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Herceptin + Chemotherapy for HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Posted Dec 17 2009 12:00am
New results have been released from the only phase III clinical trial to test the effectiveness and safety of Herceptin treatment given in sequence to or in combination with chemotherapy for HER2-positive breast cancer.  In their study, breast cancer researchers treated HER2-positive breast cancer patients with either standard chemotherapy alone, chemotherapy followed by Herceptin treatment, or chemotherapy + Herceptin treatment at the same time.  Results of this study showed that:
  • Treatment with chemotherapy followed by Herceptin improved disease-free survival to 80% compared to 72% in the chemotherapy-only group.
  • Treatment with chemotherapy and Herceptin together improved disease-free survival to 84% compared to 80% in the group receiving Herceptin after chemotherapy.
  • Treating HER2-positive breast cancers with chemotherapy + Herceptin at the same time reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 25% compared to the group receiving Herceptin after chemotherapy.
Considering that about 25% of breast cancers are HER2-positive, this is encouraging news.  If these results hold up, then treating HER-2 positive breast cancers with chemotherapy + Herceptin at the same time offers the chance to substantially reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in these patients.  There has been some debate regarding the best way include Herceptin in current breast cancer therapy strategies.  This study would suggest that treating at the same time might provide the greatest benefit to breast cancer patients.

While the medical and scientific communties make excellent progress in breast cancer therapy, reducing your risk of ever getting breast cancer remains one of the most important things you can do to fight breast cancer.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer ( to learn about some of the dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk.
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