New Hope for Heavily Pretreated Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

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A new chemotherapy agent, eribulin (developed by Eisai), was shown to improve significant survival benefit in heavily pretreated breast cancer, according to the EMBRACE study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2010 Annual Meeting.

The new drug was extracted from sea sponge, and belongs to a new chemical class of halichondrins.

The phase 3 clinical trial involved 762 patients with metastatic breast cancer who had been heavily pretreated with previous chemotherapy regimens (median of 4) that included an anthracycline and a taxane.

Patients were randomized to either eribulin or a treatment of physician’s choice (TPC), where the oncologist decided which drug to use. Many chose to use vinorelbine, gemcitabine, or capecitabine.

The results showed that eribulin significantly improved overall survival than TPC (13.12 vs 10.65 months, a difference of 2.47 months; hazard ratio, 0.81; P = .041), even though the response rate of the new drug was lower than TPC (12.2% with eribulin vs 4.7% with TPC; P = .002). The 1-year survival was 53.9% with eribulin and 43.7% with TPC.

Adverse effects were similar between the two arms and eribulin was associated with more neutropenia (grade 3 in 3% of patients vs 0.8% for TPC) and neuropathy (grade 3 in 7.8% of patients vs 2% for TPC).

This is certainly good news for metastatic patients who have been treated with a number of chemotherapies.

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2010 Annual Meeting: Abstract CRA1004, Presented June 8, 2010.

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