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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2010 Aug;75(2):110-21. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

Brain metastases in HER2-positive breast cancer: the evolving role of lapatinib.

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Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 121 Boulevard de Waterloo, 1000, Brussels, Belgium.


Due to improvements in diagnosis and systemic therapy, brain metastases are an increasingly common cause of morbidity and mortality for patients with advanced breast cancer. The incidence of symptomatic brain metastases among women with metastatic breast cancer ranges from 10% to 16%. The HER2 receptor, which is overexpressed in approximately 25% of all breast cancers, is an important risk factor for the development of central nervous system metastases. Surgery and radiation therapy are the primary approaches to the treatment of brain metastases but new chemotherapy and biological agents promise to play an important role in the future management of central nervous system disease. This article reviews the epidemiology, current treatment options and recent advances in the field, with a focus on HER2-positive disease and the emerging role of lapatinib for the treatment and prevention of brain metastases.

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