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      Clinical benefit of fulvestrant monotherapy in the multimodal treatment of hormone receptor and HER2 positive advanced breast cancer: a case series

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          Fulvestrant is a pure estrogen receptor (ER) antagonist approved for the treatment of metastatic ER positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women with disease progression following antiestrogen therapy. The clinical results of fulvestrant demonstrated encouraging activity in tumors in spite of HER2 positivity, but data about its use after progression on anti-HER2 agents are limited. Partial responses and durations of response of 12, 25, and 38 months in three cases with multiple metastases of ER positive and HER2 positive breast cancer were observed; all patients had been treated with 1–4 regimens of an anti-HER2 agent in combination with chemotherapy or an aromatase inhibitor before the initiation of fulvestrant. Fulvestrant is a valuable option with limited toxicity and durable response in metastatic HER2 and ER positive breast cancer after progression on anti-HER2 agents as well. Therapeutic benefit even in extensive skin metastases and (irradiated) brain metastases may be expected. Further investigations are warranted to establish where it fits into the multimodal management of ER and HER positive breast cancer.

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          Lapatinib combined with letrozole versus letrozole and placebo as first-line therapy for postmenopausal hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer.

          Cross-talk between human epidermal growth factor receptors and hormone receptor pathways may cause endocrine resistance in breast cancer. This trial evaluated the effect of adding lapatinib, a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor blocking epidermal growth factor receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), to the aromatase inhibitor letrozole as first-line treatment of hormone receptor (HR) -positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Postmenopausal women with HR-positive MBC were randomly assigned to daily letrozole (2.5 mg orally) plus lapatinib (1,500 mg orally) or letrozole and placebo. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS) in the HER2-positive population. Results In HR-positive, HER2-positive patients (n = 219), addition of lapatinib to letrozole significantly reduced the risk of disease progression versus letrozole-placebo (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.96; P = .019); median PFS was 8.2 v 3.0 months, respectively. Clinical benefit (responsive or stable disease >or= 6 months) was significantly greater for lapatinib-letrozole versus letrozole-placebo (48% v 29%, respectively; odds ratio [OR] = 0.4; 95% CI, 0.2 to 0.8; P = .003). Patients with centrally confirmed HR-positive, HER2-negative tumors (n = 952) had no improvement in PFS. A preplanned Cox regression analysis identified prior antiestrogen therapy as a significant factor in the HER2-negative population; a nonsignificant trend toward prolonged PFS for lapatinib-letrozole was seen in patients who experienced relapse less than 6 months since prior tamoxifen discontinuation (HR = 0.78; 95% CI, 0.57 to 1.07; P = .117). Grade 3 or 4 adverse events were more common in the lapatinib-letrozole arm versus letrozole-placebo arm (diarrhea, 10% v 1%; rash, 1% v 0%, respectively), but they were manageable. This trial demonstrated that a combined targeted strategy with letrozole and lapatinib significantly enhances PFS and clinical benefit rates in patients with MBC that coexpresses HR and HER2.
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            Trastuzumab plus anastrozole versus anastrozole alone for the treatment of postmenopausal women with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive, hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer: results from the randomized phase III TAnDEM study.

            TAnDEM is the first randomized phase III study to combine a hormonal agent and trastuzumab without chemotherapy as treatment for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)/hormone receptor-copositive metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Postmenopausal women with HER2/hormone receptor-copositive MBC were randomly assigned to anastrozole (1 mg/d orally) with or without trastuzumab (4 mg/kg intravenous infusion on day 1, then 2 mg/kg every week) until progression. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS) in the intent-to-treat population. Results Overall, 103 patients received trastuzumab plus anastrozole; 104 received anastrozole alone. Patients in the trastuzumab plus anastrozole arm experienced significant improvements in PFS compared with patients receiving anastrozole alone (hazard ratio = 0.63; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.84; median PFS, 4.8 v 2.4 months; log-rank P = .0016). In patients with centrally confirmed hormone receptor positivity (n = 150), median PFS was 5.6 and 3.8 months in the trastuzumab plus anastrozole and anastrozole alone arms, respectively (log-rank P = .006). Overall survival in the overall and centrally confirmed hormone receptor-positive populations showed no statistically significant treatment difference; however, 70% of patients in the anastrozole alone arm crossed over to receive trastuzumab after progression on anastrozole alone. Incidence of grade 3 and 4 adverse events was 23% and 5%, respectively, in the trastuzumab plus anastrozole arm, and 15% and 1%, respectively, in the anastrozole alone arm; one patient in the combination arm experienced New York Heart Association class II congestive heart failure. Trastuzumab plus anastrozole improves outcomes for patients with HER2/hormone receptor-copositive MBC compared with anastrozole alone, although adverse events and serious adverse events were more frequent with the combination.
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              A model of acquired autoresistance to a potent ErbB2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor and a therapeutic strategy to prevent its onset in breast cancer.

              The development of acquired resistance to ErbB2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors limits the clinical efficacy of this class of cancer therapeutics. Little is known about the mechanism(s) of acquired resistance to these agents. Here we establish a model of acquired resistance to N-{3-chloro-4-[(3-fluorobenzyl) oxy]phenyl}-6-[5-({[2 (methylsulfonyl)ethyl]amino}methyl)-2-furyl]-4-quinazolinamine (lapatinib), an inhibitor of ErbB2 and ErbB1 tyrosine kinases by chronically exposing lapatinib-sensitive ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancer cells to lapatinib, simulating the clinic where lapatinib is administered on a daily chronic basis. Analysis of baseline gene expression in acquired lapatinib-resistant and parental cells indicates estrogen receptor (ER) signaling involvement in the development of resistance. Using gene interference, we confirm that acquired resistance to lapatinib is mediated by a switch in cell survival dependence and regulation of a key antiapoptotic mediator from ErbB2 alone to codependence upon ER and ErbB2 rather than loss of ErbB2 expression or insensitivity of ErbB2 signaling to lapatinib. Increased ER signaling in response to lapatinib is enhanced by the activation of factors facilitating the transcriptional activity of ER, notably FOXO3a and caveolin-1. Importantly, we confirm that lapatinib induces ER signaling in tumor biopsies from patients with ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancers receiving lapatinib therapy. These findings provided the rationale for preventing the development of acquired resistance by simultaneously inhibiting both ER and ErbB2 signaling pathways. Establishing clinically relevant models of acquired resistance to ErbB2 kinase inhibitors will enhance therapeutic strategies to improve clinical outcomes for patients with ErbB2-overexpressing breast cancers.

                Author and article information

                Onco Targets Ther
                Onco Targets Ther
                OncoTargets and Therapy
                OncoTargets and therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                04 September 2018
                : 11
                : 5459-5463
                Department of Oncotherapy, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary, kahan.zsuzsanna@
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Zsuzsanna Kahán, Department of Oncotherapy, University of Szeged, Korányi fasor 12, Szeged H-6720, Hungary, Tel +36 62 54 5404, Fax +36 62 54 5922, Email kahan.zsuzsanna@
                © 2018 Rusz et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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