(BPT) - A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) can turn a woman’s life upside down. The disease, also known as Stage IV breast cancer, occurs when cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, including the bones, liver, lungs or brain.[i],[ii] MBC is not just one disease — there are many different subtypes and treatment options can vary depending on the subtype of each patient.
“Having an open, honest dialogue with my oncologist about my treatment plan and having a positive attitude have helped me feel empowered,” says Libby, a nurse manager and MBC patient from Ashland, KY.
As someone who has cared for others throughout her career — and for her own husband battling dementia — Libby was devastated to learn in 2015 that the breast cancer she beat 16 years prior had spread to her lungs and become metastatic. She appreciated her oncologist's approach because he stayed focused on what they could do as a team to treat the cancer.
She discussed her diagnosis and the risks and benefits of treatment options with her oncologist, who prescribed an oral medicine called IBRANCE® (palbociclib) along with hormonal therapy called letrozole. IBRANCE in combination with an aromatase inhibitor, such as letrozole, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for women like Libby who have not received prior treatment for their metastatic disease, are postmenopausal and have a specific type of metastatic breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and human epidermal growth factor 2-negative (HER2-).[iii]
“Patients often face challenges upon receiving a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. It’s important for both patients and caregivers to find support and understand the treatment options available to them,” said Julia Perkins Smith, Senior Medical Director for Pfizer Oncology, the company that developed IBRANCE. For more stories about women living with MBC and to learn more about IBRANCE, please visit MBCtogether.com.
Libby offers the following insights to other women facing MBC:
- Choose to make the most of today!
- Find an oncologist/healthcare team who can fuel your own positive thinking
- Always talk to your doctor about which treatments may be right for your individual situation
- Have a support system, including family, friends and co-workers
“Tomorrow is not guaranteed and life does not come with a promise of good health or happiness. So, instead, I choose to focus on making the most of today. After all, it's up to us how we spend our time on this earth,” says Libby.
IBRANCE® (palbociclib) INDICATIONS AND IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
IBRANCE is a prescription medicine used to treat hormone receptor-positive (HR+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic) in combination with:
- an aromatase inhibitor as the first hormonal based therapy in women who have gone through menopause, or
- fulvestrant in women with disease progression following hormonal therapy.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
IBRANCE may cause serious side effects, including:
Low white blood cell counts (neutropenia). Low white blood cell counts are very common when taking IBRANCE and may cause serious infections that can lead to death. Your doctor should check your white blood cell counts before and during treatment.
If you develop low white blood cell counts during treatment with IBRANCE, your doctor may stop your treatment, decrease your dose, or may tell you to wait to begin your treatment cycle. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs and symptoms of low white blood cell counts or infections such as fever and chills.
Before you take IBRANCE, tell your doctor if you:
- have fever, chills, or any other signs or symptoms of infection.
- have liver or kidney problems.
- have any other medical conditions.
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant; IBRANCE can harm your unborn baby.
- Females who are able to become pregnant and who take IBRANCE should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 3 weeks after stopping IBRANCE.
- Males who are taking IBRANCE and have female partners who can become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment with IBRANCE and for 3 months after the final dose of IBRANCE.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed; it is not known if IBRANCE passes into your breast milk. You and your doctor should decide if you will take IBRANCE or breastfeed. You should not do both.
Common side effects of IBRANCE include:
- Low red blood cell counts and low platelet counts. Call your doctor right away if you develop any of these symptoms during treatment:
- shortness of breath
- bleeding or bruising more easily
Other common side effects include: infections, tiredness, nausea, sore mouth, abnormalities in liver blood tests, diarrhea, hair thinning or hair loss, vomiting, rash, and loss of appetite.
IBRANCE may cause fertility problems in males. This may affect your ability to father a child. Talk to your doctor if this is a concern for you.
These are not all of the possible side effects of IBRANCE. For more information, ask your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.
Tell your doctor about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. IBRANCE and other medicines may affect each other, causing side effects.
Do not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit products while taking IBRANCE as they may increase the amount of IBRANCE in your blood.
Tell your doctor if you start a new medicine. Take IBRANCE exactly as your doctor tells you.
If you take too much IBRANCE, call your doctor right away or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
IBRANCE is available in 125 mg capsules.
[i] National Cancer Institute. What you need to know about™ breast cancer. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/WYNTK_breast.pdf. Updated August 2012. Accessed October 12, 2016.
[ii] American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2016.
[iii] IBRANCE (palbociclib) Prescribing Information. 2017. Pfizer Inc, New York, NY.
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