Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: July 20

Today in breast cancer news there are stories on Trelstar (triptorelin) to prevent chemotherapy-related early menopause, the UK denial of cost coverage for Halaven (eribulin) for metastatic patients and the effect of body weight and alcohol consumption on breast cancer risk.

Trelstar may prevent chemotherapy-induced early menopause

Today's big story is a Journal of the American Medical Association study on Trelstar (triptorelin) to prevent chemotherapy-induced early menopause. Links to the JAMA study and media reports in the Los Angeles Times, US News and World Report and Internal Medicine News can all be found on the Trelstar (triptorelin) page of the website.

According to the study abstract, premenopausal women are at "high risk of premature ovarian failure" due to systemic treatments such as chemotherapy. In the study, the use of Trelstar to induce temporary ovarian suppression "reduced the occurrence of chemotherapy-induced early menopause."

In the comment section of the study, the authors cautioned that even though early menopause may be avoided, it has "not yet been confirmed" that Trelstar-induced ovarian suppression is "effective in preserving fertility." Embryo cryopreservation (freezing embryos) has been shown to be "relatively effective in achieving pregnancy." The authors note that embryo cryopreservation and Trelstar-induced ovarian suppression can be used together to increase the probability of preserving fertility.

Trelstar is a synthetic version of the body's luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH). In May 2011, a Journal of Clinical Oncology study of another LHRH, Zoladex (goserelin), reached an opposite conclusion. In that study, the use of Zoladex to suppress ovarian function during neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy did not preserve ovarian function or prevent early menopause. In a Cure Today/Reuters article, the authors noted that fertility preservation strategies such as embryo freezing "might be preferred" to the use of Zoladex to suppress ovarian function.

UK denies cost coverage for Halaven

Halaven (eribulin), which is derived from a sea sponge, is used to treat metastatic breast cancer. The News tab of the Halaven (eribulin) page of the website reads like a high-society debutant announcement page. In the last several months, Halaven has made its international debut in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Japan and Switzerland. All the news seemed to be good.

Today, however, a Reuters story announced that the UK healthcare cost watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) determined that Halaven is not cost-effective. According to Reuters,

Although clinical data indicated the drug could potentially help patients live for a little longer, it also caused more negative side effects than other treatments and NICE said the effects on health-related quality of life had not been adequately assessed.

The NICE decision is a draft guidance, which is now open for public consultation. We'll continue to follow developments in this area.

Weight, alcohol and breast cancer risk

Also from the UK this morning, a British Journal of Cancer study discussed on the Cancer Research UK website found that for post-menopausal women, weight is the biggest factor affecting the hormones that increase breast cancer risk, followed by alcohol and cigarettes. Women with a high body mass index and those who drank a large glass of wine or more a day had increased estrogen levels. This may explain why obese women and regular drinkers are at increased risk of breast cancer.

Please check back tomorrow for more breast cancer news updates from

No comments:

Post a Comment