Continued advances in cancer outcomes unveiled at ASCO

June 4, 2015

Leading cancer drugs reduced the risk of death by half for people with lung cancer and assisted patients with HER2-positive breast cancer live longer without the disease recurring. The findings were just two of the numerous important study results presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, Ill., this week.

Leading cancer drugs reduced the risk of death by half for people with lung cancer and assisted patients with HER2-positive breast cancer live longer without the disease recurring. The findings were just 2 of the study results presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago.

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, said that interim results from a global, randomized phase 2 study in people with previously treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) showed that the investigational cancer immunotherapy MPDL3280A (anti-PDL1) doubled the likelihood of survival in people whose cancer expressed the highest levels of PD-L1 (programmed death ligand-1), compared with docetaxel chemotherapy.

An improvement in survival was also observed in people who had medium and high (HR=0.56) or any level of PD-L1 expression (HR=0.63), as characterized by a test being developed by Roche.

Related:Overall survival extended in afatinib-treated patients with specific lung cancer mutations

In a separate Genentech phase 2 study, results suggested that pertuzumab (Perjeta) in combination with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and docetaxel chemotherapy given prior to surgery reduced the risk of disease getting worse and increased the time patients lived without their cancer returning, compared to trastuzumab and chemotherapy in people with HER2-positive early breast cancer (eBC).

In addition, both progression-free survival (PFS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were evaluated at 3 years. The results suggested that people who received the pertuzumab regimen prior to surgery were 31% less likely to experience disease worsening, recurrence or death, compared to those who received trastuzumab and chemotherapy. People treated with the pertuzumab regimen were also 40% less likely to experience disease recurrence or death.

“Treating breast cancer early, before it has spread, may help prevent the disease from returning or reaching an advanced stage,” said Sandra Horning, MD, chief medical officer and head of global product development for Genentech.

Related:Breast cancer drug research roundup from ASCO

In 2 separate studies, Genentech also found that the inhibitor cobimetinib in combination with vemurafenib (Zelboraf) helped people with previously untreated BRAF V600 mutation-positive advanced melanoma live a median of 1 year (12.3 months) without their disease worsening or death (progression-free survival; PFS), compared to 7.2 months with vemurafenib alone.

"The combination of cobimetinib and .[vemurafenib] extended the time people lived without their disease getting worse to a year," Horning said. "These results are exciting because they underscore the importance of combining medicines that target the signals, which cause about half of all melanomas to grow."

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