The 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was an engaging and invigorating event – I look forward to sharing what I have learned with colleagues and patients. If you have any specific questions you would like me to address about this year’s Symposium please feel free to leave a comment to this blog post or contact my office.

Dr. Nimmi Kapoor and I will also be sharing our observations from this year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in a series of community lectures in January. We will share details when they are confirmed.

Here are a few observations from the plenary sessions I attended on Thursday and Friday.

Anastrozole May Provide New Option for Breast Cancer Prevention

Reporting from the IBIS-II study on Thursday, Dr. Jack Cuzick and colleagues found that post menopausal women at high risk of developing breast cancer who took anastrozole for five years compared to placebo had a 53 percent reduction in risk of developing breast cancer.

Whereas traditionally we’ve offered tamoxifen for these patients, this impressive benefit just may offset the associated side effects that accompany aromatase inhibitor therapy.

PIK3CA Gene Mutation | HER2 & Hormone Receptor-Positive Treatment

Women with HER2-positive, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer with mutations in the PI3K/AKT pathway may respond poorly to chemotherapy and combined anti-HER2 therapy prior to surgery in comparison to those without the mutation. This was the conclusion from Dr. Sibylle Loibl of the German Breast Cancer Group, as presented on Thursday.

An alternative “targeted” therapy will need to be identified for these patients. Dr. Loibl’s group is now conducting the NeoPHOEBE trial using an inhibitor of PI3K, buparlisib.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer

For patients with “triple negative” breast cancer, Friday’s session further confirmed the benefit of adding the drug carboplatin to chemotherapy prior to surgery. This combination improved the likelihood of finding no active disease at the time of surgery, as reported from the CALGB 40603 study.

This complete response rate has a known correlation with improved survival. From the same analysis, adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to pre-surgery chemotherapy carried no added benefit.