• Overcoming endocrine resistance in breast cancer: are signal transduction inhibitors the answer?

      Bedard, Philippe L; Freedman, Orit C; Howell, Anthony; Clemons, Mark; Division of Medical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada. (2008-04)
      Endocrine therapy is probably the most important systemic therapy for hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Hormonal manipulation was the first targeted treatment employed in breast cancer therapy even before the role of the estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) had been elucidated. Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of patients, despite being ER and/or PR positive, are either primarily resistant to hormone therapies or will develop hormone resistance during the course of their disease. Signaling through complex growth factor receptor pathways, which activate the ER are emerging as important causes of endocrine resistance. Targeted therapies, such as signal transduction inhibitors (STIs), are being explored as agents to be able to potentially overcome this crosstalk and thus, resistance to hormone treatment. This article reviews the biology of the ER, the proposed mechanisms of endocrine resistance, and ongoing clinical trials with STIs in combination with hormonal manipulation as a means to overcome endocrine resistance.