Importance of the field: The identification of HER-2 expression as a predictive and prognostic marker revolutionized breast cancer. Trastuzumab, a humanized mAb, improves survival in both early and advanced HER-2 overexpressing breast cancer. However, many cancers either do not respond or develop resistance to this agent. Lapatinib is an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor which has both HER-1 and -2 activities and has been licensed for use in recurrent breast cancer that overexpresses HER-2. Studies of lapatinib in early breast cancer are ongoing.
Areas covered in this review: A PubMed search was conducted using 'lapatinib' and 'breast cancer' as the key words. All published works up to July 2010 were reviewed. A manual review of abstracts presented at the ASCO Annual meeting and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was conducted for the last 2 years. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of lapatinib and pose questions which need to be addressed as we further expand our knowledge of the HER-2 subtypes of breast cancer.
What the reader will gain: The reader will gain an up-to-date and comprehensive review of the current literature as it pertains to the safety and efficacy of lapatinib in the treatment of breast cancer.
Take home message: Lapatinib has provided an alternative for the treatment of advanced HER-2 overexpressing breast cancer and is currently being assessed in early disease.