Kuala Lumpur, June 3 — Findings of a clinical trial for a new targeted drug therapy have found that younger women suffering from metastatic breast cancer have experienced significantly improved survival rates as a result of being on the treatment.
After 42 months, 70 percent of those on the targeted therapy were alive compared to 46 percent for those treated with hormone therapy and a placebo. This represented a 29 percent decrease in the risk of death for those receiving the treatment.
The study involved 672 women under 59 years of age receiving combination therapy composed of a drug called ribociclib and hormone therapy. It is the first of its kind to show a significant benefit in survival rates for premenopausal women with metastatic hormone-receptor positive breast cancer.
“This is the first study to show improved survival for any targeted therapy when used with endocrine therapy as a first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer,” said lead study author Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, USA.
“The use of ribociclib as a front-line therapy significantly prolonged overall survival, which is good news for women with this terrible disease.”
“This trial was unique because it looks at younger women who haven’t gone through menopause,” said Hurvitz. “This is an important group to study since advanced breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women 20 to 59, and the vast majority of breast cancer is hormone-receptor positive.”
“Advanced breast cancer in pre-menopausal women can be very aggressive. It is important and encouraging to see a targeted therapy that significantly increases survival for younger women with this disease,” said Harold J. Burstein from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Ribociclib and hormone therapy have been used to treat postmenopausal women with breast cancer.
Globally, breast cancer causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women, according to the World Health Organization.
In Malaysia, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with breast cancer being the most common form of malignancy affecting women. Breast cancer affects 31.1 per cent of all women living with cancer in this country. Up to 45 per cent present when the disease is already metastatic.
The trial was funded by pharmaceutical company Novartis which markets ribociclib under the brand name Kisqali.