April 29, 2009

Drug for Inflammatory Breast Cancer

An oral medication could help some patients with inflammatory breast cancer.

Aggressive forms of inflammatory breast cancer can be difficult to treat, often unresponsive to chemotherapy, radiation or approved medications. For patients whose disease is resistant to anthracycline or taxane and trastuzumab treatment, options are limited. However, a new study of the oral growth inhibitor, lapatinib, showed promise for patients for which all other treatment options have failed.

Patients were given 1,500 milligrams of lapatinib once daily and were followed for two and a half years. Thirty-nine percent of patients showed a partial response to treatment. After six months, 22 percent of patients' disease was progression-free. However, adverse effects were reported in 92 percent of patients, including shortness of breath, fluid around the lungs and death.

"Lapatinib monotherapy is potentially clinically effective in heavily pretreated patients with inflammatory breast cancer with HER2+ tumors," study authors wrote. "The objective response rate noted...coupled with the median duration of response and median overall survival supports a role for lapatinib in these patients."

SOURCE: Lancet Oncology, 2009