Updates from San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference

I look forward each year to hearing about the latest studies to emerge from the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference – an international scientific symposium for interaction and exchange among basic scientists and clinicians in breast cancer. This year has been even more educational as I signed up for regular conference updates from Cure Today and I’ve also been following Twitter updates this week.

I’ve been following with interest research on the efficacy of tamoxifen, particularly in light of the fact that one in three women with hormone-sensitive, early-stage tumors who take tamoxifen will likely see their disease return within 15 years after initial treatment.

In recent years, scientists discovered that an enzyme called CYP2D6 could possibly predict whether a patient would respond to the drug. Small studies aimed at confirming the predictive link, however, have been consistently inconsistent.

On Thursday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, researchers presented findings from two large studies that found no relationship between CYP2D6 and risk of recurrence in postmenopausal women with early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Calling the results “definitive,” Brian Leyland-Jones, MD, PhD, lead researcher on one of the studies, said CYP2D6 plays no role in the effectiveness of tamoxifen…..Read More

Another interesting study concerns the addition of Afinitor (everolimus) to tamoxifen helped women with metastatic breast cancer live four months longer without their disease getting worse.

Finally, echoing sentiments close to my own heart, Kathy Latour notes that although presentations on breast cancer screening, treatment and translational medicine abound at SABCS, where are the quality of life studies? Where are the clinical trials on survivorship? She writes:

I think I might be getting jaded around the edges. I look at the presentations here and see lots of really complicated topics involving the use of drugs in every conceivable way. But in the midst of all these presentations, where are the researchers who are looking at prevention and the mechanisms that make a cell go haywire in the first place? Where are the studies on the issues that make it possible to live with, through and in spite of breast cancer? These are issues such as depression, pain, sexuality, fatigue and fear. Barbara Anderson’s work showed clearly that stress reduction reduced recurrence by 20 percent. If that was a drug, it would be international headlines.