Advances, setbacks seen in breast cancer research

The fight against breast cancer, the second most dangerous after lung cancer, is making progress, but has experienced a number of setbacks, scientists said.

The most interesting progress was reported in a new study unveiled here Sunday that found that a new agent derived from a marine sponge can extend the survival rates of women with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer who already received extensive standard therapy.

The synthetic component called eribulin mesylate mimics a component found naturally in sponges and can prevent cell division, which causes cells to self-destruct, said study authors who presented their findings at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology conference here.

In a randomized international trial, British researchers assessed the survival rates of 762 patients, treated either with eribulin or another therapy, almost always chemotherapy, and found the new therapy extended median overall survival by about 2.5 months.

"Until now, there hasn't been a standard treatment for women with such advanced breast cancer. For those who have already received all of the recognized treatments, these are promising results," said lead study author Christopher Twelves.

"These findings may establish eribulin as a new, effective option for women with heavily pre-treated metastatic breast cancer," said Twelves, head of the Clinical Cancer Research Groups at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine in Britain.

The most frequently reported adverse effects among patients treated with eribulin were fatigue (53.7 percent), low white blood cell counts (51.7 percent), hair loss (44.5 percent) and numbness and tingling in different parts of the body (34.6 percent).

Serious adverse effects were reported for 25 percent of patients, the researchers said.

More than one million women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide, according to international statistics.

Approximately 50 percent of them are expected to develop recurrent or metastatic disease within 15 years of their first diagnosis.

Only one in five women with metastatic breast cancer survives longer than five years.

In the United States, an estimated 155,000 women are currently living with metastatic breast cancer, and that number is projected to increase to 162,000 by 2011.

"Women with advanced breast cancer are in critical need of new treatment options," said Alton Kremer, head of clinical development for oncology at Eisai Inc., the developer of eribulin

"In this study, eribulin has shown an improvement in survival, and if approved by health authorities, it may offer patients a new treatment option at this stage of the disease," he added

An application for marketing the drug was granted priority review status by the US Food and Drug Administration last month.

Another study presented at the conference showed that partial targeted irradiation of affected breasts can be effective. But some researchers reported setbacks.

A study by the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calififornia has concluded that removing additional underarm lymph nodes to look for more breast cancer cells in women with limited disease spread does not improve survival.

An observational trial of more than 5,500 women with early-stage breast cancer who had breastsparing surgery showed that using immunohistochemistry to detect hidden micrometastases in sentinel lymph nodes and bone marrow does not predict overall survival and should not be used to guide treatment decisions.

Yet another report found that shows that the characteristics of tumors in women with metastatic breast cancer often change when cancer spreads to the liver, requiring a change in therapy in more than 12 percent of patients.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...