Research on Herceptin as maintenance medication?


Question from marejo: Any trials done or research done into using Herceptin as a maintenance drug? I am 4 years out (HER2 positive, stage 2B) and often wonder why we couldn't use Herceptin as a bi-yearly or yearly maintenance protector.
Answers - Nicholas Robert, M.D. The issue about how long to give Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) in the adjuvant setting remains unclear. The standard now is to give Herceptin for 1 year. Interestingly, there is a small study where Herceptin was given for only a few weeks, and there was a benefit. There is a much larger study evaluating 1 year of Herceptin vs. 2 years. The results of that study are still pending. There has also been the strategy of using another drug that interferes with HER2, the target for Herceptin. This is an oral drug called Tykerb (chemical name: lapatinib) and there has been a study completed where this drug was given to patients after completing their standard treatment. This was given to some patients 2-3 years after their diagnosis. We will see from this study whether there is any benefit from this approach. There is a new study using another HER2-targeted drug which will be given to women with early breast cancer who have been treated with Herceptin, and they will be given this new drug. We will be able to see if there is any benefit to giving additional treatment to patients who had HER2-positive tumors. So right now, the standard is 1 year of Herceptin but you should know that people are looking at other approaches to see if we can improve the outcome for patients who have been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Updates from the ASCO Annual Meeting. Nick Robert, M.D. and Beth Baughman Dupree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about the newest findings on risk, screening, treatment, and more.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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