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Taken from CAP Today 1999: 13(11)

Herceptin® and Breast Cancer

Treatment Begins in the Laboratory

On Sept. 25, 1998, the FDA approved the use of a genetically engineered monoclonal antibody for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer.  These patient's tumors overexpressed the HER2/neu protein. This overexpression qualified these women for treatment with trastuzumab, also known as Herceptin. For the first time, women with this devastating disease have an important treatment option. The determination of HER2/neu status starts with the pathologist. Clinical trials are currently underway to determine whether single agent use of the antibody or a combination of the antibody with other traditional chemotherapeutic agents is efficacious. Preliminary studies have indicated that HER2/neu status may provide guidance in chemotherapy choice. HER2/neu positive women may benefit more with doxorubicin containing regimens, unless there is a contraindication. In addition, there may be improved response to several anticancer drugs such as Taxol, Adriamycin, and Cytotoxin.

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