Researchers investigated the role of the protein HER2 which has been associated with more aggressive breast cancers in bladder cancer that has metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body. More than half of bladder cancer patients in this study had high levels of the HER2 protein. Recently reported research found the targeted drug Herceptin given along with chemotherapy to women with HER2-positive breast cancer cut the risk of recurrence in half. Here, researchers found Herceptin may also play a role in treating HER2-postive bladder cancer.
"The model for Herceptin is breast cancer. While we are still in the beginning, I think this trial provides an approach for metastatic bladder cancer that has not been previously explored. This opens up the possibility of targeted therapies for bladder cancer," says Maha Hussain, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology at the U-M Medical School. Hussain will present the findings Saturday, May 14, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
This multicenter trial is one of the first efforts in which researchers have looked at using targeted therapy in bladder cancer based on the presence of the specific target. Targeted therapies such as Herceptin, which are designed to seek out specific molecules known to play a role in cancer development or growth, tend to be less toxic for patients because they do not harm normal cells, unlike traditional chemotherapy drugs.
In this study of 113 people with bladder cancer, 52 percent were determined to be HER2-positive. The HER2-positive patients were more likely to have cancer in their liver, bones and lungs than those with HER2-negative tumors, and the tumors h