One year of Herceptin optimal for HER2-positive breast cancer

On one of the final days of SABCS there was some interesting updates to Herceptin. Seven years ago, the original data on Herceptin in early-stage breast cancer was presented. This year, there was an interesting update to the U.S. trial that was presented. That confirmed that Herceptin is saving lives. We now have fewer deaths and fewer recurrences because of this drug. With longer follow-up, the certainty we have with the data is even greater.Two studies looked at the duration of Herceptin. One study looked at giving Herceptin for two years and another study looked at giving it for less time, for six months. That trial found that results were worse, especially for patients given Herceptin after chemotherapy, which we usually don't do in the U.S. Here in the states, the drugs usually overlap. In that setting, when Herceptin is given for six months, the results were borderline statistically inferior, meaning one year still appears to be a little better than six months. But that's still important because 10 to 15 percent may have to discontinue Herceptin early because of side effects. These results make that decision a little easier knowing that six months of Herceptin still provides some benefit.