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Ditsch, Nina; Rückert, Sandra; Kümper, Carolin; Lenhard, Miriam; Kahlert, Steffen; Bauerfeind, Ingo; Friese, Klaus; Untch, Michael (2006): Trastuzumab (Herceptin (R)): Monoclonal antibody in the treatment of HER2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer in the metastatic and (neo)adjuvant situation. In: Breast Care, No. 2: pp. 78-84


Trastuzumab (Herceptin (R)) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that specifically targets HER2/neu (human epidermal growth factor receptor-2) breast cancer cells, which are overexpressed in about 25-30% of breast carcinomas. After phase I and II trials, several phase III studies of trastuzumab alone or in combination with various chemotherapies were conducted. Patients with HER2/neu overexpression levels of 3+ determined by immunohistochemical assay or gene amplification (fluorescence in situ hybridization) derive most clinical benefit from trastuzumab. Taking into consideration efficacy and side effect profile, the combination of trastuzumab and paclitaxel showed an improvement of all clinical parameters, including overall survival, for the first time in the history of palliative breast cancer therapy. The application of trastuzumab has meanwhile become an established part of systemic therapy of metastastic breast cancer, and excellent data of its application in the adjuvant setting now exist (NSABP-B31, NCCTG-N9831, HERA), with significantly better relapse-free survival in the treatment arms with trastuzumab. Ongoing trials investigate the role of trastuzumab in the neoadjuvant setting. Trastuzumab is generally well tolerated. Cardiotoxicity is the main concern, thus monitoring of cardiac function is recommended.