The use of Herceptin prior to breast cancer surgery can result in substantial tumour shrinkage according to new data presented yesterday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's (ASCO) annual meeting.
The phase III study investigated the use of neoadjuvant Herceptin in combination with chemotherapy in patients with locally advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.
The NeOAdjuvant Herceptin (NOAH) study results demonstrated that Herceptin plus chemotherapy completely eradicated the tumour in nearly twice as many patients (43%), compared with only 23% of patients treated with chemotherapy alone.
Professor L. Gianni, Director of Medical Oncology at Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, in Milan, described the results as highly promising.
"The addition of Herceptin to neoadjuvant chemotherapy shows extremely positive benefits for patients," he said, explaining that this increased response to therapy not only results in breast conserving surgery, but could also translate into improved survival for patients.
HER2-positive breast cancer affects approximately 20-30 percent of women with breast cancer. It demands special attention because the tumours are typically fast-growing and there is a high likelihood of relapse.
"These exciting results add to the substantial body of evidence of Herceptin as the foundation of care for HER2-positive breast cancer," said Dr. Jean-Jacques Garaud, Head of Global Drug Development at Roche.
"As well as providing proven survival benefits in advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, and the best chance of a cure in early breast cancer, Herceptin has now demonstrated its potential to lessen the extent of surgery required for patients with locally advanced disease, which is very welcome news for patients with this particularly aggressive form of breast cancer."