Neoadjuvant Nivolumab/Ipilimumab Combo Effective but Toxic for Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Neoadjuvant treatment with the combination of nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy) demonstrated almost a tripling in objective response rate (ORR) compared with the PD-1 inhibitor alone but at the cost of significant added grade 3 adverse events (AEs) for patients with high-risk resectable melanoma, according to a small study presented at the 2017 SITC Annual Meeting.

“In the combination arm (n = 11), the ORR was 73% and 50% of patients achieved a pathological complete response (pCR). With nivolumab alone (n = 12), the ORR was 25% and the pCR rate was 25%. Unfortunately, these gains in response were accompanied by 73% of patients in the combination arm having a grade 3 AE compared with just 8% in the single-agent arm. This high level of toxicity led the researchers to close the study early, according to Sangeetha M. Reddy, MD, MSci. Reddy worked on this trial with co-investigators Rodabe Amaria, MD, and Jennifer Wargo, MD.”

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Dual HER2 Blockade Alone Yields Worse pCR in Early HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“A new randomized trial found that neoadjuvant trastuzumab/pertuzumab alone yields a substantially worse rate of pathologic complete response compared with trastuzumab/pertuzumab plus paclitaxel in women with early, HER2-positive, hormone receptor (HR)-negative breast cancer.

” ‘Pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant [therapy] has strong prognostic impact in HER2 disease,’ wrote study authors led by Ulrike Nitz, MD, of the West German Study Group GmbH in Moenchengladbach, Germany. The WSG-ADAPT HER2+/HR− trial assessed whether dual blockade with trastuzumab and pertuzumab could achieve similar rates of pCR in those with strong early response to dual blockade along with chemotherapy.”

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New Trends in Pre-Surgery Treatments for Breast Cancer


Non-metastatic breast cancers are most often treated with surgery, but if the tumors are fairly large, or involve nearby lymph nodes, neoadjuvant (pre-operative) treatments with chemotherapy (NAC) are done first. NAC often reduces the tumor size and kills cancer cells in lymph nodes, if present, prior to surgery, improving the outcome. The best possible result of neoadjuvant treatment is pCR (pathologic compete response), when the tumor is no longer visible in imaging studies. Here, I review the new directions in which neoadjuvant treatments are evolving.

Today, treatments for metastatic breast cancers are tailored for specific subtypes. Starting with the introduction of the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) for HER2-positive cancers, new, more specific treatment options were eventually developed and approved for other types as well. Estrogen deprivation endocrine therapies, lately prescribed in combination with CDK4/6 inhibitors, are used in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive cancers. Triple negative cancers (TNBC) are still treated mostly with chemotherapy, but immune checkpoint drugs and PARP inhibitors are explored in clinical trials, with some successes reported.

However, neoadjuvant treatments (except for HER2+ cancers) remain largely limited to chemotherapy regimens. This is starting to change now, with new approaches tailored to the cancer type being investigated in clinical trials.

In this regard, it is important to mention the I-SPY2 trial, NCT01042379, which started in 2010 and is for women with stage II-III breast cancer. It offers about a dozen drugs that are chosen based on particular features of the newly diagnosed cancers. This trial has a unique design and has produced some important results. Additional treatments and trials for various types of breast cancer are discussed below. Continue reading…


Neoadjuvant Dabrafenib/Trametinib Leads to High pCR Rates in Bulky Resectable Melanoma, But Recurrences Are Common

Excerpt:

“Phase II results demonstrated that nearly half of patients with resectable stage IIIB/C BRAF V600-mutant melanoma achieved pathologic complete response (pCR) with neoadjuvant combination therapy consisting of dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist). Additionally, no patients experienced disease progression during the neoadjuvant treatment, said Alexander M. Menzies, MD, who presented the data at the 2017 ESMO Congress in Madrid.

” ‘Nearly 50% of our patients had a complete eradication of their melanoma at the time of surgery. Fifty percent had some remaining melanoma in the surgical specimen, but every patient had some degree of tumor shrinkage on therapy,’ said Menzies, a medical oncologist and senior research fellow at Melanoma Institute Australia in Sydney, Australia. ‘These are patients who otherwise would just have surgery and then have observation. And, these are patients who are at very high risk, probably the highest risk of recurrence without further therapy.’ ”

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Neoadjuvant T-DM1 Improves pCR in HER2+/HR+ Early Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“Twelve weeks of neoadjuvant T-DM1 (ado-trastuzumab emtansine; Kadcyla) with or without endocrine therapy induced superior pathologic complete response (pCR) compared with trastuzumab (Herceptin) plus endocrine therapy in patients with HER2-positive/HR-positive early breast cancer, according to findings recently published online in theJournal of Clinical Oncology.

“In the prospective, neoadjuvant phase II ADAPT trial conducted by the West German Study Group, pCR was 41.0% for patients assigned to T-DM1 alone and 41.5% for those who received T-DM1 and endocrine therapy. In contrast, 15.1% of patients assigned to trastuzumab and endocrine therapy had a pCR (P<.001).”

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Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Stress Drugs Taken Before Surgery May Reduce Metastatic Recurrence

Excerpt:

“Most cancer-related deaths are the result of post-surgical metastatic recurrence. In metastasis, cells of primary tumors travel to other parts of the body, where they often proliferate into inoperable, ultimately fatal growths.

“A new Tel Aviv University study finds that a specific drug regimen administered prior to and after surgery significantly reduces the risk of post-surgical cancer recurrence. These medications, a combination of a beta blocker (which relieves stress and high blood pressure) and an anti-inflammatory, may also improve the long-term survival rates of patients. The treatment is safe, inexpensive—two medications similar in price to aspirin—and easily administered to patients without contraindications.”

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Radiation Prior to Surgery Reduces Risk of Secondary Tumors in Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“Moffitt Cancer Center researchers launched a first of its kind study comparing the long-term benefits of radiation therapy in women with breast cancer either before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant). Their study, published in the June 30 issue of Breast Cancer Research, found that patients who have neoadjuvant radiation therapy have a significantly lower risk of developing a second primary tumor at any site.

“The majority of patients who have early stage breast cancer have surgery to remove their tumor or a complete mastectomy. Surgery is commonly followed by radiation therapy, which has been shown to increase relapse-free survival. However, in some cases, patients may require neoadjuvant radiation therapy to decrease the size of the tumor before surgery. Currently, there are no studies that have analyzed the long-term effects of neoadjuvant radiation therapy on breast cancer patients.”

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ASCO 2017: I-SPY 2 Trial: Combination of Pembrolizumab Plus Standard Neoadjuvant Therapy in High-Risk Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“At the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting, results were presented from the phase II I-SPY 2 trial investigating pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in combination with standard therapy (paclitaxel followed by doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) as a neoadjuvant treatment for patients with locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer or hormone receptor–positive/HER2-negative breast cancer (Abstract 506).

“Findings showed that the addition of pembrolizumab increased the estimated pathologic complete response rate nearly threefold in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (60% vs 20%) and in patients with hormone receptor–positive/HER2-negative breast cancer (34% vs 13%) compared to standard therapy. Overall, based on Bayesian predictive probability of success in a confirmatory phase III trial, pembrolizumab has graduated from the I-SPY 2 TRIAL for all signatures in which it was tested (triple-negative breast cancer, all HER2-negative, and hormone receptor–positive/HER2-negative).”

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Encouraging Results for Patients with Aggressive Brain Cancer

Excerpt:

“Being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor is devastating news for patients and their loved ones. Whereas some types of tumor respond well to treatment, others such as glioblastomas – the most common and aggressive brain tumors – are known to recur and progress within short times from the diagnosis. Patients diagnosed with this type of cancer, and who undergo current standard treatment, have a median survival of 16 months.

Based on recent information on the mechanisms of chemotherapy, a team of researchers of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) developed a new clinical approach to increase the efficiency of treatment in glioblastomas that increased the median survival to 22 months – bringing much needed hope to those affected by this aggressive disease. The findings of this promising phase II clinical trial have been published in the International Journal of Radiology Oncology.”

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