The study also tested Herceptin with a chemotherapy combination that eliminated Adriamycin, an anthracycline commonly used to treat breast cancer but a drug that, when used with Herceptin, can result in heart damage. That regimen also significantly improves survival.
Conducted by the Breast Cancer International Research Group (BCIRG), this study is the fourth large clinical trial to show that Herceptin plus chemotherapy significantly reduces risk of disease recurrence in early breast cancer. Results were presented Thursday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium by Dr. Dennis Slamon, co-chairman of BCIRG, director of Clinical/Translational Research at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and the scientist whose laboratory and clinical research laid the groundwork for the development of Herceptin.
"The chemotherapy combinations we tested with Herceptin proved to be superior to the best available standard therapy for early breast cancer," said Slamon, principal investigator for the BCIRG study. "This further illustrates the promise of targeted therapies and moves us closer to our goal of minimizing the toxicity of therapy while maximizing efficacy."
Herceptin is effective in women with HER-2 positive breast cancer, about one in four diagnosed with the disease every year. HER-2 positive breast cancer patients have a particularly aggressive form of the disease, a poorer prognosis and shorter survival times, said Slamon, who discovered the link between HER-2 positivity and aggressive breast cancer in 1987.
The study enrolled 3,222 women from all over the world with early stage HER-2 positive breast cancer between March 2001 and Feb
Contact: Kim Irwin
University of California - Los Angeles