[Concurrent whole-brain radiotherapy with trastuzumab for treatment of brain metastases in breast cancer patients: questions and answers]

Bull Cancer. 2011 Apr;98(4):425-32. doi: 10.1684/bdc.2011.1342.
[Article in French]


Purpose: We retrospectively assessed the use of trastuzumab concurrently with whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) for brain metastases.

Patients and methods: From April 2001 to April 2007, 31 patients with brain metastases from HER2-positive breast cancer were referred for WBRT with concurrent trastuzumab. In most cases, concurrent WBRT delivered 30 Gy in 10 daily fractions. In six patients, other fractionations were chosen because of either poor performance status or patients’ convenience.

Results: At time of brain progression, median age was 55 years (range: 38 to 73 years) and all patients had a performance status of 0 to 2. Median time to brain progression was 10.5 months. Following WBRT, radiological responses were observed in 23 patients (74.2%), including six patients (19.4%) with complete radiological responses and 17 patients (54.8%) with partial radiological response. Clinical responses were observed in 27 patients (87.1%). Median survival from the start of WBRT was 18 months (range: two to 65 months). No grade 2 or more acute toxicity was observed.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that trastuzumab concurrently with WBRT may have a potential clinical impact with low toxicity. Although promising, these preliminary data warrant further validation of trastuzumab as radio sensitizer for WBRT in brain metastases from breast cancer in the setting of a clinical trial. Larger prospective studies are needed to confirm these results.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Cranial Irradiation / methods*
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trastuzumab
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Trastuzumab