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Dr. Hy Muss on Breast Cancer in Older Women: Population Trends by Age

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Dr. Hy Muss, medical oncologist and Director of the Geriatric Oncology Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is both a renowned expert in breast cancer and among the world’s leading luminaries on the important topic of cancer care in older patients.  Though many times it’s young celebrities with breast or other cancer who gather the attention of the media, in truth cancer is a disease that still disproportionately affects older people.  Much of the cancer in the real world of our oncology clinics is elderly patients, who are also understudied in our research relative to their importance as a population.

Dr. Muss was kind enough to sit down with our own very excellent Dr. Jared Weiss, also at UNC-Chapel Hill, to do a slide-based presentation of the leading important points on breast cancer in older women. Here’s the first part of that presentation, including video and audio versions of the podcast, along with the associated transcript and figures.

Muss Breast Ca in Older Women Pt 1 Pop Trends by Age Audio Podcast

Muss Breast Ca in Older Women Pt 1 Pop Trends by Age Transcript

Muss Breast Ca in Older Women Pt 1 Pop Trends by Age Figures

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Antibody-Drug Conjugate T-DM1 Offers New Mechanism and Significant Benefit in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

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Right at the top of the list of the most exciting news from the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago this week involved using T-DM1 to treat metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer.  T-DM1 is an “antibody-drug conjugate” (ADC).

ADCs combine a tumor-specific antibody with a chemotherapy drug. They are therefore specifically designed to be able to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells (like a “smart bomb”), potentially increasing efficacy and decreasing damage to normal cells. T-DM1 combines the anti-HER2 antibody Herceptin (trastuzumab), a stable linker and a chemotherapy agent, DM1, also known as emtansine.

Befitting its importance, the EMILIA trial was presented at the high profile Plenary Session. In this study almost 1000 patients with metastatic, HER2-positive breast cancer whose disease had progressed after treatment with a taxane and Herceptin were randomized to receive Xeloda (capecitable) plus Tykerb (HER2-inhibiting tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib) or T-DM1. Xeloda and Tykerb are oral drugs; the T-DM1 was given intravenously every 3 weeks. There was no “cross-over”, meaning that patients whose disease progressed on Xeloda and Tykerb did not have access to T-DM1.

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