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Herceptin: Long-Term Benefits for Breast Cancer

Study Shows Drug May Still Help Breast Cancer Patients Years After Ending Treatment

Questions Remain About Treatment Timing continued...

Several studies, including one led by Perez, have suggested that concurrent treatment may be most effective. But serious and even life-threatening heart problems have been reported in patients who took the drug with the chemotherapy drug anthracycline.

In an editorial published with the HERA data, a group of European researchers questioned the safety of giving the two drugs together.

In the U.S., Herceptin is usually given during chemotherapy but after anthracycline has been discontinued, Perez says.

She says heart problems have been very rare with this approach and were reversible when they did occur in the vast majority of cases.

“Questions remain about how to use [Herceptin],” she says. “But in terms of the management of patients with breast cancer, this is the most important drug we have seen in the last 15 years in term of changing outcomes.”

Herceptin is marketed by Genentech, which contributed funding for the HERA trial.

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