“Women with small, HER-2 positive, node-negative [no sign of spread to adjacent lymph nodes] breast tumors have a low, but still significant, risk of recurrence of their disease,” said the study’s senior author, Eric Winer, MD, director of the Breast Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. “This study demonstrates that a combination of lower-intensity chemotherapy and trastuzumab – which is associated with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy regimens – is an appealing standard of care for this group of patients.”
The study enrolled 406 patients with HER2-positive, node-negative breast tumors smaller than 3 cm. They were treated with the drug combination for 12 weeks, followed by nine months of Herceptin alone. (Traditional drug regimens for women with HER2-positive breast cancer involve chemotherapy with adriamycin and cytoxan followed by paclitaxel and trastuzumab.)
Three years after completing therapy, 98.7 percent of the participants were alive and free of invasive breast cancer. The side effects were generally milder than those associated with traditional chemotherapy regimens.
“We’re committed to identifying treatment regimens that are geared not only to the specific biological features of a woman’s cancer, but also to the stage of the cancer – the size of the tumor and how far it has advanced,” said the study’s lead author, Sara Tolaney, MD, MPH, of the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber “This study is a prime example of the value of that approach.”