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HER-2 status predicts success of chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment, study finds
Date:10/10/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Researchers have found they can potentially target chemotherapy for breast cancer to only those women most likely to benefit, sparing the majority of patients from unnecessary side effects.

The multicenter study, led by University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers, found women whose breast cancer expressed a protein called HER-2 were most likely to benefit from adding the drug Taxol to the chemotherapy regimen, while women whose tumors were fueled by estrogen but did not express HER-2 did not get any benefit from the added Taxol. About 15 percent to 20 percent of breast cancers express HER-2, and as many as three-quarters of breast cancers are so-called estrogen-receptor-positive.

Results of the study appear in the Oct. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In general, chemotherapy for breast cancer has been a one-size-fits-all approach. Our decision to recommend it is based on whether a woman is at high risk of the breast cancer recurring, without any idea of whether she would benefit from the additional therapy. With this data we hope we will be able to focus chemotherapy on patients whom its most likely to help, says lead study author Daniel Hayes, M.D., clinical director of the breast oncology program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hayes was the lead investigator on the study, which was run by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B through the Breast Cancer Intergroup of North America.

The study looked at tissue samples and data from 1,500 women who had previously participated in a study looking at the benefit of adding Taxol after four cycles of the drugs Adriamycin and Cytoxan, so-called AC chemotherapy. Cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in all of the women, which is a standard indication to recommend chemotherapy. All the women were given AC chemotherapy for four cycles, after which half the women received four cycles of Taxol and the other half did not receive any
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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