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Drug combo prolongs progression-free survival time in breast cancer

September 26, 2011 - Washington

Combining two existing cancer drugs to treat post-menopausal women with advanced Breast cancer resistant to hormonal therapy can significantly improve life expectancy without risk of the disease getting worse, a new study has suggested.

Exemestane is currently used to treat women who have metastatic Breast cancer and women whose breast cancer has returned after initial treatment.

Everolimus is an established treatment for recurrent, advanced Kidney Cancer and researchers are now looking at its use in other cancers.

The study found that women treated with a combination of everolimus and exemestane had an improved progression-free survival of nearly seven months compared to women who were treated only with exemestane.

"These results are impressive and, potentially, could represent a new therapeutic option for women with advanced post-menopausal Breast cancer who have previously been treated with hormonal therapy," said Trial leader, Professor Jose Baselga from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston (USA).

The multi-national trial was conducted with 724 patients in 24 countries, with an average age of 62.

A group of 485 patients was randomised to receive everolimus and exemestane, while 239 received only exemestane until the disease progressed or unacceptable levels of toxicity were recorded.

The trial was stopped early after an interim analysis revealed that further tumour growth did not occur for nearly 11 months in patients who received everolimus, whereas patients receiving only exemestane had progression-free survival for approximately four months.

"This is a highly significant improvement in the time to disease progression in a patient population that is highly resistant to therapy," Prof Baselga said.

The study was recently presented the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress.


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