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San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Dec. 6-10

Last Updated: December 12, 2016.

The 39th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

The annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was held from Dec. 6 to 10 and attracted more than 7,500 participants from around the world, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, researchers, and other health care professionals. The conference highlighted recent advances in the risk, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of breast cancer, with presentations focusing on emerging treatments in hard-to-treat patient populations, including patients with metastatic breast cancer.

In one study, Heather Han, M.D., of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues found that adding a poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase inhibitor, veliparib, to carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy in patients with locally-recurrent or metastatic breast cancer with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations did not result in a meaningful increase in adverse events.

"We also found that the addition of veliparib to carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy significantly improved the overall response rate, which was one of the secondary end points," Han said. "While we did see a trend for improved progression-free survival, the primary end point, and overall survival, the improvement was not statistically significant in this randomized phase II trial. Nevertheless, these results warrant further investigation and validation in the ongoing phase III BROCADE 3 clinical trial."

The study was funded by AbbVie, the manufacturer of veliparib.

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In another study, Sara Hurvitz, M.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues evaluated the efficacy and safety of abemaciclib, either alone or in combination with the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole in patients with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer in the neoadjuvant setting. The investigators randomized post-menopausal women with early-stage HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer to anastrozole, abemaciclib, or anastrozole plus abemaciclib for two weeks. All patients then received anastrozole plus abemaciclib for 14 weeks. Core biopsies were taken at baseline after two weeks of treatment and at the end of 14 weeks of combination therapy.

"Among 161 evaluable patients, we found that, compared to anastrozole alone, Ki67 levels were significantly reduced among patients who received abemaciclib, either alone or in combination with anastrozole (geometric mean change in Ki67 from baseline to two weeks in excess of 90 percent for both abemaciclib arms compared to only 63 percent for anastrozole)," Hurvitz said.

The investigators also found a significantly greater percentage of abemaciclib-treated patients having complete cell cycle arrest (Ki67 less than 2.7 percent at two weeks) in their tumor. According to Hurvitz, this combination therapy was fairly tolerable with continuous dosing of abemaciclib, with only 4 percent of patients experiencing grade 3/4 diarrhea and 8.2 percent experiencing grade 3/4 neutropenia.

"This is the first study reported evaluating the CDK4/6 inhibitor abemaciclib in the neoadjuvant setting, which was shown to be biologically active and well tolerated in combination with anastrozole," Hurvitz said. "We also showed early evidence that abemaciclib-based therapy may stimulate an immune response in the tumor bed."

The study was funded by Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of abemaciclib.

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In a study evaluating patient-reported cosmetic outcomes in a population-based cohort of older women with breast cancer, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that less radiation was associated with improved long-term cosmetic satisfaction. However, reduced radiation was also linked to a slightly increased risk of disease recurrence.

Cameron W. Swanick, M.D., and collegues analyzed Medicare claims to identify women 67 or older and diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer in 2009. From this cohort, 1,650 patients (330 patients per local therapy) were randomly selected to receive a survey to assess cosmetic satisfaction in breast cancer patients. A total of 498 women, median age 73, responded to the survey.

Patients who had mastectomy and radiation therapy reported significantly worse cosmetic outcomes compared to lumpectomy and whole breast irradiation. Six percent of patients reported recurrences in the lumpectomy and brachytherapy and lumpectomy-alone cohorts, compared to patients treated with lumpectomy and whole breast irradiation.

"We need treatment that is gentler than whole breast radiation, but provides broader coverage than brachytherapy," Smith said in an MD Anderson news release. "There are plenty of hints in the literature that indicate there's a happy medium in between these two treatments, and that's probably the sweet spot for many breast cancer patients."

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SABCS: Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Globally Diverse

MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer mortality rates are decreasing in the United States and many other countries, but increasing in South Korea and some Latin American countries, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Artificial Intelligence May Aid Doctors in Breast Cancer Care

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- An artificially intelligent computer system, Watson Oncology, is making breast cancer treatment recommendations in concordance with those made by oncologists, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Scalp-Cooling System Can Reduce Chemo-Related Hair Loss

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Cooling the scalp with a specialized cap during chemotherapy sessions could help breast cancer patients avoid treatment-related hair loss, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Aromatase Inhibitors Tied to Reduced Endothelial Function

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Women taking aromatase inhibitors may show signs of early endothelial dysfunction that could lead to cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Tamoxifen May Be Unfairly Blamed for Side Effects

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Some high-risk women who take tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer may mistake naturally occurring nausea and vomiting for side effects of the drug and stop taking it, according to a study presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Rx Combo Promising in Advanced HR+, HER2− Breast CA

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- In women with advanced hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer, treatment with a combination of everolimus and fulvestrant appears to improve progression-free survival -- from about five months to 10, according to findings presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: Molecular Changes Occur When Breast CA Spreads to Brain

THURSDAY, Dec. 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- When breast cancer spreads to the brain, important molecular changes may occur in the cancer, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in JAMA Oncology. The research was published to coincide with the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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SABCS: No Survival Benefit Seen for Letrozole Beyond Five Years

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Older breast cancer survivors taking letrozole for more than the recommended five years may not live longer; however, other benefits may result, so the decision to extend use is one best made on a case-by-case basis, according to findings presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in Texas.

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