MEDLINE Abstracts: Innovative Therapeutics for the Treatment of Breast Cancer

May 06, 2002

MEDLINE Abstracts: Innovative Therapeutics for the Treatment of Breast Cancer

von Schilling C, Herrmann F
Journal of Molecular Medicine 73(12):611-27, 1995 Dec

Chemotherapy has an established role in the treatment of carcinoma of the mammary gland (breast cancer), but when administered at conventional doses the net benefit in terms of relapse prevention and overall survival duration remains limited largely to operable patients at first diagnosis with limited tumor burden (stage II disease with less than four involved axillary lymph nodes). Pilot studies evaluating significant dose escalation in patients with advanced disease have yielded high remission rates, but the impact on long-term survival remains controversial. Recent trials involving dose-intense treatment in stage IV breast cancer do not support its use except in patients who have achieved complete remission or show no evidence of disease prior to high-dose consolidation. More optimism may be warranted for the use of dose-intense chemotherapy in the high-risk adjuvant setting (stage II/IIIA) and as part of the initial treatment for patients with inflammatory breast cancer or locally advanced primary inoperable carcinoma (stage IIIB). Prospective randomized trials in all settings are ongoing, although definitive results are not expected before 1998. Apart from single-course myeloablative high-dose chemotherapy, the availability of hematopoietic growth factors through recombinant DNA technology and the easy procurement of hematopoietic cell support through mobilization of peripheral blood progenitors has spurred the development of new strategies employing dose-intense treatment within the past 10 years. Repetitive application of chemotherapy at submyeloablative doses and sequential accelerated dose-intense application of single agents are now increasingly being integrated into more complex dose-escalated protocols. This review will focus on the results of mature trials and newer approaches to dose escalation.

Borvendeg J, Hermann I, Csuka O
Acta Physiologica Hungarica 84(4):405-6, 1996

The aim of the study was to find new antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic structures. Out of the triphenyl-alkene derivatives Panomifene (EGIS-5660) proved to be the most active antiestrogenic compound which binds to specific estrogen receptors and exhibits inhibitory effects on experimental mammary tumors both in vitro and in vivo. The investigated antiandrogenic compounds were indol and imidazole derivatives. One of these compounds a di-imidazolil derivative, GYK1-24479 inhibited the in vitro androgen (testosterone and androstenedione) biosynthesis both in vitro and in vivo in concentration/dose dependent manner, and in these respects proved to be more active than the referent ketoconazole.

Xing R, Wu F, Mason RW
Cancer Research 58(5):904-9, 1998 Mar 1

The purpose of this study was to determine whether inhibition of lysosomal proteolysis could be used to selectively inhibit proliferation of tumor cells. The lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor 9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl-tyrosylalanyl-diazomethane was found to inhibit growth of the breast cancer cell lines SK-Br-3 and MCF-7. A humanized monoclonal antibody (huMAb 4D5) directed against the extracellular domain of p185HER2 specifically inhibited growth of the SK-Br-3 cells, which overexpress this antigen. The antibody and inhibitor together showed enhanced inhibition of growth of the SK-Br-3 cells only. When the protease inhibitor was radiolabeled and conjugated to the antibody (huMAb 4D5-125I-Tyr-Ala-CHN2) it was selectively bound to and taken up by the SK-Br-3 cell line. The conjugated inhibitor was delivered and targeted to cathepsin B and an unidentified protein of Mr 39,000 in the SK-Br-3 cells. Internalization of huMAb 4D5-125I-Tyr-Ala-CHN2 and inhibitor labeling of the proteins were temperature-dependent processes. huMAb 4D5-Tyr-Ala-CHN2 was significantly more effective in inhibiting proliferation of SK-Br-3 cells than the inhibitor-free analogue but was ineffective against MCF-7 cells. The results in this report show that targeting of cysteine protease inhibitors can selectively control tumor cell growth and that targeted cysteine protease inhibitors could prove valuable in the development of novel anticancer immunotherapies.

Pacilio C, Germano D, Addeo R, Altucci L, Petrizzi VB, Cancemi M, Cicatiello L, Salzano S, Lallemand F, Michalides RJ, Bresciani F, Weisz A
Cancer Research 58(5):871-6, 1998 Mar 1

Cyclin D1 is a target for positive regulation by estrogens in growth-responsive cells, in which it mediates their mitogenic effects. Amplification and overexpression of the cyclin D1 gene (CCND1) might thus represent a genetic lesion inducing hormone-independent growth of transformed cells. Indeed, cyclin D1 overexpression has been found in up to 50% of primary breast cancers, and in about one-third of these cases, this is linked to amplification of the 11q13 chromosomal region, which also includes the CCND1 gene. These tumors are predominantly estrogen receptor-positive, and for this reason, these patients are often selected for adjuvant antiestrogen therapy. No information is available, however, as to whether cyclin D1 overexpression due to gene amplification might interfere with and reduce antiestrogen efficacy. This was investigated here by taking advantage of an experimental model that reproduces cyclin D1 overexpression resulting from increased CCND1 gene dosage in hormone-responsive human breast cancer cells. For this, MCF-7 cells stably transfected with a tet-inducible cyclin D1 expression vector were tested for their in vitro response to steroidal (ICI 182,780) and nonsteroidal (trans-4-hydroxytamoxifen) antiestrogens under condition of low (endogenous only) or high (exogenous) cyclin D1 levels. Results show that although cyclin D1 overexpression seems to interfere with the early cell cycle effects of antiestrogens, it does not prevent their cytostatic actions, so that growth of cyclin-overexpressing MCF-7 cells is still efficiently inhibited in vitro by these drugs.

Recchia F, Frati L, Rea S, Torchio P, Sica G
Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research 18(1):41-7, 1998 Jan

The aim of this pilot study was to investigate if chemotherapy (CT) followed by the combination of interferon-beta (IFN-beta), retinoids, and tamoxifen could be effective in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Thirty-six patients with stage IV carcinoma of the breast were treated with six courses of cyclophosphamide, 5-fluorouracil, 4-epidoxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone every 3 weeks (FECPV), followed by two courses of non-cross-resistant drugs, methotrexate, mitomycin C, and mitoxantrone (MMM). Treatment was continued, in responders, with low dose IFN-beta, retinyl palmitate, and tamoxifen until relapse of the disease occurred. Among 36 evaluable patients, 23 achieved a clinical response (64 %) (95 % confidence interval [c.i.] 46 %-79 %), 7 had stable disease (19%), and 6 (17%) progressed. Leukopenia occurred in 15 patients, thrombocytopenia in 6, and anemia in 11. Sixteen patients had nausea/vomiting, stomatitis was observed in 9, and diarrhea occurred in 3. Toxicity from maintenance therapy was mild and mainly hepatic. Median response duration was 31 months (range 5-107). Median overall survival was 32 months (9-108). Our study shows that this combined approach for the treatment of MBC is feasible, with an acceptable toxicity.

Dogliotti L, Danese S, Berruti A, Zola P, Buniva T, Bottini A, Richiardi G, Moro G, Farris A, Bau MG, Porcile G
Cancer Chemotherapy & Pharmacology 41(4):333-8, 1998

We assessed the activity and tolerability of a cisplatin, epirubicin, and lonidamine combination regimen as first-line chemotherapy in 28 advanced breast cancer patients. The schedule of treatment was as follows: 60 mg/ m2 epirubicin followed by 40 mg/m2 cisplatin given on days 1 and 2 every 21 days, with 450 mg lonidamine being given per os (three tablets) on days of chemotherapy administration and in the period intervening between one cycle and the next. Patients received a median of 5 (range 1-6) cycles. Overall, 22 patients were evaluable for response and 28, for toxicity. Four patients refused to continue the treatment after the first course, one was lost to follow-up, and one died due to toxicity (septic shock). The incidence of grade 3/4 nausea and vomiting was found to be greater than that expected with epirubicin and lonidamine alone. The addition of cisplatin resulted in an increase in platelet and hemoglobin toxicities, whereas the WBC toxicity did not differ from that expected with epirubicin and lonidamine. The hematological toxicity was found to be cumulative, leading to treatment delay in about 50% of patients at the fifth and sixth courses. The activity of this cytotoxic regimen was noteworthy, with the overall response rate being 81.8% (31.8% complete responses and 50.0% partial responses) in evaluable patients. This response rate decreased to 64.2% when all registered patients were included according to an intent-to-treat analysis. In conclusion, the association of cisplatin, epirubicin, and lonidamine given on the schedule described herein, appears to be very active but substantially toxic. We are now testing this combination in a randomized comparison, with the cisplatin dose being reduced to 30 mg/m2 given on days 1 and 2.

Brossart P, Stuhler G, Flad T, Stevanovic S, Rammensee HG, Kanz L, Brugger W
Cancer Research 58(4):732-6, 1998 Feb 15

The Her-2/neu oncogene encodes a Mr 185,000 transmembrane protein with homology to the epidermal growth factor receptor. It is overexpressed in 30-40% of breast and ovarian cancers, and this overexpression was shown to correlate with aggressiveness of malignancy and poor prognosis. Using tumor-associated lymphocytes isolated from patients with ovarian or breast cancer, several HLA-A2-restricted, Her-2/neu-derived peptides were identified. Further studies revealed that these tumor-associated CTLs can also lyse other tumors, including non-small cell lung and pancreatic cancer cells, suggesting that Her-2/neu epitopes are shared between several distinct types of epithelial tumors. To analyze whether Her-2/neu epitopes are tumor-associated antigens for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and colon carcinoma, we induced Her-2/neu peptide-specific CTL responses by primary in vitro immunization and used these CTLs to determine the presentation of Her-2/neu epitopes on human tumor lines. Autologous dendritic cells (DCs) generated from peripheral blood monocytes were pulsed with Her-2/neu-derived peptides E75 and GP2 and used as antigen-presenting cells for CTL priming. High CTL activity toward peptide-pulsed targets was obtained after two weekly restimulations. CTLs induced with DCs generated in the presence of TNF-alpha elicited a higher cytotoxic activity when they were stimulated with the cognate peptide than did CTLs induced with DCs grown in granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 4 alone. The cytotoxicity of induced CTLs was antigen specific and HLA-A2 restricted. Furthermore, these CTLs lysed, in a MHC- and antigen-restricted fashion, not only breast cancer cells but also colon carcinoma and RCC cell lines expressing Her-2/neu. The cytotoxic activity against tumor cells was blocked by cold HLA-A2-positive targets pulsed with the cognate peptide in cold target inhibition assay and by anti-HLA-A2 monoclonal Ab. These results suggest that epitopes derived from Her-2/neu protein might be attractive candidates for broadly applicable vaccines and may prove useful for adoptive immunotherapies designed for colon carcinoma or RCC.

Hoff PM, Valero V, Ibrahim N, Willey J, Hortobagyi GN
Cancer 82(5):965-9, 1998 Mar 1

Background: The authors reviewed the incidence of toxic skin reactions in patients with metastatic breast carcinoma (MBC) treated with vinorelbine as a continuous infusion.
Methods: A Phase I/II protocol was designed in which vinorelbine was given as an 8-mg intravenous bolus followed by a 96-hour CI of 7-14 mg/m2/day. Sixty patients were enrolled in the study: all had MBC and had received prior chemotherapy, and they had no known dermatologic disorder.
Results: Hand-foot syndrome (HFS) developed in 4 of the 60 patients. Patient 1 started with vinorelbine at 12 mg/m2/day. She developed typical HFS. In the second course, her dose was decreased to 11 mg/m2/day, but again she experienced HFS. In the third course, dexamethasone was added to the regimen, and no HFS was observed in the remaining six courses. Patient 2 started with a dose of 9 mg/m2/ day. She received four courses without complications; but when the vinorelbine dose was escalated to 10 mg/m2/day, HFS developed. Patient 3 started with a vinorelbine dose of 14 mg/m2/day. She developed mucositis during the first two courses and HFS during the third. Patient 4 received vinorelbine at a dose of 13 mg/m2/day and developed significant HFS. All patients had complete dermatologic recovery. No toxic skin reactions were observed in 14 patients receiving vinorelbine doses of <10 mg/m2/day, whereas 4 of 46 treated at 10-14 mg/m2/day developed HFS, suggesting a relationship of dose to HFS occurrence.
Conclusions: Longer infusions of vinorelbine are occasionally associated with HFS. The pathophysiology is not completely clear, but a relationship of HFS occurrence to dose is suggested. Steroids were effective as prophylaxis in one patient.

Ribas A, Albanell J, Sole-Calvo LA, Gallardo E, Bellmunt J, Vera R, Vidal R, Carulla J, Baselga J
Cancer 82(5):878-85, 1998 Mar 1

Background: Chronic oral tegafur (a 5-fluorouracil prodrug) modulated by folinic acid has antitumor activity in patients with metastatic breast carcinoma resistant to 5-fluorouracil or doxorubicin-based regimens. In this study, bolus 5-fluorouracil was substituted with chronic oral tegafur and folinic acid in a cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil-based regimen to study the activity of this novel regimen in patients with advanced breast carcinoma.
Methods: This study was comprised of patients with advanced breast carcinoma and measurable or evaluable disease. Patients with prior chemotherapy were eligible. The regimen was comprised of cyclophosphamide, 600 mg/m2, and methotrexate, 40 mg/m2, both given intravenously on Day 1, and tegafur, 750 mg/m2, with folinic acid, 45 mg/day, both given orally in 3 daily fractions on Days 2-14, every 3 weeks.
Results: Forty-seven patients were included, 44 of whom were fully assessable. Three patients (7%) achieved a complete remission and 17 (38.6%) achieved a partial remission, for an objective response rate of 45.5% (95% confidence interval, 29-59%). The median duration of response was 11 months. In previously untreated patients the response rate was 54.5%. In patients previously treated with anthracycline or 5-fluorouracil-based regimens the response rates were 41% and 39%, respectively. Sixteen patients (36.4%) had disease stabilization. The median overall time to progression was 10 months. Toxicities usually were mild and were comprised of leukocytopenia, mucositis, emesis, and diarrhea.
Conclusions: Chronic oral tegafur and folinic acid combined with intravenous cyclophosphamide and methotrexate at the dose and schedule used in the current study has significant antitumor activity both as first-line chemotherapy as well as in other patients with advanced breast carcinoma who had prior chemotherapy. This regimen is well tolerated, with gastrointestinal toxicity being the most frequent and dose-limiting toxicity.

Bengala C, Pazzagli I, Tibaldi C, Favre C, Vanacore R, Greco F, Mazzoni A, Menconi MC, Macchia P, Conte PF
Cancer 82(5):867-73, 1998 Mar 1

Background: As single agents, both paclitaxel and epirubicin in combination with cytokines can mobilize peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPCs). The authors have demonstrated previously that the combination of epirubicin and paclitaxel is very active against metastatic breast carcinoma and tolerated by patients.
Methods: Twenty-one patients with metastatic breast carcinoma received epirubicin 90 mg/m2 in combination with paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 given as a 3-hour infusion, and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) starting 24 hours after chemotherapy to mobilize PBPCs. An immunophenotypic analysis for CD3, CD4, CD8, CD 19, CD33, CD34, and CD38 antigen expression was performed on apheresis products. Eighteen patients underwent high dose chemotherapy and were engrafted with PBPCs primed with paclitaxel, epirubicin, and G-CSF.
Results: The median number of circulating CD34+ cells at peak was 70/microL; in the patients less heavily pretreated, it was 106.7/microL. The mean number of CD34+, CD34+/CD33-, and CD34+/CD38- cells/kg collected per apheresis was 6.3 x 10(6), 2.0 x 10(6), and 0.18 x 10(6), respectively. The mean number of CD34+ cells/kg per apheresis was 7.8 x 10(6) when the preleukapheresis CD34+ cell count was more than 50/microL and 0.9 x 10(6) when the CD34+ cell count was less than 50/microL. The mean number of CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells/kg collected per apheresis was 90 x 10(6), 50 x 10(6), and 30 x 10(6), respectively.
Conclusions: Epirubicin plus paclitaxel in combination with G-CSF mobilizes PBPCs, including more primitive progenitors capable of supporting myeloablative treatment. Moreover, the mononuclear cells collected in this study contained high levels of cytotoxic effector cells suitable for ex vivo manipulation to augment the antitumor effect.

Fountzilas G, Athanassiades A, Giannakakis T, Briasoulis E, Bafaloukos D, Kalogera-Fountzila A, Onienaoum A, Kalofonos H, Pectasides D, Andreopoulou E, Bamia C, Kosmidis P, Pavlidis N, Skarlos D
Annals of Oncology 8(12):1213-20, 1997 Dec

Purpose: To evaluate the impact on the response rate in patients with advanced breast cancer (ABC) of the doubling of the dose intensity (DI) of epirubicin monotherapy.
Patients and Methods: From January 1991 until April 1996, 167 patients with ABC were randomized to receive epirubicin (110 mg/m2) either every four (81 patients, group A) or every two weeks (86 patients, group B). Filgrastim (5 micrograms/kg/daily) was administered prophylactically on days 2-12 of each cycle.
Results: The two groups were equally balanced in terms of major patient and tumor characteristics. Even though the median cumulative dose of epirubicin was identical in the two groups (651 mg/m2), the median DI of epirubicin was doubled in group B (27.2 vs. 52.9 mg/m2/wk, respectively). The complete response (CR) rate was significantly increased in group B (5%, 95% CI: 0.16%-9.84% vs. 17%, 95% CI: 8.9%-25.08%, P = 0.011), although overall response rates were similar (49% vs. 53%, P = 0.5957). Also, there was no significant difference in the incidence of grade 3-4 toxicity between the two groups. After a median follow-up of 25 months (range, 0.43-43.3+) no significant difference was observed in the duration of response (median, 10 months vs. 8.5 months, P = 0.5130), time to progression (median, 7.2 months vs. 7.4 months, P = 0.2970) or survival (median, 14.6 months vs. 14.9 months, P = 0.4483). Logistic regression analysis showed that performance status was a significant variable for response (P = 0.0068) and multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional hazards model revealed that performance status was significant for survival (P = 0.0049), while the presence of multiple metastases (P = 0.0020) was significant for time to progression.
Conclusion: Doubling the planned DI of epirubicin monotherapy significantly increases the CR rate but has no influence on time to progression or survival in patients with ABC.

Shoji M, Hancock WW, Abe K, Micko C, Casper KA, Baine RM, Wilcox JN, Danave I, Dillehay DL, Matthews E, Contrino J, Morrissey JH, Gordon S, Edgington TS, Kudryk B, Kreutzer DL, Rickles FR
American Journal of Pathology 152(2):399-411, 1998 Feb

Thrombin-catalyzed, cross-linked fibrin (XLF) formation is a characteristic histopathological finding in many human and experimental tumors and is thought to be of importance in the local host defense response. Although the pathogenesis of tumor-associated fibrin deposition is not entirely clear, several tumor procoagulants have been described as likely primary stimuli for the generation of thrombin (and XLF) in the tumor microenvironment (TME). In a previous study of a variety of human tumors we have shown that tissue factor (TF) is the major procoagulant. However, the relative contribution to fibrin deposition in the TME of tumor cell TF and host cell TF (eg, macrophage-derived) was not established. In addition, recent evidence has implicated TF in the regulation of the synthesis of the pro-angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by tumor cells. In the current study we used in situ techniques to determine the cellular localization of XLF, TF, VEGF, and an alternative tumor procoagulant, so-called cancer procoagulant (CP), a cysteine protease that activates clotting factor X. In lung cancer we have found XLF localized predominantly to the surface of tumor-associated macrophages, as well as to some endothelial cells and perivascular fibroblasts in the stromal area of the tumors co-distributed with TF at the interface of the tumor and host cells. Cancer pro-coagulant was localized to tumor cells in several cases but not in conjunction with the deposition of XLF. TF and VEGF were co-localized in both lung cancer and breast cancer cells by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical staining. Furthermore, a strong relationship was found between the synthesis of TF and VEGF levels in human breast cancer cell lines (r2 = 0.84; P < 0.0001). Taken together, these data are consistent with a highly complex interaction between tumor cells, macrophages, and endothelial cells in the TME leading to fibrin formation and tumor angiogenesis.

Chang AY, Putt M, Pandya KJ, Harris J, Gelman R, Tormey DC, Falkson G
American Journal of Clinical Oncology 21(1):99-104, 1998 Feb

Patients who have metastatic breast cancer are seldom curable. Chemotherapy given by conventional doses and schedules generally produces complete remissions in 10% to 20% of patients. This study sought to determine 1) whether a combination of dibromodulcitol, Adriamycin, vincristine, tamoxifen, Halotestin, and methotrexate with leucovorin rescue (DAVTHML) can produce a complete remission rate of 50%; and 2) the toxicity of this combination in patients with chemotherapy-naive metastatic breast cancer. Patients were treated with six 28-day cycles of DAVTHML induction chemotherapy consisting of dibromodulcitol, 135 mg/m2 perorally days 1 to 10; Adriamycin 45 mg/m2 intravenously day 1; vincristine, 2 mg intravenously day 1; tamoxifen and Halotestin, 20 mg perorally daily; methotrexate, 800 mg/m2 intravenously days 15 and 22; and leucovorin, 15 mg/m2 perorally every 6 hours for 9 doses, starting 4 hours after methotrexate. After induction, patients who had stable disease or a partial response were treated with a cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil-based regimen (CMF). Patients in complete remission were treated with three additional cycles of DAVTHML after achieving complete remission and then observed off therapy until relapse, when DAVTHML was to be given again. Fifty-eight patients were included in this study. During induction, 26% of eligible patients experienced a complete remission; overall response rate was 80%. The median time to treatment failure and the median survival time of eligible patients was 11.1 and 24.0 months, respectively. This did not change significantly when all the patients were included in the evaluation. The 3-year and 5-year survival rates were 37% and 11%, respectively. Ninety percent of the eligible patients experienced grade III or IV toxicity. They were leukopenia (75%), anemia (20%), thrombocytopenia (20%), and vomiting (17%). No lethal toxicity was documented during therapy; however, 1 patient later died of myelodysplastic syndrome induced by dibromodulcitol. The overall response and complete remission rates from our study were encouraging. The toxicity of DAVTHML was tolerable, with the exception of myelodysplastic syndrome from dibromodulcitol. The concept of using mid-cycle nonmyelosuppressant agents to increase complete remission rate is feasible.

Kelloff GJ, Lubet RA, Lieberman R, Eisenhauer K, Steele VE, Crowell JA, Hawk ET, Boone CW, Sigman CC
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 7(1):65-78, 1998 Jan

Epidemiological and experimental evidence strongly supports a role for estrogens in the development and growth of breast tumors. A role for estrogen in prostate neoplasia has also been postulated. Therefore, one chemopreventive strategy for breast and prostate cancers is to decrease estrogen production. This can be accomplished by inhibiting aromatase, the enzyme that catalyzes the final, rate-limiting step in estrogen biosynthesis. The use of aromatase inhibitors is of clinical interest for cancer therapy, and selective, potent aromatase inhibitors have been developed. Several of these agents have demonstrated chemopreventive efficacy in animal models. The rationale for the use of aromatase inhibitors as chemopreventives and identification of inhibitors to serve as potential chemopreventive agents are the subjects of this review. After background information regarding aromatase is presented, the data for each inhibitor are summarized separately. The discussion focuses on those inhibitors that are clinically available or in clinical trials, including: aminoglutethimide (Cytadren), rogletimide, fadrozole hydrochloride, liarozole hydrochloride, anastrozole (Arimidex), letrozole, vorozole, formestane, exemestane, and atamestane. On the basis of results from preclinical studies, aromatase inhibitors may be promising agents for clinical trials in populations at high risk for developing estrogen-dependent cancers. Total suppression of aromatase may have adverse effects, as is evident in postmenopausal women (increased osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and urogenital atrophy). However, on the basis of preclinical studies of chemopreventive efficacy and chemotherapeutic applications of aromatase inhibitors showing dose-response efficacy, it may be possible to obtain chemopreventive effects without total suppression of aromatase and circulating estrogen levels. Suppressing local estrogen production may be an alternative strategy, as suggested by the discovery of a unique transcriptional promoter of aromatase gene expression, I.4, in breast adipose tissue. The development of drugs that target this promoter region may be possible.

Gage I, Schnitt SJ, Recht A, Abner A, Come S, Shulman LN, Monson JM, Silver B, Harris JR, Connolly JL
Journal of Clinical Oncology 16(2):480-6, 1998 Feb

Purpose: To assess the frequency and prognosis of skin recurrences after breast-conserving therapy (BCT) compared with other breast recurrences.
Materials and Methods: From 1968 to 1986, 1,624 patients with unilateral stage I or II breast cancer treated with BCT at the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy (Boston, MA) underwent gross tumor excision and received a dose of > or = 60 Gy to the tumor bed. Skin recurrences (SR) were defined as breast recurrences without associated parenchymal disease. An invasive breast recurrence with any parenchymal disease noted clinically or radiographically was scored as an other breast recurrence (OBR). Median follow-up for survivors was 137 months.
Results: SR represented 8% (18 of 229) of all breast recurrences and occurred in 1.1% of all patients. The outcome after local recurrence was different for patients with SR and invasive OBR. Patients with SR more frequently had uncontrolled local failure (50%; 9 of 18) than did patients with OBR (14%; 26 of 188) (P = .0007). Forty-four percent (8 of 18) of patients with SR had distant metastasis simultaneously or within 2 months of the recurrence compared with 5% (9 of 188) of invasive OBR patients (P < .0001). For patients without distant metastasis at the time of recurrence, the 5-year actuarial rate of development of distant metastasis was 60% for SR patients compared with 39% for invasive OBR patients (P = .07), and the corresponding 5-year actuarial survival rates beyond the time of local failure were 51% and 79%, respectively (P = .06).
Conclusion: In contrast to other types of invasive breast recurrence after breast-conserving therapy, skin recurrences are rare and are associated with a significantly higher rate of distant metastasis and uncontrolled local disease as well as a lower rate of survival.

Dombernowsky P, Smith I, Falkson G, Leonard R, Panasci L, Bellmunt J, Bezwoda W, Gardin G, Gudgeon A, Morgan M, Fornasiero A, Hoffmann W, Michel J, Hatschek T, Tjabbes T, Chaudri HA, Hornberger U, Trunet PF
Journal of Clinical Oncology 16(2):453-61, 1998 Feb

Purpose: To compare two doses of letrozole and megestrol acetate (MA) as second-line therapy in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer previously treated with antiestrogens.
Patients and Methods: Five hundred fifty-one patients with locally advanced, locoregionally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive letrozole 2.5 mg (n = 174), letrozole 0.5 mg (n = 188), or MA 160 mg (n = 189) once daily in a double-blind, multicenter trial. Data were analyzed for tumor response and safety variables up to 33 months of follow-up evaluation and for survival up to 45 months.
Results: Letrozole 2.5 mg produced a significantly higher overall objective response rate (24%) compared with MA (16%; logistic regression, P = .04) or letrozole 0.5 mg (13%; P = .004). Duration of objective response was significantly longer for letrozole 2.5 mg compared with MA (Cox regression, P = .02). Letrozole 2.5 mg was significantly superior to MA and letrozole 0.5 mg in time to treatment failure (P = .04 and P = .002, respectively). For time to progression, letrozole 2.5 mg was superior to letrozole 0.5 mg (P = .02), but not to MA (P = .07). There was a significant dose effect in overall survival in favor of letrozole 2.5 mg (P = .03) compared with letrozole 0.5 mg. Letrozole was significantly better tolerated than MA with respect to serious adverse experiences, discontinuation due to poor tolerability, cardiovascular side effects, and weight gain.
Conclusion: The data show letrozole 2.5 mg once daily to be more effective and better tolerated than MA in the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer previously treated with antiestrogens.

Okamura K, Kobayashi I, Matsuo K, Kiyoshima T, Yamamoto K, Miyoshi A, Sakai H
Histopathology 31(6):540-8, 1997 Dec

Aims: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between immunohistochemical localization of cathepsin D (CD), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) in 65 cases of breast carcinoma in Japanese women and traditional prognostic factors such as histological grade, lymph node status, mitotic rate and clinical stage, in order to possibly identify some indicator(s) that may be specifically associated with prognosis.
Methods and Results: Serial sections of 5-micron thick were cut from the archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks, and processed for CD, PCNA and EGF-R immunostaining. The results were analysed by computer-based image analysis system. All samples showed a positive immunoreaction for cathepsin D in both the parenchyma and stroma. However, the staining area and intensity varied from cell to cell in the parenchyma and stroma as well as among samples. Subsequently, the evaluation of immunostaining for CD was separately performed in both the parenchyma and stroma (CDpar and CDstr, respectively) and the combination of both components (CDtotal). PCNA and EGF-R showed positive immunostaining almost exclusively in the parenchymal component of the carcinoma tissue specimens. CDtotal significantly correlated with the histological grade, PCNA index (PI), mitotic rate (MR), EGF-R and lymph node metastasis. Significant correlation was also demonstrated between CDpar and the histological grade. EGF-R and lymph node metastasis, or between CDstr and MR, EGF-R and lymph node metastasis. EGF-R correlated highly with the histological grade, MR score, lymph node metastases and recurrence-free survival.
Conclusions: Both the CD parameters and EGF-R are valuable indicators for predicting the biological behaviour of human breast carcinoma.

Eisenhauer EA, Vermorken JB
Drugs 55(1):5-30, 1998 Jan

Paclitaxel and docetaxel are 2 compounds from the new taxoid class of anti-cancer agents. Both drugs are very similar in preclinical activity, mechanism of action and spectrum of clinical activity. Some subtle differences in the intracellular retention of docetaxel may account for its lack of schedule-related myelosuppression and greater potency, and may be relevant to the skin toxicity and oedema which it produces. Early data suggest that there may be differing behaviour of anthracycline/taxoid combinations with respect to cardiotoxicity. Paclitaxel has been studied in several first-line combination therapy trials in ovarian cancer. Here, paclitaxel in combination with a platinum compound seems to have proven itself as a standard regimen. It is uncertain if docetaxel will be evaluated in this context. An abundance of clinical data is available for both analogues in the advanced, metastatic setting of breast cancer. Both also have been compared as single agents with doxorubicin with the results suggesting paclitaxel in a 3-hour infusion is inferior to the anthracycline (in terms of response rate), and those of docetaxel suggesting it is superior to the same dose of doxorubicin. This indirect comparison favours the activity of docetaxel; however, it is clear that in the dose/schedules studied, the taxoid compounds are not equitoxic. Either agent by itself, in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, remains appropriate; however, lack of cumulative toxicity may make paclitaxel more attractive in some situations where prolonged administration is foreseen. Lung cancer trials have also confirmed the activity of both agents, although docetaxel appears to have slightly more promising activity in previously treated patients than paclitaxel. Paclitaxel in combination with cisplatin has been evaluated in randomised trials as first-line treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The results of these trials taken together suggest that this combination has an impact on survival similar to other new regimens now considered 'standard' in the front-line setting in this disease. Unfortunately, despite all the phase II data generated in numerous tumour types, little else can be said about the role of either taxoid in the 'standard' management of malignant disease. It will be some years yet before taxoid-based combinations have been evaluated sufficiently in randomised trials such that the impact of this novel class can be adequately assessed in terms of survival and cure rates.

Fumoleau P
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 54(24 Suppl 2):S19-24, 1997 Dec 15

The efficacy and safety of docetaxel in clinical trials in patients with a variety of malignancies are reviewed. The overall response rate for docetaxel as a first-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer is 59%. Docetaxel in combination with doxorubicin or vinorelbine has proved particularly effective in the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Docetaxel is also one of the most active single agents in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), producing an overall response rate of 27% when used as a first-line agent. Docetaxel plus cisplatin was more effective against NSCLC than either drug used alone, yielding response rates of 33-48%. Docetaxel has shown activity against a variety of other tumors, including ovarian cancer (response rate in second-line therapy, 34%), head-and-neck cancer (response rate in first-line therapy, 35%), and soft-tissue sarcoma (response rate in first-line therapy, 32%). The main toxic effect is grade 3-4 neutropenia, which occurs in 57% of treatment cycles but is brief and manageable. The dosage of docetaxel should be reduced from 100 mg/m2 to 75 mg/m2 if patients have neutropenia lasting more than one week, febrile neutropenia, or impaired liver function. Other adverse effects include severe fluid retention and asthenia. Some adverse effects can be avoided by administering corticosteroid premedication. Docetaxel has shown efficacy against a wide range of cancers in clinical trials and has a manageable adverse-effect profile.

Buzdar AU, Asmar L, Hortobagyi GN
European Journal of Cancer 33 Suppl 7:S3-6, 1997 Aug

In the treatment of breast cancer, anthracycline-containing combinations are frequently used as adjuvant therapy or to treat patients with metastatic disease. However, most patients with metastatic disease who are treated with these combinations develop progressive disease and a significant proportion of patients, after receiving anthracycline-containing adjuvant therapy, experience recurrent disease. Patients who develop recurrent disease while receiving adjuvant therapy and those whose metastatic disease progresses without an objective response while on treatment to control the disease, are among those defined as having primary refractory disease. These patients have a poor prognosis. In other patients whose breast cancer is treated with anthracycline-containing combinations, defining the degree of resistance requires careful consideration of the type of response to therapy (complete response, partial response or no change in disease status) the duration of response and, for patients in the adjuvant setting, the length of the disease-free interval.

Marty M, Extra JM, Cottu PH, Espie M
European Journal of Cancer 33 Suppl 7:S26-9, 1997 Aug

Docetaxel (Taxotere) has been shown to be one of the most active cytotoxic agents in patients with breast cancer, achieving response rates of 41% when used as second-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer (34% in anthracycline-refractory patients) and 50-72% when used as first-line therapy. In both situations meaningful response durations of 7-8 months have been obtained. Based on these results, docetaxel is a promising candidate for new therapeutic strategies in patients with breast cancer. Studies comparing docetaxel with paclitaxel or anthracyclines in first-line therapy are ongoing. These studies should allow for an unequivocal definition of activity of docetaxel, yet not alter--as such--therapeutic strategies. A number of regimens are currently being explored combining docetaxel with anthracyclines, vinorelbine, 5-fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide and cisplatin. The preliminary conclusions are as follows: the main side-effect is non-cumulative neutropenia of short duration, and response rates are > 75%. Further, no cumulative cardiotoxicity has been observed with doxorubicin. The duration of response and length of the progression-free survival cannot yet be defined. Another option for combination chemotherapy is sequential combinations, the value of which has been demonstrated in advanced breast cancer as well as in the adjuvant setting. The short duration and non-cumulative character of docetaxel-induced neutropenia are good rationales for the use of dose-densified docetaxel-containing regimens. A dose of 100 mg/m2/14 days can be used as single-agent therapy. A phase I trial combining cyclophosphamide at doses increased from 750 to 1200 mg/m2 and docetaxel at doses increased from 66 to 100 mg/m2 every 2 weeks, is ongoing; at the first dose-levels, the combination appears feasible although cumulative asthenia has been observed. Further, responses have been observed at all dose levels. The value of single-agent chemotherapy added to tamoxifen has been emphasised for stage I-II breast cancer in postmenopausal patients. A randomised phase III study comparing tamoxifen (20 mg/day for 5 years) and epirubicin (50 mg/m2 days 1 and 8/28 days for 6 cycles) with the same regimen with epirubicin for 3 months followed by docetaxel (100 mg/m2/21 days x 3) was initiated at the end of 1996. Thus, docetaxel is currently under study in most therapeutic situations to better define its impact on the prognosis and curability of patients with breast cancer.

Dieras V, Fumoleau P, Kalla S, Misset JL, Azli N, Pouillart P
European Journal of Cancer 33 Suppl 7:S20-2, 1997 Aug

The rationale for the development of a new drug combination is to combine optimal doses of drugs with single-agent activity that are not cross-resistant or have similar toxicities. Docetaxel, with its unique mechanism of action and its high response rates in metastatic breast cancer, provides both opportunities and challenges for the development of combination chemotherapy. Anthracyclines are widely accepted as the agents of choice for first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer and they have been studied in combination with taxoids. Preliminary results with a combination of docetaxel and doxorubicin indicate an overall response rate of 74%, with the dose-limiting toxicities being neutropenia and infection. Vinorelbine also has single-agent activity against metastatic breast cancer and preclinical studies have demonstrated synergism when vinorelbine and docetaxel are combined. The dose-limiting toxicities of the vinorelbine-docetaxel combination are febrile neutropenia and mucositis. The overall response rate to treatment with this combination is 67%. We therefore conclude that docetaxel can be combined with doxorubicin or vinorelbine to provide high response rates and acceptable toxicity.


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