(HealthDay News) — Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is the best drug treatment for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive breast cancer and should remain the standard of care for that type of tumor, according to new research scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology, held from Sept. 26 to 30 in Madrid.

For the study, 8,381 patients in 44 countries received either trastuzumab or lapatinib (Tykerb) in addition to standard chemotherapy. After 4.5 years of follow-up, 14 percent of patients who took trastuzumab and 18 percent of those who took lapatinib had at least one disease “event” — breast cancer recurrence anywhere in the body, a new cancer, or death from any cause.

Heart safety was rated good for both groups of patients. And there was no difference in the rate of cancer spreading from the breast to the brain, study coauthor Edith Perez, M.D., director of the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., said in a Mayo news release.

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The patients in the study are still being followed. The research team is also investigating tumor and blood specimens to discover and analyze potential biomarkers for treatment efficacy.

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