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Key takeaways for breast cancer patients from the 2023 ESMO Congress

ESMO 2023 breast cancer

ESMO 2023 represents more than 34,000 oncology professionals, including breast cancer specialists,  who practice in more than 170 countries. The European Society of Medical Oncologists (ESMO) hosted its ESMO 2023 Congress this past weekend in Madrid, Spain. Every year, this meeting of oncologists from across Europe presents numerous findings about innovation within breast cancer–and this year didn’t disappoint. Read on for some of the key announcements we’re following that are relevant to breast cancer patients. 

Tropion Breast 01 trial
Datopotamab Deruxtecan showed improvement in progression-free survival (6.9 vs 4.9 months) for metastatic breast cancer (mBC) patients with ER+ HER2- (and HER2-low) disease. Datopotamab Deruxtecan is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), which are therapies that combine a chemotherapy agent with a targeted antibody. The role of the antibody is to help deliver the chemotherapy directly to the cancer cells increasing the effectiveness of the treatment and reducing damage to a patients’ healthy cells. 

KEYNOTE-522 trial
This study focusing on early triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) showed that using Keytruda (combined with chemotherapy) before surgery and then continuing with the Keytruda after surgery significantly reduced the risk of a metastatic recurrence compared to those using chemotherapy alone. After 5 years, 81.3% of patients treated with the combined approach were still disease-free, compared to 72.3% who received only chemotherapy. These encouraging findings suggest that this combination could become a standard treatment for high-risk TNBC patients, potentially offering them better outcomes.

Phase 3 MonarchE trial

Eli Lilly and Company announced the five-year results from the phase 3 monarchE study, which assessed the use of adjuvant Verzenio (abemaciclib) in combination with endocrine therapy in patients with HR+, HER2- early breast cancer. The data shows absolute risk improvement of 7.6% for long-term risk of invasive recurrence and a 6.7% improvement in distant disease-free survival at 5 years for patients. This latest data shows that the benefit persists even after the completion of treatment. Verzenio did not compromise efficacy when dose reductions were necessary, and it maintained a well established safety profile.

Fasting During Breast Cancer Chemo Improves Quality of Life

A study by researchers in Germany found that short-term fasting during chemotherapy improved the health-related quality-of-life for early-stage breast cancer patients. According to the study, fasting around chemo cycles helped prevent fatigue and reduced adverse effects of chemotherapy such as toxicity. Patients who participated in the study were also advised to keep a plant-based diet, though it was not mandatory.   

CheckMate 7FL trial

Findings from a phase 3 CheckMate 7FL trial revealed that adding the immunotherapy nivolumab to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) improved pathological complete response (pCR) in patients with ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. The trial involved 521 patients with this breast cancer subtype, and those who received nivolumab in combination with chemotherapy had a significantly higher pathologic complete response (pCR) rate compared to those who received chemotherapy alone. The pCR rate in the nivolumab group was 24.5%, while the placebo group had a rate of 13.8%.

Presented at ESMO 2023, patients with high-risk, early-stage breast cancer (estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative) were treated with a combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy before surgery, and then  Keytruda and hormone therapy after surgery. The results, presented at the 2023 European Society of Medical Oncology Congress, showed that these patients had a significantly higher pathologic complete response (pCR) compared to those who received chemotherapy alone (24.3% vs 15.6%). This benefit was seen across various patient groups, and while there were side effects, they were consistent with what doctors already know about  Keytruda. The study continues to evaluate how well this treatment helps in the longer term, such as preventing the cancer from coming back.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news in breast cancer research, be sure to download the Outcomes4Me app and enable notifications so we can send you important updates. Also check out the news feed on the homepage of your app that auto-updates with news most relevant to your diagnosis.

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