In a study presented at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), Dr Giovanni Bernardo from Fondazione Maugeri in Pavia, Italy, presented results that suggested it may be possible to identify subsets of metastatic breast cancer patients who are likely to respond to subsequent lines of chemotherapy.
Dr Bernardo's group analysed data from 980 women treated with chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer in their centre between 1992 and 2006.
They found that the median overall survival grew progressively smaller for each successive chemotherapy regimen the patients were given. The time to treatment failure also shortened as each new regimen was tried, from a median of 9.2 months for first-line therapy, to 7.8 and 6.4 months for the second and third-line drugs. Beyond the third line, there was no significant decrease in the medial time to treatment failure for each successive therapy.
The researchers found that only one factor they analysed affected a patient's overall survival time. That factor was the time to treatment failure for each line of chemotherapy. In other words, the more benefit one type of therapy offered, the more benefit the subsequent therapy was likely to offer.
"The implications of our analysis for clinical practice concern the possibility of deciding which patients should be offered a third- or successive chemotherapy line, considering that there are multiple treatment options available today for metastatic disease, and increasing numbers of patients ask for more options when a particular treatment fails," said Dr Bernardo.
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About the European Society for Medical Oncology
The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is the leading European professional organization committed to advancing the specialty of medical oncology and promoting a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and care.
ESMO's mission is to advance cancer care and cure through fostering and disseminating good science that leads to better medicine and determines best practice. In this way ESMO fulfils its goal to support oncology professionals in providing people with cancer with the most effective treatments available and the high-quality care they deserve.
The ESMO community is a powerful alliance of more than 6,000 committed oncology professionals from over 100 countries. As a trusted organization with 35 years of experience and over 500 expert officers, ESMO serves its members and the oncology community through: a brand of excellence in post-graduate oncology education and training; leadership in transforming evidence-based research into standards of cancer care in Europe; dedicated efforts to foster a more favorable environment for scientific research; innovative international platforms to share expertise, best practices and disseminate the most up-to-date scientific research to as wide an audience as possible.
ESMO's scientific journal, Annals of Oncology, ranks among the top clinical oncology journals worldwide. ESMO events are the meeting place in Europe for medical oncologists to update their knowledge, to network and to exchange ideas.
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