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Clin Breast Cancer. 2010;10 Suppl 1:E23-31. doi: 10.3816/CBC.2010.s.004.

Antiangiogenic therapies in early-stage breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine and Breast Cancer Research Program, Vanderbilt-Ingram Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Angiogenesis, which is crucial for the growth and spread of cancer cells, has become an important target for antineoplastic therapies in a variety of malignant tumors. Vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptor promote formation of new blood vessels in tumors. Several drugs, most notably the monoclonal antibody bevacizumab, have been developed to inhibit this process. Clinical trials utilizing bevacizumab and other antiangiogenic drugs in metastatic breast cancer have demonstrated enhanced response rates and prolonged progression-free survival, though no overall survival benefit has been seen. Trials are now under way exploring the use of antiangiogenic agents in patients with early stage breast cancer. We performed a comprehensive review of the published literature (English language), US National Institutes of Health clinical trials registry (, and established cooperative groups that revealed approximately 75 clinical trials, completed or ongoing, utilizing antiangiogenic drugs in early-stage breast cancer. A number of phase II trials in the neoadjuvant setting have reported preliminary results suggesting response rates similar to those seen with traditional anthracycline-plus-taxane combination regimens. Most of these early trials have not yet met any survival endpoints. Studies are also ongoing in the adjuvant setting, and these have not yet been reported. The toxicities associated with these agents are similar to those that have been reported in the metastatic trials. Most of these side effects are grade 1 or 2 and are easily manageable; however, there remain a small percentage of patients who sustain life-threatening vascular events, bleeding, or wound-healing complications. This number is significantly higher in patients receiving antiangiogenic drugs when compared with controls. While we eagerly await completion and results of this impressive portfolio of studies in early breast cancer with antiangiogenic agents, there is an urgent need for a more rational patient/antiangiogenic therapy selection with greater insight into predictive factors for toxicities, therapy efficacy, and clinical benefit.

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