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Semin Oncol. 1999 Aug;26(4 Suppl 12):84-8.

Health-related quality of life in women with metastatic breast cancer treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin).

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Quality of Life Consulting, Vancouver, Canada.


The measurement of health-related quality of life (HRQL) was an important component of clinical trials of trastuzumab (Herceptin; Genentech, San Francisco, CA) in women with progressive HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer who may or may not have had prior chemotherapy. Health-related quality of life was measured at baseline and specified intervals during therapy using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer core Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30, version 1.0). Five domains were chosen a priori for analysis: global quality of life, physical, role and social functioning, and fatigue. In the phase II study, in which trastuzumab was given alone, there was no change in on-treatment QLQ-C30 scores compared with baseline. These results suggest that trastuzumab does not adversely affect HRQL during therapy. In the phase III study, the effects of trastuzumab plus chemotherapy were compared with those of chemotherapy alone. A comparison of QLQ-C30 scores during treatment did not show statistically significant differences between the two groups at the preset level of P = .01. However, comparison of on-treatment scores with baseline in patients receiving chemotherapy alone indicated mild worsening of physical and role functioning and of fatigue throughout the duration of treatment, whereas a similar comparison of those receiving chemotherapy with trastuzumab revealed mild worsening of role functioning at weeks 8 and 20 and of fatigue only at week 8. These results suggest that trastuzumab may be associated with an amelioration of the deleterious effects of chemotherapy alone. In summary, in the doses and schedules used in these studies, trastuzumab is not associated with worsening of HRQL.

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