In women with previously treated metastatic breast cancer who shared certain traits, treatment with the newer chemotherapy agent eribulin mesylate had increased benefit over capecitabine. These findings were presented during the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in early June in Chicago, Illinois.

Eribulin, in comparison with capecitabine, benefited these specific patient populations: those with only nonvisceral disease, those with two or more organs involved in metastatic breast cancer, those who had not received chemotherapy for 6 months or longer, and those who had received anthracycline and/or a taxane therapy in the metastatic setting. These findings came from subgroup analyses from a phase III clinical trial comparing eribulin with capecitabine. No subgroups favored capecitabine.

Previous prespecified exploratory analysis of overall survival and progression-free survival showed women whose cancer was triple-negative, estrogen receptor-negative, and HER2-negative also had a greater relative benefit in overall survival with eribulin than with capecitabine.

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“These exploratory analyses suggest that other patient subgroups may benefit from eribulin and further studies are warranted,” said presenter Peter A. Kaufman, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, and oncologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

In 2010, the FDA approved eribulin for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer who had previously received an anthracycline and a taxane and at least two cytotoxic chemotherapy treatment regimens for metastatic breast cancer. The FDA granted approval based on data showing a statistically significant improvement in overall survival compared with current treatments.

Kaufman and colleagues are still compiling data from the quality-of-life analysis, which, according to Kaufman, will help guide their next steps in further studying eribulin in this patient population.