Trastuzumab emtansine in the treatment of HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients

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Hurvitz SA, Dirix L, Kocsis J et al. Phase II randomised study of trastuzumab emtansine versus trastuzumab plus docetaxel in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive metastatic breast cancer. J. Clin. Oncol. 31(9), 1157-1163 (2013). The introduction of trastuzumab in the treatment of HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients favorably changed the natural history of this disease. First-line treatment with trastuzumab and taxanes demonstrated a significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival compared with taxane alone. Despite such a major advance, HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer will eventually progress in most patients. Moreover chemotherapy-associated toxicities, such as myelosuppression (docetaxel) and neurotoxicity (paclitaxel), may hamper the possibility to adequately treat metastatic breast cancer and may have a negative effect on patients" quality of life. The need for more effective and better-tolerated therapy for HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer led to the development of new anti-HER-2 agents. Pertuzumab and trastuzumab emtansine are two of the new agents that will change the approach to the treatment of HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Pertuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds HER-2 at a different epitope of the HER-2 extracellular domain (subdomain II) than that at which trastuzumab binds. Trastuzumab emtansine is a HER-2-targeted antibody-drug conjugate, composed of the cytotoxic microtubule polymerization inhibitor DM1 that is conjugated to the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab, able to selectively deliver a cytotoxic agent to HER-2-positive tumor cells. TDM-1 is superior and less toxic than lapatinib plus capecitabine in metastatic breast cancer patients previously treated with trastuzumab and taxanes, and its role as a first-line therapy is currently under investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-957
Number of pages3
JournalFuture Oncology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer
  • trastuzumab emtansine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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