The patients with the experimental drug survived for 23.9 months, as compared with 16.8 month…… every day is a blessing, but this is not what patients are praying for……for a refua shlema, G-d willing! As long as oncology is still a HUGE business , no one will seriously look for othwer non lucrative solutions/trilas and the worst: patients are demorilized by scaring them if they loook for other solutions.
Would any alternative treatment / approach also get a “standing ovation” if the cancer came to a stanstill or was healed?
For some patients with metastatic tumors not significantly affected by other forms of chemotherapy, the treatment halted their cancer’s growth.
By Gina Kolata
June 7, 2022
The patients had metastatic breast cancer that had been progressing despite rounds of harsh chemotherapy. But a treatment with a drug that targeted cancer cells with laserlike precision was stunningly successful, slowing tumor growth and extending life to an extent rarely seen with advanced cancers.
The new study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and published on Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, would change how medicine was practiced, cancer specialists said.
“This is a new standard of care,” said Dr. Eric Winer, a breast cancer specialist, director of the Yale Cancer Center and head of the A.S.C.O. Dr. Winer was not involved with the study. He added that “it affects a huge number of patients.”
The trial focused on a particular mutant protein, HER2, which is a common villain in breast and other cancers. Drugs that block HER2 have been stunningly effective in treating breast cancers that are almost entirely populated with the protein, turning HER2-positive breast cancers from those with some of the worst prognoses into ones where patients fare very well.
But HER2-positive cases constitute only about 15 percent to 20 percent of breast cancer patients, said Dr. Halle Moore, director of breast medical oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. Patients with only a few HER2 cells — a condition known as HER2-low — were not helped by those drugs. Only a small proportion of their cancer cells had HER2, while other mutations primarily drove the cancer’s growth. And that posed a problem because the cancer cells evaded chemotherapy treatments.
The clinical trial, sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca and led by Dr. Shanu Modi of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, involved 557 patients with metastatic breast cancer who were HER2-low. Two-thirds took the experimental drug, trastuzumab deruxtecan, sold as Enhertu; the rest underwent standard chemotherapy.
In patients who took trastuzumab deruxtecan, tumors stopped growing for about 10 months, as compared with 5 months for those who with standard chemotherapy. The patients with the experimental drug survived for 23.9 months, as compared with 16.8 months for those who received standard chemotherapy.
“It is unheard-of for chemotherapy trials in metastatic breast cancer to improve survival in patients by six months,” said Dr. Moore, who enrolled some patients in the study. Usually, she says, success in a clinical trial is an extra few weeks of life or no survival benefit at all but an improved quality of life.
The results were so impressive that the researchers received a standing ovation when they presented their data at the oncology conference in Chicago on Sunday.