The 13th St Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference (2013) Expert Panel reviewed and endorsed substantial new evidence on aspects of the local and regional therapies for early breast cancer, supporting less extensive surgery to the axilla and shorter durations of radiation therapy. It refined its earlier approach to the classification and management of luminal disease in the absence of amplification or overexpression of the Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2 (HER2) oncogene, while retaining essentially unchanged recommendations for the systemic adjuvant therapy of HER2-positive and ‘triple-negative’ disease. The Panel again accepted that conventional clinico-pathological factors provided a surrogate subtype classification, while noting that in those areas of the world where multi-gene molecular assays are readily available many clinicians prefer to base chemotherapy decisions for patients with luminal disease on these genomic results rather than the surrogate subtype definitions. Several multi-gene molecular assays were recognized as providing accurate and reproducible prognostic information, and in some cases prediction of response to chemotherapy. Cost and availability preclude their application in many environments at the present time. Broad treatment recommendations are presented. Such recommendations do not imply that each Panel member agrees: indeed, among more than 100 questions, only one (trastuzumab duration) commanded 100% agreement. The various recommendations in fact carried differing degrees of support, as reflected in the nuanced wording of the text below and in the votes recorded in supplementary Appendix S1, available at Annals of Oncology online. Detailed decisions on treatment will as always involve clinical consideration of disease extent, host factors, patient preferences and social and economic constraints.
surgery; radiation therapy; systemic adjuvant therapies; early breast cancer; St Gallen Consensus; subtypes
The 2013 St. Gallen Consensus Conference on early breast cancer provided mostly evidence-based, globally valid treatment recommendations for breast cancer care, with a broad spectrum of acceptable clinical practice. This report summarizes the results of the 2013 international panel voting procedures with regard to loco-regional and endocrine treatment, chemotherapy, targeted therapy as well as adjuvant bisphosphonate use. This report is not aimed to replace the official St. Gallen Consensus publication, some recommendations may even be altered in the final paper, but should serve a preliminary rapid report of this important meeting.
Early breast cancer; Bisphosphonates; Endocrine therapy; Chemotherapy; Surgery; Axillary dissection; Targeted therapy; Neoadjuvant therapy
At the first Austrian multidisciplinary expert panel on controversies in local treatment of breast cancer, 22 experts of all relevant disciplines discussed current areas of debate (surgery of the breast, surgery and pathology of the axilla, reconstructive surgery, radiotherapy, and imaging) in local therapy. The most controversial area of debate was the area of axillary surgery. The panel agreed that it was no longer necessary to perform completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) when micrometastases are diagnosed in the sentinel lymph node. The only prospective trial comparing patients with sentinel node macrometastases with or without completion ALND had to be terminated early due to failure in sufficient patient recruitment. As long as the frequently discussed issues have not been solved and in light of the lack of any clear level 1 evidence, the panel decided not to recommend omitting axillary dissection in patients with 1 or 2 macrometastases meeting the inclusion criteria of the ACOSOG Z0011 trial. The Austrian panel similarly decided not to recommend omitting axillary dissection in patients with macrometastases and low-risk breast cancer in general. These decisions reflect the increasing skepticism of the scientific community against rapidly shifting paradigms without sufficient and clear evidence.
Breast cancer: local therapy, surgery, radiotherapy; Expert panel
Bone metastases are usually associated with a variety of skeletal related events (SREs), a term covering both complications (pathological fractures, spinal cord compression) and the need for therapeutic intervention (radiotherapy, surgery to bone) for painful bone lesions and/or lesions carrying a high risk of fracture by which the patient's quality of life, functioning, and independence may be compromised. In view of the availability of improved therapeutic approaches for oncological diseases and the resulting improvements of median overall survival, the aim of preventing and delaying the occurrence of SREs becomes more important. To avoid, wherever possible, therapies requiring hospitalization, is another relevant goal. In recent years, bisphosphonates, along with available tumor-specific medication (chemotherapy, hormone therapy), constituted the standard of care for preventing skeletal complications in treating patients with bone metastases. Recently, a therapeutical alternative with potentially superior efficacy has been found in denosumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that binds to the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL), thus preventing osteoclast-mediated bone resorption and specifically interfering with bone metabolism.
Breast Cancer; Metastatic bone disease; Bisphosphonates; Denosumab; Osteonecrosis of the jaw
The intravenous nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate zoledronic acid has been shown to block multiple steps in tumor metastasis (e.g. angiogenesis, invasion, adhesion, proliferation) in preclinical and translational studies. Moreover, clinical data from the ABCSG-12 and ZO-FAST trials demonstrate significantly improved disease-free survival with zoledronic acid in the adjuvant breast cancer setting. In contrast to these two trials, recent interim results from the AZURE trial do not show a benefit from adding zoledronic acid to adjuvant therapy in the overall patient population. However, subset analyses of AZURE data show that zoledronic acid significantly improved overall survival in women who were more than 5 years postmenopausal or older than 60 years at baseline. Similarly, subset analyses of the ABCSG-12 trial data demonstrate greater benefits from zoledronic acid treatment in patients who theoretically would have achieved more complete ovarian suppression. These observations, together with the AZURE postmenopausal data, suggest that the endocrine environment may affect the potential anticancer activity of zoledronic acid. Indeed, current data support the possibility that zoledronic acid might be most effective for improving disease-free survival in the adjuvant breast cancer setting in women who are postmenopausal or have endocrine therapy-induced menopause.
adjuvant therapy; anticancer; bisphosphonate; breast cancer; zoledronic acid
Adjuvant bisphosphonate therapy is increasingly used in postmenopausal breast cancer patients. This is based on level-one evidence that bisphosphonates, particularly zoledronic acid, can effectively prevent cancer treatment-induced bone loss in breast cancer patients receiving estradiol-lowering endocrine therapies such as aromatase inhibitors. Furthermore, emerging data from large clinical trials suggest that additional anticancer benefits can be derived due to a positive impact on the bone marrow microenvironment.
Breast cancer; Bone loss; Bisphosphonates, Adjuvant therapy
Breast cancer and bone health are closely linked. Early menopause induced by gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues or chemotherapy as well as aromatase inhibitors reduce oestrogen levels, thereby causing cancer treatment-induced bone loss (CTIBL). Furthermore, bone metastases are commonly found in advanced disease. Current treatment options for bone lesions comprise systemic anti-tumour therapy, irradiation, surgery and bisphosphonates. The main mechanism of osteolysis, osteoclast activation, is induced by the RANK ligand and suppressed by osteoprotegerin (OPG). A human antibody targeting the RANK ligand, denosumab, had superior activity compared to OPG and was therefore further developed in the clinical setting. This article reviews clinical data on denosumab. Data were obtained by searching the Medline database and abstracts from the ASCO annual meeting, ASCO breast meeting, ECCO, ESMO, and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Clinical trials have demonstrated that denosumab reduces markers of bone turnover, and suggest equal efficacy to bisphosphonates in reducing the rate of skeletal-related events. While overall fewer side effects were observed, a numerically increased rate of osteonecrosis of the jaw was reported. Denosumab was well tolerated, and clinical activity was similar to bisphosphonates in metastatic disease. Trials of denosumab in the prevention of CTIBL are ongoing.
Bisphosphonates; Bone metastases; Denosumab; Osteoporosis; Cancer treatment-induced bone loss
Circulating endothelial cells (CECs) have been proposed to predict patient response to antiangiogenic cancer therapy. However, contradictory reports and inconsistency in the phenotypic identification of CECs have led us to compare three cell populations with partially overlapping phenotype in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and the antiangiogenic agent bevacizumab.
Patients (n = 20) with locally advanced pancreatic cancer were monitored during 16 weeks of neoadjuvant treatment with gemcitabine and bevacizumab. Detection of circulating cell populations was based on the marker combination CD45, CD31, and CD146; levels of viable and dead (7-aminoactinomycin D-positive) cells were evaluated by flow cytometry in 2-week intervals.
We were able to discriminate and concomitantly monitor three cell populations elevated in cancer patients. Whereas CECs were defined as CD45- CD31+ CD146+, the distinct populations of CD45- CD31- CD146+ and CD45- CD31high CD146- cells were partly positive for CD3 and CD41, respectively. CECs and CD45- CD31- CD146+ cells increased during therapy; the rise in dead cells was positively correlated with patient response or survival. Conversely, CD45- CD31high CD146- cells decreased in neoadjuvant treatment. A highly significant correlation was established for improved patient response and a minor decrease in viable cell counts.
Flow cytometric CEC analysis based on CD45, CD31, and CD146 requires careful discrimination between blood cell populations with overlapping phenotype showing hallmarks of activated T cells and large platelets. However, these three cell populations show distinct regulation during cancer therapy, and their concomitant analysis may offer extended prognostic and predictive information.
Treatment options for women with early-stage breast cancer have never been better, and the addition of bisphosphonates to adjuvant therapy is a valuable new tool capable of substantially improving clinical outcomes for these women. Several recent studies demonstrated that the anticancer activity of bisphosphonates is not limited to bone, and can translate into a reduction in disease recurrence, including reductions in locoregional and distant metastases. In addition, bisphosphonates maintain bone health during adjuvant therapy; this may be especially important for women who are at high risk for fracture.
The oral formulation of vinorelbine together with capecitabine allows for an all-oral combination chemotherapy which promises to raise quality of life of patients with advanced breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
Patients with HER2-negative, locally advanced, inoperable or metastatic breast cancer were included in this prospective observational trial (treatment schedule: capecitabine 500 mg/m2 twice daily, days 1-14; vinorelbine 60 mg/m2, days 1+8; repeated in 3-week cycles).
All 32 patients (median age 50 years) were evaluable for toxicity, and 30 patients for response. Twentyfour patients received therapy as first-line treatment, and 8 patients as beyond first-line treatment. Median time to progression was 8 months, and median overall survival was 32 months. Complete response was observed in 1 patient (3%), partial response in 10 patients (33%), and disease stabilization for more than 6 months (SD > 6) in 10 patients (33%). This results in an overall response rate (ORR) of 37% and a clinical benefit rate (ORR + SD > 6) of 70%. The only grade 3/4 toxicities were neutropenia (19%) and hand-foot syndrome (9%).
The all-oral combination of capecitabine/vinorelbine at this schedule appears to be an effective, well-tolerated regimen for treatment of advanced breast cancer, and offers a promising alternative to single-agent capecitabine and vinorelbine as well as intravenous polychemotherapy.
Capecitabine; Vinorelbine; Combination therapy; Breast cancer, advanced
Chemotherapeutic agents that have shown improved patient outcome when combined with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy were recently identified to induce the mobilization of proangiogenic Tie-2-expressing monocytes (TEMs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) by platelet release of stromal cell-derived factor 1α (SDF-1α). VEGF blockade was found to counteract cell mobilization. We aimed to determine why agents like gemcitabine do not elicit TEM and EPC recruitment and may therefore lack synergy with anti-VEGF therapy.
Locally advanced pancreatic cancer patients (n = 20) were monitored during 16 weeks of neoadjuvant therapy. Treatment was based on gemcitabine with or without the addition of bevacizumab. Blood levels of proangiogenic cell populations and angiogenesis factors were determined in 2-week intervals.
The lack of EPC mobilization during gemcitabine therapy was associated with severe thrombocytopenia and reduced SDF-1α blood concentrations. Furthermore, myelosuppression by gemcitabine correlated significantly with loss of TEMs. With respect to angiogenic factors stored and released by platelets, plasma levels of the angiogenesis inhibitor thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1) were selectively decreased and correlated significantly with thrombocytopenia in response to gemcitabine therapy.
A thorough literature screen identified thrombocytopenia as a common feature of chemotherapeutic agents that lack synergy with anti-VEGF treatment. Our results on gemcitabine therapy indicate that myelosuppression (in particular, with respect to thrombocytes and monocytes) interferes with the mobilization of proangiogenic cell types targeted by bevacizumab and may further counteract antiangiogenic therapy by substantially reducing the angiogenesis inhibitor TSP-1.
The 2011 St. Gallen Consensus Conference on early breast cancer provided mostly evidence-based treatment recommendations with a broad spectrum of acceptable clinical practice for global breast cancer care. This report summarizes the results of the 2011 international panel voting procedures with regard to locoregional and endocrine treatment, chemotherapy, targeted therapy as well as adjuvant bisphosphonate use.
Early breast cancer; Bisphosphonates; Endocrine therapy; Chemotherapy; Surgery; Targeted therapy; Neoadjuvant therapy
In individuals with mammary carcinoma, the most relevant prognostic predictor of distant organ metastasis and clinical outcome is the status of axillary lymph node metastasis. Metastases form initially in axillary sentinel lymph nodes and progress via connecting lymphatic vessels into postsentinel lymph nodes. However, the mechanisms of consecutive lymph node colonization are unknown. Through the analysis of human mammary carcinomas and their matching axillary lymph nodes, we show here that intrametastatic lymphatic vessels and bulk tumor cell invasion into these vessels highly correlate with formation of postsentinel metastasis. In an in vitro model of tumor bulk invasion, human mammary carcinoma cells caused circular defects in lymphatic endothelial monolayers. These circular defects were highly reminiscent of defects of the lymphovascular walls at sites of tumor invasion in vivo and were primarily generated by the tumor-derived arachidonic acid metabolite 12S-HETE following 15-lipoxygenase-1 (ALOX15) catalysis. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition and shRNA knockdown of ALOX15 each repressed formation of circular defects in vitro. Importantly, ALOX15 knockdown antagonized formation of lymph node metastasis in xenografted tumors. Furthermore, expression of lipoxygenase in human sentinel lymph node metastases correlated inversely with metastasis-free survival. These results provide evidence that lipoxygenase serves as a mediator of tumor cell invasion into lymphatic vessels and formation of lymph node metastasis in ductal mammary carcinomas.
Endocrine therapy has become a key part in the adjuvant treatment of hormone responsive breast cancer. The positive effect on relapse risk reduction is well defined, but therapy is not free from bothersome side effects for which estrogen deprivation accounts to a great extent. Since endocrine therapy is usually prescribed for 5 years or longer to optimally display its protective effect, and because physical strain is missing, good tolerability and safety properties are important, particularly in low-risk patients. While tamoxifen has been the standard adjuvant endocrine treatment with well documented efficiency, it is increasingly replaced by third generation aromatase inhibitors due to their better effectiveness and tolerability. Because tamoxifen holds a risk for life-threatening adverse events such as endometrial cancer, pulmonary embolism, and stroke, its recommended duration of therapy is limited to 5 years, also because extension beyond that time did not produce a measurable advantage. While some side effects are present both with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, differences in side effect profiles are well established. Although side effects of aromatase inhibitor-related therapy usually are mild and common to symptoms of menopause, misconception of the symptoms and their mechanism of action, as well as lack of knowledge about how to handle them, can easily lead to dangerous discontinuation of therapy.
Endocrine therapy; Breast cancer; Tamoxifen; Aromatase inhibitors; Anastrozole; Letrozole; Exemestane; Side effects; Tolerability; Safety
Recent advances in the treatment of early breast cancer have improved clinical outcomes and prolonged survival, especially in women with endocrine-responsive disease. However, cancer therapies including cytotoxic chemotherapy, ovarian suppression, and aromatase inhibitors can drastically reduce circulating estrogen, increasing bone loss and fracture risk. Because most women with early breast cancer will live for many years, it is important to protect bone health during cancer therapy. Several recent clinical trials combining adjuvant endocrine therapy with bisphosphonates have demonstrated efficacy for preventing cancer treatment-induced bone loss in pre- and postmenopausal women with early breast cancer. The largest body of evidence supporting the use of adjuvant bisphosphonates comes from studies with zoledronic acid; however, studies with risedronate, ibandronate, and denosumab (a biologic agent) have also demonstrated efficacy for preventing bone loss. Adding zoledronic acid to endocrine therapy prevents bone loss and improves bone mineral density (BMD). In addition, preclinical studies suggest that bisphosphonates have direct and indirect antitumor activity, such as inducing tumor cell apoptosis, reducing tumor cell adhesion and invasion, reducing angiogenesis, activating immune responses, and synergy with chemotherapy agents, among others. Clinical trials have demonstrated significantly improved disease-free survival in patients receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy plus zoledronic acid compared with endocrine therapy alone. Ongoing studies will further define the role of adjuvant bisphosphonates in maintaining bone health and improving clinical outcomes. The available evidence suggests that pre- and postmenopausal patients may receive clinical benefit from including bisphosphonates as part of their adjuvant treatment regimen for endocrine-responsive early breast cancer.
adjuvant; antitumor; bisphosphonates; bone loss; breast cancer; disease recurrence; endocrine responsive; zoledronic acid
In Her2-positive advanced breast cancer, the upfront use of trastuzumab is well established. Upon progression on first-line therapy, patients may be switched to lapatinib. Others however remain candidates for continued antibody treatment (treatment beyond progression). Here, we aimed to identify factors predicting for activity of second-line trastuzumab-based therapy.
Ninety-seven patients treated with > 1 line of trastuzumab-containing therapy were available for this analysis. Her2-status was determined by immunohistochemistry and re-analyzed by FISH if a score of 2+ was gained. Time to progression (TTP) on second-line therapy was defined as primary study endpoint. TTP and overall survival (OS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier product limit method. Multivariate analyses (Cox proportional hazards model, multinomial logistic regression) were applied in order to identify factors associated with TTP, response, OS, and incidence of brain metastases. p values < 0.05 were considered to indicate statistical significance.
Median TTP on second-line trastuzumab-based therapy was 7 months (95% CI 5.74-8.26), and 8 months (95% CI 6.25-9.74) on first-line, respectively (n.s.). In the multivariate models, none of the clinical or histopthological features could reliably predict for activity of second-line trastuzumab-based treatment. OS was 43 months suggesting improved survival in patients treated with trastuzumab in multiple-lines. A significant deterioration of cardiac function was observed in three patients; 40.2% developed brain metastases while on second-line trastuzumab or thereafter.
Trastuzumab beyond progression showed considerable activity. None of the variables investigated correlated with activity of second-line therapy. In order to predict for activity of second-line trastuzumab, it appears necessary to evaluate factors known to confer trastuzumab-resistance.
Most women with early breast cancer (BC) have an excellent prognosis and will remain disease-free for many years after treatment. However, bone-specific side effects of cancer therapies can have a negative effect on patients’ long-term bone health. The accelerated bone loss associated with BC therapies, especially endocrine therapy, can put women at risk for osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Recent treatment guidelines have now begun to address the need for bone-preserving measures to be included in adjuvant therapy regimens. Bisphosphonates have long been used to treat osteoporosis, as well as bone metastases in patients with advanced cancers. Furthermore, in the adjuvant BC setting, the intravenous bisphosphonate zoledronic acid has emerged to play an important role. Several large, randomized phase III trials involving a total of approximately 4,000 premenopausal and postmenopausal women with early BC demonstrated the bone-protective effects of adjuvant zoledronic acid (4 mg every 6 months). Additionally, these same trials also showed significant improvement in disease-free survival for patients receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy plus zoledronic acid that was over and above the benefit achieved with endocrine therapy alone. The results of these zoledronic acid trials will be reviewed herein, and evidence supporting the antitumor effects of adjuvant zoledronic acid will be discussed.
breast cancer; bisphosphonate; adjuvant therapy; antitumor; BMD; fracture risk
Endocrine adjuvant therapy is the best-described molecular targeted treatment and should therefore be used for all patients with endocrine-responsive breast cancer. Ta-moxifen for 5 years is standard of care and has proven efficacy in premenopausal patients. The combination of tamoxifen with ovarian function suppression and/or chemotherapy has been extensively tested, and some controversial approaches are used in clinical practice. Cessation or suppression of ovarian function appears to be beneficial for premenopausal patients. Particularly for premenopausal women with highly endocrine-responsive disease and/or low risk for relapse, the additional benefit of cytotoxic chemotherapy may be minor or nonexistent. While the use aromatase inhibitors is investigated in clinical trials, their application outside an academic trial setting cannot be recommended based on first available results. In contrast, the use of adjuvant bispho-sphonates may offer another strategy of further improving clinical outcomes in this important patient subgroup.
Breast cancer; Premenopausal patients; Endocrine treatment; Aromatase inhibitors; Bisphosphonates; Tamoxifen; LHRH agonists