New drug helps reduce breast cancer metastatic relapses by a third

Image of a woman wearing a pink ribbon in support of breast cancer.

Image of a woman wearing a pink ribbon in support of breast cancer. Credit: siam.pukkato/

A new drug has managed to reduce patients’ risk of suffering long-term relapse from breast cancer by 32 per cent.

When used in conjunction with endocrine therapy to treat early breast cancer patients, ‘abemaciclib’ has reportedly shown great efficacy against early breast cancer of the HR+HER-type, one of the most common forms of this neoplasia. It has also improved their survival rates free of this invasive disease after five years by 7.6 per cent.

These facts were announced at the Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), by the treatment’s manufacturer, Lilly.

What were the results of a five-year follow up?

The company presented the results of its five-year follow-up monarchE trial, where the drug showed sustained benefit beyond the two-year treatment with abemaciclib (marketed as Verzenio® ) as an additional treatment in combination with endocrine therapy.

This approach has already been used to treat early-stage breast cancers of the HR+HER2- or luminal subtype. It is estimated that 90 per cent of all breast cancers are detected at an early stage. Approximately 70 per cent of all breast cancer cases are the HR+, HER2- subtype.

In a press release from Lilly, Dr. Miguel Martín, head of the Medical Oncology Service at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital, highlighted these new results.

‘This study represents one of the biggest advances in the treatment of early breast cancer in recent decades and patients eligible to receive Verzenio® (abemaciclib) (a population previously with a very poor prognosis) now have a therapeutic option that significantly improves their prognosis and their risk of recurrence’, he explained.

HR+, HER2- breast cancers , also called luminal or hormone-sensitive, constitute around 70 per cent of all cases of this disease. They received this name because they respond to a series of hormonal changes that can be intervened therapeutically.

The prognosis of patients is mostly favourable in its initial stages, although certain profiles are up to three times more likely to experience recurrence, in many cases of incurable metastatic disease. This risk is greatest during the first two years of endocrine treatment.

What was the risk of a replase in Verzenio® (abemaciclib) patients?

In the five-year analysis, the risk of developing distant recurrence or death in patients treated with Verzenio® (abemaciclib) was reduced by 32.5 per cent compared to patients treated only with endocrine therapy.

Furthermore, the study noted that dose reductions did not influence the efficacy of Verzenio® (abemaciclib) in monarchE, which was consistent with the published results of Verzenio® (abemaciclib) in the metastatic setting.

‘Dose reductions of Verzenio® (abemaciclib) show that they do not affect efficacy as long as they are due to the control of side effects’, continued Dr Martín.

As a result, treatment adherence is maximised during the two years of treatment with Verzenio® (abemaciclib) he concluded: ‘since only 7 per cent of patients abandoned Verzenio® (abemaciclib) due to side effects’.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at