Highlights from San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference 2015

Observing how well-trained and engaged patient advocates are in the US was inspiring for BCAC Committee member Melissa Bell who attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in the US in December 2015. 

Melissa was one of 30 patient advocates on the Patient Advocacy program at SABCS. “I was blown away by how knowledgeable and well-connected they are. I learned a huge amount and it was just amazing to see patients being so actively involved and engaged [in clinical trial design etc] alongside the researchers and oncologists.” 

Networking with other advocates was a major highlight for Melissa. “These connections are so important, particularly as we are so isolated here in NZ.” Another highlight was hearing Dr Susan Love speak openly and honestly about how more research was needed for metastatic breast cancer. Overall, the focus of the Symposium was on identifying how to treat patients most effectively by identifying tumour subtypes and selecting targeted therapies, while avoiding giving patients unnecessary treatments.

Research highlights include:

Kadcyla (TDM-1) improves survival for HER2+ metastatic patients

Results from the Phase 111 Th3RESA trial show Kadcyla improves median overall survival for patients with HER2+ metastatic breast cancer. Patients who were given Kadcyla had a median overall survival of 22.8 months compared with 15.8 months for those given other treatments. Kadcyla was also shown to have fewer side effects.

Better outcomes for breast-conserving surgery than mastectomy

Several studies revealed women with early stage breast cancer who received breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy had better overall survival after 10 years compared with those who had a mastectomy without radiation therapy. 

Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Results from the GeparSixto trial show TNBC patients who receive carboplatin as part of their neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy have improved chances of disease-free survival after 3 years - those given carboplatin had an 85% chance of being disease-free compared with 76% for those who didn’t receive it. 

Data from Phase 1 of the Keynote-012 study using Keytruda (a type of immunotherapy) showed a small proportion (18.5%) of patients respond well but when they do it is a long lasting response (ie: disease free), more so than other therapies.

Buparlisib benefits patients with PIK3CA gene mutations

The BELLE-2 study showed that adding the treatment buparlisib to fulvestrant gives women with advanced, postmenopausal Her2 positive or negative breast cancer who have the PIK3CA gene, an additional 4 months of survival compared to those who receive fulvestrant alone. 

Adding Palbociclib delays HR-positive breast cancer spreading

Results from the PALOMA3 trial reveal that adding palbociclib to the hormone therapy fulvestrant for patients with HR-positive and HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer delays the disease from progressing for an average of 5.4 months. 


Results from the CREATE-X trial showed patients with HER2-negative breast cancer who still had tumours after being given pre-surgery chemotherapy who were then given Capecitabine had better disease-free survival than those who were not given the drug. 

No benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy for women with Luminal A subtype of breast cancer

Researchers on the DBCG77B trial found that 10-year survival rates for premenopausal women with invasive breast cancer of the Luminal A subtype were similar regardless of whether or not the patient received chemotherapy. However, it was noted none of the women on the study (data was collected from an old study) received hormone therapy as adjuvant treatment so it may not reflect the current standard of care. 

Denosumab improves survival

Postmenopausal patients with early HR positive breast cancer who were given the drug Denosumab in addition to an aromatase inhibitor were found to have improved disease-free survival. The ABCSG-18 trial, found that after 4 years, patients who took Denosumab were 18% less likely to have had a recurrence. 

Heart medication prevents heart damage during chemotherapy

A Canadian study (MANTICORE) has found that taking heart medications while on chemotherapy reduces the risk of serious heart damage in early stage breast cancer patients. 

For more information see here: http://www.cancernetwork.com/asco-2015-breast-cancer/

24 December, 2015


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