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Drug May Help Against Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Date:4/27/2009

Study shows those who respond to lapatinib survive longer,,,,

MONDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- The drug lapatinib could be used to treat aggressive inflammatory breast cancer, suggest the findings of a phase 2 study.

Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for up to 6 percent of all invasive breast tumors in the United States and western Europe, according to the researchers. Symptoms include rapid onset of swelling, redness of breast skin, a pitted appearance caused by fluid under the skin of more than two-thirds of the breast, tenderness, hardening and warming of the breast.

For patients resistant to conventional anthracycline or taxane and trastuzumab, treatment options are limited. Lapatinib inhibits HER2, a protein that's expressed much more in inflammatory breast cancer than in other, less aggressive breast cancers.

The study included 126 women who took 1,500 milligrams of lapatinib once a day. None of them showed a full response to the drug, but 39 percent had a partial response, the researchers reported. Median progression-free survival was 15 weeks and, at 6 months, 22 percent of the women were still progression-free.

When the researchers divided the participants into four groups, they found that median overall survival was:

  • 18.4 months for those who responded to lapatinib after previous treatment with trastuzumab
  • 14 months for those who responded to lapatinib and had no previous trastuzumab treatment
  • 8.4 months for those unresponsive to lapatinib who had previously taken trastuzumab
  • 8.2 months for those unresponsive to lapatinib who had not previously taken trastuzumab.

The study found that 92 percent of the women had at least one adverse event, including shortness of breath and fluid around the lungs. Five participants died from adverse events that were possibly treatment related, said the Israeli and U.K. researchers.

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