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1.  13th St. Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference 2013: Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer Evidence, Controversies, Consensus – Opinion of a German Team of Experts (Zurich 2013) 
Breast Care  2013;8(3):221-229.
The International Consensus Conference on the treatment of primary breast cancer takes place every two years in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The panel in St. Gallen is composed of international experts from different countries. From a German perspective, it seems reasonable to interpret the voting results in the light of AGO-recommendations and S3-guidelines for everyday practice in Germany. Consequently, a team of eight breast cancer experts, of whom two are members of the international St. Gallen panel, commented on the voting results of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference (2013). The main topics at this year's St. Gallen conference were surgical issues of the breast and axilla, radio-therapeutic and systemic treatment options, and the clinical relevance of tumour biology. The clinical utility of multigene assays for supporting individual treatment decisions was also intensively discussed.
PMCID: PMC3728634  PMID: 24415975
St. Gallen Consensus; Early breast cancer; Adjuvant therapy; Multigene signatures; Targeted therapy
2.  Breast Cancer-Associated Thrombotic Microangiopathy 
Breast Care  2011;6(6):441-445.
Thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) is defined as thrombocytopenia and microangiopathic hemolytic anemia. Cancer-associated TMA, a rare but fatal condition, seems an entity distinct from classical thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)/hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Patients and Methods
All patients with breast cancer-associated TMA treated at our institution between 2003 and 2008 were analyzed retrospectively. To elucidate pathophysiological mechanisms, we measured the serum activity of the metalloprotease ADAMTS13.
8 patients were identified. All showed bone marrow infiltration of breast cancer as well as thrombocytopenia, schistocytes, and hemolytic anemia. ADAMTS13 activity was mildly decreased in 4/6 patients (20–108%, normal range 30–120%), but none showed severely low levels as is characteristic of classical TTP. 6 patients were treated with anthracycline-containing fractionated chemotherapy, 5/6 patients experienced partial response. Overall survival was 13 months. Fractionated chemotherapy was well tolerated.
Cancer-associated TMA has an underlying mechanism different from classical TTP. While bone marrow infiltration might be of major relevance, ADAMTS13 deficiency seems to be an epiphenomenon. Fractionated chemotherapy resulted in higher remission rates and comparatively long survival.
PMCID: PMC3290020  PMID: 22419897
ADAMTS13; Bone marrow infiltration; Microangiopathic anemia; Thrombotic microangiopathy; Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
3.  A phase II trial to assess efficacy and safety of afatinib in extensively pretreated patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment  2012;134(3):1149-1159.
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.
PMCID: PMC3409367  PMID: 22763464
Afatinib; Metastatic breast cancer; Triple-negative breast cancer; HER2-negative breast cancer; EGFR TKI
4.  Simultaneous Inhibition of Estrogen Receptor and the HER2 Pathway in Breast Cancer: Effects of HER2 Abundance1 
Translational Oncology  2011;4(5):293-300.
The estrogen receptor (ER) pathway and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway play pivotal roles in breast cancer progression. Targeted therapies able to intercept ER or signaling downstream to EGFR and its kin, HER2, are routinely used to treat distinct groups of breast cancer patients. However, patient responses are limited by resistance to endocrine therapy, which may be due to compensatory HER2/EGFR signaling. This raises the possibility that simultaneous interception of HER2 and ER may enhance therapeutic efficacy. To address the question, we treated breast cancer cells with both fulvestrant (ICI 182780), an ER antagonist with no agonist effects, and lapatinib, an orally available tyrosine kinase inhibitor specific to EGFR and HER2. Our results indicate that the combination of drugs is especially effective when applied to HER2-overexpressing, ER-positive cancer cells. Interestingly, fulvestrant activated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway of these cells, but complete inhibition of MAPK signaling was observed on cotreatment with lapatinib. Taken together, our observations reinforce the possibility that the effectiveness of combining anti-ER and anti-HER2/EGFR drugs may be especially effective on a relatively small subtype of HER2-overexpressing, ER-positive tumors of the breast.
PMCID: PMC3162304  PMID: 21966546
5.  Contrast-Enhancing Meningeal Lesions Are Associated with Longer Survival in Breast Cancer-Related Leptomeningeal Metastasis 
Breast Care  2008;3(2):118-123.
Leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) is a devastating complication of advanced cancer. Despite aggressive therapy survival is very poor.
Data of all breast cancer patients with LM were retrospectively analyzed (n = 27).
Median survival was 9 weeks. Patients with contrast-enhancing meningeal lesions (n = 11) detected by MRI had a median survival of 33 weeks versus 8 weeks for patients without contrast-enhancing lesions (n = 9; p = 0.0407). Patients who received systemic chemotherapy (n = 18) had a median survival of 15 weeks versus 7 weeks (n = 9; p = 0.0106). Patients undergoing radiotherapy (n = 8) had a median survival of 17 weeks as compared to 5 weeks for patients without radiotherapy (n = 18; p = 0.0188). In a multiple Cox regression analysis, lack of systemic therapy (hazard ratio, HR 89.5; p = 0.002) and negative hormone receptor status (HR 4.2; p = 0.027) emerged as significant main risk factors, together with contrast-enhancing lesion as effect modifier for systemic therapy (p = 0.03).
Contrast-enhancing meningeal lesions, systemic therapy, and radiotherapy were significantly associated with longer survival. Patients with contrast-enhancing lesions who were treated systemically had the longest survival. Evidence is increasing that systemic therapy plays an important role and should be applied in breast cancer patients with LM.
PMCID: PMC2931086  PMID: 21373215
Breast cancer; Leptomeningeal metastases; Carcinomatous meningitis; Neoplastic meningitis; Intrathecal chemotherapy

Results 1-5 (5)