The combination of the newly developed drug pallbociclib with hormone treatment significantly increases the lives of women with advanced breast…
The combination of the newly developed drug pallbociclib with hormone treatment significantly increases the lives of women with advanced breast cancer, researchers announced yesterday.
Women with metastatic cancer who received combination therapy stayed for seven months longer than those treated with hormones alone. And in women who previously responded to hormone treatment, these extended survival times reached an average of 1
The study was published in New England Journal of Medicine and was presented simultaneously at the European Society of Medical Oncology Congress in Munich, Germany. “These results indicate that we can now offer women with incurable breast cancer a little precious extra survival time before their condition worsens. It’s very encouraging,” said Professor Nick Turner of the Institute of Cancer Research, who led the study.
Researchers from the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust were also involved in the study, funded by pharmaceutical producer Pfizer. A total of 521 women with advanced hormone-sensitive breast cancer participated.
The trial investigated the effect palbociclib had on women’s overall survival rates when their advanced breast cancer stopped responding to other treatments. Usually, the only option available is chemotherapy, which may have weakening side effects. The researchers tried to find out if the drug could delay the need for chemotherapy.
Their analysis showed that women receiving combination therapy survived an average of 34.9 months – 6.9 months longer than those who only received hormone treatment. Three years after they were enrolled in the study, 49.6% of women who received both palbociclib and hormones were still alive, compared with 40.8% of women treated alone with hormones.
But Baroness Delyth Morgan, Head of Breast cancer now – when she welcomed the study – said she was concerned that the new treatment may not reach NHS breast cancer patients because its evaluation methodology had not been updated to cope with modern combination treatments.
“We simply can not allow research to pass through NHS patients and we urge reform evaluation methodology to ensure that new and effective combination therapies can be made available quickly at a price afforded by NHS.”  Britain still has one of the lowest breast cancer survival rates in Western Europe, and this year about 11,5,000 women will lose their lives to the condition.