Integrative Oncology Digest: August 30, 2019

Arem H, Lewin D, Cifu G, Bires J, Goldberg E, Kaltman R, et al. A Feasibility Study of Group-Delivered Behavioral Interventions for Insomnia Among Breast Cancer Survivors: Comparing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and a Mind-Body Intervention. J Altern Complement Med 2019 Aug;25(8):840-844 PMID 31237434

Objectives: An estimated 30%-50% of breast cancer survivors (BCSs) report persistent insomnia, which may affect daytime functioning and quality of life, and lead to longer term health complications. Although the gold standard insomnia intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), has demonstrated efficacy, accessibility is limited due to a scarcity of trained providers, and adherence to therapy is variable. Group-delivered alternative therapies may offer an opportunity to reach and treat BCSs with insomnia. This pilot study was designed to assess feasibility of a group-delivered mind-body intervention compared with group-delivered CBT-I among BCSs. Design: The authors recruited n = 25 stages I - IV BCSs to a 9-week trial of group therapy for insomnia. Eligible women were assigned to the next upcoming group until it was full. Primary outcomes were to assess intervention feasibility measured by (1) qualitative focus group feedback and (2) attendance. The feasibility of using the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) was also assessed in this population and ISI change scores were gathered to allow for power calculations in a future trial. Means and frequencies were used to describe participant demographics and attendance. Results: The authors found higher attendance (86% vs. 67% of sessions) and greater satisfaction with the intervention (84.6% vs. 57.1%) reported among mind-body participants than among CBT-I participants. Qualitative feedback suggested more group cohesion among the mind-body group and lower incentive to attend in-person among the CBT-I group. Conclusions: The results suggest that delivering a mind-body intervention for BCSs is feasible and acceptable, based on attendance and qualitative feedback.


Brown D, Watson M, Schloss J. Pharmacological evidence of medicinal cannabis in oncology: a systematic review. Support Care Cancer 2019 Sep;27(9):3195-3207 PMID 31062109

PURPOSE: This systematic literature review examines research into the use of medicinal cannabis in cancer management. The aim was to identify the gaps in knowledge on the dose, dosing schedule and absorption of the administration routes of medicinal cannabis use in oncology. METHODS: A comprehensive search of the literature was conducted across six databases to identify original data reporting the pharmacology of medicinal cannabis in oncology. RESULTS: Eighteen articles were selected for review. Of the selected articles, ten were identified as randomised control trials, two experimental studies, two retrospective cohort studies and four case studies. Four articles reported absorption data and one drug interaction study was identified. CONCLUSIONS: There is little evidence reported in the literature on the absorption of medicinal cannabis in cancer populations. Various reasons are explored for the lack of pharmacokinetic studies for medicinal cannabis in cancer populations, including the availability of assays to accurately assess cannabinoid levels, lack of clinical biomarkers and patient enrolment for pharmacokinetic studies.


Gencer D, Diel A, Klotzbach K, Christians K, Rauch M, Meissner R, et al. Cancer patients and music: (prospective) results from a survey to evaluate potential complementary treatment approaches. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 2019 Aug;145(8):2141-2148 PMID 31278473

PURPOSE: Many cancer patients (PTS) suffer from somatic or non-somatic symptoms. Studies have shown positive effects of music intervention (MI) on aspects of quality of life or symptom management. METHODS: Since there are poor data available about patient's needs regarding the use of MI as an adjunct to cancer treatment, n = 548 tumor PTS were polled anonymously at the outpatient department of the University Hospital Mannheim Tumor Center using a self-designed questionnaire. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. RESULTS: 486 data sets were eligible for analysis. 240 of the PTS were male and median age was 63 years. 38% had metastatic disease. 81% (n = 386) were currently receiving anti-tumor treatment. The majority of the PTS stated to have somatic symptoms. However, some of the PTS reported non-somatic symptoms like anxiety, loneliness, and depression. N = 187 (40%) of the PTS reported interest in complementary MI. In the univariate and multivariate analyses, especially PTS with non-somatic complaints and PTS, actively playing or making music showed significantly more interest in complementary MI, hoping for a relaxing therapeutic effect. PTS who play instruments would prefer more active forms of MI. CONCLUSION: 40% of PTS reported interest in additional MI during cancer treatment. PTS with non-somatic symptoms as well as patients affine to music might benefit from the use of MI potentially reducing their symptom burden. The inconsistent and heterogeneous data from randomized trials underline the importance of systematic research approaches with more relevant and standardized endpoints.


Greer JA, Jacobs J, Pensak N, MacDonald JJ, Fuh CX, Perez GK, et al. Randomized Trial of a Tailored Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Mobile Application for Anxiety in Patients with Incurable Cancer. Oncologist 2019 Aug;24(8):1111-1120 PMID 30683710

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of a tailored cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) mobile application (app) to treat anxiety in patients with incurable cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with incurable cancers (n = 145) who reported elevated anxiety symptoms at two cancer centers were randomized to receive either the CBT mobile app for anxiety or a mobile health education program (control) delivered via tablet computers, which patients self-administered over 12 weeks. To assess anxiety, depression symptoms, and quality of life (QOL), we used the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A, primary outcome), Clinical Global Impression Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General at baseline and 12 weeks. Analysis of covariance models were calculated to assess intervention effects on patient outcomes. RESULTS: Patients (73.8% female; 91.0% white; mean age = 56.45 years, SD = 11.30) in both study groups reported improvements in anxiety, depression symptoms, and QOL from baseline to postassessment, with no significant differences in any outcome measure between groups. Secondary analyses showed that, among the subgroup of patients with severe baseline anxiety, those randomized to the CBT app had greater improvements on the HAM-A (Mean Difference = 7.44, standard error [SE] = 3.35, p = .037) and HADS-Anxiety Subscale (Mean Difference = 4.44, SE = 1.60, p = .010) compared with the control group. CONCLUSION: Both the tailored CBT app for anxiety and the health education program were associated with improvements in anxiety, mood, and QOL, but these outcomes did not differ between study groups. The CBT app was more beneficial than health education for patients with severe baseline anxiety. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: A cognitive-behavioral therapy mobile application tailored to treat anxiety in patients with advanced cancer helps improve access to evidence-based supportive care in a convenient, private, and timely manner.


Ham K, Chin S, Suh YJ, Rhee M, Yu ES, Lee HJ, et al. Preliminary Results From a Randomized Controlled Study for an App-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for Depression and Anxiety in Cancer Patients. Front Psychol 2019 Jul 25;10:1592 PMID 31402881

Cancer patients experience various psychological and social difficulties, the most common being depression and anxiety. The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an app-based cognitive behavioral therapy program for depression and anxiety in cancer patients. For this purpose, 63 participants who met the inclusion criteria were randomly assigned to either a mobile-application-based cognitive behavioral therapy program (HARUToday), a simple information-provision mobile-application-based program (HARUCard), or a waitlist control group. Self-report questionnaires including the Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Health-Related Quality of Life Scale, Dysfunctional Attitude Scale, and two computer tasks including the dot-probe task and the Implicit Association Test, were administered before and after 66 days of intervention. The results showed that the Beck Depression Inventory and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores of the cognitive behavioral therapy program (HARUToday) group decreased significantly after the intervention compared to the attention control (HARUCard) and waitlist control groups. However, there were no significant changes in scores of the Health-Related Quality of Life Scale and Dysfunctional Attitude Scale, and the two computer tasks. Such results suggest that a mobile-application-based cognitive behavioral therapy program may be an effective intervention for alleviating depression and anxiety, but not the general quality of life of cancer patients. Taking into consideration that psychosocial problems may not the topmost priority for cancer patients who are facing a chronic and possibly mortal disease, a mobile-application cognitive behavioral therapy program may be a possible solution for the alleviation of depression and anxiety in cancer patients who have many restraints in terms of time and space.


Han D, Shen Y, Hu H, Zhang Y, Li X, Fang L, et al. Acupuncture for rehabilitation after surgery for cerebellopontine angle meningioma: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore) 2019 Aug;98(32):e16756 PMID 31393392

RATIONALE: In some cases, surgery of cerebellopontine angle meningioma (CPAM) might result in multiple cranial nerve injury, which could bring serious impact on the patients, especially when it affects the function of facial muscles and eyeballs. This report describes a successful application of acupuncture for rehabilitation in a patient after surgery for CPAM. PATIENT CONCERNS: A 27-year-old patient presented with limitation of left eye abduction, accompanied with frontal and facial sensory disturbance on the left after resection of the pontocerebellar angle tumor. The patient also suffered from significant anxiety and depression as concomitant symptoms. DIAGNOSES: Based on medical history, clinical symptoms, and magnetic resonance imaging results, the patient was diagnosed with the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh cranial nerve injury after surgery for CPAM. INTERVENTIONS: Acupuncture treatment was applied for this patient. One acupuncture session was given every 2 days in 35 days, and the needles were retained for 30 minutes per session. OUTCOMES: After acupuncture treatment, the limitation of left eye abduction had totally recovered. The superficial sensory disturbance in the frontal and facial region was significantly relived. Besides, the scores of Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scale showed a significant reduction. However, the superficial sensory of the alar and nasolabial groove on the left side still decreased mildly when compared with the right side. CONCLUSION: Acupuncture might be an option for rehabilitation after surgery for CPAM.


Hughes JG, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Witt CM, Cummings M, Fisher P. Assessment of the quality of reporting in studies of acupuncture for patients with cancer using the STRICTA guidelines. Acupunct Med 2019 Aug;37(4):223-227 PMID 31188014

INTRODUCTION: There has been a burgeoning of research evaluating acupuncture for various symptoms of cancer and the side-effects associated with its treatment. A systematic review was conducted to examine the quality of reporting in published studies of acupuncture in cancer according to the STRICTA (STandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture) guidelines. METHODS: Systematic review of published research of acupuncture for symptoms of cancer and the side-effects associated with its treatment. Databases searched were: Medline, CINAHL, Cochrane (all databases), Scopus, and PubMed from their inception to December 2014. Clinical trials, pilot/feasibility studies, observational studies, and case studies were included. Only full journal papers published in English were included. The quality of reporting was evaluated using STRICTA guidelines. Each included paper was assessed by two independent reviewers, with disagreements adjudicated by a third reviewer. RESULTS: 88 papers were identified which met the inclusion criteria. The median number of STRICTA items reported in trials with a control or comparator arm (n=47) was 14 out of 17 (range 8 to 17, IQR 4). For studies without a control or comparator arm the median was 11 out of a possible 15 (range 5 to 15, IQR 3). Key weaknesses in reporting included details of other components of treatments, and details of the acupuncturist administering treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the widespread use of the STRICTA guidelines in acupuncture research, adherence remains poor for a few specific items. Further research is required to explore the reasons why authors fail to report those items, and to develop strategies to improve the adherence to the guidelines.


Kacel EL, Pereira DB, Estores IM. Advancing supportive oncology care via collaboration between psycho-oncology and integrative medicine. Support Care Cancer 2019 Sep;27(9):3175-3178 PMID 31062108

PURPOSE: As survival after cancer diagnosis increases, patients are increasingly turning toward integrative therapies (e.g., yoga, acupuncture, massage) to manage acute and chronic concerns related to cancer treatment and survivorship. As such, integrative medicine programs devoted to combining conventional Western cancer care with complementary treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, botanicals, and homeopathy are increasingly common in cancer communities around the world. However, few integrative medicine programs have included psycho-oncology providers in order to systematically evaluate and treat psychological and behavioral health factors affecting adjustment to cancer. METHODS: A pilot program was initiated at a large academic medical center to explore benefits of a collaborative clinic visit conducted with psycho-oncology and integrative medicine within an existing supportive oncology clinic. Collaborative medical and psychological interventions were provided to enhance patient quality of life and reduce symptom burden. RESULTS: Forty-nine patients were seen via the dyadic consultation model. Sixty-eight percent of patients rated their emotional distress at or above clinical cutoffs, indicating unmet supportive care needs. The majority of patients seen were White, non-Hispanic, and female. CONCLUSIONS: Many cancer patients and survivors report persistent emotional distress and chronic physical problems associated with their diagnosis and treatment. The types of patients seen in this pilot program raise concern about ongoing inequalities in access to integrative medicine and psycho-oncology services, which may contribute to downstream health disparities and poorer clinical outcomes. Future directions will explore billing practices, financial sustainability, and methods to increase access to this type of program for demographically diverse individuals across cancer populations.


9. Khondakar KR, Dey S, Wuethrich A, Sina AA, Trau M. Toward Personalized Cancer Treatment: From Diagnostics to Therapy Monitoring in Miniaturized Electrohydrodynamic Systems. Acc Chem Res 2019 Aug 20;52(8):2113-2123 PMID 31293158

Historically, cancer was seen and treated as a single disease. Over the years, this image has shifted, and it is now generally accepted that cancer is a complex and dynamic disease that engages multiple progression pathways in each patient. The shift from treating cancer as single disease to tailoring the therapy based on the individual's characteristic cancer profile promises to improve the clinical outcome and has also given rise to the field of personalized cancer treatment. To advise a suitable therapy plan and adjust personalized treatment, a reliable and fast diagnostic strategy is required. The advances in nanotechnology, microfluidics, and biomarker research have spurred the development of powerful miniaturized diagnostic systems that show high potential for use in personalized cancer treatment. These devices require only minute sample volumes and have the capability to create instant cancer snapshots that could be used as tool for cancer risk indication, early detection, tumor classification, and recurrence. Miniaturized systems can combine a whole sample-to-answer workflow including sample handling, preparation, analysis, and detection. As such, this concept is also often referred to as "lab-on-a-chip". An inherit challenge of monitoring personalized cancer treatment using miniaturized systems is that cancer biomarkers are often only detectable at trace concentrations present in a complex biological sample rich in interfering molecules, necessitating highly specific and sensitive biosensing strategies. To address the need for trace level detection, highly sensitive fluorescence, absorbance, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), electrochemical, mass spectrometric, and chemiluminescence approaches were developed. To reduce sample matrix interferences, ingenious device modifications including coatings and nanoscopic fluid flow manipulation have been developed. Of the latter, our group has exploited the use of alternating current electrohydrodynamic (ac-EHD) fluid flows as an efficient strategy to reduce nonspecific nontarget biosensor binding and speed-up assay times. ac-EHD provides fluid motion induced by an electric field with the ability to generate surface shear forces in nanometer distance to the biosensing surface (known as nanoshearing phenomenon). This is ideally suited to increase the collision frequency of cancer biomarkers with the biosensing surface and shear off nontarget molecules thereby minimizing nonspecific binding. In this Account, we review recent advancements in miniaturized diagnostic system development with potential use in personalized cancer treatment and monitoring. We focus on integrated microfluidic structures for controlled sample flow manipulation followed by on-device biomarker interrogation. We further highlight the progress in our group, emphasis fundamentals and applications of ac-EHD-enhanced miniaturized systems, and outline promising detection concepts for comprehensive cancer biomarker profiling. The advances are discussed based on the type of cancer biomarkers and cover circulating tumor cells, proteins, extracellular vesicles, and nucleic acids. The potential of miniaturized diagnostic systems for personalized cancer treatment and monitoring is underlined with representative examples including device illustrations. In the final section, we critically discuss the future of personalized diagnostics and what challenges should be addressed to make these devices clinically translatable.


10. Kleckner AS, Kleckner IR, Kamen CS, Tejani MA, Janelsins MC, Morrow GR, et al. Opportunities for cannabis in supportive care in cancer. Ther Adv Med Oncol 2019 Aug 1;11:1758835919866362 PMID 31413731

Cannabis has the potential to modulate some of the most common and debilitating symptoms of cancer and its treatments, including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain. However, the dearth of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis in treating these symptoms in patients with cancer poses a challenge to clinicians in discussing this option with their patients. A review was performed using keywords related to cannabis and important symptoms of cancer and its treatments. Literature was qualitatively reviewed from preclinical models to clinical trials in the fields of cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others, to prudently inform the use of cannabis in supportive and palliative care in cancer. There is a reasonable amount of evidence to consider cannabis for nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain as a supplement to first-line treatments. There is promising evidence to treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal distress, and sleep disorders, but the literature is thus far too limited to recommend cannabis for these symptoms. Scant, yet more controversial, evidence exists in regard to cannabis for cancer- and treatment-related cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Adverse effects of cannabis are documented but tend to be mild. Cannabis has multifaceted potential bioactive benefits that appear to outweigh its risks in many situations. Further research is required to elucidate its mechanisms of action and efficacy and to optimize cannabis preparations and doses for specific populations affected by cancer.


Levine MN, Alexander G, Sathiyapalan A, Agrawal A, Pond G. Learning Health System for Breast Cancer: Pilot Project Experience. JCO Clin Cancer Inform 2019 Aug;3:1-11 PMID 31369338

PURPOSE: Clinicians need accurate and timely information on the impact of treatments on patient outcomes. The electronic health record (EHR) offers the potential for insight into real-world patient experiences and outcomes, but it is difficult to tap into. Our goal was to apply artificial intelligence technology to the EHR to characterize the clinical course of patients with stage III breast cancer. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data from patients with stage III breast cancer who presented between 2013 and 2015 were extracted from the EHR, de-identified, and imported into the IBM Cloud. Specialized natural language processing (NLP) annotators were developed to extract medical concepts from unstructured clinical text and transform them to structured attributes. In the validation phase, these annotators were applied to 19 additional patients with stage III breast cancer from the same period. The resulting data were compared with that in the medical chart (gold standard) for nine key indicators. RESULTS: Information was extracted for 50 patients, including tumor stage (94% stage IIIA, 6% stage IIIB), age (28% 50 years or younger, 52% between 51 and 70 years, and 24% older than 70 years), receptor status (84% estrogen receptor positive, 74% progesterone receptor positive), and first treatment (72% surgery, 26% chemotherapy, 2% endocrine). Events in the patient's journey were compiled to create a timeline. For 171 data elements, NLP and the chart disagreed for 41 (24%; 95% CI, 17.8% to 31.1%). With additional manipulation using simple logic, the disagreement was reduced to six elements (3.5%; 95% CI, 1.3% to 7.5%; F1 statistic, 0.9694). CONCLUSION: It is possible to extract, read, and combine data from the EHR to view the patient journey. The agreement between NLP and the gold standard was high, which supports validity.

Milbury K, Li J, Weathers SP, Mallaiah S, Armstrong T, Li Y, et al. Pilot randomized, controlled trial of a dyadic yoga program for glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy and their family caregivers. Neurooncol Pract 2019 Jul;6(4):311-320 PMID 31386042

Background: While the use of behavioral medicine in managing glioma patients' symptoms is not well studied, the high symptom burden in patients and their family caregivers is well established. We conducted a pilot randomized, controlled trial to examine the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a dyadic yoga (DY) intervention as a supportive care strategy. Methods: Glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy and their caregivers were randomized to a 12-session DY or waitlist control (WLC) group. Prior to radiotherapy and randomization, both groups completed measures of cancer-related symptoms (MD Anderson Symptom Inventory-Brain Tumor module), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression measure), fatigue (Brief Fatigue Inventory), and overall quality of life (QOL; Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short-form survey). Dyads were reassessed at the last day of radiotherapy. Results: Twenty patients (mean age: 46 years, 50% female, 80% WHO grade IV and caregivers (mean age: 50 years, 70% female, 50% spouses) participated in the trial. A priori feasibility criteria were met regarding consent (70%), adherence (88%), and retention (95%) rates. Controlling for relevant covariates, change score analyses revealed clinically significant improvements for patients in the DY compared with the WLC group for overall cancer symptom severity (d = 0.96) and symptom interference (d = 0.74), depressive symptoms (d = 0.71), and mental QOL (d = 0.69). Caregivers in the DY group reported clinically significant improvements in depressive symptoms (d = 1.12), fatigue (d = 0.89), and mental QOL (d = 0.49) relative to those in the WLC group. Conclusion: A DY intervention appears to be a feasible and beneficial symptom and QOL management strategy for glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy and their caregivers. An efficacy trial with a more stringent control group is warranted. Clinical Trial Number: NCT02481349.


Murthy RS, Alexander A. Progress in psycho-oncology with special reference to developing countries. Curr Opin Psychiatry 2019 Sep;32(5):442-450 PMID 31373929

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Psycho-oncology has completed 25 years. There is growing recognition of the psychosocial needs of persons living with cancer and the role of sociocultural factors in addressing the needs. This review addresses the research in developing countries relating to distress associated with living with cancer and psychosocial care. RECENT FINDINGS: There is growing recognition of the emotional needs, understanding of the sociocultural aspects of the emotional responses of persons, caregivers, role of resilience and posttraumatic growth and spirituality in cancer care. Psychosocial aspects of cancer are largely influenced by social, economic, cultural, religious and health systems. A number of innovative approaches to care like use of yoga, financial and material support and involvement of caregivers have been implemented. A positive development is the increasing professional attention to document and develop innovative care programmes. SUMMARY: A significant proportion of the general population are living with cancer. There are significant psychosocial needs largely influenced by social, economic, cultural, religious aspects of the communities. There are a wide range of interventions from self-care to professional care to address the needs. In developing countries, there is need for longitudinal studies of psycho-social experiences, develop interventions that are culturally appropriate, along with enhanced use of information technology along with evaluation of interventions.


17. Raghunathan NJ, Korenstein D, Li QS, Mao JJ. Awareness of Yoga for Supportive Care in Cancer: Implications for Dissemination. J Altern Complement Med 2019 Aug;25(8):809-813 PMID 31274335

Objectives: Evidence indicates there are beneficial physical and psychosocial effects from practicing yoga in cancer patients and survivors. Despite yoga having been incorporated into National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for symptoms ranging from fatigue to pain, patients' use of yoga for supportive care is low, ranging from 6% to 12%. This study aims to evaluate the awareness of yoga as therapy in an academic cancer center and the preferences for information delivery in this population. Design: We conducted a cross-sectional survey study at an urban academic cancer center. Responses regarding awareness and use of yoga were evaluated; those responding "not aware" were analyzed for preferences in information delivery. Univariate analysis was used to further characterize awareness of yoga for supportive care. Results: Of 303 respondents, 68% were female, 77% were white, and 75% were college educated. Despite access to yoga at the cancer center, 171 (56%) patients expressed they were not aware of the availability of yoga. Male patients were more likely to be unaware of yoga (72.4% vs. 48.8%, p = 0.045). Awareness did not vary by age, race, educational attainment, marital status, cancer type, or cancer stage. Of the 171 "not aware" patients, 87.6% expressed desire for information in the form of printed material, followed by 80.4% for e-mail, 37.6% for smartphone application, and 27.6% for social media. Non-white respondents were more likely to express interest in receiving information by smartphone. Conclusions: More than half of cancer patients were unaware of the yoga program despite advertising across the institution. Patients prefer varying methods for information receipt, with preferences differing by sociodemographic factors. Targeted education and outreach using appropriate engagement is needed to improve the awareness of yoga for symptom control in cancer patients.


18. Randazzo DM, McSherry F, Herndon JE, Affronti ML, Lipp ES, Flahiff C, et al. Complementary and integrative health interventions and their association with health-related quality of life in the primary brain tumor population. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2019 Aug;36:43-48 PMID 31383442

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Little is known about complementary and integrative health intervention usage in the primary brain tumor population. We aimed to identify the percentage of patients using these practices and explore the impact on quality of life. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Clinical records from patients seen in clinic between December 16, 2013 and February 28, 2014 were reviewed retrospectively. The questionnaires used were a modified version of the International Complementary and Alternative Medicine Questionnaire, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy- Brain Cancer and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy- Fatigue. RESULTS: 76% of patients utilized a complementary and integrative health modality. The most frequently reported modalities used were vitamins, massage, and spiritual healing, prayer, diet and meditation. CONCLUSION: These results confirm the usage of complementary and integrative health practices within the primary brain tumor population; however, there was no evidence of association between use and quality of life.


19. Russell L, Ugalde A, Orellana L, Milne D, Krishnasamy M, Chambers R, et al. A pilot randomised controlled trial of an online mindfulness-based program for people diagnosed with melanoma. Support Care Cancer 2019 Jul;27(7):2735-2746 PMID 30506103

PURPOSE: This study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of an online mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for people diagnosed with melanoma. The potential benefit of the MBI on fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), worry, rumination, perceived stress and trait mindfulness was also explored. METHODS: Participants who have completed treatment for stage 2c or 3 melanoma were recruited from an outpatient clinic and randomly allocated to either the online MBI (intervention) or usual care (control). The 6-week online MBI comprised short videos, daily guided meditations and automated email reminders. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires at baseline and at 6-week post-randomisation. Study feasibility and acceptability were assessed through recruitment rates, retention and participant feedback. Clinical and psychosocial outcomes were compared between groups using linear mixed models. RESULTS: Sixty-nine (58%) eligible participants were randomised (46 in the intervention; 23 in the control group); mean age was 53.4 (SD 13.1); 54% were female. Study completion rate across both arms was 80%. The intervention was found helpful by 72% of the 32 respondents. The intervention significantly reduced the severity of FCR compared to the control group (mean difference = - 2.55; 95% CI - 4.43, - 0.67; p = 0.008). There was no difference between the intervention and control groups on any of the outcome measures. CONCLUSIONS: This online MBI was feasible and acceptable by people at high risk of melanoma recurrence. It significantly reduced FCR severity in this sample. Patients valued accessing the program at their own pace and convenience. This self-guided intervention has the potential to help survivors cope with emotional difficulties. An adequately powered randomised controlled trial to test study findings is warranted.


20. Sohl SJ, Tooze JA, Wheeler A, Zeidan F, Wagner LI, Evans S, et al. Iterative adaptation process for eHealth Mindful Movement and Breathing to improve gynecologic cancer surgery outcomes. Psychooncology 2019 Aug;28(8):1774-1777 PMID 31219212


21. Sugimoto N, Ishibashi H, Ueda Y, Nakamura H, Yachie A, Ohno-Shosaku T. Corticosterone inhibits the expression of cannabinoid receptor-1 and cannabinoid receptor agonist-induced decrease in cell viability in glioblastoma cells. Oncol Lett 2019 Aug;18(2):1557-1563 PMID 31423223

The endocannabinoid system regulates physiological and pathological conditions, including inflammation and cancer. Recently, emotional and physical stressors were observed to be involved in impairing the endocannabinoid system, which was concomitant with an increase in serum corticosteroids. However, the influence of corticosteroids on the endocannabinoid system has yet to be completely elucidated. The present study investigated the effects of corticosterone, one of the corticosteroids, on the endocannabinoid system in malignant glioblastoma cells in vitro. U-87 MG cells derived from malignant glioblastoma were subjected to corticosterone stimulation and their viability, signal transduction, and endocannabinoid-related gene expression were examined. Corticosterone decreased the mRNA and protein expressions of cyclooxygenase-2. Of note, although endocannabinoids decreased cell viability, corticosterone inhibited the cannabinoid receptor agonist-induced decrease in cell viability by downregulating the mRNA and protein expressions of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) in glioblastoma cells. These results suggest that corticosteroids modify the endocannabinoid system in glioblastoma cells, and a reduction in the beneficial anti-tumor effects of endocannabinoids through downregulation of the CB1 receptor by corticosterone may promote the malignant phenotype of glioblastoma.


22. Wang PM, Hsu CW, Liu CT, Lai TY, Tzeng FL, Huang CF. Effect of acupressure on constipation in patients with advanced cancer. Support Care Cancer 2019 Sep;27(9):3473-3478 PMID 30675666

PURPOSE: Constipation is a common and distressing symptom for patients with advanced cancer. Few reports have focused on the symptoms of constipation in patients with advanced cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a short-term acupressure intervention on patients with advanced cancer. METHODS: This study used a non-randomized, pre-post study design to assess the effect of acupressure intervention. A total of 30 patients with advanced cancer were recruited from the hospice unit of a medical center in southern Taiwan. In addition to routine care, patients in the intervention group received an 8-min acupressure treatment daily for 3 consecutive days. Three acupoints were used in this study: Zhongwan (CV12), Guanyuan (CV4), and Tianshu (ST25). Analysis of covariance was used to compare the differences in symptoms of constipation between the two groups, adjusted for baseline values. Effect sizes were calculated using partial eta squared (eta(2)). RESULTS: Significant improvements in symptoms of constipation (partial eta(2) = 0.40, p < 0.001 for straining during defecation; partial eta(2) = 0.30, p = 0.002 for hard stools; partial eta(2) = 0.42, p < 0.001 for sensation of incomplete evacuation; and partial eta(2) = 0.29, p = 0.002 for sensation of anorectal obstruction), Bristol stool form scale scores (partial eta(2) = 0.40, p < 0.001), comfort levels during defecation (partial eta(2) = 0.82, p < 0.001), and colonic motility (partial eta(2) = 0.85, p < 0.001) were observed in patients receiving acupressure intervention compared with the controls. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study indicated that short-term acupressure was effective in alleviating symptoms of constipation among patients with advanced cancer. Further, randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm the results.


23. Wei CW, Wu YC, Chen PY, Chen PE, Chi CC, Tung TH. Effectiveness of Yoga Interventions in Breast Cancer-Related lymphedema: A systematic review. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2019 Aug;36:49-55 PMID 31383443

OBJECTIVES: To synthesize recent empirical evidence on yoga-based interventions for patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema. METHODS: We searched the PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and EMBASE databases for studies published between October 2007 and September 2018 in any language. Risk of bias and methodological quality were evaluated using the PRISMA statement and checklist and the Cochrane Collaboration tool. RESULTS: There was significant improvement in lymphedema status, range of shoulder motion and spinal mobility after an 8-week yoga intervention, whereas there was no consistency in quality of life following yoga intervention. Additionally, there was no difference in lymphedema status, extracellular fluid and tissue resistance outcomes in the affected arm following a long-term yoga practice. CONCLUSION: The current findings could not be clearly demonstrated that yoga programme intervention as an addition to usual care is superior to along usual care, and keep yoga exercise does not provide significant added benefits.


24. Wren AA, Shelby RA, Soo MS, Huysmans Z, Jarosz JA, Keefe FJ. Preliminary efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention for patients undergoing biopsy and breast cancer surgery: A randomized controlled pilot study. Support Care Cancer 2019 Sep;27(9):3583-3592 PMID 30706142

PURPOSE: Despite more women undergoing treatment for breast cancer and increased survival rates, many women suffer from anxiety and physical symptoms (e.g., pain, fatigue) surrounding diagnosis and surgery. Research investigating the efficacy of psychosocial interventions for breast cancer patients during this period is limited. This randomized controlled pilot study examined the effect of a brief lovingkindness meditation intervention on these key outcomes. METHODS: Participants were 60 women who underwent core needle breast biopsy, received an abnormal biopsy result, and underwent breast surgery (White = 73.6%; African American = 22.6%; Asian American = 3.8%; Age M = 56). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions at breast biopsy: (1) lovingkindness meditation, (2) music, and (3) usual care. Assessments of anxiety, pain, fatigue, physiologic reactivity, and self-compassion occurred prior to patients' biopsy, following biopsy, 1 week after receipt of biopsy results, and 1 week following breast surgery. RESULTS: Multilevel modeling analyses demonstrated that lovingkindness meditation significantly improved pain (p = 0.02), self-compassion (p = 0.004), and heart rate (p = 0.02) over time compared to control conditions. There was a trend for anxiety (p = 0.05). Music significantly improved pain (p = 0.04) compared to usual care. CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide preliminary evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of a lovingkindness meditation intervention for breast cancer patients during the diagnostic and surgical period. Improving psychological and physical well-being during this time frame has the potential to improve longer-term health outcomes during adjuvant treatment and survivorship. Interventions that cultivate positive adjustment during the diagnostic and surgical period of breast cancer are an important area of future research.


25. Yang J, Tian Y, Zheng R, Li L, Qiu F. Endocannabinoid system and the expression of endogenous ceramides in human hepatocellular carcinoma. Oncol Lett 2019 Aug;18(2):1530-1538 PMID 31423220

The endogenous lipid metabolism network is associated with the occurrence and progression of malignancies. Endocannabinoids and ceramides have demonstrated their anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties in a series of cancer studies. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression patterns of endocannabinoids and endogenous ceramides in 67 pairs of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues and non-cancerous counterpart controls. Anandamide (AEA), the major endocannabinoid, was reduced in tumor tissues, probably due to the high expression and activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase. Another important endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG), was elevated in tumor tissues compared with non-tumor controls, indicating that the biosynthesis of 2-AG is faster than the degradation of 2-AG in tumor cells. Furthermore, western blot analysis demonstrated that cannabinoid receptor 1 was downregulated, while cannabinoid receptor 2 was elevated in HCC tissues, in accordance with the alterations in the levels of AEA and 2-AG, respectively. For HCC tissues, the expression levels of C18:0, 20:0 and 24:0-ceramides decreased significantly, whereas C12:0, 16:0, 18:1 and 24:1-ceramides were upregulated, which may be associated with cannabinoid receptor activation and stearoyl-CoA desaturase protein downregulation. The exact role of endocannabinoids and ceramides in regulating the fate of HCC cells requires further investigation.