A group of German breast cancer experts (medical oncologists and gynaecologists) reviewed and commented on the results of the first international ‘Advanced Breast Cancer First Consensus Conference’ (ABC1) for the diagnosis and treatment of advanced breast cancer. The ABC1 Conference is an initiative of the European School of Oncology (ESO) Metastatic Breast Cancer Task Force in cooperation with the EBCC (European Breast Cancer Conference), ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology) and the American JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute). The main focus of the ABC1 Conference was metastatic breast cancer (stage IV). The ABC1 consensus is based on the vote of 33 breast cancer experts from different countries and has been specified as a guideline for therapeutic practice by the German expert group. It is the objective of the ABC1 consensus as well as of the German comments to provide an internationally standardized and evidence-based foundation for qualified decision-making in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
ABC1-consensus; Metastatic breast cancer, diagnosis and staging, treatment; Tumor markers; Metastases, biopsy; Chemotherapy; Endocrine therapy; Anti-HER2-targeted therapy; Palliative care
Some drugs are known for their fetal nephrotoxicity and should be avoided during pregnancy. We report on a pregnant woman suffering from breast cancer who received a weekly neoadjuvant trastuzumab (Herceptin®) therapy from 15 weeks of gestation onward, in addition to a 3-weekly carboplatin/docetaxel chemotherapy. Fetal renal insufficiency with anhydramnios and missing visualization of the fetal bladder developed at 21 weeks. After discontinuation of trastuzumab and repeated instillation of amniotic fluid, the amount of amniotic fluid remained stable after 24 weeks of gestation. After caesarean section at 34 weeks because of fetal growth restriction, the renal function of the neonate was normal postnatally. In accordance with the current literature, our case shows a reversible adverse effect of trastuzumab on the fetal renal function and confirms the current recommendation that trastuzumab in pregnancy should be avoided. In pregnancies exposed to trastuzumab, treatment should be discontinued and the fetus should be closely monitored, with particular attention to the amniotic fluid and the fetal bladder volume, as these reflect fetal renal function.
Fetus; Renal insufficiency; Trastuzumab; Breast cancer; Pregnancy
Recently reported data from the German ZORO trial and the Italian PROMISE-GIM6 trial have come to different conclusions. The AGO Breast Commission does not recommend the general use of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogues for the preservation of ovarian function. Instead, we distinguish between patients with hormone receptor-negative and hormone receptor-positive disease. This article reviews the AGO recommendations in light of the ZORO and PROMISE-GIM6 data. In conclusion, separate recommendations are needed for the prevention of ovarian failure and for fertility preservation because the trials did not investigate fertility rate as a primary outcome measure. The results from not yet published trials such as OPTION and POEM may shed new light on the role of LHRH analogues.
LHRH; Ovarian function preservation; Fertility preservation; Chemotherapy; Breast cancer
Afatinib (BIBW 2992) is an ErbB-family blocker that irreversibly inhibits signaling from all relevant ErbB-family dimers. Afatinib has demonstrated preclinical activity in human epidermal growth factor receptor HER2 (ErbB2)-positive and triple-negative xenograft models of breast cancer, and clinical activity in phase I studies. This was a multicenter phase II study enrolling patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer progressing following no more than three lines of chemotherapy. No prior epidermal growth factor receptor-targeted therapy was allowed. Patients received 50-mg afatinib once daily until disease progression. Tumor assessment was performed at every other 28-day treatment course. The primary endpoint was clinical benefit (CB) for ≥4 treatment courses in triple-negative (Cohort A) metastatic breast cancer (TNBC) and objective responses measured by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors in patients with HER2-negative, estrogen receptor-positive, and/or progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer (Cohort B). Fifty patients received treatment, including 29 patients in Cohort A and 21 patients in Cohort B. No objective responses were observed in either cohort. Median progression-free survival was 7.4 and 7.7 weeks in Cohorts A and B, respectively. Three patients with TNBC had stable disease for ≥4 treatment courses, one of them for 12 courses (median 26.3 weeks; range 18.9–47.9 weeks). The most frequently observed afatinib-associated adverse events (AEs) were gastrointestinal and skin-related side effects, which were manageable by symptomatic treatment and dose reductions. Afatinib pharmacokinetics were comparable to those observed in previously reported phase I trials. In conclusion, afatinib had limited activity in HER2-negative breast cancer. AEs were generally manageable and mainly affected the skin and the gastrointestinal tract.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-012-2126-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Afatinib; Metastatic breast cancer; Triple-negative breast cancer; HER2-negative breast cancer; EGFR TKI
To comply with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, our institution's administrative directives were adopted to advocate the provision of palliative care (PC) early in the disease trajectory of breast cancer (BC). To assess the outcome of this recommendation, this study evaluated the effects of this approach.
A retrospective systematic chart analysis of a 2-year period was performed. The first PC consultation of patients was analyzed according to (a) physical condition, (b) symptom burden of the patients, and (c) reasons for PC consultation.
Many patients were already in a reduced physical state and experienced burdening symptoms when first counselled by PC. After a 1-year experience with PC consultations, the number of burdening symptoms identified at first PC consultation decreased and senologists increasingly requested PC support also for non-somatic issues.
A development towards a better understanding of PC competencies after a 1-year initiation period could be demonstrated, but BC patients continued to be in late stages of the disease at the time of first PC contact. Disease-specific guidelines may facilitate and optimize the integration of PC into breast cancer therapy.
Comprehensive cancer care; Palliative medicine; Simultaneous care; Shared care; Quality of life; Symptom control
To comply with patients' needs as well as ASCO and WHO recommendations, our institution aims to integrate palliative care (PC) early in the course of breast cancer (BC) therapy. The evaluation of relevant pilot project data revealed that these recommendations were too vague to trigger PC integration. Therefore, a standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed by our interdisciplinary working group to provide disease-specific information to overcome the ambiguity of the WHO recommendations and guide PC integration. Literally, the SOP states that ‘Specialized PC is recommended regularly for all BC patients without curative treatment options, specifically for patients with i) metastasized and inoperable, or ii) locally advanced and inoperable, or iii) relapsing BC, who are receiving intravenous chemotherapy’. This SOP for the first time presents disease-specific guidelines for PC integration into comprehensive BC therapy by defining ‘green flags’ for early integration of PC and delineating PC from senology assignments. Although disease-specific SOPs have also been developed by this working group for other malignancies, the decision when to first integrate PC into BC therapy differs substantially because of the different clinical characteristics of the disease.
Comprehensive cancer care; Palliative medicine; Early integration; Quality of Life
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
Today, more than 70% of patients with primary node-negative breast cancer are cured by local therapy alone. Many patients receive overtreatment by adjuvant chemotherapy due to inadequate risk assessment. So far, few clinical trials have prospectively evaluated tumor biology based prognostic factors. Risk assessment by a biological algorithm including invasion factors urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its inhibitor plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) will assess up to 35-55% of node-negative patients as low-risk and thus avoid chemotherapy. In contrast, a clinical-pathological algorithm will only classify 20-40% of patients as low-risk. High-risk node-negative patients should receive chemotherapy. Anthracycline-based regimens are accepted as a standard, the additional benefit of taxanes remains an open question.
The international NNBC3 ("Node Negative Breast Cancer 3-Europe") trial compares biological risk assessment (UP) using invasion factors uPA/PAI-1 with a clinical-pathological algorithm (CP). In this trial, the type of risk assessment (CP or UP) was chosen upfront by each center for its patients. Fresh frozen tissue was obtained to determine uPA/PAI-1 using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Patients assessed as high-risk were stratified by human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status and then randomised to receive anthracycline-containing chemotherapy 5-Fluorouracil (F)/Epirubicin (E)/Cyclophosphymide (C) or an anthracycline-taxane sequence (FE100C*6 versus FE100C*3 followed by Docetaxel100*3).
In this trial, 4,149 node-negative patients with operable breast cancer from 153 centers in Germany and France were included since 2002. Measurement of uPA/PAI-1 by ELISA was performed with standardised central quality assurance for 2,497 patients (60%) from 56 "UP"-centers. The NNBC 3-Europe trial showed that inclusion of patients into a clinical phase III trial is feasible based on biological testing of fresh frozen tumor material. In addition, 2,661 patients were classified as high-risk and thus received chemotherapy. As adjuvant chemotherapy, 1,334 high-risk patients received FE100C-Docetaxel100, and 1,327 received French FE100C. No unexpected toxicities were observed. Chemotherapy efficacy and comparison of UP with CP will be evaluated after longer follow-up.
clinical Trials.gov NCT01222052.
Besides surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and endocrine treatment, immunotherapy has become an established part of systemic therapy in treating metastatic breast cancer. One of the most interesting targets for the design of anticancer therapeutics is the HER2/ErbB2 receptor which is overexpressed in about 20–25% of breast cancers. Given the poor prognosis of women whose tumors express ErbB2 (HER2) at high levels, accurate determination of the ErbB2 status should be routinely performed in women with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer. Efficacy and safety data of numerous trials led to the approval of the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab as the first ErbB2-targeting therapy in ErbB2-positive breast cancer. However, the majority of patients who achieve an initial response to trastuzumab-based regimens for metastatic disease develop resistance within 1 year. This underlines the need for alternative or additional anti-ErbB2-targeting strategies.
Metastatic breast cancer; HER2/ErbB2; ErbB2 testing; Trastuzumab; Resistance
Various biomarkers for prediction of distant metastasis in lymph-node negative breast cancer have been described; however, predictive biomarkers for patients with lymph-node positive (LNP) disease in the context of distinct systemic therapies are still very much needed. DNA methylation is aberrant in breast cancer and is likely to play a major role in disease progression. In this study, the DNA methylation status of 202 candidate loci was screened to identify those loci that may predict outcome in LNP/estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer patients with adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
Quantitative bisulfite sequencing was used to analyze DNA methylation biomarker candidates in a retrospective cohort of 162 LNP/ER+ breast cancer patients, who received adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy. First, twelve breast cancer specimens were analyzed for all 202 candidate loci to exclude genes that showed no differential methylation. To identify genes that predict distant metastasis, the remaining loci were analyzed in 84 selected cases, including the 12 initial ones. Significant loci were analyzed in the remaining 78 independent cases. Metastasis-free survival analysis was conducted by using Cox regression, time-dependent ROC analysis, and the Kaplan-Meier method. Pairwise multivariate regression analysis was performed by linear Cox Proportional Hazard models, testing the association between methylation scores and clinical parameters with respect to metastasis-free survival.
Of the 202 loci analysed, 37 showed some indication of differential DNA methylation among the initial 12 patient samples tested. Of those, 6 loci were associated with outcome in the initial cohort (n = 84, log rank test, p < 0.05).
Promoter DNA methylation of cysteine dioxygenase 1 (CDO1) was confirmed in univariate and in pairwise multivariate analysis adjusting for age at surgery, pathological T stage, progesterone receptor status, grade, and endocrine therapy as a strong and independent biomarker for outcome prediction in the independent validation set (log rank test p-value = 0.0010).
CDO1 methylation was shown to be a strong predictor for distant metastasis in retrospective cohorts of LNP/ER+ breast cancer patients, who had received adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
A German working group of 23 breast cancer experts discussed the results from the vote at this year's St. Gallen Consensus Conference on Primary Therapy for Early Breast Cancer (March 11–14, 2009) and came up with some concrete recommendations for day-to-day therapeutic decisions in Germany. Due the fact that the concept of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference merely allows for a minimal consensus, the objective of the working group was to provide practice-related recommendations for day-to-day clinical decisions in Germany. One area of emphasis at St. Gallen was tumor biology as a starting point for reaching individual therapeutic decisions. Intensive discussion was necessary with respect to the clinical relevance of predictive and prognostic factors. A new addition to the area of systemic therapy was a first-ever discussion of the adjuvant administration of bisphosponates and the fact that therapy with trastuzumab in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer has been defined as the standard for neoadjuvant therapy. The value of taxanes as a component of (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy as well as the value of aromatase inhibitors for the endocrine adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal patients were affirmed.
This multicenter, randomized, open-label phase III trial (planned enrollment: 700 patients) was conducted to test the hypothesis that single-agent sunitinib improves progression-free survival (PFS) compared with capecitabine as treatment for advanced breast cancer (ABC). Patients with HER2-negative ABC that recurred after anthracycline and taxane therapy were randomized (1:1) to sunitinib 37.5 mg/day or capecitabine 1,250 mg/m2 (1,000 mg/m2 in patients >65 years) BID on days 1–14 q3w. The independent data-monitoring committee (DMC) determined during the first interim analysis (238 patients randomized to sunitinib, 244 to capecitabine) that the trial be terminated due to futility in reaching the primary endpoint. No statistical evidence supported the hypothesis that sunitinib improved PFS compared with capecitabine (one-sided P = 0.999). The data indicated that PFS was shorter with sunitinib than capecitabine (median 2.8 vs. 4.2 months, respectively; HR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.16–1.87; two-sided P = 0.002). Median overall survival (15.3 vs. 24.6 months; HR, 1.17; two-sided P = 0.350) and objective response rates (11 vs. 16%; odds ratio, 0.65; P = 0.109) were numerically inferior with sunitinib versus capecitabine. While no new or unexpected safety findings were reported, sunitinib treatment was associated with higher frequencies and greater severities of many common adverse events (AEs) compared with capecitabine, resulting in more temporary discontinuations due to AEs with sunitinib (66 vs. 51%). The relative dose intensity was lower with sunitinib than capecitabine (73 vs. 95%). Based on these efficacy and safety results, sunitinib should not be used as monotherapy for patients with ABC.
Advanced breast cancer; Sunitinib malate; Capecitabine; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor
Recommendations for specimen collection and handling have been developed for adoption across breast cancer clinical trials conducted by the Breast International Group (BIG)-sponsored Groups and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored North American Cooperative Groups. These recommendations are meant to promote identifiable standards for specimen collection and handling within and across breast cancer trials, such that the variability in collection/handling practices that currently exists is minimized and specimen condition and quality are enhanced, thereby maximizing results from specimen-based diagnostic testing and research. Three working groups were formed from the Cooperative Group Banking Committee, BIG groups, and North American breast cancer cooperative groups to identify standards for collection and handling of (1) formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue; (2) blood and its components; and (3) fresh/frozen tissue from breast cancer trials. The working groups collected standard operating procedures from multiple group specimen banks, administered a survey on banking practices to those banks, and engaged in a series of discussions from 2005 to 2007. Their contributions were synthesized into this document, which focuses primarily on collection and handling of specimens to the point of shipment to the central bank, although also offers some guidance to central banks. Major recommendations include submission of an FFPE block, whole blood, and serial serum or plasma from breast cancer clinical trials, and use of one fixative and buffer type (10% neutral phosphate-buffered formalin, pH 7) for FFPE tissue across trials. Recommendations for proper handling and shipping were developed for blood, serum, plasma, FFPE, and fresh/frozen tissue.
Despite the fact that people older than 65 years of age have the highest incidence of developing breast cancer, these patients are excluded from clinical trials in most cases. Furthermore, most physicians tend towards therapy regimens without the use of dose-dense, highly active taxane-based treatments because of a lack of data regarding toxicities of these compounds in older patients.
Pooled side-effect data were analyzed from four prospective, randomized clinical trials in which patients of different age groups (< 60 years, between 60 and 64 years, and > 64 years) with primary breast cancer received taxane-based chemotherapy.
Dose delays, dose reductions, hospitalization, and therapy discontinuation increased with age. Hematologic toxicities and some nonhematologic toxicities were generally more common in older patients. Leucopenia increased from 55.3% in patients aged < 60 years to 65.5% in patients aged > 64 years (P < 0.001), and neutropenia increased from 46.9% to 57.4% (P < 0.001). There was no difference, however, in clinically more relevant febrile neutropenia between the different age groups. Thrombopenia shows a similar age-dependent increase, whereas there is no difference between the age groups concerning anemia. Hot flushes and elevated liver enzymes decreased with increasing age.
The present pooled analysis of a substantial cohort of older primary breast cancer patients demonstrates that taxane-containing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy is feasible in older patients and that toxicity can be reduced by sequential therapy regimens.
Tamoxifen is a standard endocrine therapy for the prevention and treatment of steroid hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Tamoxifen requires enzymatic activation by CYP 450 enzymes for the formation of clinically relevant metabolites, 4-OH-tamoxifen and endoxifen, which both have a greater affinity to the estrogen receptor and ability to inhibit cell proliferation when compared to the parent drug. CYP2D6 is the key enzyme in this biotransformation, and recent mechanistic, pharmacologic, and clinical pharmacogenetic evidence suggests that genetic variants and drug interaction by CYP2D6 inhibitors influence plasma concentrations of active tamoxifen metabolites and outcome of patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen. Particularly, non-functional (poor metabolizer) and severely impaired (intermediate metabolizer) CYP2D6 variants are associated with higher recurrence rates. Accordingly, CYP2D6 genotyping prior to treatment for prediction of metabolizer status and outcome may open new avenues for the individualization of endocrine treatment choice and benefit. Moreover, strong CYP2D6 inhibitors such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine should be avoided as co-medication.
Breast cancer; Tamoxifen; Prediction of treatment outcome; CYP2D6 metabolism; Poor metabolizer
The impact of improved treatments for the management of hormone-sensitive breast cancer extends beyond clinical responses. Thanks to appropriate literature and access to the internet, patient awareness of treatment options has grown and patients are now, in many cases, able to engage their oncologists in informed conversations regarding treatment and what to expect in terms of efficacy and safety. Indeed, patients realize that although there is no cure for metastatic disease, treatment can greatly reduce the risk of progression and in the adjuvant setting, where treatment is administered with a curative intent, current treatment options reduce the risk of relapse. The approval of letrozole throughout the breast cancer continuum has provided patients with many reassuring options. The improvement in outcome with letrozole is achieved without a detrimental effect on overall quality of life. Adverse events such as hot flushes, arthralgia, vaginal dryness, and potential osteoporosis are most significant from the patient’s perspective, and it is important that caregivers pay attention to patients experiencing these events, as they can impact compliance unless effectively explained and managed. The major benefits of letrozole are to improve prospects for long-term survivorship in the adjuvant setting and to delay progression and the need for chemotherapy in the metastatic setting.
Adjuvant therapy; Aromatase inhibitors; Breast cancer; Letrozole; Neoadjuvant therapy; Patient
Approximately half of breast cancer patients with stage I–III disease will suffer metastatic disease despite resection with tumour-free margins. In 30–40% of these patients, individual carcinoma cells can already be detected at the time of primary therapy in cytological bone marrow preparations using immunocytochemistry. Numerous prospective clinical studies have shown that the presence of occult metastatic cells in bone marrow is prognostically relevant to patient survival. Only a few studies failed to do so, thus stimulating a critical discussion on the methodology and clinical value of bone marrow analysis. The potential for obtaining improved prognostic information on patient outcome, for monitoring tumour cell eradication during adjuvant and palliative systemic therapy, and for specifically targeting tumour biological therapies are intriguing clinical opportunities that may be afforded by bone marrow analysis. Standardized and robust methodology is a prerequisite for clinical application of these techniques, however.
breast cancer; immunocytochemistry; micrometastasis; polymerase chain reaction (PCR); prognosis