Novartis trials new drug that delays breast cancer progression

December 9, 2019

A breast cancer diagnosis is usually distressing to patients across all age groups, especially for the younger ones who have much of life to experience. In fact, advanced breast cancer (ABC) in pre-menopausal women is more aggressive– it is the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 20–59 years old. Pharmaceutical conglomerate Novartis has recognised the need for treating pre-menopausal patients of metastatic breast cancer, also known as ABC, and recently completed a randomised, placebo-controlled Phase III trial which involved the use of a new drug on some 670 women with HR+ or HER2- ABC.

Dr. Matin Mellor Abdullah, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Subang Jaya Medical Centre said the impact of breast cancer on pre-menopausal women can be “substantial and difficult to cope with” as these women have different social circumstances than the typical patient base.

However the new indication, in combination with hormone therapy, showed a 29% reduction in the risk of death in patients. In addition, as almost 40% of the participants the study were of Asian ancestry, Dr. Stephen Chia, of the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, said the new drug-hormone therapy combo appeared to delay disease progression.Novartis hopes this will lead to better knowledge and improved treatment options of/for ABC.

He added, “Half of the patients who were given the placebo went through chemotherapy in their first two years, while those on the new indication did not require chemotherapy for four or more years. Therefore, not only did this therapy delay mortality, it also improved their quality of life.”  

Mohamed Elwakil, General Manager, Novartis Oncology Malaysia and Brunei said, “At Novartis, we are pleased to support the pre-menopausal metastatic breast cancer patients through our continuous research. We want them to know that hope is not lost and that there are treatments that have shown positive results.”

Patients who have been diagnosed, including pre-menopausal women, should not shy away from speaking about their condition, but have frequent talks with their loved ones or consult their health care providers on the many treatment options available.

Breast cancer impacts about 2.1 million women each year – the Malaysian National Cancer Registry reports that 18,206 women in the country tested positive for breast cancer in 2007-2011, with 5,152 of them having ABC. ABC is characterised by recurring and/or spread of the disease from the breast to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, bone, lungs or brain.


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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