Important trials regarding systemic treatment?

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Question from Beth: Dr. Robert, as a medical oncologist, obviously you have specific opinions as to where the future of breast cancer systemic treatment is going. From the most recent ASCO meeting, what do you feel are the one or two most important trials that are either beginning or that we have information on regarding breast cancer?
Answers - Nicholas Robert, M.D. The meeting of ASCO is a very big meeting, about 30,000 members. There are so many abstracts submitted, it is hard to go through all of them. For a long time we've heard about triple-negative breast cancer and the dismal prognosis, especially with metastatic disease. This year was a triple-negative breast cancer good news story. In a small study led by Joyce O'Shaughnessy where we gave chemotherapy to women with a triple-negative profile, we found that we could improve the outcome by adding a drug that was chosen on a basis of biology. We found that with the good response rate, we improved the time before recurrence, and we also found that we actually improved survival. What's so exciting about the findings is that it was based on the biology we think is specific to the triple-negative subtype. Knowing that biology, we added a new drug, the PARP inhibitor, and we found encouraging results. However, we need more information on this approach, and we hope that this summer we can reproduce these results in a bigger study. We hope that if these results are reproduced, we can begin to think about using this approach in the early phase of breast cancer in patients with this triple-negative profile. The other study that I'd like to mention was one I was involved in, the use of the drug Avastin (chemical name: bevacizumab). When adding that to different chemotherapy regimens, we improved the results for patients with metastatic breast cancer. This study took a novel approach, and what it means to patients is that we now have more options to treat patients with metastatic breast cancer, which we hope translates into better control of their cancer for a longer period of time, so they will have a better quality of life.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Updates From the 2009 ASCO Annual Meeting featured Nick Robert, M.D. and Beth Baughman Dupree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions about the newest findings on risk, screening, treatment, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2009.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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