Herceptin Improves Outcome of HER2-positive Stomach Cancer

Posted on October 3rd, 2009 by

According to the results of a Phase III clinical trial, treatment with the targeted therapy Herceptin® (trastuzumab) improves survival among patients with HER2-positive, advanced and inoperable stomach cancer. These results were presented at a major European cancer conference.

Herceptin is a targeted therapy that has made important contributions to improved outcomes among women with HER2-positive breast cancer. The HER2 pathway is a biological pathway involved in cellular replication and growth. Approximately 20-25% of breast cancers overexpress the HER2 protein and are referred to as HER2-positive. Herceptin targets and blocks the HER2-protein, and is used for the treatment of both early-stage and more advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.

HER2 is also overexpressed in some stomach cancers. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of Herceptin among patients with HER2-positive, advanced and inoperable stomach cancer, researchers conducted an international Phase III clinical trial study among 594 patients.

Half the patients were treated with chemotherapy alone, and half the patients were treated with chemotherapy plus Herceptin. Chemotherapy consisted of a fluoropyrimidine (Xeloda® [capecitabine] or 5-FU) and cisplatin.

  • Overall survival was 13.8 months among patients treated with chemotherapy plus Herceptin compared with 11.1 months among patients treated with chemotherapy alone.
  • Patients whose tumors had the highest levels of HER2 appeared to derive the most benefit from Herceptin. Among patients with particularly high levels of HER2, overall survival was 16 months for those treated with chemotherapy plus Herceptin compared with 11.8 months for those treated with chemotherapy alone.

These results suggest that Herceptin improves survival among patients with HER-positive, advanced stomach cancer.

Reference: Van Cutsem E, Kang YK, Shen L et al. Trastuzumab added to standard chemotherapy (CT) as first-line treatment in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive advanced gastric cancer (GC): efficacy and safety results from the Phase III ToGA trial. Presented at the Joint ECCO 15-34th ESMO Multidisciplinary Congress. Berlin, Germany, September 20-24, 2009. Abstract 7BA.

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