According to results published in an early online article in the journal Cancer, the addition of Herceptin® (trastuzumab) to either Navelbine® (vinorelbine) or taxanes (Taxol® or Taxotere®) provides significant anticancer activity as initial therapy for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Approximately 25% of breast cancers are HER2-positive, meaning their cancer overexpresses the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2-positive), which is involved in cellular growth and replication. Herceptin targets HER2 and reduces growth and spread of HER2-positive breast cancer. However, clinical trials are still being conducted to determine the optimal treatment regimens including chemotherapy plus Herceptin for this disease.
Researchers from several medical institutions recently conducted a clinical trial to compare two regimens including Herceptin in the treatment of HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer. This trial included 81 patients who were treated with either Herceptin plus Navelbine or Herceptin plus a taxane (either Taxol or Taxotere) as initial therapy; the two groups were directly compared.
- Anticancer responses occurred in 51% of patients treated with Navelbine/Herceptin and 40% for patients treated with taxanes/Herceptin.
- The median time before cancer progressed was 8.5 months for patients treated with Navelbine/Herceptin and six months for those treated with taxanes/Herceptin.
- Patients treated with Navelbine/Herceptin experienced more low levels of red blood cells and immune cells; those treated with taxanes/Herceptin experienced more side effects involving the skin, muscles pain, and fluid retention.
Researchers concluded that Herceptin plus either Navelbine or taxanes provide comparable outcomes for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Patients with HER2-positive breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of all treatment regimens containing Herceptin.
Reference: Burstein H, Keshaviah A, Baron A, et al. Trastuzumab plus vinorelbine or taxane chemotherapy for HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer: the trastuzumab and Vinorelbine or taxane study. Cancer [early online publication]. July 5, 2007. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22885.
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