Successful use of Trastuzumab with anthracycline-based chemotherapy followed by trastuzumab maintenance in patients with advanced HER2-positive gastric cancer

Sofia Palacio, Arturo Loaiza-Bonilla, Muaiad Kittaneh, Christos Kyriakopoulos, Roberto E Ochoa, Mauricio Escobar, Belisario Arango, Maria H Restrepo, Jaime R Merchan, Caio M S R Rocha Lima, Peter J Hosein
Anticancer Research 2014, 34 (1): 301-6

BACKGROUND: There is no standard chemotherapy regimen that is universally accepted for the treatment of advanced gastric cancer. Trastuzumab added to chemotherapy improves survival in patients with metastatic human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (Her2/neu)-overexpressing gastric cancer. Data are lacking for the combination of trastuzumab with other chemotherapy regimens, apart from the cisplatin/fluorouracil backbone used in the pivotal TOGA trial.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In this retrospective analysis, we included patients with gastric cancer with HER2 overexpression who received trastuzumab in addition to their first-line chemotherapy, with or without trastuzumab maintenance therapy. The end-points were response and tolerance to treatment.

RESULTS: We identified seven patients who met the search criteria; six had metastatic disease and one had locally advanced unresectable disease. Four patients received epirubicin/oxaliplatin/capecitabine/trastuzumab, and the others had non-anthracycline-based chemotherapy with trastuzumab. All patients had radiological responses to treatment - one had a complete response and six had partial responses. Among the four patients who received anthracycline-based chemotherapy with trastuzumab, there was a transient decline in cardiac ejection fraction in three, but all resolved without sequelae. All patients received a period of chemotherapy induction followed by trastuzumab monotherapy for maintenance. The median progression-free survival was 14.6 months and median overall survival was 16.4 months.

CONCLUSION: Trastuzumab is an important agent for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing gastric cancer. We recorded an acceptable safety and efficacy profile in this small cohort treated with anthracycline-based chemotherapy with trastuzumab followed by trastuzumab maintenance.

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