research: trastuzumab (Herceptin) achieves long-term remission in select group of advanced breast cancer patients

Giuseppe Gullo, MD, of St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, reported findings of a small study at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (formerly the joint congress of the European Cancer Organization and European Society for Medical Oncology, or ECCO-ESMO).

This study, conducted at St. Vincent’s University (Dublin) and Humanitas Cancer Center (Milan), indicated that a number of advanced breast cancer patients on trastuzumab (Herceptin®) for 36 months achieved long-term remission, or durable remission. In fact, the remission continued even after withdrawal of treatment, though studies need to replicate this separately. Further studies are also needed to determine the optimal length of time for maintenance treatment.

Patients who had received previous hormone treatment that failed received either trastuzumab alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Although not statistically analyzed, it was observed that the durable remissions occurred most in patients with these characteristics: having been diagnosed after age 60, being ER- (negative) and having metastasis to only the liver. While the study is too small to change the course of treatment protocols with trastuzumab, it indicates that some patients may have cancer cells that are not just HER2+ (positive) but particularly receptive to treatment with trastuzumab. Further studies are needed to identify this subgroup of patients.

ECCO-ESMO: Long Remission Possible in Advanced Breast Cancer. By Kristina Fiore in MedPage Today, 9/26/11

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© 2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

One response to “research: trastuzumab (Herceptin) achieves long-term remission in select group of advanced breast cancer patients

  1. This sort of justifies my mild jealousy of my chemo-friends who are Her2+. My observation is that the gals on Herceptin do seem to have, overall, better/lengthier response to treatment than those of us who don’t have that option and also have aggressive forms of BC. But I am SO happy that the option is there for them – and the world should be happy that those lovely women will be here that much longer!!

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