Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Herceptin plus Taxol very effective in treating some lower-risk breast cancer patients

After 3 years, 98.7 percent are cancer-free

MAYWOOD, Ill. – A remarkable 98.7 percent of certain lower-risk breast cancer patients were cancer-free for at least three years after taking a combination of the drugs Herceptin and Taxol, a study has found.

The study is the first major trial to examine the Herceptin-Taxol combination in patients who have a type of breast cancer with the biology known as small, node-negative, HER2+. Results were presented during the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“This is great news for patients and their physicians,” said Kathy Albain, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center, who is one of the co-authors of the national multicenter study. “This study identifies a new treatment option for this population of patients that is highly effective and has minimal side effects.” First author is Sara Tolaney, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

About 1 in 4 breast patients have HER2+ breast cancer, meaning their cancer cells have a receptor protein on the surface known as HER2 (Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2).

Herceptin is part of the well-established standard of care for higher-risk HER2+ patients. But there currently is no single standard treatment for patients with the lower-risk HER2+ biology. In these patients, their tumors are small and the cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. Some of these patients currently are not receiving Herceptin, while others are being treated with Herceptin plus more toxic chemotherapy drugs.

The new study finds that an in-between treatment – Herceptin plus the chemotherapy drug Taxol – is highly effective, with few adverse effects. Of the 406 patients studied, only 3.2 percent experienced severe neuropathy and only 0.5 percent had symptoms of congestive heart failure, which resolved after they discontinued Herceptin.

Loyola enrolled patients in the trial and Albain is principal investigator for the Loyola site. She is a professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and directs Loyola’s breast clinical research program.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.