2005 ASCO Meeting Yields Important Information on Breast Cancer Treatment Options, Quality of Care Findings, Risk-Prevention Measures
May 27, 2005 - The American Society of Clinical Oncology's 41st Annual meeting attracted oncologists, researchers, medical professionals and patient advocates to Orlando May 13-17, 2005. The theme of this year's ASCO meeting was "Advancing the Science of Clinical Oncology." Meeting attendees heard presentations about the newest advancements in research, risk reduction and treatment for many types of cancer, including breast cancer.
American Society of Clinical Oncology
ASCO, considered to be one of the world's largest and most important cancer gatherings, continues to serve as a key source for exciting new developments in cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. This year, ASCO participants took home encouraging information on progress being made in the development of tailored and individualized treatments; gained a greater understanding of the molecular, proteomic, and genomic forces behind the cancer development process, and learned more about quality of care issues and special efforts needed to make promising and proven new advances available to all cancer patients.
Breast cancer news highlights from ASCO included the following topics:
Quality of Cancer Care in the United States Shows Improvement
National Initiative on Cancer Care Quality (NICCQ)
ASCO's National Initiative on Cancer Care Quality (NICCQ) study, a study that was sponsored in part by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, reviewed the quality of cancer care in the United States. In this five-year pilot study that looked at breast and colorectal cancers, the quality of care and of cancer treatment was found to be generally better than reported in a 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report. Read the statement
Concerns Raised About Timely Breast Care for Black Women
Another study looked at women 64 years old and older who were diagnosed with primary breast cancer from 1992-1999. The black women identified in this group had a delay in the time between screening and diagnosis and a delay in the time from diagnosis and treatment compared to the white women in the group. The differences remained even after the researchers looked at other factors that could have contributed to the delays.
In our goal to address disparity issues, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has funded Dr. Gorin's research recently, looking at additional aspects for the increased mortality in African American women from breast cancer. These included African American women's use of risk assessment and genetic testing programs, their adherence to breast cancer screening recommendations and use of intervention programs.
Read more about the study presented at ASCO
Chemotherapy Doses Not Different for White and Black Women
A study from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) reported that black women often have lower white blood cell counts than white breast cancer patients overall. Because chemotherapy can also reduce the white counts, the study authors considered whether chemotherapy doses were sometimes reduced in these women to avoid potential problems such as an increased risk for infection that can result from the low counts. This study found that the lower white cell counts in black women did not result in lower total doses of chemotherapy. This finding therefore did not explain why more black women die from breast cancer than white women. Learn more
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Herceptin with Chemotherapy: A New Standard of Practice?
The use of Herceptin in women with early-stage HER-2 positive forms of breast cancer was discussed at the 2005 ASCO meeting. A clinical trial was stopped early in April 2005 because of favorable results with the use of the drug. Results show that women with HER-2 positive breast cancer experienced an improvement in disease-free and overall survival length when treated with both Herceptin and chemotherapy. At ASCO it was suggested that this use of the monoclonal antibody in early stage HER-2 positive breast cancer should become the standard of practice. The safety profile showed less than four per cent increased risk of cardiac side effects. Research is ongoing for the best dose and the recommendations for monitoring the heart during treatment.
IBCSG Findings Advance Debate on Aromatase Inhibitors vs. Tamoxifen
A study that compared tamoxifen (a drug that blocks the estrogen receptor in breast cancer cells) to letrozole (an aromatase inhibitor - it blocks the production of estrogen) in post-menopausal estrogen receptor positive women with breast cancer was reported at the 2005 ASCO meeting.
The International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) presented findings that showed that letrozole was better at preventing breast cancer recurrence and also better at reducing the risk for cancer spread when compared to tamoxifen. The study, which compared tamoxifen for five years and letrozole for five years, continues to evaluate whether there is a benefit associated with changing from one drug to the other after two years. The side effects for the drugs are different for the two groups of drugs. Tamoxifen has an increased risk for uterus cancer and blood clots, among others, while letrozole has an increased risk for osteoporosis, joint pain, and has more strokes and heart attacks connected with its use, but these are not common. Learn more
Low-Fat Diets May Help Some Women Avoid Breast Cancer Recurrence
The results of a randomized clinical trial involving 2,400 post menopausal women who had previously been treated for breast cancer were presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The results indicate that women on a low-fat diet (20 percent dietary fat) had fewer cases of breast cancer recurrence after five years of follow up than did women on a regular diet.
To learn more:
Additional news from ASCO