According to a press release published by Roche, the addition of Herceptin® (trastuzumab) to Arimidex® (anastrozole) improves progression-free survival compared to Arimidex alone in HER2-positive, hormone-positive advanced breast cancer.
Approximately 30% of cancers overexpress a protein known as the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) protein. The HER2 protein is involved in cellular growth and replication. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer tend to have a worse prognosis than women with HER2-negative breast cancer. Fortunately, the targeted agent Herceptin binds to HER2 receptors and prevents or reduces replication of cancer cells that overexpress HER2.
Herceptin is currently approved as initial therapy in addition to the chemotherapy agent Taxol® (paclitaxel) in advanced, HER2-positive breast cancer, or as a single agent in patients whose breast cancer has progressed following prior therapy. Herceptin continues to be evaluated in various stages of breast cancer, as well as several different types of cancer.
Approximately two-thirds of women with breast cancer have hormone-positive breast cancer. Hormone-positive breast cancers are stimulated to grow from exposure to the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. Women with hormone-positive breast cancer are treated with hormone therapy, in which the levels of these female hormones are reduced or are prevented from properly binding to the cancer cell. This reduces or inhibits the cancer cell’s growth and ability to spread. Arimidex is an aromatase inhibitor, which prevents the formation of the active form of estrogen.
Researchers from 25 countries conducted a phase III clinical trial referred to as the TAnDEM study to evaluate the addition of Herceptin to Arimidex in women with HER2-positive, hormone-positive advanced breast cancer. This study included 208 postmenopausal women who were treated with Arimidex. Approximately half of the patients were also treated with Herceptin.
- Patients who were treated with Herceptin/Arimidex had a significant improvement in progression-free survival compared to those treated with Arimidex only.
- There were no significant side effects reported in either group of patients that would indicate the combination of Herceptin and Arimidex would be prohibitively risky.
- Longer follow-up will provide more data on side effects and overall outcomes.
The researchers concluded that the addition of Herceptin to Arimidex significantly improves progression-free survival compared to Arimidex alone in postmenopausal women with HER2-positive, hormone-positive advanced breast cancer. More specific data will be released at further follow-up.
Reference: Roche. Herceptin Added to Hormonal Therapy Prolongs Progression-Free Survival for Patients with Advanced HER2-Positive Breast Cancer. Available at: http://www.roche.com/med-cor-2006-05-29. Accessed May 2006.
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