Ribociclib plus letrozole versus chemotherapy for postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, luminal B breast cancer (CORALLEEN): an open-label, multicentre, randomised, phase 2 trial

Lancet Oncol. 2020 Jan;21(1):33-43. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30786-7. Epub 2019 Dec 11.


Background: In hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative early stage breast cancer, cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) inhibition in combination with endocrine therapy could represent an alternative to multiagent chemotherapy. We aimed to evaluate the biological and clinical activity of neoadjuvant ribociclib plus letrozole in the luminal B subtype of early stage breast cancer.

Methods: CORALLEEN is a parallel-arm, multicentre, randomised, open-label, phase 2 trial completed across 21 hospitals in Spain. We recruited postmenopausal women (≥18 years) with stage I-IIIA hormone receptor-positive, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status 0-1, HER2-negative breast cancer and luminal B by PAM50 with histologically confirmed, operable primary tumour size of at least 2 cm in diameter as measured by MRI. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) using a web-based system and permuted blocks of 25 to receive either six 28-days cycles of ribociclib (oral 600 mg once daily for 3 weeks on, 1 week off) plus daily letrozole (oral 2·5 mg/day) or four cycles of doxorubicin (intravenous 60 mg/m2) and cyclophosphamide (intravenous 600 mg/m2) every 21 days followed by weekly paclitaxel (intravenous 80 mg/m2) for 12 weeks. The total duration of the neoadjuvant therapy was 24 weeks. Randomisation was stratified by tumour size and nodal involvement. Samples were prospectively collected at baseline (day 0), day 15, and surgery. The primary endpoint was to evaluate the proportion of patients with PAM50 low-risk-of-relapse (ROR) disease at surgery in the modified intention-to-treat population including all randomly assigned patients who received study drug and had a baseline and at least one post-baseline measurement of ROR score. The PAM50 ROR risk class integrated gene expression data, tumour size, and nodal status to define prognosis. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03248427.

Findings: Between July 27, 2017 to Dec 7, 2018, 106 patients were enrolled. At baseline, of the 106 patients, 92 (87%) patients had high ROR disease (44 [85%] of 52 in the ribociclib and letrozole group and 48 [89%] of 54 in the chemotherapy group) and 14 (13%) patients had intermediate-ROR disease (eight [15%] and six [11%]). Median follow-up was 200·0 days (IQR 191·2-206·0). At surgery, 23 (46·9%; 95% CI 32·5-61·7) of 49 patients in the ribociclib plus letrozole group and 24 (46·1%; 32·9-61·5) of 52 patients in the chemotherapy group were low-ROR. The most common grade 3-4 adverse events in the ribociclib plus letrozole group were neutropenia (22 [43%] of 51 patients) and elevated alanine aminotransferase concentrations (ten [20%]). The most common grade 3-4 adverse events in the chemotherapy group were neutropenia (31 [60%] of 52 patients) and febrile neutropenia (seven [13%]). No deaths were observed during the study in either group.

Interpretation: Our results suggest that some patients with high-risk, early stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer could achieve molecular downstaging of their disease with CDK4/6 inhibitor and endocrine therapy.

Funding: Novartis, Nanostring, Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Career Development Award.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aminopyridines / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Letrozole / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Prognosis
  • Purines / administration & dosage
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*


  • Aminopyridines
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Purines
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Letrozole
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • ribociclib

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03248427