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Acta Oncol. 2008;47(8):1564-9. doi: 10.1080/02841860802060844.

High efficacy of pre-operative trastuzumab combined with paclitaxel following doxorubicin & cyclophosphamide in operable breast cancer.

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  • 1The Institute of Oncology, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.



Trastuzumab in combination with adjuvant chemotherapy improves disease free survival and overall survival in HER2 over-expressing breast cancer patients. Data concerning the use of trastuzumab in the neo-adjuvant setting is limited. We aimed to compare outcome of HER2 over-expressing breast cancer patients treated with either standard chemotherapy, consisting of doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and a taxane to outcome of patients treated with the same chemotherapy regimen with the addition of trastuzumab in concurrence with paclitaxel.


We conducted a retrospective review of all consecutive HER2 over-expressing breast cancer patients treated at the participating institutions during the study period and received neo-adjuvant therapy. Allocation to trastuzumab was not based on clinical parameters and was approved only by part of the insurers. Clinical and pathological characteristics, as well as response rate and type of surgery were analyzed.


Thirty seven patients received chemotherapy alone and 24 patients received chemotherapy and trastuzumab. A similar distribution of age, clinical stage and histology was noted in both groups. The rate of pathological complete response (pCR) was significantly higher among the trastuzumab-treated group compared to chemotherapy-alone group (75 vs. 24% respectively, p=0.0002). pCR in the breast was noted in 18 of 24 (75%) compared to 10 of 36 (28%, p=0.0005) and pCR in the axillary lymph nodes was noted in 19 of 20 (95%) compared to 8 of 28 (29%, p=0.0001), in the trastuzumab group compared to the chemotherapy-alone group respectively. The safety profile was similar between both groups and no clinical cardiotoxicity were noted.


The addition of trastuzumab to standard chemotherapy in the neo-adjuvant setting improves pathological complete response rates in HER2 over-expressing breast cancer patients.

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