One year on Herceptin is the gold standard

New research shows that a 12-month treatment programme of Herceptin is still the best option for women with HER2-positive breast cancer, according to the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC).
The latest data from two large clinical trials investigating Herceptin (trastuzumab) was presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Vienna, Austria overnight.
The French PHARE trial compared a six-month Herceptin treatment programme with 12 months, while the HERA trial compared 12 months with 24 months.
The results of the PHARE trial were inconclusive, but its principal researcher, Professor Xavier Pivot said “there is a trend in favour of 12 months treatment for the overall population”.
The HERA trial showed that one year on Herceptin is as good as two years and confirmed that one year on the medicine provided significant benefits for remaining cancer free and surviving.
BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says in light of the latest data all eligible New Zealand women should be given Herceptin for a year.
“This data confirms that the gold standard of treatment for women with early HER2-positive breast cancer is one year on Herceptin.  Sadly, in New Zealand there is still a significant number of women being offered only nine-weeks treatment.
“We urge New Zealand cancer clinicians to carefully examine this data and to deliver their treatment programmes in accordance with the evidence – 12 months treatment with Herceptin is best.”
The PHARE trial researchers will conduct further work on subsets of women with HER2-positive breast cancer to see whether a six month treatment programme might be suitable for some women.
Ms Burgess says BCAC looks forward to seeing these results.
“If further down the track, the evidence clearly demonstrates that six-months treatment delivers the same survival benefits as a year’s treatment for some women then that’s something that can be acted upon.  But it’s vital that decisions about treatment duration are based on sound and robust scientific evidence,” Ms Burgess says.
For more information about the data presented from the PHARE and HERA trials, please see the ESMO website.

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