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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):639-43.

Incidence of cerebral metastases in patients treated with trastuzumab for metastatic breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester M20 4BX, UK.

Abstract

Trastuzumab is an effective treatment for patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) that overexpresses HER-2. A high incidence of brain metastases (BM) has been noted in patients receiving trastuzumab. A retrospective chart review was conducted of 100 patients commencing trastuzumab for metastatic breast cancer from July 1999 to December 2002, at the Christie Hospital. Seven patients were excluded; five patients developed central nervous system metastases prior to starting trastuzumab, and inadequate data were available for two. Out of the remaining 93 patients, 23 (25%) have developed BM to date. In all, 46 patients have died, and of these 18 (39%) have been diagnosed with BM prior to death. Of the 23 patients developing BM, 18 (78%) were hormone receptor negative and 18 (78%) had visceral disease. Univariate analysis showed a significant association between the development of cerebral disease and both hormone receptor status and the presence of visceral disease. In conclusion, a high proportion of patients with MBC treated with trastuzumab develop symptomatic cerebral metastases. HER-2-positive breast cancer may have a predilection for the brain, or trastuzumab therapy may change the disease pattern by prolonging survival. New strategies to address this problem require investigation in this group of patients.

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