NOVARTIS SAYS NEW DRUG BOOSTS SURVIVAL FOR PRE-MENOPAUSAL PATIENTS WITH METASTATIC BREAST CANCER
DEC 14, 2019 @ 5.15PM
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women across the world, and it impacts about 2.1 million women each year. According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011, breast cancer affects 18,206 women in the country with 5,152 of them having advanced breast cancer (ABC) in stages 3 and 4.
Metastatic breast cancer, also known as secondary breast cancer or ABC, is when the disease has recurred and/or spread from the breast to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, bone, lungs or brain.
Breast cancer has often been referred to as a ‘disease of ageing,’ usually associated with older women. For nearly 20 years, most of the scientific research into metastatic breast cancer has focused on postmenopausal women typically older than 50 years. However, younger, pre-menopausal women are also susceptible to the disease. In fact, ABC in pre-menopausal women is a biologically distinct and more aggressive form of cancer. It is also the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 20–59 years old.
Although a diagnosis of breast cancer can be distressing to patients across all age groups, diagnosis at a younger age presents various unique psychosocial and emotional challenges such as interactions with the spouse, children and other family members, body image, sexuality and loss of fertility/premature menopause.
Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Subang Jaya Medical Centre said: In Malaysia, about 50% of breast cancer patients are below the age of 50. What’s more alarming is that more than half of the patients presented with metastatic breast cancer are pre-menopausal women.
“Younger women may have children to care for and careers to manage; therefore, the impact of breast cancer on their financial situation and day-to-day life can be substantial and difficult to cope with. As an oncologist, I hope that new developments in cancer research will enable us to benefit this neglected patient base,” he added.
New indication with hormone therapy
As part of their efforts to continually improve the lives of their patients, Novartis has recognised this gap in addressing the needs of the pre-menopausal group. The company and its partners recently concluded a study which specifically focused on treating pre-menopausal patients of metastatic breast cancer.
The study, conducted across several countries, was a global Phase III randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving two groups of patients with either HR+ or HER2- advanced breast cancer. In total, 672 women, aged 18 to 59 years, were enrolled in the trial. The purpose of the trial was to investigate the efficacy and safety of using a new drug indication in combination with hormone therapy as opposed to just hormone therapy alone as an initial treatment option for those patients. Overall, the results demonstrated a 29% reduction in the risk of death in patients who received the new indication with hormone therapy.
“Pre-menopausal patients have different social circumstances. They are just about to start their life. They may have families to care for, some of them are even the breadwinners. The good news is, the study conducted by Novartis in which 40% of the participants were of Asian ancestry, shows that the combination of the new indication and hormone therapy delayed the disease progression,” said Dr Stephen Chia, Professor of Medicine from the University of British Columbia.
He added, “Half of the patients who were given the placebo went through chemotherapy in their first two years, while those on the new indication did not require chemotherapy for four or more years. Therefore, not only did this therapy delay mortality, it also improved their quality of life.”
Although the trial period has ended, the patient participants are still undergoing follow-ups which Novartis hopes will continue to improve overall knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and lead to improved methods of treatment.
The culture of colourism: The obsession with lighter skin tones driving opportunities in the skin lighteners market
Arson, animal cruelty and lack of remorse - traits of personality disorders to look out for in a person
University Malaya Medical Centre inks deal to make Uniportal VATS more affordable for lung cancer patients
Digital Health Malaysia takes health transformation to new heights with fourth telemedicine conference
Roche launch Perjeta - Herceptin combination, a post surgery treatment for early breast cancer (eBC)
Keytruda with chemotherapy to be the first line of treatment for patients with advanced lung cancer
33% below 15 exposed to sexual intercourse, at higher risk of developing cervical cancer says oncologist
Breast cancer survivor emphasizes on monthly self-examination, says no alternative therapy, magic pill for cure