Herceptin Plus Taxol Effective for “Low-Risk” HER-2 Positive Breast Cancer

Breast cancer (Infiltrating ductal carcinoma o...
Breast cancer (Infiltrating ductal carcinoma of the breast) assayed with anti HER-2 (ErbB2) antibody. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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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

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understandcancerin60minutes

Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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