Younger women suffering from a common form of advanced breast cancer have experienced significantly improved survival rates when treated with a drug that targets cancer cells, according to the findings of an worldwide clinical trial.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago Saturday and will be published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Among patients under 59 and pre-menopausal, the mortality rate was 29 percent less when they were randomly assigned a placebo.
It is generally treated by therapies that block the hormone's production. But this is the first evidence that it can also extend lives, lead study author Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, Director of the Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in the press release.
Adding ribociclib, a targeted drug that disrupts cancer cells, to standard hormone therapy was found to boost survival among premenopausal patients who have an advanced form of the disease. The treatment is less toxic than traditional chemotherapy because it more selectively targets cancerous cells, blocking their ability to multiply.
Approximately 268,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the USA this year, while the advanced form of the disease is the main cause of cancer deaths among women aged 20 to 59.
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Even though advanced breast cancer is not very common among women of younger age, its occurrence grew by 2% per year over the period between 1978 and 2008 in the United States for the women aged between 20 and 39.
The researchers noted: "The study was conducted among 672 women under 59 who received ribociclib, in combination with a common hormone therapy". (Most breast cancers fall into this category.) But previous year, the FDA extended the approval to include younger, premenopausal women, as well.
In the study participated women who haven't enter menopause and who have advanced breast cancer.
Oncologist Harold Burstein, who was not involved in the research, said it was "an important study", having established that the use of cyclin inhibitors "translates into a significant survival benefit for women".
Named ribociclib and manufactured by Novartis under the Kisqali brand, which is taken in pill form, costs over $12,000 or N4.32 million monthly, according to the prescription pricing website GoodRx.
Moving forward, Hurvitz said she was interested in investigating whether ribociclib could help nip cancer in the bud at an earlier stage. That is around 24 percent better than the survival rate for women who only undergoes endocrine therapy.