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HER-2 Status Predicts Risk of Brain Metastases

HER-2-positive breast cancer patients have much higher risk than HER-2-negative patients

THURSDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Newly diagnosed human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2)-overexpressing breast cancer patients are at increased risk for brain metastases, according to research published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Bassam Abdulkarim, M.D., Ph.D., of the Cross Cancer Institute and University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues studied 301 newly diagnosed HER-2-positive and 363 HER-2-negative patients who were followed for a median of 3.9 years.

The researchers identified brain metastases in 27 (9 percent) of HER-2-overexpressing patients compared to only seven (1.9 percent) of HER-2-negative patients. They also found that HER-2 overexpression, tumor size larger than 2 centimeters and hormone-receptor negativity independently predicted the development of brain metastases but that hormone-receptor expression was protective.

"Given this extremely high-risk population for brain metastases, studies of serial radiologic screening and/or prophylactic cranial irradiation in HER-2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer patients are warranted," the authors conclude. "In patients with both early-stage and HER-2-overexpressing breast cancer, evaluation of prophylactic strategies with HER-2-inhibiting small molecules able to cross the blood-brain barrier should be also investigated."

Abstract
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