As science and medicine advances, we move closer to the ultimate goal of personalized, tailored treatment. Recent results from the UK EPHOS-B clinical trial, which studied women with newly-diagnosed, operable, HER2 positive breast cancer, may be bringing us closer that reality.
After only 11 days of treatment with the targeted drugs lapatinib and trastuzumab, about 25% of women on the combination treatment saw their tumours shrink significantly (<5mm) or disappear. Both drugs target HER2, a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells. Approximately 20% of breast cancers are HER2 positive and tend to grow more quickly than HER2 negative cancers. Although this is a small, short-term study, the results are regarded as ‘astonishing’ and ‘game changing’, as these findings could translate to fewer patients requiring chemotherapy. These findings will need to be confirmed in long-term studies, but provide an exciting foundation for the future of targeted breast cancer treatments.