Nav: Home

Global study shows new breast cancer drug extends patients' overall survival

June 05, 2004

NEW ORLEANS- Breast cancer patients with advanced disease live longer when treated with a new drug, gemcitabine, in combination with paclitaxel, a traditional drug, according to results of a landmark global phase III study presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.

"Improved overall survival demonstrates that gemcitabine with paclitaxel should be a standard frontline regimen in treating breast cancer that has spread," said principal investigator and first author Dr. Kathy S. Albain, professor, division of hematology/oncology, Department of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.

Albain designed and chaired this international trial that directly resulted in the FDA's very recent approval of gemcitabine for breast cancer. In previous years, the FDA has approved gemcitabine for other cancers. The drug disrupts cell replication by incorporating itself directly into the DNA.

The research applies to women who have never had chemotherapy for their advanced breast cancer but were already exposed to the anticancer class of drugs known as anthracyclines when their breast cancer was first diagnosed in an early stage.

Participating in the study were 529 patients randomized at 98 sites in 19 countries. The study compared gemcitabine plus paclitaxel to paclitaxel alone in women with metastatic breast cancer.

A total of 267 patients (median age: 53 years) received gemcitabine plus paclitaxel; another 262 patients (median age: 52 years) received paclitaxel alone. Albain reported that median overall survival was 18.5 months for gemcitabine with paclitaxel, and 15.8 months for paclitaxel alone.

"One year survival was 71 percent in the group that received the combination therapy, compared to 61 percent for the group treated with paclitaxel alone," said Albain, director, Breast Research Program; co-director of the multidisciplinary Breast Oncology Center; and director of the Thoracic Oncology Program, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill. The gemcitabine plus paclitaxel combination resulted in a 26 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths when all other factors were taken into account.

"These results are important because it was uncertain if earlier findings would translate into overall survival benefit," said Albain. "Now, we know they do."

Last year's results showed that the drug combination therapy significantly slowed the rate of tumor progression and improved patient quality of life.

That research also found that gemcitabine provided pain relief in symptomatic patients.

"Today's interim overall survival report greatly strengthens the 2003 findings," said Albain. "It is a major development in the battle against breast cancer."

The study also found that 55 percent of those taking paclitaxel alone stopped the therapy, due to disease progression, in contrast to only 38 percent of the combination drug group.
-end-
Co-authors of the study are K. S. Albain; S. Nag; G. Calderillo-Ruiz; J. P. Jordaan; A. Llombart; A. Pluzanska; M. Pawlicki; J.M. Reyes; A. S. Melmed; and J. O'Shaughnessy.

This study was funded by Eli Lilly and Company.

For more information on Loyola University Health System, log onto http://www.luhs.org.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, runs through June 8, 2004.

Loyola University Health System, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loyola University Chicago, includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), 18 specialty and primary care centers in the western and southwestern suburbs, the Loyola Ambulatory Surgery Center at Oakbrook, the Loyola Imaging Center at Oakbrook Terrace, and serves as co-owner-operator of RML Specialty Hospital, a long-term-care facility for ventilator-dependent patients in suburban Hinsdale, Ill. LUMC, a private, academic health care institution, is nationally recognized for its specialty care and research in such areas as cancer, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, pediatrics, neonatology and neurosciences, burn and trauma care and organ transplantation. The 73-acre campus in Maywood, Ill., includes the 523-bed licensed Loyola Hospital with a Level I trauma center, Russo Surgical Pavilion, Cardiovascular Institute, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Ronald McDonald Childrenfs Hospital of LUMC, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the Loyola Outpatient Center, the regionfs largest burn unit and one of the Midwestfs largest and most comprehensive organ transplant programs.

Loyola University Health System

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
Blood test offers improved breast cancer detection tool to reduce use of breast biopsy
A Clinical Breast Cancer study demonstrates Videssa Breast can inform better next steps after abnormal mammogram results and potentially reduce biopsies up to 67 percent.
Surgery to remove unaffected breast in early breast cancer increases
The proportion of women in the United States undergoing surgery for early-stage breast cancer who have preventive mastectomy to remove the unaffected breast increased significantly in recent years, particularly among younger women, and varied substantially across states.
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue more likely to develop contralateral disease
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue have almost a two-fold increased risk of developing disease in the contralateral breast, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.
Some early breast cancer patients benefit more from breast conservation than from mastectomy
Breast conserving therapy (BCT) is better than mastectomy for patients with some types of early breast cancer, according to results from the largest study to date, presented at ECC2017.
One-third of breast cancer patients not getting appropriate breast imaging follow-up exam
An annual mammogram is recommended after treatment for breast cancer, but nearly one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer aren't receiving this follow-up exam, according to new findings presented at the 2016 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
Low breast density worsens prognosis in breast cancer
Even though dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer, very low mammographic breast density is associated with a worse prognosis in breast cancer patients.
Is breast conserving therapy or mastectomy better for early breast cancer?
Young women with early breast cancer face a difficult choice about whether to opt for a mastectomy or breast conserving therapy (BCT).
Breast density and outcomes of supplemental breast cancer screening
In a study appearing in the April 26 issue of JAMA, Elizabeth A.
Full dose radiotherapy to whole breast may not be needed in early breast cancer
Five years after breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy focused around the tumor bed is as good at preventing recurrence as irradiating the whole breast, with fewer side effects, researchers from the UK have found in the large IMPORT LOW trial.

Related Breast Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...