Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is a time to celebrate the strength of breast cancer survivors and to champion all of those who are fighting to eradicate this group of diseases. At ZoomRx, we have honored this month by asking our panel of oncologists to reflect on the current state of breast cancer therapies. We specifically explored the biggest developments in the past year, today’s most promising therapies, and the innovations that will be driving progress in the future via a survey with 75 oncologists September 28 - October 5, 2022.
2022 delivered key advancements in Breast Cancer Therapies
Across therapeutic classes, our oncologists heralded progress in treatments for both metastatic and early-stage breast cancer. Unprompted, they mentioned four specific therapeutic classes, and a few vital new indications:
- ~33% mentioned Enhertu’s recent approval for HER2-Low
- ~25% mentioned immunotherapies
- ~20% mentioned targeted therapies
- Others mentioned PARP inhibitors and CDK4/6 therapies
These exciting developments mean new options and tangible hope for patients with a range of breast cancer types.
Oncologists see significant progress in HER2+ Breast Cancer
While most of our oncologists believe that we have made good strides across all types of metastatic breast cancer in the past year, they are most optimistic about HER2+ breast cancer, with 67% of oncologists believing that there was highly positive therapeutic progress for HER2+metastatic cancer. Similarly, the majority of oncologists feel positive about the progress that was made in HER2+ eBC.
Still, there has also been clear headway in treatments for other forms of breast cancer, too. Nearly 60% of oncologists see meaningful progress in therapies for HR+/HER2- and triple-negative metastatic breast cancer (TNBC). Overall, however, they do not see the same therapeutic momentum in early-stage HER2- cancer (either HR+ or TNBC).
Pivotal clinical trials pave the way for therapeutic breakthroughs
Therapeutic advances are proven in clinical trials—and so newly published or updated trial results drive oncologists’ views on which treatment developments hold the most promise. Our panel of oncologists focused attention on the results of these significant clinical trials:
- OlympiA (Lynparza in gBRCAm early-stage HER2- breast cancer)
- DESTINY Breast-03 (Enhertu vs. Kadcyla in 2L HER2+ mBC)
- KEYNOTE-355 (Keytruda in mTNBC)
- DESTINY Breast-04 (Enhertu in HER2Low mBC)
- KEYNOTE-522 (Keytruda in early-stage HER2- BC)
- MonarchE (Verzenio in early-stage HR+/HER2-)
Other impactful findings include updated results for PALOMA-2, and MONALEESA trials, with the latter confirming the overall survival for Kisqali in the HR+/HER2- mBC.
Cutting across both early-stage and metastatic, and also across HER2+ and HER2- breast cancer, these trials universally influenced our oncologists’ practices.
Powerful new therapies shift survival expectations
Five-year survival rates are the gold standard by which most cancer therapies are measured in advanced settings. We asked our panel of oncologists which breast cancer treatments have had the most impact over the past 10 years. Three rose to the front.
Oncologists see Enhertu—a fairly recent entrant to the advanced HER2+ breast cancer market—as equaling or even exceeding the contributions of Herceptin, the treatment that essentially defined the HER2+ category when it was first launched.
Enhertu also garners recognition in the HER2- space based on the results of DESTINY Breast-04, which defined a new category of breast cancer called HER2Low. As a result, Enhertu has been hailed as a potentially transformational treatment for HER2Low patients, whose disease previously would have been classified as HER2-.
However, Kisqali tops the list of treatments most credited with improved survival in HR+/HER2- breast cancer, thanks to the compelling overall survival benefit it has demonstrated in the past couple of years. Kisqali is followed by Keytruda, which received new approvals in the early-stage HER2- and late-stage TNBC breast cancer in the past year.
The 10-year outlook is encouraging
While significant unmet needs remain across both early-stage and metastatic breast cancer—especially in TNBC—our panel of oncologists expressed tremendous optimism for the future of breast cancer therapies.
Looking ahead, a vast majority (~ 80%) of oncologists believe that we will be able to cut breast cancer-related deaths by half over the next 10 years, across all three types of breast cancer. More than a third of the oncologists also express a high degree of confidence that we will have a cure for breast cancer in the next 10 years, especially in HER2+ and HR+/HER2-.
The reason for this optimism is likely because major pharmaceutical companies remain committed to the treatment of breast cancer, promising continued momentum in therapeutic developments. AstraZeneca, Genentech, Pfizer and Novartis are the top leaders in the field, with several others having a strong presence as well.
2022 was a year of successful trials, promising therapies and major momentum.
Historically, the field of oncology has been riddled with astonishing advances and frustrating setbacks. Our panel of oncologists who treat patients with breast cancer feel that in the past year, the balance has tipped toward advances. A slew of successful clinical trials has produced new therapeutic options for both HER+ and HER- breast cancers—both early-stage and metastatic. Survival rates have extended. And continued investment in oncology research within the industry is inspiring high confidence in more improvement in survival and even in finding an ultimate cure.
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