Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Austria, accounting for 29% of all cancer cases.
Annually, there are approximately 5,565 new cases in Austria, and approximately 1,620 women die of breast cancer each year.1
Treatment options for localized breast cancer include surgery, radiation and drug-based cancer therapy. Approximately two-thirds of all malignant breast tumors grow dependent on female sex hormones, primarily estrogens. In the treatment of these estrogen receptor-positive breast tumors, anti-hormone therapy agents from three different drug classes are predominantly used. These are the so-called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs; e.g., tamoxifen), estrogen synthesis inhibitors (aromatase inhibitors; e.g., anastrozole, letrozole), and selective estrogen receptor downregulators (SERDs; e.g. e.g. fulvestrant).2 Like chemotherapy, anti-hormone therapy acts throughout the body and therefore combats even microscopic metastases that cannot yet be detected with currently available options. The advantage over chemotherapy is that healthy cells are not directly attacked, although the withdrawal of the hormone effect still affects them. Overall, antihormones are better tolerated and can be taken for several years.3
The goal of treating patients with metastatic breast carcinoma is to achieve remission with symptom relief and a prolongation of the progression-free period. Monoclonal antibodies (e.g., bevacizumab) in combination with cytostatics (e.g., capecitabine) can lead to an increase in remission rates as well as a prolongation of progression-free survival.4
1 STATISTIK AUSTRIA (ed.). Austrian Cancer Registry, Status: 2021: http://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/gesundheit/krebserkrankungen/brust/index.html (accessed February 09, 2021).
2 Fiegl H. Endocrine resistance mechanisms and treatment strategies. Gyn-Aktiv, 2012.
3 German Cancer Society (ed.): https://www.krebsgesellschaft.de/onko-internetportal/basis-informationen-krebs/krebsarten/brustkrebs/therapie/hormontherapie.html (accessed: 09.02.2021).
4 Wörmann B. et al. Onkopedia guideline: breast carcinoma in women. As of 01/2018. Available at: https://www.onkopedia.com/de/onkopedia/guidelines/mammakarzinom-der-frau/@@guideline/html/index.html (accessed: 13.09.2021).