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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Jan;137(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2328-6. Epub 2012 Nov 10.

Emerging treatment options for the management of brain metastases in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

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University of California San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1600 Divisidero Street, Box 1710, San Francisco, CA 94143-1710, USA.


The widespread use of trastuzumab in the past decade has led to a significant and measureable improvement in the survival of patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) overexpressing breast cancer, and in many ways has redefined the natural history of this aggressive breast cancer subtype. Historically, survival in patients with HER2-positive disease was dictated by the systemic disease course, and what appears to be the central nervous system (CNS) tropism associated with HER2-amplified tumors was not clinically evident. With improved systemic control and prolonged survival, the incidence of brain metastases has increased, and CNS disease, often in the setting of well-controlled extracranial disease, is proving to be an increasingly important and clinically challenging cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer. This review summarizes the known clinical data for the systemic treatment of HER2-positive CNS metastases and includes information about ongoing clinical trials of novel therapies as well as emerging strategies for early detection and prevention.

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