Afinitor® Stops Tumor Growth & Lengthens Lives For Breast Cancer Patients
Afinitor®, the Novartis trademark for the cancer fighter, everolimus, is used for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), inoperable cases of certain pancreatic cancers, and to aid successful acceptance of transplants. Now, the results of a Phase III study of Afinitor administered to women with advanced breast cancer have been announced, and the words used to describe the drug are "game changer."
Game changer, it certainly seems, for women with postmenopausal ER+HER2 breast cancers, the most common type of breast cancer. It was certainly a game changer for the women in the group of 724 patients who received Afinitor, along with the hormonal drug exemestane. The Afinitor plus exemestane group more than doubled the time (57 percent) they lived without tumor growth compared with women on exemestane alone.
In an additional analysis, adding Afinitor to the exemestane treatment resulted in progression-free survival (PFS) of 6.9 months compared to 2.8 months on other therapies. Among all therapies, hormonal therapy is the most powerful for ER+HER2 breast cancers, as well as HER2 cancers, but patients develop resistance and hormone therapies like exemestane can trigger overactivity of the mTOR pathways, those responsible for the growth and spread of the cancer.
Everolimus targets the mTOR protein, keeping it from reproducing by decreasing blood supply to the cancer cells. Lead author of the study, Jose Baselga, head of hematology and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital told Bloomberg News, "I don't recall a study in this patient population that had this magnitude of an effect," and further that the study contained the "strongest data ever seen in ER+ breast cancer.
Baselga's colleagues at Harvard University Medical School are calling for studies in women with early-stage breast cancers. "It works," Harvard's Richard Gelber told the news service. "let's move it forward and see if it can help other patient at an earlier phase."
For more information about the main types of breast cancer, WebMD has an easy-to-understand classification for lay readers.