A new clinical trial will try to find out whether using Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) alone, Tykerb (chemical name: lapatinib) alone, or both medicines together is better for women diagnosed with stage I or stage II HER2-positive breast cancer. Women who have and haven't already received chemotherapy are eligible to participate in this study. Women in the study will be treated for a year, so it will be a while before the results are available.
Herceptin and Tykerb both are targeted therapies used to treat HER2-positive breast cancers. HER2-positive cancers have extra HER2 genes and make too many HER2 protein receptors (also called HER2/neu proteins).
Herceptin is approved to treat women with both early and advanced HER2-positive breast cancer. Tykerb is approved to be given in combination with Xeloda (chemical name: capecitabine) to treat advanced, HER2-positive breast cancer that has stopped responding to anthracyclines, taxanes, and Herceptin.
Even though Herceptin and Tykerb both target HER2-positive breast cancers, each medicine works in a different way. Herceptin blocks the HER2 protein on the cancer cell's surface. Tykerb blocks the HER2 protein inside the cell. Because of these differences, researchers believe it's possible that either Herceptin or Tykerb might work better than the other, or that combining the two medicines might offer more benefits than either one alone. Clinical trials are the best way to scientifically compare different treatments. The results of clinical trials help doctors decide on the best treatment plan for each woman's unique situation.
If you've been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your treatment options and the two treatments being studied in this clinical trial. Your doctor can help you decide on the treatment plan that is best for you. Your doctor also can give you some guidance on whether or not participating in this clinical trial is practical and makes sense for you.
Visit the Breastcancer.org section on Clinical Trials for more information and a link to the NCI Clinical Trial listing.