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ABC3 Consensus Conference 2015: Updates Guidelines on the Best Treatment Options for Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer

By BCRF | November 12, 2015

Key Takeaways from the Third International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC3) in Lisbon, Portugal

While October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, members of the BCRF community convene year-round discussing the latest in breast cancer research and care. Most recently, BCRF grantees Drs. Fatima Cardoso and Eric Winer, BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton and Dr. Alberto Costa, co-chaired a conference known as ABC3 held in Lisbon, Portugal. Held on November 5-7, the conference brought together nearly 1,200 physicians, scientists and patient advocates from around the globe to debate and discuss newly published data on metastatic breast cancer (MBC) clinical trials, drug developments and diagnostics.

One of the major aims of the conference is to update Consensus Guidelines – which are expert recommendations on treatment options for patients living with MBC. The full ABC3 Consensus Guidelines will be released early next year.

“The ABC series of conferences continue to help patients living with advanced breast cancer,” said Dr. Larry Norton. “The meetings not only focus on a problem that needs more attention but they bring together global experts in medicine, science and advocacy, all on equal footing.  The primary goal is to get international opinions – evidence-based whenever possible – about how to best manage metastatic disease.  But the other goal is to further conversations among the entire community so that we can reach consensus about what are the critical questions that need answers. ABC3 was very successful regarding both of these goals.”

How does ABC3 Lisbon compare to major cancer conferences?

Consensus conferences like ABC3 differ from cancer conferences such as the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) or annual meetings of The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) or The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) where scientists present early results from laboratory and clinical studies, prior to publication and often the first time the data are discussed publicly by the scientific community. In contrast, at a consensus conference, doctors and advocates review the most recent publications and data (from the last 2-3 years) about a certain drug, such as a new targeted therapy, or biological pathway, such as HER2 in breast cancer. Next, the invited experts vote and come to “consensus” on how best to guide physicians who care for patients living with MBC.

How was BCRF involved at ABC3?

Ten BCRF investigators served on the ABC3 Consensus Panel including Dr. Norton, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board Chairman Dr. Cliff Hudis and grantees Drs. Fabrice Andre, Laura Biganzoli, Fatima Cardoso, Martine Piccart, Hope Rugo, George Sledge, Sandra Swain and Eric Winer, underlining their contributions to metastatic breast cancer research.

In addition to serving on the panel, Dr. Swain gave an update on the optimal treatment sequences for HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, Dr. Andre presented on the role of new targeted therapies in ER+ breast cancer, Dr. Rugo discussed side effects in the lungs and respiratory system of some of the new treatments, and Dr. Hudis talked about trials that studied androgen receptor inhibitors in triple-negative breast cancer. BCRF grantee Dr. Lisa Carey was also in attendance and gave an update on the optimal treatment of triple negative breast cancer.

Serving as BCRF’s Chief Mission Officer and as Chair of the MBC Alliance, Dr. Marc Hurlbert provided his unique perspective as a participant at the conference.

“It is incredibly heartening to hear about the most recent progress made not only in treating metastatic disease but also caring for the whole patient and his or her quality of life,” said Dr. Hurlbert. “With such a diverse group of stakeholders engaging in meaningful conversation, the upcoming guidelines represent a well-rounded set of recommendations.” 

Do patient advocates play a role at ABC3?

Patient advocates play an active role throughout ABC3, another aspect that distinguishes this consensus conference from other scientific conferences. Advocates served on the program committee, helped moderate each session and several gave presentations.

METAvivor president, CJ M. Corneliussen-James discussed the unique challenges patients with metastatic disease face. A talk by Shirley Mertz, president of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network focused on challenges faced by long term “survivors” who have lived with MBC for many years. ABC3 Lisbon was a remarkable time of sharing and dialogue between experts and advocates through many formal sessions, shared meals and informal discussions. We eagerly await the publication of the ABC3 Consensus Guidelines.


Editor’s Note: We will update the story with the new guidelines once they’ve been released.