According to an early online publication in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, treatment with ixabepilone provides anticancer responses and disease stabilization among women with metastatic breast cancer that did not respond to treatment with the standard chemotherapy agents including anthracyclines, taxanes, and Xeloda® (capecitabine).

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Standard treatment for metastatic breast cancer typically includes chemotherapy with agents from the anthracycline or taxane groups, Xeloda, or other chemotherapy agents. Unfortunately, some women with breast cancer do not respond to treatment with standard agents. This is referred to as resistant breast cancer. Because long-term outcomes for patients with resistant metastatic breast cancer remain suboptimal, researchers continue to evaluate novel agents that may improve survival for women with this disease.

A clinical trial that included medical centers from around the world was recently conducted to evaluate an investigative chemotherapy agent ixabepilone in the treatment of resistant breast cancer. This trial included 113 women with metastatic breast cancer, 88% of whom had received at least two prior treatments with chemotherapy and experienced disease progression while being treated. Participants received treatment with ixabepilone as a single agent.

• Anticancer responses were achieved in nearly 12–18% of patients.

• Disease stabilization was achieved in 50% of patients.

• Median duration of response was nearly six months, and the median progression-free survival was a little over three months.

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• Median overall survival was nearly nine months.

• Serious side effects included numbing/tingling of the hands or feet, sore muscles, sores of the lining of the mouth.

The researchers concluded that ixabepilone provides anticancer activity while being generally well tolerated among women with metastatic breast cancer who are resistant to standard chemotherapy including anthracyclines, taxanes, and Xeloda.

Patients with metastatic breast cancer who are not responding to therapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating ixabepilone or other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com.

Reference: Perez E, Lerzo G, Pivot X, et al. Efficacy and safety of ixabepilone (BMS-247550) in a Phase II study of patients with advanced breast cancer resistant to an anthracycline, a taxane, and capecitabine. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. July 2, 2007. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2006.09.3849.

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