Can resistance to trastuzumab be reversed by endocrine therapy? Combination of trastuzumab and letrozole after resistance to sequential trastuzumab and aromatase inhibitor monotherapies in patients with ER-positive, HER-2 positive, advanced breast cancer: a proof-of-concept trial (SAKK 23/03)

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2010

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D. Koeberle et al., « Can resistance to trastuzumab be reversed by endocrine therapy? Combination of trastuzumab and letrozole after resistance to sequential trastuzumab and aromatase inhibitor monotherapies in patients with ER-positive, HER-2 positive, advanced breast cancer: a proof-of-concept trial (SAKK 23/03) », Serveur académique Lausannois, ID : 10670/1.u1x83c


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Introduction: Trastuzumab (T) is a cornerstone in the treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing advanced breast cancer and development of resistance to T is a major therapeutic problem. HER-2 is part of a highly interactive signaling network that may impair efficacy of endocrine therapy. A sequential treatment design was chosen in this trial to ensure complete resistance to single agent therapy before receiving both a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor (AI) and T. Any kind of clinical activity with combined treatment of AI and T after progression of single agent treatments could indicate restoration of sensitivity as a consequence of cross-talking and networking between both pathways. Methods: Key eligibility criteria included postmenopausal patients (pts.) with advanced, measurable, HER-2 positive (assessed by FISH, ratio (≥2)), HR positive disease and progression on prior treatment with a non-steroidal AI, e.g. letrozole or anastrozole, either in an adjuvant or advanced setting. Pts. received standard dose T monotherapy either weekly or three-weekly in step 1 and upon disease progression, continued T in combination with letrozole in step 2. The primary endpoint was clinical benefit response (CBR: CR, PR or SD for at least 24 weeks (+/- 1 week) according to RECIST) in step 2. Results: Thirteen pts. were enrolled in five centers in Switzerland. In step 1, six pts. (46%) achieved CBR. Median time to progression (TTP) was 161 days (Range: 50 - 627). Based on data collected until the end of May 2010, CBR was observed in seven out of the eleven evaluable pts. (64%) in step 2, including one pt. with partial response. Four of the seven pts. within step 2 that achieved CBR also had CBR in step 1. Seven out of eleven pts. have documented tumor progression during step 2 treatment. Median TTP for all eleven pts. was 184 days (range 61 - 471). Mean time on study treatment (TTP in step 1 plus TTP in step 2) for pts. reaching step 2 was 380 days (range 174 - 864). Adverse events were generally mild. Conclusion: Results of this proof-of-principle trial suggest that complete resistance to both AI and T can be overcome in a proportion of pts. by combined treatment of AI and T, as all pts. served as their own control. Our results appear promising for a new treatment strategy which offers a chemotherapy-free and well-tolerated option for at least a subset of the pts. with HR positive, HER-2 positive breast cancer. Further trials will need to corroborate this finding.

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