Metastatic breast cancer involves cases where the cancer has spread from the breasts to other organs in the human body, thereby resulting in malignancy. According to World Health organization (WHO) in 2012, around 521,000 people died due to breast cancer and this number is expected to increase in the near future. Like other metastatic cancers, surgical removal of metastatic breast cancer is deemed ineffective and often results in increased chance of death (nearly 80% - 90% of the diagnosed population). Prognosis is generally based on the stage of breast cancer in the patient; this staging is done by the usual TNM staging method, wherein T stands for tumor, N stands for node swelling, followed by M i.e. the metastatic stage of the cancer. These symptoms are used in the classification of metastatic breast cancer into 4 stages, stages 1- 3 involves gradual spread of carcinoma from various regions of the breast but doesn’t involve metastasis; stage 4 shows a full blown metastasis which shows involvement of lymph nodes near or distant from the breasts and spread to other organs including bones, lung and the brain. Bone cancer is the most commonly reported (around 70% of cases) form of cancer originating from metastasis of breast cancer. Recurrence of cancer in stage 3 and stage 4 patients show lesser chance of successful prognosis. Systemic chemotherapy drugs (along with anti estrogen compounds, dpending upon the oncologists’ inference) are usually prescribed to target cancer cells.
Compounds such as Protein-bound paclitaxel, tamoxifen, vinblastine, raloxifene, docetaxel and many more generic as well as branded drugs have shown positive results in reducing cancer progression and increasing life expectancy. Recently, branded drug such as Bevacizumab has seen preference among oncologists even though the drug has been advised to be removed from breast cancer indication. The incidence rates for newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer are highest in developed nations such as North America, Europe and Australian continent. Asian and African populations have lower diagnostic incidence rates overall mainly attributed to the poor healthcare infrastructure in rural areas and low awareness of the disease. This makes the metastatic breast cancer treatment and drugs market largely concentrated in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand region leading the global market in terms of revenue earned from drugs and radiation therapy.
The market for metastatic breast cancer for now is highly fragmented between numerous drugs, radiation therapy and alternative therapies such as vitamin therapy, acupuncture, macrobiotic diets, homeopathy and herbal medication. Nano therapy via nano probe technology and various other areas of alternate treatment are under trials to check for their effectiveness in decreasing disease progression and arresting the cancerous cell growth by target specific tumor cell suppression.
Being among the most common forms of cancer, breast cancer treatment varies from region to region, demographically and economically. The drugs market is divided among numerous generic drug variants and selected few branded drugs. Pipeline drugs such as Afinitor and Buparlisib from Novartis, Herceptin, and others are expected to be released into the market somewhere after 2019. Till then various market estimates suggest that the drugs market for metastatic breast cancer is expected to remain more or less constant in the near future.
Companies involved in the manufacture of these drugs are Bayer pharmaceuticals, Onyx pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, Novartis AG, Roche pharmaceuticals, etc to name a few.