According to the results of a study conducted in Italy, women with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer who were treated with Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and Navelbine® (vinorelbine) had better outcomes than a similar group of women with HER2-negative breast cancer who were treated with Navelbine alone. These results were published in the Annals of Oncology.
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.
Because Herceptin has improved outcomes for women with HER2-positive tumors, researchers in Italy conducted a study to compare outcomes among women with HER2-positive and HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer. The researchers were interested in whether treatment with Herceptin would allow women with HER2-positive breast cancer to have outcomes similar to or even better than women with HER2-negative breast cancer.
This phase II study enrolled 68 women with metastatic breast cancer. Thirty-three patients had HER2-positive cancer and were treated with Herceptin and the chemotherapy drug Navelbine. Thirty-five patients had HER2-negative cancer and were treated with Navelbine alone.
- A response to treatment occurred in 51% of women with HER2-positive cancers and 27% of women with HER2-negative cancers.
- The median time to cancer progression was nine months among women with HER2-positive cancer and six months among women with HER2-negative cancer.
- Overall survival was 27 months in women with HER2-positive cancer and 22 months in women with HER2-negative cancer.
These results confirm that Herceptin has improved the outcomes of women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. In this study, the HER2-positive women treated with Herceptin and Navelbine had better outcomes than the HER2-negative women treated with Navelbine alone.
Reference: Papaldo P, Fabi A, Ferretti G et al. A Phase II Study on Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Weekly Vinorelbine With or Without Trastuzumab According to HER2 Expression: Changing the Natural History of HER2-Positive Disease. Annals of Oncology. 2006;17:630-636.
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