In a nutshell
The authors aimed to determine the risks of developing cardiac or heart problems while being treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin) for breast cancer.
Trastuzumab is a form of endocrine or hormone therapy used to treat patients with human epidermal growth factor 2 positive (HER2+) breast cancer. Since the approval of trastuzumab the survival of patients with HER2+ breast cancers has improved dramatically.
Previous studies show that trastuzumab can increase the risk of heart failure in breast cancer patients by up to 5 times, compared to those who have not received it. To date, however, the cardiac effects of trastuzumab on elderly patients have not been well studied.
Methods & findings
The aim of this study was to determine the risk between the administration of trastuzumab and the development of cardiac problems in breast cancer patients aged 66 or older.
A total of 68,536 breast cancer patients were evaluated, of whom, 86% were diagnosed with stage 1-3 breast cancer and 6% were diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (the cancer has spread to distant organs). 3% of patients were allocated to a course of trastuzumab while the remainder were not.
Overall, it was seen that those receiving trastuzumab had double the risk of developing cardiac problems, such as heart failure. This risk was also higher in patients aged 66-75 than in those aged 75 and older.
This cardiac risk occurred in both early and late stage breast cancer patients.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that trastuzumab doubled the risk of developing cardiac problems, such as heart failure, in patients aged 66-75 who were diagnosed with either early or late stage breast cancer.
The fine print
Risk factors such as smoking or physical exercise were not taken into account.
Previous cardiac issues should be discussed with your doctor if you are thinking of trastuzumab treatment.
Published By :
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Jan 28, 2014
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