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ESMO: Drug Gives Survival Boost in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Women with HER2-positive tumors gained an average 16 more months of life with Perjeta

ESMO: Drug Gives Survival Boost in HER2+ Breast Cancer

MONDAY, Sept. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Adding the drug pertuzumab (Perjeta) to trastuzumab may give women with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive metastatic breast cancer a boost in survival, according to new research presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology, held from Sept. 26 to 30 in Madrid.

The study involved 808 women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Patients either received a combination of three drugs -- pertuzumab, trastuzumab, and docetaxel -- or trastuzumab, docetaxel, and placebo. Patient outcomes were then tracked for a median of 50 months.

The researchers reported that patients who took pertuzumab along with the other two standard medications gained an average 15.7 months in survival (56.5 versus 40.8 months). This was equivalent to a 32 percent reduction in the odds that the patient would die over the length of the trial.

"Great strides have been made in treating breast cancer, and it is particularly encouraging that we now have additional treatment to offer patients with HER2-positive metastatic disease that extends survival," Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay. "Treatment regimens continue to become more tailored to a patient's individual cancer, lessening unwanted side effects from drugs that may not be beneficial, and focusing on treatments that have been shown to improve outcomes for a specific tumor."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Genentech, which funded the study and manufactures pertuzumab.

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