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Carey K. Anders, MD

Carey K. Anders, MD

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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This review summarizes the most up-to-date approach to the multidisciplinary management of patients with breast cancer brain metastases.

Brain metastases arising from breast cancer constitute a clinically unmet need and a situation that portends a poor prognosis with few therapeutic options.

With regard to potential research strategies relevant to the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer/basal-like breast cancer, potential targets include PTEN, INPP4B, PIK3CA, KRAS, BRAF, EGFR, FGFR1, FGFR2, IGFR1, KIT, MET, PDGFRA, and the HIF1-α/ARNT pathway. Many of these will be discussed further in this review article.

In 2008, it is estimated that over 1 million women worldwide will be diagnosed with breast cancer, of which 172,695 will be classified as “triple-negative.”[1] The triple-negative phenotype encompasses a breast tumor subtype that is clinically negative for expression of the estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER and PR) and lacks overexpression of the HER2 protein, with unique prognostic and therapeutic implications.

As half of all breast cancers occur in patients beyond the age of 65 and a quarter beyond the age of 75, a significant number of patients with metastatic breast cancer are elderly. New hormonal therapies, such as aromatase inhibitors, appear to have favorably improved the survival of these patients. Side effects such as osteoporosis or cognitive issues appear manageable. Information specific to elderly patients has recently emerged in the field of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. This article reviews data on anthracyclines, taxanes, capecitabine (Xeloda), gemcitabine (Gemzar), trastuzumab (Herceptin), and bevacizumab (Avastin). For most patients in this setting, sequential single-agent chemotherapy appears at this time to be the preferred course of treatment.

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