Chemotherapy treatment, trastuzumab and surgery could prolong life, says US study

18 July 2011

New research suggests that the use of trastuzumab, chemotherapy and surgery for breast cancer treatment could help prolong life.

Sufferers of HER2-positive breast cancer had their survival time significantly improved through the combined usage of the three, even when the cancer started to affect the central nervous system, professors from the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute found.

"Women with HER2-positive breast cancer have a reasonable chance of living a long time with their disease and they should be given aggressive therapy where appropriate," explained lead researcher Adam Brufsky.

The research, carried out as part of the American Association for Cancer Research and published in Clinical Cancer Research, found that ten to 16 per cent of women with advanced breast cancer develop problems associated with the central nervous system.

"We clearly now know that these women should get trastuzumab and potentially chemotherapy, even if cancer spreads to the brain," added Prof Brufsky.

This comes on the back of earlier results in 2006 published in the BMC Cancer journal from the Medical University of Vienna. Trials showed that, despite the failure of an earlier combination of chemotherapy treatment and trastuzumab, patients "do profit from continued trastuzumab treatment".

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Gluck, Stefan et al. "Optimizing chemotherapy-free survival for the ER/HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer patients". Clinical Cancer Research. June 28th 2011.

2 Bartsch, Rupert et al. "Analysis of trastuzumab and chemotherapy in advanced breast cancer after the failure of at least one earlier combination: An observational study". BMC Cancer Journal. March 15th 2006.

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