STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

New drugs show rare promise against advanced breast cancer

Doctors on Wednesday reported unusually good results from tests of two experimental drugs in women with an aggressive form of breast cancer that had spread widely and resisted many previous treatments.

Posted: Dec 11, 2019 1:07 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2019 12:46 PM

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Doctors on Wednesday reported unusually good results from tests of two experimental drugs in women with an aggressive form of breast cancer that had spread widely and resisted many previous treatments.

One drug showed particular ability to reach tumors in the brain, which are notoriously tough to treat.

The other pairs a sort of homing device for cancer cells with a payload of chemotherapy that’s released when it reaches its target.

“It’s a guided missile. It’s able to bring the chemotherapy directly to the cancer cell,” said the study leader, Dr. Ian Krop of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Results were disclosed at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and in the New England Journal of Medicine.

From 15% to 20% of breast cancers are “HER2-positive” — they have too much of a protein called HER2 on their cell surfaces, driven by an overactive gene that promotes cancer growth.

Krop led a study of 253 such women to test the guided missile drug, called T-DXd, given as an infusion every three weeks. These women had tried on average six previous treatments before the experimental drug. Different doses were tested, and 184 women got what turned out to be the best one. Among those women, 61% saw their tumors shrink at least 30%. In 6% of them, no signs of cancer were seen in at least two followup scans.

Although the experimental drug was not tested against others, the response rate is three to four times better than what’s usually seen in this situation, Krop said. The median time until cancer worsened was 16 months, and to see anything hold such serious cancers at bay for more than a year is exciting, he said.

Side effects were substantial, though. About 60% of women had low blood counts, nausea, anemia or fatigue, and 15% stopped treatment because of them. Most serious: Twenty-five developed lung inflammation, and four died of it. This is a rare side effect with other drugs for this type of cancer, but it was much more common with the experimental drug. Doctors can watch patients closely and give anti-inflammatory medicines if it occurs, Krop said.

Because these cancers generally prove fatal, the drug “is still beneficial for most patients,” he said.

An independent expert, Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said it may be possible to give patients preventative anti-inflammatory medicines. It’s worth the risk because the drug’s benefit is so great, she said.

The study was sponsored by the drug’s developers, Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and AstraZeneca, and they are seeking approval for the medicine in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Krop consults for the companies.

Dana-Farber’s Dr. Eric Winer helped lead a study of the other experimental medicine — tucatinib, from Seattle Genetics.

“It’s a drug that’s particularly able to get into the brain,” he said, and half of the 612 participants had cancer that had spread there.

“These patients had nothing” that worked, and they’re often excluded from tests of new drugs because their outlook is so poor, Litton said.

All were given usual treatments — Herceptin and the chemo drug Xeloda — plus tucatinib or dummy pills.

After two years, 45% of those on tucatinib were alive versus 27% of the others. Among the women whose cancer had spread to the brain, one quarter were alive with no worsening of those tumors a year later. None of the women in the comparison group achieved that.

Diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and some liver side effects were a little more common with tucatinib. About 6% of the tucatinib group stopped treatment because of side effects versus 3% of the others.

Litton said she put some patients on studies of the drug “and they did really well.”

Seattle Genetics sponsored the study and Winer and others consult for the company.

___

Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
Robinson
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 28°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 30°
Paris
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 26°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 27°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Foggy with Light Rain
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Tuesday: Foggy, light drizzle. High: 40

Image

ISU SIU MBB

Image

Big Changes for Deming and West Vigo Elementary coming

Image

TYLER GRAUER ALL AMERICAN

Image

ISU EVANSVILLE VOLLEYBALL

Image

American Red Cross is in need of blood donations

Image

Funds available to help boost students morale

Image

Illinois Launches COVID-19 Vaccination Website

Image

Students are stepping up to help fill the shortage of medical professionals in Indiana

Image

Illinois police chief resigns after arrest

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1104763

Reported Deaths: 20744
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4460359268
DuPage710701173
Will59914891
Lake54851924
Kane47289710
Winnebago26813416
Madison25429480
St. Clair23107451
McHenry22290260
Champaign15937106
Peoria15535252
Sangamon14956245
McLean13590173
Tazewell12346253
Rock Island12229308
Kankakee11733187
Kendall1003981
LaSalle9807250
Macon9005182
Vermilion7806117
DeKalb769995
Adams7564129
Williamson6373119
Boone566580
Whiteside5441175
Clinton518886
Coles480486
Ogle471973
Knox4712147
Grundy454154
Effingham436571
Jackson431670
Henry412078
Marion4093113
Macoupin402997
Franklin394671
Livingston381170
Randolph380274
Monroe369571
Stephenson364677
Jefferson3570105
Woodford335470
Morgan332393
Logan317959
Montgomery316654
Lee314576
Christian306279
Bureau305985
Fayette296853
Perry279662
Iroquois263058
Fulton262650
Jersey230961
Lawrence220730
McDonough220051
Saline209254
Douglas205734
Union204032
Shelby202435
Crawford183635
Cass179531
Bond178524
Pike160648
Warren160444
Richland157546
Hancock155635
Wayne154843
Clark153234
Jo Daviess152725
Washington149826
Edgar149452
Carroll147633
Moultrie141828
White141333
Ford140851
Clay134040
Greene128443
Johnson125715
Wabash121915
Mason119841
Piatt119718
De Witt119228
Mercer119130
Cumberland111827
Massac107133
Jasper106115
Menard92310
Hamilton73217
Marshall70915
Schuyler65017
Brown62611
Pulaski6253
Stark50120
Edwards4789
Henderson46816
Calhoun4504
Scott4081
Alexander4067
Gallatin3974
Putnam3592
Hardin3128
Pope2583
Unassigned1110
Out of IL340

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376