HER2 Involvement in Breast Cancer Treatment

Invasive breast cancers that overexpress the HER2/neu receptor demonstrate more aggressive biologic behavior and increased sensitivity to chemotherapy. These types of cancers are also more amenable to management with targeted therapies such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta) that improve patient outcomes. Dr. Chaisson and colleagues designed a study to look at the specific characteristics of HER2-positive vs HER2-negative ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and how these distinguishing factors impact a patient’s treatment plan.

The findings indicated that evaluation of DCIS that focuses on tumor size and HER2 status will provide a good indicator for the next step of treatment. Because HER2-positive tumors tended to be larger, most patients were directed to mastectomy as opposed to lumpectomy with immune therapy, but the researchers point out that patients with small HER2/neu-positive DCIS are excellent candidates for breast conservation.

Results of this study indicate that the efficacy of treatment for DCIS may be improved by assessing the presence of HER2/neu in the cells and adjusting treatment from there, moving from lumpectomy to a whole-breast approach. Read the original research article here.

For more research, reviews, and cases on various cancers, peruse Ochsner Journal’s Center of Excellence–focused winter issue here.