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In a Phase II clinical trial, treatment with a combination of cisplatin and Erbitux® (cetuximab) produced promising response rates among women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Erbitux is a targeted therapy that inhibits growth of the cancer by binding to a portion of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein located on the surface of many cancer cells. It is currently used to treat selected patients with advanced head and neck cancer or advanced colorectal cancer.

To evaluate the effectiveness of Erbitux for the treatment of advanced, triple-negative breast cancer (breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative), researchers conducted a Phase II clinical trial among 173 women. Study participants were treated with cisplatin chemotherapy alone or in combination with Erbitux.

The primary objective of the study was to determine whether the addition of Erbitux improved response rates and produced response rates that were higher than 20%.

  • A response to treatment (a partial or complete elimination of detectable cancer) occurred in 20% of women treated with cisplatin plus Erbitux, and 10% of women treated with cisplatin alone. This difference between treatment groups did not meet the criteria for statistical significance, suggesting that it could have occurred by chance alone.
  • Progression-free survival (survival without a worsening of the cancer) was 3.7 months among women treated with cisplatin plus Erbitux, and 1.5 months among women treated with cisplatin alone.
  • Potential side effects of Erbitux include an acne-like rash.
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Although a benefit of Erbitux has not yet been well established among women with triple-negative breast cancer, the researchers concluded that Erbitux warrants additional study in this population.

Reference: Baselga J, Gomez P, Greil R et al. Randomized Phase II Study of the Anti-Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Monoclonal Antibody Cetuximab With Cisplatin Versus Cisplatin Alone in Patients With Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early online publication June 3, 2013.

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