Only a few years ago, being diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer meant surviving for no more than 20 months. Fortunately, new research such as that undertaken in the Cleopatra Study, has changed the outlook for one of the most virulent and deadly types of breast cancer which it is now one of the cancers with a more encouraging prognosis for the patient.
Today, a patient diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer in which the cancer cells contain the HER2 protein has up to a 90 percent chance of a cure as long as the cancer has not spread to other organs.
Best Doctors’ experts confirm this positive outlook
Dr Luis Costa, Director of Oncology at the Santa Maria Hospital, Lisbon (Portugal), Professor of Medicine and Biology of Cancer at Lisbon University and member of Best Doctors’ Medical Advisory Board, gives us his thoughts on the Cleopatra Study which focussed on research into using a combination treatment of Trastuzumab (Herceptin), chemotherapy and Pertuzumab (Perjeta) for HER2 positive breast cancer.
Dr Costa states “In around 20 percent of breast cancers, there is an HER2 receptor in the membrane of the cancer cells which can be successfully attacked through the use of monoclonal antibodies such as Herceptin. In these cases, the patient is usually given a combined treatment of chemotherapy and Herceptin. Over the course of time with this treatment, the receptor may change and instead of there being two HER2, an HER2 together with an HER1 or HER3 may appear.
Should this occur, Herceptin’s ability to recognise and attack the cancer is appreciably reduced.
Fortunately, another antibody, Perjeta, when added to the treatment with Herceptin, can prevent the change in the HER2 receptor and, at the same time, prevent the resistance mechanism to the treatment.”
The Cleopatra Study and new hope for survival
According to the results of the Cleopatra Study, the combination of these two antibodies and chemotherapy could give a 15.7-month increase in the median survival rate of patients. In the case of patients with metastasis as a result of breast cancer with the HER2 protein, the median survival rate using the new combined treatment would be 56.5 months.
Best Doctors is proud to be able to have such a great cancer expert as Dr Luis Costa as a member of our team. Dr Costa has extensive experience in researching bone metastasis; has led many clinical trials and regularly contributes notable works to the scientific community in different publications. He is also a regular speaker at conferences on oncology all over the world.