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Conference Coverage

2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

Authored by

JCP Editors


J Clin Pathways. 2018;4(10):24.

The 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) brought together more than 7000 physicians and researchers from around the globe from December 4 through 8 in San Antonio, Texas. 

SABCS began in 1977 as a 1-day regional conference and has since expanded to be a 5-day international conference with 50% of attendees coming from outside of the United States. The SABCS was founded by UT Health San Antonio, and they still own and operate it today.

Symposium Director Rich Markow from UT Health San Antonio told the San Antonio Business Journal that the basic scientists, physicians, clinical investigators, and patient advocates who attend provide an estimated economic impact of more than $20 million, based on a 2015 economic study. 

New research highlighted at this meeting included 3 studies by the SWOG Cancer Research Network, an international cancer clinical trials network funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). SWOG has over 12,000 members in 47 states and 6 countries who design and conduct cancer prevention and treatment trials. SWOG trials have led to the approval of 14 cancer drugs and changed more than 100 standards of cancer care.

The 3 highlighted SWOG studies included results that better define subsets of patients and tumors with respect to treatment response, toxicities, and cancer recurrence.

Darya Kizub, MD, The Everett Clinic in Seattle, investigated the question: Can statin drugs reduce the risk of cancer recurrence among postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer? Results from laboratory and observational studies have suggested that these cholesterol-fighting drugs might have cancer-fighting benefits as well—particularly in combination with bisphosphonates. Dr Kizub mined data from S0307, a SWOG trial testing the effectiveness of bisphosphonates after breast cancer surgery, and analyzed outcomes for the women enrolled on S0307 who took statins (684 patients) and those that did not (1848 patients). Dr Kizub and her team found no evidence that statins either reduced the risk of developing a second breast cancer tumor or reduced the risk of breast cancer spreading to the liver, bone, or brain. In addition, there was no evidence that statins and bisphosphonates worked together to reduce cancer recurrence.

Priyanka Sharma, MD, University of Kansas Cancer Center and vice chair of the SWOG breast cancer committee, presented results of the first study to examine the long-term outcomes of patients with different molecular subtypes of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Using samples from S9313, a SWOG breast cancer trial that banked hundreds of tumor tissue specimens, researchers conducted microarray profiling on these samples to generate specific TNBC subtypes: Basal Like 1 (BL1), Basal Like 2 (BL2), Mesenchymal (M), Mesenchymal Stem-like (MSL), and Luminal Androgen Receptor (LAR). Sharma and her team then looked at patient outcomes after S9313 patients were treated with adjuvant doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy to see what the prognosis was for each subtype. They found that patients with BL1 subtype (~24%) had the best outcomes as they remained free of disease the longest. On the other end of the spectrum, patients with the MSL and LAR subtypes (~21%) were more likely to have their cancer return. Dr Sharma told Eurekalert, “We’re now beginning to understand the molecular diversity of this type of breast cancer—and we need to test different treatments on these different subtypes in clinical trials.

Lynn Henry, MD, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, presented study results that show that obese patients get more benefit from duloxetine to treat symptoms of joint pain that affect postmenopausal women who are treated with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) for their breast cancer. Two years ago at SABCS, Dr Henry gave a special plenary presentation on S1202, her SWOG trial that showed that duloxetine, a drug typically used to treat depression and anxiety, can alleviate the pain caused by AIs, a common breast cancer medication used to treat postmenopausal women. Dr Henry reviewed the S1202 data to see if obesity was a predictor of response to duloxetine. It was, according to her analysis of 289 patients who enrolled in S1202—54% of whom were obese. Obese patients enrolled in the trial received more benefit from duloxetine compared to non-obese patients.

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