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Researchers have found that combination therapy, including those involving experimental treatment agents, may help treat patients with advanced breast cancer, according to multiple reports presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Two of the presented studies focused on the experimental treatment trastuzumab-DM1 (T-DM1) and demonstrated its effectiveness for women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancers.

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The findings of one study, presented by Kathy Miller, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, found that T-DM1 with or without pertuzumab has some effectiveness for women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancers previously treated with trastuzumab.

A second study, led by Patricia LoRusso, DO, professor of medicine at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, found that retesting a breast cancer tumor for possible changes in HER2 expression could predict the effectiveness of T-DM1. “This agent is beginning to stand out as a treatment for women who have been heavily pretreated for metastatic breast cancer,” noted Sumanta Pal, MD, assistant professor of oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Adding everolimus (Afinitor) to the chemotherapy regimen of women with metastatic breast cancer may result in clinical benefits, according to another study presented by Fabrice Andre, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Institute Gustav Roussy, France. He and other researchers found that everolimus lessens the resistance to treatment in patients whose cancer is no longer sensitive to paclitaxel and trastuzumab. “These are interesting studies that show combining everolimus with chemotherapy and other target agents is feasible with promising results,” said Edith Perez, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Another study on everolimus, presented by P.K. Morrow, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, found that adding everolimus to therapy resulted in clinical benefit for more than one-third of patients. The findings supported the results from Dr. Andre’s study.

The collective results show that combination therapy is feasible and add to evidence supporting effective treatments for advanced breast cancer patients. ONA