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Jennifer A Chan, David P Ryan, Andrew X Zhu, Thomas A Abrams, Brian M Wolpin, Paige Malinowski, Eileen M Regan, Charles S Fuchs, and Matthew H Kulke

Octreotide and everolimus have demonstrated efficacy in neuroendocrine tumors. Pasireotide is a somatostatin analog with binding affinity to a broader range of somatostatin receptor subtypes than octreotide. We performed a phase I study to evaluate the safety and feasibility of combining pasireotide with everolimus in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors. Cohorts of patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors were treated with escalating doses of pasireotide (600–1200 μg s.c. b.i.d., followed by pasireotide LAR 40–60 mg i.m. monthly) and everolimus (5–10 mg daily). Twenty-one patients were treated. Dose-limiting toxicities consisting of grade 3 rash and grade 3 diarrhea were observed. Twelve patients were safely treated at the maximum protocol-defined dose level of pasireotide LAR 60 mg i.m. monthly and everolimus 10 mg daily. Hyperglycemia was common; other observed toxicities were consistent with the known toxicities of either agent alone. Partial tumor response was observed in one patient; 17 (81%) patients experienced at least some tumor regression as their best response to therapy. In conclusion, pasireotide LAR 60 mg i.m. monthly in combination with everolimus 10 mg daily is feasible and associated with preliminary evidence of antitumor activity in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors. Further studies evaluating this combination are warranted.

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Yeting Du, Monica Ter-Minassian, Lauren Brais, Nichole Brooks, Amanda Waldron, Jennifer A Chan, Xihong Lin, Peter Kraft, David C Christiani, and Matthew H Kulke

The etiology of neuroendocrine tumors remains poorly defined. Although neuroendocrine tumors are in some cases associated with inherited genetic syndromes, such syndromes are rare. The majority of neuroendocrine tumors are thought to be sporadic. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify potential genetic risk factors for sporadic neuroendocrine tumors. Using germline DNA from blood specimens, we genotyped 909,622 SNPs using the Affymetrix 6.0 GeneChip, in a cohort comprising 832 neuroendocrine tumor cases from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital and 4542 controls from the Harvard School of Public Health. An additional 241 controls from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were used for quality control. We assessed risk associations in the overall cohort, and in neuroendocrine tumor subgroups. We identified no potential risk associations in the cohort overall. In the small intestine neuroendocrine tumor subgroup, comprising 293 cases, we identified risk associations with three SNPs on chromosome 12, all in strong LD. The three SNPs are located upstream of ELK3, a transcription factor implicated in angiogenesis. We did not identify clear risk associations in the bronchial or pancreatic neuroendocrine subgroups. This large-scale study provides initial evidence that presumed sporadic small intestine neuroendocrine tumors may have a genetic etiology. Our results provide a basis for further exploring the role of genes implicated in this analysis, and for replication studies to confirm the observed associations. Additional studies to evaluate potential genetic risk factors for sporadic pancreatic and bronchial neuroendocrine tumors are warranted.

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Monica Ter-Minassian, Jennifer A Chan, Susanne M Hooshmand, Lauren K Brais, Anastassia Daskalova, Rachel Heafield, Laurie Buchanan, Zhi Rong Qian, Charles S Fuchs, Xihong Lin, David C Christiani, and Matthew H Kulke

The rarity of neuroendocrine tumors (NET) has contributed to a paucity of large epidemiologic studies of patients with this condition. We characterized presenting symptoms and clinical outcomes in a prospective database of over 900 patients with NET. We used data from patient questionnaires and the medical record to characterize presenting symptoms, disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS). The majority of patients in this database had gastroenteropancreatic NET. The median duration of patient-reported symptoms before diagnosis was 3.4 months; 19.5% reported durations from 1 to 5 years, 2.5% from 5 to 10 years, and 2% >10 years. The median DFS among patients with resected small bowel NET or pancreatic NET (panNET) was 5.8 and 4.1 years respectively. After correcting for left truncation bias, the median OS was 7.9 years for advanced small bowel NET and 3.9 years for advanced panNET. Chromogranin A (CGA) above twice the upper limit of normal was associated with shorter survival times (hazard ratios 2.8 (1.9, 4.0) P<0.001) in patients with metastatic disease, regardless of tumor subtype. Our data suggest that while most NET patients are diagnosed soon after symptom onset, prolonged symptom duration before diagnosis is a prominent feature of this disease. Though limited to observations from a large referral center, our observations confirm the prognostic value of CGA and suggest that median survival durations may be shorter than that reported in other institutional databases.

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Matthew H Kulke, Fang-Shu Ou, Donna Niedzwiecki, Lucas Huebner, Pamela Kunz, Hagen F Kennecke, Edward M Wolin, Jennifer A Chan, Eileen M O’Reilly, Jeffrey A Meyerhardt, and Alan Venook

Treatment with the MTOR inhibitor everolimus improves progression-free survival (PFS) in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs), but it is not known if the addition of a VEGF pathway inhibitor to an MTOR inhibitor enhances antitumor activity. We performed a randomized phase II study evaluating everolimus with or without bevacizumab in patients with advanced pNETs. One hundred and fifty patients were randomized to receive everolimus 10 mg daily with or without bevacizumab 10 mg/kg i.v. every 2 weeks. Patients also received standard dose of octreotide in both arms. The primary endpoint was PFS, based on local investigator review. Treatment with the combination of everolimus and bevacizumab resulted in improved progression-free survival compared to everolimus (16.7 months compared to 14.0 months; one-sided stratified log-rank P  = 0.1028; hazard ratio (HR) 0.80 (95% CI 0.56–1.13)), meeting the predefined primary endpoint. Confirmed tumor responses were observed in 31% (95% CI 20%, 41%) of patients receiving combination therapy, as compared to only 12% (95% CI 5%, 19%) of patients receiving treatment with everolimus (P = 0.0053). Median overall survival duration was similar in the everolimus and combination arm (42.5 and 42.1 months, respectively). Treatment-related toxicities were more common in the combination arm. In summary, treatment with everolimus and bevacizumab led to superior PFS and higher response rates compared to everolimus in patients with advanced pNETs. Although the higher rate of treatment-related adverse events may limit the use of this combination, our results support the continued evaluation of VEGF pathway inhibitors in pNETs.