Life-extending breast cancer drug slashes risk of disease returning by a QUARTER, study suggests
Life-extending breast cancer drugs cut risk of disease recurrence by a QUARTER, study suggests
- Patients took ribociclib in addition to hormonal therapy after traditional treatments
- They were significantly less likely to see their cancer come back, the results show
A drug may reduce the risk of the most common form of breast cancer returning by a quarter, new research shows.
Patients who took ribociclib in addition to hormone therapy after traditional treatments were significantly less likely to have their cancer come back.
The drug targets specific proteins that help cancer cells multiply, blocking them from slowing or stopping cancer growth.
Crucially, the benefits were seen in patients whose breast cancer was detected early, but often resurfaces decades later.
Experts said the findings could change global practice, leading to better long-term survival and less worry for patients and their families.
Patients who took ribociclib in addition to hormone therapy after traditional treatments were significantly less likely to have their cancer come back. Known as Kisqali, the drug is already being given to prolong the life of breast cancer patients whose disease has already spread
Known as Kisqali, the drug is already being given to prolong the life of breast cancer patients whose disease has already spread.
But the trial of more than 5,000 people wanted to test whether it could be effective in preventing the disease from returning.
Dr. Dennis Slamon, from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, California and lead author of the study said: ‘The goal of early breast cancer treatment is to really improve our cure rate.
“But we know that with our current standard of therapy, as many as a third of patients with stage two disease and more than half of patients with stage four disease will still recur.
“And these recurrences can occur up to two or three decades after diagnosis. So this is the unmet need that we are trying to address in developing better therapies for early breast cancer.”
Each year around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK, with the majority being diagnosed in the early stages while the disease is still curable.
Patients are usually offered surgery and chemotherapy or radiation before taking hormone-blocking drugs for up to ten years to try to prevent a recurrence.
But as many as a third of patients with stage two disease and more than half of patients with more advanced disease will often see it come back years later. Unlike many previous studies that usually focused on patients with more advanced cancers, the Natalee study wanted to test the drug’s effect in preventing cancer recurrence in those previously treated.
The patients treated had estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative primary breast cancer – the most common form of breast cancer – that was diagnosed at stage two or three, before it had spread to other organs.
They received ribociclib for three years in addition to five years of hormone therapy or just the hormone therapy.
At the end of the three years, 90.4 percent of people taking ribociclib remained free of invasive disease compared to 87.1 percent in the hormone therapy-only group.
Overall, the addition of ribociclib reduced the risk of recurrence by 25 percent, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago learned yesterday.
Those taking ribociclib have better overall survival, recurrence-free survival and distant disease-free survival, the researchers said, with similar levels seen in both pre- and postmenopausal women.
Dr. Kotryna Temcinaite, head of research communications at Breast Cancer Now, said the findings were extremely positive.
She said: ‘We know that many women and their loved ones are concerned about breast cancer returning after treatment, so new treatments such as ribociclib, which can reduce this risk, are incredibly welcome.
‘This treatment now needs to be quickly submitted for licensing and assessed for use on the NHS so that this group of patients with primary breast cancer has the opportunity to benefit from it as soon as possible.’