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…
“Traditional neoadjuvant chemotherapy along with dual HER2-targeted blockade yielded significantly better response rates than a novel approach using HER2-targeted chemotherapy plus HER2-targeted blockade, according to a randomized phase III trial.
” ‘Despite the improvements in outcomes associated with HER2-directed therapy, approximately a quarter of patients who receive treatment for their early breast cancer remain at risk of relapse after 8–10 years, and around 15% will die within a decade,’ wrote study authors led by Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. A need for new strategies in this setting led the investigators to test a neoadjuvant regimen of the antibody–drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine along with pertuzumab in comparison with traditional systemic chemotherapy along with trastuzumab plus pertuzumab.”
“Breast cancer can ‘smolder’ and return even 20 years later unless patients keep taking drugs to suppress it, researchers reported Wednesday.
“They were looking for evidence that at least some breast cancer survivors might be able to skip the pills that reduce the risk of the breast tumors coming back, but found that even women with ‘low-risk’ cancers had a small rate of recurrence 15 and 20 years later.”
“Several patients with recurring glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer, survived for more than a year in a clinical trial believed to be the first to use comprehensive DNA and RNA sequencing of a patient’s tumor to inform treatment for these patients in real-time. The study was led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), UC San Francisco (UCSF) and the Ivy Foundation Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortium.”
“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.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Nerlynx (neratinib) for the extended adjuvant treatment of early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer. For patients with this type of cancer, Nerlynx is the first extended adjuvant therapy, a form of therapy that is taken after an initial treatment to further lower the risk of the cancer coming back. Nerlynx is indicated for adult patients who have been previously treated with a regimen that includes the drug trastuzumab.”
“Results from a prospective clinical trial showed that a blood test looking at specific biomarkers was able to detect recurrences of lung cancer an average of six months before conventional imaging methods found evidence of recurrence. In the largest prospective clinical trial to date of circulating tumor cells (CTC) as biomarkers for locally advanced lung cancer, the findings indicate that blood tests potentially can be used in conjunction with CT and PET/CT scans to guide personalized treatment planning for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The study will be presented today at the 2017 Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium.”
“A prospective study is investigating whether breast cancer surgery can be eliminated in patients who respond well to neoadjuvant systemic therapy.
“The phase II single-center trial, conducted out of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (NCT02945579), aims to determine how often breast cancer recurs in patients who previously received chemotherapy and follow-up radiation therapy, but not surgery, and have no evidence of disease. Forty patients with early-stage, triple-negative or HER2-positive breast cancer care underwent image-guided biopsy after completing chemotherapy and before beginning radiation therapy to see if surgery is necessary.”