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Lapatinib Can Be Effective in Relapsed HER+ Breast Cancer

Last Updated: April 28, 2009.

Lapatinib is a potentially effective treatment for women with relapsed HER2-positive breast cancer, but one with frequent adverse events, according to a report published online April 27 in The Lancet Oncology.

TUESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Lapatinib is a potentially effective treatment for women with relapsed HER2-positive breast cancer, but one with frequent adverse events, according to a report published online April 27 in The Lancet Oncology.

Bella Kaufman, M.D., of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada, and colleagues enrolled 141 patients with relapsed breast cancer from 2005 to 2007, including 126 patients who were HER2-positive. The patients were treated with a 1,500-mg daily dose of lapatinib, a potent oral reversible inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. The researchers assessed sites of locally advanced or metastatic disease by response evaluation in solid tumors (RECIST) criteria every eight weeks, and skin disease was assessed every four weeks.

While no patients displayed a complete response to treatment, 49 patients (39 percent) in the HER2-positive group displayed partial response, the researchers report. Progression-free survival was a median of 14.6 weeks and duration of response was a median 20.9 weeks. Adverse events occurred in 130 (92 percent) of the 141 patients, and 45 (32 percent) were regarded as serious, the report indicates. Five patients died from possibly treatment-related adverse events.

"Lapatinib monotherapy is potentially clinically effective in heavily pretreated patients with inflammatory breast cancer with HER2-positive tumors. The objective response rate noted in these treatment-refractory patients coupled with the median duration of response and median overall survival supports a role for lapatinib in these patients," the authors conclude.

The trial was funded by GlaxoSmithKline and several study authors are company employees, former employees or consultants.

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