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24-09-2018 | Breast cancer | Article

Progress in adjuvant systemic therapy for breast cancer

Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology

Authors: Noam F. Pondé, Dimitrios Zardavas, Martine Piccart

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group UK


The prognosis of patients with early stage breast cancer has greatly improved in the past three decades. Following the first adjuvant endocrine therapy and chemotherapy trials, continuous improvements of clinical outcomes have been achieved through intense therapeutic escalation, albeit with increased health-care costs and treatment-related toxicities. In contrast to the advances achieved in surgery or radiotherapy, the identification of the patient subgroups that will derive clinical benefit from therapeutic escalation has proved to be a daunting process hindered by a lack of collaboration between scientific groups and by the pace of drug development. In the past few decades, initiatives towards de-escalation of systemic adjuvant treatment have achieved success. Herein, we summarize attempts to escalate and de-escalate adjuvant systemic treatment for patients with breast cancer and argue that new, creative trial designs focused on patients’ actual needs rather than on maximizing drug market size are needed. Ultimately, the adoption of effective treatments that do not needlessly expose patients and health-care systems to harm demands extensive international collaboration between academic groups, governments, and pharmaceutical companies.

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