by Erin White
CHICAGO — Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most difficult breast cancers to treat, but a promising Northwestern Medicine® study offers more hope for those with the disease. Patients in the study were treated with the novel combination of two chemotherapy drugs, carboplatin and eribulin.
Both drugs have been used alone to treat triple-negative breast cancer with some success. This study is the first to show that the combination of the two drugs may be the most effective treatment yet. “After the therapy and at the time of surgery, 43 percent of the women in our study were tumor-free,” said Virginia Kaklamani, M.D., lead investigator of the study. “In previous studies of drug therapy for triple-negative breast cancer, only 30 percent of women were tumor-free at the time of surgery.”
Kaklamani presented the findings at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, one of the largest breast cancer conferences in the world. She is director of translational breast cancer research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She also is an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Thirty women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (stages 1 through 3) took part in the study. Before surgery they were treated with four cycles of chemotherapy using the novel combination of carboplatin and eribulin. “Triple-negative breast cancer tends to be very aggressive, and because it is aggressive it metastasizes very fast,” Kaklamani said.
“We don’t have many good treatments for it, which is why the results of our study is such good news.” Future research on this drug combination will include randomized nationwide or international clinical trials that will formally compare the therapy in larger groups.