The meta-analysis of five major breast cancer trials has confirmed that a combination therapy of chemotherapy and antibody trastuzumab chemotherapy improves survival in women with operable HER-2 positive breast cancer.
Issa Dahabreh from the University of Athens conducted the meta-analysis of 5 trials involving more than 13,000 women whose breast cancer was amenable to surgery, and found that it helps improve their chances.
All the trials compared disease-free survival, overall survival and the risk of locoregional and distant recurrence of breast cancer in women given adjuvant chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus trastuzumab, after breast surgery.
Up to a quarter of all breast cancers express large amounts of the HER2 protein or carry multiple copies of the HER2 gene. Those cancers tend to be associated with aggressive disease, a higher likelihood of recurrence and a decreased response to treatment.
Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that directly targets part of the HER2 tyrosine kinase receptor.
The results showed that combining trastuzumab with chemotherapy results in a 34 percent reduction in mortality and a 38 percent increase in disease-free survival, Dahabreh said.
Those survival benefits were accompanied by decreases in the risk of both locoregional and distant recurrences of the cancer.
"Taken together, these results confirm that the administration of trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy should be the standard choice for the treatment of women with HER2 positive early stage disease, especially those with limited cardiovascular comorbidities", Dahabreh said.
The results were reported at the ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology Conference) at Lugano.