a patient's own genetic material. Awareness and acknowledgement of the likely future fertility implications of cancer treatment is an essential part of any discussion about proposed therapies. Options for girls and young women include freezing mature oocytes and ovarian tissue, as well as attempting to protect the ovaries from the gonadotoxic effects of treatment. Options for boys and young men include semen collection and storage as well as testicular biopsy with freezing of testicular tissue or spermatozoa retrieved from the tissue. Fertility options can now be offered with increasing optimism about success and the provision of a genuine opportunity for having a family. While the initiation of cancer treatment is sometimes truly urgent, the opportunity for a detailed discussion about implications for fertility is of paramount importance for patients and their families and provides both reassurance and optimism about the future.

Anti-Angiogenic Therapy in the Field of Sarcoma Treatment

Sarcomas encompass a heterogeneous family of mesenchymal malignancies. In metastatic disease improvement in outcome has been limited and there is a clear need for the development of new therapies. One potential target is angiogenesis, already an accepted target for treatment of more prevalent cancers. Multiple (pre)clinical studies focused on the role of angiogenesis and anti-angiogenic treatment in sarcomas. However, getting significant results is complicated due to the relatively small number of patients and the broad range of sarcoma subtypes. Recently, pazopanib has been approved for the treatment of advanced soft tissue sarcoma patients, which is an important step forward and paves the way for the introduction of anti-angiogenic treatment in sarcomas. However, more studies are needed to understand the biological mechanisms by which patients respond to angiogenic inhibitors and to detect markers of response. This article review covers the knowledge that has been gained on the role of angiogenesis and anti-angiogenic therapy in sarcomas.

Targeted Therapy in Older Patients With Solid Tumors

The introduction of targeted therapy has ushered in the era of personalized medicine in cancer therapy. The increased understanding of tumor heterogeneity has led to the determination of specific targets that can be exploited in treatment. This review article highlights approved drugs in different therapeutic classes, including tyrosine kinase inhibitors, mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, drugs targeted to the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, BRAF-mutation targeted drugs, anti–epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy. There have not been elderly patient–specific trials of these therapies. Most of the data are extrapolated from larger trials in which older patients generally were a fraction of the participants. Therapeutic recommendations are made on the basis of this analysis with the recognition that the older clinical trial participants may not be representative of patients seen in daily practice. Patient selection and geriatric evaluation are critical for appropriate drug selection, dosing, and monitoring. With care, these therapies are a major step forward in the safe and effective treatment of older patients with cancer.

Pazopanib in Advanced DSRCT

The authors of this paper retrospectively reviewed data from nine pre-treated metastatic desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) patients who received pazopanib. Three patients received pazopanib within the EORTC phase II 62043, three in the EORTC phase III 62072, and three in the context of UK named patient program. Results were as follows: Nine patients were retrieved from the databases, the median age was 30 years (range: 21–47), they were all males. All had received prior chemotherapy. At the time of treatment start, 4 patients (44%) had ECOG PS 0, 4 (44%) PS 1, 1 (11%) PS 2. Best response was partial response (PR) in 2/9 (22%) patients, stable disease (SD) in 5/9 (56%) and progressive disease (PD) in 2/9 (22%) with a clinical benefit rate (PR+SD >12 weeks) of 78%. Median PFS and OS were 9.2 (95%CI: 0–23.2) and 15.4 (95%CI: 1.5-29.3) months respectively. With a median follow-up of 20 months, 2/9 (22%) patients are still alive, all progressed. The most common toxicities included neutropenia (G1-2 45%; G3-4 11%), anemia (G1-2 45%), fatigue (G1-2 67%), diarrhea (G1-2 45%; G3-4 11%), nausea (G1-2 45%), hypertension (G1-2 45%) and increase in liver enzymes (G1-2 34%; G3-4 11%). Three patients (34%) required a dose reduction. One of the patients discontinued treatment because of persistent increase in total bilirubin level, one due to patient's choice. Conclusion: In this series, pazopanib showed interesting activity in DSRCT patients who progressed after prior chemotherapy without major toxicity.

Time to Diagnosis of Ewing Tumors not Associated with Metastasis or Survival

The time to diagnosis (TtD) of Ewing tumors is one of the longest among pediatric tumors. Its precise consequences, however, have not been studied well. The authors analyzed the distribution of TtD for Ewing tumors in children and adolescents and its association with clinical features, tumor characteristics, surgical outcome, and long-term survival. They analyzed prospectively collected data from two multicenter clinical trials of patients younger than 21 years old who had Ewing bone tumors treated in France between 1988 and 2000. Clinical and tumoral features, TtD, and outcome associations were studied by univariable and multivariable analyses. Results were as follows: The median TtD for the 436 patients was 70 days (interquartile range, 27 to 146 days), with no significant decrease during the study period (P > .2). The factors associated with long TtD were older age and some tumor sites (pelvis, extremities of limbs). Increased tumor volume and decreased histologic response to chemotherapy were associated with long TtD on univariable analysis (P < .05) but not after adjustment. Presence of a nerve or spinal-cord compression at diagnosis, presence or site of metastasis, surgical treatment, mutilating surgery, complete resection, or survival were not associated with TtD. Conclusion: TtD of Ewing tumors was long, especially for adolescents and for certain tumor sites, and did not improve over time. But TtD was not associated with metastasis, surgical outcome, or survival. These findings could be used to comfort parents at diagnosis and in expert testimony produced for malpractice claims.

Targeting Metastatic Progression in Osteosarcoma

Despite successful primary tumor treatment, the development of pulmonary metastasis continues to be the most common cause of mortality in patients with osteosarcoma. A conventional drug development path requiring drugs to induce regression of established lesions has not led to improvements for patients with osteosarcoma in more than 30 years. On the basis of our growing understanding of metastasis biology, it is now reasonable and essential that we focus on developing therapeutics that target metastatic progression. To advance this agenda, a meeting of key opinion leaders and experts in the metastasis and osteosarcoma communities was convened in Bethesda, Maryland. The goal of this meeting was to provide a "Perspective" that would establish a preclinical translational path that could support the early evaluation of potential therapeutic agents that uniquely target the metastatic phenotype. Although focused on osteosarcoma, the need for this perspective is shared among many cancer types. The consensus achieved from the meeting included the following: the biology of metastatic progression is associated with metastasis-specific targets/processes that may not influence grossly detectable lesions; targeting of metastasis-specific processes is feasible; rigorous preclinical data are needed to support translation of metastasis-specific agents into human trials where regression of measurable disease is not an expected outcome; preclinical data should include an understanding of mechanism of action, validation of pharmacodynamic markers of effective exposure and response, the use of several murine models of effectiveness, and where feasible the inclusion of the dog with naturally occurring osteosarcoma to define the activity of new drugs in the micrometastatic disease setting.

Improving Quality of Life in Adolescents & Young Adults with Osteosarcoma

Current osteosarcoma chemotherapy is "standard" (doxorubicin, cisplatin, high-dose methotrexate ± ifosfamide-mesna, and etoposide ± mifamurtide), but current regimens have many short-term, medium-term, and long-term side effects. Generally 12–15 cycles of chemotherapy are given in the hospital over 7–10 months. Even in the absence of new research protocols, improvement in quality of life is now possible, with all osteosarcoma chemotherapy agents now being able to be administered in the outpatient setting. Outpatient chemotherapy is not only less expensive, but in the adolescent and young adult population can result in better quality of life for some. In this paper, the authors share information to help reduce the frequency of hospitalization and review some tools and strategies to facilitate communication when providing outpatient chemotherapy, family-centered care, and information/education. These include antiemetics with both longer-acting 5HT antagonists and aprepitant, outpatient chemotherapy guidelines, and a 5-week editable calendar that is part of our electronic medical record. Sharing information on absolute lymphocyte count recovery is another means of maintaining hope and increasing understanding of the prognosis of osteosarcoma. Finally, this paper shares an advanced directive/palliative care "checklist" of issues for patients and caregivers to consider at end of life, ie, when "cure of cancer is not the answer". In summary, better communication at all stages of osteosarcoma care can help reduce hospitalization, improve quality of life, and maintain hope in the adolescent and young adult population with osteosarcoma.

The Hippo Transducer YAP1 in Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Formation

The role of the Hippo pathway effector YAP1 in soft tissue sarcomas is poorly defined. Here the investigators report that YAP1 activity is elevated in human embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS). In mice, sustained YAP1 hyperactivity in activated, but not quiescent, satellite cells induces ERMS with high penetrance and short latency. Via its transcriptional program with TEAD1, YAP1 directly regulates several major hallmarks of ERMS. YAP1-TEAD1 upregulate pro-proliferative and oncogenic genes and maintain the ERMS differentiation block by interfering with MYOD1 and MEF2 pro-differentiation activities. Normalization of YAP1 expression reduces tumor burden in human ERMS xenografts and allows YAP1-driven ERMS to differentiate in situ. Collectively, the investigators' results identify YAP1 as a potent ERMS oncogenic driver and a promising target for differentiation therapy.

Response to Chemotherapy & Chromosome Instability in Synovial Sarcoma

Synovial sarcoma (SS) is an aggressive soft-tissue tumor. Despite being considered as a chemosensitive disease, the real impact of peri-operative chemotherapy on metastasis-free survival is controversial. The authors have shown that metastatic relapse of SS is strongly associated with genomic complexity. There are no data regarding the potential correlation between genomic complexity and response to chemotherapy. The study population included 65 SS patients diagnosed between 1991 and 2013 and with available tissue material. Genomic profiling was performed by using array-CGH. 45 SS out of the 65 patients were treated with neoadjuvant anthracycline/ifosfamide-based chemotherapy. Radiological response was assessed according to RECIST criteria. Histological response was defined by the percentage of recognizable tumor cells on the surgical specimen. Results were as follows: Genomic complexity was significantly associated with metastasis-free survival. However, there was no statistically significant association between radiological or histological response and genomic complexity. Conclusion: The absence of significant association between response to chemotherapy and genomic complexity suggests that the prognostic value of chromosome instability in SS is independent of response to chemotherapy; mechanisms leading to metastatic relapse of SS are intrinsic to the biology of the tumor and current cytotoxic drugs are only poorly efficient to prevent it.

Injection of Clostridium Novyi-NT Spores Induces Antitumor Responses

Species of Clostridium bacteria are notable for their ability to lyse tumor cells growing in hypoxic environments. The investigators show that an attenuated strain of Clostridium novyi (C. novyi-NT) induces a microscopically precise, tumor-localized response in a rat orthotopic brain tumor model after intratumoral injection. It is well known, however, that experimental models often do not reliably predict the responses of human patients to therapeutic agents. The investigators therefore used naturally occurring canine tumors as a translational bridge to human trials. Canine tumors are more like those of humans because they occur in animals with heterogeneous genetic backgrounds, are of host origin, and are due to spontaneous rather than engineered mutations. They found that intratumoral injection of C. novyi-NT spores was well tolerated in companion dogs bearing spontaneous solid tumors, with the most common toxicities being the expected symptoms associated with bacterial infections. Objective responses were observed in 6 of 16 dogs (37.5%), with three complete and three partial responses. On the basis of these encouraging results, they treated a human patient who had an advanced leiomyosarcoma with an intratumoral injection of C. novyi-NT spores. This treatment reduced the tumor within and surrounding the bone. Together, these results show that C. novyi-NT can precisely eradicate neoplastic tissues and suggest that further clinical trials of this agent in selected patients are warranted.

Drug Repurposing And Repositioning: Workshop Summary

Drug development can be time-consuming and expensive. Recent estimates suggest that, on average, it takes 10 years and at least $1 billion to bring a drug to market. Given the time and expense of developing drugs de novo, pharmaceutical companies have become increasingly interested in finding new uses for existing drugs - a process referred to as drug repurposing or repositioning. Historically, drug repurposing has been largely an unintentional, serendipitous process that took place when a drug was found to have an off target effect or a previously unrecognized on-target effect that could be used for identifying a new indication. Given the widespread interest in drug repurposing, the Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) hosted a workshop on June 24, 2013, in Washington, DC, to assess the current landscape of drug repurposing activities in industry, academia, and government. This article discusses that landscape.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma, Version 2.2014

These National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines Insights highlight the important updates to the NCCN Guidelines for Soft Tissue Sarcoma (STS) specific to the role of radiation therapy in the management of patients with retroperitoneal/intra-abdominal STS. The guidelines have also included recommendations for genetic testing and counseling for patients with a clinical and/or family history of genetic cancer syndromes associated with a predisposition for the development of STS.

New Standard of Care for Rare Pediatric Soft Tissue Sarcomas

The first study conducted in childhood nonrhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS) since the mid-1990s defines a new treatment algorithm for pediatric patients by identifying distinct prognostic groups that dictate therapy selection. Importantly, this strategy establishes that certain low-risk subsets of patients can be treated safely with surgery alone and that radiotherapy can be used less frequently and at lower doses without compromising outcomes in patients with intermediate- and high-risk disease.

Retroperitoneal sarcomas: A review

Retroperitoneal sarcomas are a rare disease. The overall 5-year survival rate for these lesions remains low, and surgical management offers the only option for effective treatment and potential for cure. Radiotherapy is increasingly being employed in addition to standard surgical treatment. Improvements in cross-sectional imaging have also facilitated better characterization of lesions, preoperative planning and long-term follow-up. This article reviews the current literature and documents the various types of retroperitoneal sarcomas with a particular approach to their imaging features. The authors also highlight the pathology, diagnostic methods and most current management of these tumors.

Cellular immunotherapy strategies for Ewing sarcoma

Ewing sarcoma is a rare cancer of bone and soft tissues defined by a specific chromosomal rearrangement. Preclinical development of immunological treatment strategies includes expansion of T cells with native or grafted T-cell receptor specificities for Ewing sarcoma‐associated intracellular antigens, and T-cell engineering with chimeric antigen receptors targeting surface antigens. In vitro preactivated NK cells may also have activity in this cancer. Major challenges are the heterogeneity of antigen expression in individual Ewing sarcomas, and the coexpression of most candidate targets on normal cells. Moreover, homing of therapeutic effector cells to both primary and metastatic tumor sites and adequate function within the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment will have to be ensured to allow for effective immune targeting of this cancer. The success of cellular immunotherapy critically depends on the capacity of therapeutic effec- tor cells to circumvent tumor escape from immune- mediated elimination. To become effective, the cells will have to survive and remain functional within the tumor microenvironment and efficiently disrupt tumor-induced immunosuppression. This may be achieved by combination strategies, for example, with novel immune checkpoint inhibitors that promote antitumor activity and prevent exhaustion of T cells. Rational integration of cellular immunotherapies into current multimodal treatment regimens to maxi- mize antitumor efficacy will probably have a major impact on treatment of Ewing sarcoma.

Regorafenib recommended for approval in the EU for GIST

The oncology compound Regorafenib has been recommended for approval by the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic GIST who have progressed on or are intolerant to prior treatment with Imatinib and Sunitinib. The decision of the European Commission on the approval is expected in the third quarter of 2014. Regorafenib is already approved under the brand name Stivarga® in several countries worldwide for the treatment of patients with mCRC. In several countries, including the U.S. and Japan, the product has also been approved for the treatment of GIST. The recommendation by the CHMP for Regorafenib will bring the European GIST patients one step closer to fulfilling an unmet medical need. As an oral multi-kinase inhibitor that targets multiple tumour pathways, Regorafenib would provide an additional option for those patients with GIST who have no other approved treatment alternatives.

Tumor Regression in Patients With Metastatic Synovial Cell Sarcoma Using Genetically Engineered Lymphocytes Reactive With NY-ESO-1

Adoptive immunotherapy using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes represents an effective cancer treatment for patients with metastatic melanoma. The NY-ESO-1 cancer/testis antigen, which is expressed in 80% of patients with synovial cell sarcoma and approximately 25% of patients with melanoma and common epithelial tumors, represents an attractive target for immune-based therapies. The current trial was carried out to evaluate the ability of adoptively transferred autologous T cells transduced with a T-cell receptor (TCR) directed against NY-ESO-1 to mediate tumor regression in patients with metastatic melanoma and synovial cell sarcoma. A clinical trial was performed in patients with metastatic melanoma or metastatic synovial cell sarcoma refractory to all standard treatments. Patients with NY-ESO-1–positive tumors were treated with autologous TCR-transduced T cells plus 720,000 iU/kg of interleukin-2 to tolerance after preparative chemotherapy. Objective clinical responses were evaluated using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST). Results were as follows: Objective clinical responses were observed in four of six patients with synovial cell sarcoma and five of 11 patients with melanoma bearing tumors expressing NY-ESO-1. Two of 11 patients with melanoma demonstrated complete regressions that persisted after 1 year. A partial response lasting 18 months was observed in one patient with synovial cell sarcoma. Conclusion: These observations indicate that TCR-based gene therapies directed against NY-ESO-1 represent a new and effective therapeutic approach for patients with melanoma and synovial cell sarcoma. To the investigators' knowledge, this represents the first demonstration of the successful treatment of a nonmelanoma tumor using TCR-transduced T cells.

Prognostic value of myogenic differentiation in UPS

Patients with pleomorphic soft tissue sarcomas with myogenic differentiation (MD) are thought to have a worse prognosis than those without MD. In this study, the investigators sought to determine the prognostic significance of MD in a restricted cohort of patients with high-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) of the extremities or trunk that were uniformly treated at a single institution. Thirty-eight patients met the inclusion criteria: (1) extremity or truncal soft tissue UPS, (2) histologic high grade, (3) size of 8 cm or more, (4) received protocol treatment. Immunohistochemical stains were performed on each tumor for 3 muscle markers: muscle-specific actin, smooth muscle actin, and desmin. A tumor was classified as having MD if it showed positive staining for at least 1 muscle marker. The investigators correlated the line of differentiation with outcome using χ2 and Kaplan-Meier analysis. MD was identified in 15 tumors and non-MD in 23 tumors. There were no significant differences between the myogenic and nonmyogenic groups in terms of age, sex, tumor size, tumor grade, or follow-up. The overall survival (OS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) were both 86.7% for patients with myogenic sarcomas. The OS and DSS were both 91.3% for those with nonmyogenic sarcomas. There was no significant difference between groups for OS or DSS in χ2 testing (P = .649) or on Kaplan-Meier curve/log-rank testing (P = .541). In this homogenous group of patients with large, high-grade, extremity or truncal UPS who received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, MD did not predict a worse survival than non-MD.

Patient-derived xenografts for individualized care in advanced sarcoma

Patients with advanced, metastatic sarcoma have a poor prognosis, and the overall benefit from the few standard-of-care therapeutics available is small. The rarity of this tumor, combined with the wide range of subtypes, leads to difficulties in conducting clinical trials. The authors previously reported the outcome of patients with a variety of common solid tumors who received treatment with drug regimens that were first tested in patient-derived xenografts using a proprietary method ("TumorGrafts"). Tumors resected from 29 patients with sarcoma were implanted into immunodeficient mice to identify drug targets and drugs for clinical use. The results of drug sensitivity testing in the TumorGrafts were used to personalize cancer treatment. Results were as follows: Of 29 implanted tumors, 22 (76%) successfully engrafted, permitting the identification of treatment regimens for these patients. Although 6 patients died before the completion of TumorGraft testing, a correlation between TumorGraft results and clinical outcome was observed in 13 of 16 (81%) of the remaining individuals. No patients progressed during the TumorGraft-predicted therapy. Conclusions: The current data support the use of the personalized TumorGraft model as an investigational platform for therapeutic decision-making that can guide treatment for rare tumors such as sarcomas. A randomized phase 3 trial versus physician's choice is warranted.

MicroRNA response to hypoxic stress in soft tissue sarcoma cells

Hypoxia is often encountered in solid tumors and known to contribute to aggressive tumor behavior, radiation- and chemotherapy resistance resulting in a poor prognosis for the cancer patient. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a role in the regulation of the tumor cell response to hypoxia, however, not much is known about the involvement of miRNAs in hypoxic signalling pathways in soft tissue sarcomas (STS). A panel of twelve STS cell lines was exposed to atmospheric oxygen concentrations (normoxia) or 1% oxygen (hypoxia) for up to 48 h. Hypoxic conditions were verified and miRNA expression profiles were assessed by LNA™ oligonucleotide microarrays and RT-PCR after 24 h. The expression of target genes regulated by hypoxia responsive miRNAs is examined by end-point PCR and validated by luciferase reporter constructs. Results: Exposure of STS cell lines to hypoxic conditions gave rise to upregulation of Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) 1α protein levels and increased mRNA expression of HIF1 target genes CA9 and VEGFA. Deregulation of miRNA expression after 24 h of hypoxia was observed. The most differentially expressed miRNAs (p<0.001) in response to hypoxia were miR-185-3p, miR-485-5p, miR-216a-5p (upregulated) and miR-625-5p (downregulated). The well-known hypoxia responsive miR-210-3p could not be reliably detected by the microarray platform most likely for technical reasons, however, its upregulation upon hypoxic stress was apparent by qPCR. Target prediction algorithms identified 11 potential binding sites for miR-485-5p and a single putative miR-210-3p binding site in the 3'UTR of HIF3α, the least studied member of the HIF family. We showed that HIF3α transcripts, expressing a 3'UTR containing the miR-485-5p and miR-210-3p target sites, are expressed in all sarcoma cell lines and upregulated upon hypoxia. Additionally, luciferase reporter constructs containing the 3'UTR of HIF3α were used to demonstrate regulation of HIF3α by miR-210-3p and miR-485-5p. Conclusion: Here we provide evidence for the miRNA mediated regulation of HIF3α by hypoxia responsive miRNAs in STS, which may help to tightly regulate and fine-tune the hypoxic response. This provides a better insight into the mechanisms underlying the hypoxic response in STS and may ultimately yield information on novel prognostic and predictive markers or targets for treatment.

Recurrent PAX3-MAML3 fusion in biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma

Biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma (SNS) is a newly described tumor of the nasal and paranasal areas. Here we report a recurrent chromosomal translocation in SNS, t(2;4)(q35;q31.1), resulting in a PAX3-MAML3 fusion protein that is a potent transcriptional activator of PAX3 response elements. The SNS phenotype is characterized by aberrant expression of genes involved in neuroectodermal and myogenic differentiation, closely simulating the developmental roles of PAX3.

Expanded Access to Investigational Drugs for Treatment Use

This draft guidance is intended to provide information for industry, researchers, physicians, and patients about the implementation of FDA's regulations on expanded access to investigational drugs for treatment use under an investigational new drug application (IND) (21 CFR part 312, subpart I), which went into effect on October 13, 2009.2 Since 2009, FDA has received a number of questions concerning its implementation of these regulations. As a result, FDA is providing guidance in a question and answer (Q & A) format, addressing the most frequently asked questions. In separate draft guidance, FDA is providing its thinking on questions concerning its regulations on charging for investigational drugs under an IND (21 CFR 312.8), which also went into effect on October 13, 2009. Information related to charging for investigational drugs made available under expanded access programs is in that draft guidance. FDA's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, the guidance describes the Agency's current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.

Supportive and Palliative Oncology: A New Paradigm

Patients with advanced cancer often experience symptoms related to increasing tumor burden, cancer treatments, and psychosocial stressors. They also have significant social, informational, and decision-making needs. Palliative care practitioners have developed expertise to address many of these supportive care concerns through interprofessional teamwork, validated assessments, multidimensional interventions, and frequent communication. In this article, the authors aim to provide an evidence-based update on several important palliative care topics, including management of pain, fatigue, anorexia–cachexia, depression, and anxiety, as well as patient–clinician communication and decision-making. Multiple randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that palliative care can improve symptom burden, quality of life, quality of care, satisfaction, and possibly survival and cost of care. To enhance the level of care for patients with advanced cancer, oncologists need to have a good working knowledge of the major palliative care principles, and to refer patients to palliative care programs often and early in the disease trajectory.

Sarcoma Immunotherapy: Past and Future

Sarcomas are heterogeneous malignant tumors of mesenchymal origin characterized by more than 100 distinct subtypes. Unfortunately, 25–50% of patients treated with initial curative intent will develop metastatic disease. In the metastatic setting, chemotherapy rarely leads to complete and durable responses; therefore, there is a dire need for more effective therapies. Exploring immunotherapeutic strategies may be warranted, which are discussed in this review article. In the past, agents that stimulate the immune system such as interferon and interleukin-2 have been explored and there has been evidence of some clinical activity in selected patients. In addition, many cancer vaccines have been explored with suggestion of benefit in some patients. Building on the advancements made in other solid tumors as well as a better understanding of cancer immunology provides hope for the development of new and exciting therapies in the treatment of sarcoma. There remains promise with immunologic checkpoint blockade antibodies. Further, building on the success of autologous cell transfer in hematologic malignancies, designing chimeric antigen receptors that target antigens that are over-expressed in sarcoma provides a great deal of optimism. Exploring these avenues has the potential to make immunotherapy a real therapeutic option in this orphan disease.

Post-metastasis survival in extremity STS

Recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) enables grouping of patients into homogeneous prognostic groups in a visually intuitive form and has the capacity to account for complex interactions among prognostic variables. In this study, the investigators employed RPA to generate a prognostic model for extremity soft tissue sarcoma (STS) patients with metastatic disease. A retrospective review was conducted on 135 patients with metastatic STS who had undergone surgical removal of their primary tumors. Patient and tumor variables along with the performance of metastasectomy were analyzed for possible prognostic effect on post-metastatic survival. Significant prognostic factors on multivariate analysis were incorporated into RPA to build regression trees for the prediction of post-metastatic survival. Results were as follows: RPA identified six terminal nodes based on histological grade, performance of metastasectomy and disease-free interval (DFI). Based on the median survival time of the terminal nodes, four prognostic groups with significantly different post-metastatic survival were generated: (1) group A: low grade/metastasectomy; (2) group B: low grade/no metastasectomy/DFI ≥ 12 months or high grade/metastasectomy; (3) group C: low grade/no metastasectomy/DFI < 12 months or high grade/no metastasectomy/DFI ≥ 12 months; and (4) group D: high grade/no metastasectomy/DFI < 12 months. The 3-year survival rates for each group were: group A, 76.1 ± 9.6%; group B, 42.3 ± 10.3%; group C, 18.8 ± 8.0%; and group D, 0.0 ± 0.0%. Conclusion: The investigators prognostic model using RPA successfully divides STS patients with metastasis into groups that can be easily implemented using standard clinical parameters.

Long-term outcome after local recurrence of STS

The aim of this study was to identify prognostic indicators of survival in patients with locally recurrent soft tissue sarcoma (STS) through a long-term follow-up. The authors retrospectively assessed the relationship between post-recurrence survival (PRS) and potential prognostic factors in 135 patients who had experienced local recurrence, which was suitable for further surgical treatment. The median follow-up time after initial recurrence was 12.3 years (95% confidence interval (CI): 10.4–14.2 years). Results were as follows: The 5-year estimate of the PRS rate was 53.1% (95% CI: 44.3–61.2%) for the entire series. Patients with negative margins after the final surgery experienced improved survival compared with patients with positive margins (5-year survival: 46.7% (35.2–57.5%) vs. 35.5% (23.4–47.8%); P=0.01). In a multivariate analysis, the significant prognostic indicators for PRS were histologic grade, tumor site, time to initial recurrence, the number of recurrences and the surgical margin status attained at the last resection. Conclusions: Complete surgical resection with microscopically clear margins is desirable in patients with locally recurrent STS. However, when achieving clear surgical margins will require major functional impairment of the extremity, a radical surgical approach should be weighed for the patient in each case.

Metastatic STS in a Community-Based Oncology Network

The purpose of this study was to assess epidemiology, treatment patterns, and outcomes of metastatic soft tissue sarcoma (mSTS) patients in USA community oncology practices. This retrospective, descriptive study used US Oncology’s iKnowMed electronic health records database. Adults (≥18 years) with mSTS and at least two visits between July 2007 and June 2010 were included. Key outcomes were practice patterns, overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS). Results were as follows: 363 mSTS patients (174 treated and 189 untreated) met the prespecified exclusion/inclusion criteria. The most common subtypes were leiomyosarcoma (n=104 ; 29%), liposarcoma (n=40 ; 11%), and synovial sarcoma (n=12 ; 3%); the remainder (n=207 ; 57%) comprised 27 histologic subtypes. Treated patients were younger and had lower ECOG scores; 75% and 25% received first-line combination or monotherapy, respectively. Median OS of treated and untreated patients was 22 and 17 months, respectively, and 29 months in patients with the three most common subtypes. Before controlling for effects of covariates, younger age and lower ECOG scores were associated with better OS and PFS. Conclusion: This study provides insights into mSTS epidemiology, treatment patterns, and outcomes in a large community-based oncology network. These results warrant further studies with larger cohorts.

ChildSeq-RNA: Identifying Fusion Transcripts in Childhood Sarcomas

Childhood sarcomas can be extremely difficult to accurately diagnose on the basis of morphological characteristics alone. Ancillary methods, such as RT-PCR or fluorescence in situ hybridization, to detect pathognomonic gene fusions can help to distinguish these tumors. Two major deficiencies of these assays are their inability to identify gene fusions at nucleotide resolution or to detect multiple gene fusions simultaneously. The investigators developed a next-generation sequencing-based assay designated ChildSeq-RNA that uses the Ion Torrent platform to screen for EWSR1-FLI1 and EWSR1-ERG, PAX3-FOXO1 and PAX7-FOXO1, EWSR1-WT1, and ETV6-NTRK3 fusions of Ewing sarcoma (ES), alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumor, and congenital fibrosarcoma, respectively. To rapidly analyze resulting data, they codeveloped a bioinformatics tool, termed ChildDecode, that operates on a scalable, cloud-computing platform. Total RNA from four ES cell lines plus 33 clinical samples representing ES, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumor, and congenital fibrosarcoma tumors was subjected to ChildSeq-RNA. This accurately identified corresponding gene fusions in each tumor type, with no examples of false positive fusion detection in this proof-of-concept study. Comparison with previous RT-PCR findings demonstrated high sensitivity (96.4%; 95% CI, 82.3%–99.4%) and specificity (100%; 95% CI, 56.6%–100%) of ChildSeq-RNA to detect gene fusions. Herein, they propose ChildSeq-RNA as a novel tool to detect gene fusions in childhood sarcomas at single-nucleotide resolution.

Intimal Sarcoma: The Most Frequent Primary Cardiac Sarcoma

The authors of this study report novel molecular and pathologic features of sarcomas involving the heart. Intimal sarcoma appears as the most frequent primary cardiac sarcoma within the largest described series of 100 primary cardiac sarcomas. Immunohistochemical analysis, fluorescence in situ hybridization, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and array-comparative genomic hybridization were performed on materials from 65 women and 35 men, aged 18 to 82 years (mean 50 y), retrieved from the French Departments of Pathology, between 1977 and early 2013. Right and left heart was involved in 44 and 56 cases, respectively. There were 42 intimal sarcomas, 26 angiosarcomas, 22 undifferentiated sarcomas, 7 synovial sarcomas, 2 leiomyosarcomas, and 1 peripheral neuroectodermal tumor. All but 1 angiosarcomas originated from the right heart, whereas 83% of the intimal sarcomas and 72% of the undifferentiated sarcomas were from the left heart. MDM2 overexpression was immunohistochemically observed in all intimal sarcomas, as well as in 10 of the 22 undifferentiated sarcomas and in 5 of the 26 angiosarcomas. MDM2 amplification was only demonstrated in intimal sarcomas. Genomic analysis showed a complex profile, with recurrent 12q13-14 amplicon involving MDM2, 4q12 amplicon involving KIT and PDGFRA, 7p12 gain involving EGFR, and 9p21 deletion targeting CDKN2A. Immunohistochemical detection of MDM2 overexpression can easily detect intimal sarcoma, provided that molecular aberration is proved. As resections are limited to the left atrium, this histologic subtype could benefit from therapies targeting PDGFRA or MDM2.

Activity of sunitinib in extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma

Extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma (EMC) is a rare soft tissue sarcoma, marked by NR4A3 rearrangement. In this study, the investigators report on the activity of sunitinib in a series of 10 patients, strengthening what initially observed in two cases. From July 2011, 10 patients with progressive metastatic translocated EMC have been consecutively treated with sunitinib 37.5 mg/day, on a named-use basis. In an attempt to interpret the activity of sunitinib in EMC, genotype/phenotype correlations were carried out by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses. Moreover, transcriptome, immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses of a limited set of samples were performed focusing on some putative targets of sunitinib. Results were as follows: Eight of 10 patients are still on therapy. Six patients had a Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) partial response (PR), two were stable, two progressed. Positron emission tomography (PET) was consistent in 6/6 evaluable cases. One patient underwent surgery after sunitinib, with evidence of a pathologic response. At a median follow-up of 8.5 months (range 2–28), no secondary resistance was detected. Median progression free survival (PFS) has not been reached. Interestingly, all responsive cases turned out to express the typical EWSR1–NR4A3 fusion, while refractory cases carried the alternative TAF15–NR4A3 fusion. Among putative sunitinib targets, only RET was expressed and activated in analyzed samples. Conclusions: This report confirms the therapeutic activity of sunitinib in EMC. Genotype/phenotype analyses support a correlation between response and EWSR1–NR4A3 fusion. Involvement of RET deserves further investigation.

SMARCB1 homozygous deletions in epithelioid sarcoma detected by FISH

Epithelioid sarcomas (ES) are mesenchymal neoplasms subclassified into distal and proximal subtypes based on their distinct clinical presentations and histologic features. Consistent loss of SMARCB1 nuclear expression has been considered as the hallmark abnormality for both subtypes, a feature shared with atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor of infancy (ATRT). While virtually all ATRTs harbor underlying SMARCB1 somatic or germline alterations, mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation in ES are less well defined. To further define mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation a detailed molecular analysis was performed on 40 ES (25 proximal and 15 distal ES, with classic morphology and negative SMARCB1 expression) for their genomic status of SMARCB1 and related genes encoding the SWI/SNF subunits (PBRM1, BRG1, BRM, SMARCC1/2 and ARID1A) by FISH using custom BAC probes. An additional control group was included spanning a variety of 41 soft tissue neoplasms with either rhabdoid/epithelioid features or selected histotypes previously shown to lack SMARCB1 by IHC. Furthermore, 12 ES were studied by array CGH (aCGH) and an independent TMA containing 50 additional ES cases was screened for Aurora Kinase A (AURKA) and cyclin D1 immunoexpression. Homozygous SMARCB1 deletions were found by FISH in 36/40 ES (21/25 proximal-type). One of the distal-type ES displayed homozygous SMARCB1 deletion in the tumor cells, along with a heterozygous deletion within normal tissue, finding confirmed by array CGH. None of the proximal ES lacking homozygous SMARCB1 deletions displayed alterations in other SWI/SNF subunits gene members. Among controls, only the SMARCB1-immunonegative myoepithelial carcinomas displayed SMARCB1 homozygous deletions in 3/5 cases, while no gene specific abnormalities were seen among all other histologic subtypes of sarcomas tested regardless of the SMARCB1 protein status. There was no consistent pattern of AURKA and Cyclin D1 expression. The array CGH was successful in 9/12 ES, confirming the SMARCB1 and other SWI/SNF genes copy numbers detected by FISH. Our study confirms the shared pathogenesis of proximal and distal ES, showing consistent SMARCB1 homozygous deletions. Additionally we report the first ES case associated with a SMARCB1 constitutional deletion, establishing a previously undocumented link with ATRT. Alternative mechanisms of SMARCB1 inactivation in SMARCB1-disomic ES remain to be identified, but appear unrelated to large genomic abnormalities in other SWI/SNF subunits.

TERT promoter hotspot mutations are recurrent in myxoid liposarcomas

Recently, recurrent point mutations in the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter region have been found in many human cancers, leading to a new transcription factor binding site, increased induction of TERT and subsequently to telomere maintenance. The investigators determined the prevalence of TERT promoter mutations in soft tissue sarcomas of 341 patients comprising 16 entities and in 16 sarcoma cell lines covering 7 different soft tissue sarcoma types. The sarcoma tissue samples were collected from the archives of the Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg and were composed of 39 myxoid liposarcomas (MLS), 61 dedifferentiated liposarcomas, 15 pleomorphic liposarcomas, 27 leiomyosarcomas, 25 synovial sarcomas (SS), 35 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST), 40 undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas, 17 myxofibrosarcomas, 9 low grade fibromyxoid sarcomas, 10 cases of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, 31 solitary fibrous tumors (SFT), 8 extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcomas, 9 angiosarcomas, 6 alveolar soft part sarcomas, 5 clear cell sarcomas and 4 epithelioid sarcomas. Sarcoma cell lines were obtained from the raising laboratories. A 193bp fragment of the TERT promoter region covering the hot-spot mutations C228T and C250T was amplified, and direct sequencing of the PCR products was performed. Results were as follows: TERT promoter mutations were detected in 36/341 sarcomas. They were highly recurrent in MLS (29/39; 74%) and were in the present MLS series not associated with the phenotype (myxoid vs. round cell variant), tumor grade, tumor site and patient's median age or gender. In the remaining cases, TERT promoter mutations were found only in 7/302 sarcoma samples and confined to SFTs (4/31; 13%), MPNSTs (2/35; 6%), and SSs (1/25; 4%). Within the collection of sarcoma cell lines examined, TERT promoter mutations were detected in two MLS and in one of three MPNST cell lines. Conclusions: TERT promoter mutations are frequent in MLSs including their round cell variants, representing the most prevalent mutation identified in this sarcoma entity to date, and in a minor fraction of SFTs, MPNSTs and SSs. The majority of sarcomas are devoid of TERT promoter hotspot mutations. These data suggest that telomere maintenance through increased expression of telomerase plays an important role in the pathogenesis especially of MLS.

Osteosarcoma treatment – Where do we stand? A state of the art review

Long-term outcome for patients with high-grade osteosarcoma has improved with the addition of systemic chemotherapy, but subsequent progress has been less marked. Modern, multiagent, dose-intensive chemotherapy in conjunction with surgery achieves a 5-year event-free survival of 60–70% in extremity localized, non-metastatic disease. A major, as yet unsolved, problem is the poor prognosis for metastatic relapse or recurrence, and for patients with axial disease. This article reviews the current state of the art of systemic osteosarcoma therapy by focusing on the experiences of cooperative osteosarcoma groups. Also, the authors shed light on questions and challenges posed by the aggressiveness of the tumor, and they consider potential future directions that may be critical to progress in the prognosis of high-grade osteosarcoma.

Activating GNAS Mutations in Parosteal Osteosarcoma

Parosteal osteosarcoma is a surface-based osteosarcoma that often exhibits deceptively bland cytologic features, hindering diagnosis in small biopsies or when correlative radiologic imaging is not readily available. A number of benign and malignant fibro-osseous lesions, including fibrous dysplasia (FD) and low-grade central osteosarcoma, fall within the morphologic differential diagnosis of parosteal osteosarcoma. Somatic mutations in GNAS, encoding the α-subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein complex (Gsα), occur in FD and McCune-Albright syndrome but have not been reported in parosteal osteosarcoma. The investigators evaluated GNAS mutational status in parosteal osteosarcoma and several of its histologic mimics to determine its utility in differentiating these entities. Eleven of 14 (79%) FD cases had GNAS mutations within codon 201 (5 R201C and 6 R201H mutations). GNAS mutations were not detected in any cases of adamantinoma or osteofibrous dysplasia. Direct sequencing of 9 parosteal osteosarcomas, including 3 of low grade and 6 with dedifferentiation, revealed activating GNAS mutations in 5 cases (55%), distributed as 4 R201C-mutated tumors and 1 tumor with an R201H mutation. GNAS codon 227 mutations were not detected in any of the cases. There was no association between GNAS mutational status and patient demographics, histologic dedifferentiation, or clinical outcome. To the investigators knowledge, they report the first series of parosteal osteosarcomas harboring activating GNAS mutations. Their data suggest that GNAS mutational status may have limited utility as an ancillary technique in differentiating benign and malignant fibro-osseous lesions of the bone.

FGFR4 signaling to discriminate subsets of ARMS cells

Biological heterogeneity represents a major obstacle for cancer treatment. Therefore, characterization of treatment-relevant tumor heterogeneity is necessary to develop more effective therapies in the future. Here, the investigators uncovered population heterogeneity among PAX/FOXO1-positive alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma by characterizing prosurvival networks initiated by FGFR4 signaling. They found that FGFR4 signaling rescues only subgroups of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells from apoptosis induced by compounds targeting the IGF1R-PI3K-mTOR pathway. Differences in both proapoptotic machinery and FGFR4-activated signaling are involved in the different behavior of the phenotypes. Proapoptotic stress induced by the kinase inhibitors is sensed by Bim/Bad in rescue cells and by Bmf in nonrescue cells. Anti-apoptotic ERK1/2 signaling downstream of FGFR4 is long-lasting in rescue and short-termed in most non-rescue cells. Gene expression analysis detected signatures specific for these two groups also in biopsy samples. The different cell phenotypes are present in different ratios in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma tumors and can be identified by AP2β expression levels. Hence, inhibiting FGFR signaling might represent an important strategy to enhance efficacy of current RMS treatments.

Synovial sarcoma relapses in children and adolescents

Twenty-five to 32% of patients with synovial sarcoma (SS) relapse after appropriate treatment, and experience a poor outcome. Patients who can be salvaged by second-line therapy need to be more clearly identified. Data of patients treated in SFCE (Société Française des Cancers de l'Enfant) centers with an initial diagnosis of localized SS before the age of 18 years and treated from 1/1988 to 12/2008, and who experienced at least one relapse, were retrieved. After descriptive analysis, statistical analysis was performed to determine prognostic factors. Results were as follows: Thirty-seven patients were identified. First relapse occurred after a median interval of 24 months and was localized in 73.0% of cases and metastatic in 24.3% of cases. Treatment of relapse consisted of new surgery in 75.7% of cases, second-line chemotherapy in 73.0% of cases and radiotherapy in 48.6% of cases. Response rate to ifosfamide-based regimens was 36.4%. Overall, 70.3% patients achieved a second complete remission. Median 5-year-event-free survival was 32.8% and 5-year overall survival was 42.1%. Factors significantly correlated with better survival were primary tumor involving the limbs, age less than 12 years at diagnosis, absence of chemotherapy or radiotherapy as initial treatment and local relapse. Conclusion: Despite its poor overall outcome, relapse of synovial sarcoma sometimes remains curable. Aggressive surgery, when possible, in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy is the recommended treatment. Ifosfamide-based regimens may remain effective in patients with relapsed SS. However, alternative therapies should be proposed in patients with poor prognostic factors.

Genome-Based Therapeutics and Companion Diagnostic Tests

This article is the summary of a workshop held by the Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health on February 27, 2013 to examine and discuss challenges and potential solutions for the codevelopment of targeted therapeutics and companion molecular tests for the prediction of drug response. Prior to the workshop, key stakeholders, including laboratory and medical professional societies, were individually asked to provide possible solutions to resolve the concerns raised about co-development of companion diagnostic tests and therapies. Workshop speakers were charged with addressing these solutions in their presentations by providing insight on (1) whether the proposed solutions address the problems described, (2) whether there are other solutions to propose, and (3) what steps could be taken to effectively implement the proposed solutions.

Universal Marker and Detection Tool for Human Sarcoma Circulating Tumor Cells

To date, no specific marker exists for the detection of circulating tumor cell from different types of sarcomas, though tools are available for detection of circulating tumor cell (CTC) in peripheral blood of cancer patients for epithelial cancers. Here the authors report cell-surface vimentin (CSV) as an exclusive marker on sarcoma CTC regardless of the tissue origin of the sarcoma as detected by a novel monoclonal antibody. Utilizing CSV as a probe they isolated and enumerated sarcoma CTC with high sensitivity and specificity from the blood of patients bearing different types of sarcoma, validating their phenotype by single cell genomic amplification, mutation detection and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Their results establish the first universal and specific CTC marker described for enumerating CTC from different types of sarcoma, thereby providing a key prognosis tool to monitor cancer metastasis and relapse.

Measures of cardiac function in survivors of childhood cancer

Cardiovascular disease is the leading noncancer cause of death among survivors of childhood cancer. Ejection fraction (EF) and fractional shortening (FS) are common echocardiographic measures of cardiac function, but newer imaging modalities may provide additional information about preclinical disease. This study aimed to evaluate these modalities in detection of anthracycline-induced cardiac toxicity. The authors compared mean radial displacement, EF, and FS among 17 adult survivors of childhood cancer exposed to ≥ 300 mg/m2 of anthracyclines to 17 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Survivors with a history of cardiac-directed radiation, diabetes, or heart disease were excluded. Results were as follows: Survivors (35% male), mostly with history of treatment for a solid tumor, had a median age at diagnosis of 15 years (1–20) and 27 years (18–50) at evaluation. Median anthracycline exposure was 440 (range 300–645) mg/m2. FS (35.5 vs. 39.6%, p<0.01) and radial displacement (5.6 vs. 6.7 mm, p=0.02) were significantly lower in survivors compared to controls, respectively. Although the mean EF was lower in survivors versus controls (55.4 vs. 59.7%), it was not statistically significant (p=0.057). All echocardiographic measures were inversely associated with anthracycline dose, though radial displacement was no longer significantly correlated with anthracycline dose after controlling for survival time (p=0.07), while EF remained correlated (p=0.003). Implications for Cancer Survivors: Radial displacement, EF, and FS are lower in childhood cancer survivors compared to controls. In this study, radial displacement added no new information beyond the traditional measures, but clinical utility remains undetermined and requires further longitudinal study.

Is fluoride a risk factor for bone cancer?

Artificial fluoridation of drinking water to improve dental health has long been a topic of controversy. Opponents of this public health measure have cited the possibility of bone cancer induction. The study objective was to examine whether increased risk of primary bone cancer was associated with living in areas with higher concentrations of fluoride in drinking water. Case data on osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma, diagnosed at ages 0–49 years in Great Britain (GB) (defined here as England, Scotland and Wales) during the period 1980–2005, were obtained from population-based cancer registries. Data on fluoride levels in drinking water in England and Wales were accessed through regional water companies and the Drinking Water Inspectorate. Scottish Water provided data for Scotland. Negative binomial regression was used to examine the relationship between incidence rates and level of fluoride in drinking water at small area level. Results were as follows: The study analyzed 2566 osteosarcoma and 1650 Ewing sarcoma cases. There was no evidence of an association between osteosarcoma risk and fluoride in drinking water [relative risk (RR) per one part per million increase in the level of fluoride = 1·001; 90% confidence interval (CI) 0·871, 1·151] and similarly there was no association for Ewing sarcoma (RR = 0·929; 90% CI 0·773, 1·115). Conclusions: The findings from this study provide no evidence that higher levels of fluoride (whether natural or artificial) in drinking water in GB lead to greater risk of either osteosarcoma or Ewing sarcoma.

Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Upper-extremity STS

The purpose of this study was to review outcomes for patients who received intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) for upper-extremity sarcoma. The authors identified patients with upper-extremity tumors who were treated with external beam radiotherapy, surgery, and IORT, with or without chemotherapy. Kaplan-Meier estimates for overall survival (OS), central control (CC), local control (LC), and distant control (DC) were obtained. Results were as follows: Sixty-one patients were identified. Median age was 50 years (range, 13 to 95 y). Median follow-up was 5.9 years. Eleven patients had gross (R2; n=1) or microscopic (R1; n=10) disease at the time of IORT. IORT doses ranged from 7.50 to 20.00 Gy. External beam radiotherapy doses ranged from 19.80 to 54.00 Gy. OS at 5 and 10 years was 72% and 58%, respectively. LC at 5 and 10 years was 91% and 88%, respectively. DC at 5 and 10 years was 80% and 77%, respectively. Patients treated for recurrent disease had inferior 5-year OS compared with patients with first diagnoses (63% vs. 74%; P=0.02) and lower 5-year LC (67% vs. 94%; P<0.01). For patients with R1 or R2 resections, LC at 5 and 10 years was 100% and 86%, respectively; for patients with R0 resections, LC was 89% at both 5 and 10 years (P=0.98). Severe toxicity attributable to treatment was noted for 4 patients (7%). Conclusions: For upper-extremity sarcoma, treatment including IORT was associated with excellent LC, limb preservation, and survival. LC rates were excellent for patients with positive margins after resection. Patients with recurrent disease had worse outcomes, but limb preservation was achievable for most patients.

ASPS: High resolution array CGH and gene expression profiling

Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a soft tissue sarcoma with poor prognosis, and little molecular evidence for its origin, initiation and progression. The aim of this study was to elucidate candidate molecular pathways involved in tumor pathogenesis. The investigators employed high-throughput array comparative genomic hybridization and cDNA-Mediated Annealing, Selection, Ligation, and Extension Assay to profile the genomic and expression signatures of primary and metastatic ASPS from 17 tumors derived from 11 patients. They used an integrative bioinformatics approach to elucidate the molecular pathways associated with ASPS progression. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to validate the presence of the t(X;17)(p11.2;q25) ASPL-TFE3 fusion and hence confirm the aCGH observations. Results were as follows: FISH analysis identified the ASPL-TFE3 fusion in all cases. ArrayCGH revealed a higher number of numerical aberrations in metastatic tumors relative to primaries, but failed to identify consistent alterations in either group. Gene expression analysis highlighted 1,063 genes which were differentially expressed between the two groups. Gene set enrichment analysis identified 16 enriched gene sets (p < 0.1) associated with differentially expressed genes. Notable among these were several stem cell gene expression signatures and pathways related to differentiation. In particular, the paired box transcription factor PAX6 was up-regulated in the primary tumors, along with several genes whose mouse orthologs have previously been implicated in Pax6-DNA binding during neural stem cell differentiation. Conclusions: In addition to suggesting a tentative neural line of differentiation for ASPS, these results implicate transcriptional deregulation from fusion genes in the pathogenesis of ASPS.

Angiosarcoma after breast-conserving therapy treated with hyperfractionated accelerated re-irradiation (HART)

Secondary angiosarcoma is a malignant cancer that develops in approximately 1% of patients treated with breast-conserving therapy (BCT) for primary breast cancer. Most treatments for secondary angiosarcoma have been unsuccessful and no consensus has been reached on what is the best therapeutic strategy. The authors report long-term outcomes of patients with secondary angiosarcoma treated with hyperfractionated and accelerated re-irradiation (HART). They retrospectively reviewed the medical records of, and established direct contact with, 14 consecutive patients with secondary angiosarcoma after BCT with axillary lymph node dissection who were treated at their institution with HART with or without surgery from November 1997 to March 2006. With HART, patients received three radiation therapy treatments each day, with a minimum interfraction interval of four hours, five days a week, at 1 Gy per fraction, to total doses of 45 Gy, 60 Gy, and 75 Gy for areas with a moderate risk for subclinical disease, a high risk for subclinical disease, and gross disease, respectively. The minimum follow-up for these patients was six years. Results were as follows: Median survival was 7.0 years (range 0.4–14.7 years), with five- and 10-year overall survival rates of 79% [95% confidence interval (CI), 51–93%] and 63% (95% CI 37–84%), respectively, and five- and 10-year cause-specific survival rates of 79% (95% CI 51–93%) and 71% (95% CI 44–89%), respectively. Toxicity was minimal. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that patients with secondary angiosarcoma after BCT can frequently be cured. Patients treated with HART have higher overall survival, progression-free survival, and cause-specific survival rates than patients who receive only surgery, conventional radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. HART is well tolerated.

WT1 regulates angiogenesis in Ewing sarcoma

Angiogenesis is required for tumor growth. WT1, a protein that affects both mRNA transcription and splicing, has recently been shown to regulate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), one of the major mediators of angiogenesis. In the present study, the investigators tested the hypothesis that WT1 is a key regulator of tumor angiogenesis in Ewing sarcoma. They expressed exogenous WT1 in the WT1-null Ewing sarcoma cell line, SK-ES-1, and they suppressed WT1 expression using shRNA in the WT1-positive Ewing sarcoma cell line, MHH-ES. Suppression of WT1 in MHH-ES cells impairs angiogenesis, while expression of WT1 in SK-ES-1 cells causes increased angiogenesis. Different WT1 isoforms result in vessels with distinct morphologies, and this correlates with preferential upregulation of particular VEGF isoforms. WT1-expressing tumors show increased expression of pro-angiogenic molecules such as VEGF, MMP9, Ang-1, and Tie-2, supporting the hypothesis that WT1 is a global regulator of angiogenesis. They also demonstrate that WT1 regulates the expression of a panel of pro-angiogenic molecules in Ewing sarcoma cell lines. Finally, the investigators found that WT1 expression is correlated with VEGF expression, MMP9 expression, and microvessel density in samples of primary Ewing sarcoma. Thus, the results demonstrate that WT1 expression directly regulates tumor angiogenesis by controlling the expression of a panel of pro-angiogenic genes.

Inhibition of the ‘undruggable’ EWS-FLI1 transcription factor in Ewing Sarcoma

Transcription factors have long been deemed ‘undruggable’ targets for therapeutics. Enhanced recognition of protein biochemistry as well as the need to have more targeted approaches to treat cancer has rendered transcription factors approachable for therapeutic development. Since transcription factors lack enzymatic domains, the specific targeting of these proteins has unique challenges. One challenge is the hydrophobic microenvironment that affects small molecules gaining access to block protein interactions. The most attractive transcription factors to target are those formed from tumor specific chromosomal translocations that are validated oncogenic driver proteins. EWS-FLI1 is a fusion protein that results from the pathognomonic translocation of Ewing sarcoma (ES). The authors’ past work created the small molecule YK-4-279 that blocks EWS-FLI1 from interacting with RNA Helicase A (RHA). To fulfill long-standing promise in the field by creating a clinically useful drug, steps are required to allow for in vivo administration. These investigations identify the need for continuous presence of the small molecule protein-protein inhibitor for a period of days. The authors describe the pharmacokinetics of YK-4-279 and its individual enantiomers. In vivo studies confirm prior in vitro experiments showing (S)-YK-4-279 as the EWS-FLI1 specific enantiomer demonstrating both induction of apoptosis and reduction of EWS-FLI1 regulated caveolin-1 protein. They have created the first rat xenograft model of ES, treated with (S)-YK-4-279 dosing based upon PK modeling leading to a sustained complete response in 2 of 6 ES tumors. Combining laboratory studies, pharmacokinetic measurements, and modeling has allowed them to create a paradigm that can be optimized for in vivo systems using both in vitro data and pharmacokinetic simulations. Thus, (S)-YK-4-279 as a small molecule drug is ready for continued development towards a first-in-human, first-in-class, clinical trial.

KDM3A is a microRNA-22-regulated tumor promoter in Ewing Sarcoma

Ewing Sarcoma is a biologically aggressive bone and soft tissue malignancy affecting children and young adults. Ewing Sarcoma pathogenesis is driven by EWS/Ets fusion oncoproteins, of which EWS/Fli1 is the most common. We have previously shown that microRNAs (miRs) regulated by EWS/Fli1 contribute to the pro-oncogenic program in Ewing Sarcoma. Here we show that miR-22, an EWS/Fli1-repressed miR, is inhibitory to Ewing Sarcoma clonogenic and anchorage-independent cell growth, even at modest overexpression levels. Our studies further identify the H3K9me1/2 histone demethylase KDM3A (JMJD1A/JHDM2A) as a new miR-22-regulated gene. We show that KDM3A is overexpressed in Ewing Sarcoma, and that its depletion inhibits clonogenic and anchorage-independent growth in multiple patient-derived cell lines, and tumorigenesis in a xenograft model. KDM3A depletion further results in augmentation of the levels of the repressive H3K9me2 histone mark, and downregulation of pro-oncogenic factors in Ewing Sarcoma. Together, our studies identify the histone demethylase KDM3A as a new, miR-regulated, tumor promoter in Ewing Sarcoma.

MDM2 Copy Numbers in Well-Differentiated and Dedifferentiated Liposarcoma

MDM2 gene amplification is associated with well-differentiated (WDL) and dedifferentiated liposarcomas (DDL). Using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), the investigators sought to characterize various patterns of MDM2 amplification among the morphologic spectrum of liposarcoma. Forty-six cases of liposarcoma in various sites were examined and included 22 WDLs, 14 DLLs, and 10 negative control subjects. Results were as follows: The MDM2 amplification ratio (MDM2/CEP12) was lower in WDL (10.2) compared with DDL (18.3) cases (P = .0000002). An amplification ratio of 16 showed optimal sensitivity (0.86) and specificity (0.96) as a cutoff point for progression to DDL. Borderline areas, defined as tumors with increased cellularity and atypia but with preserved lipomatous differentiation, showed a significantly higher MDM2 ratio (17.5; P = .0007) compared with WDL. Central (retroperitoneal and intra-abdominal) tumors also showed a significantly higher MDM2 ratio than peripheral ones (P = .02). Conclusions: Differences in MDM2 amplification profiles among liposarcomas could help further define and predict progression to high-grade neoplasia.

Prognostic Factors in Elderly Osteosarcoma Patients

The occurrence of osteosarcoma in elderly patients has recently been increasing, and the outcome is poor. This multi-institutional retrospective study was conducted to investigate clinical features and prognostic factors in patients older than 40 years with osteosarcoma. Patients with conventional high-grade osteosarcoma older than 40 years were recruited to this study. Secondary osteosarcoma arising from Paget’s disease or irradiated bones was excluded. Information on tumor- and treatment-related factors was collected and statistically analyzed. The median follow-up was 57 months (range 8–244 months) for all surviving patients. Results were as follows: A total of 86 patients were enrolled in this study. The median age at diagnosis was 61 years. Surgery and chemotherapy were conducted in 73 and 63% of all patients, respectively. The 5-year overall and event-free survival rates were 38.8 and 34.0%, respectively. Tumor site (extremity 57.9%; axial 19.0%; p < 0.0001), metastasis at diagnosis (yes 12.2%; no 48.3%; p < 0.0091), and definitive surgery (yes 56.2%; no 10.6%; p < 0.0001) were associated with overall survival. Although patients without metastasis who received definitive surgery were regarded as good candidates for chemotherapy, the addition of chemotherapy did not have any impact on the outcome (yes 63.4%; no 65.2%; p = 0.511). Conclusions: The present study revealed the distinct clinical features, such as the high incidence of truncal tumors or metastasis at diagnosis, in patients older than 40 years with osteosarcoma. Additionally, prognostic factor analyses revealed that tumor site, metastasis at diagnosis, definitive surgery, and surgical margins were significant prognostic factors, whereas chemotherapy did not influence survival.

Bisphosphonates Inhibit Osteosarcoma-Mediated Osteolysis

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant tumor of bone, and accounts for around 50% of all primary skeletal malignancies. In addition to novel chemotherapies, there is a need for adjuvant therapies designed to inhibit osteosarcoma proliferation and tumor-induced osteolysis to attenuate tumor expansion and metastasis. As such, studies on the efficacy of bisphosphonates on human osteosarcoma are planned following feasibility studies which determined that the bisphosphonate zoledronic-acid (ZOL) can be safely combined with conventional chemotherapy (1). However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for, and means of inhibiting, osteosarcoma-induced osteolysis are largely unknown. The authors of this paper establish that osteosarcoma growth directly correlates with tumor-induced osteolysis and activation of osteoclasts in-vivo. In-vitro, tumor cells were determined to expresses surface, but not soluble, RANKL and stimulated osteoclastogenesis in a manner directly proportional to their malignant potential. In addition, an aggressive osteosarcoma cell line was shown to secrete monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) resulting in robust monocyte migration. Since MCP-1 is a key cytokine for monocyte recruitment and surface bound RANKL strongly supports local osteoclastogenesis, the authors suggest that high levels of these signaling molecules are associated with the aggressive potential of osteosarcoma. Consistent with these findings, abundant expression of RANKL/MCP-1 was observed in tumor in-vivo, and MCP-1 plasma levels strongly correlated with tumor progression and osteolysis. ZOL administration directly attenuates osteosarcoma production of RANKL/MCP-1, reducing tumor-induced bone destruction. In vivo, these findings also correlated with significant reduction in osteosarcoma growth. ZOL attenuates tumor-induced osteolysis, not only through direct inhibition of osteoclasts, but also through direct actions on tumor expression of osteoclast activators. These data provide insight regarding the effect of ZOL on osteosarcoma essential for designing the planned upcoming prospective randomized trials to determine the efficacy of bisphosphonates on osteosarcoma in humans.

Cost minimization analysis of treatment regimens for low-risk RMS in children

Recent Children's Oncology Group trials for low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma attempted to reduce therapy while maintaining excellent outcomes. D9602 delivered 45 weeks of outpatient vincristine and dactinomycin (VA) for patients in Subgroup A. ARST0331 reduced the duration of therapy to 22 weeks but added four doses of cyclophosphamide to VA for patients in Subset 1. Failure-free survival was similar. In this study the investigators undertook a cost minimization comparison to help guide future decision-making. Addressing the costs of treatment from the healthcare perspective they modeled a simple decision-analytic model from aggregate clinical trial data. Medical care inputs and probabilities were estimated from trial reports and focused chart review. Costs of radiation, surgery and off-therapy surveillance were excluded. Unit costs were obtained from literature and national reimbursement and inpatient utilization databases and converted to 2012 US dollars. Model uncertainty was assessed with first-order sensitivity analysis. Results were as follows: Direct medical costs were $46,393 for D9602 and $43,261 for ARST0331 respectively, making ARST0331 the less costly strategy. Dactinomycin contributed the most to D9602 total costs but varied with age (42–69%). Chemotherapy administration costs accounted for the largest proportion of ARST0331 total costs (39–57%). ARST0331 incurred fewer costs than D9602 under most alternative distributive models and alternative clinical practice assumptions. Conclusions: Cost analysis suggests that ARST0331 may incur fewer costs than D9602 from the healthcare system's perspective. Attention to the services driving the costs provides directions for future efficiency improvements. Future studies should prospectively consider the patient and family's perspective.

Hypoxia-Dependent Modification of Collagen Networks in UPS Metastasis

Intratumoral hypoxia and expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) correlate with metastasis and poor survival in patients with sarcoma. The investigators show here that hypoxia controls sarcoma metastasis through a novel mechanism wherein HIF-1α enhances expression of the intracellular enzyme procollagen-lysine, 2-oxoglutarate 5-dioxygenase 2 (PLOD2). They show that loss of HIF-1α or PLOD2 expression disrupts collagen modification, cell migration, and pulmonary metastasis (but not primary tumor growth) in allograft and autochthonous LSL-KrasG12D/+; Trp53fl/fl murine sarcoma models. Furthermore, ectopic PLOD2 expression restores migration and metastatic potential in HIF-1α–deficient tumors, and analysis of human sarcomas reveals elevated HIF1A and PLOD2 expression in metastatic primary lesions. Pharmacologic inhibition of PLOD enzymatic activity suppresses metastases. Collectively, these data indicate that HIF-1α controls sarcoma metastasis through PLOD2-dependent collagen modification and organization in primary tumors. The investigators conclude that PLOD2 is a novel therapeutic target in sarcomas and successful inhibition of this enzyme may reduce tumor cell dissemination. Significance: Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is a commonly diagnosed and particularly aggressive sarcoma subtype in adults, which frequently and fatally metastasizes to the lung. Here, the investigators show the potential use of a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of metastatic UPS, specifically the collagen-modifying enzyme PLOD2.

Refining Processes for the Co-Development of Genome-Based Therapeutics

Many drug developers have examined new strategies for creating efficiencies in their development processes, including the adoption of genomics-based approaches. Genomic data can identify new drug targets for both common and rare diseases, can predict which patients are likely to respond to a specific treatment, and has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of clinical trials by reducing the number of patients that must be enrolled in order to demonstrate safety and efficacy. A key component of the approval of targeted therapeutics is the ability to identify the population of patients who will benefit from treatment, and this has largely hinged on the co-development and co-submission to the FDA of a companion diagnostic test. The co-development process, or the development of the test and drug for the simultaneous submission to FDA, has led to a major alteration in the way that drugs are being developed, with traditionally separate entities—pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies—now working in close collaboration.


Pantoprazole with doxorubicin:
A potential strategy to improve therapy

Limited drug distribution within solid tumors is an important cause of drug resistance. Basic drugs (e.g. doxorubicin) may be sequestered in acidic organelles thereby limiting drug distribution to distal cells and diverting drugs from their target DNA. Here the authors investigate the effects of pantoprazole, a proton pump inhibitor, on doxorubicin uptake, and doxorubicin distribution and activity using in vitro and murine models. Murine EMT-6 and human MCF-7 cells were treated with pantoprazole to evaluate changes is endosomal pH using fluorescence spectroscopy, and uptake of doxorubicin using flow cytometry. Effects of pantoprazole on tissue penetration of doxorubicin were evaluated in multilayered cell cultures (MCCs), and in solid tumors using immunohistochemistry. Effects of pantoprazole to influence tumor growth delay and toxicity due to doxorubicin were evaluated in mice. Results were as follows: Pantoprazole (>200μM) increased endosomal pH in cells, and also increased nuclear uptake of doxorubicin. Pretreatment with pantoprazole increased tissue penetration of doxorubicin in MCCs. Pantoprazole improved doxorubicin distribution from blood vessels in solid tumors. Pantoprazole given prior to doxorubicin led to increased growth delay when given as single or multiple doses to mice bearing MCF7 xenografts. Conclusions: Use of pantoprazole to enhance the distribution and cytotoxicity of anticancer drugs in solid tumors might be a novel treatment strategy to improve their therapeutic index.

Elevated pre-operative plasma fibrinogen level is a prognostic factor in STS

Accumulating evidence indicates an important pathophysiological role of fibrinogen on tumor cell progression and metastases in different types of cancer. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prognostic relevance of pre-operative fibrinogen levels on clinical outcome in a large cohort of STS patients. Two hundred ninety-four consecutive STS patients were retrospectively evaluated. Cancer-specific survival (CSS), disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS) were assessed using the Kaplan–Meier curves and Cox regression models. Finally, the investigators supplemented the well-established Kattan nomogram by the fibrinogen level and evaluated the gain of predictive accuracy of this novel nomogram by Harrell's concordance index (c-index). Results were as follows: An elevated plasma fibrinogen level was significantly associated with established prognostic factors, including age, tumor grade, size, and depth (P<0.05). Furthermore, in multivariate analysis, increased fibrinogen levels were significantly associated with a poor outcome for CSS (HR=2.48; 95% CI=1.28–4.78; P=0.007), DFS (HR=2.00; 95% CI=1.11–3.60; P=0.021), and OS (HR=2.20; 95% CI=1.39–3.47; P<0.001). The estimated c-index was 0.747 using the original Kattan nomogram and 0.779 when the fibrinogen levels was added. Conclusion: The pre-operative plasma fibrinogen level may represent a strong and independent unfavorable prognostic factor for CSS, DFS and OS in STS patients.

Exomic analysis of sarcomas

Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are a group of histologically heterogeneous and relatively uncommon tumors. To explore their genetic origins, the investigators sequenced the exomes of 13 osteosarcomas, eight myxoid liposarcomas (MLPS), and seven synovial sarcomas (SYN). These tumors had few genetic alterations (median of 10.8). Nevertheless, clear examples of driver gene mutations were observed, including canonical mutations in TP53, PIK3CA, SETD2, AKT1, and subclonal mutation in FBXW7. Of particular interest were mutations in H3F3A, encoding the variant histone H3.3. Mutations in this gene have only been previously observed in gliomas. Loss of heterozygosity of exomic regions was extensive in osteosarcomas but rare in SYN and MLPS. These results provide intriguing nucleotide-level information on these relatively uncommon neoplasms and highlight pathways that help explain their pathogenesis.

How to read a pathology report of a bone tumor

The interpretation of a biopsy specimen involving bone is one of the most challenging feats for a pathologist, as it is often difficult to distinguish between benign or reactive lesions and malignant tumors on microscopic analysis. Therefore, correlation with the clinical data and imaging is essential and sometimes it is only the evolution of certain characteristics over time or information garnered from molecular analysis that can provide an accurate diagnosis. The pathology report is critical in that it will define subsequent patient management; its wording must precisely reflect those elements that are known with certainty and those that are diagnostic hypotheses. It must be systematic, thorough, and complete and should not be limited to a simple conclusion. The pathologist must first ensure the completeness and correct transcription of the information provided with the specimen, then describe and analyze the histology as well as the quality and representative nature of the sample (as they relate to the radiographic findings and preliminary/final diagnoses), and finally, compare what is seen under the microscope with the assessment made by the radiologist and/or surgeon. This analysis helps to identify difficult cases requiring further consultation between the radiologist and pathologist. There are multiple reasons for misinterpretation of a pathology report. An important and largely underestimated reason is varied interpretations of terms used by the pathologist. Standardized pathology reports with concise phrases as well as multidisciplinary meetings may limit errors and should be encouraged for optimal diagnostic accuracy.

Bone tumor imaging for the musculoskeletal oncologic surgeon

The appropriate diagnosis and treatment of bone tumors requires close collaboration between different medical specialists. Imaging plays a key role throughout the process. Radiographic detection of a bone tumor is usually not challenging. Accurate diagnosis is often possible from physical examination, history, and standard radiographs. The location of the lesion in the bone and the skeleton, its size and margins, the presence and type of periosteal reaction, and any mineralization all help determine diagnosis. Other imaging modalities contribute to the formation of a diagnosis but are more critical for staging, evaluation of response to treatment, surgical planning, and follow-up. When necessary, biopsy is often radioguided, and should be performed in consultation with the surgeon performing the definitive operative procedure. CT is optimal for characterization of the bone involvement and for evaluation of pulmonary metastases. MRI is highly accurate in determining the intraosseous extent of tumor and for assessing soft tissue, joint, and vascular involvement. FDG-PET imaging is becoming increasingly useful for the staging of tumors, assessing response to neoadjuvant treatment, and detecting relapses. Refinement of these and other imaging modalities and the development of new technologies such as image fusion for computer-navigated bone tumor surgery will help surgeons produce a detailed and reliable preoperative plan, especially in challenging sites such as the pelvis and spine.

Enchondroma vs. chondrosarcoma: A simple, new MRI sign

There is no clear radiologic or pathologic agreement on the differences between enchondroma and conventional chondrosarcoma, which has huge therapeutic consequences. Microscopically, an enchondroma is composed of “islands of intramedullary hyaline cartilage surrounded by marrow fat”, and a chondrosarcoma a “diffuse cartilaginous replacement (invasion) of the marrow which leads to complete ‘trapping’ of host lamellar bone trabeculae.” The marrow around islands of cartilage should be detectable on magnetic resonance imaging (MR). Enchondroma may be the precursor of chondrosarcoma; benign cartilaginous islands are often seen microscopically at the periphery of chondrosarcoma. The investigators here attempted to detect these islands at the periphery of chondrosarcomas on MR and correlate them microscopically. They examined their database for all patients with a chondrosarcoma of the long and flat bones between 1990 and 2007. Only those with a preoperative MR who underwent an en bloc resection were included, yielding 32 patients. They looked for low-signal islands surrounded by high (fat) signal on T1-weighted images, and high-signal islands surrounded by low signal on T2-weighted fat saturated images at the periphery of the main tumor mass. Microscopic correlation was performed in all cases. Results were as follows: On microscopy, there were 23 conventional chondrosarcomas, nine dedifferentiated. Peripheral islands surrounded by fat were detected on MR in 19 cases, corresponding to benign cartilage in 18 cases and to the benign scar of a needle biopsy tract in one. There were no peripheral islands detected radiographically or microscopically in 13 cases. Conclusion: Cartilaginous islands microscopically detected at the periphery of some chondrosarcomas are easily and reliably diagnosed on MR.

Incidence and survival patterns of cranial chordoma in the United States

The objective of this study was to determine trends in survival patterns for cranial chordoma in the United States. It was a cross-sectional analysis of a national healthcare database. All cases of microscopically confirmed cranial chordoma between 1973 and 2009 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute were examined. Age-adjusted incidence and survival rates were calculated and stratified by treatment. Additionally, in order to assess trends over time, comparisons in survival were conducted for 3 calendar year cohorts: 1975 to 1984, 1985 to 1994, and 1995 to 2004. Results were as follows: A total of 594 cases of microscopically confirmed chordoma involving cranial sites were identified, which accounted for 42% of all chordomas. Age-adjusted incidence rate (IR) of all chordomas was 0.089 per 100,000. Overall median survival time with surgery plus radiation was 9.2 years. Age and treatment modality were found to influence patient survival. Specifically, age>50 years was associated with a significant increase in mortality rate (P<.05). Five-year survival for the 1975 to 1984, 1985 to 1994, and 1995 to 2004 cohort was 48.5%, 73.0%, and 80.7%, respectively, with improved survival in the more recent cohorts (P<0.01). Conclusion: This study provides new data regarding survival patterns of cranial chordoma in the United States, with a trend toward improvement in survival in recent decades.

SMARCB1 expression in epithelioid sarcoma

Proximal type epithelioid sarcoma shares similarities with malignant rhabdoid tumor, including the lack of nuclear immunoreactivity of SMARCB1. Biallelic mutation of SMARCB1 has been convincingly established as the cause of loss of protein expression in rhabdoid tumor, but the cause in epithelioid sarcoma remains unknown. In the author’s previous work, they demonstrated that DNA hypermethylation and post-translational modification mechanisms were not involved. In this current work, they explored the hypothesis that miRNAs regulate SMARCB1 gene expression in epithelioid sarcomas. In silico target prediction analysis revealed eight candidate miRNAs, and quantitative PCR—in 32 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples comprising 30 epithelioid sarcomas and two malignant rhabdoid tumors—demonstrated significant (P<0.001) overexpression of four miRNAs in epithelioid sarcomas: miR-206, miR-381, miR-671-5p, and miR-765. Two human tumors (fibrosarcoma and colon adenocarcinoma) and a normal cell line (human dermal fibroblast) with retained SMARCB1 expression were cultured for miRNA transient transfection (electroporation) experiments. SMARCB1 mRNA expression was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR and immunostaining of SMARCB1 was performed to examine the effect of miRNAs transfections on both RNA and protein levels. Only three of the overexpressed miRNAs (miR-206, miR-381, and miR-671-5p) could silence the SMARCB1 mRNA expression in cell cultures; most effectively miR-206. Transfection of miR-206, miR-381, miR-671-5p, and some combination of them also eliminated SMARCB1 nuclear staining, demonstrating a strong effect on not only mRNA but also protein levels. These results suggest loss of SMARCB1 protein expression in epithelioid sarcoma is due to the epigenetic mechanism of gene silencing by oncomiRs.

CXCL16 and CXCR6 in Ewing sarcoma family of tumors

Chemokines are a family of peptide mediators that play an essential role in cellular migration and intracellular communication in tumor cells as well as immune cells. The investigators of this study hypothesized that the CXCL16-CXCR6 ligand-receptor system plays an important role in Ewing sarcoma (ES) family tumor (ESFT) progression. Using real-time quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction, they investigated the mRNA expression of CXCL16, CXCR6 and ADAM 10 in various cell lines. They also investigated the expression of CXCL16, CXCR6, ADAM 10 and ADAM 17 in tissue samples from 61 ESFT patients using immunohistochemistry. The mRNA expression levels of CXCL16 and CXCR6 in the ES cell line were higher than those in the other cell lines. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that CXCL16 and CXCR6 were highly expressed in tumor cells of ESFT and showed a positive correlation between them. The expression of CXCL16 and CXCR6 was associated with the occurrence of lung metastasis. Univariate analysis revealed that CXCL16 or CXCR6 expression was associated with worse prognosis of ESFT patients. In addition, CXCL16 and CXCR6 expression was associated with shorter overall survival irrespective of other prognostic factors. These results suggest that the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis appears to be important in the progression of ESFT, resulting in more aggressive clinical behavior. Furthermore, there may be a decrease in the overall survival in ESFT patients who have tumors that stain strongly for CXCL16 and CXCR6.

Neoadjuvant treatment in osteosarcomas of the head and neck

Osteosarcomas of the craniomaxillofacial region in adults are rare malignant tumors with many sites of origin. The purpose of this study was to analyze the outcome of adult patients suffering from osteosarcomas and investigate whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy would be beneficial to overall outcome. The medical records of 36 patients treated during 2002–2012 were reviewed. All patients suffered from primary osteosarcomas of the craniomaxillofacial region. Results were as follows: The mean survival of patients was 64.49 ± 23.52 months. The 2- and 5-year overall survival rates in the neoadjuvant treatment group were 100 and 66.7 %; in the surgery only group, the overall survival rates were 66.7 and 41.7 %, respectively. The neoadjuvant treatment (p = 0.017), tumor size (p = 0.004), tumor location (p = 0.02), and age (p < 0.0001) were significant parameters influencing survival, whereas other tumor-related or demographic factors had no significant influence on survival. Conclusions: Early identification of osteosarcoma of the craniomaxillofacial region and combined treatment by neoadjuvant chemotherapy with radical surgery are the most important strategies in dealing with these sarcomas. If possible, this treatment option should be followed unless contraindicated by other factors.

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and Hippo pathway suppression

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (aRMS) is an aggressive sarcoma of skeletal muscle characterized by expression of the paired box 3-forkhead box protein O1 (PAX3-FOXO1) fusion oncogene. Despite its discovery nearly two decades ago, the mechanisms by which PAX3-FOXO1 drives tumor development are not well characterized. Previously, the authors reported that PAX3-FOXO1 supports aRMS initiation by enabling bypass of cellular senescence checkpoints. They have now found that this bypass occurs in part through PAX3-FOXO1–mediated upregulation of RASSF4, a Ras-association domain family (RASSF) member. RASSF4 expression was upregulated in PAX3-FOXO1–positive aRMS cell lines and tumors. Enhanced RASSF4 expression promoted cell cycle progression, senescence evasion, and tumorigenesis through inhibition of the Hippo pathway tumor suppressor MST1. They also found that the downstream Hippo pathway target Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP), which is ordinarily restrained by Hippo signaling, was upregulated in RMS tumors. These data suggest that Hippo pathway dysfunction promotes RMS. This work provides evidence for Hippo pathway suppression in aRMS and demonstrates a progrowth role for RASSF4. Additionally, the authors identify a mechanism used by PAX3-FOXO1 to inhibit MST1 signaling and promote tumorigenesis in aRMS.

Rb1 loss in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (aRMS) is a myogenic childhood sarcoma frequently associated with a translocation-mediated fusion gene, Pax3:Foxo1a. The authors investigated the complementary role of Rb1 loss in aRMS tumor initiation and progression using conditional mouse models. Results were as follows: Rb1 loss was not a necessary and sufficient mutational event for rhabdomyosarcomagenesis, nor a strong cooperative initiating mutation. Instead, Rb1 loss was a modifier of progression and increased anaplasia and pleomorphism. Whereas Pax3:Foxo1a expression was unaltered, biomarkers of aRMS versus embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma were both increased, questioning whether these diagnostic markers are reliable in the context of Rb1 loss. Genome-wide gene expression in Pax3:Foxo1a,Rb1 tumors more closely approximated aRMS than embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. Intrinsic loss of pRb function in aRMS was evidenced by insensitivity to a Cdk4/6 inhibitor regardless of whether Rb1 was intact or null. This loss of function could be attributed to low baseline Rb1, pRb and phospho-pRb expression in aRMS tumors for which the Rb1 locus was intact. Pax3:Foxo1a RNA interference did not increase pRb or improve Cdk inhibitor sensitivity. Human aRMS shared the feature of low and/or heterogeneous tumor cell pRb expression. Conclusions: Rb1 loss from an already low pRb baseline is a significant disease modifier, raising the possibility that some cases of pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma may in fact be Pax3:Foxo1a-expressing aRMS with Rb1 or pRb loss of function.

The SYT-SSX fusion protein and epithelial differentiation in synovial sarcoma

Synovial sarcoma (SS) tumor cells, which have the chromosomal translocation t(X;18)(p11.2;q11.2), have an inherently greater propensity for epithelial differentiation than other mesenchymal tumors, especially spindle cell sarcomas. This is caused by de-repression of the transcription of E-cadherin by SYT-SSX1 and SYT-SSX2, which dissociate Snail or Slug, respectively, from the E-cadherin promoter. However, a subset of SS with SYT-SSX1 loses E-cadherin expression despite adequate de-repression because of mutations in E-cadherin, resulting in monophasic histology. The ratio of the expression levels of SYT-SSX1 and Snail is also associated with E-cadherin expression: the lower the SYT-SSX1/Snail ratio, the lower the level of E-cadherin expression, and vice versa, thus affecting tumor histology. In addition, Wnt signal activation caused by mutation of β-catenin, APC, or Axin 1 and 2 is associated with monophasic histology. Remodeling of the extracellular matrix is also important. Only cells that survive all of these steps can finally exhibit biphasic histology. On the other hand, the SYT-SSX2 fusion has a weaker de-repression effect on the E-cadherin promoter than does SYT-SSX1, so it is difficult for SYT-SSX2-expressing tumors to achieve sufficient capacity for epithelial differentiation to form glandular structures. This review article provides an interesting model for this epithelial differentiation that shows a possible mechanism for the aberrant mesenchymal to epithelial transition of SS and suggests that it might better be considered an epithelial to mesenchymal transition.