Breast cancer victims ‘can double survival time’
Dubai, December 12, 2011
Women suffering from breast cancer can survive for twice as long without disease progression using the Novartis-made drug Afinitor (everolimus) in conjunction with hormonal therapy, said a new study.
The risk of cancer progression was reduced by 57 per cent when compared to hormonal therapy alone, giving fresh hope to patients with a specific form of advanced breast cancer, the study revealed.
“Everolimus is the first drug to show significant efficacy when combined with hormonal therapy in women with this form of advanced breast cancer, where there continues to be a critical unmet need,” said Hervé Hoppenot, president, Novartis Oncology.
“The magnitude of benefit seen in these patients, despite their resistance to previous hormonal therapies, shows everolimus represents a potential important new treatment approach.”
Hormonal therapy remains the cornerstone of treatment for women with advanced breast cancer but most women with metastatic disease do not respond to initial treatment with hormonal therapy, and almost all initial responders develop resistance, with life expectancy significantly shortened due to worsening of the disease.
“Many patients fear chemotherapy almost as much they fear the cancer itself, due to some of the severe side effects that come with the treatment such as fatigue, hair loss, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and significant pain,” said Dr Maroun el-Khoury, consultant medical oncologist, American Hospital, Dubai.
The initial results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) this month, have been bolstered by updated five-month data announced at this month’s 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showing that when combined with hormonal therapy, everolimus improved time to disease progression to over seven months versus three months with hormonal therapy alone.
Around 220,000 newly diagnosed cases of advanced breast cancer are recorded each year. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in females in the UAE, with evidence suggesting that Arab nationals including those in the UAE tend to develop breast cancer at least a decade earlier than their counterparts in Western countries.
The UAE Ministry of Health has already licensed everolimus for renal cell cancer for use after failure of initial therapy with sunitinib or sorafenib, meaning that patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma have an increased chance of longer survival after diagnosis, a statement said.
Novartis is planning worldwide regulatory filings for everolimus use in patients with advanced breast cancer by the end of 2011.
Previous data showed that patients with advanced kidney cancer who are prescribed everolimus survive for twice as long without tumor growth compared with placebo – 4.9 months vs. 1.9 months.
Other findings suggest the drug reduces the risk of disease progression or death by 67 per cent, and after 10 months of treatment approximately 25 per cent of patients still have no tumor growth, according to the statement.
Everolimus works by continuously targeting a protein called mTOR that acts as a central regulator of tumor cell division, blood vessel growth and cell metabolism. – TradeArabia News Service