Herceptin in Addition to Chemotherapy Improves Long-Term Survival Breast Cancer

Herceptin in Addition to Chemotherapy Improves Long-Term Survival among Some Breast Cancer Patients

According to results presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the combination of the drugs Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and Taxotere® (docetaxel) improves the long-term survival of patients diagnosed with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a malignancy associated with the tissues of the breast. Current treatment options for breast cancer may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. When a diagnosis of breast cancer is made, a laboratory test will be performed for the Her2/neu growth receptor, which may be over expressed in some types of breast cancers. Her2/neu is involved in cellular replication. If the test determines that the cancer is positive for Her2/neu expression, the drug Herceptin may be used as part of the treatment regimen. Herceptin is an agent known as a monoclonal antibody, which targets the Her2/neu overexpressing breast cancer cell specifically.

Results of this study are long-term follow-up results of a study that included patients with metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread to distant sites in the body) who were randomized to receive either Herceptin with Taxotere or Taxotere alone. If the patients who received Taxotere experienced disease progression during treatment, they were able to switch to the combination treatment group. Results of the 24-month study found that the patients who were treated with Herceptin and Taxotere achieved significant improvement. The overall response rate among this group was 61 percent, compared to 34 percent in patients who received Taxotere alone. Overall survival was 31.2 months for patients treated with Herceptin/Taxotere, compared to 22.7 months for the Taxotere-alone treatment group. Side effects were more frequent among the Herceptin/Taxotere treatment group, which included a drop of the white blood count (23 percent versus 7 percent), and congestive heart failure (2 percent). However, researchers added that the addition of Herceptin to Taxotere added little in terms of side effects.

Researchers concluded that these long-term results demonstrate an improvement in long-term survival among metastatic HER2/neu positive breast cancer patients with the addition of Herceptin to Taxotere.

Reference: Extra J, Cognetti F, Maraninchi D, et al. Long-term survival demonstrated with trastuzumab plus docetaxel: 24 month data from a randomized trial (M77001) in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Proceedings from the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Orlando FL. 2005; Abstract #555t.

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