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Roche's Herceptin Combined With Chemotherapy Effective In Eliminating Breast Cancer Tumors

Armen Hareyan's picture

Roche'sbreast cancer drug Herceptin when used together with chemotherapy isthree times more effective in eradicating tumors in women withinflammatory breast cancer than chemotherapy alone, according to astudy presented by the company on Wednesday at the European Cancer Organization's conference in Barcelona, Spain, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/26). FDAin 1998 approved Herceptin for treatment of advanced HER2-positivecancer that has spread beyond the breast. The aggressive form of thedisease is found in about 25% to 30% of breast cancer patients andinvolves extra copies of the HER2 protein, the Wall Street Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 9/27).

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Forthe study, the women were assigned to one of two groups depending onHER2 status. All patients received chemotherapy before surgery.Patients with HER2-positive disease either received Herceptin withchemotherapy for one year or chemotherapy alone. Thirty-one patientswith HER2-positive inflammatory breast cancer received Herceptin andchemotherapy. According to the results, 55% of patients withinflammatory breast cancer who received a Herceptin-chemotherapycombination had a complete disappearance of the tumors from the breast,compared with 19% of those who received chemotherapy alone.

The treatment was "well tolerated with acceptable cardiac safety," Roche said in a statement (Roche release,9/26). Wolfgang Eiermann, medical director of the Red Cross Women'sHospital in Munich, Germany, said, "Herceptin has been proven to extendlives across the spectrum of HER2-positive disease, so these latestfindings will be welcome news for the unfortunate few with inflammatorybreast cancer, which is an especially devastating form of the disease" (Reuters, 9/26).

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