The new chemotherapy agent Abraxane (paclitaxel protein-bound particles for injectable suspension) is now available to women with recurrent breast cancer. The FDA recently approved Abraxane for the treatment of patients with breast cancer who have stopped responding to prior therapies that included a class of commonly used chemotherapy agents referred to as anthracyclines.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 women are diagnosed annually in the United States, and 40,000 deaths are attributed to breast cancer each year. Recurrent breast cancer refers to cancer that has progressed or returned following prior therapy. Effective treatment options for recurrent breast cancer are being evaluated in order to improve the duration of survival and/or quality of life for these patients.
Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy agent that is commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer. Patients with cancer that has recurred following previous therapy and has spread to distant sites in the body are often treated with paclitaxel. The formulation of paclitaxel includes agents that allow for the proper storage and administration of the drug. These agents, however, are also responsible for the development of many side effects associated with paclitaxel.
Abraxane is a new form of paclitaxel that is bound with albumin, a type of protein normally found in the human body. This form of paclitaxel delivers high concentrations of the active ingredient into the cancer cells and, compared to the original form of the drug, reduces the incidence of side effects. Results from previous trials have demonstrated that Abraxane improves anti-cancer responses, time to cancer progression and overall survival compared to Taxol® in advanced breast cancer.,  In addition, Abraxane tends to be better tolerated than Taxol, administration times are shorter, and there are no premedication requirements as there are with Taxol.
Patients with recurrent breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Abraxane.
Desai N, et al. ABI-007 (ABRAXANE), a nanoparticle albumin-bound (NAB) paclitaxel demonstrates superior efficacy vs. Taxol in MBC: a phase III trial. Proceedings from the 2003 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. San Antonio TX. 2003. Abstract #44.