Breast Cancer in the News: Can a new drug prolong survival?

CROs-Slowly-Shifting-to-Adaptive-Clinical-Trial-Designs_strict_xxlResearchers are reporting about a new type of drug that can help prevent advanced breast cancer from worsening. We had a chance to get some valuable information from breast Dr. Marc Citron, who is a clinical investigator in one of the ongoing clinical trials for the drug.

About 70% of breast cancer is related,meaning estrogen is contributing to cancer growth.  When this is the case, it is referred to as estrogen receptor positive (ER+). Dr. Citron says this new drug called palbociclib, inhibits cell growth for estrogen related breast cancer by inhibiting two proteins, (CDK) 4 and 6.

The studies for this drug have been said to be groundbreaking.  Palbociclib is currently being tested in postmenopausal women with ER+ advanced Stage IV breast cancer.  Dr. Citron notes that in a phase II trial, the addition of this medication to standard therapy, compared to standard therapy alone increased the time to disease progression from 10 months to 20 months.

Additionally, the drug also appeared to prolong survival about 4 months longer than the control group    using the standard treatment without palbociclib.  Although this is promising, Dr. Citron states that, “Phase II trials do not provide sufficient statistical certainty and a phase III trial with more patients is now ongoing to confirm this benefit. We’ll have to wait for results of the larger ongoing trials to know the drug’s true effects on survival.”

The success of the palbociclib drug in clinical trials may potentially change the treatment of advanced breast cancer.  How soon will this drug be provided as a new treatment option?  Dr. Citron says, “commercial availability of the drug will be determined by study results and the FDA approval.”

Dr Citron

Recognized for his innovative research in breast cancer and a diverse group of malignancies, Dr. Citron is acknowledged as an authority in the treatment of cancer. His experience in clinical cancer care spans almost 40 years. Dr. Citron is currently Director of Cancer Services at ProHEALTH Care Associates and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Hofstra North shore-LIJ School of Medicine.