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Stemmler, H. J.; Stieber, P.; Lässig, D. and Heinemann, Volker (2005): Re-evaluation of HER2 status in metastatic breast cancer and tumor-marker guided therapy with vinorelbine and trastuzumab. In: Onkologie, No. 2: pp. 95-97 [PDF, 65kB]

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Background: HER2 is overexpressed in 20 - 30% of breast cancers. Compared to chemotherapy alone, chemotherapy with trastuzumab improves clinical outcome in patients with HER2- positive metastatic breast cancer ( MBC). In general, HER2 status in a primary lesion predicts the status of metastases, so that biopsy of metastatic lesions appears unnecessary. Case Report: A 39- year old woman was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in November 2000. Using the method and scoring system of the DAKO Hercep Test, the tumor has shown low HER2 expression ( DAKO score 1+). After failure of several chemotherapy regimens for metastatic disease ( liver, skeletal), the patient underwent CT- guided needle biopsy of the liver which showed HER2 positive adenocarcinoma ( DAKO score 3+). In consequence, the patient was treated with vinorelbine ( 30 mg/ m(2) d1,8,15 q4w) and trastuzumab ( 4 mg/ kg loading dose, 2 mg/ kg weekly). During a treatment period of 4 months imaging results as well as tumor marker kinetics indicated an excellent response with sustained decrease of tumor markers. A retrospective analysis of the HER2 shed antigen in metastatic stage revealed excessively increased serum levels and supports HER2 overexpression observed in liver metastasis. The kinetics of the HER2 shed antigen during therapy for metastatic disease were found to be in phase with the kinetics of CEA and CA15- 3. Conclusion: This case report demonstrates that re- evaluation of the HER2 status may be helpful in single patients not sufficiently responding to treatment of metastatic disease. Determination of HER2 overexpression may be facilitated by a determination of the HER2 shed antigen level in peripheral blood.

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