Attualità in Senologia

Rassegna della letteratura – luglio/settembre 2020
Oncologia medica e terapie per il controllo sistemico

Neratinib Plus Capecitabine Versus Lapatinib Plus Capecitabine in HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer Previously Treated With ≥ 2 HER2-Directed Regimens: Phase III NALA Trial

Cristina Saura , Mafalda Oliveira , Yin-Hsun Feng  et AL. – Lancet Oncol. 2020 Sep;21(9):1165-1172.

Purpose: NALA ( identifier: NCT01808573) is a randomized, active-controlled, phase III trial comparing neratinib, an irreversible pan-HER tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), plus capecitabine (N+C) against lapatinib, a reversible dual TKI, plus capecitabine (L+C) in patients with centrally confirmed HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) with ≥ 2 previous HER2-directed MBC regimens.

Methods: Patients, including those with stable, asymptomatic CNS disease, were randomly assigned 1:1 to neratinib (240 mg once every day) plus capecitabine (750 mg/m2 twice a day 14 d/21 d) with loperamide prophylaxis, or to lapatinib (1,250 mg once every day) plus capecitabine (1,000 mg/m2 twice a day 14 d/21 d). Coprimary end points were centrally confirmed progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). NALA was considered positive if either primary end point was met (α split between end points). Secondary end points were time to CNS disease intervention, investigator-assessed PFS, objective response rate (ORR), tion of response (DoR), clinical benefit rate, safety, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Results: A total of 621 patients from 28 countries were randomly assigned (N+C, n = 307; L+C, n = 314). Centrally reviewed PFS was improved with N+C (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76; 95% CI, 0.63 to 0.93; stratified log-rank P = .0059). The OS HR was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.72 to 1.07; P = .2098). Fewer interventions for CNS disease occurred with N+C versus L+C (cumulative incidence, 22.8% v 29.2%; P = .043). ORRs were N+C 32.8% (95% CI, 27.1 to 38.9) and L+C 26.7% (95% CI, 21.5 to 32.4; P = .1201); median DoR was 8.5 versus 5.6 months, respectively (HR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.33 to 0.74; P = .0004). The most common all-grade adverse events were diarrhea (N+C 83% v L+C 66%) and nausea (53% v 42%). Discontinuation rates and HRQoL were similar between groups.

Conclusion: N+C significantly improved PFS and time to intervention for CNS disease versus L+C. No new N+C safety signals were observed

Veliparib with carboplatin and paclitaxel in BRCA-mutated advanced breast cancer (BROCADE3): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial

Véronique Diéras Hyo S Han Bella Kaufman  et AL. – JAMA Oncol. 2020 Sep 1;6(9):1390-1396.

Background: BRCA1 or BRCA2-mutated breast cancers are sensitive to poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and platinum agents owing to deficiency in homologous recombination repair of DNA damage. In this trial, we compared veliparib versus placebo in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel, and continued as monotherapy if carboplatin and paclitaxel were discontinued before progression, in patients with HER2-negative advanced breast cancer and a germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Methods: BROCADE3 was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial done at 147 hospitals in 36 countries. Eligible patients (aged ≥18 years) had deleterious germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation-associated, histologically or cytologically confirmed advanced HER2-negative breast cancer, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-2, and had received up to two previous lines of chemotherapy for metastatic disease. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) by interactive response technology by means of permuted blocks within strata (block size of 3 or 6) to carboplatin (area under the concentration curve 6 mg/mL per min intravenously) on day 1 and paclitaxel (80 mg/m2 intravenously) on days 1, 8, and 15 of 21-day cycles combined with either veliparib (120 mg orally twice daily, on days -2 to 5) or matching placebo. If patients discontinued carboplatin and paclitaxel before progression, they could continue veliparib or placebo at an intensified dose (300 mg twice daily continuously, escalating to 400 mg twice daily if tolerated) until disease progression. Patients in the control group could receive open-label veliparib monotherapy after disease progression. Randomisation was stratified by previous platinum use, history of CNS metastases, and oestrogen and progesterone receptor status. The primary endpoint was investigator-assessed progression-free survival per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors version 1.1. Efficacy analyses were done by intention to treat, which included all randomly assigned patients with a centrally confirmed BRCA mutation, and safety analyses included all patients who received at least one dose of velilparib or placebo. This study is ongoing and is registered with, NCT02163694.

Findings: Between July 30, 2014, and Jan 17, 2018, 2202 patients were screened, of whom 513 eligible patients were enrolled and randomly assigned. In the intention-to-treat population (n=509), 337 patients were assigned to receive veliparib plus carboplatin-paclitaxel (veliparib group) and 172 were assigned to receive placebo plus carboplatin-paclitaxel (control group). Median follow-up at data cutoff (April 5, 2019) was 35·7 months (IQR 24·9-43·6) in the veliparib group and 35·5 months (23·1-45·9) in the control group. Median progression-free survival was 14·5 months (95% CI 12·5-17·7) in the veliparib group versus 12·6 months (10·6-14·4) in the control group (hazard ratio 0·71 [95% CI 0·57-0·88], p=0·0016). The most common grade 3 or worse adverse events were neutropenia (272 [81%] of 336 patients in the veliparib group vs 143 [84%] of 171 patients in the control group), anaemia (142 [42%] vs 68 [40%]), and thrombocytopenia (134 [40%] vs 48 [28%]). Serious adverse events occurred in 115 (34%) patients in the veliparib group versus 49 (29%) patients in the control group. There were no study drug-related deaths.

Interpretation: The addition of veliparib to a highly active platinum doublet, with continuation as monotherapy if the doublet were discontinued, resulted in significant and durable improvement in progression-free survival in patients with germline BRCA mutation-associated advanced breast cancer. These data indicate the utility of combining platinum and PARP inhibitors in this patient population.

Effect of Adjuvant Paclitaxel and Carboplatin on Survival in Women With Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: A Phase 3 Randomized Clinical Trial

Ke-Da Yu Fu-Gui Ye Min He  et Al. – Health Technol Assess 2020 Aug;24(40):1-190.

Importance: The value of platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remains controversial, as does whether BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) germline variants are associated with platinum treatment sensitivity.

Objective: To compare 6 cycles of paclitaxel plus carboplatin (PCb) with a standard-dose regimen of 3 cycles of cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and fluorouracil followed by 3 cycles of docetaxel (CEF-T).

Design, setting, and participants: This phase 3 randomized clinical trial was conducted at 9 cancer centers and hospitals in China. Between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2016, women aged 18 to 70 years with operable TNBC after definitive surgery (having pathologically confirmed regional node-positive disease or node-negative disease with tumor diameter >10 mm) were screened and enrolled. Exclusion criteria included having metastatic or locally advanced disease, having non-TNBC, or receiving preoperative anticancer therapy. Data were analyzed from December 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020, from the intent-to-treat population as prespecified in the protocol.

Interventions: Participants were randomized to receive PCb (paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 and carboplatin [area under the curve = 2] on days 1, 8, and 15 every 28 days for 6 cycles) or CEF-T (cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m2, epirubicin 100 mg/m2, and fluorouracil 500 mg/m2 every 3 weeks for 3 cycles followed by docetaxel 100 mg/m2 every 3 weeks for 3 cycles).

Main outcomes and measures: The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS). Secondary end points included overall survival, distant DFS, relapse-free survival, DFS in patients with germline variants in BRCA1/2 or homologous recombination repair (HRR)-related genes, and toxicity.

Results: A total of 647 patients (mean [SD] age, 51 [44-57] years) with operable TNBC were randomized to receive CEF-T (n = 322) or PCb (n = 325). At a median follow-up of 62 months, DFS time was longer in those assigned to PCb compared with CEF-T (5-year DFS, 86.5% vs 80.3%, hazard ratio [HR] = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.44-0.96; P = .03). Similar outcomes were observed for distant DFS and relapse-free survival. There was no statistically significant difference in overall survival between the groups (HR = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.42-1.22, P = .22). In the exploratory and hypothesis-generating subgroup analyses of PCb vs CEF-T, the HR for DFS was 0.44 (95% CI, 0.15-1.31; P = .14) in patients with the BRCA1/2 variant and 0.39 (95% CI, 0.15-0.99; P = .04) in those with the HRR variant. Safety data were consistent with the known safety profiles of relevant drugs.

Conclusions and relevance: These findings suggest that a paclitaxel-plus-carboplatin regimen is an effective alternative adjuvant chemotherapy choice for patients with operable TNBC. In the era of molecular classification, subsets of TNBC sensitive to PCb should be further investigated.

Six versus 12 months’ adjuvant trastuzumab in patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer: the PERSEPHONE non-inferiority RCT

Helena Earl, Louise Hiller, Anne-Laure Vallier  et AL. – Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Sep;71(6):656-667.

Background: The addition of adjuvant trastuzumab to chemotherapy has significantly improved outcomes for people with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive, early, potentially curable breast cancer. Twelve months’ trastuzumab, tested in registration trials, was adopted as standard adjuvant treatment in 2006. Subsequently, similar outcomes were demonstrated using 9 weeks of trastuzumab. Shorter durations were therefore tested for non-inferiority.

Objectives: To establish whether or not 6 months’ adjuvant trastuzumab is non-inferior to 12 months’ in the treatment of HER2-positive early breast cancer using a primary end point of 4-year disease-free survival.

Design: This was a Phase III randomised controlled non-inferiority trial.

Setting: The setting was 152 NHS hospitals.

Participants: A total of 4088 patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer who it was planned would receive both chemotherapy and trastuzumab took part.

Intervention: Randomisation (1 : 1) to 6 months’ or 12 months’ trastuzumab treatment.

Main outcomes: The primary end point was disease-free survival. The secondary end points were overall survival, cost-effectiveness and cardiac function during treatment with trastuzumab. Assuming a 4-year disease-free survival rate of 80% with 12 months’ trastuzumab, 4000 patients were required to demonstrate non-inferiority of 6 months’ trastuzumab (5% one-sided significance, 85% power), defining the non-inferiority limit as no worse than 3% below the standard arm. Costs and quality-adjusted life-years were estimated using a within-trial analysis and a lifetime decision-analytic model.

Results: Between 4 October 2007 and 31 July 2015, 2045 patients were randomised to 12 months’ trastuzumab and 2043 were randomised to 6 months’ trastuzumab. Sixty-nine per cent of patients had ER-positive disease; 90% received anthracyclines (49% with taxanes; 41% without taxanes); 10% received taxanes without anthracyclines; 54% received trastuzumab sequentially after chemotherapy; and 85% received adjuvant chemotherapy (58% were node negative). At 6.1 years’ median follow-up, with 389 (10%) deaths and 566 (14%) disease-free survival events, the 4-year disease-free survival rates for the 4088 patients were 89.5% (95% confidence interval 88.1% to 90.8%) in the 6-month group and 90.3% (95% confidence interval 88.9% to 91.5%) in the 12-month group (hazard ratio 1.10, 90% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.26; non-inferiority p = 0.01), demonstrating non-inferiority of 6 months’ trastuzumab. Congruent results were found for overall survival (non-inferiority p = 0.0003) and landmark analyses 6 months from starting trastuzumab [non-inferiority p = 0.03 (disease-free-survival) and p = 0.006 (overall survival)]. Six months’ trastuzumab resulted in fewer patients reporting adverse events of severe grade [365/1929 (19%) vs. 460/1935 (24%) for 12-month patients; p = 0.0003] or stopping early because of cardiotoxicity [61/1977 (3%) vs. 146/1941 (8%) for 12-month patients; p < 0.0001]. Health economic analysis showed that 6 months' trastuzumab resulted in significantly lower lifetime costs than and similar lifetime quality-adjusted life-years to 12 months' trastuzumab, and thus there is a high probability that 6 months' trastuzumab is cost-effective compared with 12 months' trastuzumab. Patient-reported experiences in the trial highlighted fatigue and aches and pains most frequently.

Limitations: The type of chemotherapy and timing of trastuzumab changed during the recruitment phase of the study as standard practice altered.

Conclusions: PERSEPHONE demonstrated that, in the treatment of HER2-positive early breast cancer, 6 months’ adjuvant trastuzumab is non-inferior to 12 months’. Six months’ treatment resulted in significantly less cardiac toxicity and fewer severe adverse events.

Overall survival results from the randomized phase 2 study of palbociclib in combination with letrozole versus letrozole alone for first-line treatment of ER+/HER2- advanced breast cancer (PALOMA-1, TRIO-18)

Richard S Finn, Katalin Boer, Igor Bondarenko et Al. –  Breast Cancer Res Treat2020 Jun;181(3):611-621.

Purpose: Palbociclib is a cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitor, approved in combination with endocrine therapy for the treatment of women and men with hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative advanced breast cancer (HR+/HER2- ABC). In the phase 2, open-label, PALOMA-1 trial, palbociclib plus letrozole significantly prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) versus letrozole alone (hazard ratio, 0.488; 95% CI 0.319‒0.748; P = 0.0004; median PFS, 20.2 vs 10.2 months, respectively) in postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+)/HER2- ABC. Here, we present the final overall survival (OS) and updated safety results.

Methods: Postmenopausal women with ER+/HER2- ABC were randomized 1:1 to receive either palbociclib (125 mg/day, 3/1 schedule) plus letrozole (2.5 mg/day, continuous) or letrozole alone (2.5 mg/day, continuous). The primary endpoint was investigator-assessed PFS; secondary endpoints included OS and safety.

Results: A total of 165 patients were randomized. At the data cutoff date of December 30, 2016 (median duration of follow-up, 64.7 months), the stratified hazard ratio for OS was 0.897 (95% CI 0.623-1.294; P = 0.281); median OS in the palbociclib plus letrozole and letrozole alone arms was 37.5 and 34.5 months, respectively. The median time from randomization to first subsequent chemotherapy use was longer with palbociclib plus letrozole than letrozole alone (26.7 and 17.7 months, respectively). The most frequently reported adverse event in the palbociclib plus letrozole arm was neutropenia (any grade, 75%; grade 3 or 4, 59%).

Conclusions: Palbociclib plus letrozole treatment led to a numerical but not statistically significant improvement in median OS. 

Breast cancer treatment in the elderly: Do treatment plans that do not conform to NCCN recommendations lead to worse outcomes? Obi Agborbesong , Stephen D Helmer , Jared Reyes et Al. – Am J Surg. 2020 Aug;220(2):381-384.

Background: Aging remains one of the greatest risk factors for development of new breast cancer with more than 30% of breast cancers occurring after the age of 75. Elderly women have been found to not conform with all aspects of treatment recommendations. Our study compared outcomes of elderly breast cancer patients whose treatment did or did not conform to NCCN guidelines.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of breast cancer patients over the age of 70. Comparisons were made between patients whose treatment did or did not conform to NCCN guidelines for recurrence, metastatic disease, and breast cancer related deaths.

Results: Patients whose treatment did not conform to NCCN guidelines were older (80.5 vs. 77.7 years, P = 0.001). No significant difference was seen between groups for tumor size, breast cancer type, or nodal status; however, more nonconforming women were ER/PR positive (90.3% vs. 76.6%, P = 0.020). There was no significant difference in local recurrence, metastatic disease, or breast cancer related deaths.

Conclusions: Women whose treatment did not conform to NCCN guidelines were not associated with worse outcomes.

Pharmacological management of male breast cancer.  Bruno A Duso , Dario Trapani , Antonio Marra et Al.- Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2020 Aug;21(12):1493-1504.

Introduction: Despite its rarity, male breast cancer shows a steadily rising incidence. Given the absence of ad hoc prospective randomized clinical trials, treatment strategies are based on extrapolation from female breast cancer recommendations or solely on population-based data.

Areas covered: This review discusses the current treatment landscape for male breast cancer in the adjuvant and in the metastatic setting. The authors also discuss the biology and genomic landscape of male breast cancer. Original research and review articles, relative to the period 2010-2019, were included in the review of the literature.

Expert opinion: There is a major medical need to include male patients with breast cancer in prospective clinical trials. The call to equality in breast cancer care can be pursued via two divergent paths: (i) a gender-neutral delivery of breast cancer information and (ii) the creation of separate sections, for the more common female breast cancer and for the rare male ones. We propose to differentiate male breast cancer care, acknowledging unique onco-sexual and social needs that can be only partially shared.

Olaparib and durvalumab in patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic breast cancer (MEDIOLA): an open-label, multicentre, phase 1/2, basket study. Susan M Domchek, Sophie Postel-Vinay, Seock-Ah Im et Al.-  Lancet Oncol. 2020 Sep;21(9):1155-1164.

Background: Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors combined with immunotherapy have shown antitumour activity in preclinical studies. We aimed to assess the safety and activity of olaparib in combination with the PD-L1-inhibitor, durvalumab, in patients with germline BRCA1-mutated or BRCA2-mutated metastatic breast cancer.

Methods: The MEDIOLA trial is a multicentre, open-label, phase 1/2, basket trial of durvalumab and olaparib in solid tumours. Patients were enrolled into four initial cohorts: germline BRCA-mutated, metastatic breast cancer; germline BRCA-mutated, metastatic ovarian cancer; metastatic gastric cancer; and relapsed small-cell lung cancer. Here, we report on the cohort of patients with breast cancer. Patients who were aged 18 years or older (or aged 19 years or older in South Korea) with germline BRCA1-mutated or BRCA2-mutated or both and histologically confirmed, progressive, HER2-negative, metastatic breast cancer were enrolled from 14 health centres in the UK, the USA, Israel, France, Switzerland, and South Korea. Patients should not have received more than two previous lines of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. Patients received 300 mg olaparib in tablet form orally twice daily for 4 weeks and thereafter a combination of olaparib 300 mg twice daily and durvalumab 1·5 g via intravenous infusion every 4 weeks until disease progression. Primary endpoints were safety and tolerability, and 12-week disease control rate. Safety was analysed in patients who received at least one dose of study treatment, and activity analyses were done in the full-analysis set (patients who received at least one dose of study treatment and were not excluded from the study). Recruitment has completed and the study is ongoing. 

Findings: Between June 14, 2016, and May 2, 2017, 34 patients were enrolled and received both study drugs and were included in the safety analysis. 11 (32%) patients experienced grade 3 or worse adverse events, of which the most common were anaemia (four [12%]), neutropenia (three [9%]), and pancreatitis (two [6%]). Three (9%) patients discontinued due to adverse events and four (12%) patients experienced a total of six serious adverse events. There were no treatment-related deaths. 24 (80%; 90% CI 64·3-90·9) of 30 patients eligible for activity analysis had disease control at 12 weeks.

Interpretation: Combination of olaparib and durvalumab showed promising antitumour activity and safety similar to that previously observed in olaparib and durvalumab monotherapy studies. Further research in a randomised setting is needed to determine predictors of therapeutic benefit and whether addition of durvalumab improves long-term clinical outcomes compared with olaparib monotherapy.

Metronomic chemotherapy for patients with metastatic breast cancer: Review of effectiveness and potential use during pandemics. Johny E Fares, Paul El Tomb, Lana E Khalil et Al. –  Cancer Treat Rev. 2020 Sep;89:102066.

Metronomic chemotherapy (M-CT) is defined as dose dense administration of chemotherapy at lower doses than maximum tolerated dose but at shorter free intervals, to obtain a near continuous exposure of cancer cells to those potentially effective drugs. M-CT is a useful strategy to obtain response, overcome resistance and reduce side effects, with low costs. This review will focus on the use of M-CT in advanced breast cancer (ABC). Cytostatic and cytotoxic effect on cancer cells, the anti-angiogenic and the immunomodulatory effects are its main mechanisms of actions. Many clinical trials proved the efficacy and tolerability of different monotherapies and combinations of chemotherapeutic agents administered in metronomic doses and frequencies in ABC. M-CT is a reasonable option for second and later lines of chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer including those with prior anthracycline or taxane exposure, older patients and patients with comorbidities, and even as first-line in certain groups of patients. The acceptable efficacy and low toxicity of oral metronomic chemotherapy makes it a reasonable option during COVID-19 pandemic as well as in the post-COVID era which is projected to last for some time.