QUESTION One of my patients has been diagnosed with breast cancer and started treatment with trastuzumab. She has recently discovered that she is pregnant and wishes to continue the pregnancy. What are the consequences of trastuzumab treatment during pregnancy and can she continue her pregnancy?
ANSWER Human data regarding the safety of trastuzumab during pregnancy are scarce. Only 3 case reports could be located in the published literature. Anhydramnios was observed in a case where the exposure to trastuzumab occurred during the second trimester, which reversed after discontinuation of the drug without any apparent consequences to the baby. Evidence is insufficient to provide any recommendations, but in light of the case reports, pregnancies exposed to trastuzumab during the second trimester should be closely followed with particular attention to amniotic fluid volume.
This case report and short review discusses how long trastuzumab should be continued in metastatic breast cancer, the safety issues in case of pregnancy and the risk of relapse with trastuzumab cessation.
We present the case of a 34-year-old Caucasian woman with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive metastatic breast cancer in the liver who achieved prolonged complete remission within six months of receiving trastuzumab (Herceptin) in combination with vinorelbine and gemcitabine. The patient remains in complete remission seven years later and continues to receive trastuzumab as maintenance therapy.
Trastuzumab-based therapies have greatly improved the survival rates of patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2- positive metastatic breast cancer. Despite such improvements, the safety of trastuzumab administration during pregnancy is yet to be defined.
Trastuzumab improves survival in the adjuvant treatment of HER-positive breast cancer, although combined therapy with anthracycline-based regimens has been associated with cardiac toxicity. We wanted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a new nonanthracycline regimen with trastuzumab.
We randomly assigned 3222 women with HER2-positive early-stage breast cancer to receive doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by docetaxel every 3 weeks (AC-T), the same regimen plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab (AC-T plus trastuzumab), or docetaxel and carboplatin plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab (TCH). The primary study end point was disease-free survival. Secondary end points were overall survival and safety.
At a median follow-up of 65 months, 656 events triggered this protocol-specified analysis. The estimated disease-free survival rates at 5 years were 75% among patients receiving AC-T, 84% among those receiving AC-T plus trastuzumab, and 81% among those receiving TCH. Estimated rates of overall survival were 87%, 92%, and 91%, respectively. No significant differences in efficacy (disease-free or overall survival) were found between the two trastuzumab regimens, whereas both were superior to AC-T. The rates of congestive heart failure and cardiac dysfunction were significantly higher in the group receiving AC-T plus trastuzumab than in the TCH group (P<0.001). Eight cases of acute leukemia were reported: seven in the groups receiving the anthracycline-based regimens and one in the TCH group subsequent to receiving an anthracycline outside the study.
The addition of 1 year of adjuvant trastuzumab significantly improved disease-free and overall survival among women with HER2-positive breast cancer. The risk–benefit ratio favored the nonanthracycline TCH regimen over AC-T plus trastuzumab, given its similar efficacy, fewer acute toxic effects, and lower risks of cardiotoxicity and leukemia. (Funded by Sanofi-Aventis and Genentech; BCIRG-006 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00021255.)
Pneumonitis is a rare but serious complication associated with paclitaxel and/or trastuzumab treatment. We report a 51-year-old female patient with locally advanced breast cancer who presented with shortness of breath, fever, dry cough and pulmonary infiltrates. She had been treated without complications for 10 weeks with paclitaxel (Taxol®) and trastuzumab (Herceptin®) as neoadjuvant therapy, with complete clinical and pathological response. Infections and cardiomyopathy were excluded as causes of her symptoms. Bronchoscopy and biopsy were performed and a diagnosis of drug-induced interstitial pneumonitis was made. After treatment with steroids, the patient showed a significant response in less than 24 h; she was discharged home without the need for oxygen less than 48 h after therapy initiation. Although no causative association could be found between either trastuzumab or paclitaxel and this patient's pulmonary syndrome, the potential for such toxicity should be considered, especially as paclitaxel/trastuzumab is a vey common combination therapy for breast cancer.
Paclitaxel; Trastuzumab; Interstitial pneumonitis; Drug-induced infiltrative lung disease; Breast cancer
One of the proposed mechanisms of trastuzumab-induced regression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (HER2+) tumours includes facilitation of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) mediates ADCC. We presented our pilot study of adding GM-CSF to trastuzumab in patients with trastuzumab-resistant HER2+ metastatic breast cancer.
Patients with HER2+ metastatic breast cancer that progressed after trastuzumab +/− chemotherapy were continued on trastuzumab 2 mg kg–1 intravenous weekly and GM-CSF 250 μg m–2 subcutaneous daily. Patients were assessed for response every 8 weeks. Treatment was continued until disease progression or intolerable toxicity.
Seventeen patients were evaluable (median age 48 years, range 27–75 years). The median number of metastatic sites was 2 (range 1–3); the most common site was the liver (n=10). The median number of prior regimens for metastatic disease was 2 (range 1–5). No objective disease response was observed, but five patients (29%) had stable disease for a median duration of 15.8 (range 10–53.9) weeks. The most common adverse event was rash at the injection site. No grade 4 or irreversible adverse event was seen.
The addition of GM-CSF to trastuzumab alone had a modest clinical benefit and acceptable safety profile in heavily pretreated patients with trastuzumab-resistant HER2+ metastatic breast cancer.
granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; HER2; metastatic breast cancer; trastuzumab
To facilitate crosstrial comparisons and the understanding of resistance mechanisms, unifying definitions of trastuzumab resistance and trastuzumab refractoriness are provided. Mechanisms of resistance are reviewed.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2+ breast cancer is a distinct molecular and clinical entity, the prognosis of which is improved by trastuzumab. However, primary resistance to trastuzumab is observed in >50% of patients with HER-2+ advanced breast cancer, and the majority of patients who initially respond to treatment eventually develop disease progression. To facilitate crosstrial comparisons and the understanding of resistance mechanisms, we propose a unifying definition of trastuzumab resistance as progression at first radiological reassessment at 8–12 weeks or within 3 months after first-line trastuzumab in the metastatic setting or new recurrences diagnosed during or within 12 months after adjuvant trastuzumab. In contrast, we define trastuzumab-refractory breast cancer as disease progression after two or more lines of trastuzumab-containing regimens that initially achieved disease response or stabilization at first radiological assessment. We review mechanisms of trastuzumab resistance mediated by p95HER-2 overexpression, phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway activation, and signaling pathway activation driven by HER-3, epidermal growth factor receptor, and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. We distinguish in vitro from in vivo evidence, highlighting that most data describing trastuzumab resistance are derived from preclinical studies or small retrospective patient cohorts, and discuss targeted therapeutic approaches to overcome resistance. Prospective analysis through clinical trials with robust tissue collection procedures, prior to and following acquisition of resistance, integrated with next-generation tumor genome sequencing technologies, is identified as a priority area for development. The identification of predictive biomarkers is of paramount importance to optimize health economic costs and enhance stratification of anti-HER-2 targeted therapies.
Breast cancer; ErbB-2; mTOR; PI3 kinase; AKT; Trastuzumab
Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss or activating mutations of phosphoinositol-3 (PI3) kinase (PIK3CA) may be associated with trastuzumab resistance. Trastuzumab, the humanized human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) monoclonal antibody, and lapatinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor/HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, are both established treatments for HER2-overexpressing breast cancers. Understanding of the cellular response to HER2-targeted therapies is needed to tailor treatments and to identify patients less likely to benefit.
We evaluated the effect of trastuzumab or lapatinib in three HER2-overexpressing cell lines. We confirmed the in vitro observations in two neoadjuvant clinical trials in patients with HER2 overexpression; 35 patients received trastuzumab as a single agent for the first 3 weeks, then docetaxel every 3 weeks for 12 weeks (trastuzumab regimen), whereas 49 patients received lapatinib as a single agent for 6 weeks, followed by trastuzumab/docetaxel for 12 weeks before primary surgery (lapatinib regimen). Apoptosis, Ki67, p-MAPK, p-AKT, and PTEN were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Genomic DNA was sequenced for PIK3CA mutations.
Under low PTEN conditions, in vitro data indicate that lapatinib alone and in combination with trastuzumab was effective in decreasing p-MAPK and p-AKT levels, whereas trastuzumab was ineffective. In the clinical trials, we confirmed that low PTEN or activating mutation in PIK3CA conferred resistance to the trastuzumab regimen (P = .015), whereas low PTEN tumors were associated with a high pathologic complete response rate (P = .007).
Activation of PI3 kinase pathway is associated with trastuzumab resistance, whereas low PTEN predicted for response to lapatinib. These observations support clinical trials with the combination of both agents.
The 3-weekly combination of trastuzumab and paclitaxel has been approved for the treatment of advanced breast cancer based on a large pivotal study. However, mono and combination chemotherapy trials suggest that weekly paclitaxel has a better therapeutic index, especially in the palliative setting. The present trial examined the efficacy and safety of weekly paclitaxel over a limited duration combined with continued trastuzumab in HER2+ patients.
Patients with histologically confirmed metastatic breast cancer overexpressing HER2 were eligible if pretreated with anthracycline in either the adjuvant or palliative setting. Treatment consisted of weekly trastuzumab (2 mg/kg/week for up to one year after a loading dose of 4 mg/kg in week 1) and paclitaxel (90 mg/m², administered in weeks 1–6 and 8–13).
Twenty-seven German centers enrolled 121 patients. The median number of metastatic sites was two (range 1–5); 38% of patients had received chemotherapy for advanced disease. After a median 42 weeks of trastuzumab treatment, limited by disease progression in roughly half the patients, a best objective response rate (complete response + partial response) of 76% was achieved, including complete remissions in 29%. 74% of patients lived without tumor progression at six months. Median progression-free and overall survival were 9.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 8.1–11.3) and 22 months (95% CI: 17–46). After alopecia, Common Toxicity Criteria grade ≥2 toxicity was predominantly hematological (leukopenia [31%] and anemia [41%]); however, thrombocytopenia occurred in only 5%. Neurotoxicity was remarkably low. Two cardiac events (grades 2 and 3) were presumed treatment-related.
Weekly paclitaxel plus trastuzumab allows an increased dose density and offers an attractive and effective alternative to the conventional schedule. Limiting the duration of cytotoxic therapy to 3 months seems to be an option to reduce neurotoxicity without impairing long-term outcome.
White blood cells are not traditionally considered to be normally present in amniotic fluid. This study was conducted after the observation that a patient with preterm labor and intact membranes had eosinophils as a predominant cell in the amniotic fluid, and had an episode of asthma during the index pregnancy. The goal of this study was to determine whether women presenting with preterm labor with eosinophils in the amniotic fluid had a different outcome than those without eosinophils as the predominant white blood cell in the amniotic cavity.
This retrospective case-control study included women who presented with preterm labor and intact membranes between 24 and 34 weeks of gestation. Patients underwent an amniocentesis shortly after admission for the assessment of the microbiologic status of the amniotic cavity and/or fetal lung maturity. Amniotic fluid was cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria as well as genital mycoplasmas. Cytologic studies included amniotic fluid white blood cell count and differential, which was performed on cytocentrifuged specimens. Patients with microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity and/or a white blood cell count >20 cells/mm3 were excluded from the study. Cases were defined as women in whom the differential contained >20% of eosinophils. Controls were selected among women with an amniotic fluid eosinophil count ≤20% and matched for gestational age at amniocentesis. The analysis was conducted with non-parametric statistics.
The study population consisted of 10 cases and 50 controls. Gestational age and cervical dilatation at admission were similar in both groups. Cases had a lower gestational age at delivery than controls [34.6 weeks, inter-quartile range (IQR) 32–37.3 weeks vs. 38.0 weeks, IQR 35–40 weeks, respectively; p=0.018]. The prevalence of preterm delivery ≤35 weeks was higher among patients who had >20% eosinophils than in the control group [50% (5/10) vs. 18% (9/50), respectively; p=0.029]. Similar results were observed for delivery at <37 weeks [Cases: 70% (7/10) vs. Controls: 36% (18/50); p=0.046].
Women with preterm labor and intact membranes who have a large proportion of eosinophils in the amniotic fluid are at an increased risk for spontaneous preterm delivery. These patients may have had an episode of preterm labor related to a type I hypersensitivity reaction.
Premature birth; preterm birth; prematurity; premature labor; mast cells; amniotic fluid cells; amniotic fluid white blood cells; allergy; allergy-induced preterm labor; atopy; pregnancy; type I hypersensitivity reaction; parturition; labor; eosinophil granule proteins
Gamma-glutamyl transferase activity was measured in fetal serum, maternal serum, and amniotic fluid in 173 pregnancies from 15 to 40 weeks' gestation. Fetal serum was obtained in the second trimester by fetoscopy and in the third trimester by umbilical cord puncture at caesarian section or vaginal delivery. Enzyme activities in maternal blood (10 IU/1, SD 2) and fetal blood (88 IU/1, SD 20) remained relatively constant throughout gestation, whereas in the amniotic fluid there was a significant decrease at term from the value in the second trimester (p less than 0.001). Electrophoretic separation of the enzyme showed one isoenzyme in the fetal blood and at least two in the amniotic fluid. The fetal isoenzyme had the same mobility as the major isoenzyme in the amniotic fluid.
This study aimed to determine if fetal bacteraemia and amniotic fluid infection at the time of membrane rupture reduces the interval between membrane rupture and the onset of labour in pregnancies complicated by preterm prelabour amniorrhexis. Sixty nine pregnancies with preterm prelabour amniorrhexis at 12-36 weeks' gestation that were managed expectantly had spontaneous onset of labour. In all cases cordocentesis and amniocentesis were performed and fetal blood and amniotic fluid were cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. In the group with negative fetal blood and amniotic fluid cultures (group 1) the median interval from amniorrhexis to delivery was 41 days (range 1-161) and there was an inverse correlation between gestational age at amniorrhexis and delivery interval. In the group with negative fetal blood but positive amniotic fluid cultures (group 2) the median amniorrhexis to delivery interval was nine days (range 1-37), and in the group with positive fetal blood cultures (group 3) the interval was two days (range 1-5). These findings suggest that pregnancies complicated by preterm prelabour amniorrhexis and fetal bacteraemia undergo spontaneous labour within five days of membrane rupture, and if labour does not occur then infection is unlikely.
Although concerns of radiation sensitization have been raised with concurrent
trastuzumab (Herceptin) administration, there has been no published case of radiation recall reaction associated with trastuzumab. This case describes a clinical presentation consistent with a radiation recall reaction following administration of adjuvant trastuzumab after neoadjuvant FEC-D chemotherapy and locoregional radiotherapy for
HER2-positive, locally advanced breast cancer in a premenopausal woman. Although the mechanism and etiology of radiation recall dermatitis remain unclear, this case raises further hypotheses regarding a possible drug dose-dependence and possible predisposing risk factor for the development of radiation recall reactions.
This study evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) immune cell response during neoadjuvant primary systemic therapy (PST) with trastuzumab in patients with HER2-positive primary breast cancer. In all, 23 patients with IHC 3+ primary breast cancer were treated with trastuzumab plus docetaxel. Pathological complete and partial responses were documented for nine (39%) and 14 (61%) patients, respectively. Case-matched controls comprised patients treated with docetaxel-based PST without trastuzumab (D; n=23) or PST without docetaxel or trastuzumab (non-taxane, non-trastuzumab, NT–NT; n=23). All surgical specimens were blind-analysed by two independent pathologists, with immunohistochemical evaluation of B and T lymphocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells and natural killer (NK) cells. Potential cytolytic cells were stained for Granzyme B and TiA1. HER2 expression was also evaluated in residual tumour cells. Trastuzumab treatment was associated with significantly increased numbers of tumour-associated NK cells and increased lymphocyte expression of Granzyme B and TiA1 compared with controls. This study supports an in vivo role for immune (particularly NK cell) responses in the mechanism of trastuzumab action in breast cancer. These results suggest that trastuzumab plus taxanes lead to enhanced NK cell activity, which may partially account for the synergistic activity of trastuzumab and docetaxel in breast cancer.
primary systemic therapy; trastuzumab; ADCC; MoA
Women receiving neoadjuvant systemic therapy for primary operable or inoperable breast cancer can potentially benefit in a number of ways, but the main advantage, which has been consistently demonstrated, is improved tumour resectability. Given the improvement in outcomes with the adjuvant use of trastuzumab in patients with early-stage breast cancer positive for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (her2), questions have been raised about the use of trastuzumab in the neoadjuvant setting. The present paper reviews the currently available data and outlines suggestions from a panel of Canadian oncologists about the use of trastuzumab and other her2-targeted agents in the neoadjuvant setting.
The panel focussed on
the use of trastuzumab and other her2-targeted agents as neoadjuvant therapy in primary operable, locally advanced, and inflammatory breast cancer; andpossible choices of chemotherapeutic regimens with trastuzumab.
The suggestions described here will continue to evolve as data from current and future trials with trastuzumab and other her2-targeted agents emerge.
Neoadjuvant; breast cancer; her2-targeted therapy; trastuzumab
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concanavallin-A-affinity molecular variant patterns were determined in amniotic fluid samples from 10 pregnancies complicated by anencephaly (6), spina bifida (1), Turner's syndrome (1), osteogenesis imperfecta congenita (1), and fetal death (1) and 20 normal pregnancies between 14.6 and 25.5 weeks of gestation. With the exception of one anencephalic pregnancy, the AFP concentrations in samples from women with a fetal abnormality were more than 5 SD above normal for gestational age. In every case, however, the proportion of total amniotic fluid AFP that was not reactive with concanavallin A was significantly smaller in the presence of a fetal abnormality (mean 2%) than when the fetus was normal (mean 20%). The results suggest that measuring the amount of concanavallin-A-non-reactive amniotic fluid AFP will be a valuable test for diagnosing fetal abnormality, especially when an increase in total amniotic fluid AFP concentration is equivocal or gestational age is uncertain.
We report the case of a 65-year-old woman, diagnosed with a breast cancer human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) previously negative, who developed leptomeningeal carcinomatosis and was treated with intrathecal (IT) trastuzumab (TST). After five doses of IT trastuzumab, at escalading doses, once weekly, the patient's neurological status stabilised, and that result was maintained for two months. There is evidence in the literature that breast cancer receptor status may change over time, and when it occurs, it may modify the therapeutical approach. We reviewed the pertinent literature and concluded that IT trastuzumab might be a promising treatment for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer leptomeningeal carcinomatosis.
After two studies reporting response rates higher than 70% in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer with weekly trastuzumab and vinorelbine, we planned a phase 2 study to test activity of the same combination, with trastuzumab given every 3 weeks.
Patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (3+ at immunohistochemistry or positive at fluorescence in situ hybridization), PS ≤2, normal left-ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and no more than one chemotherapy line for metastatic disease were eligible. Vinorelbine (30 mg/m2) was given on days 1&8 every 21 and trastuzumab (8 mg/kg day 1, then 6 mg/kg) every 21 days). A single-stage phase 2 design, with p0 = 0.45, p1 = 0.65, type I and II error = 0.10, was applied; 22 objective responses were required in 39 patients.
From Nov 2002 to May 2005, 50 patients were enrolled, with a median age of 54 years (range 31–81). Among 40 patients eligible for response assessment, there were 7 complete and 13 partial responses (overall response rate 50%; 95% exact CI 33.8–66.2); 11 patients had disease stabilization, lasting more than 6 months in 10 cases. Response rate did not vary according to patients and tumor characteristics, type and amount of previous chemotherapy. Within the whole series, median progression-free survival was 9.6 months (95% CI 7.3–12.3), median overall survival 22.7 months (95% CI 19.5-NA). Fifteen patients (30%) developed brain metastases at a median time of 12 months (range 1–25). There was one toxic death due to renal failure in a patient receiving concomitant pamidronate. Twenty-three patients (46%) had grade 3–4 neutropenia, 2 (4%) grade 3 anemia, 4 (8%) febrile neutropenia. Two patients stopped treatment because of grade 2 decline of LVEF and one patient because of grade 2 liver toxicity concomitant with a grade 1 decline of LVEF. One patient stopped trastuzumab after 50 cycles because of grade 1 decline of LVEF.
Although lower than in initial studies, activity of 3-weekly trastuzumab plus vinorelbine fell within the range of results reported with weekly schedules. Toxicity was prevalently manageable. This combination is safe and active for metastatic breast cancer patients who received adjuvant taxanes with anthracyclines.
A technique for fetal blood-sampling in the second trimester of pregnancy (between 16 and 22 weeks' gestation) combining fetoscopy with real-time ultrasound was used in 48 attempts at fetal blood-sampling. Specimens containing fetal red cells with or without amniotic fluid or maternal blood, and adequate for diagnosing haemoglobinopathies, were obtained in 45 of the 48 fetoscopies. Sampling was successful in all 18 patients with a posterior placenta, and in 27 of the 30 with an anterior placenta. In 22 of the last 27 consecutive fetoscopies pure fetal blood was taken; the placenta was anterior in 16 and posterior in six. Out of 17 cases sampled between 18 and 22 weeks' gestation pure fetal blood was obtained in 16. The volume of the samples varied from 50 to 500 microliter. The ability to obtain pure fetal blood consistently even when the placenta is anterior will increase knowledge of fetal physiology and the scope of prenatal diagnosis.
Physical examination (PE), mammography (MG), breast MRI, FDG-PET and pathologic evaluation are used to assess primary breast cancer. Their accuracy has not been well studied in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Accuracies of each modality in tumor and nodal assessment in patients with T3/4 tumors receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy were compared.
45 patients of a prospective clinical trial studying T3-T4M0 tumors were included. Patients received neoadjuvant chemotherapy: docetaxel/carboplatin with or without trastuzumab before and/or after surgery (depending on HER-2/neu status and randomization). Tumor measurements by PE, MG, and MRI and nodal status by PE and PET were obtained before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Concordance among different clinical measurements was assessed and compared with the tumor and nodal staging by pathology. Spearman corr (r) and root mean square error (RMSE) were used to measure the accuracy of measurements among all modalities and between modalities and pathological tumor size.
Comparing to the tumor size measured by PE, MRI was more accurate than MG at baseline (r 0.559, RMSE 35.4% vs. r 0.046, RMSE 66.1%). After neoadjuvant chemotherapy, PE correlated better with pathology than MG or MRI (r 0.655, RMSE 88.6% vs. r 0.146, RMSE 147.1% and r 0.364, RMSE 92.6%). Axillary nodal assessment after neoadjuvant chemotherapy showed high specificity but low sensitivity by PET and PE.
Findings suggested that MRI was a more accurate imaging study at baseline for T3/T4 tumor and PE correlated best with pathology finding. PET and PE both correctly predicted positive axillary nodes but not negative nodes.
AIMS—To determine whether epidermal growth factor (EGF) or the related transforming growth factor α (TGFα) may have a role in the developing human stomach; to substantiate the presence of EGF in human liquor in the non-stressed infant and whether EGF in amniotic fluid is maternally or fetally derived.
METHODS—The temporal expression and localisation of EGF, TGFα, and their receptors during fetal and neonatal life were examined in 20 fetal and five infant stomachs. Simultaneously, samples of amniotic fluid and fetal urine from 10 newborn infants were collected and assayed for EGF by radioimmunoassay.
RESULTS—EGF immunoreactivity was not noted in any of the specimens examined. In contrast, TGFα immunoreactivity was shown in mucous cells from 18 weeks of gestation onwards. EGF receptor immunoreactivity was seen on superficial mucous cells in gastric mucosa from 18 weeks of gestation onwards. The median concentration of EGF was 30 and 8.5 pg/ml in amniotic fluid and fetal urine, respectively, suggesting that EGF is not produced by the fetus.
CONCLUSIONS—This study adds weight to the hypothesis that swallowed EGF, probably produced by the amniotic membranes, and locally produced TGFα, may have a role in the growth and maturation of the human stomach.
Keywords: epidermal growth factor; transforming growth factor α; EGF receptors; stomach
Three hundred and fifty pregnancies were monitored by transabdominal amniocentesis in the fourteenth to sixteenth week of gestation followed by karyotyping or biochemica assays of cultured amniotic fluid cells and analysis of alpha-fetoprotein in the amniotic fluid supernatant. The pregnancy was interrupted in 36 cases (10%) either becasue of a fetal abnormality or the presence of a male fetus in pregnancies at risk for an X-linked disease. Four chromosomal aberrations were found in 87 pregnancies tested because of advanced maternal age. In 101 pregnancies with a recurrence risk of Down's syndrome, 2 fetuses with an abnormal karyotype were detected. In 11 cases, in which 1 parent was a carrier of a balanced translocation, 2 unbalanced fetal karyotypes were found. Fetal chromosome studies in 43 pregancies at risk for an X-linked disease indicated the presence of a male fetus in 21 cases. Prenatal diagnosis of 11 different metabolic diseases was performed in a total of 34 cases. Microchemical techniques were used to allow completion of the diagnosis of seven different enzyme deficiencies within 9 to 22 days after amniocentesis. Alpha-fetoprotein assay in the amniotic fluid supernatant of 47 pregnancies at risk for an open neural tube defect resulted in the detection of 3 anencephalic fetuses during the second half of pregnancy. The safety and reliability of amniocentesis and the possible effects on the outcome of pregnancy are evaluated. Prenatal diagnosis offers a promising alternative for parents who are at risk of having a child with a genetic disease which can be detected in amniotic fluid or in cultured amniotic fluid cells.
NCCTG (North Central Cancer Treatment Group) N9831 is the only randomized phase III trial evaluating trastuzumab added sequentially or used concurrently with chemotherapy in resected stages I to III invasive human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–positive breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
Patients received doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide every 3 weeks for four cycles, followed by paclitaxel weekly for 12 weeks (arm A), paclitaxel plus sequential trastuzumab weekly for 52 weeks (arm B), or paclitaxel plus concurrent trastuzumab for 12 weeks followed by trastuzumab for 40 weeks (arm C). The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS).
Comparison of arm A (n = 1,087) and arm B (n = 1,097), with 6-year median follow-up and 390 events, revealed 5-year DFS rates of 71.8% and 80.1%, respectively. DFS was significantly increased with trastuzumab added sequentially to paclitaxel (log-rank P < .001; arm B/arm A hazard ratio [HR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.85). Comparison of arm B (n = 954) and arm C (n = 949), with 6-year median follow-up and 313 events, revealed 5-year DFS rates of 80.1% and 84.4%, respectively. There was an increase in DFS with concurrent trastuzumab and paclitaxel relative to sequential administration (arm C/arm B HR, 0.77; 99.9% CI, 0.53 to 1.11), but the P value (.02) did not cross the prespecified O'Brien-Fleming boundary (.00116) for the interim analysis.
DFS was significantly improved with 52 weeks of trastuzumab added to adjuvant chemotherapy. On the basis of a positive risk-benefit ratio, we recommend that trastuzumab be incorporated into a concurrent regimen with taxane chemotherapy as an important standard-of-care treatment alternative to a sequential regimen.
Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody directed against the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2 is amplified or overexpressed in about 15% of breast cancers and is associated with aggressive disease. Clinical benefits of trastuzumab have been established in the treatment of both early and metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. Patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer have to be treated with trastuzumab for one year in combination with and sequentially after chemotherapy. This requires that trastuzumab is intravenously infused over 30–90 minutes every 3 weeks for one year which is time-consuming for both the patient and the health care provider. Consequently, a subcutaneous formulation of trastuzumab using a recombinant human hyaluronidase has been developed. Recombinant human hyaluronidase transiently increases absorption and dispersion in the subcutaneous space of large therapeutic proteins, such as monoclonal antibodies, allowing subcutaneous administration of trastuzumab in about 5 minutes. Thus, subcutaneous trastuzumab could represent a new treatment option that could have benefit to both the patient and the health care system. This review focuses on the development of the subcutaneous trastuzumab formulation and analyzes clinical trials assessing the pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of this new formulation.
trastuzumab; hyaluronidase; human epidermal growth factor receptor 2; breast cancer
More women are living with and surviving breast cancer, because of improvements in breast cancer care. Trastuzumab (Herceptin®▾) has significantly improved outcomes for women with HER2-positive tumours. Concerns about the cardiac effects of trastuzumab (which fundamentally differ from the permanent myocyte loss associated with anthracyclines) led to the development of cardiac guidelines for adjuvant trials, which are used to monitor patient safety in clinical practice. Clinical experience has shown that the trial protocols are not truly applicable to the breast cancer population as a whole, and exclude some women from receiving trastuzumab, even though they might benefit from treatment without long-term adverse cardiac sequelae. Consequently, five oncologists who recruited patients to trastuzumab trials, some cardiologists with whom they work, and a cardiovascular lead general practitioner reviewed the current cardiac guidelines in the light of recent safety data and their experience with adjuvant trastuzumab. The group devised recommendations that promote proactive pharmacological management of cardiac function in trastuzumab-treated patients, and that apply to all patients who are likely to receive standard cytotoxic chemotherapy. Key recommendations include: a monitoring schedule that assesses baseline and on-treatment cardiac function and potentially reduces the overall number of assessments required; intervention strategies with cardiovascular medication to improve cardiac status before, during, and after treatment; simplified rules for starting, interrupting and discontinuing trastuzumab; and a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care.
trastuzumab; cardiac; monitoring; UK; recommendations
Approximately 20–30% of breast cancers show increased expression of the HER2 receptor tyrosine kinase. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a clinically approved anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody. Many patients with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer respond to trastuzumab; however, a subset display primary drug resistance. In addition, many patients who initially respond to trastuzumab ultimately develop disease progression. Multiple molecular mechanisms contributing to trastuzumab resistance have been proposed in the literature. These mechanisms include cross-signaling from related HER/erbB receptors and compensatory signaling from receptors outside of the HER/erbB family, including receptors for insulin-like growth factor-I, vascular endothelial growth factor, and transforming growth factor beta. The major downstream signaling pathway activated by HER2 cross-talk is PI3K/mTOR, and a potential integrator of receptor crosstalk is Src-focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling. PI3K, Src, and FAK have independently been implicated in trastuzumab resistance. In this review, we will discuss pharmacological inhibition of HER2 cross-talk as a strategy to treat trastuzumab-refractory HER2-overexpresssing breast cancer.
breast cancer; erbB2; Her2; Herceptin; resistance; Trastuzumab; cross-talk; lapatinib; pertuzumab; IGF-IR; VEGF; TGF beta; FAK