Background: Growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer is dependent on cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4 and CDK6), which promote progression from the G1 phase to the S phase of the cell cycle. We assessed the efficacy of palbociclib (an inhibitor of CDK4 and CDK6) and fulvestrant in advanced breast cancer.
Methods: This phase 3 study involved 521 patients with advanced hormone-receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative breast cancer that had relapsed or progressed during prior endocrine therapy. We randomly assigned patients in a 2:1 ratio to receive palbociclib and fulvestrant or placebo and fulvestrant. Premenopausal or perimenopausal women also received goserelin. The primary end point was investigator-assessed progression-free survival. Secondary end points included overall survival, objective response, rate of clinical benefit, patient-reported outcomes, and safety. A preplanned interim analysis was performed by an independent data and safety monitoring committee after 195 events of disease progression or death had occurred.
Results: The median progression-free survival was 9.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.5 to not estimable) with palbociclib-fulvestrant and 3.8 months (95% CI, 3.5 to 5.5) with placebo-fulvestrant (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.56; P<0.001). The most common grade 3 or 4 adverse events in the palbociclib-fulvestrant group were neutropenia (62.0%, vs. 0.6% in the placebo-fulvestrant group), leukopenia (25.2% vs. 0.6%), anemia (2.6% vs. 1.7%), thrombocytopenia (2.3% vs. 0%), and fatigue (2.0% vs. 1.2%). Febrile neutropenia was reported in 0.6% of palbociclib-treated patients and 0.6% of placebo-treated patients. The rate of discontinuation due to adverse events was 2.6% with palbociclib and 1.7% with placebo.
Conclusions: Among patients with hormone-receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer who had progression of disease during prior endocrine therapy, palbociclib combined with fulvestrant resulted in longer progression-free survival than fulvestrant alone. (Funded by Pfizer; PALOMA3 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01942135.).