For years, doctors have approached HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer treatment by using a single hormonal therapy to attack the disease. We at Novartis Oncology have spent more than 20 years researching advanced breast cancer to understand the mechanisms behind what makes the tumors grow, and how we can better develop therapies to treat it. This research has taught us that advanced breast cancer is a complex group of diseases made up of many different pathways that play a role in how advanced breast cancer cells grow, how they respond to certain types of treatment, and how the tumors progress.
This discovery has significantly changed not only the trajectory of how we approach researching and developing treatments for advanced breast cancer, but also in how we manage the disease. It has enabled us to determine how best to target these pathways, but also that using combinations of therapies ensures that we are attacking the pathways associated with advanced breast cancer. This year at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), new data spotlighting this research approach will be presented that examines the impact of combining different treatments for hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative (HR+/HER2-negative) advanced breast cancer in order to target the multiple pathways within a cancer cell that are responsible for tumor growth.
One of those pathways is the PI3K pathway. The data that will be presented look at combination treatment approaches for HR+ patients that target PI3K along with hormone receptors like aromatase inhibitors, which work to control estrogen levels. This is important because approximately 60-70 percent of invasive breast cancers are positive for HR expression at the time of diagnosis, which means that the cancer cells overexpress hormone receptors like estrogen and progesterone1. HR+/HER2-negative advanced breast cancer is the most common type of advanced breast cancer, with an estimated 220,000 women diagnosed globally each year2.
We’re committed to finding the right treatment combinations for patients living with advanced breast cancer. The data presented at SABCS showcase our numerous investigational therapies in advanced breast cancer, and put us in a unique position to continue to investigate different combinations of therapies. This could enable us to find potential new treatment approaches for advanced breast cancer that help us better manage the disease and provide more options for patients.
Dobrescu A, et al. Study of Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ by Immunohistochemical Staining in ER/PgR-Negative Invasive Breast Cancer. International Scholarly Research Network. 2011;2011:1-5.
Buckley N, Isherwood A. Breast Cancer. Decision Resources. March 2011: 1-301.