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Advanced metastatic breast cancer can now be treated with the drug Ibrance. This new study shows that it doubled progression-free survival.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published the results of a study on the use of Ibrance (palbociclib) to treat advanced breast cancer.  Ibrance was approved by the FDA in February 2015 to be used in combination with Femara (letrozole) to treat advanced-stage hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that hadn’t been treated with hormonal therapy before in postmenopausal women.  This new study was presented June 1, 2015 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.  The study found that Ibrance combined with Faslodex (fulvestrant) more than doubled progression-free survival compared with Faslodex alone where the cancer had grown while being treated with first-line hormonal therapy.  Because the study met its goal of better progression-free survival, it was stopped early and researchers are continuing to follow the women.  Faslodex is an estrogen receptor blocker that sits in the breast cells so the cell can’t receive estrogen’s signals to grow and multiply.

This study shows that for women with advanced metastatic cancer, they can use Ibrance to keep their cancer in check without being treated with chemotherapy.  As a result of the findings of this study, Ibrance is being strongly suggested as a second-line treatment.  (Women who were premenopausal also got Zoladex (goserelin).  Zoladex is a hormonal therapy medicine, given by injection every 4 weeks, and stops the ovaries from making estrogen.)

Definitions:  A first line treatment is what doctors call the first medicine recommended to treat a disease.  A second line treatment is what doctors recommend if the first medicine doesn’t work or stops working.