Jun 18, 2021
Are you one of the 168,000 Americans living with metastatic breast cancer? Chemotherapy has been a standard part of treatment for decades. While this is still often a key component, there are several new treatment approaches.
Keep reading to learn about other options that are having a positive impact.
Metastatic breast cancer means that breast cancer cells are now in other body parts. This can include nearby tissue or distant areas such as the liver, bones, lungs, or other sites.
The term “overall survival” describes the length of the person’s life. It also includes whether the cancer grows or returns. The goal of treating metastatic breast cancer is three-fold.
Treatments strive to achieve the longest possible survival. They work to limit the side effects of cancer and the interventions. And to achieve the highest quality of life possible.
Currently, there’s no cure for metastatic cancer. Yet, new approaches are prolonging survival.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to approve new therapies. These approaches have been proven beneficial in clinical trials before their release. The following gives an overview of these new regimens.
In general, cancer overwhelms and defeats the body’s natural immune system defenses. This allows cancer cells to grow and spread. The goal of immunotherapy cancer treatment is to prevent or slow cancer cell growth.
It blocks the interactions of program cell death 1 (PD-1) receptors with program death ligand 1 (PD-L1). This enhances your body’s antitumor immunity.
Depending on your disease pattern, immunotherapy may be the only treatment. In other cases, it’s combined with other forms of cancer therapy.
There are two agents that the FDA has approved for use combined with chemotherapy. They treat triple-negative metastatic breast cancer (TNMBC) that’s PD-L1 positive.
The Impassion 130 study compared using immunotherapy and chemotherapy vs. chemotherapy alone. One group received atezolizumab (immunotherapy) plus nab-paclitaxel (chemotherapy). The other TNMBC group received nab-paclitaxel alone.
Patients with PD-L1 positive tumors had longer survival with the combination therapy.
The KEYNOTE-355 study also evaluated treatment for patients with TNMBC. Some participants received pembrolizumab (immunotherapy) and chemotherapy. The other group had chemotherapy alone.
Combining pembrolizumab and chemotherapy showed improved progression-free survival. This benefited those with PD-L1 positive tumors more than only chemotherapy.
ADCs are new highly potent biological class drugs. They attach small-molecule anticancer drugs or other treatment agents to an antibody. This antibody then targets specified cells that have a specific antigen on them.
Once the ADC binds to the target cell it delivers the anticancer drug into the diseased cell. This optimizes the drug efficacy while reducing systemic exposure. Thus, patients have fewer side effects.
One ADC trial showed the efficacy of Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan) in TNMBC patients. These patients had already undergone at least two chemotherapy regimens.
Another ADC, Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan), was also very effective. This study included patients who already received significant treatments.
PARP is an enzyme that repairs damage to DNA in cells. PARP inhibitors treat cancer by stopping this repair in cancer cells, so they die. These drugs specifically target cancer cells while mostly avoiding healthy cells.
It’s used to treat people with TNMBC and hormone receptor-positive disease. Patients that have HER2-negative disease and express a germline BRCA mutation also benefitted.
This treatment for patients involves an oral medication that’s taken at home. It often has fewer side effects than chemotherapy. There are two PARP inhibitors approved for treating breast cancer at this time.
The OlympiAD study reported improved quality of life with olaparib. The patients have already undergone one to two lines of chemotherapy. The median progression-free survival was 2.8 months longer.
Talzenna (talazoparib) studies also showed improved progression-free survival. This rate was better than patients treated with chemotherapy.
Kisqali (ribociclib) and Ibrance (palbociclib) provide benefits when given with hormone therapy. They belong to the class of drugs called selective cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors.
These drugs inhibit the cyclin-dependent proteins kinase 4 and 6 (CDK4/6). When these proteins become overactive, they help cancer cells rapidly divide and grow.
Thus, they precisely target CDK4/6. The goal is to stop the uncontrollable growth and division of cancer cells.
This drug works best when given with hormone therapies. This stops the estrogen’s stimulation of cancer cell growth.
Hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) breast cancers grow faster when stimulated by hormones. This includes estrogen and/or progesterone. Hormone therapies work to reduce the levels of these hormones.
Hormone therapies include Femara (letrozole), an aromatase inhibitor, and Faslodex (fulvestrant). Ribociclib, palbociclib, and letrozole are pills that you take by mouth. Fulvestrant comes in a pre-filled syringe that’s injected into the muscle.
This combination regimen offers better survival for women with breast cancer. This specifically included those with metastatic, HER2-negative, or HR-positive types.
Endocrine Therapy (ET) alone or combined with targeted agents reduces the tumor burden. Patients also experience fewer side effects and toxicities compared to chemotherapy. This regimen is useful with receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer.
ETs work by targeting the estrogen receptors to deplete estrogen levels. The goal is to improve quality of life and prolong survival time.
This article discussed the latest options for metastatic breast cancer treatment. OncoPower offers on demand care for patients in active cancer treatment and cancer survivors. You can ask a board-certified oncologist using our Ask-A-Doc tool, or order for a second opinion. You’ll have FREE access to oncologists with Ask-a-Doc tool 24/7. You can ask any number of questions without a credit card number.
You can also get second opinions and receive rewards when you invite someone to OncoPower. The second opinion feature is like a marketplace nothing between you and your physicians.
In addition, OncoPower offers patients with FREE treatment specific patient education videos, a secure medical storage tool, pill reminder features. You’ll also find advocacy groups in your community.
If you’re a healthcare provider, this can enhance your care. To improve clinical care, OncoPower enables oncologists to remotely monitor cancer patient’s vitals like temperature, blood pressure, weight and pulse to improve quality of life for patients. Sign up today Free!
The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on many cancer patient’s treatments and support. Telehealth offers a virtual way for patients and providers to interact. Advances in technology have also facilitated symptom monitoring and physical assessment.
Home-based automated systems helped providers track vital signs and symptoms. These systems send alerts to the healthcare provider if there’s a change in the patient’s conditions.
This reduces the patient’s risk of exposure to COVID and other diseases. It also facilitated emotional support for patients and families coping with cancer.
Onboard your practice or institution today to give patients a complete digital experience.