First-line treatment option available for eligible Australians with a type of aggressive breast cancer

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Breast Cancer Detection
Breast Cancer Detection

An estimated 1,500 eligible Australians with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) could receive access to immuno-oncology therapy KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) as a first-line treatment option.1,2

KEYTRUDA is now listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for the treatment of patients with high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in combination with chemotherapy as neoadjuvant treatment, and then continued as monotherapy as adjuvant treatment after surgery; and in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with locally recurrent unresectable or metastatic TNBC whose tumours express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by a validated test and who have not received prior chemotherapy for metastatic disease.2

TNBC is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer which means it can grow quickly.3,4,5 TNBC has a poor prognosis5,6 and is more like to recur within two to three years of diagnosis, as opposed to 10 to 15 years for those with estrogen receptor – positive breast cancer.4

While the average age of first being diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia is 61,4 TNBC occurs more often in patients who are under 50 years of age.7

Around 10-15% of all breast cancer cases are triple-negative breast cancers4,7,8and there are around 2,500 new cases of TNBC in Australia each year.9

Professor Fran Boyle, Medical Oncologist at the Mater Hospital Sydney and Director of the Patricia Ritchie Centre for Cancer Care and Research says, “Many of these women will be below the usual age at which screening occurs. As TNBC has the potential to grow quickly, the cancer can reach a significant size before patients are diagnosed.”

Dr Sally Baron-Hay, Medical Oncologist, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, says “There have been limited treatment options in the management of women with early stage TNBC. The addition of an immunotherapy option to neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment gives medical oncologists and their patients an additional treatment option for those with this aggressive subtype of breast cancer.”

“As a medical oncologist it is rewarding to be able to offer this treatment option that could provide hope to women with early stage TNBC,” she added.

A survey of women with a TNBC diagnosis found that they experience increased levels of fear and anxiety at diagnosis compared to non-TNBC patients.10,11

Sarah Powell, CEO of Pink Hope says, “We encourage adult women of all ages to perform breast self-checks at least once a month as a preventative measure. We know that triple-negative breast cancer can occur in younger women. That’s why it’s crucial for women to become familiar with their breasts and learn how to spot any changes and speak to their GP if they notice anything unusual.”

Known risk factors for TNBC include having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive gene mutation, being pre-menopausal, being of African American and African descent, or having a family history of breast cancer.7,12

Treatments in both early and advanced TNBC remain a significant unmet need.8 Early-stage treatment means the treatment of cancer before it has spread or metastasised beyond the part of the body where the cancer originated.13

New blood test could spare cancer patients from needless chemotherapy after surgery

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