Dose-dense adjuvant chemotherapy in HER2-positive early breast cancer patients before and after the introduction of trastuzumab: Exploratory analysis of the GIM2 trial

on behalf of the GIM2 investigators

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Dose-dense adjuvant chemotherapy is standard of care in high-risk early breast cancer patients. However, its role in HER2-positive patients is still uncertain. In this exploratory analysis of the GIM2 trial, we investigated the efficacy of dose-dense chemotherapy in HER2-positive breast cancer patients with or without exposure to trastuzumab. In the GIM2 trial, node-positive early breast cancer patients were randomized to receive four cycles of (fluorouracil)epirubicin/cyclophosphamide followed by four cycles of paclitaxel administered every 2 (dose-dense) or 3 (standard-interval) weeks. After approval of adjuvant trastuzumab, protocol was amended in April 2006 to allow use of trastuzumab for 1 year after chemotherapy completion in HER2-positive patients. The efficacy of dose-dense chemotherapy in terms of disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) was assessed according to HER2 status and trastuzumab use. Out of 2,003 breast cancer patients, HER2 status was negative/unknown in 1,551 patients; among the 452 patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, chemotherapy alone or followed by trastuzumab was given to 320 and 132 patients, respectively. Median follow-up was 8.1 years. No significant interaction between HER2 status, trastuzumab use and chemotherapy treatment was observed for both DFS (p = 0.698) and OS (p = 0.708). Nevertheless, there was no apparent benefit in the HER2-positive group treated with trastuzumab (DFS: HR, 0.99; 95% CI 0.52–1.89; OS: HR, 0.95; 95% CI 0.37–2.41). Although dose-dense chemotherapy was associated with a significant survival improvement in high-risk breast cancer patients, its benefit appeared to be smaller (if any) in patients with HER2-positive disease who received adjuvant trastuzumab.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • adjuvant chemotherapy
  • breast cancer
  • dose-dense
  • HER2
  • trastuzumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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