Ian Smith, MD | Authors

Integrating Gemcitabine Into Breast Cancer Therapy

December 02, 2004

The rapid emergence of gemcitabine (Gemzar) as a viable component inchemotherapy for breast cancer is indeed an encouraging development.Specifically, until relatively recently, the focus of research and treatmentwith gemcitabine was primarily on lung cancer. Growing opinion amongmany experts in breast cancer held that studies of gemcitabine in breast cancer werenoticeably lacking and that such research was warranted. Fortunately, these voiceswere heard, and the manufacturers of gemcitabine responded with an acceleratedinitiative to explore further the role of gemcitabine in breast cancer. Rapid progresswas made.

Phase II Studies of Pemetrexed in Metastatic Breast and Gynecologic Cancers

November 02, 2004

Pemetrexed (Alimta) is active in a variety of solid tumors, includingbreast and gynecologic cancers. Phase II trials of pemetrexed at a doseof 600 mg/m2 without vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation inlargely pretreated metastatic breast cancer patients demonstrated objectiveresponse rates of 21% and 28%, with generally manageableneutropenia constituting the primary toxicity. In phase II trials using500 mg/m2 with or without vitamin supplementation in anthracyclineandtaxane-pretreated patients, response rates were lower (approximately9%) and treatment was generally well tolerated irrespective ofvitamin supplementation status. A phase II trial is currently comparingpemetrexed doses of 600 and 900 mg/m2 with vitamin B12 supplementationin patients with previously untreated advanced breast cancer. In aphase II trial in patients with advanced cervical cancer, pemetrexed at600 mg/m2 without vitamin supplementation and 500 mg/m2 with supplementationproduced similar response rates, with the frequency of neutropeniabeing somewhat lower among patients receiving the lower doseand vitamin supplementation. Preliminary results in an ongoing phaseII trial indicate activity of the regimen of gemcitabine (Gemzar) at1,000 mg/m2 plus pemetrexed at 500 mg/m2 with vitamin supplementationin patients with ovarian cancer. Ongoing and future studies willestablish optimal dosing regimens of pemetrexed and potential benefitsof vitamin supplementation in the settings of metastatic breastcancer and gynecologic malignancies.