Evaluation of Information Theoretic Network Meta-analysis to Rank First-Line Anticancer Regimens for Hormone Receptor-Positive, ERBB2 -Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer

Xuanyi Li, Alicia Beeghly-Fadiel, Suresh K. Bhavnani, Hossein Tavana, Samuel M. Rubinstein, Bishal Gyawali, Irbaz Bin Riaz, H. Deepika Fernandes, Jeremy L. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Hormone receptor-positive, ERBB2 (formerly HER2/neu)-negative metastatic breast cancer (HR-positive, ERBB2-negative MBC) is treated with targeted therapy, endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, or combinations of these modalities; however, evaluating the increasing number of treatment options is challenging because few regimens have been directly compared in randomized clinical trials (RCTs), and evidence has evolved over decades. Information theoretic network meta-analysis (IT-NMA) is a graph theory-based approach for regimen ranking that takes effect sizes and temporality of evidence into account. Objective: To examine the performance of an IT-NMA approach to rank HR-positive, ERBB2-negative MBC treatment regimens. Data Sources: HemOnc.org, a freely available medical online resource of interventions, regimens, and general information relevant to the fields of hematology and oncology, was used to identify relevant RCTs. Study Selection: All primary and subsequent reports of RCTs of first-line systemic treatments for HR-positive, ERBB2-negative MBC that were referenced on HemOnc.org and published between 1974 and 2019 were included. Additional RCTs that were evaluated by a prior traditional network meta-analysis on HR-positive, ERBB2-negative MBC were also included. Data Extraction and Synthesis: RCTs were independently extracted from HemOnc.org and a traditional NMA by separate observers. This study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline for NMA with several exceptions: the risk of bias within individual studies and inconsistency in the treatment network were not assessed. Main Outcomes and Measures: Regimen rankings generated by IT-NMA based on clinical trial variables, including primary end point, enrollment number per trial arm, P value, effect size, years of enrollment, and year of publication. Results: A total of 203 RCTs with 63629 patients encompassing 252 distinct regimens were compared by IT-NMA, which resulted in 151 rankings as of 2019. Combinations of targeted and endocrine therapy were highly ranked, especially the combination of endocrine therapy with cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors. For example, letrozole plus palbociclib was ranked first and letrozole plus ribociclib, third. Older monotherapies that continue to be used in RCTs in comparator groups, such as anastrozole (251 of 252) and letrozole (252), fell to the bottom of the rankings. Many regimens gravitated toward indeterminacy by 2019. Conclusions and Relevance: In this network meta-analysis study, combination therapies appeared to be associated with better outcomes than monotherapies in the treatment of HR-positive, ERBB2-negative MBC. These findings suggest that IT-NMA is a promising method for longitudinal ranking of anticancer regimens from RCTs with different end points, sparse interconnectivity, and decades-long timeframes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E224361
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 13 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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