Developments in treatment of advanced breast cancer in Egypt inspire new hope

Ingy Deif, Wednesday 1 Dec 2021

A conference was held on 30 November that brought together experts from the field of breast cancer in Egypt to announce developments that can serve as a beacon of hope to patients suffering from advanced types of breast cancer.

Breast cancer conference in Egypt

The conference discussed new treatments and medications that succeeded in increasing the chances of survival for postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer by 50 percent after five years of being subjected to these novel treatments.

Dr. Alaa Kandil, a professor of clinical oncology at Alexandria University, first explained what doctors mean by “overall survival” for breast cancer patients.

“The overall survival (OS) rate is the length of time patients live after they are first diagnosed or begin treatment. It is a measure used to determine the effectiveness of new medications or therapeutic approaches,” Dr. Kandil explained.

“The study named ‘MONALEESA-2’ is the by-product of over six and a half years of follow-up, the longest for any CDK4/6 inhibitor trial to date. This data is expected to change the way we practice medicine to treat advanced breast cancer.”

Dr. Ahmed Hassan, an assistant professor of clinical oncology at Ain Shams University, explained to the audience what the MONALEESA-2 programme exactly is.

“It is a programme of studies that continues to transform advanced breast cancer treatment, demonstrating consistency in terms of results, with three different phase III studies showing a significant improvement in overall survivability for advanced hormonal breast cancer patients, regardless of the patients’ menopausal status, the extent of their metastases, or whether it was a first or second line of therapy,” he said.

The experts at the conference, which was launched in cooperation with private sector pharmaceutical company Novartis, stressed that under the umbrella of the Egyptian Presidential Women’s Health Initiative, the Ministry of Health and Population has introduced new treatment protocols for advanced breast cancer, making them the best-in-class and most innovative drugs available throughout Egypt.

“This is a transformative milestone in the treatment of advanced breast cancer, especially over the past two years, and an old dream that has come true.”

“The Ministry of Health is paying increased attention to women with advanced breast cancer, with the priority being to minimise the number of advanced breast cancer patients and providing all the support possible in terms of detection, examination, and treatment. This is even more applicable following the introduction of innovative targeted therapies, which offer patients new hope,” Dr. Hassan added.

“The final analysis of the MONALEESA-2 trials evaluating the new medications showed that after five years, postmenopausal women with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer treated had more than a 50 percent chance of survival,” Dr. Hamdy Abdel-Azim, a professor of clinical oncology at Cairo University, said.

“This remarkable overall survival data is highly encouraging and represents the longest reported median survival from a randomised trial in this type of cancer.”

According to data from the ministry, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Egyptian women, affecting up to 34 percent of them.

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of these breast cancers are diagnosed at the metastatic stage.

‘Metastatic breast cancer’ or ‘Stage 4 breast cancer’ is the stage when the disease spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.

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