Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, the University of Manchester and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust have found out an interesting revelation on breast cancer. Their exhaustive research on a group of women suffering from malignant breast tumors revealed that a combination of two drugs- the lapatinib and trastuzumab (Herceptin) can efficiently shrink tumors in HER2 cancer affected women within 11 days. The result is pretty convincing and has drawn attention of the world.
The EPHOS B trial was applied on 257 women suffering from HER2-positive breast cancer. Then women were in the phase between initial diagnosis and the surgery for removal of tumors. The 257 women were divided into three groups. They were treated for 11 days before their surgery. At first, the medicines were given to the patients in a random manner. While some were given the lapatinib, some were given trastuzumab, some were given a combination of both and others were given no treatment at all.
Half way between the trial session, the patients receiving the combination of both drugs started showing response more promptly. It was observed that seventeen per cent of the women receiving both drugs had only minimal residual disease. It is defined as an invasive tumor which is usually smaller than 5mm in size. 11% had a pathological complete response which implies that no biological sign of invasive tumor could be found in the breast.
Trial Co-leader Professor Judith Bliss, Director of the Cancer Research UK-funded Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit at the ICR, said:
Our trial set out to try to use the window between diagnosis and surgery to find clues that combined treatment with trastuzumab and lapatinib was having a biological effect on HER2 positive tumours. So it was unexpected to see quite such dramatic responses to the trastuzumab and lapatinib within 11 days.
Our results are a strong foundation on which to build further trials of combination anti-HER2 therapies prior to surgery – which could reduce the number of women who require subsequent chemotherapy, which is also very effective but can lead to long-term side-effects.