Drug combination shrinks breast cancer metastases in brain

Dec 16, 2007

A combination of a "targeted" therapy and chemotherapy shrank metastatic brain tumors by at least 50 percent in one-fifth of patients with aggressive HER2-positive breast cancer, according to data presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda) were paired in an extension of a Phase 2 clinical trial in which lapatinib given alone shrank brain metastases significantly in six percent of 241 patients.

In the extension trial, capecitabine was added to lapatinib in 49 patients whose metastases -- cancerous colonies in the brain spread from their primary cancer -- had progressed while on treatment. With the combination therapy, brain metastases shrank by 20 percent or more in 18 patients (37 percent) and shrank by at least 50 percent in 10 patients (20 percent), reported Nancy Lin, MD, of Dana-Farber's Breast Oncology Center.

"Very few medications have shown activity in the treatment of brain metastases, particularly in HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients," said Lin, who led the study with Eric Winer, MD, director of the Dana-Farber Breast Oncology Center. "Therefore, these data are quite encouraging, and further studies are warranted."

Lapatinib is an oral small-molecule drug from GlaxoSmithKline that is approved along with capecitabine for treating patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose tumors are driven by the abnormal growth signal, HER-2, and who have already undergone therapy including trastuzumab (Herceptin), a taxane drug, and an anthracycline compound. Lapatinib, like trastuzumab, blocks the HER-2 signal.

Up to one-third of women with advanced, HER-2-positive breast cancer may develop metastases to the brain.

"Although radiation treatment is often effective, as women live longer with metastatic cancer, some develop worsening of brain metastases despite radiation," said Lin. "Because cancer in the brain can have a major impact on quality of life, it is important to have treatment options to address this problem."

Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Explore further: Number of childhood cancer survivors increasing, most have morbidities

Related Stories

3-D printers to make human body parts? It's happening

Feb 04, 2015

It sounds like something from a science fiction plot: So-called three-dimensional printers are being used to fashion prosthetic arms and hands, jaw bones, spinal-cord implants - and one day perhaps even living human body ...

Chemotherapy alters brain tissue in breast cancer patients

Sep 29, 2010

Researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center have published the first report using imaging to show that changes in brain tissue can occur in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Better diagnostic imaging for traumatic brain injuries

Oct 27, 2014

Image-calibration technology designed and developed by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Radiological Society ...

Recommended for you

Cancer prevention efforts in the US a mixed bag

9 hours ago

While there has been substantial progress in some cancer control efforts in the past several decades, like reductions in smoking and increased utilization of cancer screening, progress in some areas is lagging, according ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.