Breast Cancer Drug Combos Extend Survival

Breast Cancer Drug Combos – Some new research has shown that by adding drug combos such as pertuzumab to trastuzumab and docetaxel chemotherapy compared with placebo plus trastuzumab plus docetaxel, when used as first-line treatment for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, significantly prolonged progression-free survival, with no increase in cardiac toxic effects.

Pertuzumab is the first of its class in a line of agents called “HER dimerization inhibitors”. Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that interferes with the HER2/neu receptor.

Senior researcher Dr. Jose Baselga of the Harvard Medical School, and colleagues conducted the research. The findings represent a significant advance in the treatment of this advanced breast cancer, Baselga said.

“This is huge. It is very uncommon to have a clinical trial show this level of improvement in progression-free survival,” Baselga said in a statement. “Most metastatic patients with HER2-positive breast cancer eventually stop responding to trastuzumab, so the fact that we now have an agent that can be added to current treatment to delay progression is very exciting. With the advent of trastuzumab and now pertuzumab, we have come a very long way in treating a type of breast cancer that once had a very poor prognosis.”

In their research, they randomly assigned 808 patients to receive trastuzumab and docetaxel chemotherapy with pertuzumab or placebo.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found progression-free survival time was 18.5 months for patients who received pertuzumab compared with 12.4 months for patients who received placebo which turns out to be a 38 percent reduction in risk for progression.