In the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week, a team of US researchers reports outcomes from chemotherapy in black colon cancer patients with stage II or stage III disease. Among colon cancer patients, black patients generally have worse survival outcomes than whites, the researchers write. For this study, the team analyzed data from 14,611 patients — 1,218 of them black — that had received standardized adjuvant treatment for resected stage II and stage III colon cancer between 1977 and 2002. Overall survival was worse in blacks than whites, the team found, with five-year overall survival rate being 68.2 percent for blacks compared to 72.8 percent for whites. "When subsets defined by sex, stage, and age were analyzed, overall survival was consistently worse in black patients," the authors say. "Recurrence-free survival was worse in black patients than whites." As the patients all received the same treatment, the team concludes the differences in survival rates may be due to factors unrelated to chemotherapy.
Also in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week, researchers in New York and Louisiana present a molecular characterization of the tumor-suppressive effects of the protein nischarin in breast cancer. The team examined nischarin expression in about 300 human breast cancer and normal tissue samples, and found that normal tissue samples had statistically significantly higher expression of nischarin mRNA than tumor tissue samples. Loss of heterozygosity was also associated with decreased nischarin expression. "MDA-MB-231 [human metastatic breast cancer cells] cells in which nischarin was overexpressed had statistically significantly reduced tumor growth and metastasis compared with parental MDA-MB-231 cells," the authors write. "Moreover, MCF-7 tumor xenografts in which nischarin expression was silenced grew statistically significantly faster than parental cells."
Finally in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers in Italy present results from a phase III trial of concurrent versus sequential adjuvant chemotherapy and hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer. The team randomly assigned 431 women with node-positive primary breast cancer to receive tamoxifen either during or after adjuvant chemotherapy. After a median follow-up of 12.3 years, the estimated 10-year overall survival rate was equivalent for the two groups, and the team found no differences in toxic effects or disease-free survival. "Our study does not support the superiority of one schedule of chemo- and hormone-therapy administration over the other," the authors write. "However, because of the limited statistical power of the study, these results must be considered with caution."