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Key breast cancer summit highlights latest innovations

DUBAI, November 27, 2019

Eminent medical experts from the region gathered recently during the Second Middle East Breast Cancer Summit, which was held in the UAE, to discuss the latest clinical trial results for treating advanced breast cancer patients targeting both pre and post-menopausal patients with advanced breast cancer.

The event, which was organised by Novartis Oncology, was inaugurated by Dr Humaid Al Shamsi, head of the Emirates Oncology Society. During the panel discussion, Dr Al Shamsi pointed out that these clinical trials give more hope for pre and post-menopausal patients.

He said: “While breast cancer is the most common female cancer in the Middle East, many of those affected do not seek medical care immediately. As a result, the region has high rates of late presentation. So, we partner with governmental and non-governmental organisations to tailor programs to the needs of local communities in an effort to address concerning trends and take advantage of unique outreach opportunities.”

Novartis Oncology Middle East and Africa (MEA) region head, Marie-Andree said: “Our company’s vision and commitment towards patients and caregivers means exerting tireless efforts on scientific research to develop and optimise treatment options for cancer patients in need, while ensuring access to these new options for advanced breast cancer patients across countries in our region.”

“Today with our second MEA Breast Cancer Summit, we have gathered healthcare professionals and oncologists across the region, to discuss the latest scientific data and treatment options serving advanced breast cancer patients both post and pre-menopausal segments,” she added.

In the Middle East, breast cancer is the most common malignancy. The incidence of breast cancer has substantially increased in recent years among the women population, especially those younger than 50, and the incidence is expected to double by 2030.

Dr. Al Shamsi also noted: “There currently remains no cure for advanced breast cancer, however it is manageable. In the UAE, breast cancer mortality rates amongst women stand at 24 per cent. Around 15 per cent of breast cancer cases in the country are metastatic."  

During the event, panelists discussed the MONALEESA-3 (M3) and MONALEESA-7 (M7) clinical trials, which showed new hope in extending survival rate and improved quality of life for both pre and post-menopausal patients respectively.

Dr Fadi Nasr, head of Hematology and Oncology department at Mount Lebanon Hospital, said: “Advanced breast cancer is the most serious form of breast cancer and occurs 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.  This can also be described as secondary or advanced breast cancer. Patients with advanced breast cancer report the support provided to them is often inadequate compared with the information and services available at the time of diagnosis of early breast cancer."

He further noted: “Across the Middle East, estimates showed that breast cancer patients under the age of 50 represent 50 per cent of the total figure. Young women are most often diagnosed at advanced stages of cancer, while the majority of women under the age of 45 are diagnosed while in the third stage and after experiencing nodular metastasis and presenting with larger breast tumors. Premenopausal breast cancer is a biological and more aggressive form of the disease compared to the postmenopausal type and is the main cause of death from cancer among women in the age bracket between 20 and 59."

In addition, Professor Hamdy Abdel Azim, founder of Cairocure and chairman of Kasr Al-Ainy School of Oncology (KASO), said: “The MONALEESA-7 (M7) results focused on pre-menopausal (younger age) advanced breast cancer patients, a segment that was not explored before by fully dedicated clinical trials.  This clinical trial M7 has also assessed the effects of CDK4/6 inhibitor in conjunction with the aromatase inhibitor and showed that a female patient benefits from an additional 14 months without disease progression following this treatment approach, compared to the use of hormonal therapy alone.

He further added: “Premenopausal women who received the combined therapy showed early response within eight weeks as shown when differentiating between the PFS curves for the combined therapy and those for hormonal therapy alone. Premenopausal women who received CDK4/6 inhibitor enjoyed a longer, and better quality of life compared to women who received hormonal therapy alone. Women who received CDK4/6 inhibitor also experienced a significant and sustained clinical improvement in pain symptoms within eight weeks.”

Moreover, Dr Faisal Al-Terkait, head of Breast Cancer Medical Oncology at Kuwait Cancer Control Center (KCCC) pointed out that: “MONALEESA-3 provides new data around the treatment of postmenopausal HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer and bring hope by prolonging survival of patients. CDK4 is a major driver of breast cancer progression and inhibiting it has been shown to block the growth of breast cancer cells. The study has demonstrated that some CDK4/6 inhibitors fare better in their ability to more selectively target and inhibit CDK4 than others. These results arm oncologists with more evidence to make a confident treatment choice for their hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer patients.”

Dr Meteb Al Fuhadi, consultant oncologist, Breast Cancer at the King Abdulaziz Medical Center said, “The MONALEESA-3 is the largest trial to evaluate a CDK4/6 inhibitor as part of a combination therapy in postmenopausal women (N=726). The trial included newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer women, women who relapsed on/within or after 12 months of adjuvant therapy, women who progressed on endocrine therapy for advanced disease.  It further showed significant reduction in the risk of death by 30% extending the survival of postmenopausal (older age) advanced breast cancer patients participating in the clinical trial. This trial also evaluated the efficacy and safety profiles of the medication."  

“In nearly 25 years, the five-year survival rates in HR+ metastatic breast cancer has improved by less than 5 per cent. We are committed to boosting survival through superior science, collaboration and a passion for transforming patient care, identifying new pathways or mutations that may play a role in disease progression and developing therapies that not only maintain, but also improve, quality of life for patients,” noted Dr Al Fuhaidi. - TradeArabia News Service




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