DALLAS - April 15, 1999 - Preliminary abstracts of five studies on the use of high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow or stem cell transplant (HDC/BMT) for breast cancer patients were released today by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Data in four of the five abstracts show no significant difference in survival between patients receiving HDC/BMT compared to those receiving lower-dose chemotherapy without transplants. Another abstract, from South Africa, does indicate a significant difference, in favor of HDC/BMT.
The Komen Foundation is encouraged by the fact that, for the first time since this aggressive therapy was introduced, patients and their physicians have data from large scientific studies comparing this treatment to standard therapies. Although the preliminary results of these studies add to our body of knowledge, they do not provide definitive answers to the complex questions posed by HDC/BMT for breast cancer patients.
"The results of these studies in no way suggest that this matter is settled," said Susan Braun, president and chief executive officer of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. "The length of follow-up on these studies is still relatively short, and additional data analyses need to be completed. Pending longer follow-up and sub-group analyses, the Komen Foundation will continue to encourage breast cancer patients considering this treatment to consult with their oncologists to review the risks and benefits and to seek an unbiased second opinion when warranted."
In addition, the Komen Foundation emphasizes that the results of these studies do not represent grounds for changing policies in terms of insurance coverage for patients electing to undergo high-dose chemotherapy and autologous bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.
"It would be irresponsible for any insurance carrier to change its policies based on these studies," Braun said. "In fact, these studies should encourage insurance carriers to support ongoing clinical trials in order to obtain more definitive data on the effectiveness of this and other treatments, as well as to ensure standard of care coverage."
The Komen Foundation strongly encourages breast cancer patients to participate in well-designed clinical trials and commends the medical and research communities, as well as other patient advocacy organizations, for working together to eliminate the barriers that deter patients from enrolling in clinical trials.
"We will never know the true value of a therapy if we're unable to recruit patients for studies," Braun said. "The only way to guarantee widespread access to meaningful therapies is to scientifically justify their worth as measured by patient outcomes. And the more people willing to participate in clinical trials, the faster the answers."
Credited as the nation's leading catalyst in the fight against breast cancer, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and its powerful network of volunteers continue to lead the fight against the disease. Established in 1982 by Nancy Brinker to honor the memory of her sister, Susan G. Komen, who died from breast cancer at age 36, the Komen Foundation's mission is to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, screening, and treatment. The Komen Foundation has local affiliates in more than 100 communities across the country and has raised more than $136 million since its inception. For breast health and breast cancer information call the Komen Foundation's National Toll-Free Helpline (1.800.I'M AWARE).
TO EDITORS: For additional information on the Komen Foundation or to coordinate an interview with Susan Braun, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation, or a breast cancer survivor who has undergone HDC/BMT, please contact Kristin Kelly, Komen Foundation, at (972) 855-1607.