The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting is always an interesting and informative event. Researchers travel from around the globe to hear and share research results in all areas of oncology. Every year the media reports “breaking news,” which can make it sound as though a cure for cancer is near or a new drug will be in your clinic tomorrow. Careful review, however, is needed to determine whether the media reports are accurate. This year’s breast cancer “breaking news” was in regard to trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), a Phase III trial called EMILIA, in people with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (mBC) — specifically those who had previously received treatment with Herceptin® and a taxane chemotherapy. This study was sponsored by Genentech, the developer of T-DM1.
At ASCO, the EMILIA data presented showed an additional 3.2 months of progression-free survival (PFS) and a potentially encouraging trend towards overall survival (OS) when compared with the control arm. Toxicities were also fewer in the group who received T-DM1. This data was interim (not final), as the EMILIA study is still ongoing. The interim analysis shows some promising data, but the study still needs to be completed and all data finalized and analyzed fully. T-DM1 will also need to go through the drug approval process before it can be offered in clinical practice outside of clinical trials. The abstract of this presentation is available for you to read, and you may also want to read the following blog written by Laura Nikolaides of the National Breast Cancer Coaliton (NBCC) which dives into the science and presents the T-DM1 information in an easy-to-understand way.
So what does this all mean to our population? It means ask questions, seek information and understanding, and use your resources! We encourage you to learn more! Two of YSC’s partner organizations will be hosting teleconferences, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and CancerCare. Listen-in, ask questions and never be afraid to read the actual research. If you would like to learn more about the science of breast cancer and how to decode research results and media reports, NBCC, offers a science training course called Project LEAD.