Super Patient: Terry Arnold Starts an All-Volunteer Charity to Improve Treatment for Inflammatory Breast Cancer


Terry Arnold has always identified as an advocate. “It’s my way,” she says. When she was younger, she helped establish the first rape crisis program in Fort Bend County, Texas. She is also a founding member of a center that works on missing children’s cases, often partnering with FBI task forces.

“I always joke that I was doing it all with a baby on my hip,” says Terry, who raised five children with her husband.

So it is no surprise that being diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare and deadly disease, propelled Terry into her next chapter of advocacy work. “I was actually misdiagnosed for four months,” Terry says. “I was very fortunate to be alive at all.”

Her treatment regimen, which lasted from 2007 to 2008, was brutal but ultimately successful. Soon, her phone rang frequently with calls from other women with IBC who wanted her advice. Meanwhile, she became increasingly aware of the lack of adequate IBC education for both doctors and patients, as well as the lack of funding for IBC research.

“I hadn’t been that long out of treatment when I had gone to four funerals in six weeks, and not one of the girls was over 40, all with IBC,” Terry says. “I couldn’t take it. I reached out to organizations, but nobody wanted to talk about IBC. They’d say, ‘It’s too rare, they all die, there’s no early detection, what do you want us to do?’ ” Continue reading…


Roche's Perjeta Regimen Approved in Europe for Use Before Surgery in Early Stage Aggressive Breast Cancer

“Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) today announced that the European Commission (EC) has approved the use of Perjeta® (pertuzumab) in combination with Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and chemotherapy for the neoadjuvant treatment (use before surgery) of adult patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced, inflammatory, or early stage breast cancer at high risk of recurrence. The Perjeta regimen is the first neoadjuvant breast cancer treatment approved by the EC based on pCR data.

“Every year in Europe nearly 100,000 people are diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, an aggressive type of the disease that is more likely to progress than HER2-negative cancer.1,2 Treating people with breast cancer early, before the cancer has spread, may improve the chance of preventing the disease from returning. Neoadjuvant treatment is given before surgery and is aimed at reducing tumour size so it is easier to surgically remove. pCR is achieved when there is no tumour tissue detectable at the time of surgery in the affected breast or in the affected breast and local lymph nodes. It is a common measure of neoadjuvant treatment effect in breast cancer and it can be assessed more quickly than traditional endpoints in eBC.

“ ‘Today’s approval is a significant milestone in the neoadjuvant treatment of HER2-positive early breast cancer, bringing Perjeta to patients years earlier than typical adjuvant treatment,’ said Sandra Horning, M.D., Roche’s Chief Medical Officer and Head, Global Product Development. ‘We are committed to making the Perjeta regimen available to appropriate patients in the EU as early as possible.’ “


BPA Stimulates Growth of Breast Cancer Cells, Diminishes Effect of Treatment

BPA

“Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly used in plastics, appears to increase the proliferation of breast cancer cells, according to Duke Medicine researchers presenting at an annual meeting of endocrine scientists.

“The researchers found that the chemical, at levels typically found in human blood, could also affect growth of an aggressive hormone-independent subtype of breast cancer cells called inflammatory breast cancer and diminish the effectiveness of treatments for the disease.

” ‘We set out to determine whether routine exposures to common chemicals such as those in plastics, pesticides and insecticides could influence the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments,’ said corresponding author Gayathri Devi, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Duke. ‘BPA was one of the top chemicals to show growth stimulatory effects in breast cancer cells.’ “


Continued Event-Free Survival Benefit of Neoadjuvant/Adjuvant Trastuzumab in HER2-Positive Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

The gist: A recent clinical trial found that the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) improves survival and lowers the risk of recurrence for women with HER2-positive, locally advanced breast cancer. Patients in the trial received Herceptin as part of both neoadjuvant (before surgery) and adjuvant (after surgery) treatment. The researchers followed the patients for five years after treatment.

“As reported by Gianni et al in The Lancet Oncology, long-term follow-up of women with HER2-positive locally advanced breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy alone vs with neoadjuvant and adjuvant trastuzumab (Herceptin) in the phase III NOAH trial has shown continued event-free survival benefit of trastuzumab treatment and a strong association of event-free survival with pathologic complete response rate in trastuzumab recipients.

“In this open-label trial, 235 women with HER2-positive locally advanced or inflammatory breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy alone (n = 118) or with 1 year of trastuzumab given concurrently with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and continued after surgery. (A parallel group with HER2-negative disease received neoadjuvant chemotherapy alone; outcomes in this group are not reported here.)”