According to an article recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, the chemotherapy agent vinflunine provides anticancer activity among women with breast cancer that has recurred or progressed following prior therapy with chemotherapy agents referred to as anthracyclines and taxanes.

Anthracyclines and taxanes are two classes of chemotherapy agents that are commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer whose disease progresses or recurs following treatment with anthracyclines and taxanes are left with limited treatment options. Researchers continue to evaluate novel agents for treatment of recurrent breast cancer.

Researchers from France recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the investigative agent vinflunine, a new chemotherapy drug that is classified as a vinca alkaloid, for the treatment of women with advanced breast cancer that had recurred following prior therapy with anthracyclines and taxanes.

  • Anticancer response rates to vinflunine were 30%.
  • Response to vinflunine lasted a median of nearly five months.
  • The median overall survival was 14.3 months.
  • Side effects included low levels of immune cells, fatigue, and constipation.

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The researchers concluded that treatment with vinflunine provides anticancer activity among patients with breast cancer who have received prior therapy with anthracyclines and taxanes. Because of these positive results, future studies further evaluating vinflunine for the treatment of recurrent breast cancer are warranted.

Patients with recurrent breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating vinflunine or other promising agents. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.ecancertrials.com.

Reference: Campone M, Cortes-Funes H, Vorobiof D, et al. Vinflunine: a new active drug for second-line treatment of advanced breast cancer. Results of a phase II and pharmacokinetic study in patients progressing after first-line anthracycline/taxane-based chemotherapy. British Journal of Cancer. 2006; online publication on October 10 as doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603347.

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