Background: We present the combined results of two trials that compared adjuvant chemotherapy with or without concurrent trastuzumab in women with surgically removed HER2-positive breast cancer.
Methods: The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project trial B-31 compared doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel every 3 weeks (group 1) with the same regimen plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab beginning with the first dose of paclitaxel (group 2). The North Central Cancer Treatment Group trial N9831 compared three regimens: doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by weekly paclitaxel (group A), the same regimen followed by 52 weeks of trastuzumab after paclitaxel (group B), and the same regimen plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab initiated concomitantly with paclitaxel (group C). The studies were amended to include a joint analysis comparing groups 1 and A (the control group) with groups 2 and C (the trastuzumab group). Group B was excluded because trastuzumab was not given concurrently with paclitaxel.
Results: By March 15, 2005, 394 events (recurrent, second primary cancer, or death before recurrence) had been reported, triggering the first scheduled interim analysis. Of these, 133 were in the trastuzumab group and 261 in the control group (hazard ratio, 0.48; P<0.0001). This result crossed the early stopping boundary. The absolute difference in disease-free survival between the trastuzumab group and the control group was 12 percent at three years. Trastuzumab therapy was associated with a 33 percent reduction in the risk of death (P=0.015). The three-year cumulative incidence of class III or IV congestive heart failure or death from cardiac causes in the trastuzumab group was 4.1 percent in trial B-31 and 2.9 percent in trial N9831.
Conclusions: Trastuzumab combined with paclitaxel after doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide improves outcomes among women with surgically removed HER2-positive breast cancer. (ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT00004067 and NCT00005970.)
Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.