FAQs After Diagnosis: Early Stage Hormone-Positive Breast Cancer


This post is written by ASK Cancer Commons Scientist and Product Team Member Amanda Nottke, PhD. Dr. Nottke regularly provides guidance to patients through our ASK Cancer Commons service.

After a diagnosis of early stage, hormone-positive breast cancer, you may find yourself facing several daunting decisions, such as choosing between the extensive surgery of mastectomy versus a more minor lumpectomy procedure paired with radiation (with all its challenging side effects). And once surgery is complete, what next? Hormone therapy is clearly indicated for many women, but which drug, and how long to take it? And what about chemo—how to know if the tough side effects are worth the possible reduction in risk of recurrence?

Fortunately, there are a wealth of quality datasets available to inform these decisions. Below are some of the questions we get most frequently from patients using our ASK Cancer Commons service, answered according to the latest thinking from scientific literature and our expert physician network. If you are facing your own cancer treatment decisions and would like free one-one-one expert support, please submit your case here.

1. If my doctor has said either mastectomy or lumpectomy plus radiation are appropriate for me, how do I choose?

Many studies have looked at this, and overall the outcomes for mastectomy versus lumpectomy plus radiation are extremely similar (both are effective treatments, so you can instead weigh the side effects of radiation versus the more intensive surgery of the mastectomy). This webpage provides a helpful summary of the pros and cons of mastectomy compared to lumpectomy. Continue reading…


Alpelisib Active in PIK3CA-Altered Solid Tumors

Excerpt:

“Alpelisib (BYL719) induced a disease control rate (DCR) of 58.2% in patients with advanced solid tumors, according to results from a phase Ia study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Treatment with the oral PIK3CA selective inhibitor led to a stable disease rate of 52.2%. Thirteen (9.7%) patients maintained stable disease for more than 24 weeks.

“Investigators reported ‘encouraging signs of antitumor activity’ in patients with PIK3CA-mutant, ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer, and other PIK3CA-altered advanced solid tumors.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Enzalutamide Shows Early Promise in AR-Positive TNBC

Excerpt:

“Enzalutamide (Xtandi) demonstrated early signs of efficacy in patients with androgen receptor (AR)-positive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to findings from the phase II MDV3100-11 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“A total of 118 patients were enrolled in the single-arm, 2-stage trial, and 78 were evaluable for response. At 16 weeks, the clinical benefit rate (CBR) was 25% (95% CI, 17-33) in the intent-to-treat (ITT) population and 33% (95% CI, 23-45) in the evaluable subgroup. The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 2.9 months (95% CI, 1.9-3.7) in the ITT population and 3.3 months (95% CI, 1.9-4.1) in the evaluable subgroup. Median overall survival (OS) was 12.7 months (95% CI, 8.5 – not yet reached) in the ITT population and 17.6 months (95% CI, 11.6 – not yet reached) in the evaluable subgroup.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Targeting ER, HER2, and RB1 Shows Promise in HER2/ER+ Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“A combined approach targeting estrogen receptor (ER), HER2, and RB1 yielded promising results in terms of Ki-67 expression in an exploratory study of women with HER2-positive, ER-positive breast cancer.

” ‘HER2-positive, ER-positive tumors have molecular features distinct from those of HER2-positive, ER-negative cancers, suggesting that the two types of tumors should be treated with differently tailored approaches,’ wrote study authors led by Luca Gianni, MD, of San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan. Previous work has suggested that a combined approach targeting HER2, ER, and RB1 may improve outcomes.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


FDA Approves First Treatment for Breast Cancer with a Certain Inherited Genetic Mutation

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today expanded the approved use of Lynparza (olaparib tablets) to include the treatment of patients with certain types of breast cancer that have spread (metastasized) and whose tumors have a specific inherited (germline) genetic mutation, making it the first drug in its class (PARP inhibitor) approved to treat breast cancer, and it is the first time any drug has been approved to treat certain patients with metastatic breast cancer who have a “BRCA” gene mutation. Patients are selected for treatment with Lynparza based on an FDA-approved genetic test, called the BRACAnalysis CDx.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


BRCA Mutations Don’t Hurt Breast Cancer Survival

Excerpt:

“Women who have BRCA mutations do just as well after treatment for breast cancer as other patients, British researchers reported Thursday.

“It’s good news for people with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that raise their risk of cancer. If they get cancer and have standard treatment, they live as long as breast cancer patients without the mutation.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


FDA Approves Stereotactic Radiotherapy System for Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“The FDA has approved a novel breast-specific stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) device known as GammaPod as a treatment for patients with early breast cancer, based on findings from a 17-patient study.

“In the small clinical trial, GammaPod was effectively used to deliver a single “boost” radiation dose of 8 Gy directly to the tumor, while only eliciting grade 1 adverse events (AEs). The system uses a vacuum-assisted breast cup guided by a CT simulator with 1 mm slice thickness to immobilize the breast, which ensures the accurate delivery of radiation to the tumor.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Pertuzumab and Other Agents Continue Progress in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“The adjuvant treatment landscape for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer continues to grow, particularly following the recent FDA approval of pertuzumab (Perjeta) in combination with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and chemotherapy, which was based on findings from the APHINITY trial.

“In the phase III trial, the combination demonstrated a 3-year invasive disease-free survival (DFS) rate of 94.1%, which represented an 18% reduction in the risk of developing invasive disease or death. The benefit was more pronounced among higher-risk patients. The DFS rate for patients with node-positive disease was 92.0% with pertuzumab versus 90.2% with standard therapy.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


New Guidelines on Clinical Trial Design for Patients with Brain Metastases

Excerpt:

“Clinical trials of new anti-cancer therapies have often excluded patients whose disease has spread to the brain or central nervous system (CNS) or, if such patients were allowed on trial, trials have often failed to clearly capture information on the drug’s effect in the brain. Today new guidelines from an international, multidisciplinary group published in the journal Lancet Oncology describe how to most appropriately address cancer patients with CNS involvement within clinical trials of anti-cancer drugs.”

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If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.