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Clin Med Insights Oncol. 2012;6:179-87. doi: 10.4137/CMO.S6460. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Trastuzumab for HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer: Clinical and Economic Considerations.

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  • 1Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre at Dalhousie University, Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 2Y9, Canada.


Trastuzumab is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively targets the extra-cellular domain of the HER2 receptor. It was approved by the FDA in September 1998 as the first targeted therapy for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and has since led to significant improvements in the overall prognosis for patients with HER2-positive metastatic disease. The favourable benefit/risk profile associated with palliative trastuzumab has been demonstrated in a number of clinical trials that examined trastusumab as monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy, endocrine therapy and other HER2 targeted agents. The clinical benefits of trastuzumab, however should also be examined within the context of its significant drug acquisition costs. This review highlights the significant findings from the landmark clinical trials of trastuzumab for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, and the potential "value for money" associated with its use in clinical practice.


HER2-positive; breast cancer; clinical trials; cost-effectiveness analysis; economics; palliative; trastuzumab

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