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HER2-positive Breast Cancers Recur More Often

HER2-positive Breast Cancers Recur More OftenAbout one-in-four breast cancers make too much HER2, a protein that increases tumor growth. HER2-positive breast cancer grows and divides quickly, making it an aggressive disease that is difficult to treat.

Herceptin is a targeted medication specifically designed to treat HER2-positive cells. It works by interrupting the growth of HER2 cancers, while instructing a woman’s own immune system to attack the rogue cells. Current treatment guidelines recommend Herceptin as adjuvant therapy with or without chemotherapy for women with HER-2 positive tumors that are six millimeters or larger. No treatment beyond surgery and radiation is given when HER-2 tumors are smaller than five millimeters. But recent American and Italian studies that show HER2-positive tumors are more likely to recur than HER2-negative breast cancers are giving the medical community reason to rethink these treatment guidelines. The study findings suggest that adjuvant chemotherapy with Herceptin should be considered for early-stage HER2-positive tumors, even if very small.

Herceptin can cause heart problems; if you have HER2-positive breast cancer, talk to your doctor about the benefits and limitations of taking this medication.


December 4, 2009