Skip directly to content

Coming dissertations at MedFak

  • Mutation and immune profiling of non-small cell lung cancer Author: Linnéa La Fleur Link: Publication date: 2019-09-19 09:45

    Several novel therapies that target molecular alterations and immune checkpoints in lung cancer have been introduced in the last decade. Still, only a minority of patients obtain long term disease control and overall survival remains poor. The aim of this thesis was to characterize the landscape of genetic alterations and immune cell infiltrates in tumor tissues from a large representative patient cohort of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

    The mutational status of 82 genes related to lung cancer development were evaluated, in paper I, by a targeted re-sequencing approach adapted to work on “real-life” samples of mixed quality. We observed a remarkably high prevalence of activating KRAS mutations. Otherwise, the mutation spectrum resembled other western lung cancer populations. Poor survival was linked to subgroups of lung adenocarcinoma with mutations in TP53, STK11 and SMARCA4, independent of concomitant KRAS mutations. In lung squamous cell carcinoma, patients with mutations in CSMD3 had better survival.

    The infiltration of tumor-associated immune cells was assessed by immunohistochemical analysis in paper II. Previously described immune response patterns termed “inflamed” and “desert” were confirmed in our dataset. In addition, we discovered a new immune phenotype characterized by overall sparse presence of most immune cell types except for a distinct infiltration of NK and plasma cells. This novel immune class displayed a favorable prognosis and was therefore designated “oasis”.

    In paper III, infiltration of macrophage subtypes was evaluated by immunohistochemical analysis of CD68, CD163, MSR1 and MARCO. The majority of macrophages exhibited a tumor promoting phenotype and expression of MARCO, a targetable scavenger receptor, was detected in a distinct subset of NSCLC patients. Further investigation of the functional roles of MARCO in a human NSCLC setting was carried out in paper IV. Here, MARCO expression on cultured myeloid cells could be induced by NSCLC cell lines. The MARCO+ cells displayed an immunosuppressive phenotype and could effectively suppress the cytolytic effect of NK cells and CD8+ T cells. A monoclonal antibody targeting MARCO removed these inhibitory effects of the MARCO+ cells.

    In summary, this thesis contributes knowledge on the genetic and immunologic underpinning of lung cancer that forms the basis for current and future treatment strategies in the evolving era of personalized oncology and pathology.

  • Living with VACTERL association : From the perspectives of children, adolescents and their parents Author: Ann-Marie Kassa Link: Publication date: 2019-09-19 08:35

    VACTERL association is a rare and complex congenital condition often requiring repeated surgery and entailing various physical sequelae. Knowledge is scarce regarding experiences of the health condition and health care, need of support at school, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and psychological well-being in children, adolescents and their parents.

    This thesis aims to investigate various aspects of living with VACTERL association, from the perspectives of children, adolescents and their parents.

    Ten children aged five to eight years were interviewed using the computer-assisted interview technique In My Shoes (Study I). They expressed awareness of their health history and felt proud but also different due to physical dysfunction. While happy to meet familiar staff in the hospital they voiced worries about medical procedures.

    The nineteen parents interviewed described crisis reactions on the discovery of malformations in their child (Study II). Parental involvement in care was reported from the initial hospital admission until taking responsibility for treatments at home. Eventually the health condition became integrated in everyday life. Insufficient emotional and limited medical support were reported. Various levels of professionalism among healthcare professionals and discrepancies concerning knowledge and experience between the tertiary and local hospitals were described.

    In ten evaluated pre-school children (Study III), intelligence measured by Wechsler-scales was within the normal range. Eight children had attention difficulties and two were later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). All children had physical dysfunctions affecting their nutrition, bowel or bladder functions. All needed extra support and adjustments at school.

    Forty children and adolescents responded to validated questionnaires of DISABKIDS and Beck inventories (Study IV). The HRQoL was comparable to European children with chronic conditions. Their psychological well-being was similar to that of Swedish school children and significantly better than that of a clinical sample. Self-reported anxiety and depression in 38 mothers and 33 fathers were comparable to non-clinical samples.

    In conclusion, regular follow-up by multi-professional team with continuity is crucial to optimise the physical function in children with VACTERL, to identify those in need of extra support at school and to detect reduced psychological well-being in children and parents. Fear of medical procedures may be reduced by carefully providing information and individual care strategies. For the parents psychological processing, support from medical experts and peers is essential to achieve self-confidence and adaptation. Transfer of knowledge and information between multi-professional teams at the local and tertiary hospitals could be improved by the use of video sessions.

  • Treatment selection in metastatic renal cell carcinoma : Towards an individualised approach Author: Maria Stenman Link: Publication date: 2019-09-16 10:26

    Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), a common malignancy worldwide, affects 1200 new patients yearly in Sweden. Metastatic RCC (mRCC) develops in one in three and is commonly incurable. Clear cell histology dominates followed by papillary histology. The mainstay of mRCC treatment is targeted agents (TA) against aberrantly signalling pro-angiogenic tyrosine kinase receptors, and recently also immune checkpoint inhibitors. Local metastatic therapy with stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) or surgical metastasectomy may be considered for oligometastatic disease.

    The aims of this thesis were (1) to identify clinically relevant factors useful for prognostication in real-world patients with mRCC treated in the TA era, (2) to deepen the understanding of papillary mRCC, and (3) to evaluate local metastatic therapy in mRCC. The papers of this thesis were based on retrospective data from regional databases or patient records from 2005 and onwards to reflect the contemporary therapeutic landscape.

    Paper I was a single-centre study analysing inflammatory blood and clinical parameters in relation to overall survival (OS) in mRCC (n=84). Median OS (mOS) was 20 months. Hypoalbuminemia was a negative prognostic factor (HR 2.7), independently of patient performance status (PS) or Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center risk criteria.

    Paper II included solely patients with papillary mRCC (n=86) treated at three centres. mOS was 11 months. Age ≥60 years (HR 2.2), ≥3 metastatic sites (HR 2.7), and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) PS ≥2 vs 1 (HR 3.0) were independently associated with worse OS.

    Paper III included mRCC patients treated with local metastatic therapy (n=117). Survival was similar irrespective of SRT or surgical metastasectomy with a mOS of 51 months. Treatment with TA in close proximity to local therapy was well tolerated. ECOG PS 1 vs 0 (HR 2.9), intracranial treatment (HR 1.8), and watchful waiting ≥18 months prior to treatment (HR 0.3) were independently prognostic.  

    Paper IV was a follow-up of patients with ccRCC brain metastases treated with single fraction gamma knife radiosurgery (sf-GKRS) at three European centres (n=43). 1- and 3-year local control rates were 97% and 90%, and mOS was 16 months. Hypoalbuminemia (HR=5.3), corticosteroids prior to sf-GKRS (HR=5.8), and Karnofsky PS <80% (HR=9.1) were independently associated with worse OS, whereas previously described prognostic scores were not. Adverse radiation effects (ARE) were uncommon and associated with large target volumes and pre-treatment oedema.

    In conclusion, this thesis identifies several factors potentially useful for prognostication in mRCC, and indicates the usefulness of local metastatic therapy, in particular SRT, in selected patients. The results should be validated prospectively.