Adriamycin and Taxotere only affect HER2+?

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Question from D8: I've seen multiple news articles recently about findings that both Adriamycin and Taxotere are ineffective except for in HER2+ women. Is this just early stage breast cancer study or does it involve metastasis too? What are the implications?
Answers - Larry Norton, M.D.

The information you’re quoting is in early stage breast cancer, in the adjuvant setting. These are two separate topics. The Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin) question is derived from studies that have looked at HER2 and another gene called topo II or TOP2A. In general, most experts feel that information is not complete enough to decide who should or should not get Adriamycin on the basis of available tests. This is an active area of study, and we should have more information over the next year. In particular I feel strongly that people should not be denied Adriamycin on the basis of available tests, since the tests for both HER2 and topo II are not precise enough yet to give me confidence that we can pick individuals who will benefit from treatment. But I admit this is a controversial area. The next topic involves Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel), not Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel). We have recently published our findings on the activity in the adjuvant setting of Taxol. Activity is found in all groups except patients with HER2-negative, ER-positive disease. In other words, Taxol helped all patients with ER-negative disease and HER2-positive disease. However, in that paper of which I was a co-author, we stated that these findings would have to be confirmed by at least one other study before we would deny a patient adjuvant Taxol.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer featured Larry Norton, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about managing day-to-day life with metastatic breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of 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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