Summary: A remarkable 98.7 percent of certain lower-risk breast cancer patients were cancer-free at least 3 years after taking a combination of Taxol (paclitaxel) chemotherapy and the targeted agent Herceptin (trastazumbab), according to a study presented yesterday at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
This study is the first major trial to examine Herceptin-Taxol for patients with cancers that are HER2 positive, but very small and with no nodal involvement. About 1 in 4 patients with breast cancer have tumors that are the more aggressive HER2-overexpressing type: The cancer cells have too many antennae-like receptor proteins (HER2, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2) on their surface. Herceptin is part of standard treatment for higher0risk HER2 positive patients. But we really did not know of an optimal approach for lower risk patients with HER=2 overexpressing tumors.
This new study identifies an in-between approach: Herceptin plus a single chemotherapy drug (Taxol) is highly effective, with few side effects. Only 3.2 percent experienced severe neuropathy, and 0.5 percent had symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF; this resolved after the patients stopped the Herceptin). I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and that’s your breast cancer news of the day.
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Reference: Loyola University Health System (2013, December 11). Herceptin plus taxol highly effective in low-risk breast cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/131211131223.htm