Use of trastuzumab beyond disease progression: observations from a retrospective review of case histories

Clin Breast Cancer. 2004 Apr;5(1):52-8; discussion 59-62. doi: 10.3816/cbc.2004.n.010.


HER2 overexpression is associated with poor breast cancer prognosis and is the target for the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab. This novel agent, when administered until disease progression in combination with chemotherapy, extends the survival of women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC). However, the optimal duration of trastuzumab therapy remains to be confirmed. We conducted a retrospective case review study of women with HER2-positive MBC who continued to receive trastuzumab beyond disease progression. Objectives were to assess whether treatment beyond disease progression shows any evidence of efficacy and to evaluate the feasibility of this approach. One hundred five patients (median age, 47 years; range, 24-77 years) were identified in 13 centers. Women had received </=6 chemotherapy regimens (median, 1) before trastuzumab therapy. Median survival from first trastuzumab dose was 29 months. The overall response rate to trastuzumab alone or with a taxane as the first regimen was 39%; a further 30% of patients had stable disease as the best response. These rates were 36% and 38% after a second regimen of trastuzumab alone or with paclitaxel or vinorelbine was administered. Some patients responded to both the first and second regimens; others responded to the second regimen after the first had failed. Twenty-two patients experienced cardiac events, of whom 18 received >/=1 more trastuzumab regimen. Trastuzumab treatment beyond progression appears to be of value, producing responses and clinical benefit, and is well tolerated without significant cardiac toxicity. The feasibility of this approach warrants examination in prospective trials.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Trastuzumab
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab