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Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This paper studied the safety and effectiveness of treatment with a unique form of paclitaxel (Taxol) and trastuzumab (Herceptin) in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive breast cancer. 

Some background

Chemotherapy is widely used before surgery in breast cancer to reduce the size of the tumour before surgical removal. An example of chemotherapy is paclitaxel; however chemotherapy can be associated with unwanted side effects. Nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel is a unique form of paclitaxel that has less side effects compared to the standard paclitaxel injection

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive breast cancer refers to cancer where the HER2 protein is present. Trastuzumab is effective in treating patients with HER2 positive breast cancer and will often be used alongside chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment in order to reduce the size of the tumor as much as possible before surgery.

Methods & findings

This paper evaluated the use of trastuzumab and paclitaxel in 45 HER2 positive breast cancer patients. Each patient received 4 cycles of fluorouracil (Adrucil), epirubicin (Pharmorubicin) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) chemotherapy. They then received 4 cycles of albumin-bound paclitaxel with trastuzumab.

98% of patients completed all 4 cycles of paclitaxel plus trasutuzumab treatment. Side effects of the blood was the most common reason for delaying or reducing the dose of treatment. 7% of patients had to reduce their paclitaxel plus trastuzumab dose because of fever.

A complete response (no evidence of cancer) occurred in 49% of patients. 36% of patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer had a complete response. 71% of patients with estrogen receptor negative had a pathologic complete response.

11% of patients receiving paclitaxel plus trastuzumab had low levels of white blood cells. 2% of patients receiving paclitaxel plus trastuzumab had low levels of white blood cells with fever. Other side effects of paclitaxel plus trastuzumab treatment were muscle pain and joint pain. 84% of patients receiving paclitaxel plus trastuzumab treatment had sensory peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves, leading to some loss of sensation).

The bottom line

The authors concluded that this treatment combination is effective and safe

The fine print

The authors studied a small number of patients. 

What’s next?

Talk to your doctor about receiving nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel  and trastuzumab .

Published By :

Clinical Breast Cancer

Date :

Dec 24, 2014

Original Title :

Phase II Study of Neoadjuvant Anthracycline-Based Regimens Combined With Nanoparticle Albumin-Bound Paclitaxel and Trastuzumab for Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-Positive Operable Breast Cancer.

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