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Among women with previously treated, locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer, treatment with the investigational chemotherapy drug eribulin mesylate improved overall survival by about 2.5 months. The results of this Phase III clinical trial were presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body. Treatment of metastatic breast cancer often includes chemotherapy, but options can become limited when the cancer stops responding to conventional chemotherapy regimens.

Eribulin—which was derived from a marine sponge—is an investigational chemotherapy drug that affects cell division.

To evaluate eribulin among women with advanced breast cancer, an international group of researchers conducted a Phase III clinical trial. The study enrolled 762 patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer. The women had already received an average of four prior chemotherapy drugs, including an anthracycline and a taxane.

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Study participants were assigned to receive either eribulin or “treatment of physician’s choice.” Because there is no single standard treatment regimen for women at this stage of breast cancer, treatment of women in the comparison group was left up to the patient’s physician.

  • Median overall survival was 13.1 months among women treated with eribulin, compared with 10.7 months among women treated with physician’s choice.
  • Progression-free survival and response rates also favored eribulin.
  • Eribulin was generally well tolerated. 

The results of this study suggest that eribulin may improve outcomes among women with advanced, heavily pretreated breast cancer.

Reference: Twelves C, Loesch D, Blum JL et al. A phase III study (EMBRACE) of eribulin mesylate versus treatment of physician’s choice in patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer previously treated with an anthracycline and a taxane. Presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. June 4-8, 2010. Chicago, IL. Abstract CRA 1004.

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