According to results recently presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the targeted agent Tykerb® (lapatinib) may be effective in shrinking cancer that has spread to the brain among some patients with breast cancer.
The brain is a common site for cancer to spread (brain metastasis) among patients with advanced breast cancer. Unfortunately, standard treatment options have only limited effectiveness in treating brain metastasis; furthermore, these treatments are often associated with significant side effects. The average one-year survival rate of patients diagnosed with brain metastasis is 20%, a statistic that represents a significant need for effective treatment for these patients.
Tykerb is a targeted therapy that has produced promising results in women with metastatic or refractory breast cancer. Targeted therapies are anticancer drugs that are designed to treat cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. Tykerb targets two proteins that often function abnormally in breast cancer cells-HER2 and EGFR. When these proteins are over-expressed in cancer cells (a condition referred to as HER2-positive and/or EGFR-positive cancers), the proteins tend to function abnormally, resulting in unchecked replication and growth of cancerous cells. Tykerb decreases or prevents the growth and replication of these cancerous cells.
Researchers recently evaluated results from a clinical study that suggested Tykerb may have anticancer activity among patients with brain metastasis from advanced breast cancer. This study included 241 patients whose brain metastasis continued to progress following therapy with Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and radiation therapy.
- Nearly half of the patients (46%) experienced at least a 20% reduction in the size of their brain metastasis.
- An additional 42% of patients achieved stabilization of their disease for at least eight weeks.
- Overall, 22% of patients had no signs of disease progression within the first six months of treatment with Tykerb.
- The most common severe side effects were diarrhea, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
The researchers concluded that among patients with advanced breast cancer: “Tykerb has promise in the treatment of brain metastases.” Further study of Tykerb in advanced breast cancer is ongoing. However, Tykerb may present a previously unavailable treatment option for patients with this stage of disease.
Patients with brain metastasis associated with breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Tykerb.
Reference: Lin N, et al. Tykerb activity in brain metastases associated with breast cancer. Proceedings from the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Abstract #1012.
Tykerb® Approved for Advanced Breast Cancer (3/13/2007)
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