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Breast Cancer. 2007;14(2):156-62.

Does lapatinib, a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, constitute a breakthrough in the treatment of breast cancer?

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Cancer Institute Hospital, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Japan. yito@jfcr.or.jp


ErbB/HER receptor or its signal transduction pathway is an attractive therapeutic target for breast cancer. Lapatinib, an orally administered dual inhibitor of ErbB1 (EGFR) and ErbB2 (HER2) receptor tyrosine kinases has shown promising results for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Lapatinib exhibited activity against trastuzumab-refractory MBC and showed an acceptable adverse event profile such as transient mild rash, diarrhea and nausea. The addition of lapatinib to capecitabine resulted in significantly prolonged time to progression. Large randomized trials using lapatinib following chemotherapy and surgery are ongoing for early stage HER2-overexpressing breast cancer. Various combinations with agents such as paclitaxel, aromatase inhibitors, or other molecular targeted agents are currently being investigated in clinical trials. If these approaches overcome the limitations of trastuzumab, lapatinib will become an effective treatment option for breast cancer in the near future.

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