Targeted therapy on tumors in cases of HER2-positive breast cancer is more effective , according to experts.
Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, insisted Lapatinib plus trastuzumab are significantly better than lapatinib alone in extending the lives of breast cancer patients whose tumors are HER2-positive.
He noted that the patients undergoing combination targeted therapy had a four-month survival advantage over those who took lapatinib alone.
She said: "This is the first time that a pair of targeted therapies has been shown to be superior to any intervention that paired a targeted therapy with a hormonal or chemotherapy based approach."
As part of the study, a large, Phase III clinical trial was conducted.
As part of the trial, the investigators randomized 296 patients with metastatic breast cancer to receive either lapatinib (also known as Tykerb) alone or lapatinib plus trastuzumab (Herceptin) once a day.
All participants had metastatic disease that had continued to spread even after treatments with several interventions that included trastuzumab plus chemotherapy.
Trastuzumab blocks part of the HER2 growth factor that appears on the surface of some breast cancer cells while lapatinib binds to a second growth factor, EGFR, and part of HER2 that sits below the cell surface.
Clackwell explained: "It's sort of a double whammy, disabling the HER2 protein in two places instead of one."
The study noted that the median overall survival following treatment with lapatinib plus trastuzumab was 60.7 weeks compared to 41.4 weeks for those who took only lapatinib.