Two drug trials sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services have determined that the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) used in combination with chemotherapy can cut the risk of a recurrence of HER-2 breast cancer. The 2 trials included more than 3300 women receiving Herceptin along with standard chemotherapy. The results showed a 52% decrease in the recurrence of breast cancer, compared with chemotherapy treatment alone.
Thirty percent of the estimated 211,240 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United States each year are related to an overabundance of the HER-2 protein on the surface of the cancer cells. These particular tumors have a likelihood of recurring and growing rapidly. National Cancer Institute Director Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, remarked that the findings of these trials are "a major advance for many thousands of women with breast cancer."