Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: July 19

Herceptin (trastuzumab) is the treatment of choice for HER2 positive breast cancer. Today, we'll look at the latest news and research on Herceptin for metastatic patients. All of the news and research discussed below can be found on the Herceptin (trastuzumab) page of the LATESTBreastCancer.com website.

Herceptin improves survival in patients with brain metastasis

On July 18, Medical News Today covered a Clinical Cancer Research study which examined the survival benefit of three treatment options - Herceptin, chemotherapy and surgery - for breast cancer patients with brain or central nervous system metastasis. Each option was associated with a "significant improvement in overall survival." Overall survival averaged 17.5 months with Herceptin compared to 3.8 months without, 16.4 months with chemotherapy compared to 3.7 months without, and 20.3 months with surgery compared to 11.3 months without. According to Adam Brufsky, M.D., Ph.D., the lead researcher, "We clearly now know that these women should get trastuzumab and potentially chemotherapy, even if cancer spreads to the brain."

Herceptin after previous progression while on Herceptin

The continued use of Herceptin in metastatic patients whose cancer has previously progressed while on Herceptin is controversial. This month, two studies addressed the use of Herceptin beyond progression.

Overall survival analysis of Herceptin plus Xeloda

A July 7 phase III study from Germany in the European Journal of Cancer evaluated the overall survival benefit of Herceptin plus Xeloda (capecitabine) to treat HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer which had previously progressed on Herceptin. Preliminary study results showed a "significantly improved overall response rate and time to progression." However, "final overall survival analysis" did not demonstrate a significant survival benefit.

Post-hoc anaylsis, or looking back at the data for patterns, revealed that patients who continued anti-HER2 treatment with Herceptin or Tykerb (lapatinib) as third-line therapy, after a second progression while on Herceptin, experienced "better post-progression survival than those not receiving this targeted treatment." Post-progression survival in this group averaged 18.8 months compared to 13.3 months for those who did not receive third-line anti-HER2 treatment.

Clinical benefit of Herceptin plus Afinitor

A July 5 Journal of Clinical Oncology phase I/II study evaluated the combination of Herceptin plus Afinitor (everolimus) for patients with HER2 positive breast cancer who had progressed while on Herceptin-based therapy. 7 of 47 patients (15%) experienced a partial response. 9 of 47 (19%) experienced "persistent stable disease" lasting 6 months or longer. Combined, this reflects a clinical benefit of 34%. The authors concluded that the addition of the mTOR inhibitor Afinitor to Herceptin "results in clinical benefit and disease response."

According to a July 8 EurekAlert! press release about the study, "MD Anderson researchers are recruiting HER-2 positive breast cancer patients for BOLERO-3, a randomized multi-center trial of a regimen including the two agents and a chemotherapy drug (vinorelbine)."

Please check back tomorrow for more breast cancer news and research updates from LATESTBreastCancer.com

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