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Clin Breast Cancer. 2001 Oct;2 Suppl 1:S15-9.

Combining the anti-HER2 antibody trastuzumab with taxanes in breast cancer: results and trial considerations.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Overexpression of the p185/HER2 protein is seen in 20%-25% of primary breast cancers and is associated with poor prognosis. Recent phase II and III clinical trials demonstrate that trastuzumab is active against breast tumors, both as a single agent and in combination with chemotherapy. In patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer, use of trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy is associated with a 20% reduction in relative risk of death and an increase in median survival from 20.3 to 25.1 months compared to chemotherapy alone. Side effects include fever and chills and an unexpected increase in doxorubicin/trastuzumab-associated cardiomyopathy. Clinical development is now focused on trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy regimens that do not contain an anthracycline. Trastuzumab in combination with docetaxel is synergistic in vitro. Data from ongoing clinical trials are consistent with this finding. Preliminary data from 3 phase II studies suggest a 44%-63% response rate when the combination is used first or second line in HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer. The combination of docetaxel with trastuzumab is well tolerated and has not been associated with significant cardiotoxicity. Given in vitro evidence that platinum salts act synergistically with trastuzumab and docetaxel, and phase II data suggesting clinical efficacy and good tolerability, the combination of platinum salt plus trastuzumab and docetaxel is now being assessed in adjuvant trials

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