Breast Cancer Drug Active and Well Tolerated in First Line Setting

Eribulin evaluated for the first time as an early metastatic breast cancer treatment.

Eribulin evaluated for the first time as an early metastatic breast cancer treatment.

A drug commonly used as a late stage breast cancer therapy was also found to be effective as an early course treatment, the results of a recent study indicate.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study found that eribulin, while not superior to capecitabine, is active and well-tolerated in women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) who receive the drug as a first, second, or third line chemotherapy treatment. The study was the first to evaluate the drug as an early course therapy for MBC in either the first or second line setting.

"Additionally, it is of great interest that subset analysis suggests that eribulin may be particularly active and effective in triple negative MBC, which is known to be an aggressive subset of breast cancer, and one associated unfortunately with a particularly poor prognosis overall," lead researcher Peter A. Kaufman, MD, said in a press release.

Eribulin is the lone chemotherapeutic drug to have shown a survival benefit for the treatment of MBC as a third line or later therapy. With its prior track record as a late setting treatment, researchers have shown interest in the potential of eribulin as an early therapy option in MBC.

For a phase 3 randomized trial, 1099 women previously treated with an anthracycline or a taxane were assigned to either eribulin or capecitabine as a first, second, or third line chemotherapy for advanced MBC. The trial’s stratification factors were human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 status and geographic region, with overall survival and progression-free survival as co-primary endpoints.

"While there is not a statistically significant difference in overall survival with eribulin in comparison to capecitabine, the median overall survival seen with eribulin is in fact numerically slightly superior to that of capecitabine," Dr. Kaufman said.

As a result of the study, pilot adjuvant and neoadjuvant studies are planned to evaluate eribulin in MBC.

"We are currently developing further studies evaluating the utility of eribulin in treating women with triple negative disease, either alone, or in combination regimens with other therapies," Dr. Kaufman concluded. "We are additionally planning further research evaluating the role of eribulin in other subtypes of breast cancer, particularly in early stage breast cancer, where this therapy may in fact have a great impact, and improve the cure rate for early stage disease."