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Early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer patients at increased risk of recurrence
Date:11/2/2009

HOUSTON - Early-stage breast cancer patients with HER2 positive tumors one centimeter or smaller are at significant risk of recurrence of their disease, compared to those with early-stage disease who do not express the aggressive protein, according to a study led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings, published today online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first large study to analyze this cohort and represents a shift in the way women with early-stage HER2 positive breast cancer should be assessed for risk of recurrence and considered for treatment, said the study's senior author, Ana M. Gonzalez-Angulo, M.D, associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Departments of Breast Medical Oncology and Systems Biology.

The research was first presented at the CRTC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December, 2008.

Herceptin, also known as trastuzumab, was approved for use in 1998 for women whose advanced breast cancer expresses Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2, or HER2. Approximately 15-20 percent of breast cancer cells produce an excess amount of the HER2 growth protein on their surface, which makes the cancer more aggressive. Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that latches on to these proteins and inhibits tumor growth.

"This study represents a current debate within clinical practice - the risk of recurrence for early-stage breast cancer patients with HER2 positive tumors one centimeter or smaller," said Gonzalez-Angulo. "Our findings show that women with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer have a 23 percent chance of recurrence. In contrast, the five-year survival rate of all women with such early-stage breast cancer is more than 90 percent.

"The findings indicate that physicians need to consider offering these women Herceptin-based therapy in the post-operative, or adjuvant setting," Gonzalez-Angulo continued.

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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
713-745-2457
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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Early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer patients at increased risk of recurrence
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