The medications lapatinib and trastuzumab (Herceptin) used in combination prior to surgery shrink and could even destroy tumors in women with HER2-positive breast cancer.
A drug combination – of lapatinib and trastuzumab (Herceptin) – before surgery shrinks and may even destroy tumours in women with HER2 positive disease within 11 days, according to new research.
The EPHOS B trial, led by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, the University of Manchester and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, studied 257 women with HER2 positive breast cancer in the short gap between initial diagnosis and surgery to remove their tumours.
The research may lead to fewer women needing chemotherapy.
The results, from a Cancer Research UK-funded trial, are being presented at the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC10) today (Thursday).
In the trial, women were split into three groups and treated for 11 days before their surgery. Initially, women were randomised to receive either trastuzamab, or lapatinib or no treatment – but halfway through the trial, after evidence emerged from other trials of the effectiveness of the combination, the design was altered so that additional women allocated to the lapatinib group were also prescribed trastuzumab.
The trial set out to study the biological effects of the drug combination by measuring biological markers of cellular proliferation after 11 days of therapy. But when trying to measure this, the researchers discovered that in roughly a quarter of the 66 women who received both drugs, the remaining tumour was too small for the second measurement of cell proliferation.