New drug increases survival in young women with advanced breast cancer
New drug shows increased survival rate in young women with breast cancer. The drug works by inhibiting the activity of cancer-cell promoting enzymes.
The treatment is less toxic than traditional chemotherapy because it more selectively targets cancerous cells, blocking their ability to multiply.
The study, touted as one of the greatest advances in the field of breast cancer treatment in recent decades, showed that the addition of cell-cycle inhibitor ribociclib increased survival rates to 70 percent after three and a half years. The mortality rate was 29 percent less when patients, all under 59 and pre-menopausal, were randomly assigned a placebo.
The results of the international clinical trial were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
The study conducted by Sara Hurvitz and colleagues focused on a form of breast cancer which is fueled by the hormone estrogen and which accounts for two-thirds of all cases among younger women. It is generally treated by therapies that block the hormone's production.
"You actually can get synergy, or better response, better cancer kill, by adding one of these cell-cycle inhibitors" on top of the hormone-blocking therapy, said Hurvitz.
Also Read: High intake of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus may reduce breast cancer risk
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Indian women -- approximately 25% of the female cancer cases in India are BC - with an age-adjusted rate of 25.8 cases per 100,000 women and a mortality rate of 12.7 per 100,000 women.
The new trial involved the analysis of 670 women with stage 4 advanced cancer for which they had not received prior hormone-blocking therapy."These are patients who tend to be diagnosed later, at a later stage in their disease, because we don't have great screening modalities for young women," said Hurvitz.
In addition, patients who develop breast cancer early tend to have more complex cases.
"That's what makes us so excited because it's a therapy that's affecting so many patients with advanced disease," added Hurvitz.
A pill is administered daily for 21 days followed by seven days off to allow the body time to recover since two-thirds of patients have a moderate to a severe drop in white cell count.
Also Read: Annual mammography for breast cancer screening best, recommends literature review
Jamie Bennett, a spokeswoman for Novartis, which markets the drug under the brand name Kisqali and funded the research, said it cost $12,553 for a 28-day dose. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer and the majority of the women on the drug will require some form of therapy for the rest of their lives.
Moving forward, Hurvitz said she was interested in investigating whether ribociclib could help nip cancer in the bud at an earlier stage.
"We want to go and look at those women diagnosed with early-stage disease, small tumors, tumors that haven't gone to the lymph nodes or haven't gone to other parts of the body and see if we can stop it from returning later from metastasizing," she said.
The enrollment phase of a new global clinical trial is now underway.