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Physician experiences and preferences in the treatment of HR+/HER2− metastatic breast cancer in the United States: a physician survey

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      Abstract

      Sequential endocrine therapy (ET) is recommended for postmenopausal women with hormone receptor‐positive (HR+)/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2‐negative (HER2−) metastatic breast cancer (mBC) and without visceral symptoms. Chemotherapy (CT) can be considered after sequential ETs, but is associated with adverse side effects. We assessed physicians' preferences and self‐reported prescribing patterns for ET and CT in the treatment of HR+/HER2− mBC at community practices in the United States. Community‐based oncologists/hematologists from a nationwide online panel who treated postmenopausal women with HR+/HER2− mBC were invited to complete a survey, blinded to the identity of study sponsor. Treatment preferences were collected by treatment class of ET‐based regimens versus CT and by agent for postmenopausal HR+/HER2− mBC patients after prior nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor use in the adjuvant or mBC setting. Among 213 physicians who completed the survey, 78% were male, 71% were based in small/intermediate practices (2–9 oncologists/subspecialists), 55% had >10 years of experience, and 58% referred to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines when treating mBC. Among first‐line ETs, anastrozole was the most frequently used treatment (35%), followed by everolimus‐based (EVE, 34%) and fulvestrant‐based (FUL, 15%) therapy. After first‐line ET, the most preferred second‐ and third‐line treatments were ET monotherapy (48% and 39%), ET combination therapy (31% and 19%), and CT monotherapy (13% and 30%). Comparing EVE versus FUL, physicians preferred EVE in all lines but first line. Efficacy was the most important consideration for treatment choice. Physicians prescribed CT in early lines mainly because of visceral symptoms. This survey of treatment patterns for HR+/HER2− mBC in community practice suggested that after first‐line ET, ET mono‐ or combination therapy was commonly used for the second‐ and third‐line treatments and CT monotherapy for third‐ or later line treatments. CTs were used in early lines for patients with visceral symptoms.

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      Metastatic behavior of breast cancer subtypes.

      Prognostic and predictive factors are well established in early-stage breast cancer, but less is known about which metastatic sites will be affected. Patients with early-stage breast cancer diagnosed between 1986 and 1992 with archival tissue were included. Subtypes were defined as luminal A, luminal B, luminal/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), HER2 enriched, basal-like, and triple negative (TN) nonbasal. Distant sites were classified as brain, liver, lung, bone, distant nodal, pleural/peritoneal, and other. Cumulative incidence curves were estimated for each site according to competing risks methods. Association between the site of relapse and subtype was assessed in multivariate models using logistic regression. Median follow-up time among 3,726 eligible patients was 14.8 years. Median durations of survival with distant metastasis were 2.2 (luminal A), 1.6 (luminal B), 1.3 (luminal/HER2), 0.7 (HER2 enriched), and 0.5 years (basal-like; P < .001). Bone was the most common metastatic site in all subtypes except basal-like tumors. In multivariate analysis, compared with luminal A tumors, luminal/HER2 and HER2-enriched tumors were associated with a significantly higher rate of brain, liver, and lung metastases. Basal-like tumors had a higher rate of brain, lung, and distant nodal metastases but a significantly lower rate of liver and bone metastases. TN nonbasal tumors demonstrated a similar pattern but were not associated with fewer liver metastases. Breast cancer subtypes are associated with distinct patterns of metastatic spread with notable differences in survival after relapse.
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        Overview of resistance to systemic therapy in patients with breast cancer.

        Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women. It was the second most common cancer in the world in 2002, with more than 1 million new cases. Despite advances in early detection and the understanding of the molecular bases of breast cancer biology, about 30% of patients with early-stage breast cancer have recurrent disease. To offer more effective and less toxic treatment, selecting therapies requires considering the patient and the clinical and molecular characteristics of the tumor. Systemic treatment of breast cancer includes cytotoxic, hormonal, and immunotherapeutic agents. These medications are used in the adjuvant, neoadjuvant, and metastatic settings. In general, systemic agents are active at the beginning of therapy in 90% of primary breast cancers and 50% of metastases. However, after a variable period of time, progression occurs. At that point, resistance to therapy is not only common but expected. Herein we review general mechanisms of drug resistance, including multidrug resistance by P-glycoprotein and the multidrug resistance protein family in association with specific agents and their metabolism, emergence of refractory tumors associated with multiple resistance mechanisms, and resistance factors unique to host-tumor-drug interactions. Important anticancer agents specific to breast cancer are described. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women. In 2002, 209,995 new cases of breast cancer were registered, and 42,913 patients died of it. In 5 years, the annual prevalence of breast cancer will reach 968,731 cases in the United States. World wide, the problem is just as significant, as breast cancer is the most frequent cancer after nonmelanoma skin cancer, with more than 1 million new cases in 2002 and an expected annual prevalence of more than 4.4 million in 5 years. Breast cancer treatment currently requires the joint efforts of a multidisciplinary team. The alternatives for treatment are constantly expanding. With the use of new effective chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological agents and with information regarding more effective ways to integrate systemic therapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, elaborating an appropriate treatment plan is becoming more complex. Developing such a plan should be based on knowledge of the benefits and potential acute and late toxic effects of each of the therapy regimens. Despite advances in early detection and understanding of the molecular bases of breast cancer biology, approximately 30% of all patients with early-stage breast cancer have recurrent disease, which is metastatic in most cases. The rates of local and systemic recurrence vary within different series, but in general, distant recurrences are dominant, strengthening the hypothesis that breast cancer is a systemic disease from presentation. On the other hand, local recurrence may signal a posterior systemic relapse in a considerable number of patients within 2 to 5 years after completion of treatment. To offer better treatment with increased efficacy and low toxicity, selecting therapies based on the patient and the clinical and molecular characteristics of the tumor is necessary. Consideration of these factors should be incorporated in clinical practice after appropriate validation studies are performed to avoid confounding results, making them true prognostic and predictive factors. A prognostic factor is a measurable clinical or biological characteristic associated with a disease-free or overall survival period in the absence of adjuvant therapy, whereas a predictive factor is any measurable characteristic associated with a response or lack of a response to a specific treatment. The main prognostic factors associated with breast cancer are the number of lymph nodes involved, tumor size, histological grade, and hormone receptor status, the first two of which are the basis for the AJCC staging system. The sixth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system allows better prediction of prognosis by stage. However, after determining the stage, histological grade, and hormone receptor status, the tumor can behave in an unexpected manner, and the prognosis can vary. Other prognostic and predictive factors have been studied in an effort to explain this phenomenon, some of which are more relevant than others: HER-2/neu gene amplification and protein expression, expression of other members of the epithelial growth factor receptor family, S phase fraction, DNA ploidy, p53 gene mutations, cyclin E, p27 dysregulation, the presence of tumor cells in the circulation or bone marrow, and perineural and lymphovascular space invasion. Systemic treatment of breast cancer includes the use of cytotoxic, hormonal, and immunotherapeutic agents. All of these agents are used in the adjuvant, neoadjuvant, and metastatic setting. Adjuvant systemic therapy is used in patients after they undergo primary surgical resection of their breast tumor and axillary nodes and who have a significant risk of systemic recurrence. Multiple studies have demonstrated that adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer produces a 23% or greater improvement in disease-free survival and a 15% or greater increase in overall survival rates. Recommendations for the use of adjuvant therapy are based on the individual patient's risk and the balance between absolute benefit and toxicity. Anthracycline-based regimens are preferred, and the addition of taxanes increases the survival rate in patients with lymph node-positive disease. Adjuvant hormone therapy accounts for almost two thirds of the benefit of adjuvant therapy overall in patients with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Tamoxifen is considered the standard of care in premenopausal patients. In comparison, the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole has been proven to be superior to tamoxifen in postmenopausal patients with early-stage breast cancer. The adjuvant use of monoclonal antibodies and targeted therapies other than hormone therapy is being studied. Interestingly, some patients have an early recurrence even though they have a tumor with good prognostic features and at a favorable stage. These recurrences have been explained by the existence of certain cellular characteristics at the molecular level that make the tumor cells resistant to therapy. Selection of resistant cell clones of micrometastatic disease has also been proposed as an explanation for these events. Neoadjuvant systemic therapy, which is the standard of care for patients with locally advanced and inflammatory breast cancer, is becoming more popular. It reduces the tumor volume, thus increasing the possibility of breast conservation, and at the same time allows identification of in vivo tumor sensitivity to different agents. The pathological response to neoadj uvant systemic therapy in the breast and lymph nodes correlates with patient survival. Use of this treatment modality produces survival rates identical to those obtained with the standard adjuvant approach. The rates of pathological complete response (pCR) to neoadjuvant systemic therapy vary according to the regimen used, ranging from 6% to 15% with anthracycline-based regimens to almost 30% with the addition of a noncross-resistant agent such as a taxane. In one study, the addition of neoadjuvant trastuzumab in patients with HER-2-positive breast tumors increased the pCR rate to 65%. Primary hormone therapy has also been used in the neoadjuvant systemic setting. Although the pCR rates with this therapy are low, it significantly increases breast conservation. Currently, neoadjuvant systemic therapy is an important tool in not only assessing tumor response to an agent but also studying the mechanisms of action of the agent and its effects at the cellular level. However, no tumor response is observed in some cases despite the use of appropriate therapy. The tumor continues growing during treatment in such cases, a phenomenon called primary resistance to therapy. The use of palliative systemic therapy for metastatic breast cancer is challenging. Five percent of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer are metastatic, and 30% of treated patients have a systemic recurrence. Once metastatic disease develops, the possibility of a cure is very limited or practically nonexistent. In this heterogeneous group of patients, the 5-year survival rate is 20%, and the median survival duration varies from 12 to 24 months. In this setting, breast cancer has multiple clinical presentations, and the therapy for it should be chosen according to the patient's tumor characteristics, previous treatment, and performance status with the goal of improving survival without compromising quality of life. Treatment resistance is most commonly seen in such patients. They initially may have a response to different agents, but the responses are not sustained, and, in general, the rates of response to subsequent agents are lower. Table 1 summarizes metastatic breast cancer response rates to single-agent systemic therapy.
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          Extending survival with chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer.

          Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) remains essentially incurable, and goals of therapy include the palliation of symptoms, delay of disease progression, and prolongation of overall survival time without negatively impacting quality of life. Anthracycline and taxane-based therapies have traditionally shown the highest degree of activity in MBC. Though numerous randomized clinical trials have shown improvements in overall response rates, few have found clear survival benefits. In recent years, however, there has been a small but growing series of clinical trials demonstrating modest, but meaningful survival advantages in metastatic disease. A common feature in many of these trials has been the use of a taxane, and more recently, a taxane combined with an antimetabolite. In addition, the development of targeted biologic agents active against MBC, such as trastuzumab and bevacizumab, has demonstrated great potential for enhancing the effects of chemotherapy and producing meaningful survival improvements. The role of the taxanes, antimetabolites, and biologics in extending survival in MBC is discussed.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [ 1 ]Analysis Group, Inc. Boston Massachusetts
            [ 2 ]Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover New Jersey
            [ 3 ]Analysis Group, Inc. New York New York
            Author notes
            [* ] Correspondence

            Jipan Xie, Analysis Group, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10020‐1903. Tel: 212‐492‐8158; Fax: 212‐492‐8188; E‐mail: Jipan.Xie@ 123456analysisgroup.com

            Journal
            Cancer Med
            Cancer Med
            10.1002/(ISSN)2045-7634
            CAM4
            Cancer Medicine
            John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
            2045-7634
            21 December 2015
            February 2016
            : 5
            : 2 ( doiID: 10.1002/cam4.2016.5.issue-2 )
            : 209-220
            26686532
            4735772
            10.1002/cam4.580
            CAM4580
            © 2015 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

            This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Counts
            Pages: 12
            Product
            Funding
            Funded by: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
            Categories
            Original Research
            Clinical Cancer Research
            Original Research
            Custom metadata
            2.0
            cam4580
            February 2016
            Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:4.7.6 mode:remove_FC converted:02.02.2016

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