-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- The new chemotherapy drug
eribulin extends the lives of metastatic breast cancer patients who
have received extensive treatment, according to a new study.
The researchers found that among patients whose cancer had
spread, those who took the drug lived a median of 2.5 months longer
than those who received a physician-chosen treatment -- 13.1 months
versus 10.6 months.
The study included 508 women who were given eribulin and 254
women who received treatment of the physician's choice, which was
defined as: any single-agent chemotherapy, hormonal or biological
treatment approved for cancer treatment; radiotherapy; or
symptomatic treatment alone.
The most common side effects in both groups were fatigue and
depletion of white blood cells. Numbness and pain stemming from
nerve damage were the most common adverse event connected to
eribulin that led women to drop out of the study (24, or 5
The study, known as the EMBRACE trial, was funded by Eisai Inc.,
which markets eribulin. Dr. Javier Cortes, of the Vall d'Hebron
University Hospital and Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology in
Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues published the findings in the
March 3 online edition of
"This global phase 3 study establishes a potential new standard treatment for women with heavily pretreated metastatic breast cancer, for whom there was previously no chemotherapy treatment with proven survival benefit," the authors wrote.
In a related editorial, Drs. Nancy U. Lin and Harold J.
Burstein, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical
School in Boston, said: "EMBRACE provides much needed, high-level
evidence for chemotherapy use in patients with heavily pretreated
breast cancer. And that evidence suggests that the methods to treat
advanced breast cancer are growing, the treatment challenge in
refractory disease is a little bit less daunting, and the treatment
results are a little bit better than they were before."
Commenting on the study, Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical
oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "The
findings of this trial are exciting because they will propel
eribulin into wider use. This drug shows much promise, and it
should certainly be included in additional trials to fully
establish its benefit."
"It would be interesting to see if the drug offers the same benefit in women that have not been treated with multiple drugs before exposure to eribulin," she added.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network has more about
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