Reactivations of prior infections in cancer patients treated with immunosuppressive/immunomodulatory treatments

BJMO - , issue ,

D. Schrijvers MD, PhD


Prior infections may reactivate in cancer patients receiving immunosuppressive/immunomodulatory treatments. Depending on the severity of the immune suppression, chemoprophylaxis may be necessary and is recommended in Herpes simplex virus- and Herpes zoster virus-seropositive patients undergoing allogenous hematologic stem cell transplantation and in solid cancer patients with Hepatitis B surface antigen or hepatitis B core antibody seropositivity.

For other infections, a low threshold for performing diagnostic testing of potential viral or tuberculosis infections should be used should be used in daily clinical practice in order to prevent severe morbidity or mortality.

Read more

Appropriateness of treatment options in patients with metastatic castrationresistant prostate cancer with a focus on radium-223: outcomes of a Belgian multidisciplinary Consensus Meeting

BJMO - volume 13, issue 6, october 2019

P. Ost MD, PhD, D. Schrijvers MD, PhD, L. Duck MD, PhD, M. Gizzi MD, K. Goffin MD, PhD, S. Joniau MD, PhD, S. Rottey MD, PhD, T. Roumeguère MD, E. Seront MD, PhD, N. Withofs MD, PhD, B. Tombal MD, PhD


The treatment landscape for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) has changed dramatically with the approval of a variety of therapeutic agents including abiraterone acetate, cabazitaxel, docetaxel, enzalutamide and radium-223 dichloride and the introduction of docetaxel and abiraterone acetate in combination with androgen deprivation therapy in newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer. Evidence on the optimal sequence of these therapies is scarce. In practice, the most appropriate treatment (sequence) depends on patient and disease characteristics. This article summarises the recommendations of a multidisciplinary group of Belgian experts in sequencing treatments for patients with mCRPC, with a focus on radium-223 dichloride.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(6): 240–250)

Read more

Adjuvant chemotherapy of colon cancer: 3 versus 6 months

BJMO - volume 13, issue 6, october 2019

C. Debeuckelaere MD, L. Triest MD, T. Vandamme MD, B. Van Den Heuvel MD, K. Papadimitriou MD, M. Rasschaert MD, H. Prenen MD, PhD, M. Peeters MD, PhD


For over a decade, oxaliplatin-based adjuvant chemotherapy has been the gold standard for resected early colon cancer. Oxaliplatin is known to cause polyneuropathy, which affects quality of life dramatically. In recent years, there has not been any progress in the development of novel agents to replace oxaliplatin as adjuvant therapy. Consequently, there is a growing interest to investigate whether a shorter course of chemotherapy is sufficient. This article will discuss the history of adjuvant treatment in early-resected colon cancer, the toxicity of oxaliplatin, the results from the IDEA meta-analysis and future prospects.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(6):234–239)

Read more

Interventions in non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: earlier seems better

BJMO - volume 13, issue 4, june 2019

D. Schrijvers MD, PhD


Patients with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer benefit from an early treatment in terms of metastasis-free survival. Three drugs were compared with placebo in large randomised trials (SPARTAN, PROSPER, ARAMIS) and all showed an improvement in median metastasis-free survival. They differ in some of the secondary endpoints and side effects. This article discusses the results and the impact for patients with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(4):129–131)

Read more

Retrospective study of survival and consecutive treatments of patients treated with aflibercept plus FOLFIRI in second line for metastatic colorectal cancer in Belgium

BJMO - volume 13, issue 3, may 2019

A. Bols MD, PhD, K. Geboes MD, PhD, M. De Man MD, T. Delaunoit MD, I. Sinapi MD, J. Carrasco MD, PhD, M. Peeters MD, PhD


A retrospective study in patients treated with aflibercept plus FOLFIRI in second line for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) was conducted in Belgium. A total of 102 patients (64.7% males; 62.9 ± 9.8 [mean ± SD] years-old; 36.3% Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group [ECOG] 0 and 63.7% ECOG 1 status) were included. At the end of the study, 47.1% of patients were deceased and 49% were still alive. The median overall survival (± SD) was 15.7 ±1.2 months (no statistically significant difference [p=0.706; log rank test] in survival as a function of the ECOG status). The median progression-free survival was 7.1 ±1.0 months (no statistically significant difference [p=0.732; log rank test] in progression-free survival as a function of the ECOG status). Aflibercept treatment was still ongoing in 22.5% of the patients. The treatment was stopped in 79 (77.5%) patients. In 16 patients (15.7%), treatment with aflibercept was discontinued due to drug toxicity. The average aflibercept treatment duration was 4.5 ± 4.5 months and the average number of aflibercept administrations was 8.7 ± 6.7. Overall, 62% of the patients having interrupted aflibercept received at least one targeted therapy or one chemotherapy after aflibercept. The three most frequent targeted therapies were regorafenib (46%), panitumumab (30%) and cetuximab (18%). The four most frequent chemotherapies were FOLFIRI (44.7%), FOLFOX (12.8%), irinotecan (12.8%) and capecitabine (12.8%). The results obtained using a retrospective observational real-life setting in Belgium globally corroborate those observed in the VELOUR randomised placebo-controlled trial.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(3):98–104)

Read more

The role of direct oral anticoagulants in the management of cancer-associated thrombosis

BJMO - volume 13, issue 2, march 2019

A. Awada MD, PhD, J.F. Baurain MD, PhD, P. Clement MD, PhD, P. Hainaut MD, PhD, S. Holbrechts MD, PhD, K. Jochmans MD, PhD, V. Mathieux MD, PhD, J. Mebis MD, PhD, M. Strijbos MD, PhD, C. Vulsteke MD, PhD, T. Vanassche MD, PhD, P. Verhamme MD, PhD


Cancer patients are at an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The current standard initial treatment of an acute episode of VTE in cancer patients consists of the administration of three to six months of subcutaneous low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) at a dose adjusted to the body weight. The efficacy and safety profile of LMWHs are well established, but a drawback of these agents is that they require daily subcutaneous administration. In addition, they are mainly cleared through the kidneys, and their use in patients with severe renal insufficiency may require dose reduction or monitoring of the anti-Xa activity. To address the issues with LMWH, several direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) have been developed for the treatment of VTE. In contrast to LMWHs and vitamin K antagonist, DOACs directly interfere with thrombin or activated factor X (FXa). DOACs have now become standard treatment options in the general management of VTE, but until recently, there were no results of clinical trials specifically assessing the role of DOACs in the treatment of cancer-associated thrombosis. Recently, the Hokusai VTE cancer study and preliminary data from the Select-D trial demonstrated that DOACs are non-inferior to LMWH in preventing recurrent VTE. However, both studies also show that this comes at the cost of an increased rate of both major and clinically-relevant non-major bleeding. Especially in the subgroup of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, the benefit in VTE recurrence with the DOAC seems to be outbalanced by a significantly increased bleeding risk. Based on the available results, DOACs might represent an interesting alternative for LMWH in certain subgroups of patients, but with an important list of exceptions. It seems reasonable not to use DOACs in patients with a high bleeding risk, and especially in patients with gastrointestinal cancer, DOACs should not be the first-line choice. In summary, while LMWHs are currently the standard of care in the acute management of cancer-associated thrombosis, the advent of DOACs is welcomed for patients at a low bleeding risk who are in need of long-term anticoagulation.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(2):46–53)

Read more

Radium-223 in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer: a single centre experience

BJMO - volume 13, issue 1, february 2019

D. Schrijvers MD, PhD, A. Baitar , T. Debacker MD, F. van Acker

Radium-223 is one of the treatment options for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), based on the ALSYMPCA trail, a large randomised study.

In this retrospective study, the experience with radium-223 in patients with mCRPC, treated in a single centre, is reported in relation to the number of cycles of radium-223 given; reason of discontinuing radium-223 treatment, overall survival according to radium-223 treatments received; next treatment and interval to next treatment after discontinuing radium-223.

The Kaplan-Meier method was used to describe overall survival, and the log-rank was used to compare different groups.

Thirty-eight patients were analysed. A total of 26 patients (68.4%) completed all six cycles of radium-223, while twelve patients (31.6%) stopped treatment earlier. The reasons for discontinuing treatment early were progressive disease during treatment with radium-223 (four patients); myelotoxicity (one patient, who was previously treated for a small cell carcinoma of the ureter with six cycles of carboplatinum); intercurrent death due to non-prostate cancer-related diseases (four patients); patient refusal (one patient); complication due to co-morbid condition (one patient). And, one patient who stopped treatment after five cycles was lost to follow up.

Patients who completed all six cycles had a median survival time of 27.4 months (95% CI: 16.4-non applicable [NA; because the upper confidence limit never reaches the 50% survival]); and patients who completed one to four cycles 9.0 months (95% CI: 4.6-NA, log rank test: p<0.001).

Of the 26 patients who completed all six cycles, sixteen patients started another line of treatment for mCRPC after a median time of 30.0 weeks (95% CI: 18.1-NA) after the last injection of radium-223.

Radium-223 is an appropriate treatment for patients with mCRPC with a median overall survival of 27.4 months and a drug-free interval of 30 weeks after six cycles of radium-223.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2019;13(1):16–20)

Read more