Christine Desmedt, researcher at the Jules Bordet Institute, on collaboration with the VUB, the UCL and Elia Biganzoli at Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori and University of Milan, published on 30 April in “The Journal of the National Cancer Institute” a study that suggests benefits of the inter-operative administration of an anti-inflammatory drug, ketorolac, during the ablation of a primary breast cancer tumour in overweight or obese patients. Results that are promising for research and for breast cancer patients.


Reduction in cancer recurrences thanks to ketorolac

The surgical ablation of the primary tumour is an essential component of breast cancer treatment. Nevertheless, the fact of removing the primary tumour could trigger mechanisms that activate cancer cells already dispersed in the body before the operation. In effect, it has been shown that this induces physiological changes that include inflammatory reactions. It is the cancer dormancy issue from the original studies of Romano Demicheli in cooperation with Elia Biganzoli, sharing with Christine Desmedt the first and last authorship of this new study, respectively.


It has, moreover, already been shown that the fact of having a high BMI (body mass index) also increases inflammation. Obesity has become a problem worldwide in recent decades. The latest estimates are that 50% of Belgian women are overweight or obese. Researchers at the Jules Bordet Institute, the VUB, the UCL and the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori and University of Milan thus wanted to know if the injection of an anti-inflammatory drug during excisional surgery on breast cancers could reduce the development of metastases after the operation, according to BMI, extending previous results with Patrice Forget of VUB. They tested two different anti-inflammatory drugs (ketorolac and diclofenac) and the results show that the inter-operative administration of ketorolac is associated with a reduction in early recurrence in patients with a high BMI.


A promising study

This study shows a potentially important repositioning of ketorolac in the inter-operative treatment of patients suffering from breast cancer with a high BMI. It also has the potential of being as effective as and less costly than adjuvant systemic anti-cancer therapies. As such it could signify major progress for our regions as well as for the poorest or least advanced countries in the field of breast cancer treatment. The aim is to validate these results in the context of a prospective clinical trial.

Study references: “Potential benefit of intra-operative administration of ketorolac on breast cancer disease recurrence according to the patient’s body mass index”, published on 30 April 2017 in the scientific journal “Journal of the National Cancer Institute”.

Study financing: The Friends of the Bordet Institute and the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC).