The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has recently added the chemotherapy agent Abraxane™ (albumin-bound paclitaxel) to the list of preferred single chemotherapy agents for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.
The NCCN consists of a panel from the nation’s most reputable cancer treatment facilities. The panel sets clinical guidelines that are continually refined and include algorithms for diagnostic procedures and treatment of cancer. For 2005, the NCCN has fine-tuned recommendations for treatment of early and advanced breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Recurrent breast cancer refers to cancer that has returned or progressed following prior therapy.
Treatment for both metastatic and recurrent breast cancer often consists of chemotherapy, either as a single agent or in combination with other agents. Researchers continue to evaluate different agents or combinations of agents in order to improve outcomes for this group of patients.
Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy agent commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer. Abraxane is a newer 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.
Abraxane is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer that has failed combination chemotherapy, or breast cancer that has relapsed within 6 months of adjuvant chemotherapy. Therapy prior to Abraxane should have included an anthracycline, unless contraindicated. Abraxane has demonstrated superiority to Taxol in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
Patients who have been diagnosed with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer and will receive chemotherapy should speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Abraxane.
Reference: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Practice Oncology Guidelines- Invasive Breast Cancer. Available at: http://www.nccn.com/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/breast.pdf. Accessed December 2005.