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Nancy Lin, MD
The drug lapatinib shrank tumors and slowed progression of brain
metastases in some patients with advanced breast cancer, according to
results of a clinical trial being presented by Dana-Farber Cancer
Institute scientists at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Researchers said the drug, also known as Tykerb, should undergo
further testing in combination with other drugs as a treatment for
breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
"Results of this study indicate that lapatinib, when given alone, has
modest but real activity against brain metastases in women who have had
multiple prior treatments for their breast cancer," said Dana-Farber's
Nancy Lin, MD, the study's lead author.
The trial examined the tolerability and efficacy of lapatinib in a
Phase II study that included 241 patients who had been treated with the
drug Herceptin for stage IV HER2-positive breast cancer, and had
developed metastases to the brain. About 30 to 40 percent of women
treated with Herceptin for stage IV breast cancer are diagnosed with
Brain tumors shrank significantly in what was termed a "partial
response" in 15 patients (6 percent). Across all 241 patients, there was
a period averaging 15 weeks before the disease progressed again. About
one-fifth of patients did not experience any worsening of their disease
for 6 months or longer.
Eric Winer, MD, of Dana-Farber, is the study's senior author. Other
authors are from centers in several European countries, and from
Data from all 241 patients was presented at the ASCO meeting.
"Our data provides evidence that lapatinib has activity based on
tumor volume reductions in some patients with progressive HER2-positive
disease of the central nervous system after being treated with Herceptin
and radiation," the researchers said.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org)
is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is
among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States.
It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
(DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National