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Drugs Increase Breast Cancer Progression-Free Survival

Overall survival unchanged

THURSDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Lapatinib plus capecitabine significantly increase the time to progression, but not overall survival, compared with capecitabine alone, in women with advanced breast cancer who have failed other treatments, according to a study in the Dec. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Charles E. Geyer, M.D., from the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and colleagues randomly assigned 324 women with HER2-positive advanced or metastatic breast cancer who had failed chemotherapy plus trastuzumab to capecitabine alone or combined with lapatinib.

The researchers found that the combined therapy significantly increased the median time to progression (8.4 versus 4.4 months, hazard ratio 0.49). There was no increase in toxic effects, including cardiotoxicity, with combined therapy. Women receiving combination therapy tended to have a higher tumor response rate and fewer central nervous system metastases. However, survival was similar in the two groups, with 22 percent mortality, the report indicates.

"The results provide support for the use of lapatinib and capecitabine in women with progression of HER2-positive breast cancer after treatment with trastuzumab," Geyer and colleagues conclude. "The findings also warrant evaluation of the role of lapatinib, which has a mechanism of action distinct from that of trastuzumab, earlier in the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer."

The study was supported by GlaxoSmithKline.

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