Author | Diethelm Wallwiener, MD


Anthracycline and Trastuzumab in Breast Cancer Treatment

December 04, 2004

This study was designed to evaluate the cardiac safety of the combined treatment of HER2-positive metastaticbreast cancer patients with trastuzumab (Herceptin) plus epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (EC) incomparison with EC alone in HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer patients. Patients included those withmetastatic breast cancer without any prior anti-HER2 treatment, anthracycline therapy, or any other chemotherapyfor metastatic disease. This was a nonrandomized, prospective, dose-escalating, multicenter, openlabel,phase II study in Germany. A control group of 23 patients received EC 90/600 mg/m2 3-weekly for sixcycles (EC90 alone). A total of 26 HER2-positive patients were treated with trastuzumab, or H (2 mg/kg weeklyafter an initial loading dose of 4 mg/kg), and EC 60/600 mg/m2 3-weekly for six cycles (EC60+H); another 25HER2-positive patients received H and EC 90/600 mg/m2 3-weekly for six cycles. Asymptomatic reductions inleft ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of more than 10% points were detected in 12 patients (48%) treatedwith EC60 + H and in 14 patients (56%) treated with EC90 + H vs 6 patients (26%) in the EC90 alone cohort.LVEF decreases to < 50% occurred in one patient in the EC60+H cohort and in two patients in the EC90+Hcohort during the H monotherapy. No cardiac event occurred in the cohort with EC90 alone. The overallresponse rates for EC60+H and EC90+H were >60%, vs 26% for EC90 alone. The interim results of this studysuggest the cardiac safety of the combination of H with EC may be greater than that of H with AC (doxorubicin[Adriamycin]/cyclophosphamide); however, studies in larger numbers of patients are warranted. The combinationregimen revealed promising efficacy.

Neoadjuvant Therapy With Gemcitabine in Breast Cancer

December 02, 2004

Primary systemic therapy (ie, preoperative or neoadjuvant) increasesthe possibility for breast-conserving surgery in patients with primarybreast cancer. Patients with pathologic complete response to primarysystemic therapy have improved survival compared with those with persistenttumors. Several phase II trials have evaluated gemcitabine-containingdoublet or triplet regimens as primary systemic therapy for breastcancer, results of which have shown promising clinical and pathologicresponse rates with manageable toxicity. Results of a phase I/II studyof gemcitabine (Gemzar)/epirubicin (Ellence)/docetaxel (Taxotere), orGEDoc, with prophylactic filgrastim (Neupogen), as primary systemictherapy in 77 evaluable patients with primary breast cancer are reportedherein. Dose-limiting toxicities were grade 3 febrile neutropenia(n = 1) and grade 3 diarrhea (n = 2) at the fourth dose level ofGEDoc tested (gemcitabine at 800 mg/m2 days 1 and 8, epirubicin at90 mg/ m2 day 1, and docetaxel at 75 mg/m2 day 1). As assessed byultrasound, 92% of patients responded overall (22% complete response),and 79% of patients could undergo breast-conserving surgery. Thepathologic complete response rate in resected breast tissue was 26%.