A recent study put forward at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago has found evidence which may help thousands of young women with breast cancer to live longer.
The study found that adding ribociclib to standard hormone therapy may lengthen the lives of pre-menopausal patients.
Ribociclib is a targeted therapy drug which blocks the growth and spread of cancer. It targets and interferes with actions in the cancerous cells.
The drug may only be offered to those who have oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer or HER2 negative breast cancer. In the case of both these types of cancer, ribociclib works to block the proteins that cause them to become overactive which helps breast cancer cells to grow.
When used in conjunction with hormone therapies, which block the effects of oestrogen on cancer cells, ribociclib helps to delay the growth of both these types of cancers.
According to the study led by Dr Sara Hurvits of the University of California, Los Angeles, the risk of death for patients using the two together was cut by 29%, compared to patients who had only been treated with standard hormone therapy.
In the study, they researched 672 pre-menopausal women under the age of 59, who had advanced HER2 negative breast cancer. Along with receiving hormone therapy, the patients were given either ribociclib or a placebo.
Conducted over the course of three and a half years, the research found that 70% of those treated with the combination therapy were still alive, compared to 46% of those who were treated only with hormone therapy.
The research also found that women who were treated with ribociclib lived 23.8 months on average without the disease progressing, in comparison to 13 months for those who were given the placebo.
According to the Irish Examiner, speaking about her study, Dr Sara Hurvits said that hers “is the first study to show improved survival for any targeted therapy when used with endocrine therapy as a first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer”.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now described Dr Hurvits research as “incredibly good news for patients and their families”.