Herceptin Boosts Survival for Breast Cancer, Study Reports

“Adding the drug Herceptin to chemotherapy for certain breast cancer patients increases overall survival and reduces the risk of recurrence compared to chemotherapy alone, new research shows.

“The study found that adding a year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) to standard chemotherapy improved overall survival by 37 percent. The addition of Herceptin also boosted 10-year overall survival rates from 75 percent to 84 percent.

“And the 10-year disease-free survival rate went from 62 percent to 74 percent for those also taking Herceptin, the study found.

“The women who were given Herceptin were patients with a type of breast cancer known as HER2-positive, said study author Dr. Edith Perez at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Up to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers are HER2-positive, according to background information in the study. Too much human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) helps breast cancer cells grow. Herceptin works by targeting HER2 proteins to stop cancer cell growth.

“The study is published online Oct. 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and others, including Genentech, the company that makes Herceptin.”