The future of breast cancer treatment should center on risk-stratifying patients in a better way, according to Tatiana Prowell, MD, breast cancer scientific liaison, FDA Oncology Center of Excellence, and assistant professor of oncology, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University.
In the past few decades, we have come very far in breast cancer research, and today, many new agents for the treatment of breast cancer are now available. These agents are very effective, but very expensive, and sometimes very toxic.
“It’s clear to me that we are overtreating some patients, probably a lot of patients,” said Dr. Prowell.
Overtreating patients has definite costs, she added, including those to patients in the form of toxicity and financial costs, as well as costs to society and health care systems.
While it is imperative that new treatments continue to be discovered and developed with the goal of improving outcomes, said Dr. Prowell, it is just as important to determine which patients may not need these advanced treatments.
“We need to personalizing our approach so that we have good biomarkers to tell us, who needs everything, who needs to have the kitchen sink and who can get by with very little. That’s the future of cancer treatment. I know we’ll get there, I hope we get there soon,” she concluded.