Enhancing the benefit of endocrine therapy by overcoming de novo or acquired resistance remains an important goal in systemic breast cancer therapy. Progress continues to be made in elucidating the molecular pathways by which estrogen receptor - positive breast cancer cells escape from endocrine therapy. The increasing recognition of the roles of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human EGFR2 in cross-talk activation of estrogen receptor signaling has led to studies aimed at identifying whether small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeted against these receptors give additive or synergistic effects when combined with endocrine agents. Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3- OH kinase/Akt pathway has also been associated with resistance to either tamoxifen or estrogen deprivation, and preclinical studies have shown that the mammalian target of rapamycin antagonist temsirolimus can restore endocrine sensitivity in breast cancer cells. Randomized phase II trials of aromatase inhibitors combined with EGFR/human EGFR2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors or mammalian target of rapamycin antagonists have been completed in both the neoadjuvant and advanced breast cancer settings. Larger phase III trials with both approaches are now in progress and have been powered to detect whether either strategy can significantly prolong time to disease progression compared with endocrine therapy alone. The correlation of molecular and clinical results from these ongoing studies will be important to establish appropriate biological variables for selecting those patients who may benefit most from this combined approach.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research