According to results presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the chemotherapy agent Camptosar® (irinotecan, CPT-11) appears to be an effective treatment option in patients with breast cancer that has stopped responding to taxane and/or anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is responsible for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the United States. Chemotherapy is often part of the regimen utilized for treatment of breast cancer. Taxanes (paclitaxel (Taxol®) or docetaxel (Taxotere®)) and anthracyclines (Adriamycin® (doxorubicin) or epirubicin (Ellence®)) are the most common chemotherapy agents used for breast cancer. Patients who have a return of their cancer or who become resistant to taxanes and/or anthracyclines currently have limited effective treatment options. Researchers have been evaluating novel therapeutic approaches for patients resistant to anthracyclines and/taxanes in order to improve survival and quality of life.
Camptosar® has shown anti-cancer activity in various cancers and is continued to be evaluated in clinical trials alone or in combination with other therapies for several types of cancer. Researchers from the North Central Treatment Group (NCCTG) recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate Camptosar® in 102 patients with breast cancer that had stopped responding to taxanes and/or anthracyclines. Several patients had received 2 or 3 previous chemotherapy regimens and all patients had cancer that had spread to distant sites in the body. Of patients who had stopped responding to both taxanes and anthracyclines, the overall anti-cancer response rate following weekly Camptosar® was 27%. Of patients who had stopped responding to either taxanes or anthracyclines, the anti-cancer response rates following Camptosar® were approximately 18%. Researchers cannot explain why the response rates to Camptosar® were higher in patients resistant to both taxanes and anthracyclines, compared to the response rates in patients resistant to either taxanes or anthracyclines. The duration of anti-cancer response was 4 months and survival at 6 months was 63%. The most common side effects of Camptosar® were low white blood cell counts.
Researchers conducting this trial concluded that Camptosar® may be an effective treatment option for breast cancer patients resistant to taxanes and/or anthracyclines. These researchers will be conducting a clinical trial for breast cancer patients resistant to taxanes and/or anthracyclines to compare Camptosar® to Xeloda® (capecitabine) or evaluate the combination of Camptosar®/Xeloda® in these patients. Patients with resistant breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician about treatment with Camptosar® or participation in a clinical trial evaluating other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute ( cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients.
Reference: Perez E, Willham D, Mailliard J, et al. Randomized phase II study of 2 schedules of irinotecan (CPT-11) for patients (pts) with refractory metastatic breast cancer (MBC): an NCCTG Cooperative Group study. Proceedings from the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2002;21:1. Abstract 206.