The current treatment paradigm for prolactinomas involves dopamine agonist (DA) therapy as the first-line treatment, with surgical resection reserved for cases where there is DA failure due to resistance or intolerance. This review highlights how DA therapy can be optimised to overcome its increasingly recognised pitfalls, whilst also addressing the potential for expanding the use of surgery in the management of prolactinomas. The first part of the review discusses the limitations of DA therapy, namely: DA resistance; common DA side effects; and the rare but serious DA-induced risks of cardiac valvulopathy, impulse control disorders, psychosis, CSF rhinorrhoea and tumour fibrosis. The second part of the review explores the role of surgery in prolactinoma management with reference to its current second-line position and recent calls for surgery to be considered as an alternative first-line treatment alongside DA therapy. Randomised trials comparing medical vs surgical therapy for prolactinomas are currently underway. Pending these results, a low surgical threshold approach is herein proposed, whereby DA therapy remains the default treatment for prolactinomas unless there are specific triggers to consider surgery, including concern regarding DA side effects or risks in vulnerable patients, persistent and bothersome DA side effects, emergence of any serious risks of DA therapy, expected need for long-term DA therapy, as well as the traditional indications for surgery. This approach should optimise the use of DA therapy for those who will most benefit from it, whilst instituting surgery early in others in order to minimise the cumulative burden of prolonged DA therapy.
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Anna Stroud, Pearl Dhaliwal, Richard J Harvey, Raquel Alvarado, Benjamin P Jonker, Mark J Winder, Jessica W Grayson, and Ann McCormack
Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is the first-line treatment for Cushing’s disease. The objectives of the study were to determine remission and recurrence rates after TSS for Cushing’s disease, identify factors that predict these outcomes, and define the threshold for postoperative morning serum cortisol (MSeC) that most accurately predicts sustained remission.
Records were retrospectively reviewed for consecutive adults undergoing TSS for Cushing’s disease at a tertiary centre (1990–2019). Remission was defined as MSeC <138 nmol/L by 6 weeks postoperatively. Recurrence was defined as elevated 24-h urine free cortisol, lack of suppression after dexamethasone or elevated midnight salivary cortisol.
In this study, 42 patients (age 47 ± 13 years, 83% female) were assessed with 55 ± 56 months of follow-up. Remission occurred after 77% of primary (n = 30) and 42% of revision operations (n = 12). After primary surgery, remission was associated with lower MSeC nadir (26 ± 36 nmol/L vs 347 ± 220 nmol/L, P < 0.01) and lower adrenocorticotropin nadir (2 ± 3 pmol/L vs 6 ± 3 pmol/L, P = 0.01). Sustained remission 5 years after surgery was predicted by MSeC <92 nmol/L within 2 weeks postoperatively (sensitivity 100% and specificity 100%). After revision surgery, remission was predicted by lower MSeC nadir (70 ± 45 nmol/L vs 408 ± 305 nmol/L, P = 0.03), smaller tumour diameter (3 ± 2 mm vs 15 ± 13 mm, P = 0.05) and absence of cavernous sinus invasion (0% vs 71%, P = 0.03). Recurrence after primary and revision surgery occurred in 17% and 20% of patients respectively.
Lower postoperative MSeC nadir strongly predicted remission after both primary and revision surgery. Following primary surgery, an MSeC <92 nmol/L within 2 weeks predicted sustained remission at 5 years. MSeC nadir was the most important prognostic marker following TSS for Cushing’s disease.
Sara Coelho, Cláudia Costa, Ana Paula Santos, Pedro Souteiro, Joana Oliveira, Júlio Oliveira, Isabel Azevedo, Isabel Torres, and Maria José Bento
Therapeutic options for pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasia (Pan-NEN) have increased over the last decade. We aim to understand the evolution of the prognosis of patients with diagnosis of Pan-NEN within a 12-year period, considering the implementation of new treatments.
This study is a retrospective cohort study of patients diagnosed with Pan-NENs between 2006 and 2017. Survival outcome estimates were calculated by Kaplan–Meier method. The impact of baseline clinicopathological characteristics on survival was explored with the use of Cox proportional hazard model.
Of the 97 patients, 77 (79.9%) had well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumor (NET) according to WHO 2010 classification, and 52 (53.6%) had localized or locoregional disease. There were no differences between clinicopathological characteristics and survival outcomes when comparing patients diagnosed between 2006–2011 and 2012–2017. Neuroendocrine carcinoma – HR 2.76, 95% CI 1.17–6.55 – and stages III and IV at diagnosis were independent poor prognostic factors – HR 6.02, 95% CI 2.22–16.33 and HR 6.93, 95% CI 2.94–16.32, respectively.
The new therapeutic approaches did not induce better survival outcomes on Pan-NEN in recent years. This is possibly due to the indolent nature of NET grades 1 and 2, even metastatic, allowing patients to be submitted to new target therapies along their disease course.
Syed Ehsanullah and Nikolaos A Trikalinos
Downregulation of tumor suppression genes by DNA hypermethylation has been proposed as a potential cause of neuroendocrine neoplasm (NEN) formation. In this report, we present a patient simultaneously diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and a metastatic nonfunctioning pancreatic NEN. Because of the two competing diagnoses, he was treated with lanreotide, venetoclax and a long course of the hypomethylating agent decitabine. The AML responded to venetoclax and decitabine treatment while the PanNEN stabilized on lanreotide. Over multiple months of treatment, the PanNEN showed gradual tumor response, consistent with decitabine treatment effect and the patient remained without disease progression for both malignancies. We believe that some PanNENs can benefit from treatment with hypomethylating agents such as decitabine. To support this, we review the relevant literature and are providing a mechanism for the efficacy of decitabine in our case.
Erika Peverelli, Donatella Treppiedi, and Giovanna Mantovani
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary tumors mainly express somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) since SSTR2 is downregulated by the elevated levels of glucocorticoids that characterize patients with Cushing’s disease (CD). SSTR5 is the molecular target of pasireotide, the only approved pituitary tumor-targeted drug for the treatment of CD. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate SSTR5 are still poorly investigated. This review summarizes the experimental evidence supporting the role of the cytoskeleton actin-binding protein filamin A (FLNA) in the regulation of SSTR5 expression and signal transduction in corticotroph tumors. Moreover, the correlations between the presence of somatic USP8 mutations and the expression of SSTR5 will be reviewed. An involvement of glucocorticoid-mediated β-arrestins modulation in regulating SSTRs expression and function in ACTH-secreting tumors will also be discussed.
Sylvia L Asa and Shereen Ezzat
The entity known as pituitary carcinoma has been traditionally defined as a tumor of adenohypophysial cells that metastasizes systemically or craniospinally independent of the histological appearance of the lesion. Reported cases of pituitary carcinoma have clinically and histologically resembled their non-metastatic counterparts that were classified as adenomas; the majority of cases were initially diagnosed as adenomas, and with tumor progression and spread, the diagnosis was changed to carcinoma. This classification has been challenged since the definition of malignancy in most organs is not based only on metastatic spread. The extent of local invasion resulting in an inability to completely resect an adenohypophysial tumor can have serious consequences that can cause harm and are therefore not benign. To address this dilemma, it was proposed that pituitary tumors be classified as neuroendocrine tumors. This change in nomenclature is totally appropriate since these tumors are composed of classical neuroendocrine cells; as with other neuroendocrine tumors, they have variable behavior that can be indolent but can involve metastasis. With the new nomenclature, there is no requirement for a distinction between adenomas and carcinomas. Moreover, the WHO/IARC has provided an overarching classification for neuroendocrine neoplasms at all body sites; in this new classification, the term ‘neuroendocrine carcinoma’ is reserved for poorly differentiated high-grade malignancies that are clinically, morphologically and genetically distinct from well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors. It remains to be determined if there are true pituitary neuroendocrine carcinomas.
Nadia Gagnon, Sophie Bernard, Martine Paquette, Catherine Alguire, André Lacroix, Pierre-Olivier Hétu, Harold J Olney, and Isabelle Bourdeau
This study examined the magnitude of changes and the time required to observe maximal changes in LDL-c, HDL-c, triglycerides (Tg) and non-HDL-c after the introduction of mitotane.
Retrospective study of 45 patients with adrenocortical carcinoma who were treated at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal. Clinical and biochemical data were collected, including lipid profiles before and during the first year of treatment with mitotane.
Among the 45 studied patients, 26 (58%) had a complete lipid profile before the introduction of mitotane and at least 1 lipid profile during the first year of treatment, and 19 patients (42%) had a lipid profile following initiation of the treatment. Among the 26 patients who had lipid profiles before and after the introduction of mitotane, the increase of LDL-c was 2.19 mmol/L (76%) (P< 0.0001), HDL-c was 0.54 mmol/L (35%) (P= 0.0002), Tg was 1.80 mmol/L (129%) (P< 0.0001) and non-HDL-c was 2.73 mmol/L (79%) (P< 0.0001). Between the first and the sixth month of mitotane treatment, peak values (n = 45) of LDL-c and non-HDL-c were reached in 42 patients (93%) and 37 patients (82%), respectively, whereas peak values of HDL-c were reached after 6 months of mitotane treatment in 29 patients (66%). The peak value of Tg was almost equal throughout the first year. The mean peak values of HDL-c, Tg and non-HDL-c showed significant associations with their respective mitotane concentrations (β = 0.352, P= 0.03; β = 0.406, P= 0.02 and β = 0.339, P= 0.05).
The introduction of mitotane produces a clinically significant elevation of lipid parameters (LDL-c, HDL-c, Tg and non-HDL-c) during the first year of treatment.
Marcus Vetter, Karin M Rothgiesser, Qiyu Li, Hanne Hawle, Wolfgang Schönfeld, Karin Ribi, Salome Riniker, Roger von Moos, Andreas Trojan, Elena Kralidis, Mathias Fehr, Andreas Müller, Beat Thürlimann, and the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK)
CR1447, a novel transdermal formulation of 4-hydroxytestosterone, has aromatase-inhibiting and androgen receptor (AR)-modulating properties (IC504.4 nM) with antitumor effects against AR-positive tumor cells in vitro. This trial investigated the efficacy and safety of CR1447 for patients with metastatic estrogen receptor-positive (A) and AR-positive triple-negative breast cancers (B).
Design and methods
(A) included patients with at most one prior endocrine therapy line without progression ≥6 months, whereas (B) included patients with ≤2 prior chemotherapy lines, all displaying advanced signs of disease. The primary endpoint was disease control at week 24 (DC24). The null hypothesis was DC24 ≤30% (A) and ≤15% (B). Thirty-seven patients were recruited (29 in (A) and 8 in (B)); accrual was stopped following an interim analysis demonstrating futility in (A) and slow accrual in (B).
DC24 was attained in 5/21 (95% CI: 8.2–47.2) patients in (A) and none in (B). The median progression-free survival was 5.1 months (95% CI: 2.5–5.6) in (A) and 2.5 months (95% CI: 0.7–2.6) in (B). The median overall survival was 24.6 months (95% CI: 22.9–not applicable) in (A) and 10.8 months (95% CI: 3.3–10.9) in (B). CR1447 had a favorable safety profile without treatment-related grade 3–5 toxicities in (A). Especially no side effects linked to androgenic effects were observed.
Despite this trial being negative, the 24% DC24 rate in a second-line setting, and the prolonged partial response experienced by a patient, indicate activity. Further evaluation of CR1447 in endocrine-sensitive patients or combination trials appears warranted.
Sandra Pekic, Marko Stojanovic, and Vera Popovic
Pituitary adenomas are benign neoplasms of the pituitary. The most prevalent are prolactinomas and non-functioning pituitary adenomas, followed by growth hormone- and ACTH-secreting adenomas. Most pituitary adenomas seem to be sporadic and their persistent growth is very atypical. No molecular markers predict their behavior. The occurrence of pituitary adenomas and malignancies in the same patient can be either pure coincidence or caused by shared underlying genetic susceptibility involved in tumorigenesis. Detailed family history on cancers/tumors in the first, second and third generation of family members on each side of the family has been reported in a few studies. They found an association of pituitary tumors with positive family history for breast, lung and colorectal cancer. We have reported that in about 50% of patients with pituitary adenomas, an association with positive family history for cancer has been found independent of secretory phenotype (acromegaly, prolactinoma, Cushingʼs disease or non-functioning pituitary adenomas). We also found earlier onset of pituitary tumors (younger age at diagnosis of pituitary tumors) in patients with a strong family history of cancer. In our recent unpublished series of 1300 patients with pituitary adenomas, 6.8% of patients were diagnosed with malignancy. The latency period between the diagnosis of pituitary adenoma and cancer was variable, and in 33% of patients, it was longer than 5 years. Besides the inherited trophic mechanisms (shared underlying genetic variants), the potential influence of shared complex epigenetic influences (environmental and behavioral factors – obesity, smoking, alcohol intake and insulin resistance) is discussed. Further studies are needed to better understand if patients with pituitary adenomas are at increased risk for cancer.