Positive developments in both early and metastatic breast cancer involving specific types of the disease were announced at the annual Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO 2018) in Munich. The combination of chemotherapy with immunotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer has shown to increase overall survival by 9.5 months in a particular group of women with metastatic breast cancer. They also confirmed the positive results in the treatment of early HER2 positive breast cancer as it becomes clear that a different combination of drugs reduces future recurrence of the disease.
Metastatic, triple-negative, breast cancer lacking hormone receptors accounts for 15 pct of all breast cancers and is associated with hereditary cancer. It usually affects women under 50, and when metastatic, it has the worst prognosis, with a median survival rate of only 2 years.
Until now, the only treatment available to oncologists was chemotherapy. However, a combination of Azeolizumab immunotherapy with first-line chemotherapy (NAB-paclitaxel) in a recent clinical trial (Impassion 130) – the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine – has changed this. In triple-negative cancer, the addition of immunotherapy increased overall survival by 9.5 months in women with overexpression of PDL-1 protein, a biomarker detected in patients via a special examination. The new treatment approach is well tolerated by patients as the combination of immunotherapy with chemotherapy did not increase the side effects.