Updated results from the Herceptin® Adjuvant (HERA) trial were presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); among women with HER2-positive early breast cancer, treatment with one year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) following adjuvant chemotherapy significantly improved overall and cancer-free survival.
Approximately 30% of breast cancers overexpress a protein known as the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) protein. The HER2 protein is involved in cellular growth and replication. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer tend to have a worse prognosis than women with HER2-negative breast cancer. Fortunately, the targeted agent Herceptin binds to HER2 receptors and prevents or reduces replication of cancer cells that overexpress HER2.
The HERA study is a phase III clinical trial that randomly assigned HER2-positive early breast cancer patients to one of three treatment groups following adjuvant chemotherapy: observation, one year of Herceptin, or two years of Herceptin. The results presented at the 2006 ASCO meeting focused on 1,703 women randomly assigned to one year of Herceptin and the 1,698 women in the observation group. Half the women in the study had hormone receptor-negative cancer.
Overall survival and cancer-free survival were significantly better in the women randomly assigned to one year of Herceptin compared to the women in the observation group. Risk of death was 34% lower among women treated with one year of Herceptin. Herceptin protected against both distant metastases as well as local recurrence.
The researchers conclude that among women with HER2-positive early breast cancer, treatment with one year of Herceptin after adjuvant chemotherapy significantly improves overall and cancer-free survival.
Reference: Smith I et al. Trastuzumab Following Adjuvant Chemotherapy in HER2-positive Early Breast Cancer (HERA Trial): Disease-free and Overall Survival After 2 Year Median Follow-up. Scientific Special Session. 2006 ASCO Annual Meeting. June 3, 2006.