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Trastuzumab Becoming Standard Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer

KEY POINT

Outcomes are improved when trastuzumab (Herceptin—Genentech) is added to first-line chemotherapy in women with metastatic breast cancer who are human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) positive. But a recent study clearly shows potential problems with cardiotoxicity, especially in women taking trastuzumab in combination with anthracyclines. Trastuzumab may also cause severe hypersensitivity reactions; these were the subject of a recent letter to providers, and changes were made to the product labeling.

SOURCES

Slamon DJ et al. Use of chemotherapy plus a monoclonal antibody against HER2 for metastatic breast cancer that overexpresses HER2. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:783–92.

Eisenhauer EA. From the molecule to the clinic—inhibiting HER2 to treat breast cancer [editorial]. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:841–2.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Warning letter to providers. www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2000/hercep1.pdf.